Veterans Day

On the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month, the guns fell silent...

The last surviving veteran of World War I per country is shown in the table below, along with any living veterans.

Algeria, Saci Ben Hocine Mahdi, 01 June 1998, 100 years
Austria, August Bischof, 4 March 2006, 107 years
Australia, John Campbell Ross, 3 June 2009, 110 years
Barbados, George Blackman 01 March 2003, 105 years
Belgium, Cyrillus-Camillus Barbary, 16 September 2004, 105 years
Canada, John Babcock, 18 February 2010, 109 years
Czechoslovakia, Alois Vocásek, 9 August 2003, 107 years
Denmark, Lorenz Gram, 26 December 2004, 105 years
Estonia, Juhan Kallaste, 28 August 1999, 107 years
France, Lazare Ponticelli, 12 March 2008, 110 years
France, Pierre Picault, 20 November 2008, 109 years
Germany, Erich Kästner, 1 January 2008, 107 years
Guyana, Gershom Browne, 6 December 2000, 102 years
Hungary, Franz Künstler, 27 May 2008, 107 years
Italy, Delfino Borroni, 26 October 2008, 110 years
Jamaica, Stanley Stair, 01 April 2008, 107 years
Netherlands, Bert van Sloten, 01 September 2005, 105 years
Newfoundland and Labrador, Wallace Pike, 11 April 1999, 99 years
New Zealand, Bright Williams, 13 February 2003, 105 years
Philippines, Eracleo Alimpolo, 2 October 2002, 104 years
Poland, Stanisław Wycech, 12 January 2008, 105 years
Portugal, José Ladeira, 5 May 2003, 107 years
Romania, Gheorghe Pănculescu, 9 January 2007, 104 years
Russian Federation, Dmitry Malozemov,May 1998, 101 years
Senegal, Abdoulaye N'Diaye, 10 November 1998, 104 years
Serbia, Aleksa Radovanović, 22 June 2004, 105 years
Slovenia, Ivan Kovačič, 16 April 2001, 103 years
South Africa, Norman Kark, 01 March 2000, 102 years
Thailand, Yod Sangrungruang, 9 October 2003, 106 years
Turkey, Yakup Satar, 2 April 2008, 110 years
Ukraine, Mikhail Krichevsky, 26 December 2008, 111 years
United Kingdom, Florence Green, Living, 110 years
United States, Frank Buckles, 27 February 2011 110 years

All are gone now save one.


The above hymn is traditionally sung at Rememberance services in the Naval Service, Navy, Marine, th Coast Guard. I have listened to it to often on these occasions for my fallen comrades.

Marine Corps Birthday, 236 Years of keeping the wolves away from the front door.

‘If the Army and the Navy ever look on heaven's scene,They will find the streets are guarded by United States Marines.’—The Marines' Hymn, Third Verse, Last Stanza

‘Gone to fight the Indians. Will be back when the war is over.’

‘Retreat, hell! We just got here!’
—Capt Lloyd Williams, U. S. Marine Corps

‘‘The Marines have landed, and the situation is well in hand.’
—Attributed to Richard Harding Davis (1864-1916)

‘The deadliest weapon in the world is a Marine and his rifle.’
—GEN John J. ‘Black Jack’ Pershing, U.S. Army, Commander of American Forces, World War I

‘Why in hell can't the Army do it if the Marines can? They are the same kind of men; why can't they be like Marines?’
—GEN John J. ‘Black Jack’ Pershing, U.S. Army, 12 February 1918

‘Come on, you sons of bitches: do you want to live forever?’
—GySgt Daniel Daly, U. S. Marine Corps, Battle of Belleau Wood, 6 June 1918

‘It is related that, during the early days of World War II, a lofty-minded civilian visited Guadalcanal. During his tour, war aims were mentioned. Addressing [then] Lieutenant Colonel L. B. Puller, one of the most hard-bitten professionals on the island--or, for that matter, in the Marine Corps--the visitor inquired, “And what, colonel, are you fighting for?”
Colonel Puller reflected for a moment, then answered, “$649 a month.”’
—The Marine Officer's Guide, Sixth Edition

‘I have just returned from the front with the Marines, and there is not a finer fighting organisation in the world.’
—GEN Douglas MacArthur, U. S. Army, in the vicinity of Seoul, Korea, 21 September 1950

‘We’re surrounded. That simplifies our problem of getting to these people and killing them.’
—LtGen [then Col] Lewis B. ‘Chesty’ Puller, U. S. Marine Corps, Chosin Reservoir, Korea, December 1950

‘Don't you forget that you're First Marines! Not all the communists in Hell can overrun you!’
—LtGen [then Col] Lewis B. ‘Chesty’ Puller, U. S. Marine Corps, Chosin Reservoir, Korea, December 1950

‘Do not attack the First Marine Division. Leave the yellow-legs alone. Strike the American Army.’

—Orders given to Communist troops in the Korean War; shortly afterward, the Marines were ordered to not wear their khaki leggings
‘The Marine Corps has just been called by the New York Times, 'The elite of this country.' I think it is the elite of the world.’
—ADM William ‘Bull’ Halsey, U.S. Navy

‘The safest place in Korea was right behind a platoon of Marines. Lord, how they could fight!’
—MG Frank E. Lowe, U.S. Army, Korea, 26 January 1952

‘The man who will go where his colors will go, without asking, who will fight a phantom foe in a jungle and mountain range, without counting, and who will suffer and die in the midst of incredible hardship, without complaint, is still what he has always been, from Imperial Rome to sceptered Britain to Democratic America. He is the stuff of which legends are made. His pride is his colors and his regiment, his training hard and thorough and coldly realistic, to fit him for what he must face, and his obedience is to his orders. As a legionary, he held the gates of civilization for the classical world...he has been called United States Marine.’
—LTC T. R. Fehrenbach, U. S. Army, This Kind of War

‘Marine human material was not one whit better than that of the human society from which it came. But it had been hammered into a form in a different forge, hardened with a different fire. The Marines were the closest thing to legions the nation had. They would follow their colors from the shores of home to the seacoast of Bohemia, and fight well either place. ‘A Marine Corps officer was still an officer, and a sergeant behaved the way good sergeants had behaved since the time of Caesar, expecting no nonsense, allowing none. And Marine leaders had never lost sight of their primary — their only — mission, which was to fight.’
—LTC T. R. Fehrenbach, U. S. Army, This Kind of War

‘You cannot exaggerate about the Marines. They are convinced to the point of arrogance, that they are the most ferocious fighters on earth — and the amusing thing about it is that they are.’
—Fr. Kevin Keaney, 1st Marine Division Chaplain, Korean War

‘Being ready is not what matters. What matters is winning after you get there.’
—LtGen Victor H. ‘Brute’ Krulak, U. S. Marine Corps, April 1965

‘There are only two kinds of people that understand Marines: Marines and the enemy. Everyone else has a second-hand opinion.’
—GEN William Thornson, U. S. Army

‘We have two companies of Marines running rampant all over the northern half of this island, and three Army regiments pinned down in the southwestern corner, doing nothing. What the hell is going on?’
—GEN John W. Vessey Jr., U. S. Army, Chairman of the the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 1983

‘There is no easy way to be a Marine and there never will be. You are a Marine every day and it is your responsibility to uphold the legacy that Marines in the past have so dearly established.’
—Col John Ripley, U. S. Marine Corps

‘Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they've made a difference. The Marines don't have that problem.’
—Ronald Reagan, 40th President of the United States, 1985

‘Marines know how to use their bayonets. Army bayonets may as well be paper-weights.’
—Navy Times, November 1994

‘The United States Marine Corps, with its fiercely proud tradition of excellence in combat, its hallowed rituals, and its unbending code of honor, is part of the fabric of American myth.’
—Thomas E. Ricks, Making the Corps, 1997

‘For over 221 years our Corps has done two things for this great Nation. We make Marines, and we win battles.’
—Gen Charles C. Krulak, U. S. Marine Corps, 5 May 1997

‘We are United States Marines, and for two and a quarter centuries we have defined the standards of courage, esprit, and military prowess.’
—Gen James L. Jones, U. S. Marine Corps, 10 November 2000

‘There is no better friend and no worse enemy than a United States Marine.’
—LtGen James Mattis, U. S. Marine Corps

‘If the Army and the Navy ever look on heaven's scene,
They will find the streets are guarded by United States Marines.’
—The Marines' Hymn, Third Verse, Last Stanza

The current Marine Corps Recruiting video when I enlisted...

To all my brother Marines, Past, Present and Future, a hearty Seper Fidelis!

Gunny B.

Thanks to Geoff Gilbert U. S. Marine whow sent me these quotes.

He forgot one, "If everybody could be a Marine we wouldn't be the Marines, we'd be the Air Force..." Who said that? I said that.


I couldn't resist

Concerning Democracy.


Feast of the beatification of Saint John Lateran, ‘Mother of all the other Churches’

One of the things many non-Catholics forget is that the Catholic Church date from Christ. Throughout numerous persecutions it has survived and in doing so has preserved many priceless gifts passed down from ancient times. One of those gifts is the Church of the Bishop of Rome, the Pope. While many (Catholics and non-Catholics) believe that St Peter's Basilica is the seat of Peter is is in fact St John Lateran. which on this day we celebrate it's dedication.

This is the oldest, and ranks first among the four great "patriarchal" basilicas of Rome. The site was, in ancient times, occupied by the palace of the family of the Laterani. A member of this family, P. Sextius Lateranus, was the first plebian to attain the rank of consul. In the time of Nero, another member of the family, Plautius Lateranus, at the time consul designatus was accused of conspiracy against the emperor, and his goods were confiscated. Juvenal mentions the palace, and speaks of it as being of some magnificence, "regiæ ædes Lateranorum".

Some few remains of the original buildings may still be traced in the city walls outside the Gate of St. John, and a large hall decorated with paintings was uncovered in the eighteenth century within the basilica itself, behind the Lancellotti Chapel. A few traces of older buildings also came to light during the excavations made in 1880, when the work of extending the apse was in progress, but nothing was then discovered of real value or importance. The palace came eventually into the hands of Constantine, the first Christian emperor, through his wife Fausta, and it is from her that it derived the name by which it was then sometimes called, "Domus Faustæ".

Constantine must have given it to the Church in the time of Miltiades, not later than about 311, for we find a council against the Donatists meeting within its walls as early as 313. From that time onwards it was always the centre of Christian life within the city; the residence of the popes and the cathedral of Rome. The latter distinction it still holds, though it has long lost the former. Hence the proud title which may be read upon its walls, that it is "Omnium urbis et orbis ecclesiarum mater, et caput".

It seems probable, in spite of the tradition that Constantine helped in the work of building with his own hands, that there was not a new basilica erected at the Lateran, but that the work carried out at this period was limited to the adaptation, which perhaps involved the enlargement, of the already existing basilica or great hall of the palace. The words of St. Jerome "basilica quondam Laterani" (Ep. lxxiii, P.L., XXII, col. 692) seem to point in this direction, and it is also probable on other grounds. This original church was probably not of very large dimensions, but we have no reliable information on the subject. It was dedicated to the Saviour, "Basilica Salvatoris", the dedication to St. John being of later date, and due to a Benedictine monastery of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist which adjoined the basilica and where members were charged at one period with the duty of maintaining the services in the church.

This later dedication to St. John has now in popular usage altogether superseded the original one. A great many donations from the popes and other benefactors to the basilica are recorded in the "Liber Pontificalis", and its splendour at an early period was such that it became known as the "Basilica Aurea", or Golden Church. This splendour drew upon it the attack of the Vandals, who stripped it of all its treasures. St. Leo the Great restored it about 460, and it was again restored by Hadrian I, but in 896 it was almost totally destroyed by an earthquake ("ab altari usque ad portas cecidit"). The damage was so extensive that it was difficult to trace in every case the lines of the old building, but these were in the main respected and the new building was of the same dimensions as the old. This second church lasted for four hundred years and was then burnt down. It was rebuilt by Clement V and John XXII, only to be burnt down once more in 1360, but again rebuilt by Urban V.

Through these various vicissitudes the basilica retained its ancient form, being divided by rows of columns into aisles, and having in front an atrium surrounded by colonnades with a fountain in the middle. The façade had three windows, and was embellished with a mosaic representing Christ as the Saviour of the world. The porticoes of the atrium were decorated with frescoes, probably not dating further back than the twelfth century, which commemorated the Roman fleet under Vespasian, the taking of Jerusalem, the Baptism of the Emperor Constantine and his "Donation" to the Church. Inside the basilica the columns no doubt ran, as in all other basilicas of the same date, the whole length of the church from east to west, but at one of the rebuildings, probably that which was carried out by Clement V, the feature of a transverse nave was introduced, imitated no doubt from the one which had been, long before this, added at S. Paolo fuori le Mura. It was probably at this time also that the church was enlarged.

When the popes returned to Rome from their long absence at Avignon they found the city deserted and the churches almost in ruins. Great works were begun at the Lateran by Martin V and his successors. The palace, however, was never again used by them as a residence, the Vatican, which stands in a much drier and healthier position, being chosen in its place. It was not until the latter part of the seventeenth century that the church took its present appearance, in the tasteless restoration carried out by Innocent X, with Borromini for his architect. The ancient columns were now enclosed in huge pilasters, with gigantic statues in front. In consequence of this the church has entirely lost the appearance of an ancient basilica, and is completely altered in character.

Some portions of the older buildings still survive. Among these we may notice the pavement of medieval Cosmatesque work, and the statues of St. Peter and St. Paul, now in the cloisters. The graceful baldacchino over the high altar, which looks so utterly out of place in its present surroundings, dates from 1369. The stercoraria, or throne of red marble on which the popes sat, is now in the Vatican Museum. It owes its unsavoury name to the anthem sung at the ceremony of the papal enthronization, "De stercore erigeus pauperem".

From the fifth century there were seven oratories surrounding the basilica. These before long were thrown into the actual church. The devotion of visiting these oratories, which held its ground all through the medieval period, gave rise to the similar devotion of the seven altars, still common in many churches of Rome and elsewhere. Between the basilica and the city wall there was in former times the great monastery, in which dwelt the community of monks whose duty it was to provide the services in the basilica. The only part of it which still survives is the cloister, surrounded by graceful columns of inlaid marble. They are of a style intermediate between the Romanesque proper and the Gothic, and are the work of Vassellectus and the Cosmati. The date of these beautiful cloisters is the early part of the thirteenth century.

The ancient apse, with mosaics of the fourth century, survived all the many changes and dangers of the Middle Ages, and was still to be seen very much in its original condition as late as 1878, when it was destroyed in order to provide a larger space for the ordinations and other pontifical functions which take place in this cathedral church of Rome. The original mosaics were, however, preserved with the greatest possible care and very great success, and were re-erected at the end of the new and deeper apse which had been provided. In these mosaics, as they now appear, the centre of the upper portion is occupied by the figure of Christ surrounded by nine angels. This figure is extremely ancient, and dates from the fifth, or it may be even the fourth century. It is possible even that it is the identical one which, as is told in ancient tradition, was manifested to the eyes of the worshippers on the occasion of the dedication of the church: "Imago Salvatoris infixa parietibus primum visibilis omni populo Romano apparuit" (Joan. Diac., "Lib. de Ecclesia Lat.", P.L. CXCIV, 1543-1560). If it is so, however, it has certainly been retouched. Below is seen the crux gammata, surmounted by a dove which symbolizes the Holy Spirit, and standing on a hill whence flow the four rivers of the Gospels, from whose waters stags and sheep come to drink. On either side are saints, looking towards the Cross. These last are thought to belong originally to the sixth century, though they were repaired and altered in the thirteenth by Nicholas IV, whose effigy may be seen prostrate at the feet of the Blessed Virgin.

The river which runs below is more ancient still, and may be regarded as going back to Constantine and the first days of the basilica. The remaining mosaics of the apse are of the thirteenth century, and the signatures of the artists, Torriti and Camerino, may still be read upon them. Camerino was a Franciscan friar; perhaps Torriti was one also.

The pavement of the basilica dates from Martin V and the return of the popes to Rome from Avignon. Martin V was of the Colonna family, and the columns are their badge. The high altar, which formerly occupied the position customary in all ancient basilicas, in the centre of the chord of the apse, has now beyond it, owing to the successive enlargements of the church, the whole of the transverse nave and of the new choir. It has no saint buried beneath it, since it was not, as were almost all the other great churches of Rome, erected over the tomb of a martyr. It stood alone among all the altars of the Catholic world in being of wood and not of stone, and enclosing no relics of any kind, until the latter half of the 20th century. The reason for this peculiarity is that it is itself a relic of a most interesting kind, being the actual wooden altar upon which St. Peter is believed to have celebrated Mass during his residence in Rome. It was carefully preserved through all the years of persecution, and was brought by Constantine and Sylvester from St. Pudentiana's, where it had been kept until then, to become the principal altar of the Cathedral church of Rome. It is now, of course, enclosed in a larger altar of stone and cased with marble, but the original wood can still be seen. A small portion was left at St. Pudentiana's in memory of its long connection with that church, and is still preserved there.

Above the High Altar is the canopy or baldacchino already mentioned, a Gothic structure resting on four marble columns, and decorated with paintings by Barna of Siena. In the upper part of the baldacchino are preserved the heads of the Apostles Peter and Paul, the great treasure of the basilica, which until this shrine was prepared to receive them had always been kept in the "Sancta Sanctorum", the private chapel of the Lateran Palace adjoining. Behind the apse there formerly extended the "Leonine" portico; it is not known which pontiff gave it this name. At the entrance there was an inscription commemorating the dream of Innocent III, when he saw the church of the Lateran upheld by St. Francis of Assisi. On the opposite wall was hung the tabula magna, or catalogue of all the relics of the basilica, and also of the different chapels and the indulgences attached to them respectively. It is now in the archives of the basilica.

The baptisteryThe baptistery of the church, following the invariable rule of the first centuries of Christianity, was not an integral part of the church itself, but a separate and detached building, joined to the church by a colonnade, or at any rate in close proximity to it.

The right to baptize was the peculiar privilege of the cathedral church, and here, as elsewhere, all were brought from all parts of the city to receive the sacrament. There is no reason to doubt the tradition which makes the existing baptistery, which altogether conforms to these conditions, the original baptistery of the church, and ascribes its foundation to Constantine. The whole style and appearance of the edifice bear out the claim made on its behalf. There is, however, much less ground for saying that it was here that the emperor was baptized by St. Sylvester. The building was originally entered from the opposite side from the present doorway, through the portico of St. Venantius. This is a vestibule or atrium, in which two large porphyry columns are still standing and was formerly approached by a colonnade of smaller porphyry columns leading from the church.

The baptistery itself is an octagonal edifice with eight immense porphyry columns supporting an architrave on which are eight smaller columns, likewise of porphyry, which in their turn support the octagonal drums of the lantern. In the main the building has preserved its ancient form and characteristics, though it has been added to and adorned by many popes. Sixtus III carried out the first of these restorations and adornments, and his inscription recording the fact may still be seen on the architrave. Pope St. Hilary (461-468) raised the height, and also added the chapels round. Urban VIII and Innocent X repaired it in more recent times.

In the centre of the building one descends by several steps to the basin of green basalt which forms the actual baptismal font. There is no foundation for the idea that the Emperor Constantine was himself actually baptized in this font by Pope St. Sylvester. That is a confusion which has arisen from the fact that he was founder of the baptistery. But although he had embraced Christianity and had done so much for the advancement of the Church, the emperor, as a matter of fact, deferred the actual reception of the sacrament of baptism until the very end of his life, and was at last baptized, not by Sylvester, but by Eusebius, in whose diocese of Nicomedia he was then, after the foundation of Constantinople, permanently residing (Von Funk, "Manual of Church History", London, 1910, I, 118-119; Duchesne, "Liber Pontificalis", Paris, 1887, I, cix-cxx). The mosaics in the adjoining oratories are both ancient and interesting. Those in the oratory of St. John the Evangelist are of the fifth century, and are of the conventional style of that period, consisting of flowers and birds on a gold ground, also a Lamb with a cruciform nimbus on the vault. The corresponding mosaics of the chapel of St. John the Baptist disappeared in the seventeenth century, but we have a description of them in Panvinio. The mosaics in the chapel of St. Venantius (the ancient vestibule) are still extant, and are of considerable interest. They date from the seventh century, and a comparison between the workmanship of these mosaics and of those in the chapel of St. John offers an instructive lesson on the extent to which the arts had deteriorated between the fifth and the seventh centuries. The figures represent, for the most part, Dalmatian saints, and the whole decoration was originally designed as a memorial to Dalmatian martyrs, whose relics were brought here at the conclusion of the Istrian schism.

The Lateran Palace
From the beginning of the fourth century, when it was given to the pope by Constantine, the palace of the Lateran was the principal residence of the popes, and continued so for about a thousand years.

In the tenth century Sergius III restored it after a disastrous fire, and later on it was greatly embellished by Innocent III. This was the period of its greatest magnificence, when Dante speaks of it as beyond all human achievements. At this time the centre of the piazza in front, where now the obelisk stands, was occupied by the palace and tower of the Annibaldeschi. Between this palace and the basilica was the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius, then believed to represent Constantine, which now is at the Capitol. The whole of the front of the palace was taken up with the "Aula Concilii", a magnificent hall with eleven apses, in which were held the various Councils of the Lateran during the medieval period.

The fall of the palace from this position of glory was the result of the departure of the popes from Rome during the Avignon period. Two destructive fires, in 1307 and 1361 respectively, did irreparable harm, and although vast sums were sent from Avignon for the rebuilding, the palace never again attained its former splendour. When the popes returned to Rome they resided first at Santa Maria in Trastevere, then at Santa Maria Maggiore, and lastly fixed their residence at the Vatican. Sixtus V then destroyed what still remained of the ancient palace of the Lateran and erected the present much smaller edifice in its place.

An apse lined with mosaics and open to the air still preserves the memory of one of the most famous halls of the ancient palace, the "Triclinium" of Leo III, which was the state banqueting hall. The existing structure is not ancient, but it is possible that some portions of the original mosaics have been preserved. The subject is threefold. In the centre Christ gives their mission to the Apostles, on the left he gives the keys to St. Sylvester and the Labarum to Constantine, while on the right St. Peter gives the stole to Leo III and the standard to Charlemagne. The private rooms of the popes in the old palace were situated between this "Triclinium" and the city walls. The palace is now given up to the Pontifical Museum of Christian Antiquities.


Thanks to the Catholic Encyclopedia.



In the nature of things, our treatment will be theological, and we will have to resort to certain facts of history and statements of doctrine that are somewhat technical.

There are three basic errors which occasioned the Church’s defining Mary’s divine maternity. Ever since its definition by the Council of Ephesus these three errors keep cropping up, so much so that we can say that the dogma of Mary being the true Mother of God is a precondition for admitting three other mysteries of our Faith.

What are they? First, that Christ was and is a true man because evidently only a human being would need a human mother. Errors in the early Church, or any doubts regarding Christ’s humanity ever since, necessarily would exclude Mary’s being the true Mother of God. The most common heresy of the early Church denying Christ’s true humanity ever since, necessarily would exclude Mary’s being the true Mother of God.

The most common heresy of the early Church denying Christ’s true humanity was a form of Gnosticism also called Docetism. More commonly, however – both in the early Church and ever since – those who question Mary’s being the Mother of God do so because they doubt or deny that her Son is true God. In other words, we cannot intelligibly speak of Mary being the true Mother of God unless her Son is the true Son of God. The tests of orthodoxy regarding Christ’s divinity is whether a person will believe in His Mother’s divinity maternity: the acid test of orthodoxy over the centuries.

Finally, even where a person might claim verbally, “Yes, Jesus is God. Jesus is Man,” but if that same individual does not also say that although Christ has two natures, one divine, one human, but has only one personality which is divine, then you also would exclude Mary from being the true Mother of God. In fact, it was precisely that heresy known historically as Nestorianism that gave rise to the solemn definition at Ephesus in 431. (Tradition has it that Our Lady was assumed into heaven at Ephesus). It was there that the Council defined Mary’s divine maternity against the Nestorians. What did they hold? They held that Jesus, the true Son of Mary, was or may be said to be also the Son of God, but the two natures in Christ, the divine and human, did not form one individual, one substance, one person, so that Nestorius and his followers had a very simple dodge: Mary is the true Mother of Jesus, the human person, but she is in no way the Mother of God as God is not united – to use a technical term – hypostatically with His human nature.

When in 431 the Church of the Council of Ephesus defined Mary’s divine maternity, it stated – and the words deserve to be memorized – “If anyone does not profess that Emmanuel is truly God and that consequently the Holy Virgin is the Mother of God, let him be anathema.” You notice Emmanuel is a prophetic title for the Messiah.

You notice also how the council rested its case for defining that Mary is the Mother of God on the fact that her Son is Emmanuel, “God-with-us.” You might distinguish with a bit of subtlety, my saying that the title, Emmanuel, God-with-us, can be divided into two parts: “God,” that is Christ’s divine nature; “with-us,” that is Christ’s human nature for there was only one Emmanuel. It is God-with-us, God-among-us, God-one-of-us as a human being. That human being is true God. Both at Ephesus and ever since, in order to prove – as far as we can prove a mystery of faith – that Mary is assuredly the Mother of God, the Christ has gone both to Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.

I am sure you heard this logic expressed before. It is a very simple and uncontestable syllogism. It comes in three parts. Major premise: We find in the Bible Christ Himself and others declaring Him to be true God. “The Father and I are one.” Thomas after Christ’s resurrection in adoration addresses the Savior, “My Lord and My God.” That is in the Bible. We further find – and it couldn’t be clearer – that Mary is declared to be the Mother of Christ. The child she conceived at Nazareth and gave birth to at Bethlehem is identified by the evangelists, and is considered later on by His followers as the Messiah, meaning the Christ. Very well. The logic tells that if Christ is God and Mary is the Mother of Christ, she is the Mother of that person who is God. She therefore is the Mater Dei, or in Greek, Theotokos.

It is interesting to know that over the years I have been teaching Islam, I more than once told my students – and it is thrilling to find it in the Koran – how Mohammed believed the Esau, the Ibn-Mariam (Jesus, the Son of Mary) was indeed the Messiah, the Christ. Mohammed had no doubts that Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled the Messianic prophecies. Moslems even to this day are offended if we call them non-Christian. But unlike those who are authentic Christians, Mohammed and his followers do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God, so that in the Koran this is Mohammed’s own definition of a Christian, and you cannot improve on it: “A Christian is one who believes that Ibn-Mariam is Ibn-Allah (is one who believes that the Son of Mary is the Son of God).” Mohammed denied it; his followers have denied it ever since; and they have fought, as we know, some deadly wars against the Christians. They have tried to convert Mohammedan-style Christians to Islam.

Mohammed, as far as we know, never had access to our four canonical Gospels. All that he had read or heard about was from the Apocrypha. The course of history might have been changed had we known the reason Mohammed did not have access to the authentic Scriptures. Because at that time, in what later on became Islamic Arabia, Nestorianism (the heresy condemned at Ephesus) had become so rampant that that the only Christians whom Mohammed knew were those who denied that Mary is the Mother of God. Isn’t that sad? So much so that I have not hesitated telling my students, this is the perfect description of Mohammedanism: Mohammedanism is Nestorian Christianity. It is Christianity minus Mary as the Mother of God. She is only the Mother of Jesus, the man, as Nestorius claimed and as Mohammed after him preached.

The evidence of Sacred Tradition building on the revelation that the Apostolic Church received whenever they talk about Mary and her relationship to Christ, it is to recognize her as the Mother not merely of the human being, Jesus, but of the God who became man. Three martyrs, Irenaeus, Cyprian and Hippolytus – among the early Fathers of the Church, in their writings are especially clear about Our Lady’s divine maternity. We further evidence from the very early tradition that Mary was considered the Mother of God. The name Theotokos (God bearer) is found in some of the earliest Greek Fathers. Alexander (early fourth century), then the Latin Father, Ambrose, the one who brought Augustine into the Church, were staunch defenders of Mary’s divine maternity. Augustine, having been duly instructed by Ambrose, held the same belief. Vincent or Lerins is especially valuable as a witness to Mary’s divine maternity, not only because he used the term Theotokos, but because he is the one who gave us that most important principle of how to know what is authentically true in the Christian religion. Here is the way he put it: “Whatever has been taught from the beginning by everyone, everywhere in loyalty to the teaching of the apostles is God’s revealed truth.”

Therefore, Mary’s being the Mother of God is by Vincent of Lerins’ own formula, revealed truth. Now a word of explanation is necessary, because we Catholics are more than once challenged by those who do not accept our understanding of Mary as Mother of God. How is it possible! What on earth do you mean when you say that Mary is the Mother of God? Do we mean, as the pagans believe, that there were gods and goddesses and they would copulate and produce other gods or goddesses? Of course not. That’s blasphemy. It is not as though the Mother of Christ in any way was responsible – how could she be – for Christ’s divinity? Why, then, do we legitimately address her as the Mother of God? Because she gave to Christ whatever human mother gives to the offspring of her womb. Where no human mother gives her child the spiritual soul which the child possesses from the moment of conception, yet she is certainly the mother of the child she bears. In other words, a mother gives birth to a person. Our mother as a mother, along with a father is responsible only for our bodies and is not in any way the author of our souls. If mothers can legitimately be called mothers, Mary can be called the Mother of the person she gave birth to. This was a unique person who had a human body, had a human soul which was united with divinity, but she didn’t give Christ His divinity. So what? She didn’t give Christ His human soul. So what? She gave Christ all that any mother can give her child, his body, and therefore logically she may be legitimately called the Mother of the one she gave birth to, who is God. Given the divine maternity, the Church and her saints never exhausted the titles of dignity which they have given Our Lady. I searched a bit to come up with a most startling title of dignity that I could find. You know where I found it? Pius X, who describes Our Lady as “The Greatest after God.” That’s pretty good.

Now Christ is God, so Mary is the greatest after Christ. In other words, God has not created anything, anyone more sublime, closer to His own divinity than when He made His Mother. The Fathers of the Church, while saying Mary as creature is not infinite, nevertheless she is said to be “relatively infinite.” Why? Because if we all partake of the perfections of God the one person who was closest to God physically and spiritually, he is the nearest in approximation to God’s infinity.

Know the three famous relationships that Mary has with the Holy Trinity. Volumes have been written on each one of them. They have inspired the mystics and are the source of much contemplative prayer. The Church tells us that Mary bears a unique relationship to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. How unique is that relationship? She is said to be the daughter of God the Father par excellence in a way that no one else can be. What does the Church mean when she uses that title? She means that Mary has a relationship to the First Person that no one else can have. Why? Because the child that she gave birth to is both the Son of the Father and her Son. That surely must be a distinctive relationship. In other words, Christ did not have a human father, but He did have a human mother. He is therefore truly Mary’s Son. He is also truly the Son of the Father.

Mary, then of course, bears the most distinctive relationship to the Second Person. Let’s make sure we know what the Church teaches us when she calls Mary the Mother of God the Son. There are three persons in the Trinity, but only one of them became man, and we have to keep reminding ourselves; there are three persons. Absolutely speaking, might God the Father have become man? Absolutely speaking, yes. In fact, there was a very sophisticated heresy in the early Church which taught just that with the long polysyllabic name of Patripassionists. In other words, the Father suffered on the Cross to the redeem the world. Nonsense. He didn’t. The point is, only one person became a human being, and Mary is the human Mother of that Second Person of the Trinity. The Word, as John tells us, became Flesh. So it did, but it became flesh thanks to Mary. So much so that Augustine later on would say: “Caro Jesu, caro Mariae.” The flesh of Jesus is the flesh of Mary. Thus, the only reason we have the Blessed Sacrament and receiving the living Body and Blood of Christ is because He received that flesh and blood from His Mother.

Finally, Mary bears a unique relationship to the Third Person, the Holy Spirit. She is the Sponsa Spiritu Sancti, the spouse of the Holy Spirit. What does the Church mean? The Church means that Mary conceived virginally. No human being was the father of Jesus, Nevertheless, it did require divine power to make possible in Mary’s womb for a child to grow and develop and finally be born at Bethlehem, and as the angel told Our Lady “The Holy Spirit will come upon you.” As far as our weak human language can express it, the Holy Spirit is the one who espoused Mary and because of whom Mary conceived.

In closing, we might make this simple observation. Because of her divine maternity, Our Lady possesses a sublimity(1) that no other creature – except her Divine Son who is God – enjoys. Therefore, there is a legitimate and a profoundly meaningful sense in which Our Lady, though unlike the apostles who were ordained to the priesthood, yet her dignity is higher than that of the priesthood. Why? Because she could say, “This is my body and this is my blood.” Not because of the grace of ordination, but because of the dignity of her divine maternity.


Fr John Hardon, SJ Archives

(1) Perfection

The original Virgin Mary.

I was sent this from the "Catholic Bulletin" blog. I present it in it's entirety

What was Mary's life like before the angel Gabriel appeared to her?

Mary's early years are shrouded in mystery. The Bible doesn't tell us much about her existence before the Annunciation. However, the few details that the Gospel of Luke provides allow us at least to catch a glimpse of Mary's life before the fateful day when she would become the mother of the Messiah.

In this new series, we will explore what Scripture tells us about the Blessed Virgin Mary. Who was Mary? What was her life like? What was her role in her Son's mission? And how does she continue to play a part in our lives today? While we may touch upon some apologetics questions and doctrinal issues along the way, my goal is simply to unearth the Scriptural data about Mary so that we can come to know and love her better through the Bible.

Nowhere Nazareth: A Surprising Choice

Consider what we can learn about Mary's pre-Annunciation life in the following verses:

...In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. ..(Lk. 1:26-27)

Admittedly, there is not a lot here to give us a portrait of Our Lady's early years, but there are at least three important facts we can unpack for all they're worth.

The first fact we discover about Mary is that she dwelt in "a city of Galilee named Nazareth." This small geographical detail is important because Nazareth would have been a very unlikely place for the messianic era to begin. Nazareth was a small, secluded agricultural village in Galilee. Far from the social-religious center of the Jerusalem Temple, Nazareth had only a few hundred inhabitants and was not directly on any major trade route. Moreover, there are no prophecies explicitly about Nazareth in the Jewish tradition, and the Old Testament never even mentions the town.

The fact that Jesus comes from Nazareth will cause him trouble later in his public ministry. Nathaniel's famous line, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" (Jn. 1:46), illustrates how at least some Jews held Nazareth in rather low esteem. In the first-century Jewish world, Nazareth probably would not have made it into the "Top 10" of likely candidates for the Messiah's hometown. That God chose a woman from this lowly city to become the mother of the Messiah would have been quite surprising.

From Zechariah to Mary

The surprising nature of God's choice becomes even clearer when we consider how Luke's Gospel juxtaposes Gabriel's announcement to Mary with the same angel's announcement to Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, in the previous scene. First, Luke tells us that Gabriel's announcement to Zechariah took place in the large city of Jerusalem and right in the heart of Israel's religious center, the Temple. In contrast, Gabriel's announcement to Mary occurs in the small, obscure village of Nazareth, and Luke doesn't even mention the setting in which this annunciation takes place. Next, Gabriel's first announcement is given to an honorable priest, representing a whole multitude of Jewish people in the midst of the Temple liturgy, while the second announcement was given to an unknown woman, apparently in the midst of her ordinary daily life. Finally, the annunciation to Zechariah had immediate public impact, as the multitude of people perceived that their priest had had a vision (1:10, 21–22), while the announcement to Mary seems to escape the notice of everyone around her — even though she had just received the most important angelic announcement in salvation history!

Mary thus stands in the biblical tradition of God choosing the people we'd least expect to play a crucial role in His plan of salvation.

In his book Theotokos, John Paul II pointed out how the contrast between these two announcements underscores the extraordinary nature of God's intervention in Mary's life. "In the Virgin's case, God's action certainly seems surprising. Mary has no human claim to receiving the announcement of the Messiah's coming. She is not the high priest, an official representative of the Hebrew religion, nor even a man, but a young woman without any influence in the society of her time. In addition, she is a native of Nazareth, a village which is never mentioned in the Old Testament." By highlighting Mary's lowliness in contrast to Zechariah's high social status as a priest, "Luke stresses that everything in Mary derives from a sovereign grace. All that is granted to her is not due to any claim of merit, but only to God's free and gratuitous choice" (pp. 88–89).

Mary thus stands in the biblical tradition of God choosing the people we'd least expect to play a crucial role in His plan of salvation. God surprisingly chose a man named Moses who was slow of speech and unsure of his leadership abilities to lead the people out of slavery in Egypt, and unexpectedly chose from all of Jesse's children the youngest boy, David, to become Israel's next king. Likewise, God chose from among all the people in first-century society not a woman from the Jewish aristocracy, nor the daughter of a chief priest in Jerusalem, nor the wife of a famous lawyer, scribe, or Pharisee, but an unknown virgin named Mary from the little village of Nazareth to become the mother of Israel's long-awaited Messiah-King.

Betrothed, Not Engaged

The second fact we learn about Mary is that she was "a virgin" who was "betrothed." This tells us three important things about Mary.

First, since Jewish women were typically betrothed around the age of 13, Mary probably was very young when she received this most weighty message from the angel Gabriel about her call to serve as the mother of the Messiah.

Second, as a betrothed woman, Mary would have been legally married to Joseph, but still living with her own family. Here we see how Jewish betrothal was not the same as our modern notion of engagement. Betrothal was the first step in a two-stage marriage process. At their betrothal, Mary and Joseph would have exchanged their consent to marry each other before witnesses, and this would have made them legally married. However, as a betrothed wife, Mary would have remained living with her own family apart from her husband for up to one year until the second step of marriage took place. In this second step, the husband would take his wife to his own home for normal married life to begin. Therefore, when the angel Gabriel appeared to her, Mary would have been living between these two stages of marriage: She would have been Joseph's wife, but not yet dwelling with him.

Third, according to Jewish marriage customs, sexual relations would not take place until the second stage of marriage. Thus, since Mary is a betrothed woman and not yet living with her husband, it would come as no surprise that she was a "virgin" (1:27).

The House of David

The third and perhaps most striking fact about Mary from this opening chapter of Luke's Gospel is that she is betrothed "to a man named Joseph, of the house of David" (1:27). Although the Scriptures are not clear as to Mary's own ancestry (theologians debate whether she, too, was of the house of David), her betrothal to Joseph connects her to the Davidic family. This has important implications for Mary. It tells us that Mary is not part of any ordinary family, but a royal family. Indeed, "the house of David" was the most famous family in Israel's history. David's descendants ruled over the Jews for several centuries in the glory days of the Kingdom of Judah. And God promised David that his family would have an everlasting dynasty and that his kingdom would never end (2 Sam. 7:13, 16).

However, in the first-century world of Mary and Joseph, the Davidic dynasty seemed to have been lying dormant for centuries as one foreign nation after another ruled over the Jews. In fact, no Davidic king had sat on the throne since 586 BC, and the Romans were the latest foreign powers to control the land. Thus, for Mary, being a part of "the house of David" did not bring the privilege, honor, and authority it did in the days of the great kings of old. Mary may be married to a man who possesses the royal bloodline of the Davidic kings, but her husband is not reigning as a prince in a Jerusalem palace. Instead, he works as a humble carpenter, appearing to live a quiet, run-of-the-mill life in the secluded village of Nazareth.

On the surface, there does not appear to be anything extraordinary about Mary. She is a young woman betrothed to a man from the house of David, but she lives a seemingly ordinary life in the small, insignificant town of Nazareth.

"Full of Grace"

"Full of Grace." For many of us Catholics who routinely recite these words of Gabriel in the Hail Mary, the expression "full of grace" may be so familiar that we might fail to catch its profound significance.

However, there is a lot more going on in Mary than meets the eye. Luke's Gospel provides one more detail that shows how underneath what appears to be a normal life, God has been doing something absolutely amazing in Mary's soul — something that has never been done before in the history of the human family. Consider the first words Gabriel says to Mary: "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!" (Lk. 1:28).

"Full of Grace." For many of us Catholics who routinely recite these words of Gabriel in the Hail Mary, the expression "full of grace" may be so familiar that we might fail to catch its profound significance. This is no ordinary greeting. In fact, no one in salvation history had ever been addressed like this before. And note that the angel does not say "Hail, Mary, full of grace." Gabriel says, "Hail, full of grace." The angel addresses Mary not by her personal name, but with the title "full of grace." As some Scripture scholars, such as Joel Green in his commentary on The Gospel of Luke, have pointed out, it is as if Mary is being given a new name. John Paul II, in reflecting on this passage in his book Theotokos(1), said "full of grace" is "the name Mary possesses in the eyes of God" (p. 88):

In Semitic usage, a name expresses the reality of the persons and things to which it refers. As a result, the title ‘full of grace' shows the deepest dimension of the young woman of Nazareth's personality: fashioned by grace and the object of divine favor to the point that she can be defined by this special predilection. (p. 90)

But what does this unusual title mean? The Greek word in this passage commonly translated "full of grace" is kecharitomene. This word is in a past perfect participle form, indicating an action that began in the past and continues in the present. It literally can be translated "you who have been and continue to be graced." In fact, the same verb is used in Ephesians 1:6-7 to describe not simply grace in the general sense of God's showing his favor on someone, but the particular kind of divine favor that is associated with forgiveness of sins and redemption. Therefore, it is as if the angel is saying to Mary, "Hail, you who have been and continue to be graced . . . Hail, you who already have received the forgiveness of sins and the gift of redemption."

One can appreciate why many have turned to this verse for biblical support for the Catholic doctrine of the Immaculate Conception — the belief that Mary was conceived full of grace and without the stain of original sin. Indeed, this verse indicates that Mary already had the working of grace in her life before the Annunciation scene. In other words, while certainly not serving as a definitive "proof-text" for the Immaculate Conception, Luke's Gospel clearly reveals that Mary already had forgiveness of sins and redemption before the angel Gabriel ever appeared to her.

Gabriel's words, therefore, reveal the most significant aspect of Mary's early life. On the surface, she may appear to be simply a young, betrothed woman dwelling in nowhere Nazareth. But in the midst of this seemingly uneventful life, God has made her "full of grace" as He quietly prepares her for the most important mission any woman ever embraced in the history of the world: to become the Mother of God.

One last thing, the truths in scripture are meant for those who originally heard them, and for us now. Jesus on the Cross... Well let us see what he said according to scripture... When Jesus therefore had seen his mother and the disciple standing whom he loved, he saith to his mother: "Woman, behold thy son" . After that, he saith to the disciple: "Behold thy mother". And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own. John19: 26-27, Douay-Rhiems. Jesus is saying to us as well, "Behold your mother" .


(1) God Bearer as defined by the Church of the Council of Ephesus in AD 431.


November 7, 1917

It was on this date that the horror that was prophesied at Fatima, in Portugal came about. Today marks the beginning of the Bolshevik Revolution, a political revolution and a part of the Russian Revolution of 1917. It took place with an armed insurrection in Petrograd traditionally dated to 25 October 1917 (O.S.), which corresponds with 7 November 1917 New Style (N.S.). Thus the Russia began to spead error throughout which is still being felt today.

Invocation for the Conversion of Russia

Saviour of the world, save Russia.

An indulgence of 300 days (S.P. Ap., Nov. 24, 1924)

Prayer to Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus for the Conversion of Russia

O loving and compassionate Saint, deign to comfort our Russian brethren, the victims of a long a cruel persecution of the Christian name; obtain for them perseverance in the faith, progress in the love of God and of their neighbor, and in confidence toward the most holy Mother of God; prepare for them holy priests who shall make reparation for the blasphemies and sacrileges committed against the holy Eucharist; grant that angelic purity, especially in the young, and every Christian virtue may once more flourish amongst them, to the end that this noble people, being delivered from all slavery and returning freely to the one fold entrusted by the loving Heart of the Risen Christ to Saint Peter and his successors, may at length taste the joy of glorifying the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit in the fellowship of the holy Catholic Church. Amen.