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Archive for the ‘Mary’ Category

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans,” said John Lennon (when he was still alive).  Well, the best laid plans of mice and Dan have gone haywire the past couple of weeks, due to kidney stone henge.  Yeah, I’m apparently going to be one of those Internet people who tells strangers all about their personal life in a blog.  Really I’m just offering an explanation for my blog neglect, for anyone who might have noticed.  If I had an actual job writing, my employer would have given me my walking papers by now.  (Insert obligatory disabled person joke here.)

Don’t give up on me.  I’ll eventually get back to abnormal and actually write on a consistent basis.  (Knock on head.)  Kidney stones are a lot like the Rolling Stones in that you think they’re gone because they haven’t made any noise in a while, but then… if you start ’em up, if you start ’em up they’ll never stop.  And they do freaky little spastic Mick Jagger dances, too.

My initial visit to the ER happened a couple weeks ago.  I was in agony, and Keith Richards wanted some drugs bad!  I got there at around 11 PM and didn’t see a doctor until somewhere near 1:30 AM.  I went by ambulance, and still all that waiting.  Ambulance ambience doesn’t necessarily lead to hospital hospitality.  Don’t get me wrong: the nurses were great, and you feel bad for them, because they keep having to tell everybody that they’re next in line, but I felt like telling them Keith Richards doesn’t do lines.  Wait … well, you know what I mean.

After roughly a 3 1/2 hour wait, the doctor saw me when my kidneys were full-grown (groan) adultneys, kicking and bending it like Beckham.  I strongly disliked this guy for several seconds — and then was suddenly overcome by an intense bonding session that occurred when he uttered the words, “OK, let’s give you something that will make you more comfortable.”

Then they have to find a vein in which to stick an IV line.  It’s often a vain search.  My veins are so Whitey Bulger-elusive, I have literally had nurses I’ve had to console as they walk away crying, because they were unsuccessful after several stabs at it.  I’m used to it, but they keep apologizing.  This time I said, “Look, my abdomen feels like somebody’s pushing a white-hot poker into it, turning me into human shish kebab; this tiny little needle is the least of my concerns.”

And, THANK GOD, they hit pay dirt and I was instantly pain-free.  There’s no feeling quite like no feeling.  It’s great.

They asked me to stay a couple of days, because my personality was so infectious that I had an infection.  I shared a room with a 91-year-old man who had a broken hip and a broken hearing aid, so everybody had to yell to communicate with him.  I felt bad for the guy, but felt worse for his sweet wife, who took a lot of verbal abuse from Old Yeller, who was quite proficient with profanity.

Needles to say, I got very little sleep during my stay, between the cursing codger and the apologetic nurses, waking me up every half-hour to take my temperature, my blood pressure, and my blood.  They sent me home with an antibiotic, and life was good.  I couldn’t feel any pain for several days.  Then the antibiotic ran out.  There was still no pain, but, what I described as discomfort.  That and my urine looked like Heinz ketchup, which didn’t sit right with me.  So, here we go, another trip in the ambulance.

In the back of the ambulance, the EMT that’s not driving is busy helping you write your biography.  They ask you a bunch of questions that are going to be asked again several times by several different people once you get to the hospital.  (Note to self: take a tape recorder with you next time and record the Q&A, so you can play it back for anyone interested in asking the same questions.)

Hey, I should mention that I brought my rosary beads with me this time, wrapped around my right hand.  This is a big step for me; I’d never done anything like that before.  The nurse found a vein with no problem and no pain in the very first stab of said right hand.  Thanks, Mother Mary.

After being in the ER for a little while, they asked me for a urine sample.  I gave ’em one, and, wouldn’t you know, it was as clear as it had ever been; no more Heinz ketchup.  I have to admit, this was a little bit aggravating.  We race to the ER because my pee looks like a horror movie and then get there and my stream doesn’t back my story.  I look like a drama queen, the princess and the pee, if you will.

To make a long story less long: the Doc said everything came up roses this time.  I’ve still got the stone, but it’s trying to make its way to the exit, so he gave me some painkillers, which is all Keith Richards really wanted in the first place.  But if you don’t see me writing here, don’t give up on me, because I’m just catching up on some rest.  Trying to give birth to a reluctant rock.  Say a Hail Mary for me, would ya?  Thanks.

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Once upon a time, time stood still. If you don’t understand, give it time — you will.

Angels are prime rib, Grade A, choice cut. In comparison, man is not even the dry dregs of what Taco Bell calls ground beef; which is something like .002% real meat I think. Lucifer — once the top angel — was told by God that he would have to serve man, to which Lucifer said something like: “What’chu talkin’ bout, Willis?!” That’s when all hell broke loose, so to speak, and St. Michael kicked Satan to the curb.

This is to point out just how far above us (in all ways) angels are, since it makes the angel Gabriel’s salutation to the Virgin Mary all the more profound. “Hail, full of grace. The Lord is with thee.”

That’s “Hail,” as in a formal greeting, unique to addressing a superior or even royalty. Angels don’t mince words or use colloquialisms; they are pure intellect and get to the point. In the Old Testament, they might see a king getting ready to croak on the battlefield and say things like: “Quit your whining, wipe your nose, and man-up. The Boss is watching.” (I’m paraphrasing.)

“Full of grace” is no throwaway line either. Our Father in Heaven is very generous in distributing His graces, but no other creature has ever been dealt a full house. The lowest of angels is higher than the highest of humans, with one exception — the Immaculate Conception.

A common misconception is that “the Immaculate Conception” refers to Jesus’ incarnation, but it actually refers to Mother Mary’s own miraculous arrival. “Of all women God prepared Mary from her conception to be the Mother of the Incarnate Word.” She was born free from the corruption of Original Sin in order to be an appropriate home for God. God thought those nine months inside the womb were very important; so important, in fact, that the conditions had to be absolutely perfect. Fast-forward a couple thousand years and much of Western civilization completely disregards the significance of whatever goes on with that glob of expendable ectoplasm. Whatever happens in utero stays in utero.

So, out of the fullness of time, God picked that specific time and that specific place and that particular woman to be the mother of the son of the Father of Creation. And God doesn’t miscalculate. (Word on the street is He doesn’t even have an eraser on his pencil.) He permits us to make mistakes, so that He can turn them into something beautiful. He gives us breath, shows us life, and it takes our breath away. Like a virtuoso playing the electric guitar, if there’s a bad note, God bends it into something exquisite; takes a sad song and makes it better, hey Jude?

And he’s got no deadlines, because he’s outside of time. We creatures get impatient, but the right time shows up at just the right time. Don’t rush a master.

God knows when it was, but the First Adam was placed in Paradise and out of his rib God created woman — the First Eve (I want my baby back, baby back, baby back…). Let’s face it: these two kids messed up big time. They had it all until some smooth talking snake oil salesman convinced them otherwise. It’s still the same old story, a fight for love and glory. Our Creator said to our first parents that they were free to have anything in the garden with one exception: don’t eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. But Lucifer, the fallen angel, incognito as a serpent, does what devils do best and that’s tempt by deception. He told them they could be like God if they disobeyed and ate from the taboo tree. They’d have knowledge of good and evil and freedom of choice. (So to speak.)

For another perspective on the beginning of the Bible, you have to go to the end of the Bible; in John’s Revelation (12:1):

[1] And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars: [2] And being with child, she cried travailing in birth, and was in pain to be delivered. [3] And there was seen another sign in heaven: and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads, and ten horns: and on his head seven diadems: [4] And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to be delivered; that, when she should be delivered, he might devour her son.

The question is, is the woman in labor a prefigurement of Our Blessed Lady, or is she a symbol representing the Church? The answer is: Yes. (Catholics are not “either/or” people, they are “both/and” people.)

Now, at first blush, the book of Revelation seems like it should’ve been called the book of Hallucination, for all its mindbending, bad acid trip symbolism — it reads like Yellow Submarine for adults. Remember, no minced words; everything means something. The same John who wrote John’s Gospel also wrote Revelation, a.k.a., “John’s Apocalypse”, and we know he has a thing for dropping hints. The “Woman” is clothed with the sun (The Church is clothed with the Son). And the moon under her feet (the changeable things of the world under her feet). And on her head a crown of twelve stars (the twelve apostles). The red dragon is obviously Satan (or the serpent), and when he was cast down from heaven, one third of the angels went with him, so that’s “his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth.” Mary experienced no labor pains (one of the perks of being immaculate), however, the Church went through hell on earth while being birthed, so that explains her travailing in birth, etc.

Keep in mind that John was the one at the foot of the cross with Mary when Jesus said to her, “Woman, behold your son,” and then He looked at John and said, “Behold, your mother.” The keyword here is “Woman,” because that turns us back to Genesis ch. 3, back in the Garden of Eden where God promised redemption, and delivered a firm warning to the serpent.

[15] I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.

Woman is the archenemy of Satan, not God. God does not have an equal or an opposite. The Devil and evil exist only because God permits their existence, in order to draw a greater good from them. The Church is Christ’s Bride. Anybody that tells you the Catholic Church is anti-woman has it exactly backwards. They are the Bride and Jesus the Bridegroom, as Scripture says again and again. Jesus performed His first miracle at a wedding, at the request of His mother; turning water into wine. (Alcoholics everywhere converted.) Blood and water, by the way. The Bible refers to wine as “the blood of the grape”.

Mary simply told Jesus that, “They have no wine,” and, at first He seemed aggravated, saying, “What would you have me do? My hour has not yet come.” Seems like a typical conversation between a Jewish mother and her boy. She says nothing more to Him on the subject, but turns to the waiters and utters her final words in the entire Bible. It’s a simple directive, and yet the most significant statement in all of the Good Book. It encapsulates the message of the whole Holy Book. “Do whatever He tells you.” His will be done. Eventually the Jewish guilt kicks in (which is later converted to Catholic guilt), and Jesus tells the waiters to fill the six stone water jars with water, and — presto chango — vino!

Continuing with the theme of typology, let us refer back to the Old Testament once again, because, “the Old Testament is the New concealed, but the New Testament is the Old revealed” – St. Augustine

King Solomon was the son of David and Bathsheba. When he inherited the throne from his father, he was known for his remarkable wisdom and fairness. In fact, he wrote the book on Wisdom — literally. The Book of Wisdom, a.k.a., The Wisdom of Solomon. If you read Wisdom, one thing is made perfectly clear: Wisdom is Woman; that is to say, she is continually referred to as a she. Luck be a Lady, and so also be Wisdom. And when one wanted a favor from King Solomon, by the way, one asked Solomon’s mom, Bathsheba, the Queen Mother. This was actually fairly common in those days; the Queen Mother having more influence than the wife of the king. Of course, the King had final authority, but Mom’s input was vital. The Fourth Commandment: Honor thy father and thy mother goes for kings too; as well as The King of Kings.

Bathsheba was a Mary type, a prefigurement of the perfected final edition. Both Mary and Joseph were from the House of David, i.e., from the Davidic bloodline. It was prophesied in the Old Testament that the Christ would come from the House of David as an all-powerful King, so the Jews were thrown a bit of a curve ball when He showed up as a humble, impoverished carpenter from the ghettos of Nazareth. Remember, prior to giving birth, Mary and Joseph had to go from Nazareth to Bethlehem in order to comply with a decree by Cesar Augustus. Then, after our Lord was born, they had to flee to Egypt, since word spread of a king-child being born, Cesar had all firstborn males killed so no king would horn in on his territory. (Hey, didn’t the same thing happen to Moses in Egypt?! Wow! It’s like déjà vu all over again.) Oh, and this gets us back to the Book of Hallucination … um, Revelation: (12:4-7):

and the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to be delivered; that, when she should be delivered, he might devour her son. [5] And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with an iron rod: and her son was taken up to God, and to his throne. [6] And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she had a place prepared by God, that there they should feed her a thousand two hundred sixty days.

So the Great, all-powerful King of Kings, humble, impoverished carpenter from Nazareth and Bethlehem and Egypt eventually went back to the ghettos of Nazareth. “Jesus enters the world in poverty to teach the lesson of detachment from earthly things.” And, since that’s the case, then what of the Queen Mother? Could it be that she would be a modest and meek peasant girl, the humble handmaid of the Lord? Shu-betcha!

A lot of people mistakenly believe that Catholics worship the Virgin Mary the same way they’d worship God; that would be idolatry. (Adoration is reserved for the Creator, not His creations.) If you have a deceased loved one, you might talk to them as if they were still there with you. Well, that’s what Catholics do with Mary and the saints. We don’t ask Mary for things, we ask Mary to pray for us, because … here’s the thing — SHE’S THE MOTHER OF GOD! And she’s 100% purer than we are, so it’s good to have the mother of the incarnate Word to put in a good word for you. We ask Mary to ask her son to turn our water into wine.

When Gabriel presented all of this to Mary, the angel waited for her consent. Think about that: the ultimate example of God’s display of man’s Free Will; the weight of the fate of the entire human race was placed on the shoulders of this 15-year-old peasant girl saying “I do” to this miraculous marriage proposal. And she could’ve opted out. Once upon a time, time stood still, and then: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done unto me according to thy word. And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and our wayward water world was turned into wine.

But, before I let you go, I have to tell you about the Ark of the Covenant. (The lost trunk Indiana Jones was looking for.) Hello, it wasn’t a trunk, it was the dwelling place of God Himself in the Old Testament. Moses was told to have an ark built out of the finest acacia wood covered with gold inside and out and then to place three holy items within it: a golden jar of manna (the bread from heaven), Arron’s rod (from the priestly house of Levi), and the stone tablets on which the Law was written. Amen, amen, I say to you, God commanded that a Perfect container be made to hold within it His Word (inscribed on the tablets); The Bread Of Life (the manna); and the Priest of the New Covenant (Arron’s rod).

Now think: is there any other carrying case you know of which housed these holy items? C’mon, a container that says things like: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and my spirit finds joy in God my Savior”?

Time’s up!

Mother Mary was the Perfect earthly vessel to carry The Word, The Bread of Life, and The Priest of the New Covenant. No impurity could touch the ark, just as no impurity ever touched the Blessed Virgin, who was completely without sin. In the Old Testament, somebody named Uzzah touched the ark and immediately dropped dead. That’s when King David threw a hissy fit, because he was terrified and said, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” and then he abandoned it in hills of Judea for three months. But when he found himself in the presence of the ark once again, he danced and leapt for joy.

Now leap ahead to the New Testament and to Mary’s Visitation of her cousin Elizabeth, who was six months pregnant with John the Baptist. At the sound of Mary’s greeting, John was sanctified and leapt in his mother’s womb, inspiring her to proclaim, “Blessed are thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb!” Amen, amen, I say to you, the presence of the Lord caused the baby to dance and leap for joy. David abandoned the ark for three months; but Mary stayed with Elizabeth until she gave birth three months later.

I don’t know how God feels about Simon and Garfunkel’s album “Bookends”, but He sure does seem to like the concept. Our story begins in the Garden of Eden; it begins its fulfillment in the Garden of Gethsemane. The First Adam falls because he ate the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, which was given to him by the First Eve, who was deceived by the serpent. The New Adam is the Redemption, because He Is the fruit of the Tree of Life (The Word on the Wood of the Cross), who was birthed by the New Eve, who crushes the head of the serpent when her beloved son conquered death. And the man-made crown of thorns became a real crown. Hell hath no fury like The Woman scorned. Especially when she’s The Mother of Perfection.

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Typology.  This is a word that aggravates me.  Maybe you know it.  But if you do, I’m angry with you too, because you never told me about it.  People who evangelize need to stress typology in their teachings, because, if you don’t, it’s like leaving out the O’s in a game of Tick Tack Toe.  It’s half the story.  Typology is biblical foreshadowing.  Great teachers repeat themselves, repeat themselves, repeat themselves when they really want to drive home a point.  Well, the greatest teacher is no exception.  In fact, all other teachers are but imitations and lesser replicas of THE TEACHER.  In other words, they are repetition.

Did you know that there are multiple Eve’s in the Bible?  I suppose a lot of people know that Mary, Jesus’ mother, is often referred to as The New Eve, but the Virgin Mary is all over the place in the Old Testament; as is Jesus himself.  Moses was a Jesus type.  Joshua was a Jesus type.  Joseph and Daniel, and on and on.

God is an author.  He knows what’s going to happen to his characters before he even writes them into the story.  “Ah ha!  So you admit it’s a story!”  Yes.  It’s His-story.  History repeats itself.  The Divine Déjà vu is a reoccurring theme of recurrences.

O little town of Bethlehem.  Did you know that Bethlehem means “House of Bread”?  That’s significant, isn’t it?  There’s more bread in Scriptures than in a bakery.  In Exodus, manna rained down from the sky to feed the Israelites.  “What’s that?”  That’s the answer to the question: manna is Hebrew for, “What is it?”  Because that’s what the Jews said when they first saw the lightly sweetened bread on the ground, after they’d been wandering around the desert with nothing to eat.  It makes me laugh, because I always think of a Mel Brooks character looking down and saying: “Vat is it?!”  It’s bread from Heaven.  This was the second foreshadowing of Christ in the Bible already.  Most biblical scholars believe that Melchizedek was Jesus before the actual incarnation.  He picked up a temporary body from Home Depot, just long enough to make the First Covenant with Abram (whom God would later rename Abraham).  Melchizedek translates as “my king (is) righteous(ness)”, and he was introduced in the 14th chapter of Genesis as the King of Salem (hold that thought; that’s also significant) and priest of El Elyon (“The Highest God”).

There is only one other individual in Scriptures who is both King and priest.  The Old Covenant was consecrated between Melchizedek and Abraham with bread and wine.  This ceremony might sound familiar to you, because the New Covenant (another way of saying the New Testament) was also consecrated over bread and wine between Jesus (the living incarnation and fulfillment of the Highest God) and twelve descendents of Abraham.  Abraham, which, by the way, the Bible says was Hebrew for “the father of multitudes”, though some scholars contest this etymology.  But keep in mind that some modern scholars don’t want “BC” to mean “Before Christ” anymore.

Bread was a staple, a necessity in Jewish culture in order for it to be considered an official meal.  It’s a necessity to have Jesus in order to attain eternal life.  (I know this doesn’t jive with a lot of people, but I’m just pointing out the connection.)  The Last Supper is the sacrifice; Jesus Christ gave His body in the form of bread to his disciples that night — before Calvary.  “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.”  The institution of the sacrament of Holy Orders to perpetuate this sacrifice.

In the book of Exodus, after Pharaoh refused to heed God’s warning, God told Moses to inform His people that all the firstborn males in Egypt would die, except for the Israelites whose doors had the blood of a lamb around them.  And not just any lamb, but an unblemished lamb.  They were ordered to check it TWICE for any flaws.  Anyone with the blood of the perfect Lamb on their house would be spared and passed over.  Thus began the tradition of the Jewish Passover.  I know this is all common knowledge, but did you ever notice that Pontius Pilate examined Jesus (“the Lamb of God”) twice, and found him to be without guilt?  Flawless and pure.  Mary had a Little Lamb whose fleece was white as snow.  Prior to having Him scourged, Gov. Pontius Pilate examined Him and found “no cause in him”.  Then again after He was whipped to a bloody mess, Pilate talked to Him and concluded that He was clean.  He doublecrossed our Lord.

Jesus was crucified on a hill on the outskirts of Jerusalem.  Amen, amen, I say unto you — just outside of Jeru-SALEM.  In the Gospel of John, the “beloved disciple” emphasizes the time of Jesus’ death as being three o’clock in the afternoon.  This would have been PROFOUNDLY significant to the Jews of the time, because three o’clock was the time when the lambs were slaughtered for the feast of the Passover.

John’s Gospel is a sacred scavenger hunt, filled with hidden treasures.  You get the feeling that, if you talked to John, he’d have done a lot of demonstrative throat-clearing, and pregnant pauses, giving you time to pick up on the subtle hints he’s dropping.  For instance, in the book of Ezekiel, ch. 47, a nondescript person is showing the Prophet Ezekiel the new Temple, and one of its features was a fountain flowing with holy waters issuing out from under the threshold on the right side, toward the east from the altar (the Holy of Holies).  The thing is, historians know that there was no such fountain on the Temple.  So what was this?  Some inane Bible babble?

Fast forward a couple thousand years, John clears his throat and winks at you, while explaining:

[33] But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs:
[34] But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.
[35] And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe.
[36] For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken.”  (John, ch. 19)

Jesus is the new Temple described in Ezekiel.  This is obvious, as He himself said that He would destroy the Temple and then rebuild it in three days.  In the Psalms it said that no bones would be broken, because the Lamb has to be unblemished, so the soldier pierced His right side (the Sacred Heart; the Holy of Holies), thus producing the fountain of holy waters issuing from the right side of the Temple.  “On the third day Jesus rises from the dead, glorious and immortal.”

But, let’s go back again.  Let’s go back to Salem, with Abraham in Genesis, ch. 22.  Bob Dylan describes it in his song “Highway 61 Revisited”:

Oh God said to Abraham ‘kill me a son’
Abe said ‘man you must be puttin me on’
God said ‘no’, Abe said ‘what’
God say ‘you can do what you wanna but
the next time you see me comin you better run’

OK, so God tells Abraham to sacrifice his firstborn son — his only son, Isaac, “whom you love”, conceived miraculously in he and his wife’s old age.  The next morning Abraham and Isaac, and some of their servants, got up early and headed up to the mountains of Mori’ah (as far as I know, there’s no connection here to Mariah Carey), it is believed by many that this mountain range was either in or near Salem, which later became Jeru-salem.  Abraham had Isaac gather wood for a sacrifice.  So, there you have Isaac carrying wood up the hill for his own sacrifice.  (Any of this sound familiar?)  ON THE THIRD DAY, Abraham found the spot where the sacrifice would take place.

Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the ass; I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.”  (Genesis, ch. 22, v. 5)

Which is almost exactly what Jesus said to His apostles in the Garden of Gethsemane, just prior to being dragged off to be executed.  Anyway, Isaac looks around and notices that they have firewood, but inquiries as to where the heck the lamb to be sacrificed is; to which his father replies:

God will provide himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.

Interesting wording there.  God will provide “himself” the lamb for a sacrifice.  Then, of course, the angel of God stops Abraham just before he kills Isaac.  Because, after all, God will provide himself the lamb a few thousand years later at the same location.  His-story repeats itself.  Repetition is the mother of perfection.  Or did I already say that?

The Mother of Perfection is who I intend to write about in the next part.  The New Eve, the Queen Mother, the Ark of the Covenant.  When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom: be it done unto me according to thy word.

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