Category Archives: Bible

The Empty Tomb

It was very early on the first day of the week and still dark, when Mary of Magdala came to the tomb. She saw that the stone had been moved away from the tomb and came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb,” she said, “and we don’t know where they have put him.” So Peter set out with the other disciple to go to the tomb. They…saw the linen cloths lying on the ground…and…believed. Till this moment they had still not understood the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. -John 20:1-9

Here’s a reconstruction of what happened from the book The Truth About the Shroud of Turin (Regnery, 2010), pp. 189-191, by my friend Robert K. Wilcox. No matter how many times I read this, it never fails to move me to tears.

The tomb, a rocky chamber carved out of a hillside, a stone rolled against the door, is dark and silent. Lying on a slab is a long, rectangular cocoon, the hills and valleys of which are clearly the contours of a human body. The body of Jesus lies there, face up, a ribbon around the head and chin to keep the mouth closed, packed on all sides with bags of spices.

At some unknown moment in the dead of night, the air in the tomb becomes electric.

At first the vibrations are minute, the sort that could be detected by sensitive twentieth-century instruments; then they dramatically increase until they shake the ground and blow the boulder from the door.

A glow, faint at first, emanating from the shroud suddenly intensifies until rays of light shoot through the threads, star-filled golden rays filling the tomb and pouring out the door.

For thirty seconds — no more — the blinding, pulsating movement continues.

The source of the activity is the corpse, the body, somehow being revitalized, dematerialized, its mass being converted into energy, pure energy, which in the material world is radiant white light.

The body rises from the slab through the cloth, hovers for a moment in midair, then disappears.

The cocoon collapses. Darkness returns. Shouts of “Earthquake! Earthquake!” diminish as the guards run for their lives. And in the air, the distinct odor of scorched linen.

When dawn comes, the women in Jesus’ life draw tentatively toward the tomb, look in the opening, and see the shroud unopened, still wrapped, but definitely deflated. The body is gone. At sunrise the disciples come. John enters the tomb, puts his hand on the cloth, and presses it to the slab. Jesus is there no longer. The disciples and the women quickly gather up the burial garments — the chin band is still in the shroud — and the spice bags and leave before the Romans can return.

At another time, in another place, when they have a chance to gather their wits, they will discover the figure of their master imprinted on the inside of the shroud. The images would be faint, probably not as dark as the passage of time and exposure to air have made them; and the images would be negative ones, a phenomenon that would also become clearer with the passage of time. Regardless, they would view these images as holy — imprints of their precious Lord. The disciples would pay more attention to the images on the shroud if they weren’t already waiting, with the greatest anticipation, for Jesus himself, who, before his death, had promised to visit them after he rose from the dead.

lilies

Our Lord is Risen!

A Joyous Easter to all!

~Eowyn

Music for Good Friday night

Psalm 51, set to music by Italian composer Gregorio Allegri in the 1630s as “Miserere Mei, Deus (Have mercy on me, O God),” hauntingly sung by the choral group, The Sixteen.

Psalm 51

Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness;
in the greatness of your compassion
wipe out my offense.
Thoroughly wash me from my guilt
and of my sin cleanse me.

For I acknowledge my offense,
and my sin is before me always:
“Against you only have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight.”

A clean heart create for me, O God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from your presence,
and your Holy Spirit take not from me.

Give me back the joy of your salvation,
and a willing spirit sustain in me.
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.

H/t friend of FOTM, Patriot USA

~Eowyn

Remembering His Passion

Good Friday, April 18, 2014.

Though strong as an ox, my erstwhile friend, the faux socialist Stephanie, is allergic to work. She would take a temporary job and, when it ends, apply for unemployment benefits. When the benefits run out, she’ll go find another temp job. And so on…. She diagnosed herself as bipolar and got her therapist to sign her off as “depressive.” No doubt, she now collects Social Security Disability.

Though raised a Christian, Stephanie is a goddess cultist, wiccan witch, and rabidly anti-Christian. In a fit of self-pity, the perfectly healthy Stephanie once blurted to me: “Don’t tell me how Jesus had suffered. I’ve suffered more than Jesus!”

Blasphemy

This post, “Remembering His Passion,” is for Stephanie, the “artist” Michael D’Antuono who painted the above blasphemous portrait of Obama in 2009, and all malignant narcissists who cheapen His memory by having the gall to compare themselves to Him.

He sweated blood.

After He and his disciples had observed the Passover meal in an upper room in a home in southwest Jerusalem, they traveled to the Mount of Olives, northeast of the city.

There, in the garden of Gethsemane, for 12 hours (from 9 PM Thursday to 9 AM Friday), He prayed. He saw all the sins of humanity — past, present, and future — and knew that the time of His death was near. Suffering great mental anguish, He sweated blood (hematidrosis). As a result of hemorrhage into the sweat glands, His skin became fragile and tender. In the cold night air, His hematidrosis would have produced chills.

He was scourged at least 39 times.

Scourging or flogging was a legal preliminary to every Roman execution. The usual instrument was a short whip (flagellum) with several single or braided leather thongs of variable lengths, in which small iron balls or sharp pieces of sheep bones were tied at intervals. Occasionally, staves also were used.

He was stripped of his clothing, His hands tied to an upright post. His back, buttocks, and legs were flogged either by two soldiers or by one who alternated positions. The scourging was intended to weaken Him to a state just short of collapse or death.

As the Roman soldiers repeatedly struck His back with full force, the iron balls caused deep contusions, and the leather thongs and sheep bones cut into His skin and subcutaneous tissues.Then, as the flogging continued, the lacerations tore into His underlying skeletal muscles and produced quivering ribbons of bleeding flesh. Pain and blood loss set the stage for circulatory shock.

His scalp was pierced with thorns.

The Roman soldiers, amused that this weakened man had claimed to be a king, began to mock Him by placing a robe on his shoulders, a crown of thorns on His head, and a wooden staff as a scepter in His right hand. Next, they spat on Him and struck Him on the head with the wooden staff.

The crown of thorns was not a crown at all. It was probably a bush roughly applied, and tied on with rope.

The thorns probably came from the Lote Tree, a wild bush that still grows freely all over the Holy Land. This bush had thorns between one to two inches long. There are over 70 scalp wounds visible on the Shroud (of Turin).

The soldiers’ beating with the rods to His head covered with this crown would have caused severe bleeding. It is probable that the clump of thorns was removed before His tunic was put back onto His body, and then reapplied during the Crucifixion. The blood trickling down from the newly opened head wounds suggest that the thorns were reapplied before the Crucifixion.

Imagine the pain you’d feel if just one thorn, measuring 1 to 2 inches long, were stuck into your scalp.

He carried his own cross, weighing 125 lb.

The severe scourging, with its intense pain and appreciable blood loss, most probably left Him in a pre-shock state. Moreover, hematidrosis had rendered his skin particularly tender. The physical and mental abuse, as well as the lack of food, water, and sleep, also contributed to His generally weakened state. Therefore, even before the actual crucifixion, His physical condition was at least serious and possibly critical.

It was customary for the condemned man to carry his own cross from the flogging post to the site of crucifixion outside the city walls.

Since the weight of the entire cross was probably well over 300 lb., “only” the crossbar or patibulum — weighing 75 to 125 lb. – was carried. The patibulum was placed across the nape of His neck and balanced along both shoulders, His outstretched arms tied to the crossbar. The processional to the site of crucifixion was led by a complete Roman military guard, headed by a centurion.

He was nailed to a cross to die

The Romans did not invent crucifixions, but they perfected it as a form of torture and capital punishment designed to produce a slow death with maximum pain and suffering. It was one of the most disgraceful and cruelest methods of execution and usually was reserved only for slaves, foreigners, revolutionaries, and the vilest of criminals.

At the site of execution, by law, He was given a bitter drink of wine mixed with myrrh (gall) as a mild analgesic. He was then thrown to the ground on his back, with his arms outstretched along the patibulum.

His hands were nailed to the crossbar at the wrists. The nails were tapered iron spikes approximately 5 to 7 inches long with a square shaft 3/8 in. across.

After both arms were fixed to the crossbar, He and the patibulum, together, were lifted onto the stipes. Next, His feet were nailed to the front of the stipes.

Every breath He took was a struggle, seared with pain.

The weight of His body, pulling down on the outstretched arms and shoulders, fixed the intercostal muscles in an inhalation state and thereby hinder passive exhalation. Accordingly, exhalation was primarily diaphragmatic, and breathing was shallow. This form of respiration would not suffice and hypercarbia (abnormally-elevated carbon dioxide levels in the blood) soon resulted. The onset of muscle cramps or tetanic contractions, due to fatigue and hypercarbia, further hindered His breathing.

To exhale, He had to lift His body by pushing up on His feet, flexing His elbows and adducting His shoulders. However, this maneuver placed the entire weight of the body on His tarsals, producing searing pain. Furthermore, flexion of His elbows caused rotation of His wrists about the iron nails, causing fiery pain along the damaged median nerves. Lifting of the body also painfully scraped His scourged back against the rough wooden stipes. Muscle cramps and paresthesias (pins and needles) of the outstretched and uplifted arms added to the discomfort. As a result, each respiratory effort became agonizing and tiring and led eventually to asphyxia (depletion of oxygen to the body).

After “only” 3 to 6 hours hung on the cross, He breathed his last.

He suffered terribly, unto death, for each one of us.

Remember His Passion today with the Stations of the Cross. Go here.

In memory of His love,

~Eowyn

Holy Thursday: The Last Supper-Institution of the Holy Eucharist; Institution of the Priesthood

last supper

Today, Holy Thursday, April 17,2014, the universal Church celebrates Holy Thursday, the Last Supper, when Our Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior, instituted the Holy Eucharist and the Priesthood.

St. Paul tells us in Corinthians 11:23-26:

Brothers and sisters: I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and after he had given thanks, broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.

Jesus loved us so much, that he gave us this Sacrament of Love. We partake of Jesus, body, blood, soul and divinity, when we partake in this most Blessed Sacrament, the true presence of Our Lord, in the Sacrifice of the Mass. As St. Athanasius said, “God has made Himself accessible to us.”

We also celebrate the institution of the Priesthood, the Servants of the Servants of God. St. John tells us in today’s Gospel, 13:1-15:

Before the Feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end. The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over. So, during supper, fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God, he rose from supper and took off his outer garments. He took a towel and tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist. He came to Simon Peter, who said to Him, “Master, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered and said to Him, “What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later.” Peter said to Him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered Him, “Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.” Simon Peter said to Him, “Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.” Jesus said to Him, “Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed, for he is clean all over; so you are clean, but not all.” For he knew who would betray him; for this reason, he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

So when he had washed their feet and put his garments back on and reclined at table again, He said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”

In this manner Jesus illustrated that his Priests are the Servants of the Servants of God, that they must take care of His flock, and are charged with the absolute ministry of service, the action of true love.

I look forward to attending this beautiful Mass tonight and I will pray that everyone in the world comes to Our Lord Jesus, who is Love and Mercy itself.

Creation: So who created God?

Ring galaxyThe Ring Galaxy, with a span of 100,000 light years, is 600 million light years away from Earth. Visible in the gap (at about one o’clock) is yet another ring galaxy that likely lies even farther in the distance. [NASA]

Dr. Hugh Ross is a Christian physicist and astronomer who writes books and a terrific blog, Reasons to Believe, showing how science and Christianity can be very compatible. More than that, Dr. Ross uses science to demonstrate the truths of our Christian faith.

In his Summa Theologica, St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) famously reasoned for the existence of God by pointing to “the chains of effecting causes that exist in the world. Things here are produced by their causes; these causes in turn were produced by their causes, and so on. Ultimately, there must be a first cause….”

In his post of April 7, 2014, Dr. Ross answers a very good question from a non-believer on who/what created that first cause. Here’s the question:

Hello,

Let me start by saying I’m not actually a believer at this moment. When listening to the lectures, I hear a lot of talk about the complexity of things being a big proponent for creation or design because somebody created it. But at some point in the paradigm you’re at least admitting that, somewhere, something just existed that was at least as complex as, or more complex than, us….If we couldn’t have just existed, how could you say God just existed without something creating him. I’d like to hear your answer on that.

— Submitted by an attendee of an RTB event in San Antonio, TX

Dr. Ross gave a brilliant answer, pointing out that cause-and-effect can only happen in our Universe of space and time.

For if we say that X caused Y, X must have happened some time before Y.

But the Creator of the Universe cannot Himself be contained in that Universe. That means the Creator is outside our Universe of space and time, which in turn means that the Creator, the First Cause, is outside of time and, therefore, has no cause.

As St. Thomas Aquinas put it:

Where there is motion, there is a mover, and ultimately a first mover, itself unmoved. This is God.Ultimately, there must be a first cause which is itself uncaused. This is God.

Here is Dr. Ross’s answer:

Dear not-yet-a-believer,

Your question is one of the most important any human being could ask—and one that most Christians are ill prepared to answer.

As I understand your query, if explaining the natural realm’s ability to support life, especially human life, requires extreme levels of complexity and design, then would not the cause of all this complexity and design need a cause that is even greater than Him? As Richard Dawkins puts it, the problem with Christianity is accounting for who “designed the Designer?”1

The question of who created God was the heart of my debate with Lewis Wolpert at Imperial College in London. (You can listen to the debate here). In a nutshell, I explained that, today, physicists across the philosophical spectrum acknowledge that the space-time theorems are unassailable. If the universe contains mass and if general relativity reliably describes the movements of bodies in the universe, the theorems are valid. Those theorems establish that space and time had a beginning at the origin of the universe. They imply that the causal agent of the universe is not subject to space and time—thus, that agent can create space-time dimensions at will.

Of course, any entity—such as the universe and everything subject to the laws and dimensions of the universe—that is constrained to a single dimension of time, where time cannot be stopped or reversed, must have a beginning. Ultimately, such entities must be traceable back to a creation event. However, an entity not constrained by time need not have been created.

The Bible declares in multiple passages that God created time (e.g., John 1:3; Colossians 1:16–17). Psalm 90 adds that God can arbitrarily compress or expand time as we know it. In my book Beyond the Cosmos (3rd edition), I include diagrams illustrating that this compression and expansion of time is only possible for beings with access to the equivalent of at least two dimensions of time. Scripture also declares that God has no beginning, no ending, and is not created (e.g., Psalm 90:2; Hebrews 7:3). These declarations could be true only of a Being who created time, rather than one who is subject to time.

Philosophers responding to Dawkins have pointed out that he made a category error. God is in a different category than the universe or humans in that He is not subject to the physical laws of the universe or to its space-time dimensionality.

For a more thorough answer to this question, I suggest reading Beyond the Cosmos. The book includes a description of scientific evidence for the existence of nine dimensions of space and for a Being who brought into existence ten space-time dimensions.

~Eowyn

Sunday Devotional: The Promise of Eternal Life

Romans 8:9-11, 1-2

Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ
does not belong to him.
But if Christ is in you,
although the body is dead because of sin,
the spirit is alive because of righteousness.
If the Spirit of the One
who raised Jesus from the dead
dwells in you,
the One who raised Christ from the dead
will give life to your mortal bodies also,
through his spirit dwelling in you.
Thus, condemnation will never come
to those who are in Christ Jesus,
because the law of the Spirit
which gives life in Christ Jesus
has set you free
from the law of sin and death.

Coming Home1The Other Side of Death

A sick man turned to his doctor as he was preparing to leave the examination room and said, “Doctor, I am afraid to die. Tell me what lies on the other side.”

Very quietly, the doctor said, “I don’t know.”

The sick man was beside himself, sputtering, “You don’t know? You’re a Christian man, and you don’t know what’s on the other side?”

The doctor was holding the handle of the door. On the other side came a sound of scratching and whining, and as he opened the door, a dog sprang into the room and leaped on him with eagerness and joy.

Turning to the patient, the doctor said: “Did you notice my dog? He’s never been in this room before. He didn’t know what was inside. He knew nothing except that his master was here, and when the door opened, he sprang in without fear. I know little of what is on the other side of death. But I do know one thing. I know my Master is there and that is enough.”

Gandalf quote

Love and Peace of Christ,

~Eowyn

How a Muslim found Jesus

Coming HomeThe secular-liberal media regularly give publicity to (and with attention comes credibility) the atheism of famous people such as British scientist Stephen Hawking.

I vowed I would try to redress the media’s skewed focus with accounts of  accomplished individuals who eventually came home to embrace a belief in their Creator. My first account was the late-life conversion of the distinguished American philosopher Mortimer J. Adler, followed by an account of the conversion of famous English scribe Malcolm Muggeridge.

Below is a very moving account of how a descendant of none other than Muhammad’s own tribe, made the wrenching decision to follow Jesus the Christ, with the help and unswerving friendship of a Christian named David Wood.

Wood is an example to us all.

~Eowyn

Nabeel QureshiNabeel Qureshi (Photo by Howard Korn)

Christ Called Me Off the Minaret

By Nabeel Qureshi
Christianity Today
January 8, 2014

“Allahu Akbar. I bear witness that there is no god but Allah. I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.”

These are the first words of the Muslim call to prayer. They were also the first words ever spoken to me. Moments after I was born, I have been told, my father softly recited them in my ear, as his father had done for him, and as all my forefathers had done for their sons since the time of Muhammad.

We are Qureshis, descendants of the Quresh tribe—Muhammad’s tribe. Our family stood sentinel over Islamic tradition.

The words my ancestors passed down to me were more than ritual: they came to define my life as a Muslim in the West. Every day I sat next to my mother as she taught me to recite the Qur’an in Arabic. Five times a day, I stood behind my father as he led our family in congregational prayer.

By age 5, I had recited the entire Qur’an in Arabic and memorized the last seven chapters. By age 15, I had committed the last 15 chapters of the Qur’an to memory in both English and Arabic. Every day I recited countless prayers in Arabic, thanking Allah for another day upon waking, invoking his name before falling asleep.

But it is one thing to be steeped in remembrance, and it is quite another to bear witness. My grandfather and great-grandfather were Muslim missionaries, spending their lives preaching Islam to unbelievers in Indonesia and Uganda. My genes carried their zeal. By middle school, I had learned how to challenge Christians, whose theology I could break down just by asking questions. Focusing on the identity of Jesus, I would ask, “Jesus worshiped God, so why do you worship Jesus?” or, “Jesus said, ‘the Father is greater than I.’ How could he be God?” If I really wanted to throw Christians for a loop, I would ask them to explain the Trinity. They usually responded, “It’s a mystery.” In my heart I mocked their ignorance, saying, “The only mystery here is how you could believe in something as ridiculous as Christianity.”

Bolstered by every conversation I had with Christians, I felt confident in the truth of Islam. It gave me discipline, purpose, morals, family values, and clear direction for worship. Islam was the lifeblood that coursed through my veins. Islam was my identity, and I loved it. I boldly issued the call of Islam to anyone and everyone who would listen, proclaiming that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is his messenger.

And it was there, atop the minaret of Islamic life, that Jesus called to me.

Not the Man I Thought

As a freshman at Old Dominion University in Virginia, I was befriended by a sophomore, David Wood. Soon after he extended a helping hand, I found him reading a Bible. Incredulous that someone as clearly intelligent as he would actually read Christians’ sacred text, I launched a barrage of apologetic attacks, from questioning the reliability of Scripture to denying Jesus’ crucifixion to, of course, challenging the Trinity and the deity of Christ.

David didn’t react like other Christians I had challenged. He did not waver in his witness, nor did he waver in his friendship with me. Far from it—he became even more engaged, answering the questions he could respond to, investigating the questions he couldn’t respond to, and spending time with me through it all.

Even though he was a Christian, his zeal for God was something I understood and respected. We quickly became best friends, signing up for events together, going to classes together, and studying for exams together. All the while we argued about the historical foundations of Christianity. Some classes we signed up for just to argue some more.

After three years of investigating the origins of Christianity, I concluded that the case for Christianity was strong—that the Bible could be trusted and that Jesus died on the cross, rose from the dead, and claimed to be God.

Then David challenged me to study Islam as critically as I had studied Christianity. I had learned about Muhammad from imams and my parents, not from the historical sources themselves. When I finally read the sources, I found that Muhammad was not the man I had thought. Violence and sensuality dripped from the pages of his earliest biographies, the life stories of the man I revered as the holiest in history.

Shocked by what I learned, I began to lean on the Qur’an as my defense. But when I turned an eye there, that foundation crumbled just as quickly. I relied on its miraculous knowledge and perfect preservation as a sign that it was inspired by God, but both beliefs faltered.

Overwhelmed and confused by the evidence for Christianity and the weakness of the Islamic case, I began seeking Allah for help. Or was he Jesus? I didn’t know any longer. I needed to hear from God himself who he was. Thankfully, growing up in a Muslim community, I had seen others implore Allah for guidance. The way that Muslims expect to hear from God is through dreams and visions.

1 Vision, 3 Dreams

In the summer after graduating from Old Dominion, I began imploring God daily. “Tell me who you are! If you are Allah, show me how to believe in you. If you are Jesus, tell me! Whoever you are, I will follow you, no matter the cost.”

By the end of my first year in medical school, God had given me a vision and three dreams, the second of which was the most powerful. In it I was standing at the threshold of a strikingly narrow door, watching people take their seats at a wedding feast. I desperately wanted to get in, but I was not able to enter, because I had yet to accept my friend David’s invitation to the wedding. When I awoke, I knew what God was telling me, but I sought further verification. It was then that I found the parable of the narrow door, in Luke 13:22–30. God was showing me where I stood.

But I still couldn’t walk through the door. How could I betray my family after all they had done for me? By becoming a Christian, not only would I lose all connection with the Muslim community around me, my family would lose their honor as well. My decision would not only destroy me, it would also destroy my family, the ones who loved me most and sacrificed so much for me. For Muslims, following the gospel is more than a call to prayer. It is a call to die.

I began mourning the impact of the decision I knew I had to make. On the first day of my second year of medical school, it became too much to bear. Yearning for comfort, I decided to skip school. Returning to my apartment, I placed the Qur’an and the Bible in front of me. I turned to the Qur’an, but there was no comfort there. For the first time, the book seemed utterly irrelevant to my suffering. Irrelevant to my life. It felt like a dead book.

With nowhere left to go, I opened up the New Testament and started reading. Very quickly, I came to the passage that said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

Electric, the words leapt off the page and jump-started my heart. I could not put the Bible down. I began reading fervently, reaching Matthew 10:37, which taught me that I must love God more than my mother and father.

“But Jesus,” I said, “accepting you would be like dying. I will have to give up everything.”

The next verses spoke to me, saying, “He who does not take his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for my sake will find it” (NASB). Jesus was being very blunt: For Muslims, following the gospel is more than a call to prayer. It is a call to die.

Betrayal

I knelt at the foot of my bed and gave up my life. A few days later, the two people I loved most in this world were shattered by my betrayal. To this day my family is broken by the decision I made, and it is excruciating every time I see the cost I had to pay.

But Jesus is the God of reversal and redemption. He redeemed sinners to life by his death, and he redeemed a symbol of execution by repurposing it for salvation. He redeemed my suffering by making me rely upon him for my every moment, bending my heart toward him. It was there in my pain that I knew him intimately. He reached me through investigations, dreams, and visions, and called me to prayer in my suffering. It was there that I found Jesus. To follow him is worth giving up everything.

Nabeel Qureshi is an itinerant speaker with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and author of Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim’s Journey to Christ (Zondervan).

Sunday Devotional: Light of the World

jesus-christ-crucification-crossJohn 8:12

I am the light of the world,
says the Lord;
whoever follows me
will have the light of life.

Milky Way from Yellowstone Natl ParkThe Milky Way, as seen from Yellowstone National Park

Ephesians 5:8-14

Brothers and sisters:
You were once darkness,
but now you are light in the Lord.
Live as children of light,
for light produces every kind
of goodness and righteousness and truth.
Try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.
Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness;
rather expose them,
for it is shameful even to mention things done by them in secret;
but everything exposed by the light becomes visible,
for everything that becomes visible is light.
Therefore, it says:
“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will give you light.”

~Eowyn

The Annunciation

St. Gabriel appears to Mary. The Annunciation, by Botticelli

St. Gabriel appears to Mary. The Annunciation, by Botticelli

Hail, Mary,
Full of Grace,
The Lord is with You!

Today is the feast day of the Annunciation, one of the earliest Christian feasts, the celebration of which dates back to the 4th century, although a painting of the Annunciation in the catacomb of Priscilla in Rome dates from the 2nd century.

The Greek and Slavonic names for the Feast may be translated as “good tidings.” This, of course, refers to the Incarnation of the Son of God and the salvation He brings. The background of the Annunciation is found in the Gospel of St Luke (1:26-38). The troparion describes this as the “beginning of our salvation, and the revelation of the eternal mystery,” for on this day the Son of God became the Son of Man.

There are two main components to the Annunciation: the message itself, and the response of the Virgin. The message fulfills God’s promise to send a Redeemer (Genesis 3:15): “I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your seed and her seed; he shall crush your head, and you shall lie in wait for his heel.” The Fathers of the Church understand “her seed” to refer to Christ. The Old Testament prophets had hinted at His coming, which they saw dimly, but the Archangel Gabriel now proclaims the promise is about to be fulfilled.

The Archangel Gabriel was sent by God to Nazareth in Galilee. There he spoke to the undefiled Virgin who was betrothed to St Joseph: “Hail, thou who art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.”

In contrast to Eve, who was readily deceived by the serpent, Mary did not immediately accept the Angel’s message. In her humility, she did not think she was deserving of such words, but was actually troubled by them. The fact that she asked for an explanation reveals her sobriety and prudence. She did not disbelieve the words of the angel, but could not understand how they would be fulfilled, for they spoke of something which was beyond nature.

Then said Mary unto the angel, “How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” (Luke 1:34).

“And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee: therefore also that which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible.’ And Mary said, ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.’ And the angel departed from her” (Luke 1: 35-38).”

In his Sermon 23 on the day of the Annunciation, St Philaret of Moscow boldly stated that “the word of the creature brought the Creator down into the world.” He explains that salvation is not merely an act of God’s will, but also involves the Virgin’s free will. She could have refused, but she accepted God’s will and chose to cooperate without complaint or further questions.

Thank you, Mary, Mother of God, for saying “Yes”!

See also “The Christmas Miracle: Scientific Evidence of the Virgin Birth,” Dec. 25, 2013.

H/t my dear friend John Molloy, Chairman of the National Vietnam & Gulf War Veterans Coalition.

~Eowyn

Victories of the Rosary

rosary

The incidents described below are from the book “The Fundamentals of Our Faith” as explained by The Blessed Virgin Mary to Mary Ann Van Hoof, pages 112-114. (Please continue to pray that our current resident of the White House and his followers convert to Christianity and govern according to God’s will.)

Murret, France, 1213: After the success of the Christian Army, and in gratitude for the Victory, the first Chapel of the Rosary was built here.

Lepanto, Italy, 1571: One of the greatest victories through the Rosary, was the battle of Lepanto. The Mohammedans, who threatened to overrun Christian Europe, were defeated. September 17, 1569, Pope Pius V, asked that all Christendom, recite the Rosary, have forty hours devotions and public processions. On October 7, he spent the entire night in prayer. The Venetian Senate wrote to the other States which had taken part in the Crusade: “It was not generals nor battalions nor arms that brought us victory; but it was Our Lady of the Rosary.”

War of 1812: At New Orleans, in spite of the fact that our troops were hopelessly outnumbered, 6,000 against 15,000 British, we were victorious. General Jackson publicly acknowledged this great favor and personally thanked the nuns, women, and children who had spent the previous night in a vigil of prayer, praying the Rosary over and over again, before a shrine of Our Lady of Prompt Help in the Ursuline convent.

Austria Saved From Communism: Historians still wonder how, on May 13, 1955 Soviet Russia agreed to the independence of Austria, and shortly after removed its troops.

In a letter written by Father Petrus Pavlicek, O.F.M. and published in the October 13, 1955 VOX DA FATIMA the full credit is given to Our Lady of Fatima and the recitation of the Rosary by thousands of Austrians. Over 700,000 of the 7,000,000 people of Austria, or 10% of the population, pledged themselves to pray the daily Rosary in compliance with Our Lady’s requests at Fatima.

One of the last public statements which the famous stigmatist, Therese Neumann, made before her death on September 18, 1962, was an affirmation of the belief of Father Petrus, that Austria was saved through the Rosary.

Brazil, 1964: At this time the Communists apparently had all things ready for a complete takeover. One thing overlooked was the power of women and the Rosary. It was the determined and valiant women of Brazil who rallied behind Our Lady of the Rosary to prevent a Red takeover. One leader of the counter-revolution stated that, “Without the women we could never have halted Brazil’s plunge toward communism…”

The first to take action against Goulart were the women of San Paulo. In six days they arranged a demonstration, called the “March of the Family With God Toward Freedom”, in which 600,000 strong marched through the broad thoroughfares of downtown San Paulo praying the Rosary and singing Religious hymns for three hours. This demonstration touched off many other religious rallies throughout the country.

It is small wonder then that the civil and military chiefs of the liberators were almost unanimous in attributing the victory to the special intervention of the Blessed Virgin, through the fervent use of Her Rosary. The whole Brazilian Episcopate in its collective declaration of June 3, 1964 expressly confirmed it. Cardinal Camara summarized well the general attitude of the Brazilians when he said in his April 2 talk: “The Rosary enkindles the valor of the soldiers.”