Meditations on the Rosary: The Descent of the Holy Spirit

07/16/2012 Comments (3)

At Pentecost, the Old Testament spring harvest festival characterized by offerings to God in the direction of the four winds, the Church is overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit coming in wind and fire. The disciples (including Mary, who was right there in the thick of it) receive the power of the Holy Spirit and St. Peter, preaching his first sermon to the astonished crowd in Jerusalem, declares of Jesus, "Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured out this which you see and hear" (Acts 2:33).

It's worth noting that the "right hand" is the "good" hand in antiquity. It's the hand that pours out blessing,...READ MORE

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Meditations on the Rosary: The Ascension of Jesus

07/13/2012 Comments (2)

The Ascension plants Man in the heart of Heaven. That's why the Glorious Mystery of the Ascension is traditionally associated with prayer for the virtue of Hope. Hope is oriented, not so much toward the future, as toward the fact that the same God we have known and know now is not going to abandon us. Temporally speaking, we have no hope. The future is ultimately that time when we and everybody we know will be dead. But eternally speaking, we have great hope. For we shall be with Christ in eternity.

This curious mixture of temporal loss and eternal hope is reflected in the curious fact that Jesus' promise not to abandon us comes at the moment when Jesus leaves us.

You shall receive...READ MORE

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Meditations on the Rosary: The Resurrection of Jesus

07/09/2012 Comments (9)

I'm a big believer in unforeseen catastrophes that crush the best-laid plans of mice and men. The Titanic sinks and people say, "How could this happen?" I say, "It figures." I'm the guy who listens for the other shoe to drop, who looks for the downside of Paradise, who keeps his guard up lest I be disappointed. That posture can have its advantages (say, when you are a Seattle Mariners fan or you get a fever 12 hours before you are supposed go on a dream vacation), but it's also got its problems.

Now I recognize life is not a bed of roses and that many of our hopes never come to anything. But I also know St. Thomas the Apostle was a sensible stoic man like me. He knew the score. He was...READ MORE

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Meditations on the Rosary: Jesus Dies on the Cross

07/06/2012 Comments (4)

The suffering of Jesus on the cross is, like all human suffering, a shared suffering. That's why Mary is honored under the title "Our Lady of Sorrows." Some people imagine this detracts from Jesus' suffering. However, it should be noticed that people only tend to talk this way about Mary. Certainly the prophet Simeon (and the Evangelist Luke) understand the depths of agony Mary endured. So does anybody who reads a headline about the parents of a kidnapped or murdered child. Nobody says, "Only the child truly suffered and we should not allow the sufferings of his merely human parents to detract from the meaning of this event." Yet, advocates of the "Mary is just a vessel" school of thought...READ MORE

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Meditations on the Rosary: Jesus Carries His Cross

07/02/2012 Comments (20)

Miryam of Nazareth would not, by most standards, seem to be a memorable person. She lived an obscure life. She is mentioned barely a handful of times in the documents of the Church her Son founded. She turns up briefly in Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts and then vanishes (with the exception of a cameo in Revelation). During her earthly life she was a peasant woman, living on the eastern fringes of the Roman Empire, in a town of no importance, widowed, and with a single Son who would die brutally under the double condemnation of both her countrymen and their foreign oppressors. She never wrote a book, gave a speech, made a scientific discovery, won a battle, made a fortune, or demanded...READ MORE

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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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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.