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Arkansas Catholic
Little Rock, Arkansas
December 5, 1998     Arkansas Catholic
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December 5, 1998

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December5, IC9 } Page5 @ peace pe ace? That's impossible!" A parish member sputtered words angrily'during a small Bible group meeting. We were discussing passage from the prophet Isaiah forms today's first reading. "Sure, it," he added, "but God would to work some kind of miracle to it happen." i Another commented that Isaiah's words "too utopian to ever happen." The is full of world leaders who want power, countries that are jeal- of" each other, people who are filled anger and hatred. "Look at what's in Yugoslavia? And what about Arabs and Isrealis?" wit " SCRllrrURE TODAY Isaiah lves 11:1-10 Romans 15:4-9 Matthew 3:1-12 Fr. William Gould Will it take a miracle? Probably. Isaiah doesn't doubt this but is simply describing what God wants for His world. We also need to understand that He expects us to es us to help Him accomplish world peace. Miracles begin when we are willing to take God seriously. "Everything written before our time was written for our instruction," St. Paul tells us in today's second reading, "so that we might derive hope from the le. sons of patience and the words of encouragement in the Scriptures." One of the greatest truths about world peace is that it begins on the personal level. When God becomes a reality in our lives and we take the steps to become healed and at peace within ourselves, we can start to be peace makers. Another truth is that we should never wait until the other person, whoever he or she might be, makes the first move. God expects us as disciples to do that ourselves. In the context of peace, this is what John the Baptist is telling us today. "Relorm your lives! The reign of GOd is at hand ... 'Prepare tim way of the Lord, make straight his paths.' " St. Paul's recipe tot world peace? "May (;od, the source of all patience and encour- agement, enable you to live in perlL'ct har- mony with one another according to the spirit of Christ Jesus ... Accept one another, then, as Christ accepted you ... tx. :al of his mercy." World peace begins with each one of us. Father William Gould's weddy column sponsored by Little Rock Scripture Study. Understanding Our Church A Word on Scripture and Sacred Tradition Charles T. Sullivan s Catholics, we believe that revelation God's self-communication --- is mpleted and perfected in Christ, the ulti- mate Word of God. With the death of the last eyewitness to the Lord; the age of for- ,t al, public revelation ended. However, the Church, God continues to much about Himself and His glori- intentions for all creation. Over time and aided by the Holy Spirit, the Christian faithful can grow and mature in their Imderstanding of the great mysteries of sal- Vation. The Church is constantly being led to penetrate more deeply the truths of the faith. During the first two millennia of the era, the Church often found it necessary to formulate official, doctrinal tatements concerning the basic truths revealed by God which then became bind- on the entire faithful.' Generally speak- these pronouncements (called dogma) .are the result of the Church's response to erroneous, reductive, or false interpreta- tions of the deposit of faith. Whatever the Church proclaims as dogmatic, She does so trusting in the abiding presence of Christ and the guidance of the Holy Spirit as Her guarantors of orthodoxy, authenticity and certitude. Over the centuries, Church doctrine on Mary has been so closely linked with pro- nouncements concerning Christ and His salvific work that the most fundamental affirmations concerning the Mother of God are found in the Church's Christological documents: "What the Catholic faith believes about Mary is based on what it believes about Christ, and what it teaches about Mary illumines in turn its faith in Christ." (CC #487) The latter Marian dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption, however, had their origins less in a definition pro- voked by errors than in a deepened insight into the position and role of Mary in salva- tion histor) On Dec. 8, 1854, Pope Plus IX pro- claimed as an article of faith that Mary, Mother of the Savior, was herself preserved from the stain of sin from the very moment of her conception in the womb of St. Anne. A long and difficult path led to this first ex cathedra (literally, "from the chair") declara- tion of Mary's Immaculate Conception. Many great saints and theologians includ- ing St. Thomas Aquinas had stood against its promulgation. For these and other Catholics of good will, the crux of the diffi- culty in proclaiming Mary's preservation from sin was this: how could she be said to be redeemed by Christ, the Redeemer of all, if she was never touched by any sin including original sin? The Franciscan John Duns Scotus resolved this serious objection at the turn of the 14th century with the insight that Christ can save in two ways: He can rescue those who have already fallen, or He can preserve certain individuals from even being touched by sin. This is the unique case of the Blessed Virgin Mary By virtue of a special divine action, Mary was kept free from original sin in light of the foreseen or anticipated merits of Jesus Christ. A good way to view" the Immaculate Conception is to understand that it is not so much a personal privilege of Mar but is rather part of the overall preparation for the coming of the Son of God into the world. Out of reverence for Jesus' infinite holiness, it was most fitting that the God- Man become personally united with a human nature in the womb of a woman who was never stained by even the slightest sin. Mary's Immaculate Conception, there- fore, is actually a statement about Christ. It was a favor granted Mary for the sake of fur- ther sustaining theuniqueness of Christ. Since Mary is a symbol of the Church, the dogma defining her Immaculate Conception can have a deeper meaning for the People of God. As Mary was preserved I ESTATE PLANNING | PROBATE WILLS 6, TRUST ASSET PROTECTION | BUSINESS START-UPS I CORPORATIONS & LLCS I MERGERS & /kCO.UISITIONS (so /J 218 72205 COMPANY 172 4 flKE AVENUE 'NORTH fl~TLE ROC~ AR 72114 PHONE: JTSBI!' FAX: 315-17U 1921 Main Street North Little Rock, AR John & Kay Smith 758-1170 ")Our ocat; cad o& 7unennCHome " from sin in anticipation of Christ's redemp- tion; so the Church, composed of sinfid members, is also holy -- not through any human accomplishment, but by the power of Christ and the grace of the Holy Spirit. Mary is a sign that GOd and His grace pre- cede our very being and even more our every good action. One of the most significant influences in the historical development of the doc- trine of the Blessed Virgin Mary's Immaculate Conception was the sensus fidelium, the "beliefs of the faithful", par- ticularly as celebrated in the liturgical wor- ship of the Church. This grassroots witm , an intuitive grasp on the truths of the faith possessed by the people of Cod as a whole, ultimately helped to create within the Church a theological climate in which the debate could be decisively settled and the doctrine infallibly proclaimed. Charles T. Sullivan, a member of St. Bernard Church in BeUa V sta, has a master's degree in tic a oto from the Unive, of oa#ns. THE ALL NEW 1999 "BEST OF IRB.kNO AND BRITAIN" BROCHURE, FILLED WITH EXCITING VACATION IDEAS AT SUPERB VALUE. SEE YOUR TRAVEL AGENT: OR CALL CIE TOURS AT 1-800-248'6832 (Early booking savingal) C.X.]B UI 8 International EXPERIENCE REUaB~Urr WInE j i