The Presentation of Our Lady: An Example to Parents

Presentation_of_Mary

Trisha Villarante

Trisha Villarante

A Doubly Beautiful Feast

On this feast we, as Catholics, commemorate when our Lady dedicated herself to God entirely. One of the best quotes that illustrate the beauty of the presentation of Mary can be found on americancatholic.org. It says,

  “Even though the feast has no basis in history, it stresses an important truth about Mary, that from the beginning of her life, she was dedicated to God. She herself became a greater temple than any made by hands.”

Mary was literally the first tabernacle. Having been chosen by God to carry Jesus in her womb she had to be formed for such a vocation. On this feast we can contemplate the first step our Lady embarked towards becoming the mother of our Saviour. However, she couldn’t have made this step on her own.

I like to think of this feast as doubly beautiful because on one hand, it’s a feast of our Lady and all her feasts are precious, but on the other hand, we can’t forget that Mary was raised by parents, just like us. Her parents, Saints Joachim and Anne played a crucial role in Mary’s life. You could say they were the ones who introduced her to God, especially on the day of her presentation, that’s why this feast is an excellent example to Parents too.

Parents as the First Educators

We know that Mary was born without original sin, but she still needed an environment conducive to her nature. She needed an upbringing that would nurture her and form her. She needed her parents.

Mary’s first educators were Saints Joachim and Anne. God entrusted them with Mary that Mary might fulfill her purpose. Similarly, parents are responsible for forming their children and each of them have a purpose to fulfill.

During Mary’s time, according to the law of Moses, presenting a child in the temple was a means of purification. Today we have baptism. In baptizing our children we are making the first step in introducing them to God, freeing them from sin and rebirthing them as sons and daughters of Christ. Yet this is only the first step in a life long commitment to forming true Christians.

This simple fact that parents are the first educators of their families is not a new concept in the church. In fact, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church number 2223, you can find this gem of a quote:

Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule. The home is well suited for education in the virtues. This requires an apprenticeship in self-denial, sound judgment, and self-mastery – the preconditions of all true freedom. Parents should teach their children to subordinate the “material and instinctual dimensions to interior and spiritual ones.”31 Parents have a grave responsibility to give good example to their children. By knowing how to acknowledge their own failings to their children, parents will be better able to guide and correct them.”

The consequences of raising children in Christian households go far beyond the walls of our homes. It is a duty to society, and more importantly it is a duty as a Christian. After all, the family is the cell of society and each parent has been entrusted by God with the children they have.

Ask Mary for Help
Mary was prepared in order to raise Jesus, and Mary prepared Jesus in order to fulfill God’s will that we be sons and daughters of His. Each one of the little souls under our care need formation with love and attention. But we can’t give them anything we don’t have ourselves. So, we should learn from the example of our Lady and her parents during this feast of the presentation and ask for help to fulfill our responsibility to the souls God has entrusted to us.

On a Quest for Genius

 Always vary what you do, as it is better to make a mistake than to repeat yourself.

 Michelangelo

Michelangelo drew incessantly. Throughout his 77 year career he produced thousands of quick sketches and more detailed drawings. His finished works were so highly prized that it often created a buzz in Rome when it was made known he had finished a new piece – even the Popes were known to have sought after new works. However, contrary to what one might think, drawing for Michelangelo was not an end in itself;  it was a simply a “tool of the trade.”

Studies for the head of Leda (small)

Studies for the head of Leda, c. 1630

Michelangelo was first and foremost a sculptor and drawing was how his imagination found creative expression. As one of his contemporaries put it: “It is easier to change things in drawings than in finished works”.  And this was particularly true for Michelangelo whose drawings were often a preliminary study before sculpting in marble – an expensive and delicate process.  As such Michelangelo  guarded his drawings jealously, and shortly before his death tossed many in the fire to prevent others from stealing his ideas. Today only 600 of these precious works exist.

Study for Christ in Limbo

Study for Christ in Limbo, c. 1532-1533

These remnants offer a revealing portrait of the inner workings of Michelangelo’s mind.  As you can virtually see Il Divino (“the Divine One”) attempt to memorize forms, to experiment and to brainstorm. So even though Michelangelo never intended you to see his drawings the Art Galley of Ontario’s latest exhibitMichelangelo: Quest for Genius which features 30 rare drawings on loan from the Casa Buonarroti, offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness genius at work.

You can also watch Part of 1 of our special feature on Michelangelo: Quest for Genius here.

Pope Speaks Out About Nutrition – Perspectives Daily

Today on Perspectives, Pope Francis addresses an international conference on nutrition and Catholic News Service talks to experts about the importance of children having both a mother and a father.

Pope Francis Addresses Second International Conference on Nutrition

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Early on November 20, 2014, Pope Francis traveled to the headquarters of the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome and delivered the following address to the Second International Conference on Nutrition. Full text below:

Mr President,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased and honoured to speak here today, at this Second International Conference on Nutrition. I wish to thank you, Mr. President, for your warm greeting and the words of welcome. I cordially greet the Director General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr. Margaret Chan, and the Director General of the FAO, Professor José Graziano da Silva, and I rejoice in their decision to convene this conference of representatives of States, international institutions, and organisations of civil society, the world of agriculture and the private sector, with the aim of studying together the forms of intervention necessary in the fight against hunger and malnutrition, as well as the changes that must be made to existing strategies. The overall unity of purpose and of action, and above all the spirit of brotherhood, can be decisive in finding appropriate solutions. The Church, as you know, seeks always to be attentive and watchful regarding the spiritual and material welfare of the people, especially those who are marginalised or excluded, to ensure their safety and dignity.

1. The fates of nations are intertwined, more than ever before; they are like the members of one family who depend upon each other. However, we live in a time in which the relations between nations are too often damaged by mutual suspicion, that at times turns into forms of military and economic aggression, undermining friendship between brothers and rejecting or discarding what is already excluded. He who lacks his daily bread or a decent job is well aware of this. This is a picture of today’s world, in which it is necessary to recognise the limits of approaches based on the sovereignty of each State, intended as absolute, and national interest, frequently conditioned by small power groups. Your working agenda for developing new standards and greater commitments to feed the world shows this well. From this perspective, I hope that, in the formulation of these commitments, the States are inspired by the conviction that the right to food can only be ensured if we care about the actual subject, that is, the person who suffers the effects of hunger and malnutrition.

Nowadays there is much talk of rights, frequently neglecting duties; perhaps we have paid too little heed to those who are hungry. It is also painful to see that the struggle against hunger and malnutrition is hindered by “market priorities”, the “primacy of profit”, which have reduced foodstuffs to a commodity like any other, subject to speculation, also of a financial nature. And while we speak of new rights, the hungry remain, at the street corner, and ask to be recognised as citizens, to receive a healthy diet. We ask for dignity, not for charity.

2. These criteria cannot remain in the limbo of theory. Persons and peoples ask for justice to be put into practice: not only in a legal sense, but also in terms of contribution and distribution. Therefore, development plans and the work of international organisations must take into consideration the wish, so frequent among ordinary people, for respect for fundamental human rights and, in this case, the rights of the hungry. When this is achieved, then humanitarian intervention, emergency relief and development operations – in their truest, fullest sense – will attain greater momentum and bring the desired results.

3. Interest in the production, availability and accessibility of foodstuffs, climate change and agricultural trade should certainly inspire rules and technical measures, but the first concern must be the individual as a whole, who lacks daily nourishment and has given up thinking about life, family and social relationships, instead fighting for survival. St. John Paul II, in the inauguration in this hall of the First Conference on Nutrition in 1992, warned the international community against the risk of the “paradox of plenty”, in which there is food for everyone, but not everyone can eat, while waste, excessive consumption and the use of food for other purposes is visible before our very eyes. Unfortunately, this “paradox” remains relevant. There are few subjects about which we find as many fallacies as those related to hunger; few topics as likely to be manipulated by data, statistics, the demands of national security, corruption, or futile lamentation about the economic crisis. This is the first challenge to be overcome.

The second challenge to be faced is the lack of solidarity; we suspect that subconsciously we would like to remove this word from the dictionary. Our societies are characterised by growing individualism and division: this ends up depriving the weakest of a decent life, and provokes revolts against institutions. When there is a lack of solidarity in a country, the effects are felt throughout the world. Indeed, solidarity is the attitude that makes people capable of reaching out to others and basing their mutual relations on this sense of brotherhood that overcomes differences and limits, and inspires us to seek the common good together.

Human beings, as they become aware of being partly responsible for the plan of creation, become capable of mutual respect, instead of fighting between themselves, damaging and impoverishing the planet. States, too, understood as a community of persons and peoples, are required to act concertedly, to be willing to help each other through the principles and norms offered by international law. A source of inspiration is natural law, inscribed in the human heart, that speaks a language that everyone can understand: love, justice, peace, elements that are inseparable from each other. Like people, States and international institutions are called to welcome and nurture these values – love, justice, peace – and this must be done with a spirit of dialogue and mutual listening. In this way, the aim of feeding the human family becomes feasible.

4. Every woman, man, child and elderly person everywhere should be able to count on these guarantees. It is the duty of every State that cares for the wellbeing of its citizens to subscribe to them unreservedly, and to take the necessary steps to ensure their implementation. This requires perseverance and support. The Catholic Church also offers her contribution in this field through constant attention to the life of the poor in all parts of the world; along the same lines, the Holy See is actively involved in international organisations and through numerous documents and statements. In this way, it contributes to identifying and assuming the criteria to be met in order to develop an equitable international system. These are criteria that, on the ethical plane, are based on the pillars of truth, freedom, justice and solidarity; at the same time, in the legal field, these same criteria include the relationship between rights and food, and the right to life and a dignified existence, the right to be protected by law, not always close to the reality of those who suffer from hunger, and the moral obligation to share the economic wealth of the world.

If we believe in the principle of the unity of the human family, based on the common paternity of God the Creator, and in the fraternity of human beings, no form of political or economic pressure that exploits the availability of foodstuffs can be considered acceptable. Political and economic pressure: here I think of our sister and mother, Earth, our planet, and of whether we are free of political and economic pressure and able to care for her, to avoid her destruction. We have two conferences ahead of us, in Perù and France, which pose the challenge to us of caring for our planet. I remember a phrase that I heard from an elderly man many years ago: God always forgives … our misdemeanours, our abuse, God always forgives; men forgive at times; but the Earth never forgives. We must care for our sister the Earth, our Mother Earth, so that she does not respond with destruction. But, above all, no system of discrimination, de facto or de jure, linked to the capacity of access to the market of foodstuffs, must be taken as a model for international efforts that aim to eliminate hunger.

By sharing these reflections with you, I ask that the Almighty, God rich in mercy, bless all those who, with different responsibilities, place themselves at the service of those who experience hunger and who assist them with concrete gestures of closeness. I also pray that the international community might hear the call of this Conference and consider it an expression of the common conscience of humanity: feed the hungry, save life on the planet. Thank you.

New Season of Reel Faith Premieres on Salt + Light

ReelFaith

Do you love movies? Do you read film reviews? Check out current film reviews on Reel Faith with David DiCerto and Steven Greydanus, to get a Catholic perspective on the latest Hollywood releases.

Watch trailers and hear what their resident film buff, Fr. Robert Lauder has to say about the Great Films chosen by the Vatican. 

First episode premieres on Tuesday, November 25, 2014 at 8:30 pm ET / 5:30 pm PT. Check the schedule for additional times.

Chicago’s New Archbishop Installed – Perspectives Daily

Today on Perspectives, Pope Francis’ weekly general audience and Archbishop Blase Cupich is installed as the Archbishop of Chicago.

Pope Francis to Preside Mass of Canonization on Feast of Christ the King

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On November 23, 2014, the Feast of Christ the King, Pope Francis will canonize six blesseds and inscribe them in the roll call of Saints. These blesseds consist of two Indians and four Italians, including one layman and one bishop.

The blesseds who are to be canonized on Sunday are:

  • Kuriakose Elias Chavara: A priest and the founder of the Congregation of the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate. He is remembered for his solid leadership and is recognized for having saved the Church in Kerala from a schism in 1861.
  • Mother Eufrasia Eluvathingal: A member of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Mother of Carmel. She was born in 1877 in Kattur and came to be known as the “Praying Nun.”
  • Amato Ronconi: Founder of the hospital known as the “Blessed Amato Ronconi Nursing Home” and a layman member of the Third Order of St. Francis.
  • Giovanni Antonio Farina: Italian bishop of Vicenza and the founder of the Institute of the Sisters of Saint Dorothy, Daughters of the Sacred Heart.
  • Nicola da Longobardi: Professed oblate of the Order of Minims.
  • Ludovico da Casoria: Founder of the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters Elisabettine and professed priest of the Order of Friars Minor.

Salt + Light will broadcast the mass from Rome at 12:00 pm ET / 9:00 am PT. Watch live.

Holy See Talks Drones at the UN – Perspectives Daily

Today on Perspectives, the Holy See tackles the issue of weaponized drones at the United Nations in Geneva and we talk to producer Sebastian Gomes about Salt + Light’s involvement in the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia.

Pope Francis is Coming to the United States – Perspectives Daily

Today on Perspectives, Pope Francis announces he is coming to the United States, tells a gathering that marriage and the family are in crisis, his weekly Angelus, condemns abortion and other medical procedures that violate human dignity and a look ahead to his trips to Strasbourg and Turkey.

Witness: George Devassy

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Born and raised in India, George Devassy has a real passion for the youth and for his faith as a Catholic. And it is this passion that led him to become the international co-ordinator of the Jesus Youth lay movement at the age of 26.

The Jesus Youth movement has a charismatic spirituality and adopts a lifestyle of personal prayer, the Word of God, sacraments, fellowship, service and evangelization. It was established during the World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto. In countries like India, where Catholics represent less than 4% of the population, there are movements like Jesus Youth that are taking the Catholic faith to other parts of the world.

In this exclusive interview by Fr. Thomas Rosica with a young, evangelist of our times, meet George Devassy and allow yourself to be inspired and evangelized.