Cosmas and Damian

The Feast of Saints Cosmas and Damian

Two great saints of the East are celebrated today.  The physicians Cosmas and Damian.  The tradition that comes down to us records that they were twin brothers born in Arabia and were martyred by beheading in Syria during the great persecution of Diocletian on September 27, 303.  The ancient tradition also records that they were physicians and healers who accepted no money for their services and used their care of the sick as a prime way of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  A church was raised up over their burial site in Syria in the city of Cyrus by the emperor Justinian himself in the sixth century.  These twins were of high repute in the ancient Church as there was a church built for them in both Constantinople and in Rome while their names were inserted into the Roman Canon (now called Eucharistic Prayer I) of the Mass sometime around the fall of the Western Empire where they remain today.

Nine centuries after their martyrdom Saint Francis of Assisi would experience his call in the San Damiano church, named after one of the brothers.  Many of us keep the San Damiano crucifix in our homes perhaps without realizing the ancient roots of this thing

Saints Cosmas and Damian pray for the suffering Church in this world and for the tormented land of Syria where you were crowned with victory.

Pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary on Monday for the See of Constantinople, the Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesday for the See of Antioch, the Glorious Mysteries on Wednesday for the See of Jerusalem, the Luminous Mysteries on Thursday for the See of Alexandria, and the Sorrowful Mysteries on Friday for the See of Carthage; for their liberty and for their salvation and for the restoration of their ancient position as pillars of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church in communion with the See of Peter in Rome; for the conversion of the Jewish people and the conversion of the Muslim peoples.  And join the Rosary Confraternity!

Is this really the most important thing dear Cardinal?

September 24, 2014

The Secretary of State of the Vatican City State Cardinal Archishop Pietro Parolin before the United Nations has called for an “authentic cultural change.”  Was he speaking of the moral apocalypse threatening Western (formerly Catholic) civilization?  Was he speaking of the million children murdered by their own mothers in their own wombs each year in the United States alone?  Was he speaking of the almost universal acceptance of contraception and the resulting sterilization of the Western world?  Was he speaking of the rapid advance of sodomite marriage across the lands and countries that were once the upholders of Christian virtue?  Was he speaking of the annihilation of the Catholic Faith across the planet, in large part assisted by its own clergy?  Was he talking about the loss of tens if not hundreds of millions of souls?

No my friends he was not talking about any of this things.  No, the issue that is cutting right to this successor of the apostles’ heart today is neither the slaughter of the innocents by their own mothers nor the social idiocy of men marrying men and women marrying women nor even the loss of so many souls; what really got Cardinal Parolin going is …climate change.  Yes, this is thing which threatens us all …climate change.  This is thing that requires an immense and ‘authentic’ change in our culture …climate change.

Stop trying to placate the world my dear Cardinal.  They will not love you for it.  In fact they will despise you all the more.

Pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary on Monday for the See of Constantinople, the Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesday for the See of Antioch, the Glorious Mysteries on Wednesday for the See of Jerusalem, the Luminous Mysteries on Thursday for the See of Alexandria, and the Sorrowful Mysteries on Friday for the See of Carthage; for their liberty and their salvation and the restoration of their ancient position as pillars of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church in communion with the See of Peter in Rome; for the conversion of the Jewish people and the conversion of the Muslim peoples.  And join the Rosary Confraternity!

America enters the Syrian civil war

The Feast of Saint Pius of Petrelcina (Padre Pio)

The United States of America and five Arab countries launched a wide ranging series of air strikes against Islamic State targets in Syria from Aleppo to the Iraq border last night.  So the question now before us are as follows: has the United States recovered from the confusion it has suffered since its exit from Iraq in 2011?  Will, in six months time, the names of the Islamic State and the erstwhile successor of Muhammad the Caliph Ibrahim a.k.a. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi be relegated to mere historical oddities and footnotes.  Will Syria, the Middle East, and the world enjoy greater peace and prosperity as a result of this action?  We shall see.

syriastrike

The red circles indicate strike locations last night as reported by the US Department of Defense (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/24/world/middleeast/us-isis-syria.html?_r=0)

Only the Lord of history knows the answer to these questions.  Though I can say that in my life I have seen one or two US military operations begin with all sorts of flash and flare and high sounding promises and then descend into the muck and mud of chaos and confusion.  I remember watching live on television as ‘shock and awe’ descended on Baghdad on the night of March 21, 2003 with the high explosive power and pinpoint accuracy of American cruise missiles and satellite guided bombs that would obliterate one building and leave the structure standing next to it without a scratch.  One would have said that night that no one could ever stand up to United States’ military might and its awe inspiring technological supremacy.  Yet it was men who devised primitive explosives and hid them inside of donkey carcasses on the side of the road who unraveled all of the American plans for Iraq.

There is not much really to tell at this point.  The coming days and weeks will give us the answers, all in due time.  The advance of  the Islamic State toward the Syrian/Turkish border over the last week has sent a tidal wave of humanity across that border.  This undoubtedly helped to provoke the American attack on Syria.  The world today is not the same as the world of 2003 or the world of 1991 when the United States crushed Saddam Hussein’s army in southern Iraq and pushed it out of Kuwait.  Russia today strongly condemned the US action in Syria and as that country is making its presence felt more mightily in the international arena than at any time in the last thirty years its opinion can no longer just be ignored.

So after all the massive explosions and high flown rhetoric on television are done with the world still will have a mess on its hands.  An we shall see where that leads us.

Pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary on Monday for the See of Constantinople, the Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesday for the See of Antioch, the Glorious Mysteries on Wednesday for the See of Jerusalem, the Luminous Mysteries on Thursday for the See of Alexandria, and the Sorrowful Mysteries on Friday for the See of Carthage; for their liberty and their salvation and the restoration of their ancient position as pillars of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church in communion with the See of Peter in Rome; for the conversion of the Jewish people and the conversion of the Muslim peoples.  And join the Rosary Confraternity!

Meanwhile the Islamic State advances…

While presidents and prime ministers dither in Washington, London, Baghdad, Paris name your capital the Islamic State staged another advance and captured twenty one Kurdish villages in northern Syria along the Turkish border during the last forty eight hours.  The low casualty count among the Kurdish forces protecting the area, seven reported killed, is a likely indicator that whoever was supposed to be defending these villages simply ran away.

The rather confused Western response since June to the menace of the Islamic State is strange since the group/state (whatever they are) could easily have been defeated then and probably still could be now by a fraction of the power that the United States military is capable of bringing to bear.  But instead worry and doubt and confusion cloud the eyes of American and European leaders and their publics.  If one looks at history, especially Biblical history, one finds that at moments of great historical change a certain blindness overtakes those who are accounted powerful.  All of the sudden they just are not capable of doing what on paper they should be able to do with great ease.  It just isn’t in them anymore.  Strange, isn’t it?  Are we at one of those historical moments?  Time will tell.

Pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary on Monday for the See of Constantinople, the Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesday for the See of Antioch, the Glorious Mysteries on Wednesday for the See of Jerusalem, the Luminous Mysteries on Thursday for the See of Alexandria, and the Sorrowful Mysteries on Friday for the See of Carthage; for their liberty and their salvation and the restoration of their ancient position as pillars of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church in communion with the See of Peter in Rome; for the conversion of the Jewish people and the conversion of the Muslim peoples.  And join the Rosary Confraternity!

The Great Unraveling

The Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows

Roger Cohen wrote an Op-ed piece in the New York Times that describes quite well what the world is going through right now.  Wars, rumors of war, the rumbles of far away conflicts that we could hear in our own backyards if only we were listening.  But most of us really aren’t listening are we?  Too many of us can’t seem to lift our eyes from our iPhones or Androids or Samsung Galaxies long enough to notice the ripples in the air.  But things are changing; the world is changing and we want desperately to sleep and not to be bothered by such things.

But of course, since he is writing in the New York Times, Mr. Cohen does not go into the root cause of the decay that we are living through.  Why does the sand shift under our feet so? Why does the earth itself quake under our feet?  One could make an argument, a well founded argument, about the tides of history and history’s Lord and how these things happen.  But doesn’t the answer really lie in a deeper and darker place in our heart?  We have completely rejected the law of God, the law that God gave us in his wisdom and his charity to teach us how to be his sons.  Our ancestors rejected the Church because they could no longer bear anyone having authority over them, they wanted to follow their own designs.  The generations following them rejected Jesus Christ: declaring Him to be a good guy, a wise philosopher, or a clever teacher of morals who employed witty sayings to bring in the people.  But to those generations, or at least to a large part of those generations in their inmost heart, He was not divine.  No He could never be divine.  Such things just didn’t happen, God was too distant for that and besides, these things just didn’t happen.  In the twentieth century what was once the Catholic world rejected God entirely; flocking to the atheistic ideologies of communism, capitalism, and fascism that all promised to make this world a wonderful and prosperous place because, after all there is nothing beyond this, right?  And in the twenty-first century we reject even the natural law: men marry men and women marry women because it makes everybody feel good and nobody is offended, nobody in this world at least.  We see men in black masks sawing off the heads of young men in orange jumpsuits and call them barbarians, safely ensconced behind the walls of a civilizations where mothers murder their own children in their own wombs while the fathers act as accessories to the crime because of their own indifference and a desire to remain adolescents for the whole scope of their lives.  Tell me who are the real barbarians?  Yes the world is failing and we all need to repent.  While this may not be the end of the world and the Son of Man may not be coming on the clouds anytime soon (though who can say?) we are definitely at the end of something.  We need to repent and we need to be converted and we need to pray.

Pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary on Monday for the See of Constantinople, the Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesday for the See of Antioch, the Glorious Mysteries on Wednesday for the See of Jerusalem, the Luminous Mysteries on Thursday for the See of Alexandria, and the Sorrowful Mysteries on Friday for the See of Carthage; for their liberty and their salvation and the restoration of their ancient position as pillars of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church in communion with the See of Peter in Rome; for the conversion of the Jewish people and the conversion of the Muslim peoples.  And join the Rosary Confraternity!

The Pope and the Patriarch in Constantinople on the Feast of Saint Andrew

The Feast of Saint John Chrysostom

Pope Francis is now scheduled to visit Turkey at the end of November at the invitation of both the Turkish government and the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew.  According to the Turkish ambassador to the Vatican the Holy Father will be present at a special liturgy in Istanbul on November 30, the Feast of Saint Andrew the apostolic founder of the See of Constantinople.

It is heartening to see the relationship grow between these two men who play such important roles in Christendom.  It is of course too early still to speak of a reunion, but this is another major step in the right direction.  The Holy Father acknowledged this morning how dark the world is becoming with rumors of war in far off places gathering together.  The world should listen to his warning, but I doubt they will.  Maybe recent events and growing conflict in the world are spurring the Pope and the Patriarch to do what needs to be done here.  Maybe be they will do it and maybe they won’t.  It is for the Lord of history to decide such matters but we can pray.  We must pray.

Pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary on Monday for the See of Constantinople, the Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesday for the See of Antioch, the Glorious Mysteries on Wednesday for the See of Jerusalem, the Luminous Mysteries on Thursday for the See of Alexandria, and the Sorrowful Mysteries on Friday for the See of Carthage; for their liberty and their salvation and the restoration of their ancient position as pillars of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church in communion with the See of Peter in Rome; for the conversion of the Jewish people and the conversion of the Muslim peoples.  And join the Rosary Confraternity!

The strange fate of Ukraine

The Feast of Saint Augustine

Today’s Gospel (Mt. 24: 42-51) in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite comes at the time of year when we in the northern hemisphere are drunk and sleepy with summer.  The air has been warm and the trees have been green for a long time now; the fields are ripe for the harvest and the fruit is being plucked from the tree.  The days are growing shorter but no one really notices yet because the gloom of winter is long forgotten.  And the Liturgical calendar is roughly at the midpoint of the long march of the second section of Ordinary Time between the glory of Pentecost and the end of the year and the Advent renewal, so the Church gives us this warning:

Jesus said to his disciples: “Stay awake!  For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.  Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into.  So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect the Son of Man will come.

Who then is the faithful and prudent servant, whom the master has put in charge of his household to distribute to them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master on his arrival finds doing so.  Amen, I say to you, he will put him in charge of all his property.  But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is long delayed,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants, and eat and drink with drunkards, the servant’s master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour and will punish him severely and assign him a place with the hypocrites where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.

The Son of Man comes to us in many ways.  He will come in glory at the end of time to judge the living and the dead, He will come for each of us individually when our time on this earth runs out, and as the Lord of history He comes to judge cities, nations, and civilizations.  Sometimes these decay at a slow rate and just peter out but more often the Lord comes as a thief in the night when people are sleepy and/or drunk on their own prosperity.

Witness the strange fate of Ukraine.  A year ago the citizens of Donetsk, Luhansk, Mariupol, and the surrounding towns and villages would all probably go out drinking together on a Saturday night and not think a thing of it.  Today they are slaughtering each other.  These once prosperous European cities are now under siege, being shelled, and being emptied out.  They have become the pawn of world powers seeking to expand their influence in the brutal game of international politics.

As our Lord told Peter, James, and John before He entered Garden of Olives at Gethsemane: Vigilate, et orate!  Keep watch and pray, and above all stay awake because the world can change in a minute!  None of us know the hour or the day for us or for the world we live in.

Pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary on Monday for the See of Constantinople, the Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesday for the See of Antioch, the Glorious Mysteries on Wednesday for the See of Jerusalem, the Luminous Mysteries on Thursday for the See of Alexandria, and the Sorrowful Mysteries on Friday for the See of Carthage; for their liberty and their salvation and the restoration of their ancient position as pillars of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church in communion with the See of Peter in Rome; for the conversion of the Jewish people and the conversion of the Muslim peoples.  And join the Rosary Confraternity!

The Islamic State

The Feast of Saint Louis

Over the past two weeks the United States has begun a military air campaign in northern Iraq to prevent the forces of the Islamic State from advancing into Kurdistan and devastating Kurdish peshmerga forces and to help them regain control of the Mosul Dam.  The Islamic State then withdrew its forces from those locations and its advances in Iraq appear to have, for the moment, been blunted.  So whither the Islamic State?  Whiter Iraq and whither Syria?  What is going on here? Has the insertion of limited US air power in northern Iraq and the entrance of a few hundred military advisers into the country fundamentally changed the situation or not?

The American air strikes have so far been limited and the capabilities of the Islamic State are much more advanced than any terrorist group has had in modern times.  The have begun to actually form themselves into a state in the territories they have taken over and most importantly they have a serious budget.  Seizing large amounts of cash in Mosul, gaining oil revenue from the fields they have captured in Syria, and presumably garnering some sort of tax revenue from their conquered territories makes them essentially a terrorist army, a force that may end up being a serious threat to the current world order.

And while the Islamic State has temporarily paused its offensive in Iraq it has done no such thing in Syria.  Yesterday its forces seized the Tabqa airbase southwest of the Islamic State’s de facto capital of Raqah in north central Syria, thereby clearing that province of all Syrian government forces.

But here is the issue.  The Islamic State needs to be defeated in both Syria and Iraq and the border between those two countries needs to be reestablished as it was before June.  Unless the United States is prepared to send several hundred thousand ground troops into both Syria and Iraq (which it will not do) then it will need to coordinate with both Bashar al-Assad in Syria, which Barack Obama will be loathe to do, and some sort of working government which does not yet exist in Baghdad and have them work in concert to set things back to the way they were.  Does anyone see that happening?

The rise of the Islamic State and its declaration of caliphate is nothing less than an attempt at world revolution akin to what the Nazis and the Bolsheviks did in the last century.  If it is not strangled in the cradle then this world will be far different by the time the next decade ends.

Pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary on Monday for the See of Constantinople, the Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesday for the See of Antioch, the Glorious Mysteries on Wednesday for the See of Jerusalem, the Luminous Mysteries on Thursday for the See of Alexandria, and the Sorrowful Mysteries on Friday for the See of Carthage; for their liberty and for their salvation and the restoration of their ancient position as pillars of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church in communion with the See of Peter in Rome; for the conversion of the Jewish people and the Muslim peoples.  And join the Rosary Confraternity!

Thanks be to God for… Russia: a historical meditation

The Feast of Saint Peter Chrysologus

Russia has been in the news a lot lately, more so than in any time in the last two decades, and it caused me to think about the checkered history of that vast land.  It occurred to me at some point that Catholic Europe as we knew it in the second millennium, the great saints of western Europe Thomas Aquinas, Dominic, and Francis of Assisi and the nations and cultures of France, Germany, Italy, England, and Spain likely never would have come into being without Russia.

To understand this it is necessary to compare the situation of Europe in the first millennium after Christ versus what it experienced in the second.  At the time of the Incarnation and the beginning of the age of the Catholic Church the Roman Empire had just completed conquering the entire Mediterranean basin, a feat which has never been equaled before or since, and stretched from the British Isles to the Syrian desert.  However the lands in the north beyond the Rhine and the Danube were largely an undiscovered country.  In the third century of the Incarnation however the empire encountered the Goths, the first of the barbarian tribes that either were migrating or being pushed across the vast steppes north of the Black and Caspian Seas from Asia into Europe.  This was the beginning of eight centuries of continuous migration and invasion that would sap the strength of the Roman Empire and eventually destroy it.

Into this came the Catholic Church with its message of salvation attempting to build a new civilization on the ruins of the classical world.  In those first centuries after the fall of Rome she was continually harried on all sides however.  The Huns, the Slavs, the Avars, the Lombards all came in on the heels of the Goths and Vandals along the highways of the steppes north of the Black Sea and continued to hammer Catholic civilization.  There was very little political stability in these centuries with the borders of the post Roman barbarian kingdoms shifting constantly like amoebas and the entirety of Christian civilization was consistently under threat from the marauding tribes of Asia in the east and the newly expanding empire of Islam to the south that had shattered the old Mediterranean unity and the Vikings coming in from the north.

Around the year 1000 things began to change.  The strength of Islam waned due to internal conflict, the Vikings slowly were converted from paganism into full membership in the Catholic Church and new state was being formed north of the Black Sea that would forever close the door on the highway from Asia into Europe.  When Prince Vladimir accepted baptism and brought the new state of Kievan Rus with him that road was shut off.  New and organized and united political entities were formed that stretched from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea and put up a permanent roadblock to any migration from Asia into Europe.  The only power to breach this roadblock was the Mongols in the 13th century but they did not destroy Russia, they only occupied it and eventually withered away.

Once this new space opened up a new situation came into being in Europe.  There was internecine and fratricidal warfare to be sure but there was no longer the constant threat of massive, culture destroying invasion from the east.  The Church recovered her footing and launched the Crusades to save Constantinople from the Turkish threat and to recapture the Holy Land for a time.  The nation of France came into being and rule from Paris became a fact of life for ever greater parts of what had been Roman Gaul.  The kingdoms of Castille and Aragon accelerated the work of the reconquista and began to drive Islam out of western Europe and form the modern nation of Spain.  There was a flowering of scholastic theology in Italy and a greater devotion to the religious life, and the first beginnings of the Rennaissance.  The High Middle Ages were in full swing and the foundations of the modern world, with all of its glories and defects, were being laid.  All thanks to the formation of a unified political entity that stretched from the Baltic to the Black Seas and cut off the highway of invasion from Asia.  Thanks be to God for Russia.

Pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary on Monday for the See of Constantinople, the Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesday for the See of Antioch, the Glorious Mysteries on Wednesday for the See of Jerusalem, the Luminous Mysteries on Thursday for the See of Alexandria, and the Sorrowful Mysteries on Friday for the See of Carthage; for their liberty and their salvation and the restoration of their ancient position as pillars of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church in communion with the See of Peter in Rome; for the conversion of the Jewish people and the Muslim peoples.  And join the Rosary Confraternity!

What is Islam Part 4: The Mother of God in Islam

The Feast of Saints Joachim and Anne

The Second Vatican Council in its declaration on the relationship of the Catholic Church with non-Christian religions Nostra Aetate declared that “The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems… (who) also honor Mary, His (Jesus’) Virgin Mother, and at times they also call on her with devotion.”  That is true, as far as it goes, but incomplete.  There are very important differences in the understanding of the Virgin Mary’s role in human history which reflect on the entirely different worldview that the Catholic has regarding his Creator, his relationship with that Creator, and his destiny.

The Qur’an relates the story of the Annunciation twice, both in sura 3 (The Family of Imran) and in sura 19 (Maryam).  Both of these episodes reveal a strong familiarity with Saint Luke’s account (they both begin with the message of the angel to Zechariah concerning John the Baptist and an altered version of his subsequent dumbness) of the same event, but both are also a manipulation and a strategic mutilation of this event and its significance for the human race.

The accounts in sura 3 and sura 19 are slightly different but for our purposes in this brief post they serve the same function.

Here is the account given in the Qur’an in sura 19, Maryam (16-22):

وَاذْكُرْ فِي الْكِتَابِ مَرْيَمَ إِذِ انتَبَذَتْ مِنْ أَهْلِهَا مَكَانًا شَرْقِيًّا ﴿١٦فَاتَّخَذَتْ مِن دُونِهِمْ حِجَابًا فَأَرْسَلْنَا إِلَيْهَا رُوحَنَا فَتَمَثَّلَ لَهَا بَشَرًا سَوِيًّا ﴿١٧ قَالَتْ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِالرَّحْمَـٰنِ مِنكَ إِن كُنتَ تَقِيًّا ﴿١٨قَالَ إِنَّمَا أَنَا رَسُولُ رَبِّكِ لِأَهَبَ لَكِ غُلَامًا زَكِيًّا ﴿١٩ قَالَتْ أَنَّىٰ يَكُونُ لِي غُلَامٌ وَلَمْ يَمْسَسْنِي بَشَرٌ وَلَمْ أَكُ بَغِيًّا ﴿٢٠ قَالَ كَذَٰلِكِ قَالَ رَبُّكِ هُوَ عَلَيَّ هَيِّنٌ ۖ وَلِنَجْعَلَهُ آيَةً لِّلنَّاسِ وَرَحْمَةً مِّنَّا ۚ وَكَانَ أَمْرًا مَّقْضِيًّا ﴿٢١ فَحَمَلَتْهُ فَانتَبَذَتْ بِهِ مَكَانًا قَصِيًّ

English translation by Maulana Muhammad Ali

And mention Mary in the Book.  When she drew aside from her family to an eastern place.  So she screened herself from them.  Then We sent Our spirit and it appeared to her as a well-made man.

 She said: I flee for refuge from thee to the Beneficent, if thou art one guarding against evil.

 He said I am only bearer of a message of the Lord: That I will give thee a pure boy.

 She said: How can I have a son and no mortal has yet touched me nor have I been unchaste?

 He said: So (it will be).  Thy Lord says: It is easy to Me; and that We may make him a sign to men and a mercy from Us.  And it is a matter decreed.

 Then she conceived him; and withdrew with him to a remote place.

Notice anything missing there?  Let’s take a look at Saint Luke’s (1: 26-38) account of the same event written more than half a millennium before in the Douay-Rheims Challoner translation:

 And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.  And the angle being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

 Who having heard, was troubled at his saying, and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be.

 And the angel said to her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God.  Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou 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 David his father; and he shall reign in the house of Jacob forever.  And of his kingdom there shall be no end.

 And Mary said to the angel: How shall this be done, because I know not man?

 And the angel answering, said to her: the Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee.  And therefore also the Holy which shall  be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.  And behold they cousin Elizabeth, she also hath conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with here that is called barren:  because no word shall be impossible with God.

 And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word.

Just looking at these two passages alone, one from the Qur’an and the other from the Gospel of Luke, one can see immediately the depth and richness of the Catholic Faith compared to the paltriness of Islam.  In Saint Luke’s account of the Annunciation the depth of the human being’s relationship with God that comes to its fullness in the person of Jesus Christ is in full view while in the Qur’an things happen in a strange and nonsensical way: the spirit of Allah appearing to Mary in some eastern place as a well made man?  What is that?  But we are getting beyond my point here.

What is missing from the account in the Qur’an?  Many things, but one thing in particular: the Blessed Mother’s fiat, the most significant event in human history.  Because here it was that a choice was made.  By the Virgin Mother of God’s yes to God she reversed the choice of Adam and of Eve and made it possible for each one of us to make the same choice each day of our lives.  Her yes brought a new world into being and made all of us sons of God by adoption through her son our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Angelus prayer reminds us that the Blessed Mother’s fiat brought about the Incarnation of God in human flesh and the Redemption of mankind.  And it is a reminder to all of us that our way of participating in our own salvation and that of mankind is to issue our own fiat to the will of God each day of our lives.

This is what the Qur’an denies.  In the Qur’an the answer of the angel to the virgin’s question is simply something along the lines of “Allah can do whatever he wants.”  She neither accepts nor rejects this scenario but conceives and withdraws to a desert place.

And this is Islam’s view of the universe.  Allah is an arbitrary god, giving and taking away often for no particular reason.  Human beings must follow the law as revealed to them in the Qur’an but there is zero sense of any cooperation with the divine will.  Just as they reject the divine Nature of Jesus Christ, in fact because they do this, there is no possibility of a human being sharing in the life of the Holy Trinity because for them there is no Trinity.  For Catholics God is relationship.  For Muslims Allah is necessarily solitary and alone, all powerful, aloof and distant.  In truth Allah must be a dead god, because he has not the life of relationship in him.  Muslims hope to achieve some worldly paradise after death at the whim of Allah but can never hope to share in his life because, in the end, he has none.

Pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary on Monday for the See of Constantinople, the Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesday for the See of Antioch, the Glorious Mysteries on Wednesday for the See of Jerusalem, the Luminous Mysteries on Thursday for the See of Alexandria, and the Sorrowful Mysteries on Friday for the See of Carthage; for their liberty and their salvation and the restoration of their ancient position as pillars of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church in communion with the See of Peter in Rome; for the conversion of the Jewish people and the conversion of the Muslim peoples.  And join the Rosary Confraternity!