Mary and Jesus, Intertwined

angels nativity

As we make our way through the year of grace, we encounter Lord Jesus and Our Lady at different stages of their pilgrim lives. And we see how totally intertwined their lives are.

At Christmas, we encounter Jesus newly born. And Our Lady, new mother. Good Friday we encounter Jesus dying on the cross. And Our Lady at the foot of the cross. Pentecost we encounter Our Lady praying with the Apostles for the Holy Spirit. And Our Lord pouring out the Holy Spirit.

Today Our Lady entered heaven, body and soul. Because Our Lord took her there, by the death-conquering power of His body and soul.

My point is: it doesn’t require rocket science for a Christian to grasp the inseparability of Jesus and Mary. God entered the world as a human being by taking flesh from the body of one person—His mother, Mary. Mary came into her own as a human being—became the person God had preserved her from original sin in order to become—by being Jesus Christ’s loving mother.


Jesus the eternal God would not have been our brother and Savior—were it not for Mary. Mary would not have become herself, without Her Son.

Now, God became man in the Virgin’s womb in order to do… what? To reveal the love of the Father. By consecrating the human race through His own self-sacrifice—the sacrifice that conquered death and gave us our true destiny. To live as children of God, forever.

Of course there’s no separating the Blessed Virgin from this mystery. She lived as a pure vessel of divine love. She joined herself completely to Christ’s perfect self-sacrifice. So she shares fully in the undying life that her Son lives in His risen body. She shares it so completely that the sting of death could not touch her.

Now, do we presume too much to think: Okay, Mary and Jesus, inseparable. I want to be, and can be, that inseparable from the Savior, too! Do we presume too much to aspire to that?

Hardly. That’s the whole idea. Mary is not something other than a Christian. She conceived a child by believing in the promises of God. She gave her own flesh and blood to Him, while she carried Him in her womb, because of her total dedication to His mission. She prayed with Him. She listened to His every word, in order to know the revelation of God. She believed all His teaching and obeyed all His precepts. She followed Him faithfully to the end.


Mary’s inseparability from Christ is not beyond us. To the contrary: She has shown us how. How to intertwine our lives with His. How to intertwine our very identities with His. She is the saint that we can never go wrong imitating.

Her faith. Her humility before God. Her courage in obeying Him. Her patience with the unfolding of His Providence. Her perseverance. Her tenderness.

Our Lady’s Assumption into heaven teaches us what to hope for. Her life on earth was Jesus Christ. So of course she shares His heavenly life now. The inseparability extends beyond just this short pilgrimage of a few decades. Just so, the Christian, whose whole life on earth is Jesus, inherits the heavenly life of Jesus, when this pilgrimage ends.

Guess where else it occurs–the intertwining between Jesus’ life and ours? In church. At the altar. The Sacred Liturgy.

We most imitate Mary in sharing Jesus’ life when we participate in Holy Mass with sincere faith and love.

937,603 + Kolbe, JPII, and Our Lady

937,603 visits here so far. Ten years. Happy anniversary, dear Reader!

El Greco Virgin Mary

The Christ came to us, God made man. He was conceived and grew in the womb of His immaculate mother. He spent most His life on earth in her household. When He went to the cross for us, she accompanied Him. Then she saw Him again on Easter Sunday morning. After He ascended into heaven, He poured out His Holy Spirit upon His Apostles–when they gathered to pray with His Mother.

The flesh-and-blood intimacy between the Christ and His mother–we cannot even begin to fathom its depths. When she came to the end of her earthly life, the intimacy between them reached its fulfillment: Our Lady entered heaven, body and soul, flesh and blood.

Seventy-seven years ago, a Polish priest came to the end of his life on the Vigil of Assumption Day. He offered himself for execution in a Nazi concentration camp, to take the place of another prisoner who had a wife and family.

Father Maximilian Kolbe had dedicated his life to spreading devotion to the Blessed Mother. He built a small publishing empire to combat the forces of atheism and irreligion.

Father Kolbe had a German father. When the Nazis took over Poland, the priest had an opportunity to sign up for the “German-blood” list. It would have protected him from arrest. But, like many other half-German Poles, Father Kolbe would not do anything to co-operate with the Nazis.

He loved our Lady. He knew that our Lady’s heart beats in heaven. With love for the whole human race. And he knew that the blood flowing through her heart, and though our Lady’s entire glorified body…not German, not Polish. Not English, French, Italian, or Scandinavian, either.


The Nazis killed flesh-and-blood human beings on a massive scale. Because they had fallen in love with the pagan dream of racial purity. But God has no interest in such a fantasy. He’s interested in particular individual human beings. Each of which He makes utterly and unrepeatably unique.

On the day when the Nazis killed Father Kolbe in a concentration camp, Pope St. John Paul II was also in Poland. He was working at hard labor, because the Nazis had closed the university. He was 21 years old.

Anyway, as we know, the 21-year-old fellow Pole grew up to be the pope. The pope who would canonize Father Kolbe and declare him a martyr for the faith. John Paul II understood from the inside that Nazism counted as a persecution of the Christian religion. Father Kolbe had said what the Church believes–when his brother Franciscans asked him about helping to save Jews: “We are all brothers!”

During the 1930’s and World War II, the Church had a kind of meltdown. The rise of Nazism posed a huge challenge, and not every Catholic met that challenge. Many bishops, even whole national conferences of bishops, lost sight of this crucial aspect of the Christian mystery: God loves every individual human being enough to die on the cross for him or her. Plenty of Catholics, including plenty of bishops, forgot that God loves the Jews as much as He loves anybody. And they forgot that the Son of God, and the Mother of God, are both…Jewish.

Christ would have died just so His mother could go to heaven. Even if she were the only one, He would gladly have done it. We think: well, of course, He would have died to save His mother. But the same goes for everyone else. Christ would have died for any single individual human being–any single one–to go to heaven.

The many Christian martyrs during the time of Nazism kept that fact in perfect focus in their minds. Their witness inspired Pope St. John Paul II to formulate his doctrine about the Gospel of Life. We, the Church, stand for the dignity of every human being. Or rather, we stand with every human being–especially the weak, the victims of injustice, the suffering.

From heaven our Lady sees everything and identifies with those who need love. May she help us always do the same.

The Day Our Lady Went to Heaven

st mary major mosaic
apse mosaics in Santa Maria Maggiore, Roma

We keep the feast of our Lady’s immortality. Not just her immortality of soul, but also her immortality of body. Today her earthly pilgrimage ended. Her flesh, rather than facing the corruption of the grave, entered right into heaven.

Blessed is she who believed that what was spoken to her by the Lord would be fulfilled (Luke 1:45). St. Elizabeth said this about the Blessed Mother.

Now, at the particular moment when Elizabeth pronounced that beatitude, the Lord had spoken but few words to Mary. Only that she would have a son, who would reign forever on the throne of David. How? By the Holy Spirit.

Mary learned only this much information from Archangel Gabriel. You will give birth to the Messiah by the power of the Holy Spirit. Very simple. No extra details. –She believed it.

But what about later on? Did she learn more during the course of her life? More about the great mystery of the Christ–the mystery in which she had believed, when the Archangel visited her? Had she learned more about those original promises by the time her earthly life neared its end? What more had she learned?

Whatever more she learned about the Christian mystery in the time between her conception of her son and her last earthly breath–whatever further aspects of the great promise had been revealed to her–certainly Mary believed it all, with a heart full of love.

We humble sinners really can’t even begin to speculate about all the intimacies that passed between Jesus and Mary during their pilgrim lives on earth–both before and after He suffered, died, and then rose from the dead. We can hardly doubt that the Blessed Mother became a thorough expert regarding Christ’s promise of eternal life in the flesh. She saw Him, of course, during the forty days He spent on earth in His risen body. Mary, first among all Christians, saw the resurrected Jesus. And she believed that He had risen, not for His own sake, but so that she, too, and all the faithful, could conquer death in the flesh, as well.

Which means that this feast of our Lady’s bodily entrance into heaven is the feast of our immortality of body, too. Until August 15 arrived, in the year she finished her earthly life, Mary participated in Christ’s mystery like we do: by faith. We do not begrudge her the privilege of having seen Jesus during the forty days after Easter. We don’t begrudge her because, now that Jesus reigns in heaven, we can, by faith and prayer, achieve our own intimacy with Him, too. After all, as Mary’s cousin put it: “Blessed is she who has believed.” Not she who has seen. She who has believed. Believed in the Christ, and His triumph over death–which He accomplished for the sake of all mankind.

So we stride on towards the inevitable end of our own pilgrimage with vivid assurance. The luminous assurance with which the Virgin herself faced the end of earthly life. That, by the power of Christ, our bodily death will get swallowed up Jesus’ victory.

Ave, Regina caelorum

Sixth anniversary of the ridiculous Fr.-Mark-White weblog! 811,000 visits so far.

The hope held out by the Gospel is the antidote to the spirit of despair that seems to grow like a cancer in societies which are outwardly affluent, yet often experience inner sadness and emptiness. Upon how many of our young has this despair taken its toll! May they, the young who surround us in these days with their joy and confidence, never be robbed of their hope! (Papa Francesco at Holy Mass today with the youth of Asia)

Pope Francis is greeted by well-wishers as he is flanked by South Korean President Park upon his arrival at Seoul Air Base in Seongnam

…Click HERE for my defense of Mariolatry. I heard a sermon today which claimed that we don’t pray to Mary. But I beg to differ…

…For all the catechists who will soon get back to work, here’s an insight from Fr. Louis’ (aka Thomas Merton’s) book about his early life, Seven Storey Mountain. He recalls his visits to the parish rectory on W. 121st St. in New York, to receive instruction in the faith, prior to his baptism in the fall of 1938.

If people had more appreciation for what it means to be converted from rank, savage paganism, from the spiritual level of a cannibal or of an ancient Roman, to the living faith and to the Church, they would not think of catechism as something trivial or unimportant. Usually the word suggests the matter-of-course instructions that children have to go through before First Communion and Confirmation. Even where it is a matter of course, it is one of the most tremendous things in the world, this planting of the word of God in a soul.

Much more to come here re: Fr. Louis. And very much looking forward to seeing you in the various classrooms soon, dear fellow catechists!

Heaven is Real

The place in Jerusalem from which the Blessed Mother was assumed into heaven
The place in Jerusalem from which the Blessed Mother was assumed into heaven
Today the Virgin Mother of God was assumed into heaven as the beginning and pattern of your Church’s perfection and a sign of sure hope and comfort to your pilgrim people.

Justly you would not allow her to see the corruption of the tomb,
because from her own flesh she brought forth ineffably your incarnate Son, the author of all life.

–from the Preface to the Eucharistic Prayer in today’s Mass

Our little study of Bertrand Russell’s erroneous philosophy is now catalogued the among the Compendia.

madonna1We undertook our consideration of the Bertrand Russell Case as a penitential preparation for today’s Solemnity.

It is not reasonable to think that there is no life after death. The argument that the soul is immortal is more probable: No observable force of nature can annihilate a soul.

Moreover, we have it on divine authority that our Lord Jesus rose from the dead in His human body, and He took His mother with Him to heaven.

Happy Assumption Day!