Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Sign of Contradiction, Part Six

The deep aspect of the Church—called forth by Simeon during the presentation of the infant Christ in the Temple (Luke 2:34)—that so often becomes lost in the modern world, with its comfort, ease, tendency to go along to get along, and lack of easily perceived martyrs—though are not the millions of aborted babies such—yet as Pope John Paul II reminds us, the Church is surely a sign of contradiction in the world.

Over the next five days (first of ten posted on May 9th) I will continue to post excerpts from the final chapter of the first book published in English by John Paul—in 1979—Sign of Contradiction, which is a collection of talks then Cardinal Karol Wojtyla preached during the annual Lenten Retreat in March 1976 to his predecessor, Pope Paul VI.

A related series of articles by Dr. John C. Rao is available online at the Roman Forum, which examines in depth the ongoing war against the Church, as noted by Rao: “For the Church is a force which has proven to be a powerful, effective, rage-provoking “sign of contradiction” to all the many opponents of Christ.” (2nd para., 1st p.)

Excerpt from Sign of Contradiction.

“This is she, Mary, daughter of Israel, “united, in descent from Adam, with all men needing salvation” (Lumen gentium, n. 53). That is the teaching of Vatican II, which later tells us: “She moved forward in her pilgrimage of faith and loyally maintained her union with her Son all the way to the cross where, in keeping with a divine plan, she stood (cf. John 19:25), suffering grievously with her only Son and in her mother’s heart associating herself with his sacrifice, lovingly consenting to the immolation of the victim to whom she had given birth; and finally the same Christ Jesus gave her as mother to the disciple, saying: “Woman, here is your son” (cf. John 19:26-27)” (Lumen gentium, n. 58).

“This is she, Mary. We know her life by heart; indeed the details to be remembered are few. A life that was almost always hidden. We know how little of what was said by the Mother of God is recorded in the Gospel. So let us, with the Church, contemplate her mystery: “Mary, a daughter of Adam, in consenting to the divine message, became the mother of Jesus; and in embracing God’s salvific will, with her whole soul and without any burden of sin, she totally consecrated herself as handmaid of the Lord to the person and the work of her Son, serving the mystery of redemption in subservience to him and together with him by the grace of Almighty God. Hence many of the Fathers of early times declare in their preaching that ‘the knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by Mary’s obedience’” (Lumen gentium, n. 56).” (pp. 201-202)