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Ginny Kubitz Moyer :
166 article(s)

Ginny Kubitz Moyer is the author of the award-winning book Mary and Me: Catholic Women Reflect on the Mother of God. She lives with her family in the San Francisco Bay Area and blogs at randomactsofmomness.com.
April 2nd, 2012

The title of Mary as Queen has been a tradition of the Church since at least the fourth century. (Note that Mary is referred to as queen not just of heaven, but also of peace, of the angels, of all Christians, among many other things.) It’s important to understand that the title of Queen is not meant to indicate power over others, but rather to underscore Mary’s relationship to Christ. In other words, because Mary is the mother of Christ the King, it’s logical that she would be called Queen. (A modern example would be the mother of Queen Elizabeth II of England, who was known as the Queen Mother.)
Pope Pius XII affirmed this in his encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam when he wrote, “according to ancient tradition and the…

March 19th, 2012

Though they are a prominent part of Nativity sets and Christmas pageants, the magi only make one appearance in the Gospels, in Matthew 2: 1-12. (Though we commonly call them “kings,” the term magi originally referred to members of the Persian priestly caste and later became used for those possessing great knowledge and wisdom. Matthew presents them as astrologers.)
In Matthew’s account, the magi see a new star (which was believed to indicate that a new ruler had been born) and travel to Jerusalem looking for the new king. King Herod, of course, is troubled to hear of a possible rival to his power, and asks the magi to report back to him when they have found the child.
Matthew shows the magi traveling to Bethlehem…

March 12th, 2012

There’s not a lot of information about this in Scripture. We have the story in Mark 3: 21 where Jesus’ relatives come to seize him, saying, “He is out of his mind,” but it’s not entirely clear from the context of the story what it is that they are concerned about (we also have no idea whether or not Mary was one of these unnamed relatives). Mary is specifically mentioned in the story where some of Jesus’ kin come to find Jesus while he is preaching (see Luke 8:19-21 and Mark 3: 31-35), but we don’t know why they were looking for him or what they wanted to do. Later, in Mark 6:4, while he is teaching in the synagogue of Nazareth, Jesus says, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his…

March 5th, 2012

Mary was human, not divine, so she did not possess the power to miraculously stop the crucifixion from happening. Like the other witnesses of Jesus’ death, she could only stand by, watch, and (surely) pray for her son as he suffered.
If your question is asking whether she could have spoken to the authorities and halted their plans, it’s unlikely that such a thing would have happened. The only one who truly had the power to either order Jesus’ execution or to set him free was Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea. The Gospels indicate that he was influenced in his decision by religious leaders and by the crowds, but given the fact that less than a day passed between the arrest of Jesus and his crucifixion, it…

February 27th, 2012

At the wedding feast at Cana, when Mary tells Jesus that there is no more wine, Jesus responds, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour is not yet come.” (John 2:4). Although this form of address sounds harsh and rude to modern ears, “woman” was actually a term of respect and honor at the time. That said, it was still a rather unusual thing for a person to call his mother. The footnotes to the New American Bible indicate that this verse may seek to show that Jesus did not do miracles to help family and friends; in other words, his response to Mary might indicate that he did not intend to “play favorites.”
On a related note, many scholars have pointed out that this is not the only time that Jesus calls Mary…

February 20th, 2012

When Mary became pregnant with Jesus, it was surely a terrible shock to Joseph. Though he and Mary were betrothed, meaning they had given public and binding vows to each other, they had not yet lived together as man and wife. The only logical conclusion Joseph could reach on his own was that Mary was pregnant by another man – in other words, that she had committed adultery.
Proved adultery was punishable with death by stoning under the Mosaic law. The Gospel of Matthew explains that Jospeh was a “righteous man, yet unwilling to expose [Mary]to shame” so he decided to “divorce her quietly.” (Matthew 1:19). This indicates that although Joseph generally respected the law, he did not want to subject Mary to…

February 13th, 2012

During the time of Jesus, the Jewish marriage process involved two separate parts, the first of which was betrothal. This was an exchange of consent made between a man and a woman before witnesses. Betrothal was binding, and it could only be ended by death or divorce. After the betrothal, there was a period of several months in which the woman remained with her family. After that period was up, she would move into her husband’s home, where they lived together as husband and wife. So when the Gospels refer to Mary as being betrothed to Joseph, they are talking about the period of time after the exchange of consent but before they lived together as a married couple.…

February 6th, 2012

There’s zero obligation for Catholics to go to Marian shrines. The decision to visit them is totally voluntary. Many shrines do attract large numbers of pilgrims; the Marian apparition site at Lourdes, France, for example, attracts about five million pilgrims a year. Some come in hope for healing (the spring at Lourdes has been associated with miraculous physical cures), while others come hoping to enrich their prayer lives, while others come out of curiosity. But Catholics are not required to visit any shrine, Marian or otherwise, during their lives.…

January 20th, 2012

Mary is the English translation of the Hebrew name Miriam. There are different opinions on what it means; some sources say that it means “bitter,” or “beautiful one,” while others say that it derives from the Egyptian word that means “beloved.” It was a common female name at the time of Jesus, as is evident from all the different Marys who show up in the Gospels. This popularity is likely due to the fact that Miriam was the name of the sister of Moses, a well-known woman in the Jewish tradition.…

January 2nd, 2012

We don’t know exactly what Jesus called his mother when he was young. The Gospels don’t include any stories where the child Jesus addresses Mary directly, so we can only guess. It seems logical to assume that the young Jesus would have called his mother the Aramaic verison of “Mommy” or “Mama” (Aramaic was the language spoken by Jesus and his community).
We have a little more to go on when Jesus is an adult. In the Gospels, there are two separate occasions when he addressed his mother as “woman” (both at the Wedding at Cana in John 2:4, and while Jesus is on the cross, in John 19:26). Though this sounds harsh to modern ears, it was actually a term indicating respect.…

December 19th, 2011

Many families do wait until Christmas Eve or Christmas Day to put the baby Jesus into the manger scene, for the reason that he has not yet been born, and that an empty manger captures the spirit of Advent. This, as you’ve pointed out, means that Mary ends up spending a few weeks kneeling by an empty manger. If manger scenes had poseable figurines, I suppose that could be changed, and she could be in some other posture. In general, though, we just work with the limitations of the figurines we have, and try not get too literal about what it means. The important thing is that Mary, like all of the rest of us, was actively waiting for the birth of her son, and celebrated his birth when he did arrive.
By the way, many families put…

December 12th, 2011

This is a great question, and it touches on so much of what Catholics believe about Mary. I’ll throw out a few different ideas here, and hopefully one or more of them will resonate with you.
First of all, the fact that you have the desire to heal this relationship means that you’re already on your way. I’d start by telling Mary more about the struggles you and your mom have had, and explaining why you want this relationship healed. Imagine that you’re speaking to a good girlfriend about this and asking for her prayers (that is, after all, what we do when we pray to Mary – we ask for her intercession on our behalf). You may even find that the experience of articulating all of this background helps you notice things…

December 8th, 2011

It comes from the Miraculous Medal, which is a small medal often worn by Catholics. In 1830, a young French nun named Catherine Labouré had several visions of Mary. In one of these visions, she saw Mary standing on a globe with a snake (Satan) under her feet. Around the image of Mary, Catherine saw the words “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you.” Mary asked Catherine to have medals made in her likeness, telling Catherine that those who wore the medal and confidently prayed the prayer on it would receive great graces. It’s come to be called the Miraculous Medal because some who wear it prayerfully have reported what they claim to be miraculous occurrences.
The Miraculous Medal is…

December 5th, 2011

There is almost no information in the Gospels about what Mary was doing or where she was during the years of Jesus’ ministry. One story we do have, told by three of the four evangelists (Mark 3: 31-35, Luke 8:19-21, and Matthew 12:46-50), talks about how Mary and Jesus’ brothers come looking for him. The use of the word “brothers” here is often understood to refer to half-brothers or cousins; the New American Bible footnote for Mark 6:3 explains this in more detail. It’s very likely that these unnamed relatives were the ones who were caring for Mary while her son was doing his ministry, but we have no way of knowing for sure.…

October 31st, 2011

No, Mary did not write a Gospel, or anything else that we know of.
There is a text that is known as the Gospel of Mary, but the Mary in question is Mary Magdalene, not Mary the mother of Jesus. It’s an apocryphal text, meaning that it is written in the style of sacred Scripture but is not considered to be divinely inspired. You can read Joe Paprocki’s answer on the Gospel of Mary here.…

October 28th, 2011
Learning to love, not fear, the people in the stained glass windows

Lately, I’ve been considering teaching my son Matthew about the saints. At the big-boy age of 5, he’s surely old enough to become captivated by their stories. But then I realized that when you talk about the lives of the saints, you also have to talk about their deaths.

Therein lies the problem.

Not every saint had a gruesome death, of course, but quite a few of them did. And for a kid whose imaginative diet consists of nothing more sinister than the dragon that Harold draws with his magic purple crayon, I can hardly fathom telling him about St. Agnes, whose head was cut off, or St. Lawrence, who was literally grilled alive. My child already has an innate fear of the dark; I don’t need to tell him stories that will encourage it.

October 24th, 2011

The song “Ave Maria” is a popular choice for Catholic weddings, and it is liturgically appropriate to include it, if the couple chooses to do so. (In fact, it was a part of my own wedding Mass.) When the bride and/or groom has a close relationship to Mary, the song can be a special way to honor that. And because the vocation of marriage often includes raising children, it’s nice to have a song that acknowledges and honors the mother of Christ, who understands that experience intimately.…

October 17th, 2011

Although nun’s habits (particularly the veils) may make them look like Mary, the habit actually has a broader symbolic meaning. Traditionally speaking, the habit is an outward sign of the nun’s vocation, a way of identifying her total dedication to God. (Even the religious orders who no longer wear formal habits often have some element of their dress, such as a crucifix, that identifies their vocation.) The habit has a long history; in her book Unveiled: The Hidden Lives of Nuns, Cheryl L. Reed explains that the practice of nuns wearing veils dates back to the third century, when it was adopted as a sign that the nun was the bride of Christ. And though some orders of nuns wear Marian medals or rosaries, or wear blue…

October 10th, 2011

The patron saint for cancer in general is St. Peregrine. (There are a few others, but Peregrine is the most well-known.) Most specific forms of cancer, female or otherwise, don’t have their own patron saint (one notable exception is St. Agatha for breast cancer). That said, if you know of someone dealing with cancer, there’s no reason why you couldn’t ask for Mary’s intercession. A woman I know who had uterine cancer found great comfort in asking Mary for her prayers and intercession. Patron saints are usually chosen because they have some biographical connection to the subject at hand, but Catholics believe that all people in heaven will pray for us if we ask.…

September 26th, 2011

I consulted the website for the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, and from their list of Catholic schools, I counted 46 whose names are Marian in character. Most of these are schools that were obviously named after Mary, like the many schools that are called Notre Dame (French for “Our Lady”) or that have Mary in the name (like the University of St. Mary in Leavenworth, Kansas). There are also schools that were named for aspects of Mary’s experience (like Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts or Immaculata University in Immaculata, Pennsylvania) or for geographical places that relate to Mary (such as Lourdes College in Sylvania, Ohio).…

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