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    • Meril Jeffery John.J

      imagePaul Baloche (/bəˈlɒʃ/ bə-losh; born on June 4, 1962) is an American Christian music artist, worship leader, and singer-songwriter. A native of Maple Shade Township, New Jersey, Baloche is currently the worship pastor at Community Christian Fellowship in Lindale, Texas. Baloche composes on piano and acoustic guitar, favoring guitar when leading worship. His wife, Rita Baloche, is also a Christian songwriter. Baloche is one of the writers for Compassionart, a charity founded by Martin Smith from Delirious?.

      Baloche's songs have been recorded by several artists including Michael W. Smith, Casting Crowns, Rebecca St. James, Phillips, Craig and Dean, Anthony Evans, and Sonicflood. Baloche has co-written songs with Aaron Shust, Kari Jobe, Meredith Andrews, and Lincoln Brewster for use on their respective albums. Some of Baloche's songs rank among the most-performed songs in servicesaccording to CCLI. Top-ranked songs include "Open the Eyes of My Heart", "Hosanna", "Your Name", "Today Is The Day", and "Above All". Baloche has received numerous Dove Awards over the years. He was nominated for Song of the Year in both the 2002 and 2003 Dove Awards, and in 2002, Michael W. Smith's version of the same song won Inspirational Recorded Song of the Year. Baloche was also nominated for Songwriter of the Year in 2002. In 2009, Baloche won a Dove Award for Inspiration Recorded Song of the Year as co-author of "A New Hallelujah" with Michael W. Smith and his wife Debbie Smith.

      Baloche has been a pioneer in providing visual instructional resources for church worship teams. In 1995, he released The Worship Guitar Series, a set of three videos. Between 2002 and 2006, he released The Modern Worship Series, a set of eight instructional DVDs focused on helping church worship teams increase their skill and confidence. In 2005, he released the book God Songs, a practical resource for worship songwriters, currently in its 8th printing.

      His catalog of twelve albums is focused on providing worship music for churches to use in their Sunday morning services. His albums are released by his publisher Integrity Music. In addition to songwriting, Baloche participates in several seminars for worship leaders and musicians throughout North America and Asia.

      The 2006 release A Greater Song is a live recording featuring songs by Baloche, some co-written with worship artists including Matt Redman ("A Greater Song") and former Integrity Music president Don Moen ("Thank You Lord").

      The 2009 release Glorious featured the single "Just to Be With You", which Baloche explained "is simply about intimacy with God."

      On April 3, 2012 Baloche released album The Same Love featuring the single "The Same Love".

      On October 29, 2013, Baloche also released a live Christmas worship album featured old and new songs suitable for use during the Christmas season.

      In November 2013, Baloche won a GMA Canada Covenant Award for International Album of the Year for "Glorieux", a French language worship album.

      Paul Baloche Speech:

      There’s a certain blanket of wisdom that, if you seek it, comes over time. It wraps around that place in your life where you’re settled in, a place where you’re surrounded by good friends and family and have nothing left to prove. A place where you know who you are, you know your purpose, and you’re content to leave the details up to God.

      “If you do something long enough, you uncover life lessons along the way,” Paul Baloche says. “You aspire to be faithful to God’s calling in your life, pressing through even when you fall short. And when you hit a certain age, as you grow in your faith, you recognize the potential and the burden of being a leader, realizing ‘I’ve got to step up and be more intentional toward the people God has put in my life.’ And your prayer becomes, ‘Lord, give me grace to finish well.’”

      After 25 years of marriage, 23 years leading worship at Community Christian Fellowship in Lindale, TX, 12 albums recorded with the same label and hundreds of teaching resources provided free for church leaders (via his web site, one might think Paul Baloche had already qualified for a great finish.

      But for this modern hymn writer, mentor and teacher who once aspired to be a priest, ministry is not a sprint, but a marathon, a long series of obedient steps in the same direction. A path where every aspect of life is forged in fires of passion for Jesus and His Church, and the result is almost always an honest prayer for the Church to sing.

      All this is at the heart of The Same Love, an organic collection of worship songs from the worship leader best known for such modern classics as “Above All,” “Open the Eyes of My Heart” and “Your Name.” The Same Love mirrors Paul’s love for the Church and gives new expression to the complete faithfulness and overwhelming mercy of a gracious God.

      The same love that set the captives free

      The same love that opened eyes to see

      Is calling us all by name

      “One of the reasons I love the process to this day is that it’s a bit of a frontier, a mystery,” Paul says of the creative process behind The Same Love. “You can’t put your finger on it. Nobody can. It has a sense of adventure, a Lewis & Clark kind of thing. All explorers, over time, are trying to go places they’ve never been. Writing for worship is a lot like that. You’re trying to go places you’ve never been, deeper into ancient biblical truths, stirring up your modern soul, if you will. You’re testing the tension and the harmony of several things, combining that with what’s going on musically at the moment… And you end up with all these different elements — harmony, chords, lyrics, melody, vibe — and out comes something new.”

      Co-produced with longtime collaborators Ben Gowell and Michael Rossback, The Same Love continues to walk a modern edge musically, while delivering unforgettably rich lyrics composed in the context of community.

      “From project to project, I try to wipe the slate clean, to consider what’s happening right now, in my church, in my own soul, in the church at large and to ask ‘What do I sense in the hearts of the next generation, how do they perceive God, the church, fellowship and community?”

      Grammy Award-winning engineer Chris Lord-Alge (U2/Switchfoot) mixes the title track and first single of the project, co-written by Paul and Michael Rossback. This is the touchstone for the entire collection.

      “God is not this impersonal force,” Paul says. “The truth is that from creation to the crucifixion, God has been calling us – by name. He’s giving us a challenge, calling us to the cross, asking, ‘Are you ready to give up your way of doing things? Come as you are, pick up your cross daily and I will transform your life.’”

      The four songs that follow—the anthemic, Coldplay-esque “We Are Saved” (co-written with Jason Ingram and Hillsong’s Ben Fielding), bluegrass tinged “King of Heaven,” “All Because of the Cross” (a modern spin on “Nothing But the Blood”) and “Your Blood Ran Down”— follow a path often resisted, even in worship. “There are a lot of songs about the Cross on this record. People are almost apologetic about it, and yet I feel challenged not to shrink from it. Our tendency is to make our language inclusive and seeker friendly. And I get that, but we also need songs that point to the truth of the new covenant.”

      We are children of your mercy, rescued for your glory,

      we cry Jesus set our hearts towards you

      that every eye would see you lifted high…

      “Look Upon the Lord,” co-written with Kari Jobe and Jason Ingram, began as a time of worship, an effort to linger and focus on Jesus and His sacrifice. “We felt such a strong presence from God as we were writing it that we decided to record the song around our original demo, keeping Kari’s worshipful vocal and Jason’s keyboard part.”

      I don’t know where You’ll take me

      But I know You’re always good…

      “My Hope,” featuring Kathryn Scott and co-written with Ed Kerr, with whom Paul has written over 100 songs, gives voice to the spoken and unspoken prayers of people in times of need. “Life is hard, people are looking for hope, and there’s not much to be found outside of the hope we have in Christ,” Paul says. “My prayer is that this song will help others express to God what they really feel and point them to His promises.”

      In each and every one of these church-tested songs, perhaps even more intentionally than ever before, Paul Baloche continues to draw from deep roots of devotion and ministry to feed the fire in his spirit. To create songs in community with likeminded worship artists who understand the hearts and prayers of those they serve, the people in the pew… and those who are still seeking.

      “I can’t deny what I’ve seen and experienced in the presence of God,” Paul says. “I can’t deny that I’ve witnessed His goodness and faithfulness over and over again. God is alive. The same God who created the world calls us by name.”

      The same God that spread the heavens wide

      The same God that was crucified

      Is calling us all by name

      “When I meet people who are full of the Spirit—despite their present circumstances, beyond their temperament or attitude—I’m inspired. I want to be that kind of person, to be in His presence, to read and digest his Word, to make it part of my DNA, to walk it out – to live it out. In the end, I want my life, my music to facilitate a conversation about God and who He is.”

      “There are a lot of songs about the Cross on this record. People are almost apologetic about it, and yet I feel challenged not to shrink from it. Our tendency is to make our language inclusive and seeker friendly. And I get that, but we also need songs that point to the truth of the new covenant.”


      – Paul Baloche

    • Praise is rising, eyes are turning to You, we turn to You 
      Hope is stirring, hearts are yearning for You, we long for You 
      'Cause when we see You, we find strength to face the day 
      In Your Pres- ence all our fears are washed away, washed away 

      Ho- san- na, ho- sanna 
      You are the God Who saves us, worthy of all our praises 
      Ho- san- na, ho- sanna 
      Come have Your way among us 
      We welcome You here, Lord Jesus 

      Hear the sound of hearts returning to You, we turn to You 
      In Your Kingdom broken lives are made new, You make us new 
      'Cause when we see You, we find strength to face the day 
      In Your Pres- ence all our fears are washed away, washed away 

      Ho- san- na, ho- sanna 
      You are the God Who saves us, worthy of all our praises 
      Ho- san- na, ho- sanna 
      Come have Your way among us 
      We welcome You here, Lord Jesus 

      'Cause when we see You, we find strength to face the day 
      In Your Pres- ence all our fears are washed away 
      'Cause when we see You, we find strength to face the day 
      In Your Pres- ence all our fears are washed away, washed away 

      Ho- san- na, ho- sanna 
      You are the God Who saves us, worthy of all our praises 
      Ho- san- na, ho- sanna 
      Come have Your way among us 
      We welcome You here, Lord Jesus 
      Ho- san- na, ho- san- na 
      Ho- san- na, ho- san- na 

      • Meril Jeffery John.J

        God will make a way
        Where there seems to be no way
        He works in ways we cannot see
        He will make a way for me

        He will be my guide
        Hold me closely to His side
        With love and strength for each new day
        He will make a way, He will make a way

        Oh, God will make a way
        Where there seems to be no way
        He works in ways we cannot see
        He will make a way for me

        He will be my guide
        Hold me closely to His side
        With love and strength for each new day
        He will make a way, He will make a way

        By a roadway in the wilderness, He'll lead me
        And rivers in the desert will I see
        Heaven and Earth will fade but His Word will still remain
        And He will do something new today

        Oh, God will make a way
        Where there seems to be no way
        He works in ways we cannot see
        He will make a way for me

        He will be my guide
        Hold me closely to His side
        With love and strength for each new day
        He will make a way, He will make a way

        By a roadway in the wilderness, He'll lead me
        And rivers in the desert will I see
        Heaven and Earth will fade but His Word will still remain
        And He will do something new today

        Oh, God will make a way
        Where there seems to be no way
        He works in ways we cannot see
        He will make a way for me

        He will be my guide
        Hold me closely to His side
        With love and strength for each new day
        He will make a way, He will make a way

        With love and strength for each new day
        He will make a way, He will make a way

        • Meril Jeffery John.J

          In a mother’s womb were two babies. One asked the other: “Do you believe in life after delivery?” The other replied, “Why, of course. There has to be something after delivery. Maybe we are here to prepare ourselves for what we will be later.”
          “Nonsense” said the first. “There is no life after delivery. What kind of life would that be?”

          The second said, “I don’t know, but there will be more light than here. Maybe we will walk with our legs and eat from our mouths. Maybe we will have other senses that we can’t understand now.”

          The first replied, “That is absurd. Walking is impossible. And eating with our mouths? Ridiculous! The umbilical cord supplies nutrition and everything we need. But the umbilical cord is so short. Life after delivery is to be logically excluded.”

          The second insisted, “Well I think there is something and maybe it’s different than it is here. Maybe we won’t need this physical cord anymore.”

          The first replied, “Nonsense. And moreover if there is life, then why has no one has ever come back from there? Delivery is the end of life, and in the after-delivery there is nothing but darkness and silence and oblivion. It takes us nowhere.”

          “Well, I don’t know,” said the second, “but certainly we will meet Mother and she will take care of us.”

          The first replied “Mother? You actually believe in Mother? That’s laughable. If Mother exists then where is She now?”

          The second said, “She is all around us. We are surrounded by her. We are of Her. It is in Her that we live. Without Her this world would not and could not exist.”

          Said the first: “Well I don’t see Her, so it is only logical that She doesn’t exist.”

          To which the second replied, “Sometimes, when you’re in silence and you focus and you really listen, you can perceive Her presence, and you can hear Her loving voice, calling down from above.”  
          --- Útmutató a Léleknek

          • Meril Jeffery John.J

            First & Foremost by accepting the crucifiction Jesus proved he Controlled Death & he even had authority over Death he proved he has Ultimate power to overcome death & he also proved nothing will stop him not even death (he even said this from his own words)

            John 10:17-18
            17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

            Now a question arises why did Jesus choose death? He Choose death to save us from our Sin’s but still can he not do this without the option of death? Can we get something without doing anything? No we can’t so is our redemption to redeem us from sin he has to pay something to Satan so he choose humiliation & death. Now Satan thought he can destroy God for ever but unfortunately he never know that Jesus can win even death. Now Jesus plays here an Sacrifice role he gives himself as a sacrifice for our redemption he has paid it all.

            John 15:13
            Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends.

            Let's come from the beginning Why Jesus has to Die it's the Plan from Genesis. Adam & Eve committed Sin & the God of Israel (Yahweh) Forbid adam & eve having the Life Everlasting.

            Genesis 3:22
            22 And the LORD God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil.
            He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”

            So now Human Beings cannot Live after death there is no Everlasting Life there is no promise of Heaven after death.
            Now in order to break this Forbidden fruit of Everlasting Life Jesus is sent from Heaven.

            John 11:25
            Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;

            John 4:13-14
            13 Jesus said to her, “Every one who drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

            Now Jesus is the Everlasting Life that Came from Heaven now how is he going to give this everlasting Life to us. He is going to give it by his Blood & Flesh

            John 6:51
            I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."

            Now this is the reason he has to die on the cross to give everlasting Life. A life even after death that was rejected by Yahweh in Genesis 3:22

            1 Corinthians 15:22
            22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

            Through Adam & Eve we Got Death but only Through Christ you will get Life & now comes the basic Question if Jesus has died to give everlasting life then we all will go to heaven ?? No you will not untill you believe in Jesus. Now if you believe in him you will follow his commandment.

            I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he(Yahweh is Salvation), you will indeed die in your sins." John 8:24

            • Meril Jeffery John.J

              "உள்ளதை உள்ளதென்றும் இல்லாததை இல்லாததென்றும் சொல்லுங்கள்.

              மிஞ்சியது தீமையினால் உண்டாயிருக்கும்."

              இந்த வார்த்தையின் நிமித்தம் உங்களுக்கு சொல்லுகிறேன். தவறாக புரிந்து கொள்ளாதிருங்கள். உண்மையிலேயே தேவனுக்கு பெயர் இல்லை என்பது தான் உண்மை. தேவன் எனப்பட்டவர் சகலவற்றையும் சிருஷ்டித்தார். அவர் பெயரிட்டவர்கள் சிலர் உண்டு. ஆதாம், ஏவாள் அதற்கு பிறகு வந்த பலர். ஆதாம் என்றால் முதல் மனுஷன் என்றும் ஏவாள் என்றால் உயிருள்ளோர் எல்லோருக்கும் தாய் என்றும் பொருள் படுமாம்.


              தேவன் தான் பெயர் சொல்லி அழைத்தவர்களெல்லாம் தனக்கென்றும் தனக்காக தெரிந்து கொண்டேன் என்றும் இந்த உலகத்திற்கு அறிய செய்யும் படியே அவ்வாறு பெயரிட்டார். ஆபிராம் என்னப்பட்டவரை ஆபிரகாம் என்று அழைத்தவரும் அவரே. அன்றியும் தேவன் சகல மிருகஜீவன்களையும் சிருஷ்டித்து அவர்களுக்கு ஆதாமையே பெயரிட சொன்னார். ஆதாம் அவைகளுக்கு வைத்த பெயரே பெயர் ஆயிற்று. ஒவ்வொரு மொழிகளிலும் பெயர் வேறுபட்டு உச்சரிக்கப்பட்டது.


              ஆயினும் உலகின் ஆதி மொழியான எபிரெயு மொழியில் பழைய ஏற்பாட்டில் தேவனுடைய நாமத்தைக் குறித்து பல இடங்களில் பலர் கேள்வி கேட்ட படியால் தேவன் தனக்குத்தானே எப்படி பெயர் சூட்டுவது என்று (அவரே ஆதியானவர் ஆதலால்) அவர் தன்னத் தானே வரையறுக்க முடியாதவராய் "(யே)இருந்தவரும் (ஹோ)இருக்கிறவரும் (வா)இருக்கப்போகிறவரும்" என்று பொருள் படும் படியாக தன்னை அறிமுகப்படுத்திக் கொண்டார். ஆயினும் "யேஹோவா" என்னும் நாமத்தினால் தேவன் ஆபிரகாமுக்கு அறியப்படவில்லை. ஆபிரகாம் விசுவாசமுள்ளவராயிருந்த படியால் பெயர் அறியாத போது கூட தேவனிடத்தில் விசுவாசமுள்ளவராயிருந்தார்.


              பின்னாளில் தேவனுடைய நாமத்தை பலர் வீணிலே வழங்கத் தொடங்கியதால் தேவன் அந்த நாமத்தை மக்களிடமிருந்து விலக்கினார். ஆனாலும் மக்களுடைய அவிசுவாசம் காரணமாக நாமம் ஒன்று தேவைப்பட்டது.ஆகையால், சில பல காலங்களுக்கு பிறகு அவருடைய வார்த்தைக்கு (தேவனுடைய வார்த்தையினால் உலகம் உண்டாயிற்று என்பது அறிவோம்) "இயேசு" என்று ஒரு பெயர் சூட்டி அவரை பூமியில் அனுப்பினார். அதின் பொருள் யாதெனில், நான் என்னுடைய வார்த்தையை உங்களுக்கு பலி கொடுக்கிறேன் என்பதாகும். அந்த வார்த்தை இந்த பூமியில் இருந்த காலத்தில் பலருக்கு சத்தியத்தை போதித்து சென்றது.


              அவர் அனுப்பப்பட்ட காரணம் பலியிடப்படவே. அவரை சிலுவையில் ஏற்றியவர்கள் அவரை ஜெயிக்கவில்லை. அவரைக் கொல் என்று சொன்னவர்களும் ஜெயிக்கவில்லை. ஜெயித்தவர் வார்த்தையானவரே. அன்றியும் அவர் மானுட உருவம் எடுத்து வந்ததால் அவருடைய இரத்தம் அவருடைய மரண வேதனையையும் எமக்கு சாட்சி சொல்வதால் அவரைக் கிறிஸ்து என்றழைக்கிறோம். கிறிஸ்து என்றால் சிலுவையில் அறையப்பட்டார் என்று பொருளாம். அன்றியும் சிலுவைக்கு பொருள் யாதெனில் "நான்கு திசைகளுக்கும் பொதுவாகவே வந்தேன்" என்பதாகும். அவர் கள்ளரோடு அறையப்பட்டதன் பொருள் யாதெனில் "அவர் கள்ளர் எனக் கருதப்பட்டார்" என்பதாகும். "கர்த்தர்" என்றால் தமிழில் படைத்தவர் என்று பொருள். அது ஒரு நாமம் அல்ல. தமிழில் பைபிளை மொழி பெயர்த்தவர் ஸ்ரீலஸ்ரீ ஆறுமுக நாவலர்...


              பரிசுத்த ஆவியானவர் தந்த ஞானத்திற்கு நன்றி.

              இயேசு கிறிஸ்துவின் நாமத்தினால் ஆமென்.

            • Commentary by Jack Kelley

              I was recently asked to respond to seven reasons why Jews reject Jesus as the Messiah. These seven reasons have been featured on a Jewish “anti-missionary” website as part of their effort to discourage Jewish conversions to Christianity. In part one I responded to the first four of these reasons, so we’ll now conclude with my response to the remaining three.


              5) Christianity Contradicts Jewish Theology

              a. God as three?

              Claim: The idea of the Trinity breaks God into three separate beings: The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost (Matthew 28:19).

              Contrast this to the Shema, the basis of Jewish belief: “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is ONE” (Deut. 6:4). Jews declare the Shema every day, while writing it on doorposts (Mezuzah), and binding it to the hand and head (Tefillin). This statement of God’s One-ness is the first words a Jewish child is taught to say, and the last words uttered before a Jew dies.

              In Jewish law, worship of a three-part god is considered idolatry—one of the three cardinal sins that a Jew should rather give up his life than transgress. This explains why during the Inquisitions and throughout history, Jews gave up their lives rather than convert.

              Response: This has always been a huge stumbling block in Jewish circles. But a careful examination of the Old Testament shows it shouldn’t be. Isaiah 9:6 says,For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

              This prophecy was 750 years old when the Lord was born. It speaks of a child being born and a son being given who would be called, among other things, Mighty God, and Everlasting Father. These are titles that belong to God alone. Here we have a Son who would be called by the same names as His Father.

              In Psalm 2 David wrote of God’s anointed one (the Messiah) being His King, who God would call His Son, and to whom He would give the Earth as a possession. He said everyone who takes refuge in the Son will be blessed. Certainly David was not describing a mere man, because God never spoke of a man this way.

              In addition to the Son, the Holy Spirit, or Ruach haElohim, is also mentioned separately from God, beginning with the Genesis creation account. In Genesis 1:1 God is mentioned. Then in verse 2 it’s the Spirit of God, and in verse 3 it’s God again. The Spirit of God is independently mentioned 14 times in the Old Testament. So the Old Testament shows Father, Son and Holy Spirit all mentioned separately, while maintaining there is only one God. Whether in the Old Testament or the New, the Bible speaks of One God in three persons.

              b. God as man?

              Claim: Christians believe that God came down to earth in human form, as Jesus said: “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30).

              Maimonides devotes most of the “Guide for the Perplexed” to the fundamental idea that God is incorporeal, meaning that He assumes no physical form. God is Eternal, above time. He is Infinite, beyond space. He cannot be born, and cannot die. Saying that God assumes human form makes God small, diminishing both His unity and His divinity. As the Torah says: “God is not a mortal” (Numbers 23:19).

              Judaism says that the Messiah will be born of human parents, and possess normal physical attributes like other people. He will not be a demi-god, and will not possess supernatural qualities. In fact, an individual is alive in every generation with the capacity to step into the role of the Messiah. (see Maimonides – Laws of Kings 11:3)

              Response: This is a case where most of this claim consists of those who don’t believe Jesus is God explaining why Jesus can’t be God. Jews and Christians alike believe that God is Eternal, above time. He is Infinite, beyond space. He cannot be born, and cannot die.

              But instead of quoting non-biblical sources, let’s see what the Bible says, or in some cases doesn’t say. For instance, does the Bible say the Messiah will be born of human parents? No.  In part one we saw that the Bible says the Messiah would be born of a woman and God Himself would call Him Son. Does it say the Messiah will not possess supernatural qualities? No. Again, in part one we saw numerous Old Testament prophecies that speak of His miraculous powers; healing the sick, giving sight to the blind and causing the lame to walk. Has there been someone in every generation who can meet these requirements? No. There has only been One.

              Micah 5:2 was written about the same time as Isaiah. It tells us the Messiah King would be born in Bethlehem but that His origins were from days of eternity past.

              “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”

              The Hebrew words in this passage indicate that while He would be born into the world at a point in time, He has actually existed from before time and will exist perpetually. That cannot be said of any man from any generation.

              Let’s take a moment to discuss why God had to become a man. God could have easily reversed the effect of the serpent’s actions in the garden and preserved mankind’s immortality. But had He done so, He would have violated His own law, something a just God cannot do. His laws of redemption (Leviticus 25) indicate that it takes a man to redeem what men have lost, whether it be their property or their freedom. (Adam and Eve had lost both.) In some cases a next of kin is required.

              And so the idea of a Kinsman Redeemer emerged. This is why God told the serpent an offspring of Eve’s would defeat Him. This theme runs throughout the Old Testament progressively narrowing the field of candidates to an Israelite from the tribe of Judah and the family of King David. But although He would be a Jewish man He wouldn’t just redeem the Jewish people. He would bring God’s salvation to the ends of the Earth (Isaiah 49:6).

              In the meantime, God ordained that a substitute would suffice to temporarily set aside the sins of the people. The substitute He selected was a lamb, but it had to be a perfect specimen, without any spot or blemish. That’s because the substitute was a model or type of the real thing. It tells us the Redeemer had to be as innocent (sin free) as a lamb and a perfect specimen of mankind.

              This created a problem because after Adam sinned, all of mankind was infected with a sin nature, thereby disqualifying every descendant of Adam’s from redeeming us. Man was no longer innocent and no longer a perfect specimen. The only solution was for God Himself to become a man to save mankind. So He sent His Spirit to Mary and she became pregnant with His Son. Nine months later the child was born and the Son was given in fulfillment of Isaiah 9:6. He was the Lamb of God who took away the sin of the world (John 1:29). By living the life of an ordinary man, yet remaining free of sin, He qualified to be our kinsman redeemer, and gave His life so God could spare ours.

              c. intermediary for prayer?

              Claim: Jesus makes himself an intermediary, as He said: “No man cometh unto the Father but by me.”

              In Judaism, prayer is a totally private matter, between each individual and God. As the Bible says: “God is near to all who call unto Him” (Psalms 145:18). Further, the Ten Commandments state: “You shall have no other gods BEFORE ME,” meaning that it is forbidden to set up a mediator between God and man.

              Response: The context of John 14:6 is salvation, not prayer. Jesus was saying that the only way to be saved from the penalty of our sins and spend eternity in the presence of God is to believe that Jesus paid that penalty with His life.

              Christians are free to pray to the Father and can add emphasis to their prayers by invoking the name of the Son, but either way we’re praying to the same God that Jewish people pray to. There is no other god before (between) us. Also the commandment cited above doesn’t mean we can’t allow Jesus to intercede for us. In the first place, the commandment does not say it’s forbidden to set up a mediator between God and man, it says we shall have no other gods. And in the second place, Jesus is not another god.

              d. involvement in the physical world

              Claim: Christian doctrine often treats the physical world as an evil to be avoided.

              By contrast, Judaism believes that God created the physical world not to frustrate us, but for our pleasure. Jewish spirituality comes through grappling with the mundane world in a way that uplifts and elevates. Sex in the proper context is one of the holiest acts we can perform.

              The Talmud says if a person has the opportunity to taste a new fruit and refuses to do so, he will have to account for that in the World to Come. Jewish rabbinical schools teach how to live amidst the bustle of commercial activity. Jews don’t retreat from life, they elevate it.

              Response: I don’t understand how any Jewish person with a knowledge of Jewish history can conclude that the physical world is anything but evil, or fail to see that there is a malevolent force in this world that seems determined to eliminate the Jewish people by any means possible.

              I agree that among those whose efforts have made this world a better place there is a disproportionate number of Jewish people, and I see this as evidence that the relationship they had with God in Old testament times is still bearing fruit.

              I also agree that God did not create the physical world to frustrate mankind. But to me Genesis 3:17-19 is a very clear description of how God’s perfect creation became a frustrating physical environment due to sin coming into the world.

              To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’

              “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”

              6) Jews and Gentiles

              Claim: Judaism does not demand that everyone convert to the religion. The Torah of Moses is a truth for all humanity, whether Jewish or not. King Solomon asked God to heed the prayers of non-Jews who come to the Holy Temple (Kings I 8:41-43). The prophet Isaiah refers to the Temple as a “House for all nations.”

              The Temple service during Sukkot featured 70 bull offerings, corresponding to the 70 nations of the world. The Talmud says that if the Romans would have realized how much benefit they were getting from the Temple, they’d never have destroyed it.

              Response: This is a subtle attempt to discredit Christian missionaries, in effect saying, “We don’t demand that everyone convert to Judaism, why do you demand that we convert to Christianity?”

              But the historical facts do not support this “live and let live” attitude. For example King Solomon’s prayer in 1 Kings 8:41-43 was only meant for non-Jews who came to worship the God of Israel.

              And by the Lord’s own command, the “house of prayer for all nations” was only open to those foreigners who bound themselves to the God of Israel, obeyed His covenant, kept His sabbaths and offered sacrifices on His altar (Isaiah 56:6-8). This was because it was correctly believed that the salvation of Gentiles was only possible through the God of Israel. Foreigners in Israel received all the benefits of life among God’s people but were also accountable for keeping His laws.

              But you must keep my decrees and my laws. The native-born and the foreigners residing among you must not do any of these detestable things (Lev. 18:26),

              Then you and the Levites and the foreigners residing among you shall rejoice in all the good things the Lord your God has given to you and your household (Deut 26:11).

              You might say that in their day, the Jewish people were as zealous for the Lord as we Christians are in ours. And there’s only one reason Christians want others to convert. It’s because that’s the only way to inherit eternal life.

              7) Bringing the Messiah

              Claim: Maimonides stated that the popularity of both Christianity and Islam is part of God’s plan to spread the ideals of Torah throughout the world. This moves society closer to a perfected state of morality and toward a greater understanding of God. All this is in preparation for the Messianic age.

              Indeed, the world is in desperate need of Messianic redemption. War and pollution threaten our planet; ego and confusion erode family life. To the extent we are aware of the problems of society, is the extent we will yearn for redemption. As the Talmud says, one of the first questions a Jew is asked on Judgment Day is: “Did you yearn for the arrival of the Messiah?”

              Response: What a difference 500 years can make in our perspective. It’s hard for me to believe that anyone today sees Islam as part of God’s plan to elevate the Torah, or that society is being moved toward a perfected state of morality and a greater understanding of God.

              But on the on the issue of the world being in desperate need of Messianic redemption, we are in total agreement. And Isaiah 2:1-5 tells us that that when He comes, the Messiah will teach the world His ways, that they may walk in His path. The Law (Torah) will go out from Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

              Between now and then the worst time the world ever has or ever will see will come and go, and Israel will be right in the thick of it. And toward the end when it will seem like all is lost, the Lord will pour out a Spirit of Grace and supplication on His people Israel, and they will look on Him who they pierced and mourn for Him as one mourns for an only son (Zechariah 12:10).

              And they will say, “Come let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces but He will heal us. He has injured us but He will bind up our wounds. After two days He will revive us and on the third day He will restore us that we may live in His presence.

              Let us acknowledge the Lord, let us press on to acknowledge Him. As surely as the sun rises He will appear. He will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth (Hosea 6:1-3).

              How will the Lord respond to this?

              “Judah will be inhabited forever and Jerusalem through all generations. Their blood guilt which I have not pardoned I will pardon.” The Lord dwells in Zion. (Joel 3:20-21) You can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah.

            • Commentary by Jack Kelley

              In the last decade or so, a number of Jewish “anti-missionary” ministries have cropped up to combat the increasing conversion of Jewish people to belief in Jesus as the Messiah of Israel. They have come on the scene because in the words of one of these ministries, “More Jews have converted to Christianity in the last 19 years than in the previous 1900.” Recently someone wrote asking me to respond to the following seven reasons that one of these ministries has published in support of their claim that Jesus cannot be the Jewish Messiah.


              1) Jesus Did Not Fulfill The Messianic Prophecies

              Claim: The Bible says the Messiah will:

              A. Build the Third Temple (Ezekiel 37:26-28).

              B. Gather all Jews back to the Land of Israel (Isaiah 43:5-6).

              C. Usher in an era of world peace, and end all hatred, oppression, suffering and disease. As it says: “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall man learn war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:4)

              D. Spread universal knowledge of the God of Israel, which will unite humanity as one. As it says: “God will be King over all the world—on that day, God will be One and His Name will be One” (Zechariah 14:9).

              The historical fact is that Jesus fulfilled none of these messianic prophecies.

              Response: What they mean here is that Jesus did not fulfill the prophecies of the Kingdom Age. But they ignore the hundreds of Messianic prophecies that Jesus did fulfill. These prophecies were meant to help them identify the Messiah when He came. Here are a few examples:

              He was born in Bethlehem as foretold in Micah 5:2.

              He was born of a virgin as foretold in Isaiah 7:14.

              He came from the tribe of Judah as foretold in Genesis 49:10.

              He was the Son of God as foretold in Psalm 2:7.

              He was the son of David as foretold in 2 Samuel 7:14-16.

              He had a special anointing of the Holy Spirit as foretold in Isaiah 11:2.

              He gave sight to the blind and caused the lame to walk as foretold in Isaiah 35:5-6.

              Had the leaders of Israel recognized Him and allowed Him to be the ultimate sacrifice for their sins, as foretold in Isaiah 53:4-5, He could have fulfilled the Kingdom prophecies at that time as well. Since they didn’t, He went back to Heaven after His resurrection to await their call for His return as foretold inHosea 5:15.

              2) Jesus Did not Embody The Personal Qualifications Of Messiah

              a. Jesus was not a prophet.

              Claim: Prophecy can only exist in Israel when the land is inhabited by a majority of world Jewry. During the time of Ezra (circa 300 BCE), when the majority of Jews refused to move from Babylon to Israel, prophecy ended upon the death of the last prophets—Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. Jesus appeared on the scene approximately 350 years after prophecy had ended.

              Response: I can’t find any Biblical support for this one. And the great Hebrew sage Mosheh ben Maimon (Maimonides), who lived 1500 years after prophecy had supposedly ended, claimed that any man has the potential to become a prophet (not just Jews). He made no mention of the need for a majority of the world’s Jewry to live in Israel in connection with this. Also there was actually about a 400 year gap between Malachi, the last Old Testament prophet and the birth of Jesus. Ezra, Haggai, and Zechariah all preceded him.

              b. Jesus was not a descendent of David.

              Claim: The Messiah must be descended on his father’s side from King David (see Genesis 49:10 and Isaiah 11:1). According to the Christian claim that Jesus was the product of a virgin birth, he had no father—and thus could not have possibly fulfilled the messianic requirement of being descended on his father’s side from King David!

              Response: In the first place Genesis 49:10 and Isaiah 11:1 do not specify that the Messiah has to be descended from King David on His father’s side. Genesis 49:10simply says he will be of the tribe of Judah, and Isaiah 11:1 says he would be descended from the family of Jesse, David’s father.

              But to use a fact they don’t accept (the virgin birth) to claim Jesus had no father and therefore couldn’t be descended from David defies logic. As you’ll see, they don’t believe in the virgin birth, so they must believe Jesus had an earthly father. The most obvious candidate would have been Joseph, to whom Mary was betrothed, and who was descended from David. But even if they reject Joseph, the most they could say is they don’t know who the father of Jesus was so they can’t be sure of his family heritage.

              But more importantly, in Genesis 3:15 God said in effect that the Messiah would be descended from Eve. So from the earliest times it’s been known that the Messiah would be descended from a woman. The Lord’s mother Mary was a descendant of King David’s through his son Nathan.

              c. Torah observance.

              Claim: The Torah states that all mitzvot (commandments) remain binding forever, and anyone coming to change the Torah is immediately identified as a false prophet. (Deut. 13:1-4). Throughout the New Testament, Jesus contradicts the Torah and states that its commandments are no longer applicable.

              ResponseDeut. 13:1-4 was a warning against allowing false prophets to entice the people into following other gods. Jesus never did that. Also, He said, “ Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until Heaven and Earth disappear not the smallest letter or the least stroke of a pen will disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished” (Matt. 5:17-18).

              3) Mistranslated Verses “Referring” To Jesus

              a. the virgin birth.

              Claim: The Christian idea of a virgin birth is derived from the verse in Isaiah 7:14 describing an “alma” as giving birth. The word “alma” has always meant a young woman, but Christian theologians came centuries later and translated it as “virgin.”

              Response: It is true that the Hebrew word “alma” has been translated “virgin” inIsaiah 7:14 and that the word also means “young woman”. But it wasn’t Christian theologians who first determined that “alma” should be translated “virgin”.  When the Greek ruler Ptolemy Philadelphus II commissioned 70 Hebrew scholars to translate the Hebrew Bible into Greek in the 3rd Century BC they chose the Greek word “parthenos” for “alma” in Isaiah 7:14. Parthenos is a word that can only refer to someone who has never had sexual intercourse. (The work of these scholars became known as the Septuagint translation and was the most widely used translation of the Old Testament during the Lord’s time.)

              Also, in Isaiah 7:14 the prophet was describing a sign God would give to Israel. What kind of a sign would it be to say a young woman would give birth? It was an everyday occurrence and would have been meaningless. But a virgin giving birth would have been an unmistakably miraculous sign.

              The most common Hebrew word for virgin in the Bible is “bethulah”. Why didn’t the Lord have Isaiah use that word instead of “alma” and avoid all the confusion?

              It’s because when the Lord had His prophets speak an important prophecy with a fulfillment far in the future, he often had them phrase it in such a way that it could be partially fulfilled within their lifetime. In Deut. 18:22 the Lord had warned His people that if what a prophet said didn’t come true, it meant he wasn’t speaking for the Lord. A partial fulfillment during the prophet’s lifetime served as confirmation of the ultimate fulfillment and protected him against being labeled a false prophet.

              In Isaiah’s case, the partial fulfillment came through his own wife. Isaiah 8 tells us she bore a son whose early life fulfilled the short term prophecies in Isaiah 7:15-17, repeated in Isaiah 8:4. And from Isaiah 8:10 we learn the name Immanuel (God with us) was first associated with him.

              The Lord couldn’t call Isaiah’s wife a virgin because she wasn’t one, and besides there would only ever be one virgin birth. But He could use a word that hinted of it, and so he had Isaiah use alma.  After Isaiah was long gone and they only had the ultimate fulfillment to deal with, the 70 Hebrew Scholars I mentioned above confirmed that the clear intent of the passage was to be a prophecy of the virgin birth.

              b. the crucifixion.

              Claim: The verse in Psalms 22:16 reads: “Like a lion, they are at my hands and feet.” The Hebrew word ki-ari (like a lion) is grammatically similar to the word “gouged.” Thus Christianity reads the verse as a reference to crucifixion: “They pierced my hands and feet.”

              Response: According to the Strong’s Concordance the Hebrew word in Psalm 22:16 is “karah”. It appears 16 times in the Old Testament and means to dig, make, open, or pierce.

              Also, Zechariah 12:10 tells us that near the end of the Great Tribulation the Lord will pour out a spirit of grace and supplication on the Jewish people, saying, “And they will look upon Me, who they pierced.” Here a different Hebrew word is used and both the Jewish and Christian Bibles agree that it means “pierced”. It’s a second source that confirms the manner in which the Messiah would die.

              c. the suffering servant.

              Claim: Christianity says Isaiah chapter 53 refers to Jesus, as the “suffering servant.” In actuality, Isaiah 53 directly follows the theme of chapter 52, describing the exile and redemption of the Jewish people. The prophecies are written in the singular form because the Jews (“Israel”) are regarded as one unit. The Torah is filled with examples of the Jewish nation referred to with a singular pronoun.

              Response: This is a very weak claim because in Isaiah 52:13 the context clearly shifts to a discussion of “my servant” and the singular personal pronouns “he”, “him”, and “his” from there to the end of Isaiah 53 all refer to the phrase “my servant.” There really isn’t any way to read Isaiah 53 literally other than to see it as referring to a male person. Trying to make the singular third person pronoun represent Israel leaves one with the problem of defining who the first person plural pronouns “we”, “us”, and “our” (the people speaking) represent, because it’s obvious from the context that it’s Israel.

              In addition, this claim puts Israel in the position of dying for the sins of others to bring them peace (Isaiah 53:4-6). Does anyone really believe that? Besides,Isaiah 53:8 says “He was stricken for the transgressions of my people”. Whether these words are attributed to God or to Isaiah, isn’t Israel “my people”?

              Finally a clear reading of Isaiah 53 so accurately describes the rejection, suffering, death, and resurrection of the Messiah, it’s been said that more Jewish people have been converted to Christianity by this one chapter than by all the rest of the Bible.

              4) Jewish Belief Is Based Solely On National Revelation

              Claim: Throughout history, thousands of religions have been started by individuals, attempting to convince people that he or she is God’s true prophet. But personal revelation is an extremely weak basis for a religion because one can never know if it is indeed true. Since others did not hear God speak to this person, they have to take his word for it.

              Even if the individual claiming personal revelation performs miracles, there is still no verification that he is a genuine prophet. Therefore, Judaism is not miracles. It is the personal eyewitness experience of every man, woman and child, standing at Mount Sinai 3,300 years ago.

              Response: God did speak to the people once, and they asked Him not to ever do that again, but to appoint prophets to speak for Him (Deut. 18:15-18).  Thereafter God only spoke to the nation through those He appointed as prophets.

              Moreover, the idea that Judaism isn’t miracles simply doesn’t hold up under inspection. When the Israelites were resigned to certain defeat at the hands of the Egyptians, God had Moses part the Red Sea to give them an escape route (Exodus 14:15-31). When there wasn’t enough time in the day to defeat their enemies, Joshua asked God to make the sun stand still, and He did (Joshua 10:12-15). When they couldn’t decide whether to worship Baal or God, Elijah used a miracle to persuade them to follow God (1 Kings 18:16-39).

              Their whole religious system was based on the evidence God regularly provided through miracles. According to their traditions, the smoke from their offerings always rose straight into heaven no matter how strong the wind was blowing or from what direction. When the scapegoat died on Yom Kippur, a scarlet ribbon tied to the Temple door always turned white to signify their sins had been forgiven in fulfillment of Isaiah 1:18. And what about the Passover, was that not a miraculous event? Their history is full of miracles God provided to give support to Israel’s faith. It’s the Church who is asked to believe on the strength of faith in God’s revealed word alone.

              We’re just over half way through the list of seven reasons the anti-missionaries give to explain why the Jews reject Jesus as their Messiah. But already we’ve had a great chance to see from the Old Testament that Jesus is indeed the Messiah of Israel. We’ll take the balance next time.

              • Meril Jeffery John.J

                Every saint has a dark past. Even good people make wrong choices and costly mistakes. Actually it is their bad past that mold and shape them into good people. They've faced the hash consequences of their choices, paid the high cost for their mistakes, and tasted the bitter experience of regret. They've been toughened by trials and cleansed by tears. They've been taught by unforgettable experiences and have graduated from the School of Hard Knocks. They've walked past the gates of hell and through the jaws of death, and they have permanent scars and deep wounds to prove it. They've tried it all, been through it all, done it all and seen it all. They've learned their lessons and are ready to start a new life. They don't need constant reminders of where they've been. They're trying hard to forget the past and make a fresh start. Give them hope not "I told you so" lectures. Give them a chance to gather their broken pieces, space to rebuild their lives, time to outgrow and overcome their past, and the opportunity to prove their repentance and to earn your trust. Society may shun them, family and friends may judge them, banks may deny them credit, employers my refuse to hire them but to such Jesus says, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." Luke 19:5. "I do not condemn you, either. Go and sin no more." John 8:11

                • Meril Jeffery John.J
                  Meril Jeffery John.J uploaded 25 images to an album Bible Words & Messages [1008 images]
                  This Album contains Bible Words & Messages in Image..
                • I love the Blessed Mother! There…I said it and I’m glad I did! As a Catholic, I’m so blessed to be a member of the Church that truly honors and respects the Mother of my Lord and Savior. I must admit that, even though I’m a cradle Catholic, I didn’t always feel this way. In fact, for most of my life I didn’t understand Mary’s role or care about her too much. What a mistake! Now, after several recent accusations of “Mary worship” on my Facebook page, it’s time to stand up for my “Mom”. And, even though I love her and want to defend her honor, I have no intention of getting nasty. Rather, I’d prefer to present 5 facts about Mary. Before you accuse Catholics of worshiping Mary, I ask you to take a long hard look at these facts. They have a way of poking holes in the theory that we place too much emphasis on Mary. If you still want to accuse Catholics of worshiping Mary, then I suggest you ignore these facts!

                  1. God Sent The Savior Through Mary – I list this one first because it’s really tough to downplay Mary’s importance while acknowledging that the long awaiting Messiah came to earth by being born of a woman…and that woman was Mary. Out of all the ways that Jesus could have come to earth, why was Mary chosen? If Mary was important to God, shouldn’t she mean something to us?

                  2. Jesus Performed His First Miracle At Mary’s Request - This is another good one. Oh I know, Jesus didn’t need Mary to turn the water into wine at Cana. She just happened to be there. OK, why then did St. John list Mary FIRST in his list of wedding guests?

                  On the third day there was a marriage at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; Jesus also was invited to the marriage with His disciples. (John 2:1-2)

                  If Mary is not important in this saga, why is she listed BEFORE the apostles and BEFORE Jesus? St. John the Evangelist was not known for inserting extraneous details. Mary is listed first because John wants to call the readers’ attention to her presence at the wedding.

                  But what about “the rebuke”? You know, the argument that Jesus was telling Mary to “butt out” when He stated:

                  “O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” (John 2:4)

                  Jesus was a devout Jew and an obedient follower of the Ten Commandments. Why would He publicly dishonor His mother in violation of the Fourth Commandment? Secondly, if this was such a “put down” by Jesus, why did He go ahead and perform the miracle of changing water into wine? Wouldn’t that have been the end of the request. Of course it would, unless He wasn’t putting Mary down. When His mother interceded on behalf of the couple, Our Lord decided that His time had now come. Don’t you think Jesus is trying to tell us something? Isn’t is probable that Jesus waited until Mary’s request, in order to show us her intercessory power? Doesn’t that explain why St. John listed her first among the guests?

                  3. Jesus Gave Mary To John From The Cross – As He suffered and died on the Cross, Jesus made a very profound statement:

                  When Jesus saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing near, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. (John 19:26-27)

                  Why, while struggling to speak as He hung on the Cross, would Jesus have spoken these words if they didn’t mean anything? Could He have been making small talk? Obviously, there was a reason that Our Lord did what He did. The Church has always believed that John represented each member of the Church and that, from that moment on, Mary became our spiritual mother. Scripture tells us that, on that day John accepted Jesus’ gift and “took her to his own home” (John 19:27). Shouldn’t we do the same?

                  4. Jesus’ First Graces Were Given Through Mary – This is a fact that frequently gets overlooked by those who wish to downplay Mary’s importance…and it comes straight from the Bible! After accepting God’s offer to become the Mother of the Savior, Mary traveled “in haste” to visit her relative, Elizabeth.

                  And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the child leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. (Luke 1:41)

                  According to this Bible passage, before Jesus was even born, Mary’s voice was used to deliver the graces to Elizabeth. Why? Because she’s not important? Isn’t there some other way, these graces could have been dispensed?

                  Not convinced? Listen to what Elizabeth had to say (also directly from the Bible)…

                  “For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the child in my womb leaped for joy.” (Luke 1:44)

                  It’s pretty hard to deny the importance of Mary’s presence and voice in dispensing these graces to Elizabeth. Did the graces originate from Mary? No, they obviously came from Jesus. However, He chose to have Mary make the journey and use her voice to deliver them. Why? Because He wants us to realize that she is important!

                  5. Jesus Christ Is The Sole Mediator Between God And Man - Now, this doesn’t make sense. How does this help to support the Catholic position? This is why we Catholics “have it all wrong”, isn’t it? Sorry if I’m bursting anyone’s bubble, but Catholics absolutely believe that Jesus Christ is the sole mediator between God and man. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) clearly states this belief:

                  Intercession is a prayer of petition which leads us to pray as Jesus did. He is the one intercessor with the Father on behalf of all men, especially sinners. (CCC 2634)

                  This Catholic teaching is supported by the following Bible passage:

                  For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all. (1 Timothy 2:5-6)

                  Although Jesus Christ is the sole mediator between God and man, that doesn’t preclude others (including Mary) from being involved in a subordinate mediation, or intercession. Saint Paul, who made the above statement, is obviously aware of that fact since he several times urges his readers to pray for each other (Romans 1:9, 1 Thessalonians 5:25, 1 Timothy 2:1). The Catechism refers to this type of intercession as being a “participation in the intercession of Christ” (CCC 2635) and is put into practice each time we pray for one another. Asking Mary to intercede for us in no way takes away from Jesus’ role as mediator between God and men.

                  While I’m not naive enough to think that listing these 5 facts will render me immune from further accusations of “Mary worship”, I do think that they will have an effect if looked at with an open mind. Sacred Scripture does not contain a lot of words about Mary, but what’s there is powerful. Theologians have spent 2,000 years studying her Biblical appearances and will continue to do so. We can learn much by studying Mary’s role as documented in the pages of the Bible. If anyone wants to accuse me of being a “Mary worshiper”, I ask you to first look at these 5 facts. If you still want to point a finger, you’ll need to ignore these factual statements…because accepting them will seriously undermine your credibility!

                  Article Source: catholicexchange

                  • Meril Jeffery John.J

                    Our Lady of Manaoag

                    Our Lady of Manaoag (Spanish: 'Nuestra Señora del Santissimo Rosario de Manaoag') formally known as Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of Manaoag is a title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary, associated with a statue in Manaoag, Pangasinan from the 16th century. She is the patroness of the sick, the helpless and the needy.

                    The church is one of the Philippines' most widely visited Roman Catholic Pilgrimage sites. Many people from across the Philippine archipelago come and visit the town of Manaoag, where the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary is enshrined in a church dedicated to this name. The church is administered by the Dominican Order in the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan.

                    Manaoag the call with a message:

                    Manaoag is 385 years old. Progress and modernity has altered the landscape but much of its natural features remain. The winding rivers that have carried the water from the mountain streams up north of the Lingayen Gulf still flow their course. The hills, once verdant with thick forests are still there but are now laid bold by the inroads of human civilization. The traces of its early recorded history can be seen in several places. There are the portions of the massive brick walls of the churchyard and the cemetery which have been built several centuries ago. And there are few old houses according to the design of past architectural eras which can be found standing alongside modern glass-louvered bungalows and 2-storey residences.

                    MANAOAG : It’s beginning:

                    Manaoag occupies an idyllic sit. It lies where the chain of low hills that are part of the Sierra Madre ranges meet with the wide level plains of Central Luzon. It shares a common boundary with Pozorrubio in the north; Binalonan in the east; Urdaneta and Mapandan in the south, and San Jacinto and Sison in the west and northwest. It is traversed that the three narrow rivers and several streams that wind their way up west. Centuries of sitting raised the bed of these rivers and during the rainy months they swell up easily. Very often they cause floods that cause havoc to life and property. Almost every year, the southern barrios get cut off from the poblacion when the flood waters carry away the weak wooden bridges that span these rivers.

                    Manaoag has an area of about 9,600 hectares and a population of about 57 thousand. The chief industry of the people is farming and the main crops are rice and sugar cane. Other crops are tobacco, vegetables, peanuts and corn. Minor industries are handicrafts, animal raising and quarrying.

                    The town boasts of the first mechanized sugar mill in the country but at the present its Hind Sugar Central is the smallest in the country. The reason for this is the absence here of the large sugar cane haciendas. Millers here are small cane planters who own small-sized plantations. There are many marginal planters who sell their cane to quota holders of this and other centrals in neighboring Tarlac province. Others mill their cane in small presses called “darapilan” and produce molasses which they sell to manufacturers of “bucayo” in Calasiao and Dagupan City. Still others ferment the cane juice into vinegar or “basi.”

                    Outside its boundary, Manaoag is known more as a pilgrimage town than anything else. Every Saturday and Sunday, thousands ofpeople converge in this town to attend Mass in the venerable Catholic Church. Center of devotion is the Lady of the Holy Rosary, otherwise known locally as Nuestra Senora de Manaoag or just plain Apo Baket.

                    The ivory image of the Lady which is enshrined in the high altar of the Church is several centuries old and is said to possess miraculous powers. Pilgrimages reaches their peak during the Lenten Season and in May and October during the feast of the Holy Rosary.

                    Its History:

                    The earliest known history of Manaoag tells as that it began as a small settlement of Cawili, now the town of San Jacinto. In about the year1600 some people set out settlement on the west side of what is known today as the Baloquin River. They built their houses of bamboo and cogon grass, both of which grew abundantly in the hills nearby. The settlement grew and prospered and became the envy of the mountain tribes in the north. Very often these hardy mountaineers would come down and raid the settlements. The inhabitants would flee in terror and seek refuge in the nearby bamboo forests.

                    Later on, a Christian mission was set up in the place. There were times when the priests came and could not find the natives. Then they would say “fugaron” (they have fled) and would point to a place nearby where the natives fled for safety. From the word came the name “pugaro” which became the name of the barrio north of the Poblacion.

                    The Early Missions:

                    The earliest Christian mission in Manaoag was established by the Augustinians sometime between 1595 and 1600. The province of Pangasinan was then under their pastoral care and missionaries from Lingayen occasionally visited the settlement by the Baloquin river. In time the people of the settlement were converted to Christianity and a small mission chapel was built to serve religious needs of the settlers. The mission was placed under the patronage of Sta. Monica and for sometime, Manaoag was simply known as the mission of Sta. Monica.

                    At about the same time however, the Augustinians began withdrawing from Pangasinan to Zambales and the Ilocos Region. So Bishop Diego de Soria, O.P. who was at that time Archbishop and governor of Manila and also administrator of the province of Pangasinan, offered the province to Dominican confreres. The earliest Dominican arrived in Pangasinan at Binalatongan (now San Carlos City) in 1598, and in the year 1600, they took over the Mangaldan mission. Since Mangaldan was the nearest Dominican outpost to Manaoag, the mission of Sta. Monica by the Baloquin river was taken over by the Mangaldan mission. The first Dominican priest to work in the mission was Fr. Juan de San Jacinto, O.P. who was also the curate of Mangaldan. It was not until 1608, however, that the Sta. Monica mission was formally accepted by the provincial chapter of the Dominican Order. In 1600, Fr. Tomas Jimenez, O.P. took over the mission as the first resident priest.

                    Relocation of the Mission:

                    The residency of a priest in the small Christian community of Sta. Monica did not, however, stop the predations of the mountain tribes upon the settlement. Moved by his concern for the safety of the settlers and upon the urging of Fr. Juan de San Jacinto, Fr. Jimenez moved the settlement across the river in what is now the present poblacion. But even with this move, the Dominican father knew the incursions of the pagan tribes will continue, and that only the super power of Divine Providence can assure the safety of the people. And so, as true advocates of the Virgin Mary, the Dominican fathers placed the settlement under her care and under the title as Queen of the Most Holy Rosary.

                    Accordingly, Fr. Jimenez built a chapel of light materials for the relocated community and placed in its altar the ivory image of the Lady of the Rosary which Father Juan de san Jacinto brought along from Spain via Acapulco.

                    For their part, the people matched the fervor of their pastor thru their devotion to the Mother of Christ. They learned the prayers and devotions fervently and for this, they earned bountiful merits from her.

                    The plea : “Son I want a Church . . .”

                    She Appeared:

                    Folk tradition has it that the Blessed Mother showed herself to a middle-aged farmer and gave him a message on where she wanted her church to be located. The meeting was dramatic. She showed herself on a low tree amidst the glow of heavenly light.

                    It is said that the man was on his way home from a grueling day in his farm. Foremost in his mind of course, was his family. He worried about his home and his crops which he knew would be laid to waste anytime the raiders come for another depredation. Faced with this hopeless prospect, he resorted to the wellsprings of his faith. He has been taught by the good Padre to have full trust and faith in the goodness and mercy of God and in the protection offered by the Heavenly Mother. These thoughts came to him. He sighed resignedly to Virgin Mary and somehow his fears vanished as he continued his slow pace homeward.

                    As he followed the path from the hill in the deepening dusk, he became aware of a mysterious light coming from somewhere. He turned to the west to assure himself that he was not being deceived, and sure enough he saw that the sun has set. He made a full stop and turned his gaze to the light - - a tree nearby. Instantly, he recognized the radiant face of a woman holding an infant in her arms. Unable to grasp the significance of the phenomenon and overcame by superstition, he wanted to run. In a

                    moment of hesitation he heard a sweet voice called out his name. He stood transfixed at the smiling face of the mysterious lady. He knelt down. She continued in her singularly sweet voice, “Son, I want a church here in my honor. My children shall receive many favors in this place.”

                    The Tradition:

                    We can surmise that such joy from the extraordinary experience would not remain locked up in the breast of the man but would overflow to others. Conceivably, he told his tale to his wife and children then to his close relatives and friends. But when he went to tell it to the Padre, he got a different reception. The old Padre not only did not believe him but went on to insinuate that the man was suffering from hallucination that was induced by the extreme heat of the day.

                    We can imagine the dismay of the man about the reaction of his spiritual counselor. He and his fellows in the settlement have been monitored on the love and veneration of the Blessed Lady of the Rosary and in a moment of truth, should be asked to reject the revelation of Herself. And yet he was a witness of it all!

                    Nevertheless, the story spread fare and wide. People in the neighboring settlements heard of it and they came to verify it. These went home not only assured in the truth but they also felt that their petitions have been answered. The pilgrimages to the Lady developed into a tradition, They felt they had to make a visit to the Shrine at least once a year to fulfill a vow, make new petitions to Her, and offer the devotion.

                    The Name:

                    The birth of the tradition came with the birth of a new name for the settlement. Coming home from their visit to the Lady and on being asked along the way from whence they came, the early pilgrims would point to the general direction of the settlement and answer, “Dimad Apo ya mantatawag,” or “from the Lady who calls.”

                    It is significant to note in their answer showed their spontaneous belief in the “revelation’ of the Blessed Virgin. That they referred to the place as“where the Virgin calls,”rather than Sta. Monica, means that they placed more significance to the “incident”rather than the place.

                    In time the rest of the words in the phrase were dropped and a derivation was substituted - - MANAOAG- -. Thus remained the name of the town.

                    The traditional pilgrimages continue to this day. The early pilgrims came in animal-drawn carts from as far as the Ilocos Region, Zambales, and Tarlac. Old people recall the long caravans that use to come during the Holy Week. Now they come in chartered busses from as far as Cagayan Valley and Southern Tagalog. Others come in Cadillacs, Mustangs, Toyotas, Beetles, and Minicas. The poor, the wealthy, the educated, the ignoramus, the sinners and the near-saints- - all come to the “calling Virgin”to find favor and spiritual consolation from Her. And they go away feeling satisfied and rewarded.

                    The Sanctuary Church of Manaoag:

                    History tells us that a crude chapel made of light materials and nipa was erected on the spot where the Virgin is said to have appeared .On its altar was placed the Spanish statue of our Lady of the Rosary which Fr. Juan de San Jacinto brought from Mexico. But in order to give the Virgin a more fitting house of veneration, a large wooden church was erected by Fr. Diego de Ballesteros. He erected it side by side with the original mission Chapel of Sta. Monica in Baloquin. The construction was meticulously supervised by the priest who all the time believed that the alleged vision of the rural folk was merely the product of the tropical heat in the side of the world.

                    However, about the year 1699 or 1670 when the new church was completed and the transfer of the Image was set, a mysterious incident happened. In the morning of that day a large crowd assembled by the nipa chapel to accompany the Lady to Her new home. But the devout congregation was struck dump when some people rushed in nervously shouting that the new church has disappeared. The priest and some of the people rushed to verify the news. Indeed what they found told the truth. They could not find any trace of the church – not even a scrap of wood could be found on the hard beaten ground. The event left no room for suspicion of arson or any sort of banditry for the site looked as if nothing had touched the virgin soil. The people gave countless interpretations of the mystery, but everybody agreed that the Lady did not want her throne in any other place except at the spot she indicated in her appearance several decades ago.

                    The enthusiasm of the inhabitants and the pilgrims became even more ardent after the disappearance of the Baloquin church. Everyone was more convinced that the vision was true, that it was a Divine plan and no one could hinder it. Hence, plans were laid out to build a larger and stronger church made of bricks to replace the run-down chapel.

                    At the start of the eighteenth century, in 1710, a very devout Spanish caballero and a member of the Dominican Third Order, Don Gaspar Gamboa and his wife Dona Agatha Yangta, came out with a promise to shoulder whatever cost the construction would incur. In the same year, the construction was started. Many laborers were hired while there were others who volunteered their services. As others baked clay for the bricks, others would carry the finished material to the construction site where they were placed on the planned area. Day after day, the new church took shape. In no time it was finished. And look and behold, it was a magnificent edifice. The natives and especially the pilgrims were delighted at the new home of the Blessed Mother.

                    The façade of the church gaped with three big doors. Above each of these were three huge wooden windows that gave enough light and color to the choir loft. To the left, a soaring cylindrical tower of monumental beauty was built, of solid cut stones.

                    Simultaneous with the construction of the new church, Don Gaspar built a big chapel of bricks near the Baloquin river. This was not to replace the church that had disappeared mysteriously, but as a repository of the image since all penitential processions of the pilgrims traditionally started at this point. Surely not a trace of this church can be found today; for each stone and brick has been carried away by pilgrims who treasured relics or souvenirs of their visit to the ever watchful Virgin of Manaoag.

                    The Turn Over:

                    In 1722 Don Gaspar, the chief patron of the new church, signed the perpetual documents turning over the edifice and the Balaquin chapel to the Dominican Province of the Holy Rosary. He did not however, live long to enjoy praying in the church he built; he was called by his Creator soon after. On April 13, 1733, his wife, Dona Agatha Yangta ratified the donation of her husband before the civil court in Lingayen.

                    Having taken possession and care of the Sanctuary Church, the Dominican Fathers started renovating the interior in 1739. Rosary imageries were installed to enhance the splendor of the interior. Then a thick wall was built dividing the nave in order to give room for a spacious sacristy. The remodeling took 30 years to finish but the real artistic touch was yet to follow. In 1777, huge columns were erected at the side chapel of Our Lady. Each one supported a medallion representing each one of the 15 mysteries of the Rosary. Also in addition that year, the Lady was enthroned in a case gilded with solid silver.

                    THE CHALLENGES: And Disasters Came . . . .

                    As years went by, countless merits of the church were recorded. It withstood several calamities but in 1832 to 1833, four successive earthquakes so weakened the structure and it crumbled to pieces. After that catastrophe, a makeshift shelter inside the remaining walls was built for Our Lady so the congregation and pilgrims could continue their devotions to Her. And they came despite the inconveniences.

                    Paradoxically, for reasons unknown, no immediate effort was made to piece together the church; instead a hugh bell weighing 2,000 kilos was purchased in 1840. This bell pealed through the years as if it were the Lady Herself calling the faithful to Her. And whenever it rang, it added festive and soul-lifting air to the atmosphere.

                    It took long years to rebuild the church. The priests made study of materials and they decided that corrugated galvanized iron was a better roof than tiles. But hardly had the roof been placed, when in 1880 another intense earthquake struck and damaged the church. The soaring tower cracked from top to bottom and was condemned as a hazard. It was manually torn down and its bells were lowered down. For a long period of time the bells stayed under trees behind the church, exposed to the vagaries of nature.

                    Two years later, in 1882, Fr. Hilario del Campo, commenced the restoration of damaged portions of the church. Wanting to make sturdier and larger structure, he made deep drillings at the transepts and filled these with concrete. The four huge columns that support the dome of the present church rest on the 10-meter foundation which he laid. Repair and restoration work has gone for a decade and was nearing completion when a more destructive earthquake struck again. The wings of the enlarged transepts and every new addition buckled down. Thus everything that remained standing had to be razed to the ground once more.

                    To provide shelter of Our Lady of the Rosary and a repository of the sacred vessels including the silver altar, a small bamboo chapel was built at the site presently occupied by the new buildings of the Holy Rosary Academy south of the church. In the meantime the priests started building the church anew by making use of the old rubbles. Huge reinforcing columns, 3 meters in diameter were built to reinforce the walls. By 1896, when the winds of revolution were blowing, the thick walls were already standing and roofing it had started. The work however, was badly hampered by the revolution. The priests hid themselves from the insurgents and the laborers were outlawed.

                    The Flight:

                    Inevitably, the Spanish priests were captured and brought to Manila as detainees. But before that, Fr. Jose Puente, O.P. was able to smuggle the image of the Our Lady from Manaoag to Dagupan for safekeeping,

                    The flight of the image from Manaoag to Dagupan was no less heroic than the earlier trials. Fr. Puente knew that his attempt cannot be kept secret from the people and that sooner or later the insurgents would know about it. He was sure that there was an attempt to capture the image, and him with it. He also knew that he could rely on no one except on his faith in the Devine providence. He loaded the image in a carabao drawn cart and started for Dagupan. On the way, simple peasant men volunteered to accompany him. Armed with bolos, these simple men fought the insurgents in Mangaldan who staged an ambush. Not a few of them sacrificed their lives in that battle.

                    Finally, the Lady reached Dagupan, as if in exile. She took shelter in the Dagupan church. Every now and then news would leak that the insurgents would ransack the church and divest it of its precious ornaments and sacred vessels. But every time these plots became known, pious laymen, especially the Dominican Tertiaries would secretly bring the image to their homes, Here the Lady who is the Refuge of sinners, became a refugee from sinners.

                    Meanwhile, on May 10, 1898, the ravaging insurgents ransacked the makeshift chapel in Manaoag and divested it of the treasures that were still housed there—the gold, silver and bronze wares, the sacred vessels, candelabra, chandeliers, the silver throne of Our Lady and numerous religious articles. After having looted the church of its valuables, the insurgents burned it down.

                    Looting of the churches was the order of the day during this period. The insurgents were in bad need of metals to cast into cannons, firearms and ammunitions. Even the Vicar general of Vigan, Fr. Gregorio Aglipay made several circular letters admonishing and ordering Catholic parish priests to hand over to the military at the Jefatura in Dagupan the much needed metals from their churches for the sake of God and country.

                    The Return of the Dominicans to Pangasinan:

                    The Philippine church suffered a lot during the Filipino-Spanish-American war. Parochial churches in Pangasinan that were manned by Spanish Dominicans were left without shepherds. A wave of nationalism brought about demands that these churches be turned over to the Filipino Clergy.

                    During these hard times, an exemplary and saintly priest came to the succor of the abandoned flock in Manaoag. He was Fr. Mariano Pacis. He built a small convent and bible chapel where the scattered flock could gather to fulfill their religious obligations and to pray for better times. It was probably because of this that Manaoag was saved as holocaust of the insurrection.

                    The war ended with the Treaty of Paris. The Spanish priests were again permitted to return to their former posts. But with all the raging agitation for the Filipinization of Parishes, the Spanish Dominicans refuse to return to Pangasinan. However, the Bishop of Nueva Segovia insisted on their return at least to their first establishments in Pangasinan. Finally, they acceded to the pleas of high Ecclesiastical authority, but instead of Binalatongan (San Carlos City), they chose the Sanctuary of Manaoag which was donated to the province of the Holy Rosary with inalienable rights. At the end of 1901, the Dominican Provincial sent three priests to Manaoag, namely: Fathers Cipriano Pamliega, Mariano Revilla, and Jose Bartolo. They were delighted to find Fr. Pacis in his small convent. Since they could not as yet stay in the old convento because it was occupied by the members of the American armed forces, the four priests stayed together in Fr. Pacis’convento hut. It was not until January 16, 1902, when the Americans moved out that the priests were able to settle in their own home.

                    Times were bleak and uncertain for the priests. The hangover of anti-Spanish feelings was still around. But for them, a mission has to be done, in particular to care for the Sanctuary of Our Lady. So as soon as they had settled down, they set out to roof the unfinished church.

                    But at the outset, they left the wings of the transept untouched because of financial difficulties. The covering of the whole church was finally finished in 1906, although much remained to be done in the interior.

                    Improvement of the interior of the church continued. Every day after mass, sharp staccato chirpings of chisels and hammers filled the interior of the church as workmen etched on the intricate design of the main altar, the niche and the throne of the Blessed Virgin. In 1909 when the church was again fit to be the home of the Heavenly Mother, its image in Dagupan was brought home and enthroned in her own shrine.

                    All major works on the church were completed between the years 1911 and 1920 except the belfry and the wings of the transepts. The restoration of the Blessed Virgin to her original home in the Sanctuary Church however brought in more devotees and pilgrims. In gratitude for favors received, they poured in their hard earned centavos and nickels. In this manner, funds were raised to purchase a nickel plated carriage on which her image is borne during processions. This also enabled the Dominican Fathers to finish the work on the colossal dome in 1913. It was in this manner, that devotees of Mary, the Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, built the present church by themselves. As it stands today, it measures 89 meters long and 13.65 meters wide. The dome is 35 meters high. The belfry is 40 meters high.

                    In 1937, the Sanctuary Church of Manaoag was awarded the Merit of Recognition by the Philippine Historical Research and Markers Committee. Through its chairmen, Walter Robb and Fr. Miguel Selga, S.J., the historical marker was affixed to the church’s wall near the main door in March that year. The Marker reads:

                    Administered since 1605 by the Dominicans, the first church of wood lasted a century. The second one which was of stone was built through the generosity of Gaspar de Gambao and Agatha Yangta, and inaugurated in 1720. In 1733, it was donated to the Dominican Corporation, but was destroyed by the earthquake of 1892. The provisional church built of wood, was burned during the insurrection of 1898. The reconstruction of the present church began in 1901 with the return of the Dominicans.

                    The image of the Nuestra Senora de Manaoag is famous throughout Pangasinan. It was preserved in Dagupan during the Revolution, then taken back to the Sanctuary by the people of Manaoag where it was solemnly crowned on April 21, 1926., in the presence of thousands of faithful, by Mons. Guillermo Piani, Apostolic Delegate of the Philippines.

                    The plaque was solemnly unveiled on April 14, 1937, by the members of the committee of the Historical Commission, with the customary church-pageantry. The main speech was delivered by the Bishop of Pangasinan, Mons. Cesar Ma. Guererro and the response was made by Fr. Basilio Martin, O.P., curator of the Sanctuary. That day also coincided with the traditional fiesta of Our Lady, hence a huge crowed witnessed the occasion.

                    The Sanctuary Church During the World War II:

                    The Japanese invasion and subsequent occupation of the country during World War II did not spare the Sanctuary Church from the ravages of war. During the initial stages, the priests themselves went in hiding and so, for a time, the church was closed. When fighting stopped and an uncertain peace returned, the church was opened once more. However, due to the difficulty of travel and restrictions imposed on the movement of people by the occupation forces, pilgrimages stopped. The priests came out from hiding and performed services for the few who dared attend services.

                    It was during the liberation period that the Church suffered slight damages. General McArthur’s forces landed in nearby San Fabian and from there, they conducted an intense bombing and bombardment of big buildings in the surrounding towns which were suspected housing enemy troops. Eyewitnesses recall how one plane dropped 4 bombs intended for the church. Three landed on the patio where they exploded causing damage to the façade. One fell through the church’s roof but did not explode. In that Trial, a religious brother was killed. He was rushing to the church to secure the Image of the Virgin w hen the bombs fell and exploded.

                    The Lady and the Shrine Today:

                    The end of the war ushered peace and prosperity. The church was repaired and the scars of war were patched up. The pilgrims returned in even greater numbers, presumably eager to see their Blessed Mother again and to offer prayers of thanksgiving for having been spared. For those who suffered misfortunes, they came to seek consolation from the “Calling Virgin.”

                    Immediately after the liberation, a school was opened beside the church to cater to the youth who have been shut off from school during the war. In no time the school population was exerting pressure on the Convent. They crowed into the halls and corridors. It soon became apparent that a new residence for the priests was needed.

                    In 1952, work started on the new convent and the belfry. In 2 years, both structures were finished and in 1954, the Marian Year, they were inaugurated. Since then, many more changes and improvements have been introduced in line with the principles and concepts laid down by Vatican II. In 1960 during the period of experimentation of Liturgical Renewal, an elevated wood platform was built on the head nave. The Altar for the Mass was then brought closer to the people. The Blessed Sacrament was placed on a ledge built into the left forward column of the dome.

                    In May 1973, the church again suffered minor misfortune. Times were hard and there was great demand for antiques. This motivated the person or persons who one night robbed the Blessed Lady of her golden crown and her pendant Cross. The crown which was never been recovered was ages-old and the pendant Cross used to be pectoral cross of the bishop-saint of Vietnam, the Blessed Geronimo Hermosilla. The crown was since been replaced through generous donations of the faithful.

                    Today the Sanctuary-Church is under the administration and care of Filipino Dominicans. It was turned over to them in 1972, with Rev. Fr. Crispin Marqueses, O.P. as the First Prior. He, however did not stay long in his post due to ill health. A year after, he was replaced by Rev. Fr. Reynaldo Adalid, O.P., Rev Fr. Domingo Nacion succeeded him. Fr Patricio Apa, O.P. and Rev. Fr. Orlando Aceron, O.P., became the Prior one after the other. The change and development in the administration augurs well for the progress and upliftment of the Shrine. Last July 13, 1989, Rev. Fr. George O. Moreno, O.P., was elected Prior of the Convent.

                    To keep pace with the varied needs of the apostolate in Manaoag, a simple but multi-functional parish hall was built during the tenure of Fr. Salazar, O.P. as parish priest. Among other things, the two story structure can double as a makeshift accommodation for a limited number of pilgrims who may have to stay overnight if they are from distant towns. Under Fr. Arthur Festin, O.P., the incumbent Parish Priest, the parish hall will undergo some modifications so that it can be the venue for the Parish Free Clinic Program which will go full blast on September 28, 1991. Far from being solely a pilgrimage center, Manaoag is also a full pledged parish whose outlying barangays have pastoral needs of their own. To cope with the growing number of the local faithful, the Parish of Our Lady of the Rosary recently embarked on a program which aims to put up concrete chapels which can also serve as multi-purpose halls in the far flung barangays.

                    Lenten services are well attended in Manaoag, so through the generous contributions of devotees a new way of the cross has been laid out to replace the timeworn wooden crosses imbedded in the old perimeter fence. Today, artistic stations of the cross dot the sloping grounds at the back of the church compound at the center of which is found an open-air altar dominated by a statue of the resurrected Christ. There is now a gate at the side of the church compound to give access to the site cleared for the via crusis. It is offered as a free parking area primarily for long-bodied tourist busses, now a common sight in Manaoag, which are difficult to maneuver in the usually congested front yard of the church. Drinking facilities and several picnic tables can be used by pilgrims who usually bring along their meals on day long trips to and from Manaoag.

                    Pilgrims continue to arrive in droves in bad tims or in good times. As devotees com in unheard of numbers in Manaoag, the undeniable poverty of the average Filipino today, along with other human frailties inevitable generate some hard realities. .Gentle persuasion is hardly an effective measure in preventing the immediate church premises from becoming into a virtual market place. Parking areas inside the church compound are entirely free of charge yet once in a while impostors get away with exorbitant fees. These things become all the more lamentable as pilgrims themselves voice out their complaints. It is sadly ironic that as the devotion to Our Lady of Manaoag becomes more widespread, some people have taken advantage of it to further their own shallow interests. The faithful should be aware that a variety of rackets and gimmicks capitalize on the name of Our Lady of Manaoag. Even generous devotees abroad have sometimes fallen prey to no less than knowledgeable and well off personages who falsely claim to represent the Shrine of Our Lady of Manaoag. To help prevent people being misled, the Dominican caretakers of the Shrine have recently put up an official entity called the Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag (Apo Baket) Foundation.

                    Adjacent to the way of the cross, tucked in the quiet eastern corner of the church grounds, is a classic, brick-arched building whose monastic tone is accentuated by the green and shady branches of full grown acacia trees. The long and heady search for the permanent novitiate house for the Philippine Dominican Province finally came to a fruitful end. The very same loving arms of Our Lady that have always bestowed favors to her devotees welcomed the Dominican novices to their new home in Manaoag right under her maternal care. Fr. Edmund Nantes, O.P., the present Master of Novices, coordinated the generous efforts and resources of countless devotees who greatly helped in the construction of the building. In gratitude to the Blessed Mother and reflective of the novices’ sense of religious commitment, the new formation house was inaugurated in 1990 on the day of the Marian feast from which it derives its name: The Dominican Novitiate of the Annunciation.

                    The church building itself is an old infrastructure that constantly needs repair and improvements in order to match the phenomenal increase of the devotees who flock to Manaoag. Plans are afoot to renovate the entire wooden section behind the throne of Our

                    Lady where pilgrims line up to get close to or even touch her image, but for the meantime railings have recently been installed to facilitate the flow of eager devotees. A roofed and spacious facility where devotees can light their candle offerings is presently being constructed in time for the 1991 October Marian festivities. Manaoag is also looking to a department of Tourism proposal to undertake major improvements of the church premises. It is with relief and profound gratitude to the Virgin’s protection that the Manaoag Shrine and the town itself were spared of any major damage during the destructive earthquake of July 1990 otherwise these infrastructural projects would have given way to extensive repair and reconstruction.

                    The increasing multitude of devotees, the growth of the local parish and establishment of the Dominican novitiate demand far more than just infrastructural improvements. Fr. Arthur Pestin, O.P., has slated regular monthly school classes in fifteen public schools all over the municipality in addition to at least five barangay Masses every weekend. In response to the clamor of pilgrims, the present community of seven Dominican priests, with Fr. George Moreno, O.P. as Prior, has come up with a Mass schedule that spans practically the whole morning from five o’clock up to eleven not to mention occasional wedding and funeral Masses in the afternoon. On weekends there is an additional Mass at twelve noon and another one at four thirty. For the greater convenience of the devotees, most of the blessing of religious articles is now routinely done within the church every Mass. In sum, the Dominican apostolate in Manaoag is now composed of the Shrine, the Parish, the Dominican Novitiate, campus ministry In Holy Rosary Academy and in the public schools of the town, spiritual direction for the Dominican family in Northern Luzon plus some assistance to the faculty of philosophy in the seminary in Dagupan.

                    The destructive earthquake of 1990 and the recent volcanic eruption brought about untold sufferings especially to Filipinos in Central and Northern Luzon yet few failed to notice that at the very heart of this region is the Shrine of the “Loving Lady who calls.” This year 1991, will be remembered as the year of Mt. Pinatubo with the destructive lahar that continues to wreck havoc in several provinces. In the face of these crises and in the midst of a badly shaken population, the “call” of the Lady to carry on in love, faith and hope remains unshaken.

                  • The problem protestants have against worshipping Mary isn't the fact that she is some sort of pagan god. Not at all in fact. We know that she was righteous and that she loved God. The problem is that you worship her at all. Jesus was the ONLY perfect one, sent by God. Jesus and God are the only one's that should be prayed too. I'm not trying to force my idea's on you, i just think this is a more accurate description of what evangelicals think.

                    I'm glad our friend understands that we are not worshipping a pagan goddess. I'm also glad that he likes Mary and thinks she was righteous. The difference between him and me is that he says Mary "was" righteous. I suggest that Mary "is" righteous.

                    Catholics believe people in heaven are alive. (Mat 19:29, 25:46, Mat 10:17-22, Mk 10:30, Lk 10:25-30, Lk 18:18-30, Jn 3:15-16). But that's for other articles: "Mary in the Bible" and "Do Catholics Pray to Mary".

                    The fact that we Catholics honour Mary in heaven is part of the reason that some Evangelicals say we worship a pagan goddess. Sadly, John MacArthur, who is a popular Evangelical radio personality, and others accuse us of that.

                    And so we come to address this same age-old goddess heresy of paganism in its newest form with the modern goddess having stolen the name of Mary, a terrible dishonor to her. (John MacArthur, Exposing the Idolatry of Mary Worship: Catholic Dogma, Pt. 1)

                    This is unfortunate because I don't know of any serious Catholic who actually knows anything about pagan religions or their goddesses. When Catholics think of Mary in heaven we think of the mother of Jesus, who is a 24/7 prayer warrior for faithful Christians. Her only goal is to point people toward her Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus.

                    Mary is a "born again" Christian who received the Holy Spirit at the Pentecost and spoke in tongues 2000 years before Pentecostals got the gift. (Acts 1:14, 2:3) She knows how to pray - yes even in tongues 

                    The Evangelical Ralph Woodrow previously held the view that Catholics substituted the historical Mary for a pagan goddess. He wrote a popular book connecting Catholicism to paganism based on an book written in 1857 by Alexander Hislop called, "The Two Babylons." After the integrity of Hislop's research was called into question, Woodrow decided to research these things for himself. He was shocked to find that Hislop's research was faulty (at best) and scandalous (at worst). He has removed his previous book from print and has published instead "The Babylon Connection." On pg 33-38 Woodrow disassembles Hislop's arguments against Mary. He is ashamed of his fellow Evangelicals who use this approach to condemn the Catholic Church's relationship to Mary and is sorry for propagating these views. He is still an Evangelical but no longer associates the Catholic Church with paganism.
                    Is Mary the goddess Gaia?

                    An honest, careful study of the pagan goddess cults will reveal that, apart from a few externals (i.e., the goddess may be considered a virgin and/or mother), they have nothing in common with the Catholic relationship to Mary. The Catholic relationship to Mary cannot compare to the profane, debauched worship once offered to goddesses. The goddess Gaia (Mother Earth) is a symbol that stands for everything that goes against what Mary would have us to believe. Mary would not have us worship the earth, Mary would not have us exalt the sensual pleasure of sex outside of marriage, Mary would not have us profaning the name of her Son Jesus. Mary is not into watering down her Son's message with other religions. Mary is about one thing and one thing only - her Son Jesus.

                    ...every single Roman Catholic I have ever known has regarded Mary as a woman of spotless character, a virgin, one that was totally dedicated to God and virtue - not any of these attributes fit the pagan goddess Semiramis! Her lifestyle was the very opposite. (Ralph Woodrow, The Babylon Connection? pg. 35)

                    Problems with the Syncretism claim

                    Early converts to Christianity from paganism despised the darkness and superstition of their old faiths. Many of them became martyrs who gave their lives rather than offer incense to an image of Caesar. They would never have worshipped Gaia, Isis or Cybele, even under the guise of Jesus' Mother!

                    To accuse the early Church of this would be to doubt the sincerity of the pagans' conversions. These converts were thrown to the lions for their faith in Jesus. Why would they hang onto their old pagan gods? Christians considered pagan deities to be demons, and the formula for Baptism involved (and still involves) a renunciation of Satan. So in order to receive Baptism, catechumens had to renounce their former gods! How could they continue worshipping demons after renouncing them? And why would they identify the Mother of their Savior with demonic impostors? I feel that people who advance that theory are not practising sound reasoning or research.


                    Some may point to a group called the Collyridians, a small fourth-century sect in Arabia, mainly composed of women, who evidently worshipped the Blessed Virgin, offering cakes to her during a religious ceremony. They claim this is an early example of former pagans worshipping Mary as a "goddess."

                    The Collyridians were not Catholic. They were a syncretistic cult which, like the Gnostics and other such groups of that time, blended practices from various religious traditions. They were a heresy. They took the figure of Mary from Catholicism and offered her sacrifices reminiscent of those offered to certain pagan goddesses (see Jeremiah 44:18-19). This was an odd blending of contradictory faiths, but it was never sanctioned by the Catholic Church. In fact, the only reason why we know about this small sect is because Saint Epiphanius, one of the Church Fathers, condemned them in his work called the Panarion.

                    Mother of God?

                    I got an email that said. "Mary needed a savior." Catholics agree Mary needed a Savior. She was saved by her Son. And she was his mother too. Luke 1:46-49

                    My soul magnifies the Lord,
                    And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
                    For He has regarded the lowly state of his maidservant;
                    For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.

                    Mary needed a Saviour and all generations will call her Blessed. This passage is read every night by every priest, nun, sister and religious order in the world. Every day we say Mary needed a Saviour.

                    Some Evangelicals feel that Catholics have turned Mary into a goddess because of the Marian title Mother of God. They seem to think that Catholics call her this because I believe that she gives Jesus his Deity. After Jesus was born the Bible says:

                    "And going into the house they [the Magi] saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him" (Mt 2:11 my emphasis).

                    Let's unpack that line a bit. The Bible calls her by her name, "Mary," and by her title "mother" while the passage calls Jesus by the title "child," which puts him in relation to her at the very moment the Magi worshipped him (as God). I think the Bible was trying to teach us who Mary is in relation to Jesus (God). This appears to be confirmed when Elizabeth said "Who am I that the mother of my Lord would come to me?" (Lk 1:43). Catholics think the title "Mother of God" is very Biblical.

                    In a special way, she is mother of the incarnate God, who is fully God. Jesus didn't become divine some time later in life. He was always God, and Mary gave birth to him as such. The Magi kneeled down and worshiped Jesus, while Mary, his mother, was holding God in her arms. Today, Catholics don't have a problem kneeling in Mary's presence either. She is as much with Jesus today, as she was on that day when she held him, while the Magi kneeled in her presence to worship of him. When we kneel in the presence of Mary it is because she is with her Son, Jesus. I saw a cool bumper sticker that said:

                    "Wise men still find Jesus with his mother."

                    This does not mean that Mary's title "Mother of God" infers that she existed before God. Jesus is present from the beginning of time. "In the Beginning was the Word" (Jn 1.1). In the Old Testament, Jesus was the "rock in the desert" (Exo 17:6, 1 Cor 10:4).

                    The official title "Mother of God" was instituted as a response to a heresy of Nestorious which was an attack on Christ's divinity. The heresy tried to present Jesus as pure spirit who only took on humanity as a convenience, like a coat, thereby separating his human and divine nature. The Council of Ephesus (431 A.D) said that the relationship between the divine and human in Christ was so closely united that the Virgin Mary was actually Theotokos (Mother of God). Far from distracting from the divinity of Jesus, the title "Mother of God" actually affirmed the identity of Jesus as truly God/Man. His divine and human natures were inseparable. Jesus was born of Mary so that He could become Man. If she were some kind of divine being, how could He have derived his humanity from her?

                    Here's what Martin Luther, the founder of the reform said about Mary's title of "Mother of God"

                    "St. Paul says 'God sent his Son born of a woman, ' These words which I hold for true, really sustain quite firmly that Mary is the Mother of God." (Martin Luther, Martin Luther's Works, vol 7, pg 592)

                    "This article of faith- that Mary is the Mother of God- is present in the Church from the beginning and is not a new creation of the council but the presentation of the Gospel and the Scriptures." (Martin Luther, Martin Luther's Works, vol 7, pg 572)

                    "It is certain that Mary is the Mother of the real and true God." (Martin Luther, Martin Luther's Works, vol 24, pg107)

                    ". . . she is rightly called not only the mother of the man, but also the Mother of God. . . . it is certain that Mary is the Mother of the real and true God."
                    Ref: Sermon on John 14. 16: Luther's Works ( (St. Louis, ed. Jaroslav, Pelican, Concordia. vol. 24. p. 107

                    Is Mary the pagan goddess Ishtar?

                    The "Queen of the Universe" statement in the Lumen Gentium (a Catholic document from 1964) causes some people to think the Catholic Church is putting her at the head of heaven. They point out that "Queen of Heaven", was also once applied to Ishtar by her Babylonian devotees (Jeremiah 44:18-19). They think that this somehow proves that Mary and Ishtar are the same being, and that Catholics really worship Ishtar when they honor Mary. First let us look at the Scripture that is being used against the Catholic Church on this matter.

                    Don't you see what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead the dough, to make cakes to the Queen of Heaven, and to pour out drink-offerings to other gods, that they may provoke Me to anger. (Jeremiah 7:17-18)

                    Never has the Catholic Church offered cakes (or any other sacrifice) to Mary. The passage says "and to pour out drink-offerings to other gods." Catholics never have presented any offerings to any but the one true God as found in the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Ghost).

                    The purpose that Mary has been given is laid out in Scripture "My soul magnifies the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior." (Lk 1:46).

                    Many monarchs of different nations are called "Your Majesty" by their subjects, but that does not prove they are all the same person! Numerous pagans also called their gods father, like Zeus, who was called "Father of gods and men", and Odin, the "All-Father." That does not mean that Zeus and Odin are identical with God the Father.

                    My name is David. There have been many convicted murderers named David. There have also been many wonderful leaders named David. Obviously, I am none of them. I am me. And Mary, the mother of Jesus is Mary the Mother of Jesus.

                    It is perhaps understandable that Evangelicals have been alarmed at the "Queen" statement about Mary, given the cultural context of this generation. We live in a time when the Queen of England is the highest in the Commonwealth. There is no king. She wears the commonwealth trousers. She is it. She is the focus. Everyone is talking about the queen and singing "God save the Queen." So it is natural that our contemporary understanding of the word queen would be that she is someone in highest authority. But in a monarchy, such as they have in England, when there is a king, he has the authority.

                    Mary receives all of her graces from the fact that she is related to the King. She works miracles by a whisper in his ear (Jn 2:3). So I don't believe that calling Mary the Queen of the Universe diminishes the King's (Jesus') authority in the least. In fact it reinforces it.

                    Catholics look to Scripture for evidence of Mary's Queenship. Revelation 11:19-12:2 says:

                    Then God's temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple; ... A great portent appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant ... And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron. But her child was snatched away and taken to God and to his throne.

                    This passage presents Jesus as a King. It also presents his Mother wearing a crown in Heaven. Catholic's feel that Scripture is clear.

                    Lumen Gentium

                    I've snipped a few passages from the Lumen Gentium, an official document of the Church from Vatican II. It is often quoted by Evangelicals for its "Queen of Heaven" statement. I think the document accurately makes clear Jesus' authority over heaven and earth:

                    60. There is but one Mediator as we know from the words of the apostle, "for there is one God and one mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a redemption for all." (298) The maternal duty of Mary toward men in no wise obscures or diminishes this unique mediation of Christ, but rather shows his power. For all the salvific influence of the Blessed Virgin on men originates, not from some inner necessity, but from the divine pleasure. It flows forth from the superabundance of the merits of Christ, rests on his mediation, depends entirely on it and draws all its power from it. In no way does it impede, but rather does it foster the immediate union of the faithful with Christ. (298 1 Tim. 2, 5-6).

                    62. ...For no creature could ever be counted as equal with the Incarnate Word and Redeemer. Just as the priesthood of Christ is shared in various ways both by the ministers and by the faithful, and as the one goodness of God is really communicated in different ways to his creatures, so also the unique mediation of the Redeemer does not exclude but rather gives rise to a manifold cooperation which is but a sharing in this one source. The Church does not hesitate to profess this subordinate role of Mary. It knows it through unfailing experience of it and commends it to the hearts of the faithful, so that encouraged by this maternal help they may the more intimately adhere to the Mediator and Redeemer. [Jesus Christ]

                    66. ... according to her own prophetic words: "All generations shall call me blessed, because He that is mighty hath done great things to me." (301) ...while the Mother is honored, the Son, through whom all things have their being (302) and in whom it has pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell,(303) is rightly known, loved and glorified and that all his commands are observed. 301 Lk. 1, 48. 302 Cf. Col. 1, 15-16. 303 Col 1, 19.

                    67. .. But it exhorts theologians and preachers of the divine word to abstain zealously both from all gross exaggerations as well as from petty narrow-mindedness in considering the singular dignity of the Mother of God.(23*) Following the study of Sacred Scripture, the Holy Fathers, the doctors and liturgy of the Church, and under the guidance of the Church's magisterium, let them rightly illustrate the duties and privileges of the Blessed Virgin which always look to Christ, the source of all truth, sanctity and piety.
                    (23) Cfr. Pius XII, Nunius radioph., 24 oct. 1954: AAS 46 (1954) p. 679. Litt. Encycl. Ad coeli Reginam, 11 oct. 1954: AAS 46 (1954) p. 637.

                    Mother and Child Statues

                    Portrayals of Mary holding the Baby Jesus are sometimes said to be copied from statues of Isis holding Horus, or some other goddess holding her child. Motherhood is common to all the cultures of the world, and is a powerful connection for people. It's not hard to believe that this image would have made its way into the various world religions! In fact the Cross has too.

                    Catholics portray Mary holding the Christ Child because that is what she did when He was a baby. Most mothers hold their infants, and Mary held her Son when He was little. That doesn't make her a pagan goddess! We could make the same charge about any artistic portrait of any mother and child, but it would be no more legitimate.

                    "And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him" (Mt 2:11). I don't think the Magi committed idolatry when they bowed down before a Child held by his mother. Would you refuse to fall down and worship Christ if you saw Him in his mother's arms?

                    So when and how did Marian devotion start?

                    It started with the angel Gabriel who said to Mary, "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you" (Luke 1:27). It started when her cousin Elizabeth, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, cried out to her, "Blessed are you among women ...blessed is she who believed" (Luke 1:41-45). It was God who inspired the first honouring of Mary! He even inspired Mary herself to prophesy, "From henceforth all generations shall call me blessed" (Luke 1:47). This is the biblical basis for Marian devotion.

                    The Catholic relationship to Mary did not originate with pagan goddess worship, but with early Christians who despised paganism and would never have adopted its practices.

                    Vatican condemnation of New Age goddesses

                    The Vatican has released a position paper on the New Age. It speaks to how the Pagan, New Age Gaia, mother earth theories work against the Catholic faith and against the faith of all Christians. This is the link to the paper. Below that are excerpts that discuss Gaia Mother Earth.

                    James Lovelock's erroneous book on the Gaia Hypothesis claims that "the entire range of living matter on earth, from whales to viruses, and from oaks to algae, could be regarded as constituting a single living entity, capable of manipulating the Earth's atmosphere to suit its overall needs and endowed with faculties and powers far beyond those of its constituent parts".(38) To some, the Gaia hypothesis is "a strange synthesis of individualism and collectivism. It all happens as if New Age, having plucked people out of fragmentary politics, cannot wait to throw them into the great cauldron of the global mind". The global brain needs institutions with which to rule, in other words, a world government. "To deal with today's problems New Age dreams of a spiritual aristocracy in the style of Plato's Republic, run by secret societies...".(39) This may be an exaggerated way of stating the case, but there is much evidence that gnostic elitism and global governance coincide on many issues in international politics.

                    It can be seen as the heir to movements in the early 20th century that promoted a world government. The consciousness of the unity of humanity sits well with the Gaia hypothesis. ..Positive Thinking: the conviction that people can change physical reality or external circumstances by altering their mental attitude, by thinking positively and constructively.

                    What has been successful is the generalization of ecology as a fascination with nature and resacralisation of the earth, Mother Earth or Gaia, with the missionary zeal characteristic of Green politics. The Earth's executive agent is the human race as a whole, and the harmony and understanding required for responsible governance is increasingly understood to be a global government, with a global ethical framework. The warmth of Mother Earth, whose divinity pervades the whole of creation, is held to bridge the gap between creation and the transcendent Father-God of Judaism and Christianity, and removes the prospect of being judged by such a Being.

                    In such a vision of a closed universe that contains "God" and other spiritual beings along with ourselves, we recognize here an implicit pantheism. This is a fundamental point which pervades all New Age thought and practice, and conditions in advance any otherwise positive assessment where we might be in favor of one or another aspect of its spirituality. As Christians, I believe on the contrary that "man is essentially a creature and remains so for all eternity, so that an absorption of the human 'in the divine' will never be possible"...(31)

                    However, it is enough to point out that New Age shares with a number of internationally influential groups the goal of superseding or transcending particular religions in order to create space for a universal religion which could unite humanity. Closely related to this is a very concerted effort on the part of many institutions to invent a Global Ethic, an ethical framework which would reflect the global nature of contemporary culture, economics and politics. Further, the politicization of ecological questions certainly colours the whole question of the Gaia hypothesis or worship of mother earth.

                    ...the Holy Father remarks on the great interest in spirituality found in the secular world of today, and how other religions are responding to this demand in appealing ways. He goes on to issue a challenge to Christians in this regard: "But we who have received the grace of believing in Christ, the revealer of the Father and the Savior of the world, have a duty to show to what depths the relationship with Christ can lead" (n. 33). To those shopping around in the world's fair of religious proposals, the appeal of Christianity will be felt first of all in the witness of the members of the Church, in their trust, calm, patience and cheerfulness, and in their concrete love of neighbour, all the fruit of their faith nourished in authentic personal prayer.

                    (The Catholic Church wants nothing to do with "Gaia" and that pagan Goddess worshipped by New Agers has nothing whatever to do with Mary the Mother of Jesus)

                    A personal note about Mary

                    Many people wish that this thing about Mary would go away and that the Church would be in greater unity with other Christians if it would.

                    It appears that most of the closed feelings against Mary have crept into the reform movement in the last 100 years. Many great Protestants have had strong feelings for Mary including C.S. Lewis. Most early reformers had strong positive feelings for Mary including Calvin, Heinrich Bullinger, and John Wesley. Even Martin Luther spoke to her in the first person saying:

                    No woman is like you. You are more than Eve or Sarah, blessed above all nobility, wisdom, and sanctity.
                    (Martin Luther Sermon - Feast of the Visitation, 1537)

                    We are not apologists. Apart from all this doctrine and stuff, the reason we believe that Mary is in heaven helping us is because each of us had an experience with Mary that we cannot refute (David's testimony here, Kirsten's testimony here). No one can tell us she is dead. We don't worship her. She is a friend who prays for us and has shown us very cool things about her Son, Jesus. We believe we are better Christians today because of Mary.

                    If you are afraid to talk to Mary, we invite you to:

                    Pray to Jesus about Mary.

                    Any Evangelical would say it is perfectly safe to pray to Jesus about anything. Ask Jesus what's up with Mary. Give him time to respond. We pray you have the same experience that has led to our powerful convictions about the validity of Mary as a helper for the helpless, and a great prayer warrior. 

                    • Meril Jeffery John.J

                      In September 1852 the Sisters of Loreto came, by paddle steamer and by covered wagon, to the Southwest. Their trip, which had begun in Kentucky the previous May on a riverboat steamer which took them up the Mississippi to St. Louis, was at the specific request of Bishop Jean Lamy, who had been appointed Vicar-Apostolic of the New Mexico Territory in 1850. From St. Louis to Independence, Missouri, the Sisters took the steamer "Kansas," but on the way a sorrowful adversity befell the little community. Their beloved Superior, Mother Matilda, came down with cholera and died shortly after arriving in Independence. Two other Sisters also had the disease, but they slowly recovered.

                      After more months of struggles and fears, broken axles and wheels, and scorching days, what was left of the missionary team finally arrived in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Sisters Magdalen, Catherine, Hilaria, and Roberta made up the community. At the direction of Bishop Lamy, Sister Magdalen was appointed Superior of the Sisters. She was a woman of strong faith and firm resolution, and the situation she and her Sisters faced was a difficult one.

                      It was only because these Sisters of Loreto were great-hearted women, thoroughly permeated with an all-consuming love of God, that they were able to brave the hardships of those first years. Bishop Lamy was in the midst of a valiant struggle to preserve the Catholic Faith in "New" Mexico. The formerly Spanish Catholic territory was still groaning under its hostile "takeover" from Mexico in 1848, and the Sisters were not particularly welcome, as far as territorial officials were concerned. Thus, they certainly had no comfortable Convent waiting for them upon their arrival. They lived at first in a little, one-room adobe house. At that time the population of the little city of Santa Fe was still made up mostly of Catholic Mexicans and Indians. Today Santa Fe is a large modern city, the State Capitol, though, with its quaintly narrow streets and Spanish architecture, it still keeps alive the ancient climate of the old "Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Assisi" (The Royal City of the Holy Faith of St. Francis of Assisi), which is its proper name, founded by Spanish Catholic conquistadors and missionaries in 1610.

                      But back in 1852 it soon became quite evident that, if the Sisters were to fulfill the intentions of Bishop Lamy, who had brought them to Santa Fe for the specific purpose of helping him to preserve the Catholic Faith of the people, they would need a Convent and a school to teach their children. Mexican carpenters zealously began to build for the Sisters. The school was swiftly completed and was called "Loreto Academy of Our Lady of Light." Plans were made next for a beautiful Chapel. According to the Sisters' annals for the year 1873, the Chapel was begun on July 25th of that year. It was designed by the same architect, Mr. Mouly, who had designed the Bishop's Cathedral in Santa Fe. Because Bishop Lamy was from France, he wished the Sisters to have a Chapel that was similar to his beloved Sainte Chapelle in Paris. That meant that it was to be strictly European Gothic, in fact, the first Gothic structure west of the Mississippi. It was to be, in many ways, a visible symbol of the courageous Bishop's opposition to "Americanism," which would be condemned by Pope Leo XIII in 1899.

                      French and Italian masons immediately went to work on the new structure. It would be large -- larger in fact -- than most of the mission Chapels in that area. It was to be 25 feet by 75 feet with a height of 85 feet.

                      Mother Magdalen recorded in the annals that the erection of the Chapel was placed under the patronage of St. Joseph "in whose honor we communicated every Wednesday, that he might assist us." Then she adds, "Of his powerful help we have been witnesses on several occasions."

                      The Chapel work progressed with some financial worries and a maximum of faith on the part of the Sisters. It was not until it was nearly finished that they realized that a dreadful mistake had been made. The Chapel itself was beautifully done, and the choir loft was wonderful too, but there was no connecting link between the two. There was no stairway and, because the loft was exceptionally high, there was no room for a stairway as ordinary stairways go. Mother Magdalen called in many carpenters to try to build a stairway; but each, in his turn, measured and thought and then shook his head sadly saying, "It can't be done, Mother." It looked as if there were only two alternatives: to use a ladder to get to the choir which seemed impractical in any case, or to tear the whole thing down and rebuild it differently. The latter would have been a heartbreaking task. However, anyone who knows true Catholic Sisters and their trust in Divine Providence, knows they will not plunge into such a drastic solution to a problem without first saying something like, "Let's wait awhile and make a novena." So the Sisters of Loreto made a novena to St. Joseph for a suitable solution to the problem.

                      On the very last day of the novena, a gray-haired man came up to the Convent with a burro and a tool chest. Approaching Mother Magdalen, he asked if he might try to help the Sisters by building a stairway! Mother gave her consent gladly, and he set to work. According to the story that was later told by some of the Sisters present at the time and passed on to others, the only tools he had were a hammer, a saw and a T-square, and some of the Sisters remembered seeing a few tubs of water for soaking the wood to make it pliable. It is not clear how long he took to complete the work, for when Mother Magdalen went to pay him, he had vanished. She went to the local lumber yard to pay for the wood, at least. They knew nothing of it there. To this day there is no record stating that the job was ever paid for.

                      Santa Fe Stairway as it Appeared without Bannisters The winding stairway that the kindly man had left for the Sisters is a masterpiece of beauty and wonder. It makes two complete 360 degree turns. There is no supporting pole up the center as most circular stairways have. This means that it hangs there with no support! The entire weight is on the base. Some architects have said that by all laws of gravity, it should have crashed to the floor the minute anyone stepped on it, and yet it was used daily for over 80 years.

                      The stairway was put together only with wooden pegs -- there is not a single nail in it. At the time it was built, the stairway had no banisters. These were added later. Among the girls who attended the Academy at the time the stairway was constructed was a girl of about thirteen years. She later became a Loreto Sister, and she never tired of telling how she and her friend were among the first to climb up the stairway. She said that they were so frightened when they got up to the choir that they came down on their hands and knees!

                      Visitors have come from all over the world to see the wonderful stairway. Among them have been architects who, without exception, declare that they cannot understand how the stairway was constructed nor how it remains as sturdy as it is after a century of use. Mr. Urban Weidner, a Santa Fe architect and wood expert, says that he has never seen a circular wooden stairway with 360 degree turns that did not have a supporting pole down the center. One of the most baffling things about the stairway, however, is the perfection of the curves of the stringers. According to Mr. Weidner, the wood is spliced along the sides of the stringers with nine splices on the outside and seven on the inside, each fitted with the greatest precision. Each piece is perfectly curved. How this was done in the 1870's by a single man in an out-of-the-way place with only the most primitive tools is inexplicable to modern architects.

                      Many experts have tried to identify the wood and surmise where it came from. No one has ever been able to give a satisfactory answer to this mystery. The treads were constantly walked on for over 80 years since the stairway was built, but they showed signs of wear only on the edges. Mr. Weidner identifies this wood as "edge-grained fir of some sort." (Others say it is long-leaf yellow pine.) He knows definitely that this hard-wearing wood did not come from New Mexico. Where the mysterious carpenter got this wood is a secret known to him alone.

                      Holy Mother Church is always cautious about making statements concerning things of a supernatural nature. Therefore, the good Loreto Sisters whose prayers were so wonderfully answered, as well as Bishop Lamy, in this spirit, refrained from saying anything definitive about the stairway. But Mother Magdalen and her community of Sisters and students knew that the stairway was St. Joseph's answer to their fervent prayers. Many were convinced that the humble carpenter was St. Joseph himself, as his silent, prayerful labors were precisely the virtues one would expect of the foster-Father of Our Divine Lord.

                      The Convent annals tell us that the Chapel of Our Lady of Light was dedicated by the Bishop on April 25, 1878, and remained as a beautiful testimony of the wondrous power and intercession of good St. Joseph for over 80 years. Tragically, in the devastating aftermath of Vatican Council II, religious vocations dwindled, and the Loreto "sisters" of the new post-conciliar religion, having first betrayed their Order by discarding their traditional religious garb and way of life, ended by betraying the faith and devotion of Mother Magdalen and her Sisters by selling the entire Academy grounds, including the Chapel, to a commercial property developer. Most of the historical monuments of the love for souls, zeal for the Catholic Faith, and pious devotion of Bishop Lamy, Mother Magdalen, and the Sisters who established the Loreto Academy of Our Lady of Light were demolished to make way for monuments of secular "progress" (greed and materialism) upon their ruins. What the secular government had been unable to accomplish for almost a century, the post-Vatican II church did in a matter of a few short years. Even the beautiful shrine of La Conquistadora, by which Bishop Lamy paid homage not only to Our Lady, but also to the glory of the Spanish Catholic "conquest" of New Spain, was removed from its place of prominence in his ancient Cathedral dedicated to Christ the King.

                      Fortunately, however, there was such an outcry from the devoted people of Santa Fe, including many of the alumni of the Academy, that the Chapel with the "miraculous" stairs was preserved as a national monument, albeit amidst the commercialism which surrounds it. To this very day, those who love and revere good St. Joseph, can still go and gaze upon that which is, without doubt, a visible testimony that St. Joseph indisputably finds ways to provide for those who humbly and confidently place their needs in his capable hands.

                      • Meril Jeffery John.J

                        Over the years I have had my fair share of encounters with anti-Catholics. Their arguments against the faith are pretty predictable - one of the most popular being that the Pope is the Antichrist. One of the typical “gotcha” proofs of this claim is the Papal symbol of the upside down or inverted cross, which the anti-Catholic confidently asserts as being satanic. Because of this, they reason, the Pope is himself in league with Satan.

                        The truth of the matter is that the upside down cross is an ancient symbol of St. Peter’s crucifixion. Tradition tells us that when St. Peter was martyred, he insisted that he be crucified upside down as he did not believe himself worth to be crucified in the manner of his Lord.

                        We see an allusion to this in the Gospel of John, when our Lord speaks of the kind of death that Peter would suffer:

                        Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go.” (This he said to show by what death he was to glorify God.) And after this he said to him, “Follow me” (Jn 21:18-19).

                        “You will stretch out your hands.” In the ancient world — particularly in the Christian tradition — “to stretch out one’s hands” was a common reference to crucifixion. The words ‘Follow me’ bespeak imitation of Christ’s example of obedience ‘unto death, even death on a cross’ (Phil 2:8). The chief shepherd would follow the Good Shepherd even in the manner of his death. By the time of the writing of John’s Gospel, Peter’s martyrdom had already occurred, the manner of which was arguably well attested to by his readers.

                        We can trace back the testimony of Peter’s martyrdom to the earliest Christian writers, including Origen, Eusebius of Caesarea, St. Clement of Rome, St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Irenaeus, and Tertullian.

                        In De Præscriptione 36 (c. A.D. 200), Tertullian writes:

                        If thou art near Italy, thou hast Rome where authority is ever within reach. How fortunate is this Church for which the Apostles have poured out their whole teaching with their blood, where Peter has emulated the Passion of the Lord, where Paul was crowned with the death of John.

                        In Scorpiace 15 (c. A.D. 204), he again writes of Peter’s crucifixion:

                        And if a heretic wishes his confidence to rest upon a public record, the archives of the empire will speak, as would the stones of Jerusalem. We read the lives of the Cæsars: At Rome Nero was the first who stained with blood the rising faith. Then is Peter girt by another, when he is made fast to the cross. Then does Paul obtain a birth suited to Roman citizenship, when in Rome he springs to life again ennobled by martyrdom.

                        In his Ecclesiastical History (c. A.D. 325), Eusebius of Caesarea writes:

                        Peter appears to have preached in Pontus, Galatia, Bithynia, Cappadocia, and Asia to the Jews of the dispersion. And at last, having come to Rome, he was crucified head-downwards; for he had requested that he might suffer in this way…. These facts are related by Origen in the third volume of his Commentary on Genesis (III.1).

                        Thus publicly announcing himself as the first among God’s chief enemies, [Nero] was led on to the slaughter of the apostles. It is, therefore, recorded that Paul was beheaded in Rome itself, and that Peter likewise was crucified under Nero. This account of Peter and Paul is substantiated by the fact that their names are preserved in the cemeteries of that place even to the present day (II.25.5).

                        As a result of the manner in which he was crucified, the Church has used the upside down cross (without a corpus, so not a crucifix) to designate Peter, not Christ. The Pope, being the successor of Peter, employs the symbol of the upside down cross as a symbolic reminder of St. Peter's humility and heroic martyrdom. Unlike an upside down crucifix, which seeks to invert and subvert it’s meaning, there is nothing satanic about an upside down cross.

                      • Just because you are a Christian, doesn’t mean that joy, peace and happiness will enter your life automatically. You have to make a conscious decision to be joyful. Yes, you cannot control what happens around you but you have 100% control of what happens inside of you. Regardless of what is happening externally, you must make a conscious decision to remain joyful, peaceful and happy internally. Before you get out of bed, and before you meet people and circumstances, determine in your heart that you’ll have a wonderful day. Don’t allow the Devil to make you worry endlessly, over everything and everyone. Yes, you may be in a stressful situation but it doesn’t mean that you have to get stressed out. There may be threatening storms and stressful situations around you, but never let them get inside of you. Everything around you may not be well but let your song be, “It is well with my soul.”

                        • Meril Jeffery John.J

                          God has never run out of money. His economy sees no recession. Whatever God starts, He will fund it and He will finish it. Do not be anxious. God is not poor, He owns all the money in the world and much more. Haggai 2:8. God is too wise and too rich to let His plans fail for lack of resources. It is the lack of faith, not the lack of resources or the lack of money that fails God's work. God doesn't think small. Therefore don't limit God by the size of your bank account. Plan big and expect a harvest. If its God's will, then it's God's bill.

                          • Meril Jeffery John.J

                            The Miracle of the Sun is a miraculous event witnessed by as many as 100,000 people on 13 October 1917 in the Cova da Iria fields near Fátima, Portugal. Those in attendance had assembled to observe what the Portuguese secular newspapers had been ridiculing for months as the absurd claim of three shepherd children that a miracle was going to occur at high-noon in the Cova da Iria on 13 October 1917.

                            According to many witness statements, after a downfall of rain, the dark clouds broke and the sun appeared as an opaque, spinning disc in the sky. It was said to be significantly less bright than normal, and cast multicolored lights across the landscape, the shadows on the landscape, the people, and the surrounding clouds. The sun was then reported to have careened towards the earth in a zigzag pattern, frightening some of those present who thought it meant the end of the world. Some witnesses reported that their previously wet clothes became “suddenly and completely dry.”

                            Estimates of the number of witnesses range from 30,000-40,000 by Avelino de Almeida, writing for the Portuguese newspaper O Século,to 100,000, estimated by Dr. Joseph Garrett, professor of natural sciences at the University of Coimbra, both of whom were present that day.

                            The event was attributed by believers to Our Lady of Fátima, an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary to three young shepherd children in 1917, as having been predicted by the three children on 13 July, 19 August, and 13 September 1917. The children reported that the Lady had promised them that she would on 13 October reveal her identity to them and provide a miracle “so that all may believe.

                            According to these reports, the event lasted approximately ten minutes. The three children also reported seeing a panorama of visions, including those of Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and of Saint Joseph blessing the people.


                            • Meril Jeffery John.J

                              1. You have to believe that Jesus Christ did NOT set up the Catholic Church in Matthew 16:18.

                              2. You have to believe that your man-made Church of the 16th Century is the one true Church that Jesus created in Matthew 16:18.

                              3. You have to believe that the gates of Hell overcame the Church that Jesus started in Matthew 16:18.

                              4. You have to believe that there is no liturgical priesthood in the New Testament, with no altar sacrifices, in spite of Matthew 5:23-24, 1 Corinthians 9:13, 1 Corinthians 10:18, Hebrews 13:10, Revelation 6:9, and Revelation 8:3 ...

                              5. You have to believe that you are saved by faith alone, in spite of James 2:24-26.

                              6. You have to believe that Catholics perform good works in order to be saved, instead of what is really true - Catholics do good works because Jesus said to do them in the Sermon on the Mount.

                              7. You have to believe that the Eucharist is only a memorial, not a sin-forgiving sacrificial meal that is the hidden manna mentioned in Revelation 2:17.

                              8. You have to believe that saints in heaven are dead, and not alive, like the Bible says in Luke 20:36-38.

                              9. You have to believe that Jesus is the one mediator of intercessory prayer, instead of the one mediator of the New Covenant, like the Bible says in Hebrews 12:24.

                              10. You have to believe that the great cloud of Witnesses mentioned in Hebrews 12:1 do not witness on our behalf, because they are dead.

                              11. You have to believe that intercessory prayer to the saints is tantamount to conjuring up the dead to seek arcane knowledge, like King Saul did with the Witch of Endor.

                              12. You have to believe that statues in church are evil, in spite of the fact that God told Moses to make 2 Cherub statues to put on top of the Ark of the Covenant; King Solomon had all kinds of statues in his Temple; and Moses made a statue of a serpent with healing powers in the desert to heal snakebite victims.

                              13. You have to believe that you can confess your sins directly to God instead of to a priest, in spite of John 20:21ff (the New Testament does not say anywhere to confess your sins directly to God).

                              14. You have to believe that intellectual faith in God is the only kind of faith there is, in spite of the fact that Jesus said that "unless you have the faith of a little child, you shall not enter the kingdom."

                              15. You have to believe that you can have altar calls in your church, without an altar.

                              16. You have to believe that singing and preaching are the way to worship God on Sunday.

                              17. You have to believe that calling anyone on earth "Father" is sinful, at the same time you celebrate "Father's Day," and trying to obey the Commandment that says, "Honor your FATHER and your Mother." As well as the bible using the term father 144 times in reference other then to God.

                              18. You have to believe that 15 centuries of Christianity doesn't exist, and that Christian history leaps from the Bible to the creation of your church in the 16th Century, so as to be able to ignore the writings of the early Church Fathers, at the same time you believe the writings of Lucado and Graham...

                              19. You have to believe that useless works of the Jewish law, like circumcision, are the exact same thing as good works, which are the fruit of our faith (Colossians 1:10).

                              20.You have to believe that Jesus said to write everything down in a book, make sure everyone gets a copy, and whatever they come up with is OK, instead of Jesus creating a Church with the mission to go and teach all nations, making disciples of them, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

                              21. You have to believe that salvation is me and the Bible, rather than being found in the Primacy of the Church, from 1 Timothy 3:15.

                              22. You have to believe that the Pope cannot be infallible, because he is only a man, at the same time you believe that your personal beliefs about salvation are infallible.

                              23. You have to believe that the necessity of eating Jesus' flesh and drinking his blood from John 6:48-58 is not necessary to have eternal life.

                              24. You have to believe that Martin Luther was right to start his own "tradition of man" church named after himself, even though Paul says that there shall be no dissensions among believers, and that all should be of one mind.

                              25. You have to believe that Martin Luther was a great guy, even though he advocated the killing of peasants, the burning of synagogues, the expelling of Jews from Germany, and that committing adultery 1000 times a day could not separate you from Christ.

                              26. You have to believe that it's OK to see a man to heal your bodily ills at the doctor's office, even though Jesus could heal you much better than the doctor, at the same time you think it's heresy to go see a man to heal your spirit of its sinfulness in the confessional.

                              27. You have to believe that putting down Mary is somehow honoring Jesus, instead of calling Mary Blessed and realizing that her soul MAGNIFIES the Lord, not diminishes it (Luke 1)

                              • Meril Jeffery John.J

                                Roman Catholicism is a worldwide religious tradition of some 1.2 billion members. It traces its history to Jesus of Nazareth, an itinerant preacher in the area around Jerusalem during the period of Roman occupation, in the early 30s of the Common Era. Its members congregate in a communion of churches headed by bishops, whose role originated with the disciples of Jesus. Over a period of some decades after Jesus' life, death, and resurrection, the bishops spread out across the world to form a "universal" (Greek, katholikos) church, with the bishop of Rome (traced to the apostle Peter) holding primacy.

                                Today Vatican City and specifically, Saint Peter's Basilica stands over the grave of Peter, and the pope is considered Peter's successor. Catholic Christianity began as a persecuted religious community, illegal in the Roman Empire in its earliest days, but within some three hundred years and with the conversion of the Emperor Constantine, it became legal and eventually was recognized as the official religion of the Empire. With the decline and fall of Rome in the 5th century, the Roman Church assumed both temporal and spiritual authority in the West; it thus had enormous influence on the development of the art and culture of the western world through the Middle Ages. Today, its growth is fastest in Africa, South America, and Asia