Celebrating the birthday of Mary, the Mother of God

Many Catholic and Orthodox Christians around the world will be celebrating a feast day in the Church commemorating the birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Mary’s role

Devotion to the mother of God is common in these traditions. It is not a form of worship; Mary was merely a human being like ourselves. Instead, Mary is honored as the woman chosen by God to bear his Son Jesus and thus complete the process of Jesus becoming human while retaining his divinity.  As stated by St. Athanasius: “God became man so that man might become God.” Mary’s role has always been to point us to Jesus the Christ. When people pray the rosary or other Marian prayers, they are not praying to Mary but with her to God.

Mary’s example

Celebrating the birth of Jesus

Her example is key as well, that of total trust in spite of the risk of accepting the invitation to bear a son without benefit of yet being married.  Quite a predicament. But her “yes” brought the Savior into the world and took her on the adventure of a lifetime. Yes, there were some incredibly tough moments in her life, but the privilege of raising Jesus for thirty years, of having him to herself for all that time … I think she would have done it all again, don’t you?

In honor of Mary’s birthday, I’d like to offer a couple of tributes:

First a song I wrote about Mary.

It was a great comfort to me during my mother’s illness. You will notice that the name of this blog, Be As One, is in the lyrics. That’s where I got the idea. 🙂 The song is called “Under My Immaculate Mantle.”

Secondly, here are images of Mary from around the world:

If you are interested in seeing a fairly recent film about Mary, here is further information.

And here are today’s readings in honor of the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Happy Birthday Mary!

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Please pray for the Coptic Christians in Egypt and spread the word about their plight

coptic church burningThere is a frightening series of events going on in Egypt that few know about. If you are a Christian and don’t believe there is persecution to the magnitude of the original martyrs of the Church, you must educate yourself on the plight of the Coptic Christians in Egypt.

The mainstream press is not covering this story. Our government, except for a recent tepid statement condemning the violence, has otherwise done nothing.  The Coptic Christians are being rooted out. Their businesses are being spray-painted with black crosses and X’s. Over sixty churches have been burned down. One church had to cancel their Divine Liturgy this past Sunday for the first time in 1600 years.

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This is not a far-away problem in a country thousands of miles away. This is something that should profoundly affect our lives as Christians. Our brothers and sisters are suffering and we must pray for them and spread the word as to their plight.

Yes, I know. There are many groups of people on the earth who have been persecuted and killed. Lord knows the suffering in Syria has been immense as well as in Afghanistan and Iraq. There is starvation and disease around the world and so many forgotten people both here in our country and around the world.

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I could just allow the waves of suffering to overwhelm me and do nothing. Or, I can pick one group and do what I can for them.. I can daily offer my prayers for all people in the world, entrusting them lovingly to God through the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Our Lord knows best how to take care of them but He wants us to get involved. To paraphrase St. Teresa of Avila, we are His hands and feet.

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What can we do? We can ask our pastors this Sunday to add intentions for the Coptic Christians to prayers offered at services. We can use social media to spread the word among our family and friends. We can stay informed on what is happening. We can contact government officials to express our concern.

abbott tryphon This blog post by Abbot Tryphon, a  monastic in the Orthodox  Church, offers his thoughts on what is going on in Egypt:

Coptic is the Pharoes’ name for “Egyptian”, a little appreciated echo of the fact that all of Egypt was once a Coptic, Christian nation. For seven centuries Egypt was a Christian nation, until the Arab Islamic invasion in the seventh century. When President Obama came to Cairo in 2009 for his first major speech on foreign affairs, he thought his charisma would be enough, as he attempted to appease the Islamists with his talk of America being their friend, all the while ignoring the plight of the Christians of the Middle East, who have been the bridge between the West and Arab cultures since the 17th century.

It was Coptic and Arab Christians who acted as translators of the greatest works of arts, literature, civilization, theater, and cinema, just as did Jews living in the Arab world. They made huge strides in bringing modern ideas, including democratic ideas, to the Islamic dominated world, but just as the Jews before them, Christians are now facing eviction from the Arab world, and this is not only a loss for the West but mostly for Arab Muslims. It is also a crime against humanity.

Click here to read the rest of the post.

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us.”

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