Meditations on the Rosary: The Crowning With Thorns

06/27/2012 Comments (5)

One of the fruits Catholics sometimes pray for in this mystery is "purity of mind." Of course, Americans, being apostate Puritans, tend immediately to think this means, "Don't let me smile at a risque joke, Lord." But that's not really what is meant by mental purity.

The Church teaches that part of the effect of the fall is the "darkened intellect." This doesn't mean sin necessarily makes you unintelligent. Great sinners have been highly intelligent and cunning. But it does mean that sin makes you stupid about eternal things. The great illustration of this is the devil himself. With great cunning, the fallen angel, possessing intellectual powers far surpassing anything human, engineers...READ MORE

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Meditations on the Rosary: The Scourging at the Pillar

06/25/2012 Comments (3)

In the Rosary, we are invited to contemplate the reality of redemptive suffering in the mysterious Scripture that "with his stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5). In our culture, that's supposed to be the same thing as saying, "We are invited to contemplate sick, masochistic weirdness." For our culture appears, at first glance, to have no place for redemptive suffering. It is, we are sure, a relic from the Dark Ages when the Church was obsessed with pain as being somehow meritorious. Today, we are assured, things are different. Here, for instance, is how the modern mind works:

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — In Hollywood's competitive climate, accolades often go to performers who either pack on...READ MORE

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Meditations on the Rosary: The Agony in the Garden

06/22/2012 Comments (31)

Another title sometimes used to honor Mary is "Co-Redemptrix." It's not an "official title." It's just an expression of piety among some Catholics. And it affords a fairly typical example of the way in which the Church mulls things over for long time (usually centuries) before it makes any hard and fast decisions. At present, the Church doesn't condemn the title, but it doesn't encourage it either. A few years ago, Pope Benedict XVI (then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger) was asked about the many petitions Rome has received asking that Mary be formally declared "Co-Redemptrix." He replied:

I do not think there will be any compliance with this demand, which in the meantime is being supported...READ MORE

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Meditations on the Rosary: The Institution of the Eucharist

06/20/2012 Comments (653)

One of the funny ironies surrounding my Evangelical worries about "Mary worship" is the discovery that my fears were so radically misplaced. Since becoming Catholic in 1987 I have never once met a living soul who worships Mary or thinks her to be a goddess. Meanwhile, one of the first things to present itself to me when I seriously began to look at the Faith was the fact that Catholics do, in fact, adore the Eucharist. They literally worship and adore the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ under the appearance of bread and wine. They accord the Eucharist all the honor due to Almighty God himself, prostrate themselves before it, and offers prayers of praise, worship and petition to it. The...READ MORE

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Meditations on the Rosary: The Transfiguration

06/18/2012 Comments (4)

As amazing as it seems, the Voice that spoke to Peter, James and John on the Mount of Transfiguration still speaks out of the cloud to you and me every single time we listen to the readings from Scripture at Mass (especially the Gospel). As I meditate on this mystery, help me, Lord, to remember that the next time I go to Mass I will be standing in the same awesome, supernatural reality that they stood in as they beheld Elijah, Moses, and Jesus in Glory. The Glory is there at Mass just as surely as it was there that day. All the saints are worshiping God right there in the pew next to you just as surely as they were present and visible to the Apostles on that mountain. Every time I go to...READ MORE

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Meditations on the Rosary: The Proclamation of the Kingdom

06/15/2012 Comments (2)

Jesus' first public proclamation is "Repent! For the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!" (Matthew 4:17). It's significant that when God becomes man, His first word to us is not, "Keep it up!" or "What do you think?" but "Repent!" Many people are put off by that, as they would be by a total stranger walking up and saying, "Stop it!" But then, Jesus is not a total stranger. He knows us better than anybody, which is why his first word is "Repent!" Not one of us can hear that word with an ounce of reflection and not immediately recognize those things of which we need to repent. That's why we reflect so rarely. It's also why something like the Rosary (which places us into a regular routine of...READ MORE

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Meditations on the Rosary: The Wedding at Cana

06/13/2012 Comments (7)

The ancient Egyptians were on to something: They longed for eternal life. Not a bad thing to long for. But they longed for it in the wrong way. Instead of realizing eternal life could only come to us from the Eternal One, they conceived of eternal life as being more or less a permanent continuation of earthly existence. And so, instead of resurrection, they settled on mummification and the creation of an entire society whose greatest creative energies were devoted to the production of grave goods. It's a strange fact that the great Egyptian art we are familiar with was painted for no one to see — because it was painted or chiseled on tomb walls.

Our culture, in its own way, makes...READ MORE

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Meditations on the Rosary: The Baptism of the Lord

06/11/2012 Comments (11)

Leonardo da Vinci did us a disservice when he painted St. John in his Last Supper. In his zeal to show St. John as especially close to the loving heart of Christ, Leonardo winds up portraying the Evangelist like a wan and wilting flower. Yet Jesus nicknamed John and his brother James "Boanerges" or the "Sons of Thunder." Zebedee's boys were, we should recall, rough cut from solid peasant fisherman stock. They knew all about sweating in the sun, fishing in the Sea of Galilee, and cussing out people in no uncertain terms. In fact, the Gospels actually record an incident in which these young turks, miffed at the crummy hospitality they received from the Samaritans, wanted to call down fire...READ MORE

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About Mark Shea

Mark Shea
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Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.