What is the Sword That Pierced Mary’s Soul?

In Luke 2:35, Saint Simeon prophesied to Mary “a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

What is this sword?

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The Greek word is ῥομφαία {rhomphaia} and it means sword or javelin. Here’s the full definition:

ῤομφαία, ῤομφαίας, ἡ, a large sword; properly, a long Thracian javelin (cf. Rich, Dict. of Antiq. under the word Rhompaea); also a kind of long sword usually worn on the right shoulder (Hesychius ῤομφαία. Θρακιον ἀμυντηριον, μάχαιρα, ξίφος ἤ ἀκόντιον μακρόν; (Suidas 3223 c. (cf. ῥεμβω to revolve, vibrate)); cf. Plutarch, Aemil. 18); (A. V. sword): Revelation 1:16; Revelation 2:12, 16; Revelation 6:8; Revelation 19:15, 21; σου δέ αὐτῆς τήν ψυχήν διελεύσεται ῤομφαία, a figure for ‘extreme anguish shall fill (pierce, as it were) thy soul’, Luke 2:35, where cf. Kuinoel. (Josephus, Antiquities 6, 12, 4; 7, 12, 1; in Ev. Nicod. 26 the archangel Michael, keeper of Paradise, is called ἡ φλογινη ῤομφαία. Very often in the Sept. for חֶרֶב; often also in the O. T. Apocrypha.)

Swords are violent weapons that are formed not to hunt animals, but to kill men. In the Jewish mind, the sword is a physical weapon but it is very frequently used as a metaphor for the tongue. The tongue sends out lethal words that strike men down. Even Christ in Revelation is depicted with a sword coming from his mouth to slay His enemies (listen to my podcast on Christ’s mouth-sword here: Revelation 19: Eucharist and Mouth Sword mp3).

Mary’s soul is slain in two ways:

  1. Sword as Tongue: The evil words spoken against Christ during His ministry and up to His death rip open the soul of Mary who perfectly knows that He is the innocent and immaculate Lamb of God who only loves mankind and seeks to save it. Every hostile word toward Christ, thrusts a sword through her soul.
  2. Sword as Piercing of Christ her Son: Ultimately, when her eyes see Christ’s pure flesh pierced with nails and His dead chest pierced with the lance, her own soul is pierced with love for Christ and for those whom He died for: every single human person.

Simeon says that this piercing of Mary is a “sign of contradiction.” I think this refers to Isaiah 7:14 where a sign is given a “a virgin shall bear a son.” This is a sign of “contradiction” because virgins are not mothers.

The manifest love of the Son for his Virgin Mother is at the cross when He proclaims, “Behold your mother.” Her love is also most manifest at the cross. And for each human person, our love should be most manifest at the foot of the cross.

and a sword will pierce through your own soul also,
that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed.

Notice how the piercing of Mary’s soul reveals the “thoughts of the many hearts.” It’s my personal conviction (not teaching of the Church) that the way a person speaks of the Blessed Virgin as a quiet mother and co-sufferer with Christ reveals their heart.

  • Show me someone who has a very gentle and respectful appreciation for Mary’s suffering, I’ll show you a very holy person “that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed.”
  • Show me someone who denigrates Mary and says, “Yeah, but she ain’t special or anything,” and I’ll show you a bitter and lost person “that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed.”

Today, place your mind’s eye on Jesus pierced on the cross and ask for the gift to feel part of what His Mother felt as she looked upon Him making the perfect sacrifice for the entire human race.

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Why was Mary purified at the Temple? And did she receive Sacraments?

If Mary was immaculate and without sin, why was she “purified” in Luke 2? Also, would she have been Baptized, Confirmed, and have received Extreme Unction? Read on for answers:

February 2 marks the 40th day from Christmas, and as Saint Luke tells us, Mary and Joseph presented Our Infant Lord at the Temple on the 40th day after his birth.

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There are 2 things happening here:

  1. Leviticus 12 states that when an Israelite woman gives birth she becomes ritually unclean:
    1. if child is a boy, she is unclean 7 days after birth and that her uncleanness endures for an additional 33 days due to the flow of her post-partum blood flow. So after 40 days, she is presented herself at the Temple to be purified and readmitted to the liturgical life of Israel.
    2. if child is a girl, she is unclean 14 days after birth and that her uncleanness endures for an additional 66 days due to the flow of her post-partum blood flow. So after 80 days, she is presented herself at the Temple to be purified and readmitted to the liturgical life of Israel.
    3. Jesus is male and so the timeline is 40 days. Dec 25 + 40 days = Feb 2.
  2. The woman is to bring a sacrifice to the Temple to dedicate the son or daughter:
    1. Ideally, she brings a lamb.
    2. However, “if she cannot lay her hand on a lamb fit to be offered, she must bring two turtle-doves or two young pigeons, one as a burnt-sacrifice and one by way of amends.”
    3. Mary, being poor, brought two doves – but in reality she brought THE Lamb of God.

There are two theological conundrums here:

  1. Jesus is the Son of God. Why would he need sacrifice offered for Him?
  2. How could Jesus, the Pure One, make Mary impure through birthAnd isn’t Mary immaculate and entirely pure?

The answer is found in the Baptism of Christ. Christ submitted to Baptism not because he needed grace or the remission of Original Sin, but because He wanted to unite himself to sinners while at the same time instituting the Sacrament of Baptism.

Christ indeed submitted to every law of Moses so as to fulfill the Old Law perfectly (hence, we Christians do not need to submit the ceremonial and judicial precepts of Moses – like not eating pork).

Mary and the Rites of the Old Law and New Law

The same is true of Mary – both for the Old Law and the New Law. She submitted to the entire Old Law even though she knew that her Son fulfilled the Law and stood above the Law as God. She beautifully conformed to His pattern and example. Same goes for Joseph.

It is Catholic tradition that Mary was full of grace and that she did not need the sacraments, but that she submitted to the rites and sacraments of the New Law – namely that she was baptized, confirmed, and fervently received the Eucharist – even though all the graces were already present within her.

There is a tradition that Christ only baptized two persons by His own hand: Peter and Mary. Peter then baptized the other 11 Apostles and then the 12 Apostles baptized the multitudes.

Catholic commentator Cornelius Lapide even speculates that Mary received Extreme Unction from the hand of an Apostle before her Dormition, even though she didn’t need it since corruption could not touch her. Lapide is clear that she would have never gone to confession, however. Confession requires the matter of actual sins committed in order for the form of absolution to be proclaimed. Mary had nothing at all to confess.

Question: Are you humbled that Jesus and Mary submitted to rules and rites that she did not need? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

PS: Joy and I were once able to attend Mass with Pope Benedict XVI (when we were not yet Catholics) on February 2 for the feast of the Presentation of Christ. It was a moment of conversion for us to Catholicism – since I in that moment came to know that I was not in communion with the Successor of Saint Peter.

Catholic Webinar: History and Theology of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Did you know that devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe goes back to a small statue in Spain that was once owned by the Church Father and Pope Saint Gregory the Great?

Please join us for this week’s Catholic Webinar:

6 Historical and Theological Facts about Our Lady of Guadalupe

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Here’s what you’ll learn:

  1. How the devotion to an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe began with Saint Luke.
  2. How the original image was acquired by St Gregory the Great.
  3. Christopher Columbus’ devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe.
  4. About the Apparition of Our Lady to St Juan Diego.
  5. How Our Lady of Guadalupe can help you in our secular society!
  6. How she can help you bring family and friends back to the Catholic Church:

The Webinar is free but you must register to claim your spot and have access to the Webinar. You can do so by clicking here:

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We hosted 980 live attendees in last week’s Webinar on Catholic Advent. We are hoping to have over 1,000 attendees in this week’s Guadalupe Webinar. Join us for the global Catholic seminar about Our Lady!

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

3 Ways to Defend Immaculate Conception from Bible (plus Aquinas Video)

3 Ways to Defend the Immaculate Conception from Scripture:

Is the Immaculate Conception Biblical?

Immaculate ConceptionYes, but only if you accept typology as a valid interpretation of Scriptural texts (i.e. a method used by the Apostles and Fathers to interpret Old Testament people, things, and events as types foreshadowing New Covenant realities).

Below are three common arguments used by the early Church Fathers, the Popes, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church to justify Mary’s title as the Panagia or “All-Holy.” The first is straight-forward, the latter two rely on typology.

Argument #1 Mary is Full of Grace

Luke 1:28: “And he came to her and said, ‘Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!'”

The term traditionally translated “full of grace” or “highly favored” is κεχαριτωμένη or kecharitomene. This “perfect passive participle form” (Even if you never study Greek, memorize what I have placed into quotes. Burn it into your memory) denotes something that happened in the past and continues into the present. She was perfectly graced in the past and continues in that state. Luke 1:28 has served as the locus classicus for the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady.

When a Protestant fronts you on this, just keep the broken record approach by repeating “perfect passive participle of kecharitomene” until the Protestant grabs your Rosary beads and start praying it aloud. Works every time.

Argument #2 Mary as New Eve Having Enmity with Satan

Gen 3:15 “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall crush your head, and you shall strike at His heel.”

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In this verse God addresses Satan. The Seed here is Christ. The Woman is His Mother, that is, Mary. Thus Satan has perfect enmity with Christ and with His Mother. The Catholic Church has interpreted this as indicating the sinlessness of Christ and Mary. If either actually committed sin, then they would not be at enmity with Satan but actually a cooperator with Satan at times.

If you want to know more about the Hebrew debate over whether “he” or “she” crushes the head of Satan, read my post on it here: Does Mary or Jesus crush Satan’s head in Gen 3:15?

Argument #3 Mary as Ark of the Covenant

In the Old Covenant the Ark of the Covenant contained the Word of God on stone. In the New Covenant, the Word made Flesh was also contained – and that in the womb of the Blessed Virgin. The Catholic Church has therefore understood Mary as the mystical Ark of the New Covenant. This connection is made in the book of Revelation.

Rev 11:19-12:2 Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple; and there were flashes of lightning, voices, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail. And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; she was with child.

The Ark of the Covenant appears in Heaven and then in the next breath (and next verse) St John describes a pregnant woman appearing in Heaven. This Woman “contains” the Messiah.

The thinking goes that if Mary is the fulfillment of the Ark of the Covenant, then she must be “all holy”. Remember that in the Old Covenant a man was killed for touching the ark. It was holy. If the box that held stone tablets was so restricted – so also would be the woman who actually carried God Himself. And so she is all pure and all holy, without the stain of sin.

In review:

  1. Luke 1:28 “perfect passive participle of kecharitomene,” rinse and repeat
  2. Gen 3:15 “Why does Satan have a perfect “enmity” with a woman and who is she?
  3. Rev 11-12 Mary as New Ark of New Covenant

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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And now for something more advanced: Saint Thomas Aquinas on the Immaculate Conception:

Did Saint Thomas Aquinas deny the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary?

In the theological video below I’ll share how Thomas Aquinas changed his position over time on the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception and share some of the nuances. Thomas may have reverted back to a belief in the Immaculate Conception after he wrote about the Immaculate Conception in the Summa theologiae. See the video below for details.

If you are already a student Member of the New Saint Thomas Institute, you have this video already along with the entire “Mariology Module” as well as your entire “Intro to Thomas Aquinas Module.”

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If you are not yet a Member of the New Saint Thomas Institute and you want to study with us, our General Advent Enrollment just opened up. Here’s a free sample our theology classes: Did Thomas Aquinas Deny the Immaculate Conception?

Are you having trouble seeing this video in your browser or email? Please click here to watch it.

Not yet a Member of NSTI?

If you’re not yet a Member of the New Saint Thomas Institute, we currently offer 3 Certificates and will offer a fourth Certificate in 2016:

  1. Certificate in Catholic Philosophy and Thomistic Studies (Click for Philosophy syllabus)
  2. Certificate in Catholic Theology (Click for Theology syllabus)
  3. Certificate in Catholic Apologetics (Click for Apologetics syllabus)
  4. Certificate in Catholic Church History (Click for Church History syllabus)

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We are the biggest global Catholic Institute (in 50+nations) and we have the lowest tuition rates on the planet (98% lower than nearly every Catholic college). We just finished enrolling our waiting list of 200 people and have opened enrollment to the general public.

If you are not yet a Member of NSTI, please explore our valuable benefits and begin studying with us by learning more about us: Click here to learn more about Catholic classes at the New Saint Thomas Institute.

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Catholic Webinar on the Book of Revelation with Dr Marshall

This Thursday night at 8pm I’ll be hosting another free Catholic Webinar on the Book of Revelation from a biblical, traditional, and Catholic point of view. If you’ve ever had questions or confusions about the End Times of the Book of Revelation, you won’t want to miss this Catholic Webinar Event.

YOU WILL DISCOVER:

  • Why the Book of Revelation was written
  • a Catholic interpretation of Revelation based on Scripture, Tradition, and Church Fathers
  • the Virgin Mary in Revelation 12
  • the Mark of the Beast and 666 from a Catholic view point of view
  • EVERYONE THAT ATTENDS WILL RECEIVE a FREE pdf worksheet of the Webinar. Dr Marshall will make available his 16 part series on Catholic Revelation.
  • Register to reserve your spot by clicking here.

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Photos: Happy 2030th Birthday to the Blessed Virgin Mary

Yesterday was the feast day of the Birth of our Blessed Virgin Mary (it’s 9 months after the feast of her Immaculate Conception on Dec 8).

Our family usually has a birthday cake and sings Happy Birthday. Here’s this years cake:

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Close up #nofilter:screen-shot-2016-09-09-at-11-39-25-am

As you know from my other posts, I believe that Christ was actually born on Dec 25 1BC (there is not year zero) and I’ve written a small book on why that’s the case and how Josephus made an error on the death of Herod.

So if traditions states that Mary was 14 around the birth of Christ, that means that this year she turns 2030 years old (or 2031 if she was 15). Happy birthday Blessed Mother!

Godspeed,

Taylor

Catholic Video: What is the Historical Date of Mary’s Assumption?

In what year did Christ raise and elevate the body of His Blessed Mother into Heaven? Some say in the AD 40s or 50s. I argue based on data in the New Testament that Mary was assumed in AD 63. Please watch the video lesson that I’ve prepared on this topic for NSTI.

[If you don’t see the video in your browser or email, click here to begin watching.]

This is lesson 7 of Church History: Module 2 – Redemptive History: Christ of the Covenants. To sign up and watch the rest of the lessons and modules in this Catholic Church History Course (and earn a Certificate), please visit: New Saint Thomas Institute’s Certificate in Catholic History:

Question: Do you agree that dating the Dormition/Assumption to AD 63 makes the most sense? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

And here are some interesting resources for you as we celebrate Our Lady’s Dormition and Assumption:

  1. Did the Virgin Mary Die? The Answer May Surprise You (The majority tradition in Catholic history is that Our Lady did experience the separation of body and soul.)
  2. Audio: Mary as Assumed in Revelation 12 Podcast: Our Lady of the Apocalypse
  3. Did Christ receive an assumption or ascension or both?
  4. The year of the assumption according to Maria Agreda
  5. The Assumption of Saint Joseph – A forgotten tradition
  6. If you deny the Assumption – You have fallen away!
  7. Saint Gregory of Tours on the Assumption
  8. The Assumption of Mary in the Book of Psalms
  9. Does the Rosary Pre-Date Dominic?
  10. Mary’s Special Role over Purgatory
  11. Mary’s Empty Tomb Information
  12. Did Pope Pius XII Teach that Mary died? Yes he did

Enjoy!

to Jesus through Mary,
Taylor Marshall

St Clare: Virgin Warrior against Islamic Terror!

You may think that a medieval shieldmaiden looked like this:

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But in reality, she looks like Saint Clare of Assisi:

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St Clare is a Virgin Warrior against Islamic Terror!

In AD 1240, Saint Clare shielded her convent from Muslims through the power of the Eucharist.

The Muslims (and the Vikings) were increasingly aware that Catholic convents contained gold, treasure, and…virgins.

As the Muslims invaded the walls of her convent, Saint Clare of Assisi entered into spiritual battle and she took up the most powerful shield known to men or angels:

“By imperial order, regiments of Saracen soldiers and bowmen were stationed there (the convent of San Damiano in Assisi, Italy), massed like bees, ready to devastate the encampments and seize the cities. Once, during an enemy attack against Assisi, city beloved of the Lord, and while the army was approaching the gates, the fierce Saracens invaded San Damiano, entered the confines of the monastery and even the very cloister of the virgins. The women swooned in terror, their voices trembling with fear as they cried to their Holy Mother Clare.

Saint Clare, with a fearless heart, commanded them to lead her, sick as she was, to the enemy, preceded by a silver and ivory monstrance in which the Body of the Holy of Holies was kept with great devotion. And prostrating herself before the Lord, she spoke tearfully to her Christ:

‘Behold, my Lord, is it possible You want to deliver into the hands of pagans Your defenseless handmaids, whom I have taught out of love for You? I pray You, Lord, protect these Your handmaids whom I cannot now save by myself.’

Suddenly a voice like that of a child resounded in her ears from the tabernacle: ‘I will always protect you!’ ‘My Lord,’ she added, ‘if it is Your wish, protect also this city which is sustained by Your love.’ Christ replied, ‘It will have to undergo trials, but it will be defended by My protection.’

Then the virgin, raising a face bathed in tears, comforted the sisters: ‘I assure you, daughters, that you will suffer no evil; only have faith in Christ.’

Upon seeing the courage of the sisters, the Saracens took flight and fled back over the walls they had scaled, unnerved by the strength of she who prayed. And Clare immediately admonished those who heard the voice I spoke of above, telling them severely: ‘Take care not to tell anyone about that voice while I am still alive, dearest daughters.’” (The History of Saint Clare the Virgin by Tommaso da Celano)

This episode is the reason that Saint Clare is so often depicted holding a Eucharistic monstrance (sometimes against the Muslim invaders in the photo below):

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I was recently at the tomb of Saint Clare in Assisi. I have a twin daughter named after Saint Clare and so this 800 year old saint from Assisi holds a special place in my heart. Here’s a photo of my with my twin daughters praying at the tomb of the Saint Clare:

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And me with my daughter named after Saint Clare still down in the crypt of Saint Clare of Assisi:Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 11.44.40 AM

And with another daughter sneaking in from below:

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St Clare is the patroness of television, and you can read about how she had a flat screen TV 800 years ago by clicking here.

Godspeed,
Taylor Marshall

Did the Virgin Mary Give the Rosary to St Dominic

Did Mary give the Rosary to Saint Dominic? Is it a historical fact?

Catholic tradition states the Blessed Virgin Mary directly and personally instituted the Holy Rosary through Saint Dominic. A previous post described the traditional account of “How Mary Gave the Rosary to Saint Dominic.”

In this second post we examine the historical-critical objection claiming that the Rosary was an organic development of medieval piety and that Mary did not directly give the Holy Rosary to St Dominic.

Dominic Receiving Rosary

I believe this modern claim is incorrect and too simplistic. It’s perfectly reasonable to believe that Mary gave the Holy Rosary to Saint Dominic. Here’s why…

9 Thoughts on Our Lady of Guadalupe

I returned from our NSTI pilgrimage to Our Lady of Guadalupe. It was a beautiful pilgrimage with beautiful people.

Here are 9 quick reflections on Our Lady of Guadalupe after having returned home to the US:

  1. More than ever, I’m convinced that Mary leads us deeply to Jesus. There are things about Jesus that we can never know without Mary. She is a microscope that “magnifies” different attributes of Jesus and His eternal message.
  2. The miraculous image of Our Lady on the tilma seems to have changed since I saw it last two years ago. This is obviously subjective perception on my part. It seemed larger and more alive and more colorful.
  3. I loved seeing my son Jude serve Mass for the first time at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe and his second time at the relics of Blessed Miguel Pro. This was a highlight for me. Here’s a pic:
    Jude serving Mass
  4. Last time at the Basilica, I promised Our Lady to bring my wife Joy with me on the next pilgrimage. It was difficult traveling Mexico with a 4 month old baby, but she did a great job and I’m really proud of her.
  5. Our group of 43 pilgrims (most from NSTI) were fantastic. Kate (one of our pilgrims) related how bringing her intentions to Guadalupe was liking carrying the roses of prayer in her own tilma like Saint Juan Diego and having Our Lady “rearrange them” to be more acceptable.
  6. The devotion of the Mexican people as they prepared for a Papal visit was inspirational. Their faith and joy are inspiring.
  7. When at San Miguel, we saw all the poor people carrying Baby Jesus dolls to the churches to be blessed. They were doing this to commemorate the “Presentation of Jesus in the Temple.” It’s a beautiful devotion that I have never known.
  8. Food in Mexico is so good. Churros. Fruit popsicles. Mexican Bernaise sauce!
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  9. We observed pilgrims walking on foot for 6 days to Mexico City to greet the Pope. 6 days! Would we spend 6 days of penance for the good of the Vicar of Christ and to welcome His Holiness in an act of hospitality?

There are 100 of other things (I’ll share more on Guadalupe in a podcast), but it was just a wholesome and beautiful pilgrimage. I hope that you’ll join us again in a year or so when we do it again.

If you want to watch a Webinar on Our Lady of Guadalupe, click here.

If you want to join me on a Pilgrimage to Rome and Italy, please reserve your spot by clicking here.

Godspeed,
Taylor Marshall