Mary

Since Friday, June 28 is the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, I am reposting this. A non-Christian friend found two paintings at an art show and asked me, “What in the world are these? They seem to have pagan elements. What do they have to do with Jesus and Mary?”

Here is my explanation. If you readers have anything to add, please post it in the Comments below. Thanks.

Thanks my friend. Beautiful images. Full of biblical representation — NOT pagan influences. They are devotional images to remind Catholics of the sorrows of Jesus and Mary and the resultant purification, joy and new life that come from them.

Sacred Heart of Jesus

Sacred Heart of Jesus:
Hearts represent love and life as the center of our being. Jesus’ heart beats with the fire of love (at the top of the heart) which was demonstrated at the cross. The fire also represents the purifying fire of God by which he purifies men. It exudes the transformative power of divine love.

The crown of thorns brought suffering which was endured for the love of man to redeem him — to bear man’s pain in his own heart. The cut in the heart is that made by the lance that was thrust through his heart when he was on the cross.

The blood dripping represents the new life secured through his death (life came through dead). The Blood of Jesus also cleanses us, washes us from sin. The result is the heart of man (below surrounded by flowers) is given new life. The flowers represent a garden of delights, new life, freshness. The Garden of Eden which brought about death by sin is now replaced by the Garden of Heaven which brings new life because of holiness and the work of Christ.

Adam and Eve experienced death at the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden; The New Adam (Jesus) brings about life at the Tree of Death (the cross) in another garden (John 19:41). This cross is at the top of the heart. Heaven and the glory of God is represented by the clouds and the blazing sun or heavenly light from God behind the hearts.

Immaculate Heart of Mary

Immaculate Heart of Mary:
This one is similar to the Sacred Heart. The roses surrounding Mary’s heart represent her sinlessness and purity, sweetness and new life. The seven swords piercing the top of the heart represents the “Seven Sorrows of Mary,” (“Mater Dolorosa”).

The first of her sorrows was the Prophecy of Simeon that a sword would pierce her soul because of her son’s death (Luke 2:35), 2) their flight into Egypt, 3) the loss of Jesus in the Temple; 4) the fourth sorrow is Mary watching Jesus carry the cross, 5) the crucifixion imagining a mother watching her son die this way; 6) receiving his limp, cold body after the crucifixion, 7) the body of her son buried in the tomb.

When Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple as a baby the prophet Simeon said that the life and death of Jesus would be like a sword that would pierce her soul (Luke 2:35). The lower heart, the one of Mary surrounded by roses, shows a cut in it which is symbolic of her sorrows. But her sorrows have brought us new life and pure hearts represented by the garden of roses below.

The Mystic Rose:
The mystic rose, symbolizes Mary’s mystical participation in the Holy Trinity as Heaven’s Rose or Mystical Rose. In medieval times the mystic rose symbol was drawn with four petals on a stain glass background or on a multi-colored background like a popular quilt pattern which is still stitched today.

Conclusion:
It is a very popular and insightful devotion to Jesus and his mother — the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Every aspect is taken from the Bible and nicely illustrated in the pictures you sent. You have a nice few items there :-)

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The Bible says, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim 2:5). Yet Catholics refer to Mary as a Mediatrix (feminine form of the word mediator). So, isn’t that prima facie evidence that Catholics make up doctrines, worship Mary and disregard the Bible? I was again challenged with this the other day. Interesting how the same old, same old keeps coming up no matter how many times you answer it. Interesting how these same misconceptions keep coming up as though some contentious power keeps inserting them into gullible minds. Interesting how people love to twist the rubber nose to make it obscene, grotesque, and distorted. So here was my short response — again! ********************************************* Cross in Woods smtIn 1 Timothy 2:5 Paul recognizes that there is a huge chasm between the holy God and sinful men. Paul states that there is only one mediator that can bridge that uncrossable gorge.  How do we sinners reach a holy God across such a chasm? God has provided the solution. He has provided the-one-and-only Mediator (1 Tim 2:5), the bridge, the stairway between heaven and earth, (John 1:51 based on the ladder seen by Jacob). This one Mediator is the God-Man Jesus Christ and he is the only one that can bridge the gap–mediate–between heaven and earth to bring reconciliation between God and men. Thus, there is one Mediator to reconcile God and man. Jesus is the mediator of the new covenant as the writer of Hebrews informs us three times, for example: “Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel” (Heb 8:6, 9:15, 12:24). No one else could have ever become such a mediator of the New Covenant. However, after Jesus has accomplished such an act of redemption and mediatorship, he calls us to share in his ministry. I remember my father saying to me before I joined the Catholic Church, “When you become Catholic you will pray to Mary and remember that Paul says there is only one Mediator between God and man.” I lovingly but sternly replied to my father, “Dad, never ask me to pray for you again!” My father was shocked but understood my meaning. As soon as he asks me to pray for him — he asks me to be a mediator between him and God. I told him that to be consistent with his Protestant theology he should not ask me or anyone else to intercede for him, to be a mediator — one who stands in the middle — but he should pray directly to Jesus himself. m74But Scripture constantly commands us to pray for one another, to intercede for our fellow humans. We are all “mini” mediators sharing in the mediatorship of Christ. And it goes the other way too. When God tells us to share the Gospel with lost sinners he is asking us to stand between himself and the sinner to share the Gospel, although he could have chosen to communicate with them directly. Mary is not the infinite mediator, nor does she impose on the prerogatives of her Son. She, like us, intercedes for sinners and the people of God. Mediatrix is simply the feminine form of mediator. All of us share in the ministry of Christ, mediating and praying for our fellow man. In this sense, all of us are mediators and the females among us are mediatrixes. I am frequently asked, “Where does the Bible say we should pray to dead saints?” to which I usually ask, “Where does the Bible say that saints are dead?” Those of us, including most Protestants, believe that when a person dies in friendship with Christ they are still alive in Christ. To prove that those who died in a state of grace were not dead, Jesus said to the Sadducees (who didn’t believe in the resurrection which is why they were “sad you see” — as my dad used to joke with us kids), “‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living” (Matt 22:32). Jesus said that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were still alive. Those who say “Why do you Catholics pray to dead saints” need to understand that those who die in Christ are not dead. Catholics affirm that they are alive and in the presence of Christ and that they can intercede for us as much as my father or I can intercede for each other. Mary and the saints do not answer our prayers, any more than I answer the prayers of my dad. Rather, Mary, the saints and you and I all are intercessors. We do not answer the prayers, we simply intercede with the Father through his Son Jesus. When I take pilgrimage groups to Israel I always take them to the top of Mount Tabor where the Transfiguration took place. I always ask people how a “dead guy” like Moses could be talking to Jesus about things that are taking place on earth (Lk 9:31). copelandWhen my father asks me to pray for him he asks me to stand in the middle — to be a mediator, an intercessor — and when God commands me to preach the gospel to the lost, he tells me to stand in the middle — to be an ambassador for Christ as Paul says, “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Cor 5:20). (Opps, to the right is a Pentecostal preacher Kenneth Copeland acting as a mediator, interceding with God, standing in the middle as they pray for this man!) I hope that helps explain why we call Mary a mediatrix and why all of us are mini-mediators sharing in the ministry of Christ — the one-and-only mediator of the New Covenant, but certainly not in any way claiming to be the one mediator of the New Covenant, nor in any way arrogating to ourselves or to Mary the unique prerogatives and ministry of Jesus. One last thought on this matter. Sometimes there is a misunderstanding of the differences between prayer and worship. In the Catholic tradition they are very different things. In Protestantism prayer and worship are sometimes used as synonyms. Pray simply means to ask, whereas worship is to adore. If a Catholic says he “prays to Mary” it’s perceived as worship by many Protestants, but the Catholic it simply making a request that Mary intercede for us — the same as when my dad asked me to intercede for him. In Catholicism there is a big difference between pray and worship. DVD_Mary_01We honor, love and venerate Mary. We ask her to pray for us. But we worship God ALONE! For more on this and other Marian topics, all filmed on location in the Holy Land, check out my documentary MARY, MOTHER OF GOD here.

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Cardinal John Henry Newman converted to the Catholic faith. He played a big part in my own converseion. He has a unique and beautiful understanding of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  You can read it below or at Aletia here.

Why the Assumption made perfect sense to Newman, and what it meant for him

BLESSED JOHN HENRY NEWMAN

The great convert to the faith understood how it could be that Mary is so powerful … and so beloved.

Even as a Protestant, Blessed John Henry Newman had a high view of the Lord’s Mother. He knew the Scriptures inside out, and the Church Fathers as well. That made the Assumption a “Well, duh” matter for him when he became a Catholic, even though it wasn’t yet a defined dogma. The great thing about him in this case is that he shows how the dogma fits everything else. It’s not a devotional add-on to the Faith, but part of God’s great story.Newman had been one of the stars of the Church of England, and he gave that up to become a Catholic. He entered the Church in 1845, at the age of 44. Pope Benedict XVI beatified him in 2010. He’s the consensus greatest theologian to write in English.

The biblical story points to the Assumption

As Newman says often in his writings, God’s revelation is a whole, a complete thing, with all the parts related to all the others. The Scriptures don’t mention the Assumption, but lots of things in the biblical story point to it.

He saw something of this as a Protestant minister. “Who can estimate the holiness and perfection of her, who was chosen to be the Mother of Christ?” he said in a sermon delivered in 1835. The implied answer is that none of us can estimate it, because it’s so great. We’re not holy enough to have any idea how holy was the woman God prepared to be the Mother of His Son. But we know from the Gospel story that she will be supremely holy.

Not everyone gets this. One of Newman’s and my fellow Anglicans (a minister, in fact) once said to me that Mary was only “the delivery system” by which Christ became incarnate. After his birth, he said, she didn’t matter anymore. He would have said the Assumption was complete nonsense, had I asked, but I wisely didn’t. Strange but true.

But Newman got it, because he knew the Scriptures so well. Even as an Anglican, he saw that because “the Creator Spirit condescended to overshadow [Mary] with His miraculous presence,” she would have a “transcendent purity.” Then he asked: “What must have been her gifts, who was chosen to be the only near earthly relative of the Son of God, the only one whom He was bound by nature to revere and look up to; the one appointed to train and educate Him, to instruct Him day by day, as He grew in wisdom and stature?” He doesn’t answer the question, because he thinks the answer’s obvious: Her gifts were huge, great, vast.

The matter goes even deeper, he adds. What, he asks, “was the sanctified state of that human nature, of which God formed His sinless Son”? He quotes God speaking in Job, saying “nothing can bring a clean thing out of an unclean.” In other words, to bear the perfect sinless Son of God, Mary must be sinless herself — as Catholics would say, immaculately conceived.

The Assumption

You can see why when Newman became a Catholic, the Assumption made perfect sense to him. He saw that Mary, being the Mother of God, would get everything Her Son had to give. In particular, that she’d get everything he’d given others.

You can find much of his writing on Mary in his wonderful book Meditations and Devotions. You can find more of his reflections in a modern collection called The Mystical Rose.

This is one of the ways God gave Mary what he gave others. Matthew’s Gospel tells us that at the Resurrection many of the saints rose from the dead and walked into Jerusalem. “The holy Prophets, Priests, and Kings of former times rose again in anticipation of the last day,” Newman writes. Then he says: “Can we suppose that Abraham, or David, or Isaias, or Ezechias, should have been thus favoured, and not God’s own Mother?” Obviously no.

Had she not a claim on the love of her Son to have what any others had? Was she not nearer to Him than the greatest of the Saints before her? And is it conceivable that the law of the grave should admit of relaxation in their case, and not in hers? Therefore we confidently say that our Lord, having preserved her from sin and the consequences of sin by His Passion, lost no time in pouring out the full merits of that Passion upon her body as well as her soul.

He saw other reasons to believe in the Assumption from Scripture alone. For one, God had created Adam and Eve without sin. They would not have “crumbled into dust” if they hadn’t sinned. Having never sinned, Mary “retained the gift which Eve by sinning lost.” To put it simply: If Mary is the New Eve, she would be assumed into Heaven.

In other words, if you believe what all Christians believe, even if you’re not Catholic, you should believe that as Pope Pius XII declared in 1950: “The Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.”

What the Assumption meant to him

But what did the Assumption mean to Newman? What was the point? He didn’t write anything directly devotional or personal about it, but we get hints from his other writings.

Here’s one in which he talks about the power of prayer to change this world. “This is why the Blessed Virgin is called Powerful — nay, sometimes, All-powerful, because she has, more than anyone else, more than all Angels and Saints, this great, prevailing gift of prayer,” he says.

No one has access to the Almighty as His Mother has; none has merit such as hers. Her Son will deny her nothing that she asks; and herein lies her power. While she defends the Church, neither height nor depth, neither men nor evil spirits, neither great monarchs, nor craft of man, nor popular violence, can avail to harm us; for human life is short, but Mary reigns above, a Queen for ever.

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Visitation and Responding to Protestant Objections to Mary, Ark of the New Covenant

May 29, 2019

A while ago I wrote a somewhat comprehensive article on Mary as the Ark of the New Covenant and then a follow up with Quotes from the Fathers of the Church. Recently a Protestant seminarian wrote an email with objections to my article. My good friend Gary Michuta, a class act apologist, did me the […]

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Mary, Ark of the New Covenant & the Visitation to Elizabeth

May 1, 2019

Read my article about Mary, typology and reading the Bible with the Fathers of the Church and the Visitation. It was published in 2005 in Catholic Answers Magazine but is as relevant today as then, as relevant now as in the 1st century.. Click HERE for the whole article. Click HERE for the full article.

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Catholic Doctrines in Scripture by Topic. Save or print 87- page Resource

February 8, 2019

Catholic Doctrines in Scripture, Compiled by Greg Oatis            Click here for document Introduction                                                          3 Preface                                                                 4 Church Authority and Papal Infallibility                     5 Peter as First Pope                                                 8 Apostolic Succession                                               11 Ordination and Priesthood                                       12 Salvation Not By Faith Alone/Not Assured                  14 Doctrines                                                              21 Free Will                                                              21 Abortion                                                               23  Contraception                                                        24 Homosexuality                                                       […]

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Christmas – when even Protestants put up Statues!

December 20, 2018

Christmas is that magical time of year when Protestants don’t have a problem with statues of Jesus, Mary, Saints and Angels! Isn’t that lovely (and inconsistent)?

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Joachim & Anna: The Birth and Presentation of Our Lady, from a 2nd Century Document

November 20, 2018

Join us next year on one of our pilgrimages to see Shrines of France and D-Day, Saints of Poland, Holy Land or Assisi and Rome!  Visit http://www.FootprintsOfGod.com ************************* FEAST OF THE PRESENTATION OF OUR BLESSED VIRGIN MARY November 21 “The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (as it is known in the West), or The […]

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Queenship Of the Blessed Virgin – August 22

August 22, 2018

Last week was the Feast of the Assumption of Mary and today, August 22 is the Queenship of Mary. The other day a man called to say my argument for the Assumption of Mary from the Old Testament was wrong. I had quoted 1 Kings 2:19 where Solomon had raised his mother to Queen of […]

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Two Questions from an Unhappy Listener

August 15, 2018

After a recent radio show a man wrote to challenge me. The e-mail contained two questions — thquestioner’srs words are in blue. I have removed his name out of respect for his privacy. Dear friend, you wrote:   >> I found it rather interesting you had all those questions for Bible Christians. I am a Protestant convert that had been […]

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Mary and the Apostles are Dead! Only Jesus can Mediate for Us! Really?

June 23, 2018

 Confusion of Many Protestants Too often well-meaning Protestants get confused and accuse of things that are outright nonsense if not lies. It is usually because they never take the time to really understand what the Catholic Church actually teaches and practices. Below is a good example of a kind and well-meaning Protestant pastor who wrote […]

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How Big Was Jesus in Mary’s Womb at the Visitation – and what could he do?

April 8, 2018

“How big was baby Jesus in Mary’s womb when Mary visited Elizabeth?” That is the question I asked myself while visiting the Church of the Visitation in Israel. What I learned was quite revolutionary and amazing. This is one of the best pro-life arguments from Scripture and one I’ve not heard discussed before. It also […]

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Mary and the Other Body of Christ; How Many People were in the Upper Room and Why?

January 5, 2018

Since we are IN this room today, I thought I would share this again… The room was pretty full. It was warm but a gentle breeze was blowing—that would change. There was fear in the room. The Roman army was a thing to be feared, they had just crucified Jesus and it was a dangerous […]

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Christmas Really Started at the Annunciation – my new favorite Annunciation artwork

December 23, 2017

God became Man in Bethlehem, right? Nope, it was in Nazareth. By the time Mary arrived in Bethlehem to deliver Jesus he had already been human for nine months. At the Annunciation those first cells in Mary’s womb, to small to see with the human eye (though Elizabeth and John the Baptist recognized Him), were […]

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Jesus Said His Mother Had Other Sons! Really?

December 22, 2017

I was confronted with an interesting argument against Mary’s perpetual virginity. The man argued that the Bible itself proves that Mary had other children. He claimed that Jesus expressly states in no uncertain terms that his mother had other sons. He said it must have been overlooked by the Catholic Church. To read my whole response, […]

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Mary’s Virginity: How Was Jesus Born?

December 22, 2017

Every time I am on the radio over Advent someone calls and asks if Jesus was born normally and naturally like other babies, or was he a miraculous birth–in other words, arriving in the world by avoiding the birth canal and without “opening the womb.” There are discussions and debates suggesting he miraculously appeared in Mary’s […]

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