Diocese of Toledo, Ohio

Browsing From the Pastor

October: A Month of Discouragement and One of Hope

   For the Christian Community as a whole, the month of October is one of joy and one of sorrow. On the one hand, as Catholics, we honor Mary, the Mother of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, in a special way. On October 7th, we honored Mary as Our Lady of the Rosary. Our Cathedral in Toledo honors Mary under this special title. Mary, Our Lady, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, is the patroness of our Diocese.

   Tragically, during the month of October, the Protestant Reformation is observed. With the Reformation, that sense of oneness for which our Lord earnestly prayed for all who love Him was broken. We must never forget that the first Protestants, beginning with Martin Luther, were at one time members of the Catholic Church. We can’t blame people of other religions, atheists or agnostics for the sad divisions that exist among Christians.

   To this day, an issue that divides Christians is the manner in which we relate to Mary, the Mother of our Lord. Catholics are often perceived by non-Catholic Christians as persons who worship the Virgin Mary. The manner in which a number of Catholics express our devotion to Mary can easily contribute to this perception.

   What needs to be stressed is that all Christians believe that there is only one unique Mediator between God and man, and this is the man Jesus, the Christ. Where Christians differ from one another comes to expression in how we believe that the unique Mediator role of Christ is expressed, extended  and experienced in an on-going way.

   The Catholic teaching about the role of Mary in relation to our Lord is clearly expressed in the Vatican II document, Lumen gentium, numbers 61 62: “No creature can ever be classed as an equal with the incarnate Word, the Redeemer. But just as the priesthood of Christ is shared in various ways by His ministers and His faithful people, and as the goodness of God, one though it is, is, in different ways, really shared with creatures, so also the unique mediation of Christ does not exclude, but brings about a variety of shared cooperation, deriving from the one unique source. The Church does not hesitate to acknowledge this kind of subordinate role in the person of Mary. The Church has continuous experience of its effects, and commends it to the hearts of the faithful, so that as they lean on her motherly protection, they may be brought into closer union with the Mediator, our Savior.”

   Sad to say, a number of expressions of Protestant Christianity focus a lot of attention on the fallen nature of man as a result of the first sin. According to this view, because of how deeply the Fall has affected the human race, all persons have lost the capacity to participate in the Lord’s redeeming work in Christ.

   Regardless of how deeply the Fall has affected the lives of all persons, Catholic theology focuses upon the goodness, generosity and willingness of God to invite and to involve the participation of all of us in the on-going work of redeeming the world in Christ. If human nature is as spiritually bleak as many non-Catholic Christians claim it is, one can appreciate ever more fully the initiative and willingness of God to count on us to extend the work of the one Mediator, Jesus Christ, in the world.  

   What God did in and through Mary offers all Christians the basis for living with confidence and hope. If we focus our concern unduly on the spiritual depravity of man, we run the risk of severing Christ, the Head, from the rest of the members of His Body, the Church.

   If, on the other hand, we focus our attention upon the saving action of God, for Whom all things are possible, then, as spiritually deprave as a number of Christians claim we are, we have all the more basis for living with confidence and hope, a hope which is based upon the assurance that the Lord Who makes us members of His Body counts on us to extend His redeeming Presence in Christ to all with whom we live and associate.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Fr. Nelson Beaver – Pastor


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