Mary’s New Name

Every time we pray a “Hail Mary,” we’re repeating the words of the Angel Gabriel.

Kind of…

The Angel Gabriel never says, “Hail, Mary.” Instead, he says, “Hail, full of grace” (Lk 1:28). In other words, he calls her by a new name.

Just like other figures in salvation history whose name change denotes something about their identity (Abram becomes Abraham – “Great Father”, Jacob becomes Israel “One who reigns with God”, Simon becomes Peter “Rock”), when he calls her “full of grace,” the word he uses is a new name.

He calls her “kecharitomene, “which means, “favored one” or “full of grace.”

That’s an extremely rare word, used only in the Annunciation scene and in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (1:6-7). In Luke, the term is used in the perfect tense. This means that the angel is saying he finds Mary in an already graced state.

She is “full of grace.” There is no lacking in her.

In other words, she has been immaculately conceived without sin.

Before becoming Catholic, I used to get all in a huff about this. “How can God do that? It doesn’t make sense.” And yet I didn’t have any problem with the fact that Eve was created sinless.

I just didn’t consider the fact that the grace of Christ’s death and resurrection can be applied to any place in time that God wants.

Even though Mary was born after Original Sin and before the Cross of Christ, God is inside and outside of space and time. That means he can apply grace anywhere he wants. We get it 2,000 years after the Cross and Resurrection of Christ.

Mary got it at the moment of her conception. She is created sinless. She is the New Eve.

And the same grace that is given to Mary is the same grace given to us. In fact, she has become the conduit of that grace into our lives. God gave us the grace of His Son through Mary. In other words, she is the channel God uses to give us grace.

(This is part of the basis for all Marian devotion. We go back to God the same way He came to us…through Mary. We’re just using the channel he set up!)

And as our Mother in the faith, Mary is trying to conceive in us the same love and devotion to Our Lord that she’s had since first moment of her conception.

So on this Solemnity of the Annunciation, ask Our Lady to open you up to all the grace of God that she wants to pour out upon you. As the Mother of God…and yours…she knows exactly what you need.

Ave Maria!

Matthew

All who have been lost were lost because they did not pray.” St. Alphonsus Liguori.

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075: The Secret to Astonishing Faith: Surviving Your Sea of Galilee

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Ever felt yourself sinking?

St. Peter certainly did when after he briefly walked toward our Lord on the surging waves of the Sea of Galilee.

And you have to hand it to Peter.

He jumped out of the boat during a raging storm. All because Christ said, “Come.”

That’s exactly what Jesus says to us every day…”Come.” No matter what storm is raging in your life, you can walk over the crashing waves toward our loving Lord.

That’s not pious sentiment for a Hallmark card or an “inspirational” cubicle poster featuring cats. There’s something in that passage most people totally miss that raises the whole story on a different level.

Christ literally says, “Take heart, it is I: have no fear.” These words are far more than mere encouragement.

In this brief episode I recorded in Jerusalem, I’ll tell you why Jesus’ word’s to the Disciples can totally change the way you view every struggle in your life.

They’re the secret to astonishing faith.

God bless!

Matthew

P.S. If you liked this episode, you might like:

019: The Kenosis of Christ As Model for Us…What?


P.S. As a special Lenten gift, I’m giving you “Beer, Chocolate & Value-Added Sufferingfor FREE. It’s chapter 5 of my book Louder Than Words: The Art of Living as a Catholic. 

Click the image of the book or the link above and it will come right to your inbox. God bless!

 

Did You Have a R-ASH Wednesday?

“I’m giving up all tv (except for March Madness), Facebook, and coffee is a thing of the past.Super Catholic

In fact, nothing edible will grace my gullet for forty days. And I’m going to read the entire Bible front to back in Hebrew and Greek while wearing a hair shirt that would bring Bigfoot to tears.”

Sound familiar? We’re all big talkers at the beginning of Lent, aren’t we?

We’re going to get really holy, get really in touch with our Lord’s sacrifice on the Cross. We’re strong enough! Who needs food! (It’s a scientific fact that most rash Lenten resolutions are made on a full stomach.)

So how’s it going? Uh-huh…thought so.

If you’ve struggled to keep up with your lenten resolutions just take a deep breath and relax. It’s hard to sacrifice. It’s meant to be hard.

And for those of us who bit off more than we could chew, it can be discouraging because we weren’t able to perfectly keep our promises. We failed!

But let’s keep a couple things in mind.

First of all, be realistic. If you’re trying to do too much, take a step back and get real. I’m not trying to get anyone off the hook, because the whole point is to be sacrificial and it’s never easy.

But at the same time, it would do us good to recall the famous line from Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry character in Magnum Force: “Man’s got to know his limitations…”

Second, the Lord is merciful. He’s not mad at you for failing. He might be chuckling at your inability to put down the Oreo and walk away, but he’s not mad. He’s the most merciful person in the world!

Remember, Lenten sacrifice isn’t for him. It’s for us. It’s meant to help us take our eyes off of this world and focus on the next. It’s meant to help us love Christ more, not get down on ourselves.

So if you’ve fallen a few times already, stand up and brush the Little Debbie crumbs off your pants. Then pick up your Lenten cross and start again…but maybe with one made from a little lighter wood.

God bless!

Matthew

 

P.S. As a special Lenten gift, I’m giving you “Beer, Chocolate & Value-Added Suffering” for FREE. It’s chapter 5 of my book Louder Than Words: The Art of Living as a Catholic. 

Click the image of the book or the link above and it will come right to your inbox. God bless!