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Daily Catholic Question

What is Mary's relationship to Catholics living today?

Before the Second Vatican Council, Catholics kept Mary on a pedestal, emphasizing her privileged uniqueness. We were so busy craning our necks to look up to her that we missed out on her presence at our side. But the Fathers of Vatican II offered new advice. Paraphrasing Lumen Gentium, they said: "Look again. Mary is a human being who, like us, needed to be redeemed by her Son. She is a model who goes before us, guiding our pilgrimage of faith. She assures us that we too are capable of fidelity to God's call."

We know from Mary's experience as well as our own that hope does not immunize us against doubt, suffering or spiritual setbacks. Her humanity left her vulnerable to misunderstanding Jesus' mission, enduring the stress of his conflicts with religious authorities, bearing the devastation of his humiliating death. Can any parent who has witnessed his or her child's violent death doubt that the green shoots of hope in Mary's heart were trampled and nearly extinguished at Calvary? Yet she endured. And when the early Church gathered to pray for the Spirit's coming, she poured out that same heart in confident expectation.

If we see ourselves as God's works of art ("I give you thanks that I am fearfully, wonderfully made;/Wonderful are your works"-Ps 139:14), we will honor Mary as God's masterwork. We will treasure the mystery by which she is "potentially every woman, every man." We will emulate her interiority, her prayerfulness, her trust, her hope. For she is an accessible model for all ages.


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Saturday, July 6, 2013
Daily Catholic Question for 7/5/2013 Daily Catholic Question for 7/7/2013


Jacopone da Todi: Jacomo, or James, was born a noble member of the Benedetti family in the northern Italian city of Todi. He became a successful lawyer and married a pious, generous lady named Vanna. 
<p>His young wife took it upon herself to do penance for the worldly excesses of her husband. One day Vanna, at the insistence of Jacomo, attended a public tournament. She was sitting in the stands with the other noble ladies when the stands collapsed. Vanna was killed. Her shaken husband was even more disturbed when he realized that the penitential girdle she wore was for his sinfulness. On the spot, he vowed to radically change his life. </p><p>He divided his possessions among the poor and entered the Secular Franciscan Order (once known as the Third Order). Often dressed in penitential rags, he was mocked as a fool and called Jacopone, or "Crazy Jim," by his former associates. The name became dear to him. </p><p>After 10 years of such humiliation, Jacopone asked to be a member of the Order of Friars Minor(First Order). Because of his reputation, his request was initially refused. He composed a beautiful poem on the vanities of the world, an act that eventually led to his admission into the Order in 1278. He continued to lead a life of strict penance, declining to be ordained a priest. Meanwhile he was writing popular hymns in the vernacular. </p><p>Jacopone suddenly found himself a leader in a disturbing religious movement among the Franciscans. The Spirituals, as they were called, wanted a return to the strict poverty of Francis. They had on their side two cardinals of the Church and Pope Celestine V. These two cardinals, though, opposed Celestine’s successor, Boniface VIII. At the age of 68, Jacopone was excommunicated and imprisoned. Although he acknowledged his mistake, Jacopone was not absolved and released until Benedict XI became pope five years later. He had accepted his imprisonment as penance. He spent the final three years of his life more spiritual than ever, weeping "because Love is not loved." During this time he wrote the famous Latin hymn, <i>Stabat Mater</i>. </p><p>On Christmas Eve in 1306 Jacopone felt that his end was near. He was in a convent of the Poor Clares with his friend, Blessed John of La Verna. Like Francis, Jacopone welcomed "Sister Death" with one of his favorite songs. It is said that he finished the song and died as the priest intoned the Gloria from the midnight Mass at Christmas. From the time of his death, Brother Jacopone has been venerated as a saint.</p> American Catholic Blog By immersing our lives in the rhythm of the season, charity can flood our souls and fill us with the happiness for which we were created. We awake Christmas morning prepared to celebrate the birth of our Savior not as a memory but as a profound experience of God’s redemptive love.

 
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