Chapter One: Grace and Devotion to Mary
Chapter Two: Mary, Holy Objects and God
Chapter Three: Primary Teachings - Mary the Virgin
Chapter Four: Mary and Jesus
Chapter Five: Deeper Teachings -
Chapter Six: Teachings Not Yet Declared Dogmas -
Jesus and Mary
A Mediator with our Mediator
Chapter Seven: Final Thoughts and Reflections
of the Holy Spirit
of Jesus Made Present
and Church Unity
Consecration to Mary Individual and
Litany of Mary's Faith Journey
© Copyright, J. Roy MacIntyre 2009
Hierarchy of Truths in the Christian Faith
I would like to take a little time with the idea of a hierarchy of Truth in the Church. All the truths of God can be categorized in two ways; their significance and how much faith is required to accept the beliefs. The significant truths are essential to our understanding of God, salvation and the afterlife. The more faith a belief requires the greater the Glory believing in it brings to God. What I am referring to here are essentially doctrines of the Faith and are not about principles or commandments of Christian living.
I would also say that the more truths given by the particular faith tradition the more the person of that tradition is likely to encounter attack, especially if he slips into non-practice. This leads to bringing scandal on the faith tradition and more so when the person continues as a part of the faith tradition in name only. Catholics who bear the fullness of truth can therefore be the most scandalous sinners. This is precisely what Satan wants to do to discourage people of other traditions from discovering the wonderful truths of the Catholic Church. On the other hand, those who humbly and gratefully accept the truths of the Church can bear great witness to the depth and extent of the gifts God has given the Church but as Jesus Himself warns, ‘not without persecution’.
Let me now turn to some of the significant Christian beliefs. “Hear oh Israel the Lord our God is One” (Deut 6:4). This is the most significant teaching of the Old Testament which stood in stark contrast to all the other nations of those times. It also took considerable time and significant faith for the people to believe and in deed fully accept this teaching. The Hebrews continued to struggled with turning to ‘other gods’ right up to the days of the Maccabees just prior to the birth of Christ.
A second Old Testament teaching is that God is YHWH – “I am that I Am”. This is a profound teaching that being, existence itself is embodied in God. In other words God is and all that is comes from Him. This belief was so profound that the word could not be uttered. The sacredness of the name of God encouraged the kind of awe and respect appropriate to the One True God.
The foremost teaching of the New Testament is that Jesus, the Messiah, is God. He is Lord of all creation and by the shedding of His Body and Blood he redeemed the human race from sin and opened heaven to them. “Still the greatest treasure remains for those who gladly (believe) choose you now” Hazel Dean puts it well in “Come Now is the Time to Worship”.
Another significant teaching of the New Testament is the teaching on the Eucharist. This essential gift given to the Church by Jesus is the source and summit of our Christian faith.
The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is also an event fundamental to the Christian’s belief system. Not only is it essential to believe that Jesus rose from the dead but we also believe that our own bodies will also be raised from the dead on the last day.
The teaching of three Divine Persons in one God, the Trinity is also a significant Christian teaching. However, it was not defined in the New Testament but was left to be defined by the Church as noted above.
The virgin birth of Jesus is also a significant Christian belief that as noted earlier bears witness to the divinity of Jesus, God with us.
A significant belief for Christians is that Jesus left behind a Church through which He teaches and directs the people of God under the leadership of the successor of St. Peter and through the Magisterium or teaching authority given to His Church.
The inerrancy of the Holy Bible is also a significant Christian belief. The canon of the Bible was authorized by the Catholic Church in which the books of the New Testament were laid out and the Greek Septuagint was endorsed as the Old Testament canon.
These example of significant teachings are not meant to be an exhaustive list of the significant truths of God nor are they in any particular order but they are meant to give a sense of the kinds of beliefs that are important. In a similar way let me now look at the types of truths of the Christian Faith that are hard teachings and require a significant faith on the part of believers. Some of these beliefs are also among the significant and essential beliefs of the Faith. I would like to say they are hard to believe from two perspectives; the natural difficulty there is in holding such a belief and the level of scriptural and historical support there is for holding the belief. In other words the less the support the greater the faith required to believe.
Despite considerable scriptural evidence the Truth of the Christian Church most difficult to accept is that Jesus is present, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Eucharist. There is no getting around this; it is just a hard teaching as some of his disciples said (Jn 6:60). But for those who accept this belief it is a glorious and elevating gift that brings us into communion with God. Not only does belief in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist bring glory to God but unfortunately, the opposite is also true. Refusing to believe also grieves the Holy Spirit which is evident in Jesus saying to His Apostles, “Will you too leave me?”
Jesus’ teaching on divorce was also a hard teaching for His time. In fact, the indissolubility of marriage is once again a challenge to the people of our day. Nevertheless, Jesus’ teaching is clear concerning divorce and remarriage (Mt 5:32 & Mt 19:9).
The Immaculate Conception is another difficult belief to hold in that there is little in scripture to confirm this truth and historically it is a relatively recent teaching of the Church. For these reasons belief in this doctrine gives great glory to God because it is essentially the work of the unseen Holy Spirit who brings this truth to his Church. For the same reasons of faith much grace is obtain through practices that confirm this doctrine.
Finally, I mention the teaching on purgatory. In some ways this is a difficult teaching and in other ways it is a reasonable teaching. Nevertheless, like the teaching on the Trinity it is not directly referred to in the Bible. Yet, from the teachings of the Apostles until the 16th century is was universally believed as it is by most Christians today. Believing in purgatory helps us prepare ourselves for the next life because we know we will have to answer for every idle word (Mt 12:36). But more importantly the knowledge of souls in purgatory becomes an opportunity to do the great work of charity – praying for the holy souls there who cannot help themselves.
Every person has some hierarchy and challenges to believe of his own. For instance, if one believes in many gods it is difficult to believe in only one God. If one believes in one God it is difficult to believe in three Persons in one God. If God is seen as an Infinite Being it is hard to see the fullness of God in the God-man, Jesus. If one does not believe in miracles it would be hard to believe in the virgin birth of Jesus. One might believe in the after life but find it difficult to believe in the resurrection of the dead. If one believes in a particular faith tradition it is very difficulty to accept the beliefs of new traditions. Yet are we not all called by the prompting of the Spirit within us to seek the fullness of God’s truth. We only have one opportunity to do that and it is in our present life. How disappointed will we be when we learn the whole truth with God that we failed to learn in our pilgrimage on earth.
Let me conclude this section by saying that many of the teachings presented in this little book represent a growth in the development of our understanding of God’s plan of redemption for the human race. Some teachings are relatively easy to believe and others are significantly more difficult. When we embrace the hard teachings, those that are just difficult to believe and those that have little scriptural or historical support we are showing faith in the subtle working of the Holy Spirit and because these teaching require great faith they bring great glory to God.
St. Louis De Montfort predicts that those who practice true devotion to Mary will eventually bring the whole world to true devotion to her for the greater knowledge of and glory toward the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. He also predicts that until this universal triumph takes place, those who propagate this devotion and other hard teachings will be persecuted even by their own brethren. Nevertheless, when that blessed time comes many people of every nation will take hold of the garment of these true devotees of Mary and say, let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you (Zechariah 8:23).
Jesus prayed (Jn 17:20-21) to His Father that the believers would all be one so the world would know the Father had sent Him. Since the Father would not refuse Jesus' prayer we can have unwavering faith that the Church of Jesus will be one. Secondly, this eventual unity of the Christian Church will be a witness to the world that Jesus is indeed the Son of the Father. It is more than some kind of spiritual unity suggested by people like David Wilkerson. It must be a unity that can be seen by the world. The world can not see a spiritual unity only a structural or community one. The divisions in the Church are a scandal to the world. Nevertheless, all the teachings of Jesus taught in the Church and Jesus Himself as founder will be seen as the Father's means of bringing the human race to the fullness of His unity and Truth.
Finally, let me say I believe all Christians will be united shortly after the teachings of Mary as Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix of All Graces and Advocate are defined. Therefore, this unity will come by Mary. A general rebellion or falling away is surely under way now, but in the end Jesus' prayer in Jn 17:20-21 will be answered, we will all be one (Jn 10:16). The seamless garment of Jesus (Jn 19:23), made by Mary, is symbolic of that eventual unity and her role in it.