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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.
September 23rd, 2011

My knee-jerk response to this was no, because that’s what the good sisters told me in Catholic school thirty years ago. But I did a little research, and found that it’s not quite as clear-cut as that.
On the one hand, it makes sense that the sisters told us not to drape rosaries around our necks. The rosary isn’t jewelry; it’s a sacramental, which is an object meant to help bring about spiritual effects through the prayer or devotion it inspires. (Sacramentals don’t have any sort of magic power in and of themselves; the positive graces come through the prayers.) Many people argue that if you wear a rosary around your neck, you are treating it more like a fashion accessory than a sacramental and are thus distorting…

September 19th, 2011

Mary never had the stigmata (miraculous wounds or pain that correspond to the physical suffering of Christ) . She certainly suffered great emotional pain; Simeon said as much during the Presentation of the infant Jesus, when he told Mary that a sword would pierce her soul. I’ve no doubt she watched her son being crucified and probably had an emotional pain so intense that it felt physical, as is often the case when a mom sees her child hurting. But her suffering never manifested itself in the physical wounds that are the mark of the stigmatic.…

September 7th, 2011

The first picture I ever saw of Father Mychal Judge was a photo of his dead body. In the days following 9/11, I was haunted by the image of four men carrying the New York City fire department chaplain away from the Twin Towers. With the firefighters he served, Judge answered the calls for help, only to lose his life at Ground Zero. He was the first registered death of 9/11.

At first, I saw him as a tragic figure, a searing example of this country’s wounds. Since learning about his life, though, my perspective has shifted. Now I see him as a symbol of compassion, a vivid example of what it means to heal and be healed.

September 5th, 2011

No, the Hail Mary is not a part of the Catholic Mass. That said, I have been to a few Masses where the priest inserts a Hail Mary at the end of his homily (this sometimes happens on Mother’s Day or on a Marian feast day). I know of no prohibitions against doing so as long as the Hail Mary does not replace one of the prayers of the Mass. Overall, though, the Hail Mary is prayed more as a private devotion or as part of the praying of the rosary.…

August 22nd, 2011

First of all, congratulations on the new job. Second, it’s a bit hard to answer the question as I’m not entirely sure where your discomfort lies. Does it lie in the fact that it felt wrong to pray for success? If so, rest easy. There is nothing wrong with asking for God’s help so you can do a good job at your job. We could probably all use a little divine help in that area.
If your unease lies in the fact that your friend asked you to pray a Hail Mary instead of some other prayer, remember that praying for Mary’s intercession is perfectly in line with Catholic theology. The Catechism says that “Prayer of intercession consists in asking on behalf of another” (CCC 2647), which is something that most of us naturally…

August 15th, 2011

In the apostolic constitution Munificentissimus Deus…, Pope Piux XII wrote that  Mary, “having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.”  Thus the Assumption, a long-standing tradition of the Church, was formalized into a dogma of faith.
The wording of this quotation, however, leaves open the question you posed: Did Mary actually die before she was assumed into heaven?   In fact, there is no conclusive answer.  Over the centuries, arguments have been made both for and against the idea that Mary actually died first.
One argument against her death comes out of the Church’s teaching that she was conceived without original sin: if death is

August 8th, 2011

Well, there’s no mention of Spot or Kitty in the Gospels, so it’s hard to say for certain. I’m guessing that pet ownership was not a big thing in Nazareth during Jesus’ lifetime; most families would probably have only been able to afford to keep animals that were useful in some way (food production, etc.). It’s fair to say that Mary wanted Jesus to have an enjoyable childhood and to learn (as all kids must) about responsibility, but having a pet was probably not the way that those things happened.…

July 25th, 2011

First of all, I’d be wary of saying that Mary is “still appearing,” as that wording implies that there are approved apparitions happening on a daily basis. Though alleged Marian sightings do make for great news stories, only a very few of them have been investigated by the Church and found to be worthy of belief. It’s also important to remember that even the handful of apparitions that are approved of by the Church fit into the category of “private revelation,” meaning that Catholics are not required to believe in them (this is distinct from “public revelation,” such as the teachings of Christ.)
That said, when you look at the apparitions that have been found worthy of belief, common themes emerge.…

July 18th, 2011

Feast days (and solemnities and memorials) are days in the liturgical calendar where the Church highlights and honors an aspect of the Lord, of Mary, or of a particular saint. The Marian days usually fall into different categories. Some of them commemorate a particular event in Scripture, such as the Annunciation or the Visitation. Others highlight various apparitions, such as the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe or Our Lady of Fatima. Still others relate to dogmatic statements about Mary, such as the Solemnity of the Assumption, or the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. Other feast days are based on popular Marian devotions (Our Lady of the Rosary, etc.).
Similarly, the many different titles of Mary acknowledge…

July 11th, 2011

Matthew is one of the two gospels (along with Luke) to include an infancy narrative. Unlike Luke, though, Matthew gives a greater emphasis on Joseph than on Mary. Matthew tells the story of how Joseph discovered that Mary was pregnant and intended to divorce her quietly, until he received a visit from the angel of the Lord. Matthew is also the only Gospel to include the visit of the Magi, and to share the story of the Holy Family fleeing to Egypt to escape Herod’s murderous designs. Mary is obviously involved in these events, but Matthew’s narrative places a greater emphasis on Joseph’s role than on hers (for example, the angel of the Lord appears to Joseph in his dreams to warn him, not to Mary).
Mary does appear…

July 4th, 2011

Question: How difficult must it have been for Mary to teach anything to Jesus? Wouldn’t he already know twenty ways to do whatever she asked?
Your question touches on one of the most intriguing aspects of Jesus: the fact that he was both fully human and fully divine. Admittedly, it’s hard to imagine how being fully God and fully man would work in practical terms, and it’s been a topic of great interest over the centuries. The Catechism says this:
The human soul that the Son of God assumed is endowed with a true human knowledge. As such, this knowledge could not in itself be unlimited: it was exercised in the historical conditions of his existence in space and time. This is why the Son of God could, when he became man,…

June 27th, 2011

We don’t actually know why they came to find him. This story shows up in three places (Mark 3: 31-35, Luke 8:19-21, and Matthew 12:46-50), and none of the evangelists mentions the reason why Mary and Jesus’ brothers (often understood to be half-brothers or cousins; see the New American Bible footnote for Mark 6:3) are seeking him out. Mark’s version does hint at some worry on the part of Jesus’ family; just prior to this passage, in 3:21, some unnamed relatives of Jesus come with the intent to “seize him” and they say, “He is out of his mind.” This raises the possibility that perhaps Mary and the other relatives were concerned about Jesus’ welfare.
Ultimately, though, when it comes to answering…

June 20th, 2011

John’s Gospel has no birth or infancy narratives, but it does have two key stories that highlight Mary’s involvement in Jesus’ adult life. The first is the Wedding at Cana, when Mary tells Jesus that there is no more wine.
Though he responds by saying, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come,” (John 2:4), Mary confidently tells the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.” (John 2:5) Jesus then performs his first miracle and turns the water into wine. This story reveals a lot about Mary. For one thing, it shows that she had tremendous faith in her son’s ability to fix the problem at hand. She is confident that he can save the party, even though she has never seen him perform a miracle…

June 13th, 2011

Luke’s Gospel has much more information about Mary than the other three do. He gives us a very intimate portrait of her, showing her initial surprise at the arrival of the angel Gabriel and her subsequent acceptance of her role as the Mother of the Savior. Luke also includes the story of Mary visiting her pregnant cousin Elizabeth, which gives us a rare glimpse into female friendship and familial support, and he alone has the beautiful “Magnificat,” Mary’s hymn of praise. In fact, Luke is the Gospel that features the most direct quotations from Mary herself. Luke also includes stories showing Mary’s life as a young mother: the Presentation in the Temple, when Simeon warns her of the suffering that she…

June 6th, 2011

Of the four Gospels, Mark has the least information about Mary. There is no infancy narrative in Mark, so we hear nothing about Jesus’ birth or early life. The first reference to Mary is in Mark 3:31-35, when Jesus’ family (including his mom) come looking for him while he is preaching. Mary is later mentioned by name when Jesus returns to Nazareth and the people refer to him as “the son of Mary” (6:3). Beyond that, though, Mark says nothing about Jesus’ mother, focusing instead on Jesus’ adult life and his ministry.…

May 31st, 2011

In my church, there’s a chapel dedicated to Mary. Above the altar is a very traditional white statue of Mary, holding her hands in prayer, her eyes downcast. But on the wall above that statue, there is a large woodcarving of Mary in a totally different pose: her arms outstretched, looking straight at you, strong and determined. It’s easy to miss that triumphant Mary, because unless the light is on above the altar, she’s very hard to see. In fact, I attended the church for a few years before I even realized that woodcarving was there.
I share this story because I’ve come to think of these two images as a great metaphor for how we see Mary.
Certainly, it’s tempting to think of Mary as being passive, probably due…

May 2nd, 2011

Mary is the English translation of the Hebrew name Miriam (in Latin, it’s Maria). There are different possible meanings for the name Mary. Some sources say that it means “bitter,” while others suggest that it means something more like “beloved” or “the sublime one.” Whatever the meaning, it seems likely that Mary was named after Miriam the sister of Moses, who was a well-known woman in the Jewish tradition.…

April 25th, 2011

Catholics believe that Christ was conceived in Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit, and not through a human father. (See Luke 1: 26-38). Though there are other religions that feature stories of miraculous conceptions and births, that fact alone is not evidence that the virgin birth was just a narrative detail that was lifted from some other place. Take the Gospels, for example. If you are looking for historical facts about Jesus’ life, that’s clearly where you will go, given that they were based on the oral tradition that came from eyewitness testimony. It’s worth noting that both Matthew and Luke make a clear reference to Mary’s virginity.
If you look at what the Church believes about Jesus, the virgin…

March 28th, 2011

Q: Why did Mary and Jesus’ brothers go looking for him and why did Jesus turn them away? (Matthew 12:46-50)
In Matthew 12:46-50, while Jesus is preaching, his mother and brothers come looking for him. When someone points them out to Jesus, he answers, “’Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?’ And stretching out his hand towards his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother.’” (Matthew 12:48-50). (Note that the word used for “brother” in the original text is the word that is also used for cousins, half-siblings, and other kin. See the New American Bible explanatory notes for Mark 6:3. )
Why did Mary…

March 24th, 2011

Q: Do we have examples of Mary’s worthiness? I mean, why DID God choose her in the first place? What was so good about her?
There’s not a lot of information in Scripture about Mary. Her first appearance comes at the Annunciation, when the angel is announcing that she has been chosen to be the mother of the Savior. Her childhood is one of the subjects of the apocryphal text The Protoevangelium of James, which was written about 150 A.D.; in this book, Mary is described as an exceptionally holy child who goes to live in the temple at the age of three and who stays there until she is twelve. This book is not considered to be divinely inspired, so it doesn’t have the authority of Sacred Scripture, but it does show that even…

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