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Thursday, February 26, 2009

On the Second Luminous Mystery

Pope John Paul II was well known for his love of the Blessed Mother. He declared the "Year of the Rosary" from 2002-2003 within the Catholic Church ( In that same year he wrote an Apostolic Letter on the Virgin Mary and the Rosary, Rosarium Virginis Mariae ( ).

In that document, John Paul II instituted five new mysteries of the Rosary, the Luminous Mysteries. Prior to 2002, the Rosary had consisted of three separate Mysteries, each comprised of five decades meditating on the life of Christ and also his Mother. The original three Mysteries are the Joyful (focusing the attention on the life of Mary beginning from the Angel Gabriel's announcement to her of God's desire for her to be the Mother of Christ and Christ's early life), the Sorrowful (focusing on the passion and death of Jesus) and the Glorious (focusing on the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ, the Holy Spirit's decent, and his Mother's Assumption into heaven and Coronation).

The Luminous Mysteries focused on Jesus' life, miracles and teachings between the time of his childhood and his Passion. The mysteries are: The Baptism in the River Jordan, The Miracle at the Wedding Feast at Cana, The Proclamation of the Gospel, The Transfiguration, and The Institution of the Eucharist.

I have a personally deep love for this set of mysteries since they were introduced into my life at a time when I was truly deepening my faith and seeking to find a greater love for Christ and Our Lady.

In particular I want to reflect on the Second Luminous Mystery, the Miracle at the Wedding Feast at Cana.

In this mystery, many things are happening besides the miracle itself of the water in the water jugs being changed into wine, and one might here some of these less obvious points expounded on in a homily or other discussion; for me, the most obvious miracle of the water being made into wine is exactly what I want to consider.

First, why water into wine? What is the significance beyond the need for the drink at the party?
Water is something more common, more mundane. It is drunk by all people throughout the world at all times. It has little flavor or taste, and is often drunk more from necessity than for pleasure.

Wine, on the other hand, can be very exclusive. It can be sweet, potent, harsh, smooth, etc... It has a distinct taste and flavor and grows more potent with age. It is usually more rare to come by than water and can be hard to acquire, depending on many factors of one's life.

In my understanding, there is a great significance for Christ changing water to wine, especially while we pray with these mysteries. Our Lady is the Victor of Purity, Conceived without sin, the Immaculate Heart. If we are seeking her intercession and praying with her Rosary, it follows that we would be seeking a greater purity of heart and tendency away from sin, even if indirectly or unintentionally.

This is where I took my thought on the water into wine. Purity of heart and holiness are potent things. They stirred the Heart of God, Christ Jesus, to preform a miracle even when "his hour had not yet come" (John 2:4), because the beauty of his Mother's heart was so powerful. Likewise, if we are considering ourselves to be like the water that needs to be made more potent, than as we meditate on this mystery we can see how our being "turned to wine" has implications both for our own souls and also for the community around us.

The potency of Mary not only enabled a miracle, but also began Christ's public ministry, most likely deeply affected and converted those servants who were first-hand witnesses of the miracle, and also made the wedding celebration itself very memorable to all who were present since the best wine was served later.

On that thought, if we are being changed from water to wine, we will certainly be infiltrating our circles of influence with the flavor and intoxication of the Gospel.
Our own hearts will also be burning with that intoxication, and our vision will be altered. We will begin to see the things of the world more indistictly, and find walking the path of the world much more challenging. Balancing ourselves will become only possible in light of the drink which would be our only consumption - the Love of God.

Just think, the human body is about 65% water, on average. If that much of our physical being was transformed into a living water, a wine which burned up the impurities in our systems and left only something strong and sweet within us, who would recognize us? It would certainly be no wonder if the world mocked us then, when we would not only be foolish in the drunken way, but foolish for an unseen God, no less!

But He is not so unseen, and the more we are transformed the deeper into his image we will fall. Our Lady carried within her womb God made man for nine months.
Even before His conception, Mary was perfectly without sin. Yet, how much more must she have been like Him after having his body within her own? Do we not have the same opportunity to carry his Body within us every day? (The answer to that is yes!)

So when you sit down to pray the Luminous Mysteries (hopefully today since it is Thursday), keep in mind that the transformation of the water to wine can be something spiritual and physical for us now, and for all who we encounter who find the Gospel proclaimed in our actions and words.

To love is a decision, to pray is a choice, to live is a gift. Seek a life of love.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Radical Love

I recently had a discussion about priesthood, and the call and answer which are included under that topic.

Part of the conversation included deliberating about the necessity of sacrificing one's ability to have a family to serve the Church in this way - namely, celibacy.

My opinion is a simple one. 

First, we need passion. Second, we need sacrifice. Third, we need radicalness.

As far as I have experienced in this life, we cannot live with ourselves and our lives unless we find that we are being fulfilled. That journey, whether spiritual, material, physical, marital, etc... is one embarked on by everyone in some form. 

In this certain area, I find it unaccountable to think that anyone would want to dedicate and focus their entire life without it being something that has great stakes. Why would I want to be something mediocre, when I can be a hero? Why would I want to be Claudius when I could be Maximus? It simply stands that greater sacrifice, risk, commitment, etc... leaves us feeling more fulfilled, proud, strong and prepared for life.

I would think of it this way - I would never consider marrying someone who wanted to be able to date on the side so that they did not have to completely commit their life to me. Most people, I believe, would agree with that. Therefore, why is it arguable to say that we would accept a priesthood that could, when desirous, date other people, or marry, or have a family?

There is no fairness there to the Church as a whole, who as the Body of Christ deserve a shepherd who is seeking to be completely like the Head of the Body, who is Christ the Lord. Likewise there is no justice for a family who is asked to share their head of the family with a much larger community, spiritually, emotionally, and physically.

I don't really consider it a point of contention, when thought through logically. Simply put, any life long choice should be considered a radical one. Anything that will affect your entire lifestyle, future, hopes, dreams, formation, etc... should be taken seriously and be something that you can look back on at any time and feel proud of and at peace with. Therefore, it stands that as a radical choice involving your heart and soul, it should be made with radical love. A radical love that is met in equality with a radical sacrifice, radical commitment, radical passion. 

That is what I would want for myself, and likewise for anyone making a choice to live for the Lord.