Sunday, May 17, 2009

"He Descended Into Hell (in Greek - Hades). . "

We always begin the rosary with the sign of the cross. After making the sign of the cross we then say the Apostles Creed. It's at this time, during the Apostles Creed where I seem to make an involuntary pause around the 4th line of the prayer. After we announce that Christ was crucified, died and was buried we say, "He descended into hell (in Greek, Hades)." This part of the prayer has always caused me to stammer because I've never fully understood it. I even remember having trouble explaining this to Melissa during her conversion. As always, having a little background and looking towards scripture can help all of us come to understand more about our Catholic Faith.

The word "hell" (in Greek, Hades) refers to the place of the dead prior to Jesus' resurrection (Acts 2:27). Hades was the place where all souls, both the righteous and the unrighteous, were detained immediately after death. No soul could go to heaven until Jesus appeased God's wrath against sin by His propitiatory sacrifice, and was raised from the dead.

By virtue of His death and resurrection, God gave Jesus the "keys of death and hell (Rev 1:17-18)," which represents Jesus' power to release these souls from Hades. This is why, immediately after He died (He was crucified, died and was buried), Jesus "descended into hell" and preached the Gospel to the souls in Hades! The righteous souls were now released to heaven, while the unrighteous souls were condemned to eternal punishment. The gates of hell, which formerly kept souls from heaven, can no longer do so because Jesus has the Keys.

I hope this helps all of us understand the Apostles Creed a little more. And if for some reason, Matthew 16 came to mind after just hearing about; keys, hell (hades) and the idea of authority over souls, you're on the right track. We'll touch on that on a later post.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Thank You for Our Gift

During the week I homeschool a fourteen year old girl and today, my homeschooler is doing her California State Testing for mathematics. She is a bright girl who can understand most of the concepts, but "big numbers" in word problems throw her off. So I am constantly telling her to re-create the problem using the same situation, but with smaller numbers. Instead of saying that Suzie ate 13,452 pieces of candy in 782 days, I would have her work out something like "If Suzie ate 120 pieces of candy in 20 day, about how many pieces of candy did she eat each day?"
Then she gets it! She now knows that all she has to do is divide, when before, her mind was paralyzed with confusion!

I guess those numbers were just so overwhelming, that she forgot how simple of a concept it really was. I think that a lot of times we do the same thing with our Blessed Mother. Many can not understand the love and the honor that we Catholics give to Our Lady. So to better understand our veneration, I propose that you simply "make the numbers smaller."

Our Mexican-Catholic brothers and sisters have a beautiful devotion to Our Lady of Guadelupe, as do many other cultures, and rightfully so. But because Our Lady appeared in their native land, their love for her is especially great. Here, then, is where I choose to set up my "word problem." If you do not know the complete story of Our Lady of Guadelupe...please look it up. For the sake of brevity, I will say only that Our Lady appeared to Juan Diego with a mission. The Church has approved this apparition (declared it valid and true) and as a result of her visit, 6 to 8 Million people were converted to Christianity!!

Now, lets pull out the essential information: We have a Gift, a giver, and a recipiant. Mary brought the saving love of Jesus to the Native people. Indeed, Mary's "yes" brought Jesus to the whole world! Remember, she didn't have to say "yes." But this is still too big to grasp, so let us simplify this problem so we can understand the concept.

Imagine Chrismas morning, Grandma comes to visit her twin 8 year old grandsons. She brings them each a gift. The first boy opens up a bright red sweater with a big yellow bird stitched right on the front. The second boy opens up the newest gaming station: wiiX3. Can you imagine their respective reactions? The first boy may manage to give his grandma a tight lipped smile and a quiet "thank you," while the second boy, on the other hand would barely be able to contain himself. He would be jumping all over the place, kissing his grandma on the cheek, repeatedly throwing out shouts of gratitude all the while keeping his eyes fixed on his new gift.

We can see here so clearly that their reactions were indicative of how much (or little) they valued their gifts. Can we not use this simple reasoning then, and apply it to the gift given to us by our Blessed Mother? I want to jump up and down and kiss my Mother Mary on the cheek and sing beautiful songs of gratitude to her! For truly, I have never been given such a Gift as this! Thank You Jesus for coming to us! And thank you Mary for letting it be!

Happy Feast Day of Our Lady of Fatima!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

I have to say that Motherhood is Love. Watching my wife deal with our four boys is truly amazing. She goes from counselor to tutor to chef to cuddler all in a matter of seconds. These kids don't know how good they have it. Heck, I don't know how good I have it. But what truly amazes me is watching my wife deal with a pregnancy. She changes. I get to see first hand what it means to empty oneself out for another. I know she is uncomfortable. But she never complains. She may ask me to run an errand or two...but she never complains. There is a peace about her that I can't explain. Almost as if she knows something that the rest of us don't. She may not realize it but it is there. I love her for it.

Happy Mother's Day