Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Magnificat Challenge

Magnificat Challenge:
Why not take some time to memorize Mary's Song, the Magnificat, in Luke 1:46-56? As you memorize, meditate on all of the qualities of God that Mary mentions in this passage. Notice, too, that Mary focuses her  praise and her attention on God and what He was doing for her. We tend to focus on Mary and what she was thinking and going through at that time in her life. Mary's focus was Godward.

Mary was a great woman of faith. All generations have called her blessed, just as she prophesied in her song. At her young age - some say that she may have been as young as 13 years old - God revealed Himself to her in a spectacular way. Even though she was probably illiterate, she knew about God, and she knew God. That does not mean that Mary was a perfect woman, as some teach. She was also a sinner who rejoiced in God, her Savior. However, in spite of the fact that she shared in the same fallen nature as all mankind, God showed Himself to be correct in the choice He made of a mother for His Son. She is a wonderful example of faith for all believers. She was also a woman of great integrity.

Women in our society and in our time have a very different kind of life than the one Mary lived. It is now common for women to get a formal education even beyond the high school level. Many now go to university, when in times past, women were denied such opportunities. I am not against women going to university, though I believe that a college education is way over priced and over rated. Notice, though, that the most blessed of all women who have ever lived did not have any formal education.

Notice that I did not say she was uneducated. Obviously Mary had a deep knowledge of what was  most important. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, and she feared God.

Proverbs 1:7

English Standard Version (ESV)
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
    fools despise wisdom and instruction.

If a Christian woman does not fear the Lord, then all the education in the world will not give her true knowledge. Besides, if in the pursuit of knowledge on a college campus, a woman forgets who she is and what she was made for, then her time and her money have been wasted.  As women, we were created for a purpose.  If we forget that, and just serve the purposes of a secular society, we are in danger of losing ourselves.

Imagine what would have happened if Mary had told God that she was not interested in being the mother of His Son. What if Mary had thought that raising children was not enough of a challenge for women? What if she had decided that motherhood was not for her, and that she wanted to do something greater with her life, even thought God was calling her to be a special mother?

I know that not all women are called to get married, or even to have children of their own.  One of my spiritual mothers was a single woman who believed she was called by God to teach.  I wrote about Miss Harrison awhile back.  

So, God used this wise, yet uneducated young woman, as the mother of our Lord.  In that way she blessed all of us. In a day such as ours that downplays the child-bearing role, and gives a woman effective ways to avoid or curtail pregnancy, where would Mary have fit in? She would not have been elected to public office. She would not have been the CEO of a corporation. She would not have gotten into college, let alone grad school. She would not have been any of the things that post-modern women aspire to. She might be called a baby machine or trailer trash if she were alive today.

So, I think that it would be good for every Christian to memorize this short passage of Scripture. Her wisdom, knowledge of God, faith expressed in simple trust of the One she already knew so well, and her integrity speak to all of us. Take some time to meditate on the lessons learned from Mary's example, too.

I am not saying that a woman should not  get a formal education.  I am not saying that only mothers can be used of God. I am just pointing out that the woman most blessed by God did not have any of the opportunities that we women have in our day, yet she was greatly used by God.  I also think that we Christian women need to make sure that our values are informed by Scripture and the fear of the Lord.

Proverbs 1:7
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Luke 1
Mary’s Song of Praise: The Magnificat (English Standard Version)
46And Mary said,
"My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
53he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
54He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55 as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever."
56And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home.

The organ at St. Mary's church, Rochester, NY.


Anonymous said...

Are you a Catholic now?

Mrs. Webfoot said...

First I ignored the Catholic Church, then I laughed at the Catholic Church, then I fought the Catholic Church, then I became Catholic.

- Matt Swaim of the Coming Home Network

Anonymous said...

Wow, how ironic.

Mrs. Webfoot said...

Yes, it is very ironic. Why?

Anonymous said...

You used to be very fond of groups and teachings that looked down on Catholicism.

Mrs. Webfoot said...

Yes. Protestantism is anti-Catholic.

Anonymous said...

Protestantism protests some aspects of the Church, but it is not anti-Catholic, as in anti-individual. I am a Protestant and have great respect for Catholicism. But some Protestants, esp Calvinists, treat it like an evil.

Mrs. Webfoot said...

Have you ever considered becoming Catholic?

Anonymous said...

Not really, no, but I love many aspects of the faith.

Mrs. Webfoot said...

What aspects do you love?

Anonymous said...

I love the stories of the saints, the atmosphere of the churches and a great deal of the music, plus the ministry and tradition of nuns and monks. The old cathedrals are magnificent testimonies of devotion to God.

Mrs. Webfoot said...

What holds you back from being Catholic? Anything?

Anonymous said...

Because I believe in protestant ideas.

Mrs. Webfoot said...

Yes. What Protestant ideas?

Anonymous said...

All of them, Mrs. Webfoot.

Anonymous said...

I don't believe Mary was a virgin her whole life or that there should be a ladder of spiritual hierarchy in the church.

Mrs. Webfoot said...

Like sola scriptura? Justification by faith alone? Things like that?

When did the Church start teaching that Mary was a virgin her whole life? How old is that doctrine?

If you feel uncomfortable answering, that's okay. I don't mind. It's up to you.

I think it's weird that I am now a Catholic - and have been going on 3 years, now.

Peter Kreeft said that he fell in love with the Great Whore of Babylon. I guess I did, too. Anyway...

I had wondered why there was such a sense of God's presence in Catholic Churches. Now I know why that is.

Anonymous said...

I have no idea when the Church started teaching that. I'm not really sola Scriptura, because I believe in understanding a lot of the historical context and practices that were directly related to some Scriptures. Thanks for your questions.

Mrs. Webfoot said...

Reformed people say that they follow sola scriptura, not solo scriptura. PCA's statement is something like Scripture being the only infallible rule of faith and practice. There are other supporting rules that aren't taken as being infallible - like the Westminster Confession of Faith.

The Catholic Church teaches that both Scripture and Tradition are infallible. It's the infallibility of Tradition part that Protestants reject.

IOW, how does the Holy Spirit lead the Church infallibly, unfailingly into all Truth?

Anyway, the sinlessness and perpetual virginity of Mary are ancient doctrines.

Anonymous said...

I don't believe any person was ever without sin except Christ, nor does the Bible encourage the idea of a wife and husband never having sex. However, I'm no Calvinist. I'm familiar with particularly Calvinist believers basically claiming that traditions and historical factors during Biblical times had nothing to do with Scripture, which is false. You used to be a growing fan of groups like the Vision Forum, which was full of teachers very anti-Catholic, hence my initial surprise. Anyway, thanks for explaining.

Mrs. Webfoot said...

I understand. The doctrines of Mary's perpetual virginity and sinless life go back to the early Church. Both eastern and western Church fathers accepted those doctrines and venerated Mary as the Mother of God.

It's interesting as a fact of Church history if for no other reason. I don't expect you to accept it. I understand your objections.

Yes, I have always admired homeschoolers, especially those with large families. It's a fascinating Christian sociological phenomenon. Yes, there are many kinds of homeschoolers. Homeschool moms are pretty amazing. I don't know how they do it. It's not for everyone, or for the faint of heart!

I used to teach a lot of homeschool kids, and they were great.

Maybe I like the idea of large families because my father was the youngest of 10 children. I loved growing up with lots of aunts, uncles, and cousins.

The Vision Forum "thing" was fascinating as well as the whole controversy surrounding it. Wild.

Yes. Most Reformed people are anti-Catholic. You may not find this discussion interesting. It's a site run by mostly ex-Calvinists. It gets a little dense for me. It's been awhile since I checked it out.

Hey, thanks for asking.

Anonymous said...

The Vision Forum went down in flames when the misogynistic leader was revealed to be a rapist. If you check out the blog The Scarlet Letters, though, and click on the link "The Big Box", the author deftly shows how sick and unhealthy their beliefs always were. The authors in that group particularly hated Catholics and were very myopic.

The impression of Mary as a permanent virgin perplexes me greatly, but as a whole Catholicism seems to offer more comfort than Calvinism. I know of three Calvinist women who left the theology, two becoming Catholics (the third, sadly, becoming Wiccan). There's just not much comfort at all in that belief system.

Homeschooling perse seems more and more an important option, considering how dangerous our schools have become. Thank you for the link!

Mrs. Webfoot said...

Yes. Thanks. Let me guess. The Pope is antichrist and the Catholic Church is the Great Whore of Babylon. Some Reformed Presbys, like the OPC have removed those bits from their version of the WCF - Westminster Confession of Faith. I suppose all of the US Presbys have. Maybe even the Church of Scotland has removed that part.

I don't remember if I ever knew what Lutherans and Dutch Reformed have done. Peter Kreeft was taught when he was growing up in a Dutch Reformed church that the Catholic Church is the Great Whore of Babylon. I already referenced his statement about falling in love with the Great Whore of Babylon. It was largely through what a lot of us see - and what you see. The beauty & the Real Presence of Jesus that is palpable in a Catholic Church.

The doctrine that the Church is our mother & that Mary is the Mother of the Church & therefore our mother is MIA in much if not most of Protestantism. Anglicanism & some Lutherans hold on to some of the more ancient doctrines. It's not clear what Luther thought. He made some statements supportive of the Immaculate Conception. I assume he thought Mary was perpetually virgin, but I don't know.

Here's the section from the Catechism that addresses the subject of Mary's perpetual virginity.

Hey, thanks for the conversation. I agree with you on why homeschooling is an important option.

Anonymous said...

You're welcome! Thanks for all the info.

"The Pope is antichrist and the Catholic Church is the Great Whore of Babylon."

Gosh, I never heard THAT. Strange things, these different belief systems and the vitriol that sometimes comes up.

Mrs. Webfoot said...

Yes. Martin Luther claimed that the Pope was antichrist. His statements are the subject of much debate, as you can imagine. He seemed to be talking about the abuses of the Church at that time, especially in reference to the sale of indulgences. I don't know if he thought all Popes were antichrist, but his statements had an influence on all the Reformers. Luther railed against the Papists, as did Calvin and others.

Most have dialed that back, but the teaching is still out there. It was in the Westminister Confession of Faith from 1647.

"VI. There is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ: nor can the Pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof; but is that Antichrist, that man of sin and son of perdition, that exalteth himself in the Church against Christ, and all that is called God."

Of course, Dante had one pope upside down in the fire in the 8th circle of Hell, so there you go. He didn't mean all poes were antichrist and going to Hell, though. The Church has never taught that popes are sinless or that all are automatically going to Heaven just because they sit in the Chair of Peter. It seems that the Reformers took things too far at least at the time.

Pope Nicholas III (19)

Pope Nicholas III Pope Nicholas III Simonists

Nicholas is the simonist pope who, because he is upside down in a hole, mistakenly believes Dante to be Pope Boniface VIII, somehow present in the third pit several years before his time (Inf. 19.52-7). When the confusion is cleared up, Nicholas informs Dante that he foresees the damnation (for simony) of not only Boniface VIII but Pope Clement V as well. Born into the powerful Orsini family of Rome, Giovanni Gaetano was appointed head of the Inquisition (1262) before being elected pope--taking the name Nicholas--in 1277. Nicholas expanded papal political control by adding parts of Romagna, as far north as Bologna and Ferrara, and he forged a compromise in the Franciscan movement between the moderates and the radical spiritualists. He was known, on the one hand, for his high moral standards and care for the poor, and on the other for his shameless nepotism (derived from the Italian word--nipote--for nephew, niece, and grandchild): Nicholas himself states that he was guilty of favoring the "cubs" in his family (Orsini, the family name, translates to "little bears"; Inf. 19.70-2)--he in fact filled positions for three new cardinals with relatives and appointed other relatives to high posts in the papal state. Nicholas died in 1280 and was buried in St. Peter's in Rome.

Here's Peter Kreeft's testimony of his conversion to Catholicism. He talks about his views of Catholicism while growing up.

Peter Kreeft testimony

Mrs. Webfoot said...

I added the Kreeft testimony to the original post. You might find it interesting.

Kreeft is an apologist and philosopher.