What Happens When a Protestant Meets Mary?

Sometimes our most deeply held religious opinions contradict spiritual reality. Look at the Pharisees who were so outraged by Jesus they thought He was possessed by a demon:

The Jews said to him, ‘Now we know that you have a demon. Abraham died, and so did the prophets; yet you say, “Whoever keeps my word will never taste death.”  Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets also died. Who do you claim to be?’  Jesus answered, ‘If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, he of whom you say, “He is our God”, though you do not know him. But I know him; if I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you. But I do know him and I keep his word. Your ancestor Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day; he saw it and was glad.’ Then the Jews said to him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, before Abraham was, I am.’ (John 8:53-58).

The Pharisees knew exactly what Jesus meant; He was telling them, “I am God”.  So, they tried to stone Jesus to death for claiming to be God because they believed He had committed an act of blasphemy. The Pharisees did not recognize God in their midst. When we really are set in our own religious opinions, Christ must symbolically knock us off our horse like Saint Paul before we can see the truth. As Pope Francis once said at an Easter Vigil, God delights in shaking us up. Just when we think we have Him all figured out, He pulls another fast one on us.

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Miracles Happen Today: A Sight to Behold

I have been surprised by three miracles in my life so far- a physical healing and the multiplication of heating oil and of decorative wood. Even my skeptical teenagers could not deny the miracles they witnessed with their own eyes, nor could they explain these events as anything other than miraculous. For all of us, they were “a sight to behold”, manifesting the glory and power of God. As for me, I am no longer afraid of future catastrophes either in nature or in society for I am a child of God;  I can trust no matter what happens, the Almighty is in control and will intervene in my life if and when He sees fit.

At least Catholics believe theoretically in miracles even though most modern, educated folk tend to dismiss the miraculous, believing science will eventually provide a plausible explanation for the inexplicable. For the cynical, only the ignorant or gullible set out on desperate pilgrimages seeking cures or chase after signs and wonders. Many Protestants think miracles were only for the age of dispensation of grace. However, there are countless, hidden souls who have experienced authentic miracles but they have been bullied into silence.

It has seemed good to me to declare the signs and wonders which the Most High God has done for me. Daniel 4:2-3

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A Christian Wins When He Fails

Christians consider an exemplary Catholic to be a person who lives out their faith, is active in their parish, has an outstanding character, solid family life, and productive job. Even those who select candidates for the priesthood look for strengths, not weaknesses.  A successful candidate should have good grades in philosophy and theology, confidence in social situations, efficient managerial skills, financial acumen, flair as a public speaker, and psychological stability.

Perhaps a better yardstick for assessing potential success as a priest or as a member of the priesthood of the faithful is to consider how weak a person realises he is.  Has he experienced confusion and doubt? Has he been broken and lived through depression and anxiety? Has he tasted failure and defeat? Does he realise his tendency to sin? Does he realise he needs God?

I heard one prominent Protestant ministry only accepts people for leadership roles if they have been broken, experienced true failure and humbly draw on God’s strength. Similarly, the most effective Catholic leaders rely on God, not on their own gifts and strengths. Maybe those who are confident in their own accomplishments do not fully live in, with, and through the Holy Spirit because they are self-sufficient.

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