Consider you're trying to build a house but you're looking for advice on how to proceed. It would be foolish to reject the person who has 'been there' and 'done that'.
Or imagine you come home to introduce the person you love and are going to marry to your parents. And when you do, you tell them, "I don't love you any more because I love him/her."
Or imagine someone telling you that you can't love and honor your mother and father because ALL love and honor are the Lord's! You'd, hopefully, say that it was ridiculous.
Yet many, essentially do this.
We often forget to 'tap' the 'family' relationship of the Church of God. Remember, the Church doesn't just mean those of us still here on earth. Like any 'family' we interact with each other.
St. Paul asked for the prayers of the Church: "Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving; and pray for us also, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ" (Colossians 4:2-3).
The entire Church prayed for St. Peter. "So Peter was kept in prison; but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church" (Acts 12:5).
Ah!!!, some will note, but this is the 'living' in the Church, not the dead. What dead? "have you not read what was said to you by God, 'I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not God of the dead, but of the living" (Matthew 22:31-32). I am the God of Abraham, not I 'was' the God of Abraham.
"Your father Abraham rejoiced that he was to see My day; he saw it and was glad" (John 8:56). Abraham 'saw' His day.
"And He was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and His garments became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with Him" (Matt. 17:2-3). Moses and Elijah are so 'alive' that Peter even asks whether he should set up a tent for them.
In fact, this notion of once you're dead, you're dead, is unique to the Sadducees (and other modern 'churches') In fact, Christ's response of "I am the God of Abraham" etc. is directed at the Sadducees. "and whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:26).
If we live in Christ, we are more alive when we shake off this mortal coil than now. In fact, there are those who, though walking about and speaking with us, are deader than a rock.
When we enter into Heaven, before the Ultimate Love, the Perfect Love, our love is perfected, not diminished. It isn't "I have mine, and I don't care about anything more." That would not be love. So it is logical that those 'alive' with Christ in Heaven are still with us, still 'connected' with us in faith and love.
"But all honor and love belongs to God and God alone!", some may argue. True, to a point. If we take the statement at face value, then God is a hypocrite since He tells us that all love and honor belong to Him alone (1st Commandment), but then also tells us to "Honor our father and mother"!!!
Love isn't finite. Nor is it of one type. The love a husband has for his wife (or wife to husband) is different than the love he has toward his parents, and different still from the love he holds for his children.
Do we dishonor our parents by loving our spouses? Do we dishonor our spouses by loving our children? Do we dishonor God by loving any of them?
St. Thomas Aquinas tells us that the love and honor we owe to God and God alone is Latria. That honor we owe to the saints by virtue of their being 'friends' of Christ is dulia. And the honor we owe to the Blessed Virgin by virtue of her 'unique' role in God's plan of salvation is hyperdulia.
That Christ gave us examples of faith to emulate is clearly Scriptural. "I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John (the Baptist)" (Luke 7:28). "When Jesus heard him (the Centurion), He marveled, and said to those who followed Him, 'Truly, I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.'" (Matthew 8:10).
In fact, Scripture is full of people to emulate (from Abraham to St. Stephen) and who to not emulate (from Cain to Judas)
"But Christ is to be our only 'example', our only role model." True, but often we find it hard to fit Christ's example to our life, so we turn to those who mirror our own life. For example, a lawyer may want to follow Christ, but may find it hard to find a way to do that. (Scribes, I believe were the closest thing to a lawyer in Christ' time and He wasn't too fond of many of them) Yet, he has the 'example' of St. Thomas More, lawyer and statesman, on how he followed Christ. And because they belong to the same Church, St. Thomas More can 'assist' that person by praying for and with him to God. (The relative putting in a good word).
Whatever one's role in life, whatever one's 'sin', whatever one's characteristic, our Lord has 'friends' with Him in Heaven who can help us. God is the God of the living, not the dead. Just as we are 'in communion' with God by living by His commands and teachings, so we are 'in communion' with those who live with Him in paradise. Hence, we are one Church, Militant, Suffering, and Triumphant, with God as our one head. The Church is a 'Communion of Saints', living and (physically) dead.
Indeed, “the Word of God, by taking on our human nature in all things save sin (cf. Heb 4:15), manifests the Father's plan by revealing to each human person the way to realize fully his or her vocation. Thus Jesus not only reconciles man with the Father, but also reconciles man with himself and thus reveals his true nature”.(16) With these words the Synod Fathers, taking up the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, reaffirmed that Jesus is the way which leads to full personal realization, culminating in the definitive and eternal encounter with God. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me” (Jn 14:6). God has predestined us “to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born of many brethren” (Rom 8:29). Jesus Christ is thus the definitive answer to the question of the meaning of life, and to those fundamental questions which still trouble so many men and women on the American continent.
How can we fail to emphasize the role which belongs to the Virgin Mary in relation to the pilgrim Church in America journeying towards its encounter with the Lord? Indeed, the Most Blessed Virgin “is linked in a special way to the birth of the Church in the history ... of the peoples of America; through Mary they came to encounter the Lord”.(18)
Throughout the continent, from the time of the first evangelization, the presence of the Mother of God has been strongly felt, thanks to the efforts of the missionaries. In their preaching, “the Gospel was proclaimed by presenting the Virgin Mary as its highest realization. From the beginning — invoked as Our Lady of Guadalupe — Mary, by her motherly and merciful figure, was a great sign of the closeness of the Father and of Jesus Christ, with whom she invites us to enter into communion”.(19)
The appearance of Mary to the native Juan Diego on the hill of Tepeyac in 1531 had a decisive effect on evangelization.(20) Its influence greatly overflows the boundaries of Mexico, spreading to the whole Continent. America, which historically has been, and still is, a melting-pot of peoples, has recognized in the mestiza face of the Virgin of Tepeyac, “in Blessed Mary of Guadalupe, an impressive example of a perfectly inculturated evangelization”.(21) Consequently, not only in Central and South America, but in North America as well, the Virgin of Guadalupe is venerated as Queen of all America.(22)
With the passage of time, pastors and faithful alike have grown increasingly conscious of the role of the Virgin Mary in the evangelization of America. In the prayer composed for the Special Assembly for America of the Synod of Bishops, Holy Mary of Guadalupe is invoked as “Patroness of all America and Star of the first and new evangelization”. In view of this, I welcome with joy the proposal of the Synod Fathers that the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother and Evangelizer of America, be celebrated throughout the continent on December 12.(23) It is my heartfelt hope that she, whose intercession was responsible for strengthening the faith of the first disciples (cf. Jn 2:11), will by her maternal intercession guide the Church in America, obtaining the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, as she once did for the early Church (cf. Acts 1:14), so that the new evangelization may yield a splendid flowering of Christian life.
NEXT MONDAY: Installment Four: Part Three of Chapter One: Encountering Christ in the time of the Church - Places of Encounter with Christ
On this great feast I desire all of my little ones to be recollected upon their King, Jesus Christ.
Little children, as the Mother of the Second Advent, I solemnly tell you to prepare for your King. Read Sacred Scripture and seek wisdom from the Holy Spirit.
Little ones, I solemnly tell you: Do not let the oil of your lamps run low for you do not comprehend how close is the New Era, the Reign of the Sacred Heart.
Listen to my plea and do all that my Divine Son tells you to do; shake off the world and become little children totally abandoned to God. This alone is sure refuge in the terrible times ahead.
Proclaim Jesus Christ the King at all times and pray! Pray! Pray!
I love and bless you. Thank you for responding to my Call!
On this day my desire is to call all of my children back to God. As each person prepares to celebrate Thanksgiving in your country, I desire you to be mindful that everything you have, God has given you. In your land where much has been given, much is also required. Will you proclaim the Truth and defend the True Faith? Let every tongue give true praise, honor and worship to the Most Blessed Trinity. As carefully as you prepare to celebrate, prepare your soul to give thanks to God by loving obedience to all He asks of you in these end times.
I love and bless you. Thank you for responding to my Call!