How I met your (Blessed) Mother (MP3)



Last night I led Bible study at a local parish and I was asked to give an informal talk beforehand on the Virgin Mary.

My talk was entitled “How I met your (Blessed) Mother” and in it I told a little bit of my story and explained how I overcame my deep-seated resistance concerning Mary and how I ultimately came to embrace the Catholic teaching concerning the Blessed Mother.

Some friends couldn’t make it last night and asked me to record the talk, so for anyone who would like to hear it, the audio is available below.

How I met your (Blessed) Mother (Download)

Qur’an Cover-to-Cover: Day 11 (“Mary”)



Today is a particularly special chapter of the Qur’an, the one dedicated to Mary (“Miriam”), the Mother of Jesus (“Isa”):

Surah 19 – “Mary” (Maryam)
We begin this chapter with the story of Zechariah. As in the Bible, we are told that he and his wife had failed to have children. He is told through an angel that he will have a son named John. However, we soon start seeing a departure from the Biblical narrative…. Zechariah asks Allah to “make for me a sign”. He is then told that the sign will be that he will not be able to speak for “three nights”. However, in the Bible Zechariah cannotspeak until John’s circumcision. An interesting side note is that Allah tells John to “take the Scripture [i.e. adhere to it] with determination”, which shows that, at least in this chapter, the Old Testament is assumed to be preserved without corruption (contrary to the claim of most Muslims with whom I’ve spoken).

We now come to the story of Mary. We’re told that she withdraws from her family, heads eastwards and takes seclusion behind a screen – it’s not clear to me why. At this point, Gabriel visits her to give her “[news of] a pure boy [i.e. son]”. As in Luke’s Gospel, she does not understand how this will happen. There is a conspicuous absence of St. Joseph in this story – he is not mentioned once.

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At the name of Jesus…


bowIf you have ever visited an Eastern Catholic parish or Eastern Orthodox parish, you will have noticed that whenever the Trinity or any of the divine names are mentioned, the priest and people will cross themselves and incline their heads in a bow, even if only slightly.

This is a practice I really like and I’ve often wished that this would be more present at western parishes. Well, I recently found out that, at least in theory, it should happen there too…

The place where you discover this is the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM), which is basically a commentary on the Missal, explaining how Mass should be celebrated:

A bow of the head is made when the three Divine Persons are named together and at the names of Jesus, of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of the saint in whose honor Mass is being celebrated.
– GIRM 275

How about that?! I did a little more digging and found out that this practice has considerable antiquity. For example, in the 13th Century, the Fathers of the Council of Lyons seem to have been inspired by the epistle to the Philippians where St. Paul talks about how “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on the earth and under the earth” (Philippians 2:9-10). Here’s what the Council said:

Each should fulfill in himself that which is written… that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow; whenever that glorious name is recalled, especially during the sacred mysteries of the Mass, everyone should bow the knees of his heart, which he can do even by a bow of his head.
– Council of Lyons II, Constitution 25

So, even if it’s not common practice in your parish, I’d invite everyone to follow the guidance offered to us by the GIRM and to honour the Lord, His Mother and His Saints with this small gesture of reverence.

Music Monday: O Sanctissima

Today’s music is the Catholic classic, “O Sanctissima”:

O sanctissima, o piissima, dulcis Virgo Maria!
O most holy, o most loving, sweet Virgin Mary!
Mater amata, intemerata, ora, ora pro nobis.
Beloved Mother, undefiled, pray, pray for us.

Tu solatium et refugium, Virgo Mater Maria.
You are solace and refuge, Virgin, Mother Mary.
Quidquid optamus, per te speramus; ora, ora pro nobis.
Whatever we wish, we hope it through you; pray, pray for us.

Ecce debiles, perquam flebiles; salva nos, o Maria!
Look, we are weak and deeply deplorable; save us, o Mary!
Tolle languores, sana dolores; ora, ora pro nobis.
Take away our lassitude, heal our pains; pray, pray for us.

Virgo, respice, Mater, aspice; audi nos, o Maria!
Virgin, look at us, Mother, care for us; hear us, o Mary!
Tu medicinam portas divinam; ora, ora pro nobis.
You bring divine medicine; pray, pray for us.

Perpetual Virginity of Mary

How might you defend the perpetual virginity of Mary? Trent Horn answers a call…

St. Joseph…virgin?


Earlier this week I posted an article Critics of Matthew Kelly? where I discussed some of the criticisms of Matthew Kelly I’ve seen recently on the Internet. If you recall, there has been some complaints about a passage in Matthew Kelly’s latest book, “Rediscover Jesus”:

Was this some sort of vision, perhaps prompted by the apostles’ grief over their leader’s execution? This wouldn’t explain the dramatic conversion of Saul, an opponent of Christians, or James, the once-skeptical half-brother of Jesus. – Rediscover Jesus (Page 99)

There was one article in particular that caught my eye which I thought deserved a short post of its own. It was written by a chap called Jeff from Traditional Roman Catholic Thoughts. Jeff’s criticism of the passage from the book was as follows:

“It implies one of two things; either Mary was not a virgin throughout the rest of her life or Joseph had other children…. Mary’s virginity is not even up for debate as the Church declared her perpetual virginity as Dogma. The issue with Joseph having other children is that Catholic tradition holds that he too was a virgin.” – Traditional Roman Catholic Thoughts

I’m not really sure how confidently we can say that “Catholic tradition holds that [Joseph]…was a virgin”. It is true that certain Fathers did assert that St. Joseph was a virgin, beginning, I think, with St. Jerome in the late 4th Century. However, mid-Second Century traditions point to St. Joseph’s having children from an earlier marriage. The earliest surviving account of this is the Protoevangelium of James.

The narrative that St. Joseph was a widower is one which is vigorously upheld in the East, among both Catholic and Orthodox Christians. In fact, you’ll notice that in icons of “The Flight Into Egypt” there are often four people depicted: Christ, the Theotokos, St. Joseph and also St. Joseph’s son, St. James.


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