Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Mary Mother of God

In 431 the Council of Ephesus formally bestowed on title of Mother of God.  This was to settle a controversy of two lines of thought about Mary's role as bearer of Christ.   There were two schools of thought about this by two prominent theologians at the time.  The first one was by Nestorius who advocated that Mary should be referred to as mother of Christ(Christotokos) not mother of God (Theotokos) , being that Mary was a creature created by God she could not be the Mother of God.  On the other side of the argument was Cyril of Alexandria, who claimed that Mary was bearer of all of Christ not just his humanity.  He said we cannot separate the divinity from the humanity of the baby in the womb so if Mary is bearing the Jesus she is bearing both natures of him divine and human.  So the Church officially proclaimed  the doctrine of Theotokos or loosely translated Mother of God.  

That is the matter in a nutshell of how the title came to be, it was much more involved and there was much debate leading up to and following the proclamation by the council.  

There is also scriptural backing for this title, immediately before mary gives The Magnificat Elizabeth greets her by this title.  

“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. And she cried out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! “And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? “For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.” Luke 1:41-45

So we celebrate the feast of Mary the Mother of God which the church debated and settled in 431 at the council of Ephesus.

For a great scholarly book about this topic check out this book by John McGuckin.  


Friday, December 27, 2013

Praying for Elmo - Praying with Children

“Jesus said, ‘Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’” Mt 19:14

                                         Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Praying with small children can be very rewarding but can also be frustrating.  Rewarding in the simplicity of the prayer of child and seeing the wonderment of the world through their prayer intentions.  Frustrating in that in that you are dealing with a thirty pound ball of energy with an attention span of twenty seconds or less.  

We all know that praying is important, as is getting into prayer routines.  A child’s prayer and the simplicity and innocence of it can be a powerful thing and should be encouraged.  But how can we do that especially in the chaos of children.  The following are some tips for getting into a pray routine with your small child/children.

Make time for it
First we need to make time for prayer.  In my house we have a routine that we pray before dinner, before bed and after we receive communion at church with our recently turned 3 year old.  Our son knows this because we have always set aside time for it for as long as he can remember.  We say we are going to pray and he needs to fold his hands. We have had the occasional buck where he is not focused so we wait for him to be ready and he knows that he won’t eat until we finish praying.  Bed time is the other time where we are winding down our day and getting ready to go to sleep.  This is a good time to reflect on the day (age dependent) and say prayers.

Be consistent
Consistency is important, children need routine.  Prayer cannot be something that we do with children when we think of it.  The child needs to know its coming.  If there is a hungry child with food in front of them and the parents decide after not having said grace in two weeks that now is a good time to start again, they are just asking for a meltdown at the table that could be disastrous and messy.  But when it is just something we always do it is usually handled better or at least won’t come as an unexpected surprise..

Having a plan and keep it interesting
Knowing when you are going to pray and what you are going to pray needs to be decided(at least in our head) before we sit down.  Age appropriate is necessary if we expect interaction from the child.  It may be just a “Thank you Jesus” at a young age and adding more prayers as the child gets older.  Keeping it interesting by introducing new prayers and taking some out while keeping the routine the same can help avoid distraction and boredom.  

When we saw that the Lord’s Prayer was getting sped through with little eyes scanning the room for distractions we knew it was time to take it out of the line up temporary since we knew it and it was losing some meaning.  It was replaced by introducing the “new” prayer of the Memorare.  He listened intently to the new prayer and followed along and after a few night he was reciting it along with the other prayers.  

Types of Prayer
While formal memorized prayer is important, working with age appropriate methods and situations can expand the child's horizons.  This works in two ways first if the child is very young they can’t memorize a long prayer.  For a very young child who may just be learning to speak the prayer we mentioned before of “Thanks you Jesus” before bed may be enough to start developing the habit of prayer time without the child having the ability to vocalise the prayer.  Praying for the child, where you hold the child and say the prayer may be good for the early speakers so they hear the words even if they might not have the communication skills to join in yet.  

The other reason is engaging the child in petition prayer so that he/she can can get a sense of God’s desire to help others and that He cares for everyone.  Asking the child who they want to pray for and guiding them along “Grandma has a cold, lets include her in our prayers tonight too”, shows that God not only cares for them but that he cares for Grandma too.  

Another suggestion is what i call trigger prayer, I prayer when a certain situation occurs.  Our trigger is when we see an ambulance with its lights on we say a prayer for the people inside.

Starting young and showing that everything is not memorized recited prayer and that  prayer can be conversational will help to lay the foundations for a deeper richer prayer life down the road.

Prayer Posture
A proper prayer posture is important for adults but what do you do with a child.  My advice try your best and follow suggestion #2 from above about consistance.  This could be hit and miss depending on the childs age and disposition.  Other factors just as special needs (ADD for example) may dictate or limit some options.  The point of a prayer posture is to connect us closer to God not to have melt down because someone wants to sit on their hands instead of folding them.  But as with all things toddler don’t just fold to the child’s whim, explain the importance of prayer and why we do things that we do.  Our house we fold our hands to pray.  This shows that we are entering prayer time.  

We also have the practice of folding hands when walking up to communion, though not old enough to receive it promotes the importance to going up to the lords table.  A secondary effect of the communion line is that it can be an outward sign to the world.  I have been approached a couple of time after mass and told, “ When I saw him with his hands folded going up the line, it made my day and gave me hope.”    

These are just some suggestion that i hope will help you help your children start early on developing a prayer life.  We are not just praying we are developing a relationship with God.  As will all relationships it needs to be developed and nurtured from a young age so that it will maintain us until an old age.


The following an examples of the prayers said by our family (just an example do what fits your child and family best as long as it is consistent and time set apart from everything else.)

All our prayers start with folding of our hands then Sign of the cross (we are still working on which shoulder is which on holy spirit) and end with the sign of the cross again.

Dinner - Grace - Bless us, O Lord, and these, Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty. Through Christ, our Lord. Amen.      

Bedtime - Intentions(if any) The Lord’s Prayer - The Memorare - Hail Mary - Guardian Angel Prayer  - “Thank you Jesus”(Rotating the prayers and order occasionally if needed)

Our “trigger” prayer: when ever we see an ambulance going with his lights on we tell our son.  Say a prayer for them and without fail he says “Jesus protect them”.

After communion - Currently consists of spoken prayer by me asking of God’s intercession on him to help him follow Gods will and to bless him.  Then asking him who he wants to pray for, which is a litany of relatives, classmates (all of them) and occasionally Elmo or “My Trucks”.  

"Create in them a pure heart, O God, and let that purity of heart be shown in their actions." (Ps. 51:10)

What prayer routine do you have with your children and how does it work?

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas

Scripture sums up the reason for the season better than anything I could ever  say so I will quote from scripture.  Theseventytwo looks forward to a faith filled Christmas season and a New Year of blogging the faith to help grow in faith, understanding and Catholic living.

                                The Adoration of the Shepherds - by Honthorst

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.  All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race;  the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.  

A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him.  He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him.  But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God.  

And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth. John testified to him and cried out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.’” From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace, because while the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God,* who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him.” John 1:1-18

Thursday, December 19, 2013

How modern TV media would cover "The Jesus Trial"

Recently Slate.com produced a series of articles on how politics in the United States would be reported if it was happening in a foreign county.  Along that line I thought about how Jesus would be reported on if the modern day foreign media was covering him below is an excerpt on how that might play out:

News Anchor:
We are continuing to follow the sensational trial of Jesus Christ who was recently arresting in the Garden of Gethsemane after a brief struggle with authorities, that may have left one person injured. 

Later will will talk to a man named Lazarus who says Jesus helped him out of a tight spot.  But first we are going to go to our reporter outside the courthouse covering the trial as we await a verdict in the case.     

We are coming to you live from outside the palace of Pontius Pilate where political dissident Jesus Christ is currently on trial for crimes of inciting the crowd and promoting a government coup of the Roman authorities.  The defendant along with a ragtag group of followers from various socioeconomic backgrounds, including some government insiders, have been laying the foundation for the coup for the past three years.  

Jesus came on the scene following another rebel activist John the Baptist.  John had a camp set up in the desert where many follower flocked to hear his sermons about another kingdom, an apparent veiled reference to a takeover of the Roman authority. The Baptist was imprisoned and executed for his crimes against the state shortly after passing the reigns of the the movement to Jesus.  Jesus statement on the works John did for the movement was “Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”  

Upon taking over the movement Jesus changed the message of the group from expecting the Messiah to one of the Messiah is at hand.  He expanded the movement out of the desert and began a more heavily recruitment of followers using methods of unexplained miraculous healings and providing the masses with large sums of food.  While shoring up the movement Jesus and his followers traveled extensively constantly butting heads with the pharisees and scribes, breaking the laws of the sabbath and associating with prostitutes and other dregs of society encouraging them to join the movement.  

We caught up earlier with Jesus number two in command who goes by the name “Peter” though that is not his birth name.  Upon inquiring about Jesus and the crimes he has been charged with Peter denied even knowing the radical leader.  The others in the core group of followers have all disbanded and gone into hiding as well.  As for the mother of Jesus a prominent member of the group she has been spotted with other women from the group as they prepare for the verdict to be reached.  As for Jesus’ father it is unclear from reports who exactly He is.  

Speaking with a Jewish authority on condition of anonymity we have learned that Jesus said he would destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days and that he claimed to forgive sins a feat only God himself could do.  Our source tells us that for these claims Jesus should be put to death.

As for Pilate he has has a range of options in this case, from letting Jesus go to putting him to death.  Pilate is a Caesar loyalist and a company man who is trying to maintain his position in the government.  It is not in his best interest to let this thing get out of hand and have to quell a riot from the citizens.  The supporters of Jesus are many and rumor has it that some are secret followers both inside the Jewish hierarchy and within the Roman guards.  

We are getting late word on the ground here that Jesus’ location was actually revealed to the authorities by someone within his own group.  Our sources are identifying a Judas Iscariot as the one who gave up Jesus possibly becoming disenfranchised with direction Jesus was taking the movement or possibly other motives were at play.  Judas was last seen fleeing the garden and has yet to be located.  That's all we know right now as we continue to await the verdict we will keep you updated as new information becomes available back to you in the news rooms.  

News Anchor:
We will keep following this story as it continues to break.  Coming up when we return scientist may have a new theory of the star that parked over Bethlehem 33 years ago this week that has been a mystery ever since.  Three senior astrologers who claim to have followed the star tell us what they found.  That story and our exclusive interview with the brother of Martha and Mary and how he was trapped in a tomb for three days and miraculously survived. All that coming up after these messages.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Into to theseventytwo

Now after this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them in pairs ahead of Him to every city and place where He Himself was going to come. And He was saying to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. Go; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.” Luke 10:1-3

Welcome to my new blog theseventytwo, a blog about being a follower of Christ in the everyday world. I speak from a distinct from a Catholic perspective. Falling out of “young adult” activities because of the everydayness of life with a small young family. It used to be that I could just pick up and go to a conference, talk or adoration on a whim. But after marriage and family, those things need to be more carefully planned. As my life changes so does our relationship with God and with others. But we are still called to go out to the world and be a witness. It is as if all the activities of youth group and young adults activities have been preparation to take Jesus out in the world and evangelize and defend the faith to all we encounter. God also gives us others to try to get into heaven in a special way. Having children is a special responsibly of directly forming a new follower of God so that they can have the opportunity to get into heaven.

The story behind this blog is that I originally wanted to call it nimble scribe but that was taken so I prayed for a name and God took me to Luke 10 and I felt that we are all the seventy two sent into the world to proclaim the gospel.

The purpose of this blog is to help people expand their faith with a light hearted and evangelical tone. Having studied and taught the faith both formally and informally, I have a deep perspective of the issues and stances of the Catholic Church. As Catholic’s we are called to bring the Church to the public square.

The Internet is the public square of our time that is where we are called to meet our neighbor to discuss the issues that face society. I am not trying to make this overly political rants and fights. But more of a way to help Catholic understand their faith and go deeper into the logic and reason of the church from a theological and historical view. More than just a theological there will be prayer, catechesis, family life and technology articles. We hope to generate reading that people will want to come back here for an insightful thought or expansion of knowledge that cause them to be better than they were before. Check back regularly and see how we fulfill our mission. Pray that the Holy Spirit will guide this blog and all that will come from it. Please bear with me as I find my "voice" that we can go through this together. "My heart is stirred by a noble theme, as I sing my ode to the king. My tongue is the pen of a nimble scribe." Ps. 45:2

Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy.

Hail my life, my sweetness and my hope!

To you do we cry, poor banished children of Eve!

To you do we send up our sighs;

mourning and weeping in this vale of tears!

Turn, most gracious Advocate, your eyes of mercy toward me,

and after this, our exile,

show to us the blessed fruit of your womb, Jesus Christ!

Clement, loving, sweet Virgin Mary!