Preach My Psalter / Predica Mi Salterio


     Dear friends, in the four Gospels, Jesus, the Master, teaches His disciples about the virtues of being faithful children of God.  On the one hand, He teaches them that their first and greatest virtue is the primacy of their love for God.  Indeed, He calls them to love God above everyone and everything.  For Jesus, this means using their full human nature, including their mind, their will, their passions, their body and their soul, and also the grace of God, to love God fully as their First and Highest Good.  In doing so, they honor God rightly. 

     On the other hand, Jesus also teaches His disciples that their second greatest virtue as God’s children is to love their neighbor.  As human beings, the disciples, of course, would be readily inclined and prepared to love their neighbor in good circumstances, in circumstances that would be easy. As desirable as that would be for the disciples, for all people, that is not what Jesus is calling them to do in today’s Gospel reading.  Here He is not telling them to love their neighbor in good and easy circumstances.  On the contrary, He is calling them to love their neighbor in bad circumstances, in circumstances that are difficult.  The question is: What are those bad circumstances that Jesus is referring to in today’s Gospel?  What are those circumstances in which His disciples would have a difficult time loving their neighbor?

     First of all, in today’s Gospel, Jesus is not calling His disciples to love just any neighbor.  He is not telling them to love a Gentile or Pagan, or some other non-believer, who does not belong to their group of disciples.  On the contrary, in today’s Gospel, He is calling His disciples to love their brother in the faith, their spiritual brother, a member of their group of disciples, who has sinned against them.  As human beings, the disciples of Jesus, would naturally have a greater difficulty loving such a neighbor, a brother disciple, who has sinned against them, sinned against their brotherhood.  They certainly would love their brother in their hearts, but would still have a difficult time loving him in their moral actions, considering that he sinned against their brotherhood. In this sense, for the disciples of Jesus, for all people, in general, the closer the relationship to the sinner, the greater the love they have for the sinner in their hearts, the greater their suffering.  Consequently, in this suffering, they would have a more difficult time loving someone close to them, morally, such as their brother, who has sinned against them, than they would someone else who has done the same to them.  As such, the difficulty for the disciples, for anyone, would be, first and foremost, learning to love their brother, morally, in their actions, after he has sinned against them, against their brotherhood.

     In today’s Gospel, the particular form of love that Jesus calls His disciples to offer their brother in the faith is called fraternal correction.  Indeed, He calls them to correct their brother in the faith, who has sinned against them. In doing so, they offer their brother a remedy for removing his moral evil, his sin, from himself.  As such, for the disciples of Jesus, correcting their brother’s sin means procuring their brother’s spiritual good.  In this sense, as an act of love, fraternal correction is directed to the amendment of the sinner that he may repent, reform his life, and prepare himself for eternity.

     In the teaching of St. Thomas, as he comments on the subject of today’s Gospel, fraternal correction, in 8 articles of question 33 of the Secunda Secundae Partis of the Summa Theologiae, he offers some guidelines to the Roman Catholic for correcting a brother virtuously as an act of love.  According to him, as I read him, before offering fraternal correction to a brother in the faith, there are various questions for the Roman Catholic to consider first. These questions will help guide him that he may act rightly in addressing the sin of his brother.  Here I offer you my reading of the mainlines of the teaching of St. Thomas on the subject of fraternal correction as an act of charity.

     For St. Thomas, the first question that a Roman Catholic will have to consider concerns himself, not the brother who has sinned against him.  As such, the question is this: As a Roman Catholic, can he form the right judgments about his brother to offer him fraternal correction virtuously? In other words, does he have the proper formation or education, intellectually, in Catholic faith and morals to judge rightly here? Unfortunately, many times Catholics falsely believe that a Catholic may not judge anyone.  They base this fallacy on a misreading of Jesus in the Gospel.  Yes, Jesus does say “do not judge”, but that Gospel verse has to be read in light of the rest of the passage and also in light of all His teachings in the Gospel.  For instance, for Jesus, no disciple, no Roman Catholic, may judge the heart of his brother, nor may he judge that his brother is condemned by God in this life, nor may he form a judgment that his deceased brother is in Hell in the afterlife.  All of these judgments by a Roman Catholic would be sinful, for they would be presumptuous about his brother. Indeed, they would contravene the natural and supernatural limits of a Roman Catholic’s natural reason, his Cardinal Virtue of Prudence, and his Theological Virtue of Faith.

     On the other hand, for St. Thomas, Christ calls the Catholic to form right judgments, prudential judgments, about the object of the moral action of his brother. He may rightly judge, on the basis of this object, that his brother has sinned. The object here is the physical or material action.  This is the first moral determinant of the act, the matter of the act.  According to St. Thomas, Christ calls the Roman Catholic to use his natural reason to properly judge the material object of his brother’s act as reasonable or not.  If it is reasonable, meaning good materially, it would be ordainable to God, morally. This would perfect his brother as moral agent. Conversely, if it is unreasonable, evil materially, it would be harmful to him. As a consequence, it would not be morally ordainable to God, for it would be intrinsically evil, evil by nature.  In this sense, for St. Thomas, a properly formed Roman Catholic is called by Christ to rightly judge the matter of his brother’s act, the first moral determinant, as either good or evil. For instance, he would rightly judge that his brother’s material act of profanity is evil, materially. Similarly, he would also form the proper judgment that his brother’s material act of adultery is evil, materially.  Finally, a properly formed Catholic would also rightly judge his brother’s material act of child abuse as materially evil.  In doing so, he forms the right judgment that such actions would be morally evil, for they would be evil by nature, materially.  This means that they would be sinful.  In today’s Gospel, Jesus calls His disciples to correct their brother for his sin, but such a correction presupposes and requires a right judgment about their brother’s sin, about what their brother did materially.  On this basis, the first question the Roman Catholic has to consider is this: Can he form the right judgments to correct his brother’s sin properly?

     According to St. Thomas, the second question that the Roman Catholic has to consider is this: Is his brother in the faith, the Roman Catholic who has sinned against him, ready to receive the fraternal correction? In this sense, does the sinner have the proper maturity to receive the correction fruitfully?  He may or may not have this maturity.  If he does not, he would not have the capacity to receive the correction properly as desired.  After all, as St. Thomas teaches, a person can only receive what he is prepared to receive; he cannot receive what he is not ready to receive. For this reason, the Roman Catholic first has to consider the maturity or readiness of the sinner, before offering any correction. If the sinner is not ready or mature enough, the Catholic would have to delay or defer the correction for another time, for the right time. For St. Thomas, the consequence of correcting the sinner prematurely before he is ready or mature enough to receive the correction fruitfully, is that he would be harmed spiritually, mentally and emotionally. If the sinner is not ready, the Catholic would just pray for him, offer penance for him and be a model of virtue for him.  In doing so, he would plant the seeds of God’s Word in the sinner’s heart that would help prepare him to fully amend himself someday by the grace of God.  On the other hand, if the sinner has the proper maturity to receive the correction fruitfully, then the Catholic would correct him.

     The third question a Roman Catholic has to consider before offering any correction to his brother is this: Who is the right person to offer the correction to the sinner?  Is he the right person, or is someone else?  Yes, his brother has sinned against him, but he may not be the right person to correct him.  Consider this: What if he also sinned against this brother in the past?  What if his brother has never forgiven him?  What if he is still angry at him or hates him?  In these circumstances, he would not be right person to offer correction to his brother.  His brother would certainly not be open to receive any correction from him.  For this reason, if he did correct him, he would only harm him and cause a greater problem. On this basis, if the Catholic is not the right person to offer the correction to his brother, he would then have to form a proper judgment about who that person would be.  The person could be his brother’s grandmother, uncle, or friend.

     Fourthly, a Roman Catholic also has to consider this question: Why does he want to offer the correction to his brother?  Is it for the right reason?  For St. Thomas, there is only one reason to correct a brother. The Catholic corrects his brother to help him amend himself by removing the moral evil from his life that he may prepare himself to become a saint in Heaven someday.  In doing so, he helps him procure his spiritual good.

     Finally, if the Roman Catholic judges that he is the right person to correct his brother for the right reason, for his spiritual good, he would also have to form a right judgment about the proper means to correct him prudently and charitably.  This would certainly involve correcting him privately in a friendly demeanor and tone.

     I hope, dear friends, that you will love your brother virtuously by first considering the aforementioned questions before offering him any fraternal correction.  If you judge that either you or another Catholic is the right person to correct your brother, I pray that you will do it for the right reason, at the right time, and in the right manner for his salvation.  May God bless you.

In Christ with Blessed Mary,

Friar Mariano D. Veliz, O.P.


Queridos amigos, si tienen un hijo, especialmente un hijo pródigo o perdido, que tiene una orientación homosexual, recuerden que Dios lo ama. Como proclama el evangelista san Juan: “Dios es amor”. Este Amor, Dios mismo, se revela en la persona del Hijo de Dios, Jesucristo. De hecho, San Juan nos recuerda que Jesús dijo que no puede haber  amor mas grande que de aquel que ofrecer su vida en sacrificio por sus amigos. Este es el amor fiel, el amor sacrificial, el que Él ofrece al Padre por sus amigos haciéndose hombre, sufriendo y muriendo para salvarlos. En este amor fiel, Jesús se revela como la imagen perfecta del amor del Padre, lo que significa que ama a Sus amigos perfectamente como los ama el Padre. Además, en la parábola del hijo pródigo, Jesús describe el amor fiel y perfecto de Dios Padre a través de la fidelidad del padre para con el hijo pródigo. Por muy pecador que sea el hijo pródigo, por muy mal que haya vivido su vida, su fiel padre lo ama perfectamente. Por lo que en esta parábola, Jesús está llamando al pueblo de Dios, especialmente a los padres, a amar fielmente a su hijo pródigo o perdido, como lo hace Dios Padre. Para Jesús, este amor fiel implica ofrecer misericordia al hijo perdido. De hecho, Él revela fielmente este amor misericordioso a los demás, especialmente a los perdidos, a lo largo de Su vida y ministerio. Por eso, como imagen perfecta del Padre, sabemos que El ama fielmente a su hijo,. Por el contrario, si Jesús, la imagen perfecta del Padre, no amara perfectamente a su hijo, como lo hace, no representaría perfectamente el amor del Padre. Sino que Él sólo imaginaría al Padre de manera imperfecta a través de un amor imperfecto. Y esto, por supuesto, sería completamente falso. Ya que, como Hijo perfecto del Padre, Él, de hecho, ama a su hijo perfectamente, como lo hace el Padre, por toda la eternidad, porque Él procede eternamente del Padre como Su imagen perfecta.


Como resultado, el amor que Jesús tiene por su hijo nunca aumentará ni disminuirá ni cesará. Lo amará perfectamente para siempre. Esto significa que Él como Hijo del Padre es inmutable. Por un lado, Él es inmutable, porque no pasa de la potencia al acto, de una imagen imperfecta a una imagen perfecta del Padre. Por el contrario, Él ya es plenamente actual y perfecto en sí mismo. Por esta razón, como imagen perfecta del Padre, Él no está sujeto a la perfectibilidad, al hacerse perfecto asi mismo mediante la maduración. En este sentido, Él no tiene ninguna potencialidad en Él. Él es actus purus, pura actualidad. Por eso, Él no tiene que aprender nunca a amar perfectamente a su hijo, porque ya lo hace desde toda la eternidad. Por otro lado, como imagen perfecta del Padre, Él tampoco cambia, por corrupción, es decir, no está sujeto a volverse malo o imperfecto en sí mismo por corruptibilidad espiritual o moral. Como tal, Él nunca pecará al no amar perfectamente a su hijo. Por el contrario, como actus purus, acto puro, Él es incorruptible en Su amor, espiritual y moralmente, es decir, que como Hijo perfecto del Padre El  amará a su hijo perfectamente por toda la eternidad. Por tanto, Jesús, imagen perfecta del Padre, es inmutable como amante, porque es inmutable como Dios. No puede ser perfeccionado ni corrompido. Basandonos en eso, nunca cuestione ni dude del amor perfecto e inmutable de Dios por su hijo. Puede que tenga una orientación homosexual, pero Dios todavía lo ama perfectamente. Siempre tendrá un amor perfecto por él.


Como padres, creados a imagen de Dios, ustedes están llamados a reflejar el amor perfecto de Dios por su hijo todos los días, amándolo fielmente a través de una vida de santidad. Este llamado a la fidelidad en el amor requerirá que maduren diariamente en su amor a Dios y a su hijo. Por supuesto, esto sólo se puede lograr profesando y viviendo el depósito pleno de la fe y la moral católicas, en particular la enseñanza de la Iglesia sobre la sagrada dignidad de la persona humana como imagen de Dios, incluyendo su llamado a vivir una vida santa y virtuosa. Al hacerlo, Dios los llama a ser prudentes, pacientes, misericordiosos y amorosos mientras enseñan y forman a su hijo para que viva su vida virtuosamente, como Dios quiere, a través de su testimonio, incluidas sus palabras y acciones. Esto implicará mucha oración, contemplación y penitencia. De hecho, Dios los llama a orar por la gracia de ser padres fieles y amorosos, pero también desea que oren por su hijo para que aprenda a ser fiel y amoroso.


Al mismo tiempo, como ya se sugirió anteriormente, su llamado a amar fielmente a su hijo según la imagen del amor perfecto de Dios significa que su amor por él tendrá que estar informado y guiado intelectual y moralmente por las enseñanzas de la Iglesia sobre la orientación y actividad homosexual. La Iglesia enseña que la orientación homosexual en el ser humano no es un movimiento natural en él, pues no lo mueve ni lo inclina al bien y propio telos o fin de su verdadera felicidad humana, como imagen de Dios, ya sea natural o sobrenatural. Por el contrario, su orientación es un movimiento antinatural del apetito concupiscible que lo malforma e inclina en sus pasiones, su intelecto y su voluntad hacia un fin u objeto malo. De todos modos, este movimiento o inclinación antinatural precede a un acto moral de su voluntad, a una elección moral de su parte. En este sentido, la Iglesia no define la orientación homosexual como un mal moral, un mal acto de su voluntad, per se, sino simplemente como un movimiento que lo inclina de manera antinatural hacia un fin u objeto moral maligno. En particular, ese fin sería un acto homosexual que involucrara a otro hombre. Para la Iglesia, tal acto sería intrínsecamente malo, malo por naturaleza, porque iría contra la recta razón y la naturaleza, incluidas la gracia y la revelación divinas. Por lo que, bajo ninguna circunstancia un ser humano, incluido su hijo, puede actuar según su orientación homosexual mediante un acto maligno de su voluntad. Si lo hiciera, estaría actuando en contra de la voluntad de Dios. Además, no amarían fielmente a su hijo, como Dios quiere, si lo malforman con enseñanzas falsas, particularmente diciéndole la mentira de que vivir una vida homosexual esta bien o es moralmente bueno. Sobre esta base, Dios desea que su amor, como padres, esté debidamente informado y guiado por las enseñanzas de la Iglesia sobre la orientación y actividad homosexual.


Cuando Dios creó a su hijo, ciertamente no recibió su orientación homosexual de Dios como una cualidad natural o inclinación de su naturaleza humana . Dios no lo creó para ser homosexual. Por el contrario, la orientación homosexual de un hombre, incluida la de su hijo, es consecuencia del pecado original de nuestros primeros padres, Adán y Eva. Esta es una forma de concupiscencia. Por supuesto, aquí no hay  ninguna culpa moral personal. Por eso, no puede ser juzgado ni definido correctamente como pecador, simplemente porque tiene una orientación homosexual. Después de todo, su orientación homosexual no es ni un acto moral ni un pecado. Por consiguiente, sólo sería moralmente culpable de un pecado homosexual si actuara voluntariamente de acuerdo con su orientación homosexual.


Además, para la Iglesia, la persona humana, especialmente su hijo, tiene una dignidad plena que no puede reducirse única o principalmente a su orientación homosexual. Él mismo no es una orientación. Él es mucho más que una orientación. En efecto, ha recibido de Dios una dignidad sagrada plena, la dignidad de la imagen divina de Dios, como persona racional y libre. Por esta razón, por su racionalidad y libertad, tiene capacidad para Dios como imagen divina de Dios, lo que significa que puede conocer a Dios, amar a Dios y servir a Dios mediante sus buenas decisiones morales. Al hacerlo, se abre a la gracia de Dios para perfeccionar sobrenaturalmente su naturaleza humana. En este sentido, él no se perfecciona como ser humano por su orientación, sino por la gracia de sus buenas elecciones morales. Esta vida de gracia implicaría practicar plenamente las virtudes teologales y morales y los dones del Espíritu Santo, incluida la castidad, como hijo de Dios. Esto lo formaría y rectificaría intelectual, espiritual y moralmente para que pueda responder virtuosamente al movimiento antinatural de su orientación homosexual. Sólo esto lo prepararía para cumplir el fin último o la perfección de su plena dignidad sagrada como imagen de Dios: que seria llegar algún día a ser un santo en el Cielo.


Por muy grandioso que eso sería para su hijo, antes de que pueda llegar a ser santo o virtuoso, y eventualmente santo en el Cielo, primero tendría que aprender a amar a Dios como su Primer y Más Grande Amor. Por ello, está llamado a madurar en su amor a Dios, a lo largo de su vida, hasta alcanzar finalmente la plena perfección en el Cielo. Nadie puede llegar al Cielo solo porque Dios lo ama perfectamente. Tan perfectamente como Dios ama a su hijo, tan perfectamente como Dios amará a su hijo por toda la eternidad, su hijo nunca llegará al Cielo como un pecador mortal impenitente. Al contrario, sólo llegará al cielo si permanece en el amor de Dios. Como dice Jesús en el Evangelio: “Permanece en mi amor. Si permanece en mi amor, dará mucho fruto”. Sólo en el amor de Dios su hijo vivirá y morirá fructíferamente en preparación para ir al Cielo. Esta preparación implica también el abrir su corazón para recibir la justicia y la misericordia de Dios a través del arrepentimiento, si peca al actuar según su orientación homosexual. Esto quiere decir que la justicia y la misericordia de Dios estarán disponibles para él durante toda su vida, pero esto no es una licencia para actuar inmoralmente. Amar a Dios primero lo impulsará a prepararse para la bienaventuranza celestial mediante el arrepentimiento y una vida santa y virtuosa. Esta es la verdadera libertad, una libertad para la felicidad que lo perfeccionará en Cristo, imagen perfecta del Padre.

Finalmente, al prepararse para el cielo, Dios llama a su hijo a amar virtuosamente a su prójimo como a sí mismo en esta vida. ¿Está dispuesto a hacer esto? ¿Está dispuesto a aprender a amar y a sacrificarse, como el mismo Jesús, a través de la santa castidad? Esto implicará que su hijo evite las ocasiones cercanas de pecar con sus amistades haciendo elecciones morales buenas y prudentes que lo ayudarán espiritual y moralmente. Ruego a Dios para que esté preparado para hacer esto, pero ciertamente va a necesitar la ayuda de Dios, incluyendo la suya, para ser casto en el amor al prójimo, como todos.

En Cristo con María Santísima,

Fray Mariano D. Véliz, O.P.

In the Old Testament, God reveals, through the prophets, that His plan of salvation for human beings includes saving, first of all, the people of Israel, and, secondly, the Gentiles.  For this reason, the prophets begin preaching this message to Israel and only later offer the same message to the Gentiles. In this sense, in the Old Testament, God reveals His plan in stages; the first stage involves His people, Israel, and the second stage, the Gentiles.  This means that His plan of salvation has an ordering.  In this ordering, Israel has primacy, as the first receivers or beneficiaries of God’s Word, for they are the people God first chose for Himself.  As such, from the people of Israel God would raise up for Himself a son of Israel from the Tribe of Judah, a son of David, who would become the Messiah Savior of Israel.  In this Messiah alone would all people be offered salvation, first the people of Israel, and only later the Gentiles.       

In this plan of salvation, particularly by establishing Israel as His covenant people on mount Sinai, God Himself becomes the Go’el of Israel, meaning He becomes a family member of Israel, a Godfather, who will redeem them from whatever they suffer.  This ministry of the go’el was traditionally practiced by a son of Israel for the redemption of his family members.  Here the go’el would redeem his family members from various difficult circumstances, including debt, poverty, threats, captivity, injustice, and the loss of the family’s inheritance of land.  In doing so, he would offer a solution for the price of redemption required to free his family members from their circumstances.  This was his legal responsibility as the go’el.  As such, here God Himself, by becoming a member of the family of Israel, assumes the office of the Go’el by beginning the ministry of redeeming Israel.  In God’s plan of salvation, the ministry of the Go’el will begin in Israel, but will also include the Gentiles, particularly those Gentiles prepared to receive this ministry from the Go’el.

In the Old Testament and also in the New Testament, particularly in the Gospels and in St. Paul, the inspired authors mention a particular group or class of Gentiles, God-fearers, who professed a belief in the God of the people of Israel. Indeed, they believed in the promises and prophecies that God revealed through the prophets.  These God-fearing Gentiles, believers in the faith of Israel, would be prepared to receive the ministry of redemption from the Go’el of Israel. They certainly heard the prophets proclaim God’s plan to save not only the people of Israel, but also the Gentiles.  In fact, in today’s first reading, God proclaims this message through the prophet Isaiah.  At the same time, only the God-fearing Gentiles would be prepared to receive the redemption from the Go’el of Israel.        

In the Gospel today, the inspired author recalls a story about a member of this group or class of God-fearing Gentiles, a Canaanite woman, who professed a belief in the God of Israel, particularly the belief that Israel’s God would raise up a Go’el or Redeemer of Israel from the House of David, a Messiah Savior, who would redeem not only the people of Israel, but also the Gentiles.  As a God-fearing Gentile, the Canaanite woman reveals a true faith in the God of Israel in today’s Gospel.  As Jesus travels through the region of Tyre and Sidon, this Gentile, a Canaanite woman, approaches Him pleading for Him to save her daughter from a demon.  As she continues calling out to Jesus for help, she begins bothering the disciples of Jesus. As a result, they tell Jesus to send her away.  After all, in their mind, she is not a daughter of Israel; she is a Gentile. She is, indeed, a Gentile, a God-fearing Gentile, who desires salvation from Jesus, the Go’el of Israel, particularly for her daughter. 

All the same, in God’s plan, as recounted in Scripture, the people of Israel, including the Gentiles, could only receive this salvation from the Go’el, the Redeemer, after He tested them for their fidelity and they passed the test as a people of faith. As such, in today’s Gospel, this would certainly be true of the God-fearing Canaanite woman.  Jesus, the Go’el of Israel, tests her three times for her fidelity.  Only if she passes the test, as a woman of faith, would she receive from the Go’el the salvation she desires for her daughter.  The temptation, of course, during the test, especially during a difficult test, is to lose faith, particularly by fleeing from the test or by avoiding the test altogether.  In the case of the Canaanite woman, does she respond faithfully to the three tests that she receives from Jesus, the Go’el of Israel?       

First of all, after hearing this Canaanite woman repeatedly call out to Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David!”, Jesus tests her by not saying a word to her.  He remains silent.  Oftentimes in life, Jesus does not offer a word to people as they call out to Him in prayer. The test for them, including the Canaanite woman, is to remain faithful to Him in prayer, to continue praying to Him faithfully, especially during times when He remains silent.  Here there may be a temptation for them to stop praying.  They may be tempted to lose faith in praying to Him during the silence, but if they remain faithful to Him, He will, eventually, offer them a word in the silence.  In the Gospel, the Canaanite woman does not stop calling out to Jesus in prayer during the silence.  For this reason, she passes this first test, as a woman of faith. 

Secondly, after Jesus finally responds to the Canaanite woman, He reminds her that during this first stage of God’s plan of salvation, He has been sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  This is the second test.  Will she remain faithful in prayer to Jesus, the Go’el of Israel, after hearing from Him that the people of Israel, the people that God first chose for Himself, have primacy in the ordering of God’s plan of salvation, not the Gentiles?  Many times people can be tempted to stop praying to Jesus in faith, if they are not God’s first choice. In the Gospel, after the Canaanite woman  hears Jesus tell her that the Gentiles do not have primacy in God’s plan, she could have easily stopped calling out to Jesus in prayer, but she does not.  On the contrary, she prays to Him in faith, all the more, faithfully pleading to Him, “Lord, help me!”  In doing so, she passes the second test, as a woman of faith.       

Finally, Jesus tests the Canaanite woman a third and final time in this Gospel reading.  In doing so, He tells her that using the food of the children to feed the dogs is not right.  The children, of course, refer to God’s children, the people of Israel; and the dogs refer to the Gentiles, particularly to the Canaanite woman and her daughter.  Conversely, the food refers to the grace of salvation that the master of the household, the Go’el of Israel, Jesus Christ, will offer to all people at the proper time according to the ordering of God’s plan. 

On the one hand, by calling the people of Israel the “children” of God, Jesus is alluding to their status as members of God’s family.  As you recall, through the covenant on mount Sinai, the people of Israel became members of the family of God.  Indeed, they became His children; and He became their Father, their Go’el, who would redeem them. In becoming the son of man, God the Son, Jesus Christ, would fulfill the office of the Go’el of Israel perfectly for their redemption.  In this Gospel reading, He is, once again, reminding the Canaanite woman of the primacy of the people of Israel in God’s plan of salvation, by calling them the children of God.  After all, a father has a moral duty, first and foremost, to help his children, before helping others. As a result, as the Go’el of Israel, Jesus, the Son of God, first offers His family, the people of Israel, God’s children, the grace of redemption as food.  This is the ordering of God’s plan.

On the other hand, Jesus calls the Gentile Canaanite woman and her daughter “dogs”.  What could he mean here?  For many people, this term can seem derogatory, but this is certainly not what Jesus intends.  During the time of Jesus, as today, people could refer to dogs either as feral and filthy animals, or as domesticated pets, such as puppies.  The first group of dogs, the feral and filthy dogs, had no human master or household, but the second group, the domesticated dogs, did have a human master, including a household. 

The people, during the time of Jesus, would use these terms for dogs metaphorically.  In doing so, they would sometimes use the first term for dogs, meaning feral and filthy animals, to refer to Gentiles derogatorily.  In today’s Gospel, Jesus, of course, does not do that.  On the contrary, He uses the second term for dogs, domesticated pets or puppies, to refer to Gentiles.  In this sense, here He is saying that these domesticated dogs, the Gentiles, have a household, including a master, the Go’el of Israel, who will feed them at the proper time, but only after the children of the household, the children of the master, have received their food from Him.  In this sense, for Jesus, the Gentiles would be fed, but not before Israel.  For this reason, He initially tells the Canaanite woman that for Him to use the food that belongs, first and foremost, to the children of Israel to feed the Gentiles, prematurely, before the children eat, is not right, for this would not be the proper ordering of salvation for Israel and the Gentiles in God’s plan.  As such, for Jesus, the children of Israel eat first in the plan of God, and the Gentiles only after.  In the Gospel, after the Canaanite woman hears what Jesus says, she, once again, passes the test, as a woman of faith.  According to her, she does not want the food that belongs to the children of Israel, the table food, but only the leftovers that fall from the master’s table, after the children have eaten.  Here the Canaanite woman remains faithful to the ordering of God’s plan in her prayer to Jesus.  Accordingly, Jesus honors her prayer by healing her daughter.       

The question is this: Will you remain faithful to Jesus, the Go’el of Israel, as He tests you, as difficult as those tests may be for you, in God’s plan of salvation?  Indeed, will you imitate the faithfulness of the Canaanite woman in today’s Gospel reading?  Jesus, the Go’el of Israel, certainly desires your fidelity to Him, as a person of faith.  Only by remaining faithful to Him in this life will you merit the grace of salvation in the afterlife.

In Christ with Blessed Mary,

Friar Mariano D. Veliz, O.P.


Dear friends, if you have a son, particularly a prodigal or lost son, who has a homosexual orientation, remember that God loves him. As the Evangelist, St. John, proclaims, “God is Love.”  This Love, God Himself, is revealed in the person the Son of God, Jesus Christ.  In fact, St. John recalls Jesus saying that a person can have no greater love than to offer his life sacrificially for his friends.  This is the faithful love, the sacrificial love, that He offers to the Father for His friends by becoming man, suffering and dying to save them. In this faithful love, Jesus reveals Himself as the perfect image of the Father’s love, meaning He loves His friends perfectly as the Father does.  Moreover, in the parable of the prodigal son, Jesus describes the faithful and perfect love of God the Father through the fidelity of the prodigal son’s father. As sinful as the prodigal son is, as badly as he has lived his life, his faithful father loves him perfectly. Accordingly, in this parable, Jesus is calling the people of God, particularly parents, to love their prodigal or lost son faithfully, as God the Father does. For Jesus, of course, this faithful love involves offering mercy to the lost son. Indeed, He faithfully reveals this merciful love to others, especially to the lost, throughout His life and ministry. For this reason, He certainly loves your son faithfully, as the perfect image of the Father. Conversely, if Jesus, the perfect image of the Father, did not love your son perfectly, as He does, He would not image the Father’s love perfectly. On the contrary, He would image the Father only imperfectly through an imperfect love.  This, of course, would be completely false.  After all, as the perfect Son of the Father, He does, in fact, love your son perfectly, as the Father does, for all eternity, because He proceeds eternally from the Father as His perfect image. 


As a result, the love that Jesus has for your son will never increase nor decrease nor cease.  He will love him perfectly forever. This means He is unchangeable, as the Son of the Father.  On the one hand, He is unchangeable, for He does not move from potency to act, from an imperfect image to a perfect image of the Father. On the contrary, He is already fully actual or perfect in Himself.  For this reason, as the perfect image of the Father, He is not subject to perfectibility by becoming perfect in Himself through maturation.  In this sense, He has no potentiality in Him. He is actus purus, pure actuality. In this sense, He does not ever have to learn to love your son perfectly, because He already does from all eternity.  On the other hand, as the perfect image of the Father, He also does not change, by corruption, meaning He is not subject to becoming evil or imperfect in Himself by spiritual or moral corruptibility. As such, He will never sin by failing to love your son perfectly.  On the contrary, as actus purus, pure act, He is incorruptible in His love, spiritually and morally, meaning He will forever love your son perfectly, as the perfect Son of the Father.  Accordingly, Jesus, the perfect image of the Father, is unchangeable as a lover, because He is unchangeable as God.  He can neither be perfected nor corrupted.  On this basis, do not ever question or doubt God’s perfect, unchangeable love for your son. He may have a homosexual orientation, but God still loves him perfectly.  He will forever have a perfect love for him.


As parents, created in God’s image, you are called to image God’s perfect love for your son each and every day by loving him faithfully through a life of holiness. This call to fidelity in love will require you to mature daily in your love for God and for your son. You can only do this, of course, by professing and living the full deposit of Catholic faith and morals, particularly the Church’s teaching about the human person’s sacred dignity as image of God, including his call to live a holy life of virtue. In doing so, God calls you to be prudent, patient, merciful and loving as you teach and form your son to live his life virtuously, as God wills, through your witness, including your words and actions. This will involve much prayer, contemplation and penance. Indeed, God calls you to pray for the grace to be faithful and loving parents, but He also desires you to pray for your son that he may learn to be faithful and loving.


At the same time, as already suggested above, your call to love your son faithfully after the image of God’s perfect love means that your love for him will have to be informed and guided intellectually and morally by the Church’s teaching about the homosexual orientation and activity. The Church teaches that the homosexual orientation in a human being is not a natural movement in him, for it does not move or incline him to the good and proper telos or end of his true human happiness, as image of God, either naturally or supernaturally. On the contrary, his orientation is an unnatural movement of the concupiscible appetite that malforms and inclines him in his passions, his intellect, and his will to an evil end or object.  All the same, this unnatural movement, or inclination, precedes a moral act of his will, a moral choice on his part.  In this sense, the Church does not define the homosexual orientation as a moral evil, an evil act of his will, per se, but merely as a movement that inclines him unnaturally to an evil moral end or object.  In particular, that end would be a homosexual act involving another man.  For the Church, such an act would be intrinsically evil, evil by nature, for it would be against right reason and nature, including divine grace and revelation. Consequently, under no circumstances may a human being, including your son, act on his homosexual orientation through an evil act of his will.  If he did, he would be acting against God’s will.  Moreover, you would not be loving your son faithfully, as God wills, if you malformed him by false teaching, particularly by telling him the lie that living a homosexual life was fine, or morally good. On this basis, God desires that your love, as parents, be properly informed and guided by the Church’s teaching about the homosexual orientation and activity.


Your son certainly did not receive his homosexual orientation from God as a natural quality or inclination of his human nature when God created him.  God did not create him to be homosexual.  On the contrary, a man’s homosexual orientation, including your son’s, is a consequence of the original sin of his first parents, Adam and Eve.  This is a form of concupiscence.  Of course, he has no personal moral guilt here.  As such, he cannot be rightly judged or defined as a sinner, merely because he has a homosexual orientation.  After all, his homosexual orientation is neither a moral act nor a sin.  Accordingly, he would only be morally guilty of a homosexual sin, if he acted voluntarily on his homosexual orientation.


Moreover, for the Church, the human person, particularly your son, has a full dignity that cannot be reduced merely or primarily to his homosexual orientation. He, himself, is not an orientation.  He is much more than an orientation.  Indeed, he has received from God a full sacred dignity, the dignity of the divine image of God, as a rational and free person.  For this reason, by his rationality and freedom, he has a capacity for God as God’s divine image, meaning he can know God, love God and serve God by his good moral choices.  In doing so, he opens himself for the grace of God to perfect his human nature supernaturally. In this sense, he is not perfected as a human being through his orientation, but through the grace of his good moral choices. This life of grace would involve fully practicing the theological and moral virtues and gifts of the Holy Spirit, including chastity, as a son of God.  This would form and rectify him intellectually, spiritually and morally that he may respond virtuously to the unnatural movement of his homosexual orientation.  This alone would prepare him to fulfill the final end or perfection of his full sacred dignity as image of God: becoming a saint in Heaven someday.


As great as that would be for your son, before he could ever become holy, or virtuous, and eventually a saint in Heaven, he would first have to learn to love God as his First and Greatest Love. For this reason, he is called to mature in his love for God, throughout his life, until he finally reaches full perfection in Heaven. In this sense, he will not reach Heaven merely because God loves him perfectly.  As perfectly as God loves your son, as perfectly as He will love your son forever, your son will never reach Heaven as an unrepentant mortal sinner. On the contrary, he will only reach heaven by remaining in the love of God.  As Jesus says in the Gospel, “Remain in my love.  If you remain in my love, you will bear much fruit.”  Only in the love of God will your son live and die fruitfully in preparation for Heaven.  This preparation would also involve opening his heart to receive the justice and mercy of God through repentance, if he sins by acting on his homosexual orientation. As such, God’s justice and mercy will be available to him throughout his life, but this is not a license for him to act immorally. Loving God first will move him to prepare himself for Heavenly beatitude through repentance and a holy life of virtue. This is true freedom, a freedom for happiness that will perfect him in Christ, the perfect image of the Father.

Finally, in preparing himself for heaven, God calls your son to love his neighbor virtuously as himself in this life. Is he willing to do this? Is he willing to learn to love sacrificially, as Jesus Himself, through holy chastity.  This will involve your son avoiding the near occasions to sin in his friendships by good and prudent moral choices that will help him spiritually and morally.  I pray that he is prepared to do this, but he will certainly require the help of God, including your help, to be chaste in his love of neighbor, just as everyone does.

In Christ with Blessed Mary,

Friar Mariano D. Veliz, O.P.

Dear friends, in the Old Testament God often reveals Himself to His people, including the prophets, through theophanies in creation.  The word, theophany, is a term that means that God is revealing Himself supernaturally by appearing to others indirectly through the sensible signs or features of material creation. These standard signs or features of theophanies, besides earthquakes and smoke, also include wind, clouds, thunder, lightning, and fire.  In this sense, in the theophanies of the Old Testament, God often uses natural sensible signs in creation, signs that have a material nature, to reveal Himself indirectly to His people in a supernatural manner.  In doing so, He reveals His glory to them, particularly His glorious governance of all His creation.  Indeed, by revealing Himself in this manner, He proclaims to His people, once again, that there is no God but Him, for He alone governs all creation.       

At the same time, you may ask yourself, why, in the Old Testament, does God reveal Himself to human beings in this manner?  That is a good question. In fact, in the Old Testament, God addresses this question. He tells His people that if He ever directly revealed Himself to them, spiritually, in all His divinity, they would all die, for their humanity could not directly receive Him, not naturally. He would have to perfect them supernaturally in their humanity for them to receive such a revelation directly. After all, no human being, by nature, can see God and live. Accordingly, by revealing Himself to human beings supernaturally, but only indirectly, through the sensible signs of material creation, He saves them from death.       

In today’s first reading (1 Kings 19:9a, 11-13a), God tells the prophet Elijah to prepare himself by standing on the mountain, for He is about to appear before him.  As Elijah stands there, God reveals Himself indirectly, as in the great theophanies of Israel, by causing various natural sensible signs supernaturally in material creation.  In particular, He crushes rocks on the mountain; causes an earthquake; and finally He creates a fire there.  The reading suggests that these sensible signs that God causes supernaturally in creation, including the crushing of the rocks, the earthquake and the fire, are all great signs that reveal something of the greatness of God.        

All the same, as great as these sensible signs may be, materially, as great as they may appear, God tells Elijah that he will not find Him in any of these signs, not directly.  In this sense, He is telling Elijah not to search for Him in the appearances of the natural sensible signs of the theophanies of material creation, as great as they may be.  In the Old Testament, this is a regular temptation for the people of Israel.  They desire for God to reveal Himself to them in material creation by great signs. As a result, in their mind, they reduce God merely to the sensible signs, or appearances, that He causes in creation supernaturally. As I have already said, God never reveals Himself directly to human beings by such signs, but only indirectly, for He has no desire for them to die.  Still, in the Old Testament, the people of Israel often fail to remember this teaching.  In their desire for God to reveal Himself by the great sensible signs of the theophanies of material creation, they become concerned only about appearances. They desire sensible signs from God. As such, they conceive of God merely as someone they can see or sense.  Consequently, they, more or less, reduce God, intellectually, to the status of a sensible creature.  For this reason, in today’s first reading, God tells Elijah that he will not find Him directly in the sensible signs of material creation, as great as those signs may be, for He is not a creature. 

On the contrary, God tells Elijah that he will only find Him, spiritually, in a tiny whispering sound, a sound that can only be heard, not seen.  This sound is the whispering of God’s Word. In whispering His Word, God reveals Himself spiritually to Elijah by the intelligibility of the Word He whispers to him.  This means that He perfects the mind of Elijah supernaturally to understand the Word he hears in the tiny whisper.  In this sense, in revealing Himself to Elijah in this manner, He teaches Elijah that He is really spiritual, by nature, in His divinity.  Accordingly, there is nothing material in God, for He is not a material creature.  Only by hearing the intelligible sound of the tiny whispering of God’s Word does Elijah learn not to reduce God merely to the appearances of the great signs of the theophanies of creation.     

In considering God’s message to Elijah in this first reading, the question is this: How is this message relevant and applicable to the people of today, especially in relating to their neighbors, other human beings?  Above all, God’s Word to Elijah is a reminder for people not to reduce their brothers and sisters merely to their appearances, as great or as imperfect as they may appear as human beings.  The temptation for people today can be to value only the people they consider desirable on the basis of their appearances.  This would include valuing only people who are beautiful or handsome, people who are rich financially and materially, people who are healthy as human beings, or educated people who have college degrees.  Of course, for a person to be beautiful, healthy, rich, or intelligent is not bad, but when people reduce a person’s dignity merely to such appearances, or sensible signs, they fail to see the person for who he really and fully is in God’s eyes.  If they fail here, how they would see a person who is overweight, sick, disfigured, poor, or uneducated? Would they see him as God does? Or would they be tempted to reduce this person to his appearance? Would they be tempted not to value this person for who he really and fully is in the eyes of God?

In Scripture and Tradition, every human being has received from God a sacred human dignity, the dignity of the divine image of God. This dignity does not depend on the appearance of the person. On the contrary, he has this dignity, first of all, from his conception as a human zygote. Here he may not appear to be human, but he really and fully is.  Indeed, he is really and fully the image of God. Secondly, a person may be suffering from a disease that has disfigured his appearance, physically, but he really and fully remains sacred to God as His divine image.  Or a person may be uneducated and poor materially, but in the eyes of God, he still has a sacred dignity. In the Old Testament, God proclaims that human beings judge by appearances, but God judges by the truth of the heart. Yes, God forms a true judgment about a person, not by appearances, but by the truth of who a person really and fully is in His eyes, the divine image of God. In Church Teaching, the human heart is foundational to human dignity. As a creature created in the sacred dignity of God’s divine image, the human being has a rational and free heart. For this reason, he is called to know God, love God and serve God. This is the basis of his human dignity. I hope and pray that all people will open their hearts to see every person as someone who is sacred to God, not because of his appearance, but because of the truth of who he really and fully is before God.

In Christ with Blessed Mary,

Friar Mariano D. Veliz, O.P.


As all of you may already know by now, the Roman Catholic Church lost a beloved priest, Fr. Mark Beard, recently.  As a human being, Fr. Mark knew that he would die someday.  On that day, he knew, in faith, that he would, finally, stand before the judgment seat of God to receive from God his particular judgment for the life he lived on earth, either eternal salvation or punishment.  For this reason, in Scripture, God calls every person to remember daily that he will be judged by God whenever he dies.  Indeed, someday his time on earth, as determined by God, will end. On that day, he will die and be judged by God, whether he is ready or not for that judgment.  The question is, will he be ready?  This was certainly Fr. Mark’s hope.  He hoped that he would be ready for the day God called him. Is this not everyone’s desire?  Does not every person hope that he will be prepared for the day that God will judge him in the afterlife?  Certainly, he does.


At the same time, a person can only be hopeful that he will be ready for God’s judgment, a judgment of eternal salvation in death, if he faithfully remembers, as a man of faith, that he can only receive this salvation from God, as a grace, by living a life of virtue, a holy life, on earth in fidelity to God. In this faithful act of remembering God’s Word, the Word that God will judge every person in death, the human being begins to prepare himself in the hope that he will die a good and holy death someday by his fidelity to God. 

Today, in the first reading (Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14), the prophet Daniel receives a revelation from God about fidelity, first of all, the fidelity of God Himself.  In doing so, he describes God faithfully sending the Messiah, the Son of Man, conceived and born of a woman, who would finally save God’s people as He had faithfully promised them, centuries earlier, beginning in the Protoevangelium of Genesis. In this sense, the first part of God’s revelation to Daniel in this reading is about God’s fidelity to His people. Secondly, Daniel also describes the fidelity of the people of God, the fidelity they offer to God by serving Him faithfully in the person of the Son of Man, the Messiah.  This means that service to God is at the heart of being faithful to God.  As such, the people of God, the Israelites, including the prophet Daniel, certainly believed and professed that they would only be ready for God’s particular judgment in death by serving Him faithfully. This faithful service alone would prepare them to die a good and holy death someday, a faithful death in the grace of God’s friendship. This, of course, was the same service that Fr. Mark faithfully offered to God, during his life on earth, as a means to prepare himself to die faithfully as a friend of God.   


The question is, what, in practice, does God call the human person to do in this life, as a faithful servant, that he may faithfully prepare himself to receive the judgment of eternal salvation he desires from God in death?  In today’s Gospel (Matthew 17:1-9) for the Solemnity of the Transfiguration of the Lord, Jesus teaches His disciples, Peter, James and John, about the virtues of being faithful servants of God, particularly three virtues.  True, He does not name these three virtues directly in this Gospel reading, but He does indirectly by modeling them for His disciples. These virtues include humility, charity, and magnanimity. Jesus calls His disciples to use these virtues to build their spiritual house faithfully in this life. In Scripture, the virtue of humility signifies the proper foundation of the spiritual house; the virtue of charity, the frame that holds the spiritual house together; and magnanimity, the roof, or highest part that covers the spiritual house. In this sense, for Jesus, the disciples can only build their spiritual house properly in this life by faithfully practicing humility, charity and magnanimity. In doing so, they are transfigured in Christ throughout their life on earth as faithful servants.


First, Jesus reminds His disciples that they can only be faithful servants by becoming sheep who learn to follow Him humbly as their Shepherd.  This is the virtue of following Jesus in humility as His sheep.  In this sense, here neither Peter, nor James nor John are the shepherd.  They are not leading Jesus.  On the contrary, Jesus alone is their Shepherd, their Good Shepherd, who humbly leads them, as they follow Him.  In this sense, He models for them the humility He desires them to practice each day. For this reason, in the Gospel, St. Matthew describes Jesus as a humble Shepherd leading His disciples, His sheep. In doing so, He forms them to become faithful servants who would shepherd their people, their sheep, humbly someday. Fr. Mark certainly learned to become a humble sheep of the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, for he humbly followed Jesus wherever Jesus led him in his life and ministry.  This means that he only learned to become a shepherd of God’s people by first learning to become a humble sheep who followed the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ.  Indeed, he had to learn to follow Jesus before he could ever lead anyone to Him.  This is true of every human being.  Every person, who desires to be a shepherd in leading others, is first called to learn to follow Jesus faithfully as His humble sheep.   Accordingly, for the disciples, humility is the proper foundation for building their spiritual house as faithful servants.


Secondly, in today’s Gospel, Jesus also teaches His disciples that faithful servanthood involves practicing the virtue of charity, particularly in forming friendships, firstly divine friendship, but also human friendships. Indeed, He is calling them to form a communion of friends by loving Him and the people of God they faithfully serve. In this sense, they could never become faithful servants of God by practicing a private form of discipleship that was separated from God and the people of God. On the contrary, only by offering their friendship to God, and the people of God, in the communion of charity, could they serve God faithfully.  Accordingly, their call to be faithful servants of God involves living in the communion of the friendship of God and His people through love. For this reason, Jesus, the Son of God, not only calls His disciples His friends, but relates to them as such. In fact, throughout the Gospels, the Evangelists describe Jesus, the faithful servant of God, as befriending the people of His day.  Of course, He offers them this friendship because He loves them faithfully. This faithful love is at the heart of the friendship that Jesus faithfully practiced during His life and ministry on earth.  Similarly, in the last month, I have learned that Fr. Mark was a faithful servant of God who befriended all the people he faithfully served.  He was certainly moved by love to offer them his friendship.  He could have never become the faithful servant that he was by living his discipleship privately or separated from God and God’s people. In such a private or separated discipleship, there would have been no love of friendship in him for God or His people. Consequently, that would have been a false discipleship. On this basis, for Jesus, the virtue of charity in His disciples, particularly their offer of friendship to God and His people, is the frame, the bond of perfection, that holds their spiritual house together.        


The third virtue of faithful servanthood that Jesus teaches His disciples about in today’s Gospel is the virtue of magnanimity, the virtue of ascending the high mountain, the great mountain of God. After all, He is not calling them to mediocrity as servants. He is not telling them to remain at the foot of God’s mountain.  There are many people who remain at the foot of God’s mountain, spiritually, throughout their life. In doing so, they have, in a sense, accepted being mediocre, spiritually. Jesus, on the other hand, is calling His disciples to the greatness of God, spiritually, by ascending God’s high mountain, as He does. 

In the Old Testament, a high mountain, such as Mount Sinai, is described as sacred or holy, because by ascending the mountain, the people of God, particularly the prophets, would be sanctified there by the greatness of the All Holy God.  In doing so, God would offer them the gifts that they would use to faithfully serve Him as a holy people. In fact, they could only remain on this high mountain, the mountain of God, spiritually, as a holy people, as God’s faithful servants, by faithfully using all the gifts they had received from Him. This means that the All Holy God was calling them to use these gifts, as faithful servants, to reveal His greatness to others, His holiness, by magnanimity. 

Similarly, in today’s Gospel, Jesus is calling His disciples to greatness, the greatness of God, by becoming holy as God is holy, as they ascend the holy mountain of God. The virtue of magnanimity, their call to greatness, moves them to ascend this mountain.  As in the Old Testament, this ascent involves faithfully using all their gifts magnanimously for the good of others in faithfully serving God. In the Gospel, after ascending to the summit of the great mountain of God, Jesus, the All Holy Son of God, is transfigured by the glory of His divinity, but this divine glory of Jesus in His transfiguration also, in a sense, transfigures Peter, James and John intellectually and spiritually. After all, by this gift of the Transfiguration, they receive a grace from Christ, a grace that they did not have before. This grace of the Transfiguration would later be a great source of consolation for them interiorly during the passion of Christ.        

As a faithful servant of God, Fr. Mark certainly ascended the great mountain of God, spiritually, during his life, by using all his gifts, all the gifts he had received from God, including his natural and supernatural gifts, for others in serving God faithfully. This was the virtue of magnanimity moving him to the greatness of God by becoming holy as God is holy through the use of all of his gifts.  First of all, Fr. Mark certainly used the gift of his natural life, including his mind, his will and his passions, in serving God faithfully.  Secondly, perfected supernaturally in his human nature by the grace of the Sacraments, particularly Baptism, Fr. Mark also used his supernatural gifts, including his theological and moral virtues, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, to offer his life to God as a faithful servant. Finally, and above all, he served God faithfully in this life, as a priest, by using all his priestly gifts he had received from God to teach, to sanctify and to heal God’s people.  In doing so, as imperfect as he was, he not only prepared himself to die a good and holy death, a faithful death in the friendship of God’s grace, but also prepared his sheep, the people of God, to do the same. This preparation alone prepares a person to receive the judgment of salvation he desires from God in death: the judgment that he is a friend of God, as imperfect as he is.  Fr. Mark was certainly a friend of God in this life, and will forever remain in God’s friendship, but remember to pray for him and offer penance for him, because, as any human being, he was still only human, a sinner, who desired his final perfection in Christ. The virtue of magnanimity, the highest part of the spiritual house, moved Fr. Mark to desire this greatness, the greatness of being fully perfected in Christ by ascending the holy mountain of God. May he rest in the peace of Christ’s love.

In Christ with Blessed Mary,

Friar Mariano D. Veliz, O.P.

Today, Good Friday, the Church commemorates the suffering and death of Jesus. In the Gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke, Jesus prophesies three times to His disciples, during His ministry, that Israel’s religious leaders in Jerusalem, including the elders, the chief priests and the scribes, would all persecute Him and have Him sentenced to death. In this sense, here He prophesies literally about His persecution and death. These religious leaders, of course, did not have the legal authority to sentence Jesus to death. After all, at the time, they lived under Roman rule. For this reason, the Roman Governor in the time of Jesus, Pontius Pilate, would alone have the legal authority to sentence Jesus to death, for he acted on behalf of Caesar, the Emperor of Rome. As such, Israel’s religious leaders in Jerusalem, who did not have any authority from Caesar, would conspire to use their social and religious status to influence the people against Jesus through false testimony about Him. As a result, the people would eventually join them in calling for Pilate to sentence Jesus to death. According to the Gospels, in the end, Pilate, fearing that the people would riot, publically declared that Jesus, an innocent man, would suffer the death penalty. For the religious leaders, this was certainly their desired end or objective in persecuting Jesus. They wanted Him dead. In fact, as Jesus reveals prophetically three times in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, He knew what He would be subjected to by Israel’s religious leaders in Jerusalem. He knew they would persecute Him and have Him sentenced to death.

Similarly, in John’s Gospel, Jesus also prophesies His persecution and death, but John does not use the three literal prophecies of Jesus recorded in the other Gospels. On the contrary, he uses other parables, metaphors and sayings in Jesus’s preaching that prophetically reveal the same message. For instance, John recalls that Jesus prophesied His persecution, particularly His death, by preaching metaphorically about them. This would include His saying about the grain of wheat that falls to the ground and dies. According to John, here the grain of wheat represents Jesus who would fall to the ground and die by persecution. Moreover, in his Gospel, John also recalls Jesus describing Himself as the good shepherd who guards His sheep from the wolves who only desire to separate them from one another to kill them. In this sense, here Jesus is the good shepherd, the sheep are His people, and the wolves are the religious leaders. According to Jesus, as the good shepherd, He is willing to lay down His life for His sheep, He is willing to suffer and die for them, in guarding them from the wolves. As such, here Jesus, again, preaches metaphorically about His persecution and death that He would suffer. In this sense, in all four Gospels, in Mark, Matthew, Luke and John, Jesus reveals what He would be subjected to by the religious leaders of Israel. Indeed, by preaching literally and metaphorically, He reveals that He would suffer persecution from them, including death.

At the same time, in all four Gospels, Jesus also tells His disciples that His Father wills that He suffer this persecution and death. In fact, in His preaching of the Gospel, Jesus Himself professes that He has become man to do His Father’s will. According to Him, the Father’s will involves Him suffering persecution and death, as difficult as that would be for Him as man. For instance, in Jesus’s agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, as recounted by Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus prays to His Father asking Him to save Him from the suffering that He would be subjected to by human beings, particularly by the religious leaders in Jerusalem. In this prayer, Jesus, in His suffering, begins by prayerfully asking His Father, “Father, if it is possible, take this cup away from me”, meaning the cup of persecution and death that He would suffer, but He finishes His prayer by saying to His Father, “not what I will, Father, what you will.” “Your will be done.” In this sense, in the Garden, Jesus prays to do His Father’s will in His suffering as man. In doing so, He knows that He would suffer greatly, more than anyone would ever suffer in human history, but He is willing to drink this cup of suffering, this persecution and death as man, if that is the will of His Father. This story of Jesus in the Garden praying in agony not to do His will, but to do the will of His Father, is recorded only in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. Here the Evangelists describe the real humanity and suffering of Jesus in the Garden. Conversely, in John’s Gospel, John only recalls the fruit of Jesus’s prayer in the Garden, for here, after praying, Jesus receives divine fortitude from His Father to proclaim to the religious leaders and soldiers who He really is, His divine status, as I AM. This proclamation of His divinity to them in the Garden means that He is ready and willing to drink the cup of suffering, the persecution and death, they plan to subject Him to, after arresting Him.

In this sense, the persecution and death that these people plan for Jesus is also the Father’s plan of salvation for human beings. Indeed, the Father wills for His Son, Jesus, to be their Savior by what He would suffer. In John’s Gospel, Jesus says that the grain of wheat that falls to the ground and dies will produce much fruit. The fruit He is referring to here is the salvation of the human race. As such, if He falls to the ground as His Father wills, meaning if He suffers and dies, by persecution, He will produce the fruit of salvation for human beings. For this reason, throughout His life as man, particularly in His persecution and death, Jesus wills in His Heart only what His Father wills. This means that His will to suffer as man, as the Father wills, is a real sacrifice that would mercifully save human beings.

Accordingly, on Good Friday, the Church commemorates Jesus’s sacrificial offering of Himself to the Father by His will to suffer persecution and death to save human beings from both sin and their punishment for sin. After all, by sin, particularly the original sin of Adam and Eve, including mortal sin, these first human beings justly incurred not only the stain of moral guilt for sin, but also the debt of eternal punishment for such sin, including death, for here they acted against the order of God’s divine justice. According to the Church, this divine order requires, in justice, that human beings, including Adam and Eve, offer to God the honor due Him by good actions that proceed from love. Consequently, by sinning against God, Adam and Eve unjustly denied God this honor. In doing so, they failed to love God, first and foremost, in their actions, but also failed to do the same for each other. As a result, they introduced an inequality of actions in the order of God’s divine justice. This means that the sin, the evil action, which Adam and Eve introduced to this divine order was unequal to the good action required, in justice, to honor God. For this reason, this order of justice could only be repaired or restored to equality by paying to God, the Just Judge, a penalty of compensation for sin through a good action, proceeding from love, which would honor God.

In Catholic Teaching, this compensatory payment for the penalty of sin is called satisfaction. In the doctrine of satisfaction, developed by St. Thomas, he recalls the general principle that a human being, a just man, can satisfy for the sin of his neighbor, his brother or sister, if he remains in a state of charity, but he cannot satisfy for all human beings because an act of love by a single human being, a mere creature, as good as he may be, does not have the full value of all the people in the human race. On the other hand, the action of Jesus, proceeding from perfect love, has a value that could fully satisfy for the sins of all people, particularly for the sin of Adam and Eve and all mortal sins, by reason of His divine dignity as the Son of God. In fact, here the action of Jesus, the Son of God, who has become the Son of man, has a divine goodness infinitely greater in efficacy than the goodness of all the members of the human race. Accordingly, He alone, by His dignity as the God-man, could offer infinite satisfaction for the guilt for all the sins of human beings in human history, including for the debt of eternal punishment and death. In this sense, in offering such satisfaction for all people, Jesus does not merely offer to God a good action equal in goodness to an action that honors God, as divine justice requires. On the contrary, by His divine dignity, Jesus offers to God the perfect action, the perfect sacrifice, infinitely greater than the requirements of justice, for He acts by a higher principle, divine charity, to satisfy for sin perfectly through His passion and death. In this perfect sacrifice, the perfect act of love, Jesus does His Father’s will. He suffers and dies for human beings as satisfactory payment for their guilt and punishment for sin, because of His love. Indeed, He offers Himself sacrificially as satisfaction for them, principally because He loves His Father as His First and Greatest Good, and secondarily, because He loves His neighbors, all human beings, as Himself. Thus, He satisfies this compensatory penalty, required by God’s divine justice, through an act of divine love, the greatest act of love He could ever offer to His Father for human beings. As He says in the Gospel, He could offer no greater love for His friends than to offer Himself as a sacrifice for them. In this act, He more than compensates for the inequality introduced to the order of justice by sin. Here He removes all the defects of sin that separate human beings from God, including guilt, punishment and death. On this basis, by His sacrifice, the perfect act of love that honors God, Jesus merits for people God’s grace of justification, the grace that offers them God’s forgiveness and communion in God’s friendship.

Today, as the Church contemplates Jesus’s sacrificial offering of Himself, His suffering and death, the perfect act of loves that saves human beings, she remembers that Jesus is calling her, calling all her members, to participate in His perfect sacrifice of love. As Jesus says in the Gospel, a person can only be His disciple by living a sacrificial life. This means that he will have to bear His crosses virtuously, deny himself, and follow Jesus for love of Him and his neighbors. In doing so, he helps his brothers and sisters, spiritually, by his sacrifices. This is the message of Good Friday. The Church, in all her members, is called to love sacrificially as Jesus does. This alone will honor God.

In Christ with Blessed Mary,

Friar Mariano D. Veliz, O.P.

      ­¡Bienvenido, hermano!  En este artículo, espero ayudarle a desarrollar un entendimiento más completo del Primer Misterio Gozoso del Santo Rosario, la Anunciación del arcángel de Dios, San Gabriel, a la Santísima Virgen María.  Según el Evangelio de San Lucas, el Arcángel San Gabriel se le apareció a una joven virgen hija de Israel, de unos 13 años, llamada María, la cual ya estaba desposada en matrimonio con su marido, San José.  Esta tradición del compromiso matrimonial en el judaísmo del primer siglo requería que los esposos, ya completamente casados, vivieran separados el uno del otro, por un tiempo, mientras se preparaban para la segunda y última etapa del matrimonio.  Como tal, en el momento de la Anunciación de San Gabriel, la Virgen María ya estaba en la primera etapa de su matrimonio con San José, la etapa de los esponsales.  Por eso, vivía separada de él en la casa de su familia en Nazaret de Galilea.  De hecho, según la Tradición, los padres de la Virgen María, San Joaquín y Santa Ana, tenían allí una casa, pero es posible que para entonces ya hubieran muerto, considerando que la habían recibido de Dios en su vejez.  Aunque San Lucas no se refiere específicamente que la Virgen María vivió en la casa de su familia en Nazaret, esta era la costumbre tradicional de una joven virgen comprometida con su esposo en matrimonio.  Viviría en su casa familiar durante esta primera etapa del matrimonio. Y sólo así después de haber terminado con esta primera etapa se podría mudar a la casa de su esposo para la segunda y última etapa matrimonial. 

     Según la Tradición de la Iglesia, en el momento de la Anunciación de San Gabriel a la Virgen María, María acababa de mudarse a su hogar en Nazaret, después de haber cumplido su servicio al Señor como virgen consagrada en el Templo de Jerusalén.  Años antes, los padres ancianos de María, Joaquín y Ana, los cuales habían sufrido de esterilidad a lo largo de su matrimonio, prometieron al Señor en oración que, si Él los hacía fértiles en su acto matrimonial ayudándolos a concebir y tener un hijo, consagrarían a este niño al Señor en el Templo en Jerusalén.  Después de escuchar su oración, el Señor les reveló, a través de Su ángel, que los bendeciría. De hecho, les prometió que, por su gracia, darían fruto al concebir y dar a luz una hija en su vejez.  Por lo que, después de que tuvieron a su hija, María, aproximadamente un año después, finalmente la consagraron al Señor como virgen al presentarla a los sacerdotes en el Templo de Jerusalén cuando solo tenía 3 años, tal como le habían prometido al Señor. Cada año la Iglesia celebra esta Fiesta de la Presentación de la Virgen María en el Templo. 

     En esta tradición, una hija de Israel, como María, que fue consagrada al Señor como virgen del Templo, permanecería allí durante unos 10 años sirviendo al Señor, cumpliendo ciertas responsabilidades relacionadas con la liturgia, bajo la tutela y formación de mujeres maduras del Templo.  Estas responsabilidades incluían la creación y reparación de vestiduras litúrgicas; la limpieza; y la participación en la oración litúrgica. Después de completar este servicio en el Templo, la niña israelita estaría lista para el matrimonio más o menos a la edad de 13 años.  Normalmente, sus padres arreglarían el matrimonio de su hija, pero los sacerdotes del Templo también podían ayudar en este arreglo, como en el matrimonio arreglado de la Virgen María con San José. Así, una hija virgen de Israel dejaría el Templo de Jerusalén para desposarse con su esposo en un matrimonio arreglado.  Esto fue verídico en el caso de la Virgen María, ya que ella misma estaba comprometida en un matrimonio arreglado con su esposo, San José, después de haber completado su servicio en el Templo.  Este matrimonio sería singular.  En su caso, la virginidad sería perpetua a lo largo de su matrimonio con San José, y no solamente durante sus 10 años en el Templo.  Por eso, el día que sus padres la consagraron al Señor en el Templo a la edad de 3 años, la Tradición de la Iglesia profesa que la Virgen María, por una gracia singular de Dios, en su primer acto racional y libre como ser humano, se comprometió a la virginidad perpetua por el resto de su vida natural.  Esto significa que ella ciertamente sabía que su matrimonio con San José seria virginal, perpetuamente.

     Según la historia, cuando la Virgen María se acercaba al final de su mandato en el Templo, los sacerdotes allí, inspirados por el Espíritu Santo, la prepararon para vivir su vida virginal perpetuamente después de su servicio en el Templo.  De hecho, hicieron preparativos para que ella cumpliera su voto de virginidad perpetua disponiendo que se casara con San José, un hijo de David, en un matrimonio virginal de por vida.  Esta historia de la tradición no dice que los padres de la Virgen María, Joaquín y Ana, ayudaron a arreglar su matrimonio, acaso porque ya habían muerto, pero los padres de Israel, en general, sin duda habrían estado involucrados en este arreglo, según la práctica israelita.  Esta práctica de los padres israelitas es relatada muchas veces en Israel por los autores inspirados de la Sagrada Escritura.  Como tal, después de que la Virgen María se comprometiera en matrimonio arreglado con San José en Jerusalén, se mudó a la casa de su familia en Nazaret, la casa de sus padres, para la etapa desposoria del matrimonio en preparación para la segunda y última etapa.

     San Lucas comienza a contar su historia de la Anunciación aquí.  Como él recuerda, algún tiempo después de que la Virgen María se mudara a Nazaret, el ángel, San Gabriel, se le apareció a ella en la Anunciación. Según San Lucas, San Gabriel fue enviado por Dios a esta virgen de Nazaret, la Virgen María, la cual ya estaba desposada en matrimonio con un hombre de la casa de David, su esposo San José (Lucas 1:26-27).  En esta aparición, San Gabriel, en primer lugar, la saludó, diciendo: “¡Alégrate, llena de gracia! El Señor está contigo” (Lucas 1:28). La llamó con este nombre o título, llena de gracia, porque Dios mismo la había llenado de gracia desde su inmaculada concepción.  Por eso, al dirigirse a la Virgen Maria como tal, San Gabriel le estaba diciendo que el Señor siempre había estado con ella desde su creación, incluso en la Anunciación.  En segundo lugar, San Gabriel le anunció a Maria que sería madre al concebir y dar a luz al Hijo de Dios como hombre.  Este hombre, Jesús, el Hijo de Maria, sería el Mesías (Lucas 1:31), el Hijo de David, que reinaría sobre el pueblo de Dios, el pueblo de Israel, para siempre (Lucas 1:33).  Según San Lucas, la Virgen María se preocupó al recibir este mensaje, lo cual sugiere que ella también tuvo miedo de la idea de concebir y tener un hijo en su matrimonio con San José, porque, en su mente, esto significaría que ella perdería su virginidad. Como virgen que ya había hecho su voto de virginidad perpetua años antes en el Templo de Jerusalén, naturalmente, al principio, la Virgen María, no entendió fácilmente el anuncio de San Gabriel de que ella sería madre.  Después de todo, ¿cómo podría convertirse en madre siendo virgen perpetua en su matrimonio con San José?  Por eso, después de la Anunciación, San Lucas cuenta que la Virgen María, comprensiblemente, le preguntó a San Gabriel (Lucas 1:34): “¿Cómo puede ser esto, pues no conozco varón?”  Por supuesto, el Evangelio de San Lucas, fue escrito en griego, pero originalmente María habría hecho esta pregunta en hebreo o arameo.  De hecho, la segunda cláusula de la pregunta de María, “No conozco varón”, es un modismo del hebreo y arameo. Este modismo significa que María misma es una virgen que no conoce sexualmente al hombre. Por un lado, como hija fiel de Israel, habría usado diariamente el hebreo para orar a Dios y proclamar la Torá.  Por otro lado, también habría usado el arameo con regularidad, considerando que era el idioma principal en Galilea en aquel tiempo. Así, al recordar la segunda cláusula de la pregunta de María, “No conozco varón”, usando el tiempo presente continuo en griego, San Lucas está basando su recuerdo en una tradición oral del hebreo o arameo, en el participio activo, que se refiere a la permanencia del continuo estado o disposición virginal de María en el presente de no conocer varón.  En sí, la pregunta de María, “¿Cómo puede ser esto, pues no conozco varón?”, realmente significa, “¿Cómo puede ser esto, pues nunca conoceré varón?”  Lo cual sugeriría el voto permanente de María de su virginidad perpetua.  De hecho, ella no habría tenido ninguna razón para hacerle esta pregunta a San Gabriel si ella misma no hubiera hecho ya un voto de virginidad perpetua.  Como tal, su pregunta aquí sugiere su voto de vivir como virgen perpetua por vida en su matrimonio con San José. Por eso, según San Agustín, la Virgen María tuvo que preguntarle a San Gabriel: “¿Cómo puede ser esto?”  Realmente, ¿cómo puede ser esto, si la Virgen María ya había hecho su voto de virginidad perpetua, lo cual cumpliría fielmente en su matrimonio virginal con San José por vida?  

     Por su parte, San Gabriel respondió a la pregunta de la Virgen María en la Anunciación revelándole que ella conservaría su voto de virginidad perpetua, pues concebiría y daría a luz virginalmente a Jesús, el Mesías, por una gracia singular del Espíritu Santo.  De hecho, él le dice a ella: “El Espíritu Santo vendrá sobre ti, y el poder del Altísimo te cubrirá con su sombra. Por tanto, el niño que será [concebido y] nacido [de ti] será llamado santo, Hijo de Dios” (Lucas 1:3).  Por lo que, según San Gabriel, ni San José ni ningún otro hombre sería el padre natural de este niño, el Hijo de Dios, que la Virgen Maria tendría virginalmente.  Al contrario, sólo el Espíritu Santo, el poder del Altísimo, sería responsable de la concepción y nacimiento de Dios como hombre al descender sobre la Virgen María. Al hacerlo, se convertiría en la Virgen Madre de Dios.  Por eso preservaría así perfectamente su voto de virginidad perpetua en su vocación materna.  

     Después de escuchar la Anunciación de San Gabriel, relatada en el Evangelio de San Lucas, la Virgen María respondió fielmente a su mensaje de que se convertiría en la Virgen Madre del Hijo de Dios. Al mismo tiempo, como una joven que ya había hecho su voto de virginidad perpetua años antes, la Virgen María inicialmente no estaba completamente preparada mental o emocionalmente para este mensaje.  Como virgen perpetua, como la Siempre Virgen del Señor, ciertamente no anticipó que el ángel del Señor le anunciaría que concebiría y daría a luz un Hijo, especialmente después de que Él ya había aceptado su voto de virginidad perpetua años antes en el templo. En consecuencia, según San Lucas, la Virgen María no entendió fácilmente el mensaje de San Gabriel. También sugiere que ella tenía miedo. Sin embargo, después de escuchar el mensaje de San Gabriel de que recibiría del Señor la gracia de concebir y dar a luz un Hijo virginalmente por obra del Espíritu Santo, ella desarrolló una verdadera comprensión y la fortaleza para decir fielmente sí a esta vocación, tan difícil como esto pudo haber sido para ella. Al hacerlo, proclamó: “He aquí, soy la sierva del Señor. Hágase en mí según tu palabra” (Lucas 1:38).  Así, San Lucas relata aquí el sí fiel de la Virgen María a la llamada que recibió del Señor para convertirse en Virgen Madre del Mesías, el Hijo de Dios (Lucas 1:38). De hecho, ella creía que Dios haría por ella lo que le era imposible a ella hacer por sí misma, porque nada era imposible para Dios (Lucas 1:37, 45). En conclusión, San Gabriel ayudó a la Virgen María a aceptar su vocación en el plan de Dios de convertirse en Virgen Madre de su Hijo (Lucas 1:30-35). Ella lo concibió virginalmente y lo dio a luz como Hombre por obra y gracia del Espíritu Santo, y el poder del Altísimo. Sobre esta base, en este Primer Misterio Gozoso del Santo Rosario del Evangelio de San Lucas, la Virgen María dijo fielmente sí a su Divina Maternidad Virginal en su Anunciación.

     Hermano, al contemplar este Primer Misterio Gozoso del Santo Rosario, Dios mismo lo está llamando a abrirse a la verdadera alegría imitando el sí fiel de la Virgen María en sus circunstancias particulares. Es cierto que sus circunstancias pueden ser difíciles. De hecho, pueden parecer imposibles, tal como parecían inicialmente para la Virgen María.  Sin embargo, todavía se abrió para creer plenamente en la Palabra de Dios, en el plan de Dios para ella, por difícil que haya sido para ella. La pregunta es esta: ¿Le está diciendo que no a Dios debido a la dificultad de sus circunstancias?  Si es así, ore a Dios por comprensión y fortaleza para que pueda decirle sí a Él, con alegría, como lo hizo María.

En Cristo con Maria Santísima,

Fray Mariano D. Veliz, O.P.

     In this article I hope to help you develop a fuller understanding of the First Joyful Mystery of the Holy Rosary, the Annunciation to the Virgin Mary by the angel, St. Gabriel. According to the Gospel of St. Luke, St. Gabriel appeared to a young virgin daughter of Israel, about 13 years old, named Mary, who was already betrothed in marriage to her husband, St. Joseph.  This tradition of the marriage betrothal in Judaism from the first century required that the husband and wife, already fully married, live apart from each other, for a time, as they prepared for the second and final stage of marriage.  As such, at the time of St. Gabriel’s Annunciation, the Virgin Mary was in the first stage of her marriage to St. Joseph, the betrothal stage. For this reason, she was living at her family home in Nazareth of Galilee apart from him.  In fact, according to Tradition, the Virgin Mary’s parents, Sts. Joachim and Anne, had a home there, but they may already been deceased at the time, considering that they had received her from God in their old age.  True, St. Luke does not say that the Virgin Mary was living at her family home in Nazareth, but this was the traditional practice for a young virgin betrothed to her husband in marriage. She would live at home during this first stage of marriage. In this sense, only after completing this first stage would she move to her husband’s home for the second and final stage of marriage.

     According to the Church’s Tradition, at the time of St. Gabriel’s Annunciation to the Virgin Mary, Mary had just moved home to Nazareth, after having completed her service to the Lord as a consecrated virgin at the Temple in Jerusalem.  Years earlier, Mary’s childless and elderly parents, Sts. Joachim and Anne, who had suffered from sterility throughout their marriage, promised the Lord in prayer that if He made them fruitful in their marital act by helping them to conceive and bear a child, they would consecrate this child to the Lord at the Temple in Jerusalem.  After hearing their prayer, the Lord revealed to them, through His angel, that He would bless them.  Indeed, He promised them that, through His grace, they would bear fruit by conceiving and bearing a daughter in their old age.  As such, after they had their daughter, Mary, about a year later, they eventually consecrated her to the Lord as a virgin by presenting her to the priests at the Temple in Jerusalem when she was only 3 years old, just as they had promised the Lord. Every year the Church celebrates this Feast of the Presentation of the Virgin Mary at the Temple.

     In this practice, a daughter of Israel, such as Mary, who was consecrated to the Lord as a Temple virgin would remain there for about 10 years serving the Lord by fulfilling certain responsibilities related to Temple liturgy under the guardianship and formation of mature consecrated women at the Temple.  These responsibilities included creating, repairing and washing liturgical vestments and linens; cleaning; and participating in liturgical prayer.  After completing this Temple service, the Israelite girl would be ready for marriage at about the age of 13.  This marriage would normally be arranged for her by her parents, but the priests at the Temple could also help in this arrangement, as in the Virgin Mary’s arranged marriage to St. Joseph.  In this sense, a virgin daughter of Israel would eventually leave the Temple in Jerusalem to be betrothed to her husband in an arranged marriage.  This was certainly true of the Virgin Mary, for she, herself, was betrothed in an arranged marriage to her husband, St. Joseph, after completing her service at the Temple, but her marriage to him would be a singular marriage.  After all, in her case, her virginity would be perpetual throughout her marriage to St. Joseph, not merely for 10 years at the Temple.  For this reason, on the day her parents consecrated her to the Lord at the Temple at the age of 3, the Church’s Tradition professes that the Virgin Mary, by a singular grace from God, in her first rational, free act as a human being, vowed herself to perpetual virginity for the rest of her life.  This means that she certainly intended her marriage to St. Joseph to be virginal, perpetually.

     According to the story, as the Virgin Mary neared the end of her term at the Temple, the priests there, inspired by the Holy Spirit, prepared her to live her virginal life perpetually after her Temple service.  Indeed, they made preparations for her to fulfill her vow of perpetual virginity by arranging for her to marry St. Joseph, a son of David, in a virginal marriage for life.  This story from tradition does not say that the Virgin Mary’s parents, Sts. Joachim and Anne, helped arrange her marriage, perhaps because they had already died, but parents, in general, certainly would have been involved in this arrangement, according to Israelite practice.  This practice by Israelite parents for their children, including their sons and daughters, is recounted many times in Israel by the inspired authors of Sacred Scripture. As such, after the Virgin Mary, herself, was betrothed in an arranged marriage to St. Joseph in Jerusalem, she moved to her family home in Nazareth, the home of her parents, for the betrothal stage of her marriage in preparation for the second and final stage. 

     St. Luke begins telling his story of the Annunciation here.  As he recalls, sometime after the Virgin Mary moved to Nazareth, St. Gabriel appeared to her at the Annunciation.  In doing so, he says that St. Gabriel was sent from the Lord to a virgin in Nazareth, the Virgin Mary, who was betrothed to a man from the House of David named Joseph (Luke 1:26-27).  After St. Gabriel greeted her by saying, “Hail, full of grace!  The Lord is with you” (Luke 1:28), he announced to her that she would become a mother by conceiving and bearing the Son of God, Jesus, as the Messiah (Luke 1:31), who would rule over God’s people, the people of Israel, forever (Luke 1:33). According to St. Luke, Mary was “troubled” by what was said to her by St. Gabriel, suggesting that she was also afraid of the idea of conceiving and bearing a child in her marriage to St. Joseph, for in her mind this would mean that she would lose her virginity.  As a virgin who had already vowed herself to perpetual virginity years earlier at the Temple in Jerusalem, Mary naturally did not readily understand St. Gabriel’s announcement to her that she would become a mother.  After all, how could she become a mother as a perpetual virgin in her marriage to St. Joseph?  For this reason, after St. Gabriel’s Annunciation to Mary, St. Luke recounts that Mary understandably asked Gabriel the question (Lk 1:34), “How can this be, since I know not man?”  The Gospel of St. Luke, of course, was in Greek, but Mary would have originally asked this question in Hebrew or Aramaic.  In fact, the second clause in Mary’s question, “I know not man”, is a Hebrew and Aramaic idiom.  This idiom means that Mary, herself, is a virgin who does not know man sexually.  On the one hand, as a faithful daughter of Israel, she would have used Hebrew daily in praying to God and in proclaiming the Torah.  On the other hand, she would have also used Aramaic regularly, considering it was the primary language in Galilee at the time. As such, in recalling the second clause in Mary’s question, “I know not man”, using the continuous present tense in Greek, St. Luke is basing his recollection on an oral tradition from Hebrew or Aramaic, in the active participle, that refers to the permanency of Mary’s continuous virginal state or disposition of not knowing man.  In this sense, Mary’s question, “How can this be, since I know not man?”, really means, “How can this be, since I am not to know man, ever?”  This would suggest Mary’s permanent vow of perpetual virginity.  In fact, she would have had no reason to ask St. Gabriel this question if she had not already vowed herself to perpetual virginity.  As such, her question here suggests her vow to live as a perpetual virgin for life in her marriage to St. Joseph.  As a result, according to St. Augustine, the Virgin Mary had to ask St. Gabriel, “How can this be?”  Indeed, how can this be, if she had already vowed herself to perpetual virginity, including a virginal marriage to St. Joseph for life?

     For his part, St. Gabriel responded to the Virgin Mary’s question at the Annunciation by revealing to her that she would, in fact, preserve her vow of perpetual virginity, for she would virginally conceive and bear Jesus, the Son of God as a Son of David, the Messiah, in her virginal marriage to St. Joseph by a singular grace of the Holy Spirit.  Indeed, he tells her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.  Therefore, the child to be [conceived and] born [of you] will be called holy, the Son of God” (Luke 1:3).  In this sense, according to St. Gabriel, neither St. Joseph nor any other man would be involved in the Virgin Mary conceiving and bearing the Son of God.  On the contrary, by the Holy Spirit alone, by the power of the Most High, would she conceive and bear the God-Man, Jesus Christ.  In doing so, she would become His Virgin Mother.  Accordingly, the Virgin Mary would preserve her vow of perpetual virginity in becoming the Mother of Jesus because she would virginally conceive and bear Him through the Holy Spirit, the power of the Most High, in her virginal marriage to St. Joseph.

     After hearing St. Gabriel’s Annunciation, as recounted in the Gospel of St. Luke, the Virgin Mary faithfully responded to his message that she would become the Virgin Mother of God’s Son.  At the same time, as a young girl who had already vowed herself to perpetual virginity years earlier, the Virgin Mary was initially not fully prepared mentally or emotionally for this message.  As a perpetual virgin, as the Ever-Virgin of the Lord, she certainly did not anticipate that the Lord’s angel would announce to her that she would conceive and bear a Son, especially after He had already accepted her vow of perpetual virginity years earlier at the Temple.  Consequently, according to St. Luke, the Virgin Mary did not readily understand St. Gabriel’s message.  He also suggests that she was afraid. Still, after she heard the message from St. Gabriel that she would receive from the Lord the grace to conceive and bear a Son virginally by the Holy Spirit, she developed a true understanding and the fortitude to faithfully say yes to this vocation, as difficult as this may have been for her.  In doing so, she proclaimed, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).  As such, here St. Luke recounts the Virgin Mary’s faithful yes to the calling she received from Lord to become the Virgin Mother of the Messiah, the Son of God (Lk 1:38).  Indeed, she believed that God would do for her what was impossible for her to do for herself, for nothing was impossible for God (Luke 1:37, 45).  In this sense, St. Gabriel helped the Virgin Mary accept her vocation in God’s plan to become the Virgin Mother of His Son (Lk 1:30-35). As a result, she virginally conceived and bore Him as Man by the Holy Spirit, the power of the Most High. On this basis, in this First Joyful Mystery of the Holy Rosary from the Gospel of St. Luke, the Virgin Mary faithfully said yes to her Virginal Divine Maternity at her Annunciation.

As you contemplate this First Joyful Mystery of the Rosary, God is calling you to open your heart to true joy by imitating Mary’s faithful yes in your particular circumstances. True, your circumstances may be difficult. In fact, they may even seem impossible, just as Mary’s initially did. All the same, she still opened her heart to fully believe in the Word of God, in God’s plan for her, as difficult as that may have been for her. The question is this: Are you saying no to God because of the difficulty of your circumstances? If so, pray to God for understanding and fortitude that you may say yes to Him, joyfully, as Mary did.

In Christ with Blessed Mary,

Friar Mariano D. Veliz, O.P.

     Greetings, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary!  Last year, in October of 2021, I established the first annual “Preach My Psalter” October Rosary Initiative for the Deceased Dominican Friars of the Province of Saint Martin de Porres.  In doing so, I formed this Rosary initiative as a prayer ministry, a ministry of mercy, for the spiritual good of these deceased Dominican friars.  For this reason, after announcing this initiative last October, I hoped people would be inspired by God to join me in this ministry of mercy by becoming Rosary intercessors for them. Indeed, I hoped they be moved by God to intercede mercifully for them to Jesus through Mary by praying the Rosary for them, particularly for their purification in the afterlife. 

     Providentially, in 2021, 140 people, acting under the inspiration of God, joined me in this first year of the October Rosary initiative by praying the Rosary for the 124 friars who had died as members of the Saint Martin Province. During the first year of this initiative, each person signed up to pray for at least one of these deceased Dominican friars.  In fact, many of them signed up to pray for multiple friars who had died.  In this ministry of mercy, they used the Rosary to prayerfully help Dominican friars who may have died imperfectly in the grace of Christ.  In this sense, during this first year of the initiative, they mercifully offered prayers for them to Jesus through Mary, Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, hoping they would be perfectly purified for Heaven by the grace of Christ.

     Moreover, in 2022, the Province of Saint Martin de Porres lost four Dominican friars, including Friars Don Dvorak, Bob Burns, William “Chief” McDonough, and Roger Shondel. As a result, as of October of 2022, 128 Dominican friars have died as members of the Province.  Thankfully, eight lay people have already signed up for the second annual October Rosary initiative for deceased friars.  In doing so, they have raised the number of Rosary intercessors in the registry to 148. 

     As I begin announcing this October Rosary initiative for deceased friars in this second year, would you consider signing up as Rosary intercessors for them? If so, please message me, by email, if you intend to sign up either for one year, three years, or perpetually.  This is my email address:

     After signing up as Rosary intercessors, you would offer three Rosaries for each deceased friar annually.  In the first place, you would pray one Rosary (5 decades) for each friar on the anniversary of the date of his death.  Secondly, you would offer a second Rosary for each friar on the Feast of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary (October 7).  Finally, you would recite a third and final Rosary for each friar on All Dominican Souls Day (November 8). For this reason, if you sign up to pray for three deceased friars, you would offer three Rosaries for each of them annually.  This means that you would pray nine Rosaries for them each year. 

     Last of all, do you have any Roman Catholic family members or friends who would be interested in signing up for this October Rosary initiative for deceased Dominican friars?  If so, please have them email me.  They would send me their full name, city, and state, including their intention to sign up either for one year, three years, or perpetually.

I am updating the registry of Rosary Intercessors for deceased friars. I plan to email it by the end of the month to everyone who signs up. Thank you for your consideration.

In Christ with Blessed Mary,

Friar Mariano D. Veliz, O.P.

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