Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Tues, Jan 1, 2013 - Litany Lane Blog: Catechism, Numbers 6:22-27, Psalms 67, Luke 2:16-20, Solemnity of the Blessed Mother Mary, Mystical City of God Book 5:2 The Law of Grace, Catechism of the Catholic Church - Prologue

Tuesday, January 1, 2013 - Litany Lane Blog:

Catechism, Numbers 6:22-27, Psalms 67,  Luke 2:16-20, Solemnity of the Blessed Mother Mary, Mystical City of God Book 5:2 The Law of Grace,  Catechism of the Catholic Church - Prologue

Good Day Bloggers!  Happy New Year, Bonne Annee!
Wishing everyone a Blessed Week!
Year of Faith - October 11, 2012 - November 24, 2013 

New For 2013: Added Daily to Blog the Catechism of the Catholic Church 

P.U.S.H. (Pray Until Serenity Happens). It has a remarkable way of producing solace, peace, patience and tranquility and of course resolution...God's always available 24/7.

The world begins and ends everyday for someone.  We are all human. We all experience birth, life and death. We all have flaws but we also all have the gift of knowledge and free will, make the most of these gifts. Life on earth is a stepping stone to our eternal home in Heaven. Its your choice whether to rise towards eternal light or lost to eternal darkness. Material items, though needed for sustenance and survival on earth are of earthly value only. The only thing that passes from this earth to Purgatory and/or Heaven is our Soul, our's God's perpetual gift to us...Embrace it, treasure it, nurture it, protect it...

"Raise not a hand to another unless it is to offer in peace and goodwill." ~ Zarya Parx 2012


December 25, 2012 Message From Our Lady of Medjugorje to World:

Our Lady came with little Jesus in her arms and she did not give a message, but little Jesus began to speak and said : “I am your peace, live my commandments.” With a sign of the cross, Our Lady and little Jesus blessed us together.

December 2, 2012 Message From Our Lady of Medjugorje to World:

Dear children, with motherly love and motherly patience anew I call you to live according to my Son, to spread His peace and His love, so that, as my apostles, you may accept God's truth with all your heart and pray for the Holy Spirit to guide you. Then you will be able to faithfully serve my Son, and show His love to others with your life. According to the love of my Son and my love, as a mother, I strive to bring all of my strayed children into my motherly embrace and to show them the way of faith. My children, help me in my motherly battle and pray with me that sinners may become aware of their sins and repent sincerely. Pray also for those whom my Son has chosen and consecrated in His name. Thank you." 


Today's Word:  catechsim   cat·e·chism  [kat-i-kiz-uh m]

Origin: 1495–1505;  < Late Latin catēchismus  apparently equivalent to catēch ( izāre ) to catechize + -ismus -ism

1. Ecclesiastical .

a. an elementary book containing a summary of the principles of the Christian religion, especially as maintained by a particular church, in the form of questions and answers.
b. the contents of such a book.
2. a similar book of instruction in other subjects.
3. a series of formal questions put, as to political candidates, to bring out their views.
4. catechetical instruction.


Today's Old Testament Reading - Psalms 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8

2 Then the earth will acknowledge your ways, and all nations your power to save.
3 Let the nations praise you, God, let all the nations praise you.
5 Let the nations praise you, God, let all the nations praise you.
6 The earth has yielded its produce; God, our God has blessed us.


Today's Epistle -   Numbers 6:22-27

22 Yahweh spoke to Moses and said,
23 'Speak to Aaron and his sons and say: "This is how you must bless the Israelites. You will say:
24 May Yahweh bless you and keep you.
25 May Yahweh let his face shine on you and be gracious to you.
26 May Yahweh show you his face and bring you peace."
27 This is how they must call down my name on the Israelites, and then I shall bless them.'


Today's Gospel Reading -  Luke 2:16-21

Visit of the Shepherds to Jesus and his Mother
The marginalized are God’s favorites

Luke 2,16-21

1. Opening prayer
Lord Jesus, send your Spirit to help us to read the Scriptures with the same mind that you read them to the disciples on the way to Emmaus. In the light of the Word, written in the Bible, you helped them to discover the presence of God in the disturbing events of your sentence and death. Thus, the cross that seemed to be the end of all hope became for them the source of life and of resurrection.

Create in us silence so that we may listen to your voice in Creation and in the Scriptures, in events and in people, above all in the poor and suffering. May your word guide us so that we too, like the two disciples from Emmaus, may experience the force of your resurrection and witness to others that you are alive in our midst as source of fraternity, justice and peace. We ask this of you, Jesus, son of Mary, who revealed to us the Father and sent us your Spirit. Amen.

2. Reading

a) A key to the reading: 
The reason for Joseph and Mary to go to Bethlehem was the census imposed by Rome’s emperor (Lk 2:1-7). Periodically, the Roman authorities decreed these censuses in the various regions of their immense empire. It was a matter of registering people and knowing how many had to pay taxes. The rich paid taxes on land and goods. The poor paid for the number of children they had. Sometimes the tax was more than 50% of a person’s income.

In Luke’s Gospel we note a significant difference between the birth of Jesus and that of John the Baptist. John is born at home, in his land, in the midst of parents and neighbours and is welcomed by all (Lk 1:57-58). Jesus is born unknown, away from his surroundings of family and neighbours and far from his land. “There was no room in the inn.” He had to be left in a manger (Lk 2:7).

Let us try to place and comment on our text (Lk 2:16-21) in the wider context of the visit of the shepherds (Lk 2:8-21). As we read, let us try to pay attention to the following: What surprises do we find and what contrasts appear in this text?

b) A division of the text to help us in our reading: 

Luke 2:8-9: The shepherds in the field, the first persons invited
Luke 2:10-12: The first announcement of the Good News is made to the shepherds
Luke 2:13-14: The praise of the angels
Luke 2:15-18: The shepherds go to Bethlehem and tell of their vision of the angels
Luke 2:19-20: Mary’s attitude and that of the shepherds concerning these events
Luke 2:21: The circumcision of the child Jesus

c) Gospel: Luke 2,16-21

In the countryside close by there were shepherds out in the fields keeping guard over their sheep during the
watches of the night. An angel of the Lord stood over them and the glory of the Lord shone round them. They were terrified, but the angel said, 'Do not be afraid. Look, I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. And here is a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.' And all at once with the angel there was a great throng of the hosts of heaven, praising God with the words: Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace for those he favours. Now it happened that when the angels had gone from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, 'Let us go to Bethlehem and see this event which the Lord has made known to us.' So they hurried away and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. When they saw the child they repeated what they had been told about him, and everyone who heard it was astonished at what the shepherds said to them. As for Mary, she treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds went back glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as they had been told. When the eighth day came and the child was to be circumcised, they gave him the name Jesus, the name the angel had given him before his conception.


3. A moment of prayerful silence so that the Word of God may penetrate and enlighten our life.


4. Some questions to help us in our personal reflection.
a) What did you like best in this text? Why?
b) What surprises and contrasts do you find in this text?
c) How does the text teach us that the little ones are great in heaven and the poorest on earth?
d) What is Mary’s attitude and that of the shepherds concerning the mystery of God just revealed to them?
e) What is the message Luke wants to communicate to us through these details?

5. For those who wish to go deeper into the theme
a) The context of then and of today: 
The text of the feast of the Mother of God (Lk 2:16-21) is part of the broader description of the birth of Jesus (Lk 2,1-7) and of the visit of the shepherds (Lk 2:8-21). The angel had announced the birth of the Saviour and gave a sign of recognition: “You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger!” They were expecting the Saviour of a whole people and they were to recognise him in a newborn child, poor, who lies close to two animals! What a great surprise! God’s plan is fulfilled in an unexpected way, full of surprise. This happens today too. A poor child is the Saviour of the people! Can you believe this?

b) A commentary on the text: 
Luke 2:8-9: The first invited personsThe shepherds were marginalised people, not greatly appreciated. They lived together with the animals, separate from the rest of humanity. Because of their constant contact with animals, they were considered impure. No one would have ever invited them to visit a newly born baby. But it is precisely to these shepherds that the Angel of the Lord appears to pass on the great news of the birth of Jesus. Seeing the vision of the angels, they are full of fear.
Luke 2:10-12: The first announcement of the Good News

Luke 2:13-14: The praise of the angels: Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace for those he favoursA multitude of angels appears descending from heaven. It is heaven that bends itself towards the earth. The parts of this verse summarise God’s project, his plan. The first part tells us what happens in the world up there: Glory to God in the highest heaven. The second part tells us what will happen in the world here below: On earth peace for those he favours! If people could experience what it means to be favoured by God, everything would be different and peace would dwell on earth. And this would be to the greater glory of God who dwells in the highest!
Luke 2:15-18: The shepherds go to Bethlehem and tell of their vision of the angelsThe Word of God is no longer a sound produced by the mouth. It is above all an event! The shepherds literally say: “Let us go to Bethlehem and see this event which the Lord has made known to us”. In Hebrew, the expression DABAR may mean both word and thing (event), generated by the word. The word of God is a creative force. It fulfils what it says. At creation God said: “Let there be light, and there was light!” (Gen 1:3). The word of the angel to the shepherds is the event of the birth of Jesus.

Luke 2:19-20: Mary’s attitude and that of the shepherds concerning these eventsLuke immediately adds that, "Mary treasured all these things (events) and pondered them in her heart". These are two ways of perceiving and welcoming the Word of God: (i) The shepherds get up to see the events and verify the sign given by the angel, and then, they go back to their flocks glorifying and praising God for all that they had seen and heard. (ii) Mary, on the other hand, carefully keeps all these events in her mind and meditates on them in her heart. To meditate on things in one’s heart means to ruminate them and throw light on them in the light of the Word of God so as to understand better their full significance for life.

Luke 2:21: The circumcision and Name of JesusAccording to the norms of the law, the child Jesus is circumcised on the eighth day after his birth (cf. Gen 17:12). Circumcision was a sign of belonging to the people. It gave the person an identity. On such an occasion each child received his name (cf. Lk 1:59-63). The child receives the name of Jesus that had been given him by the angel before his conception. The angel had said to Joseph that the name of the child had to be Jesus “he is the one who is to save his people from their sins” (Mt 1:21). The name of Jesus is the same as Joshua, and means God will save. Another name that will gradually be given to Jesus is Christ, which means Anointed or Messiah. Jesus is the awaited Messiah. A third name is that of Emmanuel, which means God with us (Mt 1:23). The complete name is Jesus Christ Emmanuel!

c) Further information:

Mary in Luke’s Gospel

i) The role of the first two chapters of Luke’s Gospel:
These are two rather well known but less deeply understood chapters. Luke writes them in imitation of the Old Testament. It is as though these two chapters were the last of the Old Testament so as to open the door for the coming of the New Testament. In these chapters, Luke creates an atmosphere of softness and praise. From beginning to end the mercy of God is sung, God who finally comes to fulfil his promises. Luke shows us how Jesus fulfils the Old Testament and begins the New Testament. And he does so in favour of the poor, the anawim, those who knew how to wait for his coming: Elisabeth, Zachary, Mary, Joseph, Simeon, Anna and the shepherds. That is why the first two chapters are history but not in the sense that we today give to history. They were more like a mirror where those, for whom they were written, the Christians converted from paganism, could discover who Jesus was and how he had come to fulfil the prophecies of the Old Testament, satisfying the deepest aspirations of the human heart. These chapters were also a mirror of the events that were taking place within the communities in Luke’s time. The communities originating from paganism will be born of the communities of converted Jews. But these were different. The New did not correspond to what the Old Testament imagined and expected. It was "the sign of contradiction" (Lk 2:34), and caused tensions and was the source of much suffering. In Mary’s attitude, Luke presents a model of how the communities could react to and persevere in the New.

ii) A key to the reading:
In these two chapters Luke presents Mary as model for the life of the community. The key is given to us in the episode where the woman in the crowd praises the mother of Jesus. Jesus modifies the praise and says: “More blessed still are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Lk 11:27-28). Herein lies the greatness of Mary. It is in the world where Mary knows how to relate to the Word of God that the communities contemplate the more correct way of relating to the Word of God: welcoming it, incarnating it, living it, deepening it, reflecting on it, giving it birth and making it grow, allowing oneself to be overpowered by it even when one does not understand it or when one suffers because of it. This is the vision underlying the two texts of chapters 1 and 2 of Luke’s Gospel, which speak of Mary, the mother of Jesus.

iii) An application of the key to the texts:

1. Luke 1:26-38: The Annunciation: "Let it happen to me as you have said!"
 Opening one’s self so that the Word of God may be welcomed and incarnated.
2. Luca 1:39-45: The Visitation: "Blessed is she who believed!"
Recognising the Word of God in the events of life.
3. Luke 1:46-56: The Magnificat: “The Almighty has done great things for me!”
A subversive and resistance hymn of hope.
4. Luke 2:1-20: The Birth: "She treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart.”
There was no room for them. The marginalised welcome the Word.
5. Luke 2:21-32: The Presentation: "My eyes have seen the salvation!"
Years of life purify the eyes.
6. Luke 2:33-38: Simeon and Anna: "A sword will pierce your soul"
Being a Christian means being a sign of contradiction.
7. Luke 2:39-52: At twelve years: " Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?"
They did not understand the Word of God addressed to them!

iv) The contrasts that stand out in our text:
1. In the darkness of the night a light shines (2:8-9).

2. The world up there, heaven, seems to embrace our world here below (2:13).
3. The greatness of God manifests itself in the weakness of a child (2:7).
4. The glory of God is made present in a manger, close to animals (2:16).
5. Fear is generated by the sudden apparition of an angel and is changed into joy (2:9-10).
6. Those completely marginalised are the first invited (2:8).
7. The shepherds recognise God present in a child (2:20)

6. Praying with the Psalm 23 (22)

“Yahweh is my shepherd!”
Yahweh is my shepherd,
I lack nothing.
In grassy meadows he lets me lie.
By tranquil streams he leads me
to restore my spirit.
He guides me in paths of saving justice as befits his name.

Even were I to walk in a ravine as dark as death
I should fear no danger,
for you are at my side.
Your staff and your crook are there to soothe me.

You prepare a table for me under the eyes of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup brims over.
Kindness and faithful love pursue me every day of my life.
I make my home in the house of Yahweh for all time to come.


7. Final Prayer

Lord Jesus, we thank for the word that has enabled us to understand better the will of the Father. May your Spirit enlighten our actions and grant us the strength to practice that which your Word has revealed to us. May we, like Mary, your mother, not only listen to but also practice the Word. You who live and reign with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit forever and ever. Amen.

The first thing the angel says is: Do not be afraid! The second is: Joy to be shared by the whole people! The third is: Today! Then the angel gives three names to indicate who Jesus is: Saviour, Christ and Lord! Saviour is the one who frees all people from all ties! The authorities in those days liked to use the title Saviour. They attributed the title of Soter to themselves. Christ means anointed or messiah. In the Old Testament this was the title given to kings and prophets. It was also the title of the future Messiah who would fulfil the promises made by God to his people. This means that newly born child, who lies in a manger, has come to fulfil the hopes of the people. Lord was the name given to God himself! Here we have the three greatest titles imaginable. From this announcement of the birth of Jesus as Saviour, Christ and Lord, can you imagine anyone with a higher standing? And angel says to you: “Be careful! I give you this sign of recognition: you will meet a child in a manger, in the midst of poor people!” Would you believe him? God’s ways are not our ways!

Reference: Courtesy of Order of Carmelites,


Featured Item of the Day from Litany Lane


Saint of the Day:  Veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Feast DayJanuary 1
Patron Saint 

Hail Holy Queen
Roman Catholic veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary (the mother of Jesus) is based on dogma as well as Scripture.[2] The incarnation of the Son of God through Mary thus signifies her honour as Mother of God. From the Council of Ephesus in 431, which dogmatized this belief, to the Second Vatican Council and Pope John Paul II's encyclical Redemptoris Mater, the Virgin Mary has come to be seen and venerated not only as the Mother of God but also as the Mother of the Church.
As the mother of Jesus, Mary has a central role in the Roman Catholic Church. The church's veneration of her as the Blessed Virgin Mary has grown over time both in importance and manifestation, not only in prayer but in art, poetry and music.[3][4][5][6] Popes have encouraged this veneration but from time to time have also taken steps to reform it.[note 1] Overall, there are significantly more titles, feasts and venerative Marian practices among Roman Catholics than any other Christian traditions.[7] Pope Benedict XVI maintains that the Virgin Mary possesses divine motherhood which she continues to bestow as intercessory "graces associated with God's blessing."[8] 
The key role of the Virgin Mary in Roman Catholic beliefs, her veneration, and the growth of Roman Catholic Mariology have not only come about by official statements made in Rome but have often been driven from the ground up, by the Marian writings of the saints and from the masses of believers, and at times via reported Marian apparitions to young and simple children on remote hilltops. The Holy See continues to approve of Marian apparitions on remote mountains, the latest approval being as recent as May 2008.[9][10] Some apparitions, such as Fatima, have given rise to Marian Movements and Societies with millions of members, and many other Marian societies exist around the world.[11]

From Christ to Mary in the Roman Catholic tradition


Theological basis for the veneration of Mary

The Catholic veneration of Mary is based on two aspects: the workings of God who made a virgin the Mother of God,[12] and the biblical view of Mary as the selected maiden of the Lord[13] who is greeted and praised[14]by both Elisabeth[15] and the angel Gabriel[16]. God's work is further illuminated in the Marian dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church such as the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption, the factual basis of both taking place in apostolic time and are, in the Roman Catholic view, part of the apostolic tradition and divine revelation.[17][18][19]

Mysteries of Christ and Mary

In Roman Catholic teachings, the veneration of Mary is a logical and necessary consequence of Christology: Jesus and Mary are son and mother, redeemer and redeemed.[20][21] This sentiment echoed loudly through Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome on March 25, 1987 as Pope John Paul II delivered his encyclical Redemptoris Mater and said:
At the centre of this mystery, in the midst of this wonderment of faith, stands Mary. As the loving Mother of the Redeemer, she was the first to experience it: "To the wonderment of nature you bore your Creator"![22]
In the Roman Catholic tradition Mariology is Christology developed to its full potential.[23][24] Mary and her son Jesus are very close but not identical in Catholic theology. Mary contributes to a fuller understanding of her Son, who Christ is and what He did. A Christology without Mary is erroneous in the Roman Catholic view, because it is not based on the total revelation of the Bible. Traces of this parallel interpretation go back to the early days of Christianity and numerous saints have since focused on it.[20][25]
The development of this approach continued into the 20th century, e.g. in his 1946 publication Compendium Mariologiae, the respected Mariologist Gabriel Roschini explained that Mary not only participated in the birth of the physical Jesus, but, with conception, she entered with him into a spiritual union. The divine salvation plan, being not only material, includes a permanent spiritual unity with Christ.[26] [27][28] Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) wrote:
It is necessary to go back to Mary if we want to return to that "truth about Jesus Christ," "truth about the Church" and "truth about man".[21]
when he suggested a redirection of the whole Church towards the program of Pope John Paul II in order to ensure an authentic approach to Christology via a return to the "whole truth about Mary".[21]

From veneration to theology

Marian venerative practices predated both the liturgical developments and theological definitions relating to the Virgin Mary. While the venerative practices date back to the 2nd century, the first theological definitions started only in the 5th century. Thereafter, venerative and devotional practices have often preceded formal theological declarations by the Magisterium.[29][30][31]
The veneration of the Blessed Virgin takes place in various ways. Marian prayers and hymns usually begin with a praise of her, followed by petitions.[32] The number of Marian titles continued to grow as of the 3rd century, and many titles existed by the 5th century, growing especially during the Middle Ages.[33]

Early veneration in Rome

Earliest fresco of the Virgin Mary, Catacomb of Priscilla, 2nd century.[34]
Early veneration of the Blessed Virgin is documented in Roman Catacombs, underground cemeteries, where Christians hid in times of persecution. In the catacombs paintings show the Blessed Virgin holding the Christ Child.[35] More unusual and indicating the burial ground of Saint Peter excavations in the crypt of St Peter's Basilica discovered a very early fresco of Mary together with Saint Peter.[36][37]
The Roman Priscilla catacombs depict the oldest Marian paintings from the middle of the 2nd century[38] Mary is shown with Jesus on her lap, a standing man with tunic left hand a book right hand a star over his head symbol of messiahs. Priscilla also has a depiction of the annunciation.[34]
After the edict of Milan in AD 313, Christians were permitted to worship openly. The veneration of Mary became public as well. In the following decades Cathedrals and churches were built for public worship. The first Marian churches in Rome date from the 5th and 6th centuries, Santa Maria in Trastevere, Santa Maria Antiqua and Santa Maria Maggiore.[39] However, the very earliest church dedicated to the Virgin Mary dates to the late 4th century in Syria where an inscription dedicating it to the Theotokos was found among the ruins.[40]
This new freedom also permitted literary development of the Marian mysteries. Hippolytus of Rome being early example.[41][42] Saint Ambrose, who lived in Rome before going to Milan as its bishop, venerated Mary as example of Christian life, and is credited with starting a Marian cult of virginity in the 4th century.[43]

Liturgical aspects

The first Christians did not celebrate the liturgy and liturgical feast in the same way as later Christians; the feasts of Easter and Christmas were not known, although the Eucharist was celebrated.[44] Liturgical venerations of the saints are believed to have originated in the 2nd century and in the first three centuries, the emphasis was on the veneration of martyrs, as a continuation of the yearly celebrations of their death, e.g. as noted in the early Christian text on the Martyrdom of Polycarp.[45] However, in the early part of the 3rd century, Hippolytus of Rome recorded the first liturgical reference to the Virgin Mary, as part of the ordination rite of a bishop.[41] Marian feasts appeared in the 4th century, and the feast of the "Memory of Mary, Mother of God" was celebrated on August 15 in Jerusalem by the year 350.[41][46]

Growth of Marian culture

Santa Maria Maggiore, the first Marian church in Rome, originally built between 430 and 440.[47]
From the middle of the 11th century onwards, more and more churches, including many of Europe's greatest cathedrals (e.g. Notre Dame de Paris and Notre-Dame de Bayeux among others), were dedicated to Mary. Marian pilgrimage developed large popular followings and prayers such as the Regina Coeli were composed.[32] At the height of the pilgrimage movement in the 11th and 12th centuries, hundreds of people were traveling almost constantly from one Marian shrine to the next.[48]
In the 12th century, the book Speculum Virginum (mirror of Virgins in Latin) provided one of the earliest justifications of cloistered religious life, as it sought to strengthen the resolve of women who contemplated a dedicated religious life, and encouraged them to follow the example of the life of the Virgin Mary.[49] By the 14th century, Mary had become greatly popular as a compassionate intercessor and protector of humanity and during the great plagues such as the Black Death, her help was sought against the just judgment of God.[50] The Renaissance witnessed a dramatic growth in venerative Marian art.[51]
By the 16th century, the Protestant Reformation had introduced a tide against Marian venerations in Europe.[52] However, at the same time new Marian devotions were starting in South America based on Saint Juan Diego's 1531 reported vision of Our Lady of Guadalupe which added almost 8 million people to the ranks of Catholics.[53][54] The ensuing Marian pilgrimages have continued to date and the Marian Basilica on Tepeyac Hill remains the most visited Catholic shrine in the world.[55] In the 17th and 18th centuries writings by the saints, coupled with papal encouragements, increased the growth of Marian devotions, and gave rise to the definition and declaration of new Marian doctrines.[56]
Marian culture continues to be developed within the Catholic Church. For instance, in 1974, after 4 years of preparation, Pope Paul VI issued the Apostolic Letter Marialis Cultus. In this document, (which was subtitled For the Right Ordering and Development of Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary) Paul VI not only discussed the history of Marian devotions, but overviewed their rationale and provided suggestions for their future direction, emphasising their theological and pastoral value.[57][58]

Multitude of views and perspectives

Throughout the centuries, Catholics have viewed the Virgin Mary from a multitude of perspectives, at times derived from specific Marian attributes ranging from queenship to humility, and at times based on cultural preferences of events taking place at specific points in history.[59][60]
An example of the cultural adaptation of perspective include the view of the Virgin Mary as a mother with humility (rather than a heavenly queen) as the Franciscans began to preach in China, and its similarity to local Chinese motherly and merciful figure of Kuanyin, which was much admired in south China.[61][62][63][64][65][66] Another example is the Saint Juan Diego's account of the appearance of the Virgin of Guadalupe in 1531 as a tanned Aztec princess who spoke in his local Nahuatl language. The clothing of the Virgin of Guadalupe image has been identified as that of an Aztec princess.[67][68][68][69][70][71]
Other views such as the Virgin Mary as a "miracle worker" have existed for centuries and are still held by many Catholics today.[72][73][74] Instances include the Black Madonna of Częstochowa which continues to be venerated today as the Patron of Poland and Our Lady of Lourdes which receives millions of pilgrims per year. However, the Vatican has generally been reluctant to approve of modern miracles, unless they have been subject to extensive analysis and scrunity. [75][76][77][78][79]

Development of Marian doctrines

Throughout the centuries, the growth of Marian devotional and venerative practices has been parallelled by the definition of specific Marian doctrines by the Magisterium.[39]
Apart from the title of Mother of God which holds Mary as Theotokos, two specific doctrines relate to the birth of Jesus and the virginity of Mary. These are distinct doctrines which were defined and declared as dogmas at different times. [80]
Since the 4th century, Roman Catholics have believed in the Virgin birth of Jesus, namely that Jesus was miraculously conceived through the action of the Holy Spirit while Mary remained a virgin. This was decided at the First Council of Nicaea in 325. Going beyond the virgin birth of Jesus, the doctrine of Perpetual virginity of Mary holds that before giving birth to Jesus and even thereafter Mary remained a virgin all her life. This dates back to the Council of Constantinople in 533.[80]
Two separate doctrines address the Virgin Mary's conception and death. The doctrine of Immaculate Conception states that Mary was conceived without original sin, namely that she was filled with grace from the very moment of her conception in her mother's womb.[81] The Immaculate Conception was proclaimed a dogma Ex Cathedra by Pope Pius IX in 1854, as the first definitive exercise of papal infallibility.[82] The dogma of the Assumption of Mary states that she was assumed into Heaven body and soul. This was also defined by Pope Pius XII in 1950.[83]
Lumen Gentium, the dogmatic constitution derived from Vatican II in 1964, declared that the Lord had consecrated Mary as "Queen of the universe", reflecting the contemporary expansion of knowledge regarding outer space.[84]

Mary's protection and intercession

The Virgin of Mercy protecting a group of nuns under her mantle. Sano di Pietro, 15th century.
Roman Catholic views of the Virgin Mary place emphasis on her roles as a mediatrix of men to God, refuge and advocate of sinners, protector from dangers and most powerful intercessor with her Son, Jesus, who is God. These views are expressed in prayers and artistic depictions, theology, popular and devotional writings, as well as in the use of Marian Sacramentals and images.[85][86][87][88]

The earliest known prayer to Mary, the Sub tuum praesidium, (Latin for under your protection) begins with the words: "Beneath your compassion, we take refuge."[89][90] The artistic depictions of the Virgin of Mercy portray the role of Mary as the protector of Christians, as she shelters them under her mantle. The Virgin of Mercy depictions sometimes include arrows raining from above, with the Virgin's cloak protecting the people.[91]
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (item 971) echoes this protective sentiment, stating that:
From the most ancient times the Blessed Virgin has been honoured with the title of 'Mother of God,' to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs.[92]
Catholics have continued to seek the protection of Mary as the Mother of Sorrows (who understands and shows compassion) and relied on her intercession as the Queen of Heaven since the Middle Ages.[93] Building on that sentiment, popes have entrusted specific causes to the protection of the Virgin Mary. For instance, pope Benedict XV entrusted the protection of the world through the intercession of Mary Queen of Peace during the first world war .[94]

Miguel Hidalgo's 1810 Guadalupan flag.
For many centuries, Catholics have used Marian Sacramentals. Since the Middle Ages the wearing of the Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Brown Scapular) by Catholics has been a sign of their seeking her protection.[86] Pope John Paul II wore a Brown Scapular since childhood and as he momentarily gained consciousness when he was shot on 13 May 1981 he asked to keep his scapular during the operation to remove the bullet.[95][96][97]
The depictions of Our Lady of Navigators arose from the prayers and devotions of Portuguese navigators, who saw the Virgin Mary as their protector during storms and other hazards. Prayers to Our Lady of Navigators are well known in South America, specially Brazil, where its February 2 feast is an official holiday.[98][99] The Virgin of the Navigators (a variant of the Virgin of Mercy), depicting ships under her mantle, is the earliest known painting whose subject is the discovery of the Americas.[100][101]
Both Miguel Hidalgo and Emiliano Zapata flew flags of Our Lady of Guadalupe as their protector, and Zapata's men wore the Guadalupan image around their necks and on their sombreros.[102][103] In 1979 ceremony Pope John Paul II placed Mexico under the protection of the Virgin of Guadalupe.[104]
The Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy, also known as the order of Our Lady of Ransom or Order of Captives began in the 13th century in the Kingdom of Aragon (Spain) to ransom impoverished captive Christians (slaves) held in Muslim hands. The order now focuses on the role of the Virgin Mary as the protector of captives and prisoners.[105][106] The Sodality of Our Lady founded in 1563 was also placed under her protection.[107]
The popular Catholic prayer, the Memorare relates protection with the intercession of the Virgin Mary, stating:[108]
"Never was it known that anyone who fled to Thy protection, implored Thy help or sought Thy intercession, was left unaided."
Saint Louis de Montfort taught that God appointed Mary as "the dispenser of grace", and to receive grace from God, one can receive it through the hands of the Blessed Virgin, as a child receives from a mother.[109][110]

This concept of Mary as "the mother to us in the order of grace" who can intercede for "the gift of eternal salvation" was restated in the 1960s in Lumen Gentium, one of the principal documents of the Second Vatican Council.[110][111]

Consecration and entrustment to Mary

Shortly before her death at age 9, Blessed Jacinta Marto of Fátima asked that everyone consecrate themselves to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.[112]

For centuries, Marian devotions among Roman Catholics have included many examples of personal or collective acts of consecration and entrustment to the Virgin Mary; the Latin terms oblatio, servitus, commendatio and dedicatio were used in this context.[113]
Consecration is an act by which a person is dedicated to a sacred service, or an act which separates an object, location or region from a common and profane mode to one for sacred use.[114][115] Consecration to the Virgin Mary has been practiced by Catholics for many centuries, at the personal, societal and papal levels, where individuals, societies, regions and the whole world have been consecrated to her.[116]
The Catholic Church makes it clear that the use of the term "consecration" with regard to Mary is only applied in the "broad and non-technical sense" and is different from "those self-offerings which have God as their object, and which are characterised by totality and perpetuity, which are guaranteed by the Church's intervention and have as their basis the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation."[113] Further, "the faithful should be carefully instructed about the practice of consecration to the Blessed Virgin is, in reality, only analogously a 'consecration to God,' and should be expressed in a correct liturgical manner: to the Father, through Christ in the Holy Spirit, imploring the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to whom we entrust ourselves completely, so as to keep our baptismal commitments and live as her children. The act of consecration [to Mary] should take place outside of the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, since it is a devotional act which cannot be assimilated to the Liturgy. It should also be borne in mind that the act of consecration to Mary differs substantially from other forms of liturgical consecration."[113]
Individuals declaring their "entrustment" to Mary make a personal act to show their devotion and dedication to Mary as the Mother of God, who, though holy, is not herself a divine being. Such individuals seek her intercession before God through her son Jesus Christ, for she has no divine power.[114][115] Devotions to Mary are also commonly directed to Mary herself, to the Immaculate Heart, and/or to the Immaculata; true consecration is only to God.[117]
Consecration to the Virgin Mary by Roman Catholics has taken place from three perspectives, namely personal, societal and regional and with three forms: to the Virgin herself as a whole, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and to the Immaculata. In Catholic teachings, consecration to Mary does not diminish or substitute the love of God, but enhances it, for all consecration is ultimately made to God.[117] Pope Leo XIII, specially encouraged everyone to make acts of consecration to the Virgin Mary based on the methods of Saint Louis de Montfort (who was beatified by Leo), and granted indulgences for such consecrations.[118] Pope Benedict XV also provided strong support for Marian consecration.[118] Pope John Paul II's motto Totus Tuus (i.e. totally yours) reflected his personal consecration to Mary.[119]
In the 18th century, Saint Louis Marie de Montfort became a tireless advocate of "total consecration to Jesus through Mary."[120] In True Devotion, St. Louis stated, "...the most perfect consecration to Jesus Christ is nothing else than a perfect and entire consecration of ourselves to the Blessed Virgin and this is the devotion I teach; or, in other words, a perfect renewal of the vows and promises of holy Baptism."[121]
Early in the 20th century, Saint Maximilian Kolbe, called the Apostle of Consecration to Mary, began a vigorous program of promoting consecration to the Immaculata and published Miles Immaculatae which reached a circulation of 750,000 copies a month.[25][122]
In modern times, Pope John Paul II clarified consecration to Mary in his 1987 encyclical, Mother of the Redeemer, in which he stated, "Mary's a gift which Christ himself makes personally to every individual."[123] John Paul II suggested Christians could best "entrust" themselves to Mary by becoming her spiritual sons and daughters.[124]
Theologian Garrigou-Lagrange designated personal consecration to Mary as the highest level among Marian devotions.[25] His student, Pope John Paul II made Marian devotions and consecrations a hallmark of his papacy, often referring to John 19:26–27, and heavily relying on the spirituality of Saint Louis de Montfort. He also consecrated the entire world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.[125][126]

Mary's role in salvation and redemption

The Virgin Mary from the Ghent Altarpiece, 1432
One of the components of the Catholic veneration of Mary is the focus on her participation in the processes of salvation and redemption.[127] Entire books have been devoted to the exploration of the Catholic perspectives on Mary's role in salvation and redemption.[128][129][130]
The underlying theological issues have been discussed as far back as St. Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century and were intertwined with the discussions of the Immaculate Conception. One of the first scholars to offer theological foundations in this area was the Franciscan Duns Scotus who developed the notion that Mary was preserved from sin by the redemptive virtue of Jesus.[131][132][133] Devotions to and the veneration of the Virgin Mary continued to spread, as she came to be seen as the helpful mother of Christians, and by the 15th century these practices had oriented all the Catholic devotions.[134]
As of the 17th century, a common thread in the writings of saints and theologians alike is the role of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary as joint symbols of redemption and coredemption. Saint Veronica Giuliani expressed how Mary's suffering in Calvary united her heart with that of Jesus as she suffered each torment along with him.[135] The joint devotion to the hearts was formalised by Saint Jean Eudes who organised the scriptural and theological foundations and developed its liturgical themes.[136][137] John Eudes wrote that: "The Virgin Mary began to cooperate in the plan of salvation, from the moment she gave her consent to the Incarnation of the Son of God".[109] The venerative aspects of the united nature of the two hearts continued through the centuries and in 1985 Pope John Paul II coined the term Alliance of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, and in 1986 addressed the international conference on that topic held at Fátima, Portugal.[138][139][140][141]
By the 18th century, the continued growth of Marian veneration had emphasised the role of the Virgin Mary in salvation. In his classic book The Glories of Mary, Saint Alphonsus Liguori explained how God gave Mary to mankind as the "Gate of Heaven", and he quoted Saint Bonaventure, namely "No one can enter Heaven unless by Mary, as though through a door."[142] And he wrote:[143]
Thou art the gate through which all find Jesus; through thee I also hope to find Him."
Saint Louis de Montfort, whose writings later influenced popes, was an ardent supporter of the Virgin Mary's role in salvation.[144][145] The Catholic focus on the role of Mary in salvation and redemption continued into the 20th century, e.g. Pope John Paul II's 1987 encyclical Redemptoris Mater began with the sentence: "The Mother of the Redeemer has a precise place in the plan of salvation."[22]

Catholic saints and the Blessed Virgin Mary

Stained glass depicting St. Louis de Montfort who explained how an initially Christocentric view of salvation leads to total consecration to the Blessed Virgin.[25]
The Roman Catholic perspective on the Virgin Mary has not simply been shaped by the theological studies by a few scholars, but also by devotional concepts embraced by millions of Catholics who venerate the Blessed Virgin Mary. These devotions have relied on the writings of numerous saints throughout history who have attested to the central role of Mary in God's plan of salvation.[146]
Early saints included Saint Irenaeus of Lyons in the 2nd century who was perhaps the earliest of the Church Fathers to write systematically about the Virgin Mary, and he set out a forthright account of her role in the economy of salvation.[147][148][149] Saint Ambrose of Milan (339–397) based the veneration of Mary not only on her virginity but also on her extraordinary courage.[150][151][152]
In the Middle Ages, Saint Bernhard of Clairvaux, a Doctor of the Church, was a fervent supporter of Mary. He highlighted her virginity and humility as the basis for her veneration.[153][154] A particularly significant contribution to Mariology came from John Duns Scotus who in the 13th century defended the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception.[155][156] Scotus identified the key theological foundations which led to the declaration of the dogma of Immaculate Conception centuries later.[157]
In the 16th century, Saint Ignatius of Loyola promulgated an ardent love to the Virgin Mary.[158] Ignatius admired images of the Virgin Mary and before his death his death instructed the Jesuits to preserve Madonna della Strada, was later enshrined in the Church of the Gesu in Rome.[159] Filippo Neri, a contemporary of Ignatius, called Mary "mother and advocate" and is credited with the innovation of daily Marian devotions during the month of May.[160] Saint Peter Canisius is credited with adding the Hail Mary to his catechism of 1555.[161][162][163]
In the 18th century, Saint Alphonsus Liguori wrote the classic book The Glories of Mary in which he called Mary the "Gate of Heaven".[164][165] Saint Louis de Montfort's book True Devotion to Mary synthesized many of the earlier saints' writings and teachings on Mary. His approach of "total consecration to Jesus Christ through Mary" had a strong impact on Marian devotion both in popular piety and in the spirituality of religious institutes.[25] One of his well-known followers was Pope John Paul II who said that reading Montfort's book was a "decisive turning point" in his life.[166][167]

Mary in Roman Catholic liturgy

The Roman Catholic liturgy is one of the most important elements of Marian devotions. Marian feasts are superior to the feast days of the saints. The liturgical texts of the Marian feast days all link Mary to Jesus Christ and keep Marian awareness awake within the Church.

Catholic Marian feast days

The earliest Christian feasts that relate to Mary grew out of the cycle of feasts that celebrated the Nativity of Jesus. By the 7th century a feast dedicated to Mary was celebrated just before Christmas in the Churches of Milan and Ravenna in Italy.[168] Over time, the number of feasts (and the associated Titles of Mary) and the venerative practices that accompany them increased and today Roman Catholics have more Marian feasts, titles and venerative practices than any other Christians.[7] Marian feasts have continued to be developed in the Catholic Church, e.g. the feast of the Queenship of Mary was declared in the 1954 in the papal encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam by pope Pius XII.[169][170]
Some Marian feasts relate to specific events, e.g. the Feast of Our Lady of Victory (later renamed Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary) was based on the 1571 victory of the Papal States against the Muslims in the Battle of Lepanto. It is now celebrated on the 7th of October.[171][172] The month of October was then established as the "month of the Rosary" by Pope Leo XIII, who recommended daily Rosary devotions in October.[173][174]
During the month of May, May devotions to the Blessed Virgin Mary take place in many Catholic regions. These include the singing of Marian anthems, readings from scriptures, a sermon, and or presentation by local choirs.[175][176] The month is also associated with reflection on the Virgin Mary's role as the ideal disciple who sheds light on the Christian way of life, and theologian Karl Rahner stated:[177]
When we are involved in our May Devotions, we are engaged in a Christian understanding of the human situation.
The Roman Catholic Church celebrates three Marian solemnities which are also holy days of obligation in many countries during the liturgical year[178] (in liturgical order):
  • December 8 Feast of the Immaculate Conception
  • January 1 Mary, Mother of God
  • August 15 The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Among the other prominent Marian feast days and memorials in the General Roman Calendar of the Catholic Church are:[178]
  • December 12 Our Lady of Guadalupe
  • February 11 Our Lady of Lourdes
  • May 13 Our Lady of Fátima
  • May 31 Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • July 16 Our  Lady of Mount Carmel
  • Immaculate Heart of Mary (Saturday after Sacred Heart of Jesus)
  • August 22 Queenship of Mary
  • September 8 Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary


Titles of the Blessed Virgin Mary

A large number of titles to honour Mary or ask for her intercession are used by Roman Catholics.[179] While Mater Dei (i.e. "Mother of God" as confirmed by the First Council of Ephesus, 431) is common in Latin, a large number of other titles have been used by Roman Catholics – far more than any other Christians.[7][180][181]
Titles used to refer to the Virgin Mary throughout history, at times reflect the changing attitudes towards her. Domina (lady), Regina (queen) and Stella Maris (star of the sea) are some of the early titles of Mary, of which Regina is the earliest. Domina and Sella Maris are found in Jerome who perhaps originated the etymology of Mary as Stella Maris in the 5th century. While the early emphasis in Stella Maris was on Mary as the Star that bore Christ, by the 9th century, the attention had focused on Mary herself, as indicated in the hymn Ave Maris Stella. By the 11th century, Mary herself had emerged as the star that acted as a guiding light.[182] By the 13th century, as Mariology was growing, Saint Anthony of Padua had composed Mary Our Queen.[183] Titles continue to be interpreted, e.g. Queen of Heaven was further elaborated in 1954 in the papal encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam by pope Pius XII.[169]
Among the most prominent Roman Catholic Marian titles are:[184]
  • Mary, Mother of God
  • Mary, the Immaculate Conception
  • Mary, Queen of Heaven
  • Queen of the Angels
  • Queen of Peace
  • Star of the Sea (Stella Maris)
  • Mother of All Sorrows


Marian Music

One of the earliest Marian compositions is the popular Salve Regina in Latin from a Benedictine monk, which exists in several Gregorian versions. The liturgy of the hour includes several offices to be sung. At the close of the Office, one of four Marian antiphons is sung. These songs, Alma Redemptoris Mater Ave Regina caelorum, Regina caeli, and Salve Regina, have been described as "among the most beautiful creations of the late Middle Ages."[185][186]
It is difficult to trace the beginning of non-Gregorian Marian liturgical music.[187] In 1277 Pope Nicholas III prescribed rules for liturgy in Roman churches.[188][189] In the Graduale Romanum, Kyriale IX and X are both for Marian feasts. Over the centuries, Marian master pieces have continued to appear, e.g. Mozart's Coronation Mass.[190] The list of compositions by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina includes numerous Marian masses: Salve Regina, Alma Redemptoris, Assumpta est Maria, Regina coeli, de beata Virgine, Ave Regina coelorum, Descendit Angelus Domini, and O Virgo simul et Mater.[191] Joseph Haydn wrote several Marian compositions including two famous Marian Masses.[192]

Marian prayers, poems and hymns

Throughout the centuries the veneration of the Virgin Mary has given rise to a number of poems and hymns, as well as prayers. Author Emily Shapcote lists 150 Marian poems and hymns in her book Mary the Perfect Woman.[193] Such prayers and poems go as far back as the 3rd century, but enjoyed a rapid growth during the 11th and 12th centuries. Some of the best poetry written in honor of the Blessed virgin comes from this period of the Middle Ages.[32]
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (item 2679) emphasizes the importance of Marian prayers and states:
Mary is the perfect prayer, a figure of the Church.... We can pray with and to her. The prayer of the Church is sustained by the prayer of Mary and united with it in hope.[194]
The earliest known Marian prayer is the Sub tuum praesidium, or Beneath Thy Protection, a text for which was rediscovered in 1917 on a papyrus in Egypt dated to c. 250.[89][90] The papyrus contains the prayer in Greek and is the earliest known reference to the title Theotokos (confirmed by the Council of Ephesus in 431):[195]
Beneath your compassion, We take refuge, O Mother of God: do not despise our petitions in time of trouble: but rescue us from dangers, only pure, only blessed one.
While the Regina Coelorum goes back to the 4th century, the Regina Coeli was composed towards the end of the 11th century. The first part of the Hail Mary, based on the salutation of angle Gabriel in the Visitation was introduced in the 11tth century, although its current form can be traced to the 16th century.[32]
During the 11th century, as the number of monasteries grew, so did Marian prayers. In this period the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary was introduced and was modeled after the Divine office but was much shorter. It was adopted not only by monks but by pious people who could read. And the growth of the Tertiary orders helped spread its use. During the First Crusade, Pope Urban II ordered it to be said for the success of the Christians.[32] In this period, Hermannus Contractus (Herman the Cripple) at the abbey of Reichenau composed the Alma Redemptoris Mater and hymns to Mary became part of daily life at monasteries such as the Benedictine Abbey of Cluny in France.[196][197]
In the 12th century Bernard of Clairvaux gave sermons (De duodecim stellis), from which an extract has been taken by the Roman Catholic Church and used in the Offices of the Compassion and of the Seven Dolours. Saint Bernard wrote:[196]
Take away Mary, this star of the sea, the sea truly great and wide: what is left but enveloping darkness and the shadow of death and the densest blackness?
Stronger evidences are discernible in the pious meditations on the Ave Maria and the Salve Regina, usually attributed either to St. Anselm of Lucca (d. 1080) or St. Bernard; and also in the large book "De laudibus B. Mariae Virginis" (Douai, 1625) by Richard de Saint-Laurent.
Other famous Marian prayers include the Magnificat, the Angelus and the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Marian hymns include O Mary, we Crown Thee With Blossoms Today, Hail Queen of Heaven, the Regina Coeli, and the Ave Maria.[198]


Marian devotions

Rosary and scapular
A Catholic devotion is a willingness and desire for pious dedication and service but is an "external practice" which is not part of the official liturgy of the Catholic Church.[199][200][201] A wide range of Marian devotions are followed by Catholics ranging from simple Rosary recitations to formalized, multi-day Novenas to activities which do not involve any prayers, such the wearing of scapulars or maintaining a Mary garden.[202]
Two well known Marian devotions are the Rosary recitation and the wearing of the Brown Scapular. Following their joint growth in the 18th and 19th centuries, by the early 20th century the Rosary and the devotional Scapular had gained such a strong following among Catholics worldwide that the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1914 stated: "Like the Rosary, the Brown Scapular has become the badge of the devout Catholic."[203] In his encyclical Rosarium Virginis Mariae Pope John Paul II emphasized the importance of the Rosary. The Mariological basis of the Scapular devotion is effectively the same as Marian consecration, as discussed in the dogmatic constitution Lumen Gentium of Pope Paul VI, namely the role of the Virgin Mary as "the mother to us in the order of grace" which allows her to intercede for "the gift of eternal salvation".[111][204]
Roman Catholic tradition includes specific prayers and devotions as Acts of Reparation to the Virgin Mary for insults that she suffers. The Raccolta Roman Catholic prayer book (approved by a Decree of 1854, and published by the Holy See in 1898) includes a number of such prayers. These prayers do not involve a petition for a living or deceased beneficiary, but aim to repair the sins of others against the Virgin Mary.[205][206][207]

Catholic view of Marian apparitions

The term Marian apparition is usually used in cases where visions of the Virgin Mary are reported, either with or without a conversation. There are, however, cases (e.g. Saint Padre Pio or Sister Maria Pierina De Micheli) where visions of Jesus and Mary and conversations with both are reported. Well-known apparitions include Our Lady of Lourdes, Our Lady of Guadalupe and Our Lady of Fatima.[208][209][210]
The official position of the Holy See is that while the Holy Office has approved a few apparitions of the Virgin Mary, Roman Catholics at large are not required to believe them. However, many Catholics express belief in Marian apparitions.[211] This has included popes, e.g. four popes, i.e. Pope Pius XII, Pope John XXIII, Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II have supported the Our Lady of Fátima messages as supernatural.[citation needed] Pope John Paul II was particularly attached to Fátima and credited Our Lady of Fátima with saving his life after he was shot in Rome on the Feast Day of Our Lady of Fátima in May 1981. He donated the bullet that wounded him on that day to the Roman Catholic sanctuary at Fátima Portugal.[208][212][213]
As a historical pattern, Vatican approval seems to have followed general acceptance of a vision by well over a century in most cases. According to Father Salvatore M. Perrella of the Mariunum Pontifical Institute in Rome, of the 295 reported apparitions studied by the Holy See through the centuries only 12 have been approved, the latest being in May 2008.[9][10][214][215]

Veneration through Marian art

The tradition of honouring Mary by venerating images of her goes back to 3rd century Christianity.[216] Following the period of iconoclasm, the position of the Church with respect to the veneration of images was formalized at the Second Council of Nicaea in 787. A summary of the doctrine is included in the current Catechism of the Catholic Church.
The Christian veneration of images is not contrary to the first commandment which proscribes idols. Indeed, "the honour rendered to an image passes to its prototype," and "whoever venerates an image venerates the person portrayed in it." The honour paid to sacred images is a "respectful veneration," not the adoration due to God alone: Religious worship is not directed to images in themselves, considered as mere things, but under their distinctive aspect as images leading us on to God Incarnate. The movement toward the image does not terminate in it as image, but tends towards that whose image it is.[217]
No image (in either the Western or the Eastern Church) permeates Christian art as the image of Madonna and Child.[218] The images of the Virgin Mary have become central icons of Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodox Christianity where Mary remains a central artistic topic.[219] The Virgin Mary has been one of the major subjects of Christian Art, Catholic Art and Western Art since Early Christian art and she has been very widely portrayed in iconic "portraits", often known as Madonnas, with the infant Jesus in the Madonna and Child, and in a number of narrative scenes from her life known as the Life of the Virgin, as well as scenes illustrating particular doctrines or beliefs: from masters such as Michelangelo, Raphael, Murillo and Botticelli to folk art.[220][221]
Some Marian art subjects include:
  • Annunciation
  • Adoration of the Magi
  • Adoration of the shepherds
  • The Assumption in Art
  • Coronation of the Virgin
  • Christ taking leave of his mother
  • Immaculate Conception
  • Pietà
Marian art enjoys a significant level of diversity, e.g. with distinct styles of statues of the Virgin Mary present on different continents (as depicted in the galleries in Roman Catholic Marian art). These depictions are not restricted to European art, and also appear in South American paintings.[222] The South American tradition of Marian veneration through art dates back to the 16th century, with the Virgin of Copacabana gaining fame in 1582.[223]

Marian movements and societies

Throughout the centuries the devotion to and the veneration of the Virgin Mary by Roman Catholics has both led to, and been influenced by a number of Roman Catholic Marian Movements and Societies. These societies form part of the fabric of Roman Catholic Mariology.[11][224][225] As early as the 16th century, the Holy See endorsed the Sodality of Our Lady and Pope Gregory XIII issued a Papal Bull commending it and granting it indulgences and establishing it as the mother sodality, and other sodalities were formed thereafter.[226][227][228]
The 18th and 19th centuries saw a number of missionary Marian organisations such as Company of Mary, the Marianists, Marist Fathers and Marist Brothers. Some of these missionaries, e.g. Saint Peter Chanel were martyred as they travelled to new lands.[229][230] The 20th century witnessed the formation of Marian organisations with millions of members, e.g. the Legion of Mary and Blue Army of Our Lady of Fatima.[231][232][233][234]

Marian shrines and patronages

The Marian Basilica of Our Lady of Aparecida, Brazil, the largest church in the Americas.[235]
In the Roman Catholic Church a shrine is a church or sacred place which receives many faithful pilgrims for a specific pious reason. The local ordinary must approve the shrine.[236]
Marian shrines account for major veneration centers and pilgrimage sites for Roman Catholics. According to Bishop Francesco Giogia, at the end of the 20th century, the most visited Catholic shrine in the world was that of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexico City. In third place was Our Lady of Aparecida in Brazil, with the non-Marian shrine of San Giovanni Rotondo in second place.[55] The visual effect of Marian pilgrimages can be dramatic, e.g. on May 13 and October 13 of each year close to one million Catholic pilgrims walk the country road that leads to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima.[237] Around 2 million pilgrim journey up Tepeyac hill on December 12 each year to visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.[238] While in 1968 Aparecida had about four million pilgrims,[239] the number has since reached eight million pilgrims per year.[240]
Major Marian shrines include:
  • The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes in Lourdes, France
  • The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, Mexico
  • The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima in Fátima, Portugal
  • The Basilica of the Holy House in Loreto, Italy
  • The Shrine of Black Madonna of Częstochowa in Częstochowa, Poland
  • The Basilica of Our Lady, Queen of Ireland in Knock, Ireland
There are other Marian pilgrimage sites such as Medjugorje, which is not considered a shrine by the Holy See, but yet receives a large number of pilgrims every year.[241] The number of pilgrims who visit some of the approved shrines every year can be significant. E.g. Lourdes with a population of around 15,000 people, receives about 5,000,000 pilgrims every year.[242] In 1881 a French priest, Julien Gouyet, led by the visions of Jesus and Mary of the Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich (Klemens Brentano, 1852) discovered the House of the Virgin Mary near Ephesus in Turkey.[243][244][245]
A number of countries, cities and professions consider the Blessed Virgin their patron saint.


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  2. ^ In the fullness of time, God sent his son, born of a woman.Galatians 4:4
  3. ^ Santa Maria article,9171,730158-1,00.html
  4. ^ Merriam-Webster's encyclopedia of world religions by Wendy Doniger, 1999 ISBN 0-87779-044-2 page 696 [1]
  5. ^ Symbolic scores: studies in the music of the Renaissance by Willem Elders 1997 ISBN 90-04-09970-0 page 151 [2]
  6. ^ Maiden and mother: Prayers, hymns, devotions, and songs to the Beloved Virgin Mary Throughout the Year by Margaret M. Miles 2001 ISBN 0-86012-305-7 page vii [3]
  7. ^ a b c Encyclopedia of Catholicism by Frank K. Flinn, J. Gordon Melton 2007 ISBN 0-8160-5455-X pages 443–444
  8. ^ - Pope Benedict XVI - Feast of Solemnity of Mary. Retrieved January 1, 2012.
  9. ^ a b "Vatican recognizes Marian apparitions in France". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved 01 Oct 2010.
  10. ^ a b "Expert explains Church’s criteria for confirming Marian apparitions.". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved 01 Oct 2010.
  11. ^ a b "University of Dayton on Marian Organisations". Retrieved 2010-11-20.
  12. ^ Galatians 4:4, Luke 1:25, Matthew 1:20
  13. ^ Luke 1:38
  14. ^ Luke 11:27
  15. ^ Luke 1:42
  16. ^ Luke 1:28
  17. ^ McNally, Terrence, What Every Catholic Should Know about Mary ISBN 1-4415-1051-6 page 132
  18. ^ Miravalle, Mark Introduction to Mary 1993, ISBN 978-1-882972-06-7, pages 13–16
  19. ^ Bäumer, 597
  20. ^ a b Encyclopedia of theology: a concise Sacramentum mundi 2004 by Karl Rahner ISBN 0-86012-006-6 page 903
  21. ^ a b c Burke, Raymond L.; et al. (2008). Mariology: A Guide for Priests, Deacons, Seminarians, and Consecrated Persons ISBN 978-1-57918-355-4 page xxi
  22. ^ a b Pope John Paul II. "On the Blessed Virgin Mary in the life of the Pilgrim Church". Redemptoris Mater. Vatican. Retrieved 01 Oct 2010.
  23. ^ See Pius XII Mystici corporis Christi; John Henry Newman: Mariology is always christocentric, in Michael Testa, Mary: The Virgin Mary in the Life and Writings of John Henry Newman 2001; Mariology Is Christology in Vittorio Messori, "The Mary Hypothesis"Rome, 2005
  24. ^ The mystery of Mary by Paul Haffner 2004 ISBN 0-85244-650-0 page 17
  25. ^ a b c d e Miravalle, Mark Introduction to Mary 1993, ISBN 978-1-882972-06-7, pages 156–163
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  • The Mary Page (The Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute, University of Dayton)
  • Memorials of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  •  "The Blessed Virgin Mary". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.
  •  "Immaculate Conception". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.
  • Queenship of Mary

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Featured Items Panel from Litany Lane


Today's  Snippet  I

Book 5, Chapter 2
The Mystical City of God, The Divine History and Life of The Virgin Mother of God

I have already said in former chapters, that our Lady was the first and specially privileged Disciple of her most holy Son, chosen among all creatures as the model of the new evangelical law and its Author, according to which He was to mould all the saints of the new evangelical law and judge of all the results of the Redemption. 

In regard to Her the incarnate Word proceeded like a most skillful artist, who understands the art of painting and that pertains to it most thoroughly; who, throwing all powers into one chosen work, seeks to gain from it alone renown and fame as from the full exposition of his art. It is certain that all the holiness and glory of the saints was the result of the love and merits of Christ: (Eph. 2, 3) but in comparison with the excellence of Mary they seem insignificant and as it were only rough sketches; for in all the saints are found defects (I John 1, 8). But this living image of the Onlybegotten was free from all imperfections; and the first strokes of his pencil in Her were of greater beauty than the last touches in the highest angels and saints. She is the model for all the perfection of holiness and virtues of all his elect, and the utmost limit to which the love of Christ can proceed in mere creatures. No one received any grace or glory that most holy Mary could not receive, and She received all that others were incapable of receiving; and her most blessed Son gave to Her all that She could receive and that He could communicate.

The multitude and variety of the saints silently enhance the Artificer of their great sanctity, and the greatness of the highest is made more conspicuous by the beauty of the lowest: but all of them together are a glorification of most holy Mary. For by her incomparable holiness they are all surpassed and they all partake of so much the greater felicity as they imitate Her, whose holiness redounds over all. If the most pure Mary has reached the highest pinnacle in the ranks of the just, She may also on this very account be considered as the instrument or the motive power through which the saints themselves have reached their station. As we must judge of her excellence (even if only from afar), by the labor which Christ the Lord applied for her formation, let us consider what labor He spent upon Her and how much upon the whole Church. To establish and to enrich his Church He deemed it sufficient to spend only three years in preaching, selecting the Apostles, teaching the people, and inculcating the evangelical law by his public life; and this was amply sufficient to accomplish the work enjoined upon Him by the eternal Father and to justify and sanctify all the true believers. But in order to stamp upon his most holy Mother the image of his holiness, He consumed not three years, but ten times three years, engaging in this work with all the power of his divine love, without ever ceasing hour after hour to add grace to grace, gifts to gifts, blessings to blessings, and holiness to holiness. And at the end of all this He still left Her in a state, in which He could continue to add excellence after his Ascension to his eternal Father as I will describe in the third part. Our reason is unbalanced, our words fail at the greatness of this incomparable Lady; for She is elect as the sun (Cant. 6, 9); and her effulgence cannot be borne by terrestrial eyes, nor comprehended by any earthly creatures.

Christ our Redeemer began to manifest his designs in regard to his heavenly Mother after they had come back from Egypt to Nazareth, as I have already mentioned; from that time on He continued to follow up his purpose in his quality as Teacher and as the divine Enlightener in all the mysteries of the Incarnation and Redemption. After they returned from Jerusalem in his twelfth year, the great Queen had a vision of the Divinity, not an intuitive vision, but one consisting of intellectual images; one very exalted and full of the new influences of the Divinity and of the secrets of the Most High. She was especially enlightened in regard to the decrees of the divine Will concerning the law of grace, which was now established by the incarnate Word, and concerning the power, which was given to Him in the consistory of the most blessed Trinity. At the same time She saw for this purpose the eternal Father consigned to His Son the seven-sealed book, of which saint John speaks (Apoc. 5, 1), and how none could be found either in heaven or on earth, who could unseal and open it, until the Lamb broke its seals by his Passion and Death and by his doctrines and merits. For in this figure God wished to intimate, that the secret of this book was nothing else than the new law of the Gospel and the Church founded upon it in this world.

Then the heavenly Queen saw in spirit that, by decree of the most blessed Trinity, She was to be the first one to read and understand this book; that her Onlybegotten was to open it for Her and manifest it all to Her, while She was to put it perfectly into practice; that She was the first one, who was to accompany the Word, and who was to occupy the first place next to Him on the way to heaven, which He had opened up for mortals and traced out in this book. In Her, as his true Mother, was to be deposited this new Testament. She saw how the Son of the eternal Father and of Herself accepted this decree with great pleasure; and how his sacred humanity obeyed it with ineffable joy on her account.

She issued from this ecstatic vision and betook Herself to her most holy Son, prostrating Herself at his feet and saying: "My Lord, my Light and my Teacher, behold thy unworthy Mother prepared for the fulfillment of thy wishes admit me anew as thy disciple and servant and make use of me as the instrument of thy wisdom and power. Execute in me thy pleasure and that of thy eternal Father." Her most holy Son received Her with the majesty and authority of a divine Teacher and instructed Her in most exalted mysteries. In most persuasive and powerful words He explained to Her the profoundest meanings of the works enjoined upon Him by the eternal Father in regard to the Redemption of man, the founding of the Church and the establishment of the new evangelical law. He declared and reaffirmed, that in the execution of these high and hidden mysteries She was to be his Companion and Coadjutrix, receiving and enjoying the first-fruits of grace; and that therefore She, the most pure Lady, was to follow Him in his labors until his death on the Cross with a magnanimous and well prepared heart in invincible and unhesitating constancy. He added heavenly instruction such as enabled Her to prepare for the reception of the whole evangelical Law, the understanding and practice of all its precepts and counsels in their highest perfection. Other sacramental secrets concerning his works in this world the Child Jesus manifested to his most blessed Mother on this occasion. And the heavenly Lady met all his words and intentions with profound humility, obedience, reverence, thanksgiving and most ardent love.

WORDS OF THE QUEEN. (The Virgin Mary speaks to Sister Mary of Agreda, Spain.)

The Most High who in sheer goodness and bounty given existence to all creatures and denies his providential care to none, faithfully supplies all souls with light by which they can enter into the knowledge of Him and of eternal life provided they do not of their own prevent and obscure this light by sin or give up the quest of the kingdom of heaven. To the souls whom according to his secret judgments, He calls to his Church, He shows himself still more liberal. For with the grace of Baptism He infuses into them not only those virtues, which are called essentially infused and which the created cannot merit by its own labors and efforts; but also those, which are accidentally infused and which it can merit by its own labors and efforts. These the Lord gives freely beforehand, in order that the soul may be more prepared zealous in the observance of his holy Law. In other souls, in addition to the common light of faith, the Lord, in his clemency grants supernatural gifts of knowledge and virtue for the better understanding of the evangelical mysteries and for the more zealous practice of good works. In this kind of gifts He has been more liberal with thee than with many generations; obliging thee thereby to distinguish thyself in loving correspondence due to Him and to humble thyself before Him to the very dust.

In order that thou mayest be well instructed and informed, I wish to warn thee as a solicitous and loving Mother of the cunning of satan for the destruction of these works of the Lord. From the very moment in which mortals begin to have the use of their reason, each one of them is followed by many watchful and relentless demons. For as soon as the souls are in a position to raise their thoughts to the knowledge of their God and commence the practice of the virtues infused by Baptism, these demons, with incredible fury and astuteness, seek to root out the divine seed; and if they cannot succeed in this, they try to hinder its growth, and prevent it from bringing forth fruit by engaging men in vicious, useless, or trifling things. Thus they divert their thoughts from faith and hope and from the pursuit of other virtues, leading them to forget that they are Christians and diverting their attention from the knowledge of God and from the mysteries of the Redemption and of life eternal. Moreover the same enemy instills into the parents a base neglectfulness and carnal love for their offspring; and he incites the teachers to carelessness, so that the children find no support against evil in their education, but become depraved and spoiled by many bad habits, losing sight of virtue and of their good inclinations and going the way of perdition.

But the most kind Lord does not forget them in this danger and He renews in them his holy inspirations and special helps. He supplies them with the holy teachings of the Church by his preachers and ministers. He holds out to them the aid of the Sacraments and many other inducements to keep them on the path of life. That those who walk in the way of salvation are the smaller number, is due to the vice and depraved habits imbibed in youth and nourished in childhood. For that saying of Deuteronomy is very true: "As the days of thy youth, so also shall thy old age be" (Deut. 33, 25). Hence the demons gain courage and increase their tyrannical influence over souls in the early years of man's life, hoping that they will be able to induce men to commit so much the greater and the more frequent sins in later years, the more they have succeeded in drawing them into small insignificant faults in their childhood. By these they draw them on to a state of blind presumption; for with each sin the soul loses more and more the power of resistance, subjects itself to the demon, and falls under the sway of its tyrannical enemies. The miserable yoke of wickedness is more and more firmly fastened upon it; it is trodden underfoot by its own iniquity and urged onward under the sway of the devil from one precipice to another, from abyss to abyss (Ps. 41, 8): a chastisement merited by all those, that allow themselves to be overcome by evil-doing in the beginning. By these means Lucifer has hurled into hell so great a number of souls and continues so to hurl them every day, rising up in his pride against the Almighty. In this manner has he been able to introduce into the world his tyrannical power, spreading among men forgetfulness of death, judgment, heaven and hell, and casting so many nations from abyss to abyss of darkness and bestial errors, such are contained in the heresies and false sects of the infidels. Do thou therefore beware of this terrible danger, my daughter, and let not the memory of the law of thy God, his precepts and commands, and the truths of the Catholic Church and the doctrines of the Gospels ever fail in thy mind. Let not a day pass in which thou dost not spend much time in meditating upon all these; and exhort thy religious and all those who listen to thee the same. For thy enemy and adversary is laboring with ceaseless vigilance to obscure thy understanding in forgetfulness of the divine law, seeking to withdraw thy will, which is a blind faculty, from the practice of justification. This, thou knowest, consists in acts of living faith, trustful hope, ardent love, all coming from a contrite and humble heart (Ps. 50, 19).



"FATHER,... this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent."Jn 17 3
"God our Saviour desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth."1 Tim 2:3-4.
"There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" Acts 4:12 - than the name of JESUS.

I. The life of man - to know and love God

1 God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to man. He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength. He calls together all men, scattered and divided by sin, into the unity of his family, the Church. To accomplish this, when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son as Redeemer and Saviour. In his Son and through him, he invites men to become, in the Holy Spirit, his adopted children and thus heirs of his blessed life.

2 So that this call should resound throughout the world, Christ sent forth the apostles he had chosen, commissioning them to proclaim the gospel: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age."Mt 28:19-20 Strengthened by this mission, the apostles "went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it."Mk 16:20

3 Those who with God's help have welcomed Christ's call and freely responded to it are urged on by love of Christ to proclaim the Good News everywhere in the world. This treasure, received from the apostles, has been faithfully guarded by their successors. All Christ's faithful are called to hand it on from generation to generation, by professing the faith, by living it in fraternal sharing, and by celebrating it in liturgy and prayer. Acts 2:42

II. Handing on the Faith: Catechesis
4 Quite early on, the name catechesis was given to the totality of the Church's efforts to make disciples, to help men believe that Jesus is the Son of God so that believing they might have life in his name, and to educate and instruct them in this life, thus building up the body of Christ.Cf. John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Catechesi tradendae 1; 2.

5 "Catechesis is an education in the faith of children, young people and adults which includes especially the teaching of Christian doctrine imparted, generally speaking, in an organic and systematic way, with a view to initiating the hearers into the fullness of Christian life."CT 18.

6 While not being formally identified with them, catechesis is built on a certain number of elements of the Church's pastoral mission which have a catechetical aspect, that prepare for catechesis, or spring from it. They are: the initial proclamation of the Gospel or missionary preaching to arouse faith; examination of the reasons for belief; experience of Christian living; celebration of the sacraments; integration into the ecclesial community; and apostolic and missionary witness.CT 18.

7 "Catechesis is intimately bound up with the whole of the Church's life. Not only her geographical extension and numerical increase, but even more her inner growth and correspondence with God's plan depend essentially on catechesis."CT 13

8 Periods of renewal in the Church are also intense moments of catechesis. In the great era of the Fathers of the Church, saintly bishops devoted an important part of their ministry to catechesis. St. Cyril of Jerusalem and St. John Chrysostom, St. Ambrose and St. Augustine, and many other Fathers wrote catechetical works that remain models for us.CT 12

9 "The ministry of catechesis draws ever fresh energy from the councils. the Council of Trent is a noteworthy example of this. It gave catechesis priority in its constitutions and decrees. It lies at the origin of the Roman Catechism, which is also known by the name of that council and which is a work of the first rank as a summary of Christian teaching. . "CT 13 The Council of Trent initiated a remarkable organization of the Church's catechesis. Thanks to the work of holy bishops and theologians such as St. Peter Canisius, St. Charles Borromeo, St. Turibius of Mongrovejo or St. Robert Bellarmine, it occasioned the publication of numerous catechisms.

10 It is therefore no surprise that catechesis in the Church has again attracted attention in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, which Pope Paul Vl considered the great catechism of modern times. the General Catechetical Directory (1971) the sessions of the Synod of Bishops devoted to evangelization (1974) and catechesis (1977), the apostolic exhortations Evangelii nuntiandi (1975) and Catechesi tradendae (1979), attest to this. the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops in 1985 asked "that a catechism or compendium of all Catholic doctrine regarding both faith and morals be composed"Extraordinary Synod of Bishops 1985,. Final Report II B a, 4. The Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, made the Synod's wish his own, acknowledging that "this desire wholly corresponds to a real need of the universal Church and of the particular Churches."John Paul II, Discourse at the Closing of the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops 7 December 1985: AAS 78, (1986). He set in motion everything needed to carry out the Synod Fathers' wish.

III. The Aim and Intended Readership of the Catechism
11 This catechism aims at presenting an organic synthesis of the essential and fundamental contents of Catholic doctrine, as regards both faith and morals, in the light of the Second Vatican Council and the whole of the Church's Tradition. Its principal sources are the Sacred Scriptures, the Fathers of the Church, the liturgy, and the Church's Magisterium. It is intended to serve "as a point of reference for the catechisms or compendia that are composed in the various countries".Extraordinary Synod of Bishops 1985, Final Report II B a, 4

12 This work is intended primarily for those responsible for catechesis: first of all the bishops, as teachers of the faith and pastors of the Church. It is offered to them as an instrument in fulfilling their responsibility of teaching the People of God. Through the bishops, it is addressed to redactors of catechisms, to priests, and to catechists. It will also be useful reading for all other Christian faithful.

IV. Structure of this Catechism
13 The plan of this catechism is inspired by the great tradition of catechisms which build catechesis on four pillars: the baptismal profession of faith (the Creed), the sacraments of faith, the life of faith (the Commandments), and the prayer of the believer (the Lord's Prayer).

Part One: the Profession of Faith
14 Those who belong to Christ through faith and Baptism must confess their baptismal faith before men.Cf. Mt 10:32; Rom 10:9 First therefore the Catechism expounds revelation, by which God addresses and gives himself to man, and the faith by which man responds to God (Section One). the profession of faith summarizes the gifts that God gives man: as the Author of all that is good; as Redeemer; and as Sanctifier. It develops these in the three chapters on our baptismal faith in the one God: the almighty Father, the Creator; his Son Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour; and the Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier, in the Holy Church (Section Two).

Part Two: the Sacraments of Faith
15 The second part of the Catechism explains how God's salvation, accomplished once for all through Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit, is made present in the sacred actions of the Church's liturgy (Section One), especially in the seven sacraments (Section Two).

Part Three: the Life of Faith
16 The third part of the Catechism deals with the final end of man created in the image of God: beatitude, and the ways of reaching it - through right conduct freely chosen, with the help of God's law and grace (Section One), and through conduct that fulfils the twofold commandment of charity, specified in God's Ten Commandments (Section Two).

Part Four: Prayer in the Life of Faith
17 The last part of the Catechism deals with the meaning and importance of prayer in the life of believers (Section One). It concludes with a brief commentary on the seven petitions of the Lord's Prayer (Section Two), for indeed we find in these the sum of all the good things which we must hope for, and which our heavenly Father wants to grant us.

V. Practical Directions for Using this Catechism
18 This catechism is conceived as an organic presentation of the Catholic faith in its entirety. It should be seen therefore as a unified whole. Numerous cross-references in the margin of the text (numbers found at the end of a sentence referring to other paragraphs that deal with the same theme), as well as the analytical index at the end of the volume, allow the reader to view each theme in its relationship with the entirety of the faith.
19 The texts of Sacred Scripture are often not quoted word for word but are merely indicated by a reference (cf.). For a deeper understanding of such passages, the reader should refer to the Scriptural texts themselves. Such Biblical references are a valuable working-tool in catechesis.
20 The use of small print in certain passages indicates observations of an historical or apologetic nature, or supplementary doctrinal explanations.
21 The quotations, also in small print, from patristic, liturgical, magisterial or hagiographical sources, are intended to enrich the doctrinal presentations. These texts have often been chosen with a view to direct catechetical use.
22 At the end of each thematic unit, a series of brief texts in small italics sums up the essentials of that unit's teaching in condensed formulae. These "IN BRIEF" summaries may suggest to local catechists brief summary formulae that could be memorized.

VI. Necessary Adaptations
23 The Catechism emphasizes the exposition of doctrine. It seeks to help deepen understanding of faith. In this way it is oriented towards the maturing of that faith, its putting down roots in personal life, and its shining forth in personal conduct.Cf. CT 20-22; 25
24 By design, this Catechism does not set out to provide the adaptation of doctrinal presentations and catechetical methods required by the differences of culture, age, spiritual maturity, and social and ecclesial condition among all those to whom it is addressed. Such indispensable adaptations are the responsibility of particular catechisms and, even more, of those who instruct the faithful:
Whoever teaches must become "all things to all men" ( I Cor 9:22), to win everyone to Christ. . . Above all, teachers must not imagine that a single kind of soul has been entrusted to them, and that consequently it is lawful to teach and form equally all the faithful in true piety with one and the same method! Let them realize that some are in Christ as newborn babes, others as adolescents, and still others as adults in full command of their powers.... Those who are called to the ministry of preaching must suit their words to the maturity and understanding of their hearers, as they hand on the teaching of the mysteries of faith and the rules of moral conduct.Roman Catechism, Preface II; cf. I Cor 9:22; I Pt 2:2

Above all - Charity
25 To conclude this Prologue, it is fitting to recall this pastoral principle stated by the Roman Catechism:
The whole concern of doctrine and its teaching must be directed to the love that never ends. Whether something is proposed for belief, for hope or for action, the love of our Lord must always be made accessible, so that anyone can see that all the works of perfect Christian virtue spring from love and have no other objective than to arrive at love.Roman Catechism, Preface 10; cf. I Cor 13 8


  • CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH - Latin text copyright (c) Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Citta del Vaticano 1993

...Coming Everyday This Month - Part One: The Profession of Faith