; charset=UTF-8" A Plumbline in the Wind — The world is going to the dogs, but I refuse to learn to bark

A Plumbline in the Wind

The world is going to the dogs, but I refuse to learn to bark

Psalm 119:75 I know, O LORD, that thy judgments are right, and that in faithfulness thou hast afflicted me.

A Plumbline in the Wind Paris: Jardin des Tuileries

The Fifth Glorious Mystery: The Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary as Queen of Heaven

12 May 2024 · Comments Off on The Fifth Glorious Mystery: The Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary as Queen of Heaven

As if the life of heaven were not enough, there is a further glorification for the Church; for Mary first of all, and then for all of us who are incorporated into Christ. “If we have died with Him, we shall live with Him; if we endure with Him, we shall also reign with Him.” In taking His place in glory, He has not stopped being a human being; Mary has not stopped, and never will stop, being His mother. Thus, as He is the true heavenly King, she is the Queen Mother; but in this she is only the beginning of the Kingdom. All who are incorporated into Christ by participation in His death and partaking of His sacrifice share in His Kingdom. Mary the first, and then all the Church, are to reign with Christ forever. We are to share not only in His life, not only in His glory, but also in His crown. The Church in glory is the perfect Bride of Christ, reigning with Him from His throne beside the Father, in the Holy Spirit. What this means is ultimately beyond the comprehension of any human mind in this age. Only when we know as we are known shall we see the glory that awaits us. We do know that it will be His own glory that we shall share, and further that our exaltation to share his reign will be the final stage of His own glorification. Even in glory, however, we shall never have any cause to boast, because we have not deserved what we have received, but only receive it by His free gift of Himself for us.

The saying is sure: If we have died with him, we shall also live with him; if we endure, we shall also reign with him. (2 Timothy 2:11-12)

As we pray at the conclusion of the Rosary:

Almighty God, whose only-begotten Son by His life, death, and resurrection has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life, grant that, meditating on these mysteries of the most holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may both imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise; through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

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The Fourth Glorious Mystery: The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

2 May 2024 · Comments Off on The Fourth Glorious Mystery: The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

We might easily imagine that the last two of the Glorious Mysteries are primarily about Mary rather than about Jesus. In fact, however, they are actually further stages in the glorification of the Son of God. Throughout the Gospels Mary participates beforehand in all that the Church will experience. The Holy Spirit overshadows her at the Annunciation; already she is full of grace. Since grace is the life of God, the presence of the Holy Spirit, she shares in the sanctification that is the fruit of Christ’s redemption from the moment of her own conception. In the vision of St. John, she is the woman clothed with the sun, whose children are the followers of Christ; thus, she is both herself, the mother of the Son of God, and the Church. She appears to St. John in heaven because she has been taken there and glorified as all the members of the Church will be taken there and glorified at the end of the age. Her glorification is the glorification of the Church, which is the fruit of the glorification of Jesus Christ. As she shared before us in the redemption that is ours, she shares beforehand in the glorification that is ours. She did nothing to earn it, any more than we do; it is the gift of her Son and a share in His glory.

For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. (1 Thessalonians 4:14)

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The Third Glorious Mystery: The Descent of the Holy Spirit

21 April 2024 · Comments Off on The Third Glorious Mystery: The Descent of the Holy Spirit

Jesus told His disciples that unless He went away from them, the Holy Spirit would not be able to come to them. This is the case because the Holy Spirit is, like Jesus Himself, God. When Jesus was on earth, He was the physical presence of God on earth. Since Pentecost, the Church, His Body filled with the Holy Spirit, is the physical presence of God on earth. The grain of wheat has fallen to the ground and died; now it is multiplied into much fruit in the many members of the Church. The coming of the Holy Spirit is more than just the endowment of the Church with spectacular gifts; it is the transformation of a group of human beings into the living presence of God. Thus, the coming of the Holy Spirit is part of the glorification of Christ, a transition from His glorification in Himself to His glorification in the Church. Through His Body He can remain present on earth. His mission to the lost sheep of the house of Israel now becomes a mission to the nations. Jesus told His disciples that the time for Him to be glorified and used the image of the grain of wheat when some Greeks—Gentiles—asked to come and see Him. Only through His death and His glorification by the coming of the Holy Spirit upon His Body could the mission to the Gentiles be fulfilled.

In him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14)

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The Second Glorious Mystery: The Ascension

15 April 2024 · Comments Off on The Second Glorious Mystery: The Ascension

The mystery of Christ’s sacrifice—the Paschal Mystery—does not end with Easter. His Ascension to the right hand of the Father is essential to it. He must enter into the true, heavenly sanctuary, the sanctuary not made with hands, to present His own blood as the sacrifice that redeems the human race. Therefore, the Ascension is not merely a convenient way of getting rid of the body but a step in our redemption. Skeptics have mocked the Ascension saying that it portrays a heaven up somewhere in space, but although we are given a picture of the Lord going up from the earth, that is really only a metaphor. He is ascending not in space but out of this creation entirely, for the heavenly sanctuary does not belong to this creation. It is the new creation, now open through the risen body of Christ to those who put their faith in Him and are joined to Him by a death like His in Baptism. He presents the perfect sacrifice that is able to remove sin at the heavenly altar. Those who participate in a sacrifice must receive and consume the sacrificial flesh; thus, from this heavenly altar the Church receives this sacrifice of Christ’s Body and Blood in the Eucharist.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. (Acts 1:8-9)

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The First Glorious Mystery: The Resurrection

7 April 2024 · Comments Off on The First Glorious Mystery: The Resurrection

The Glorious Mysteries

The Glorious Mysteries are exactly that: mysteries of glorification. They depict by stages the glorification of Jesus Christ. In the earlier mysteries, the divine Nature of Jesus was hidden, although all that the human Jesus did the divine Word also did. Now the divine Nature show forth more fully, but we must remember that because of the Incarnation, the divine Word, the second Person of the blessed Trinity, true God of true God, is joined forever to human nature. The glorification of Jesus Christ is the glorification of human nature. “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains alone, but if it dies it will bear much fruit.” He is the grain of wheat; the Church is the abundant fruit. Because He perfectly endured the consequences of our sin in order to redeem us from it, redeemed humanity now shares in the glorification of the Son of God. These mysteries depict the glorification of Christ, first in His own Person, and then in His Church.

The Resurrection

The first stage of glorification is the return of Christ from the dead, not as an animated corpse or as an insubstantial ghost, but in a glorified body. His humanity was perfect before He died on the Cross. He resembled Adam to redeem Adam’s children. Now he surpasses Adam in His glorification. The body that rose from the tomb has properties no human body ever had before. It is as superior to physical nature as the human soul is to the soul of an animal. The human soul has the divine powers of reason and will even while sharing the growth and sensation of lesser forms of life; the glorified human body has complete control of, indeed freedom from, the matter of this world, even while sharing the materiality of the world. He can be seen and touched; he can eat and drink; he can also appear inside a locked room and conceal his appearance. This is the risen, spiritual body which those who rise in Him will have on the Last Day. From the beginning of His glorification, he shows the glory He will share with us.

See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see I have. (Luke 24:39)

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The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery: The Crucifixion and Death of Jesus

30 March 2024 · Comments Off on The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery: The Crucifixion and Death of Jesus

“It is finished,” He said. This is the final humiliation. Jesus is obedient even unto death. The perfect man Who was not born to die died to redeem those who were born to die. He handed over His life that we might receive it. Even more, since we can say nothing of the human Jesus that we cannot say of the Eternal Word of God, God the Son, true God of true God, also underwent human death. Of course, God, as God, did not die; the one in whom is the fullness of being cannot cease to be. But in some way beyond human comprehension, the eternal Son endured what human beings endure when they die. The Incarnation joined the divine Person of the Son to human nature. Now the divine Person takes on what sinful human nature suffers because of sin in order to free human nature from sin, suffering, and death. We cannot understand this mystery. We can only contemplate it with awe and gratitude. We can only receive with humility what His humility gives to us.

When Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, “It is finished”; and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:30)

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The Fourth Sorrowful Mystery: The Carrying of the Cross

29 March 2024 · Comments Off on The Fourth Sorrowful Mystery: The Carrying of the Cross

After a night spent sweating blood in the garden, and being tortured and humiliated in front of the crowd, Jesus is now made to carry the means of His execution to the hill of Golgotha. Scripture tells us that the soldiers on the execution detail drafted a random Jew by the name of Simon to help Jesus carry it; the traditional Stations of the Cross have Him falling three times under its weight. Jesus accepts one more humiliation. He has accepted pain and mockery—which are no doubt still going on—and to these he adds weakness. The Son of God Who has power greater than all of creation accepts the weakness and fatigue of the fallen human condition. For an ordinary mortal man, this weakness and fatigue would be nothing out of the ordinary, but for a perfect man, the acceptance of weakness and fatigue, like the acceptance of pain, had to be willed as part of the redemption of sinful human nature. He had told His followers that His disciple had to take up his cross; I imagine this might have sounded a little strange when He first said it. Now He shows what it means. He carries His Cross so that we can carry ours. To be His disciple is to carry one’s cross because He Who did not deserve a cross carried His. We are weak by nature; He took on our weakness as He carried His Cross so that we would have the strength to carry ours.

    As they were marching out, they came upon a man of Cyrene, Simon by name; this man they compelled to carry his cross. (Matthew 27:32)

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    The Third Sorrowful Mystery: The Crowning with Thorns

    28 March 2024 · Comments Off on The Third Sorrowful Mystery: The Crowning with Thorns

    After the ordeal of scourging, being crowned with thorns and wrapped in a purple robe to be exhibited to the mob seems like a small thing. Yet this mystery marks a transition in Jesus’ humiliation. The Agony and the Scourging happened in the presence of a few; this and the rest of the Sorrowful Mysteries happen in public. The Son of God, having been tortured, is now exhibited to the mockery of the crowd. His humiliation now adds rejection. Bearing up under torture could be considered an honorable thing; but now Jesus is being made fun of. They put a crown of long, sharp thorns on His head, give Him a robe fit for a king, and called him “King of the Jews.” For the Romans, this title would sound like “King of the Idiots.” To show off this specimen of the skill of Roman torturers to the crowd as their king was not only an insult to Jesus; it was also an insult to the Jews. Now even some who, no doubt, had only a few days before hailed Him as the Son of David turned away in disgust. It would be easy for the leaders of the Sanhedrin to convince the crowd that Jesus was a false prophet who deserved to die. No Messiah would allow such a thing to be done to him. Mocked by the soldiers and rejected by many of His own people, Jesus was now ready for the final humiliation.

    So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold the man!” (John 19:5)

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    The Second Sorrowful Mystery: The Scourging of Jesus

    26 March 2024 · Comments Off on The Second Sorrowful Mystery: The Scourging of Jesus

    The Romans could be a cruel people. Only a people whose favorite amusement was watching men and animals tear one another to pieces could have invented a punishment like crucifixion. They were also good at lesser forms of cruelty. When Pontius Pilate, a proper Roman gentleman, had Jesus scourged, he had not made the final decision whether or not to release Him. As far as Pilate was concerned, Jesus was simply a poor provincial who could be handed over to his soldiers for their amusement while he considered His fate. The soldiers were no doubt happy to carry out their mission. Here was a provincial of the worst kind, a Jew with His ridiculous religion and proclivity to rebel and reject superior Roman culture. Jesus for His part meekly accepted their torture. He could have stopped it; He could have willed not to feel it. His human nature was not made for pain. Yet He underwent this, the first stage of His suffering, not because He deserved it, but because we deserved it. His pain is the answer to our pain. He accepted this outrage upon His sacred Body for the sake of that Body that was to come, His Church that would be born through His death.

    Then Pilate took Jesus and scourged him. (John 19:1)

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    The First Sorrowful Mystery: The Agony in the Garden

    24 March 2024 · Comments Off on The First Sorrowful Mystery: The Agony in the Garden

    The Sorrowful Mysteries

    The Sorrowful Mysteries are mysteries of humiliation or degradation. The Son of God lowered himself, accepting death, even death on a cross, to redeem the human race. What He went through was something for which human beings were not created to endure. We only endure pain, humiliation, and death because of Adam’s sin. Jesus, with a glorious divine nature and a perfect, sinless human nature, only endured them to free us from Adam’s sin and all its results. We must remember, as we contemplate these mysteries, that, even though Judas, the leaders of the Sanhedrin, Pontius Pilate, and all his soldiers were guilty of great sin in putting the Jesus to an unjust death, enduring these sufferings was willed by Jesus. At any step of the way, He could have called on more than twelve legions of angels to rescue Him, or He could have willed that He not feel any of the pain that He endured. His birthright was eternal life and joy; He surrendered these so that we who believe in Him could have them. This was what He is doing through the Sorrowful Mysteries: they reveal a process of gradual self-emptying for the sake of the sinful and undeserving human race.

    The Agony in the Garden

    After the Last Supper, Jesus went with His disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. This prayer was not like any other prayer in His life. It was a struggle. He prayed to the Father that the cup of suffering might pass but acquiesced to the Father’s will. How is it that the eternal Son, one in being with the Father, joined to a human nature whose human will was perfectly aligned to His divine will, would have a struggle accepting the will of the Father? It seems out of character. We must remember, however, that He had a perfect human nature, the nature of the unfallen Adam. Adam was not created to die. Thus, the perfect human nature had to be made to submit to a fate other than that for which it was created. The human will of Jesus had to be turned away from its proper purpose to something unnatural to it. The decision to die was a struggle because of the perfection of the human nature of Jesus. His life was not taken from Him; He laid it down, but laying it down meant taking on the sins of the world, sins that were entirely alien to Him. This took an effort that only His supernatural union with the perfect will of the Father could achieve. From now until the Cross, what happened to Him was part of this effort.

    And he said to them, “My soul is sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch.” (Mark 14:34)

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