The Lord wanted me to record this episode. I don’t say that lightly. He arranged it very deliberately…and now I know why.
In this episode of the Art of Catholic, Fr. Chris Alar of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception joins me to share a tragically beautiful story of suicide, suffering, and Divine Mercy that will certainly bring hope to any and all who are experiencing difficulties (large and small).
Some of the topics touched on include:
Why Divine Mercy always provides hope…even in cases of serious sin like suicide
Understanding the parameters and power of Divine Mercy
The humble beauty of St. Faustina
The 5 channels of grace given to St. Faustina
The powerful connection between the Virgin Mary and Divine Mercy
Spiritual principles of dealing with suffering
This is an episode that is going to really help a lot of people. Please share it!
I’ve heard a lot of conversion stories…but not like this one.
I’m joined on the Art of Catholic by Roy Schoeman, a former atheist/agnostic Harvard professor who not only had a full-on theophany (i.e. appearance of God), but also an apparition of Our Lady at a time when he had zero intention of ever even considering Christianity.
Raised in the Jewish religion, he has an incredible story of how God used the Virgin Mary to draw into the Catholic faith.
But we don’t just talk about his story. Roy and I also discuss the role played by the Jewish people in salvation history and why it’s important for us to continue our loving evangelization of all people.
In fact, he’s the author of a great book titled “Salvation is from the Jews” which shows how Catholicism is really an extension and fulfillment of Judaism.
It’s no coincidence that we begin every year with the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God.
Along with her Immaculate Conception, Our Lady’s Divine Maternity is one of the two fundamental truths about Mary. Everything else we believe about her revolves around these two teachings.
But interestingly, the consensus of most theologians is that Mary’s identity as Mother of God is her greatest title…even “greater” than her Immaculate Conception.
(If you want to dig more into the Immaculate Conception, I did two episodes of the Art of Catholic podcast – Episodes 23 and Episode 24 – on that.)
St. Thomas Aquinas basically says that while Jesus was predestined to become the Incarnate God-man who walked around on earth and is now glorified in heaven, Mary was predestined to be the Mother of God.
She was always meant to be the Theotokos (“God-bearer”).
Now we’re obviously getting into some murky waters when we start throwing around words like predestination. It’s above my pay grade to try and sufficiently explain all it’s ins-and-outs.
I’m not saying there is no free will involved in our salvation, or in salvation history in general. That would be more or less a Calvinist position.
Suffice it to say that St. Thomas Aquinas indicates that there would be no need for Mary to be the Mother of God if the Fall hadn’t happened. God allowed Original Sin to happen because of the great good He could bring out of it.
As St. Paul says in Romans 5:20 – “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.”
Mary was predestined to be the Mother of God because God knew the Fall would happen. Jesus was going to have to become like us (except for sin) to repair Original Sin – so God gave him a mother.
Her divine motherhood is totally a gift. It is not through any merit of her own. It’s a free gift from God.
Why is this important?
Because being the Mother of God is what gives Our Lady an infinite dignity. It gives her a place higher than any other creature ever created!
It’s why we honor her the way we do. Think about this…she is Mother of God!
It’s her greatest title.
Realize that as amazing a mystery as it is, the Immaculate Conception does not demand divine maternity (i.e. that Mary be Mother of God). But divine maternity does demand the Immaculate Conception.
She had to be made worthy to be the Mother of God, which is what God created her to be.
Remember that Mary is intimately united to the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. She isn’t just related to the man, but the God-man.
She gave birth to the person of Christ, not just his human nature. And his person is both human and divine.
So Mary is directly related to the hypostatic union – which is what we call the union of Christ’s humanity and divinity.
And remember, our salvation consists of passing through the sacred humanity of Christ and on into his divinity. The sacraments join us to his Mystical Body and give us the grace to start the process of deification.
That’s why St. Peter says we become partakers of the divine nature of God. (2 Peter 1:4)
That’s what sanctifying grace does for us. It’s our path to heaven.
That’s why Jesus wedded humanity to his divinity. He is our bridge to divinity. He is our bridge to heaven.
And Mary gave him to us.
She’s not special just because she was immaculately conceived and has no sin. Yes, that’s an awesome thing and Mary’s declaration at Lourdes that she is the Immaculate Conception is a declaration that needs a lot more unpacking.
But she was immaculately conceived because of her destiny to become the Mother of God.
That is her highest title.
What does this mean to us practically?
Basically, that we should turn to her every day. That as the Mother of God she is the one who brings our needs to Jesus. Her role is to mother us into the family of God.
Put simply, she is our conduit to divinity.
So pray your rosaries. Say your litanies. Talk to your Mother.
She’s obviously not greater than the Father, Son or Holy Spirit. But they have given her a special role to help us get into the family of God.