Category: Catholic Articles

Why Did Jesus Address His Mother, As “Woman” In The Bible?  

Why Did Jesus Address His Mother, As “Woman” In The Bible?  

Why is it that Jesus calls His Mother “Woman” in the Bible?

In few parts of the gospel, we noticed that Jesus addressed his Mother Mary as “Woman”. Many non-Catholics and protestants point to this fact in trying to downplay the importance of the Blessed Mother in Christian life. In fact, many of them seemingly use this to justify NOT giving the Blessed Mother the respect and veneration that Catholics give her.

Is Jesus being disrespectful of His Mother when He calls her woman? And as such, are we supposed to follow the Protestant “logic” that since Jesus called His Mother “Woman”, we should not give her as much honor as we should?

There are two (2) ways of answering this question.

First, does Jesus’ calling Mary “Woman” connote a certain level of disrespect? The answer, of course, is NO! Simple logic will answer this. 

Jesus, the Son of God, gave this as one of His principal commandments: “Honor your father and your mother.” Do you think that Jesus, who is God, will contradict Himself and not practice what He taught? That is, do you think that He Himself, who gave the command to honor father and mother, will NOT Himself honor His own mother?

Second, Jesus’ calling Mary “Woman” has a deeper theological meaning. Church scholars preach that the reason Jesus calls His Mother “Woman” is to refer to her as the “Woman” foretold in Genesis. In Genesis 3:15, after banishing Adam and Eve from the heavenly paradise, God made a promise to the serpent. He said that He will “put enmity between you and the Woman, between her offspring and yours. She will crush your head, and you shall bite her heel.”

At the very beginning of our salvation history, God promised to send a “Woman” whose offspring will crush the head of the serpent. That “Woman” is Mary, and the “offspring” is Jesus.

Whenever Jesus calls Mary “Woman”, therefore, He exalts her by pointing out to us that Mary is the fulfillment of the prophecy and promise that God made at the very beginning of human history. Mary is the “Woman” who will crush the head of the serpent! She is the victorious “Woman” who gave birth to Jesus, her Offspring, who triumphs over Satan.

How To Control Our Negative Thoughts – Techniques From The Desert Fathers 

How To Control Our Negative Thoughts – Techniques From The Desert Fathers 

There are some similarities with the desert fathers techniques of guarding the heart and today’s use of meditation.

Between the III and VII century, the Desert Fathers, Christians who took shelter in the deserts of Mesopotamia, Egypt, Syria, and Palestine lived as hermits in huts, caves, in trees, or even on top of a stone pillar. They searched for a life of solitude, manual labor, contemplation, and silence, with the goal of growing spiritually. Convinced of the intimate union between the body, soul, and spirit, the Desert Fathers—who we could also say were the first therapists—developed recommendations to heal the “sicknesses of the soul.” Among these recommendations was that of controlling our thoughts, achieved thanks to one method in particular: guarding the heart. Jean-Guilhem Xerri, a psychoanalyst and medical biologist, has developed this practice, showing just how relevant it is in today’s society.

Why should we control our thoughts?

According to the Desert Fathers, uncontrolled thoughts are the origins of some of the sicknesses of the soul. They identified eight non-psychological sicknesses of a spiritual origin, classified by the monk Evagrius as: greed of any sort, a pathological relationship to sex, a pathological relationship to money, sadness, aggressiveness, acedia (an illness of the soul expressed by listlessness, boredom, laziness – a precursor to slothfulness) vanity, and pride. These eight generic diseases have a pathological source: narcissism, which the Fathers called  philautia, excessive self-love.


One of the causes for these thoughts, which were considered as troubling, was the imagination. If an imagination is left uncontrolled it elicits visions which sometimes crowd our minds to the point of taking over. With worst-case scenarios stemming from pornographic images, undeserved accolades… “The imagination leads us to make up stories in our heads that are not always correct or pacifying,” sums up Xerri. Where it is in our power to control them: “Whether the thoughts trouble us or not is something beyond our doing. But whether they dwell within us or not, that they stir up passions or not, is something which is within our power,” wrote one of the Desert Fathers, John Damascene, in his A Speech Useful for the Soul. We will always be a theater of sensations and thoughts: the question is, what do we do with it? “Faced with such a thought,” Xerri reminds us, “man has various possibilities: to acquiesce or not, to feed it or resist it.”

For these ancient monks the objective of gaining control of their thoughts was to reach Hesychasm; a state characterized by peace, calm, rest, silence, and deep inner solitude; necessary for the spiritual contemplation of things and beings, and the understanding of God. The Desert Fathers prescribed many methods to achieve this: “guarding the heart”, sobriety, hospitality and practicing meditation.


What is “Guarding the Heart”?

Guarding the heart, in Greek nepsis (vigilance), is being attentive to everything that happens in our heart. It is a spiritual method which aims to free man of bad or passionate thoughts. It invites us to observe the thoughts which penetrate our soul, and to discern between the good and the bad. Evagrius said: “Take care of yourself, be the gatekeeper to your heart and don’t let any thought enter without questioning it.” As Xerri points out: “The elders noticed that holy thoughts led to a peaceful state, the others to a troubled state.”

The indispensable means of guarding the heart is paying close attention to thoughts and discerning between those which are good and healing, and those which are a source of distraction or obsession. The aim is to gain freedom, and to reach indifference, the ability to not be dominated by our thoughts.

Was guarding the heart the ancestor of mediation?

Today cognitive sciences are in agreement with the diagnosis established by the Desert Fathers concerning the illnesses of the soul, which are growing rapidly today, along with the therapies which they had already recommended nearly 2000 years ago. It is recognized that today we are all suffering from countless and continuous demands and that this trend disturbs our interiority. Xerri lists a variety of areas in which we are over-stimulated, thanks especially to digital media: food, material goods, sex, leisure, self-image, superficiality, criticism…

Permanently in demand and needing to be available immediately, we have on average between three or four decisions to take each second, according to Xerri. Therefore, it is fanciful to expect to be able to voluntary control our decisions in all consciousness, it’s simply impossible. “We are victims of a real hold-up of our attentional abilities,” laments Xerri, “Yet our attention determines our relationship with the world.

The patristic tradition and the neurosciences agree: taking back control of our attention is a fundamental challenge for our mental health. The Desert Fathers recommended guarding the heart; the fashion today is mindful meditation. Both these therapies practice the observation of what is going on in and around us. Meditation, in the contemporary and non-religious sense, means opening oneself to present experience, with attention given to what we are going through. Like guarding the heart, it invites us to change our way of being in the world, and to make it a habit to pay attention to our thoughts which infiltrate our soul.

A little prayer to help guard your heart

In their bid to find Hesychasm, the Desert Fathers would often empty their minds and recite the very simple Prayer of the Heart, or Jesus Prayer. So if you want a little help from our Orthodox forefathers in being able to control the thoughts that cross our minds, try and find time in the morning to say this prayer before the demands of the day really kick in: 

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” 

(Although “a sinner” was added over the years.)

Why The Memorial Of The Immaculate Heart Follow Simultaneously The Solemnity Of The Sacred Heart – What It Means For Us. 

Why The Memorial Of The Immaculate Heart Follow Simultaneously The Solemnity Of The Sacred Heart – What It Means For Us. 

Sacred Heart of Jesus, thy kingdom come. When we meditate on the Sacred Heart, pondering the depth of God’s love for us, we need to contemplate the Immaculate Heart as well.

The Friday following the Sunday following the Thursday following Trinity Sunday is a great solemnity in our Church, its date easier to remember now that we have Instagram and Facebook feeds filled with images of the Sacred Heart on that moveable feast. On the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart, we contemplate the pierced heart of Christ burning with love for his people, surrounded by a crown of thorns as he continues to suffer for love of us.


The following day (June 9, this year) is the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. These two celebrations always come back to back, with nothing separating the heart of Jesus from the heart of his mother. Their hearts were united from the moment the divine heart began to beat in his mother’s womb, nestled below her virginal heart. They were united in suffering on Calvary, united in exultation on Easter, and united in eternity when God raised his mother’s heart into heaven to beat alongside his.


So when we meditate on the Sacred Heart, pondering the depth of God’s love for us, we need to contemplate the Immaculate Heart as well to see the response we’re invited to make with our lives.


In images of the Immaculate Heart, Mary’s heart is shown outside her body, as she gestures to it. Mary’s heart is entirely given over to the Lord, in love of him and of his people. Her heart burns with love for God, a love that pours out to the billions of children she has been called to mother. When we look on the burning heart of Jesus, we remember that our God is a consuming fire (Heb 12:29), burning away our imperfections in the power of his love that will never be deterred. When we look on Mary’s heart, we long to love the Lord with the all-consuming intensity of Our Lady. We seek to look on our brothers and sisters with that love, one that manifests itself not in word or speech but in deed and truth (1 Jn 3:18).


Next, our eyes travel to the crowns that surround the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts. Jesus’ is the same thorny crown pressed into his sinless brow, a sign of the pain and mockery he suffered on Calvary and suffers today. This, too, speaks of his love for his people, that he would so gladly suffer indignity and torture to bring home one lost sheep.


Mary’s heart, on the other hand, is wreathed in roses, a testimony to her purity. But roses have thorns, witnessing to the mortification required of anyone who seeks to imitate her purity. When held up against the backdrop of the crown of thorns, it’s easy to see how our small sufferings, when accepted for love of God, can be transformed into a thing of beauty. The Immaculate Heart, then, invites us to purity, mortification, and joy in our sacrifice.


Finally, Jesus’ heart is scarred, sliced open where the soldier’s lance pierced him after he died. The Resurrection wasn’t a divine do-over, or his wounds would have been healed when he rose. And it wasn’t just as a sign to Thomas that he rose with holes; instead, each of us can take hope from his still-wounded body that our wounds can be not just erased but glorified. As Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father, he looks at the holes in his hands, of which Isaiah prophesied, “See, upon the palms of my hands I have written your name” (Is 49:16). Jesus looks at these wounds and rejoices that by them, we have been healed (Is 53:5).


In Mary’s heart, there is a sword (or seven), in fulfillment of Simeon’s prophecy that a sword would pierce her heart. These swords represent the seven sorrows of Mary, the deep suffering that threatened to destroy her. More than the thorns of small sacrifices, these are the agonizing pains that we struggle under, the loss and loneliness and fear that leave us near despair. But in Mary’s heart, these swords, too, have been glorified. She doesn’t shriek in anguish, deny her suffering, or attempt to pry the swords out; she looks to her Son who suffered far more and unites her heart to his, offering him her pain. We, too, must acknowledge the deep pain in our lives, pain that sometimes comes directly from our decision to follow Jesus, and offer it to him, trusting that when we embrace our crosses, he can make us saints.


In 1942, Pope Pius XII consecrated the entire world to Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Many individuals have done the same. As we celebrate her feast day today, let’s ask her once again to intercede that our hearts would be made more like hers in imitation of her Son.

How Attending The Holy Mass Prevented A Young Man From Dying

How Attending The Holy Mass Prevented A Young Man From Dying

Divine Providence never fails


ST. ELIZABETH was daughter of Peter III. king of Arragon, and granddaughter of James I, who had been educated under the care of St. Peter Nolasco, and was surnamed the Saint, and from the taking of Majorca and Valentia, Expugnator or the Conqueror. 

The queen (St. Elizabeth), had a very pious, faithful page, whom she employed in the distribution of her secret alms. A wicked fellow-page envying him on account of this favour, to which his virtue and services entitled him, treacherously suggested to his majesty that the queen showed a fondness for that page. 

The prince, who by his own sensual heart was easily inclined to judge ill of others, gave credit to the slanderer, and resolved to take away the life of the innocent youth. For this purpose he gave order to a lime-burner, that if on such a day he sent to him a page with this errand to inquire, “Whether he had fulfilled the king’s commands?” he should take him and cast him into the lime-kiln, there to be burnt; for that death he had justly incurred, and the execution was expedient for the king’s service. 

On the day appointed, he despatched the page with this message to the lime-kiln; but the devout youth on the road passing by a church, heard the bell ring at the elevation at mass, went in and prayed there devoutly; for it was his pious custom, if ever he heard the sign given by the bell for the elevation, always to go thither, and not depart till mass was ended. It happened, on that occasion, that as the first was not a whole mass, and it was with him a constant rule to hear mass every day, he stayed in the church, and heard successively two other masses. In the meantime, the king, who was impatient to know if his orders had been executed, sent the informer to the lime-kiln, to inquire whether his commands had been obeyed; but as soon as he had come to the kiln, and had asked the question, the man supposing him to be the messenger meant by the king’s order, seized him, and threw him into the burning lime, where he was soon consumed. Thus was the innocent protected by his devotion, and the slanderer was overtaken by divine justice. 

The page who had heard the masses went afterwards to the lime-kiln, and having asked whether his majesty’s commands had been yet executed, brought him word back that they were. The king was almost out of himself with surprise when he saw him come back with this message, and being soon informed of the particulars, he easily discovered the innocence of the pious youth, adored the divine judgments, and ever after respected the great virtue and sanctity of his queen.

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