Some people question and many ask about Mary, Jesus' Mother, being born without Original Sin. They say, that since Mary refers to her Redeemer and Savior, would she do that if she were without Original Sin?
Some reply that Mary probably did sin in her life - if she didn't, then she would be considered a god like Jesus.
The church teaches Mary was free of Original Sin. How does the church come to this conclusion through scripture?
Mary is seen as the Ark of the New Covenant ~ a spotless vessel who carried a sinless Jesus ~ and that Ark would be sinless, too ~ of original sin. God chose Mary among women, unblemished of sin, and full of grace to carry the baby Jesus in her womb.
There are many references which tie in this dogma to Scripture. I found a Catholic interpretation and will repeat it here: This is only one of the many ways it is explained ~~~~
"It seems clear that Luke has used typology to reveal something about the place of Mary in salvation history." God the Holy Spirit overshadowed and then indwelled Mary. At that time Mary's womb became the dwelling place of the presence of God" [Luke 1:35].
In the Ark of the Old Covenant, God came to his people with a spiritual presence, but in Mary, the Ark of the New Covenant, God comes to dwell with his people not only spiritually but physically, in the womb of a specially prepared Jewish girl. [Exodus 40:34-35] says "God the Holy Spirit overshadowed and then indwelled the Ark. The Ark became the dwelling place of the presence of God".
"The Old Testament tells us that one item was placed inside the Ark of the Old Covenant while in the Sinai wilderness: God told Moses to put the stone tablets with the Ten Commandments inside the ark [Deut. 10:3–5]. Hebrews 9:4 informs us that two additional items were placed in the Ark: "a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded."
"Notice the amazing parallels:
In the ark was the law of God inscribed in stone; in Mary’s womb was the Word of God in flesh.
In the ark was the urn of manna, the bread from heaven that kept God’s people alive in the wilderness; in Mary’s womb is the Bread of Life come down from heaven that brings eternal life.
In the ark was the rod of Aaron, the proof of true priesthood; in Mary’s womb is the true priest.
In the third century, St. Gregory the Wonder Worker said that Mary is truly an ark—
"gold within and gold without, and she has received in her womb all the treasures of the sanctuary."
The most memorable angel in the movies is the Christmas classic, 'It's a Wonderful Life where Jimmy Stewart plays George Bailey in the fictional town of Bedford Falls shortly after World War II - a man whose imminent suicide on Christmas Eve gains the attention of his guardian angel, Clarence, who is sent to help him in his hour of need. 'And whenever an angel gets his wings, a bell rings.' A great movie.
I've always believed that we all had guardian angels; angels who protect us from that close call while driving; or making us aware of things that could be harmful to us or simply keeping us from doing wrong.
The Bible mentions angels frequently. Angels are mentioned at least 108 times in the Old Testament and 165 times in the New Testament. Only two angels--Michael and Gabriel--are mentioned by name in Scripture. These two names are masculine in gender.
According to the Bible, however, angels are spiritual (not physical) beings. Although they can take on human form or appearance (as they do at times in Scripture), they do not have physical bodies like humans and so are neither "male" nor "female" in gender. Angels are essentially “ministering spirits". Jesus declared that “a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have”.
The English word "angel" comes from the Greek 'angelos', which means 'messenger'. The Bible tells us an angel is a pure spirit created by God and although the word "angel" in the Bible, meaning a messenger, nearly always applies to heavenly beings, it can occasionally apply to human messengers.
In the Old Testament, there is mention of belief in angels: the name is applied to certain spiritual beings or intelligences of heavenly residence that were employed by God as the ministers of His will. These ministers or messengers carried out His requests, and special commissions, regarding men and ordinary matters. There is no special teaching in the Old Testament; but the doctrine is expressly laid down in Maccabees. However, in the New Testament the doctrine is precisely stated. Angels are everywhere -- the intermediaries between God and man; and Jesus set a seal upon the Old Testament teaching: "See that you despise not one of these little ones: for I say to you, that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven". Matthew 18:10.
It also tell us in the doctrine : 'even little children have guardian angels, and these same angels are within the vision of God and they have a mission to fulfill on earth.' There are a whole range of spirits whom God has created, including both good and evil angels, and special categories such as cherubim, seraphim, and the archangel. We are familiar with archangels Gabriel and Michael.
Although the Scriptures give us no indication of the precise time of the creation of angels; their existence is assumed at the earliest times. While the Scriptures themselves give no definite figures, we are told that the number of angels is very great (Daniel, Matthew & Hebrews.) There are many places in the New Testament that allude to ministering of angels: Gabriel announcing the good news of Jesus to Mary; the angel in the Garden of Gethsemane ministering to Jesus; and the angel who delivered St. Peter from prison. They are sometimes in the form of men and their purpose is very meaningful.
Angels in the Bible never appear as cute, chubby infants! They are always full-grown adults. When people in the Bible saw an angel, their typical response was to fall on their faces in fear and awe. Some Bible passages picture angels with wings. Other verses talk about angels flying, and we assume that the wings would be useful for that flight. But others say that angels may be able to move around without having to depend on wings, somewhat like clouds do. Most references to angels in Scripture say nothing about angels having wings and yet, Daniel and John both refer to angels as 'flying' by.
Our Lord often spoke of angels; in the New Testament - and because of this, the Church teaches that everyone has a guardian angel based on references to them throughout the Bible. "That every individual soul has a guardian angel has never been defined by the Church, and is, consequently, not an article of faith; but it is the "mind of the Church", as St. Jerome expressed it "how great the dignity of the soul since each one has from his birth an angel commissioned to guard it." (Comm. in Matt., xviii, lib. II). "No evil shall befall you, nor shall affliction come near your tent, for to His Angels God has given command about you, that they guard you in all your ways. Upon their hands they will bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone." "For he hath given his angels charge over thee; to keep thee in all thy ways."
Some of the activities done by angels are: Worship and praise - This is the main activity portrayed in heaven. Revealing - They serve as messengers to communicate God's will to men. They helped reveal the law to Moses and were carriers of much of the material in Daniel and Revelations. Instructing - Angels gave instructions to Joseph about the birth of Jesus, to the women at the tomb, to Phillip and to Cornelius. Providing - God has used angels to provide physical needs such as food for Hagar, Elijah and Christ after His temptation. Protecting - Keeping God's people out of physical danger, as in the cases of Daniel and the lions and in the fiery furnace. Getting God's people out of danger once they're in it. Angels released the apostles from prison. And don't forget - we all have one protecting us - that's lots of angels. Strengthening and encouraging - Angels strengthened Jesus after his temptation and encouraged the apostles to keep preaching after releasing them from prison and gave Paul information about his shipwreck. Answering prayers - God often uses angels as His means of answering the prayers of His people. Caring for believers at the moment of death - In the story of Lazarus and the rich man, we read that angels carried the spirit of Lazarus to “Abraham's bosom” when he died.
So - "Do you believe you have a Guardian Angel?" I know I do. I can be very klutzy and he or she has prevented a lot of mishaps in my life! I use to say 'Wow, that was lucky' and now I say thanks to my angel and to God for providing him. For those of you who do believe there is a spirit out there watching over you and protecting you from most things, I found this little prayer.... A Prayer to the Guardian Angels My good Angel, You come from heaven; God has sent you to take care of me. Oh, shelter me under your wings. Lighten my path, and direct my steps. Do not leave me, stay quite near me and defend me against the spirit of evil. But above all come to my help in the last struggle of my life. Amen
Many of us like to sing. Some of us sing well, and .... well, some of us sing like Lucy Riccardo on I Love Lucy. That's me. Some of us hum and sing when we are nervous; my brother does that. Humming actually helps relax you as you breathe differently when you sing. And some of us only sing in the shower where the acoustics help us out.
It's a fact that singing is good for you. It has a positive effect in that it reduces stress levels which helps our well-being."It can also be considered a good work-out, even if sitting because it is an aerobic activity that brings oxygen into the blood stream and exercises major muscle groups in the upper body. It's also psychologically beneficial as singing together in a chorus or group promotes a sense of community, sharing and belonging to a common cause." Ref: Professor Graham Welch, Chair of Music Education at the Institute of Education, University of London
"Regular exercising of the vocal cords can even prolong life, because you are exercising your lungs and heart. Not only that, your body produces ‘feel good’ hormones called endorphins, which rush around your body when you sing. Not only can it increase lung capacity, it improves posture, clears respiratory tubes and sinuses, and can increase mental alertness through greater oxygenation. It even tones the muscles of your stomach and back, that is if you’re singing correctly." Ref: guardian.co.uk
So, singing even helps you live longer, enhances your mental state and even helps keep wrinkles off your face. A study at the University of California has reported higher levels of immune system proteins upon singing/choral participation.
Ahhh, then there are the songbirds we all know, who sing well, and what a delight they are to hear. What does singing have to do with 'make a joyful noise unto the Lord?' Psalm 100 says..." Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness; come before his presence with singing."
Does God like us to sing to Him? What does the Bible say?
Singing is also a delight to our Lord, who mentions throughout His Book about singing praises and thanks to Him. He doesn't care about acoustics or if we sound like Lucy; He takes pleasure in our devotion of singing. Zephaniah :17 tells us - "...He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.
We have grace in our hearts when we sing to the Lord. "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. (Col. 3:16)."
When we sing to God, we sing with our spirit and mind. " What is the outcome then? I shall pray with the spirit and I shall pray with the mind also; I shall sing with the spirit and I shall sing with the mind also." 1 Cor 14:15
"Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord." (Eph. 5:19)
"O sing to the Lord a new song; sing to God all the earth.” Psalm 96
Lift up your heart to the Lord by singing songs in gratitude and praise. It will improve your life and your health and delight the Lord.
SING ALONG - IT’S GOOD FOR YOU! AND IT MAY MAKE GOD SMILE…….
Marie Coppola February 2014
How do YOU handle change?
Change is inevitable in all of our lives. While most of us don’t like change, life events force them on us. We experience getting married, getting divorced, starting a family, fluctuations in the economy, fractured family relationships, starting new jobs, losing jobs, relocating, empty nest syndrome, health issues, illness of a loved one, or death of a loved one. Most change issues cause stress and/or anxiety. Even happy events can cause stress: your wedding, new job, new house, new baby and even winning the lottery!
How do we handle the stresses of change? We might try drinking, smoking, eating, venting, exercising, or joining a self-help group. Sometimes life hands us a ‘cluster’ of changes which can overwhelm us and cause us to lose our balance of life. What do you do when you are over-challenged with life changes?
Jesus experienced changes in his life. He was the son of a carpenter and in three years of ministry became a prophet and Savior. He dealt with many changes and emotions: anger in the temple; frustration with His disciples; sadness with tears when friends died, and sweating blood agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. How did Jesus handle these events?
He often went out in the desert or to a quiet place by himself to pray to His Father. Even Jesus needed to renew His soul.
Jesus can help us renew our souls that are shaken by stress. He offers us renewal of spirit and soul. Scripture teaches us: “Do not be afraid - I am with you. I have called you by your name. You are mine.” Isaiah 43:1
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27-31
"For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight." - Proverbs 3:5
You don’t have to make life’s changes alone. Let Jesus help you. Literally, reach out to him, and surrender your stress changes one by one and ask for his help. Visualize him taking each one from you. Don't take them back. He promises and will help to renew you.
Some might ask: How can I praise the Lord when everything is tumbling down? How can I give thanks in all circumstances? My life is upsidedown.
We all do things in love for people. Whether it’s loving, cooking, shopping, repairing, teaching, listening, sharing, or whatever you give of yourself for another’s good; it’s a gift.
Parents spend many years raising children, instructing them in life’s ways. Besides teaching them the rules of life, parents also share their love by supporting, encouraging, and nurturing. Although they are not seeking pats on the back for things they do, it is always joyful to parents when a child appreciates their efforts and shows gratitude and thanks them.
Wikipedia defines ‘thanks’: "gratitude, appreciation, or thankfulness is a positive emotion or attitude in acknowledgment of a benefit that one has received or will receive".
It is a positive emotion to give or receive thanks. Do you give thanks? I don’t mean the polite, politically correct and etiquette kind of thanks. I mean thanks that come from positive emotions of gratitude. Wikipedia describes ‘gratitude’: a feeling of thankfulness and appreciation; "he was overwhelmed with gratitude for their help".
It’s hard to give thanks or feel gratitude when the economy is poor; there are wars and rumors of war; heated disagreements over how the government should be run; yours or another’s job loss, foreclosures; and that’s not even counting personal problems caused by these things. It is disheartening that there are mega problems that surround us today. A hopeless feeling might come over some of us. Have you even thought of giving thanks for anything recently? What are you thankful for?
God talks to us via the Bible and tells us:
"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.
"Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name." Psalms 100:4
"Praise the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens. Praise him for his mighty acts; praise him for his excellent and surpassing greatness. Praise him with the sound of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with tambourine and dancing, praise him with the stringed instruments and organs, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord." Psalms 150
Some might ask: How can I praise the Lord when everything is tumbling down? How can I give thanks in all circumstances? My life is upside down.
Again, the Bible speaks to us:
The Lord tells us in Psalm 32:8 - "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you."
God wants us to be happy. His Word in Scripture reflects this. He instructs us in His Ways in the Bible and His instructions pave the way to happiness, peace and prosperity. How do we know that God wants us to be happy? He tells us in Proverbs 17:22:
"A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing, but a broken spirit dries up the bones."
One of the ways you can get happier and over the disillusionment of life’s events is to start praising God and thanking Him. There are uncountable things we can thank him for and show true gratitude for. They can be little things; in fact, it’s the little things that change your heart from downtrodden to a cheerful heart. I thank God for opening my eyes to see every morning and being able to get out of bed. I thank Him for the capability to drive, work, exercise, read, share love with my family and friends and for every meal I partake. These are all gifts and blessings from God. Not everyone has them. We all have so many blessings we take for granted.
I don’t pray every minute - but I do give thanks a lot. It’s a habit now. For every close call in a car, or every misstep that didn’t end in a fall, or even if I get to the bank just as they are closing the door, but let me in, I give thanks to Him and Praise Him. ‘All good things come from God’. They don’t have have to be lottery wins, or windfalls or extraordinary happenings. The more I praise Him and thank Him, the more cheerful I become. The negative things in my life become less prominent. Two matters cannot occupy the same space. My praises highlight the thankfulness; my thankfulness highlights the good and negates the bad; my gratitude is mind-changing.
Become aware of all the good things in your life. Start praising God for all the good things; give Him genuine gratitude. And you will find that you will achieve a happy heart and a cheerful mind. And when you become uplifted, don’t forget to thank Him and praise Him for that, too!!