I pointed it out to her as the phone rang. "Hello?"
"Honey, you have GOT to see the sunset!" It was Hubby on the phone.
These are pictures of what we saw from our own yard. First two pictures are taken by Big Girl, the others are by me.
I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?
When they wrote stories about our trips into DC, not once did they mention that they saw large potted plants. But they did mention that we saw real dinosaur bones, stuffed animal bodies, planetarium shows, and IMAX movies.
We are exactly like that with God. We are reluctant to hand over control of our lives - all of our lives, not just what we WANT to give Him - because we are so fascinated with the potted plants that are right here in front of us. Meanwhile, He has bigger and better plans for us. God's got the tickets for the 3-D IMAX movie, He's waiting to take us to see the dinosaur bones, and He knows that, as fascinating as those big plants on the sidewalk are, we have no idea how really COOL the stuff is that we're going to see!
Father Levis, when I saw him speak at the IHM Conference, said that we need to stop trying to drive our own little red truck and just let Jesus drive. He's got the right directions, you know.
And the plants are not as good as the real museums.
I would suggest this particular film never had much of a chance due to two factors: First, it had no well-liked artist behind it whose involvement would create high expectations or intrigue, and, second, it told a story that we've seen told a million times in the corniest of animated specials and low-budget Christmas dramas. No intrigue about the artistic vision, combined with no intrigue about the subject matter, leaves a movie with very little to stand on except, "Hey Christians! Please come see our movie about your savior! We made it just for you!" And that pitch, as Hollywood is about to learn, will only get you so far.
Christian filmmakers need to have legitimate artistic visions for their work, and need to choose or create material with inherent intrigue for a sizeable audience. If you have great ideas and great vision for bringing them to life, you will, over time, earn an audience for your work. But the "Hey Christians, we made another movie just for you guys!" pitch isn't going to work. Sure, a few Christians will show up out of a sense of obligation, but the bulk of that now coveted Passion of the Christ audience will be in the next theater over, watching Pirates of the Carribean 2. Why? Because it's fun. And that, at the end of the day, is why America goes to the movies. Even the Christians.
In the Constitution Ineffabilis Deus of 8 December, 1854, Pius IX pronounced and defined that the Blessed Virgin Mary "in the first instance of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin."
"The Blessed Virgin Mary..."
The subject of this immunity from original sin is the person of Mary at the moment of the creation of her soul and its infusion into her body.
"...in the first instance of her conception..."
The term conception does not mean the active or generative conception by her parents. Her body was formed in the womb of the mother, and the father had the usual share in its formation. The question does not concern the immaculateness of the generative activity of her parents. Neither does it concern the passive conception absolutely and simply (conceptio seminis carnis, inchoata), which, according to the order of nature, precedes the infusion of the rational soul. The person is truly conceived when the soul is created and infused into the body. Mary was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin at the first moment of her animation, and sanctifying grace was given to her before sin could have taken effect in her soul.
"...was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin..."
The formal active essence of original sin was not removed from her soul, as it is removed from others by baptism; it was excluded, it never was in her soul. Simultaneously with the exclusion of sin. The state of original sanctity, innocence, and justice, as opposed to original sin, was conferred upon her, by which gift every stain and fault, all depraved emotions, passions, and debilities, essentially pertaining to original sin, were excluded. But she was not made exempt from the temporal penalties of Adam -- from sorrow, bodily infirmities, and death.
"...by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race."
The immunity from original sin was given to Mary by a singular exemption from a universal law through the same merits of Christ, by which other men are cleansed from sin by baptism. Mary needed the redeeming Saviour to obtain this exemption, and to be delivered from the universal necessity and debt (debitum) of being subject to original sin. The person of Mary, in consequence of her origin from Adam, should have been subject to sin, but, being the new Eve who was to be the mother of the new Adam, she was, by the eternal counsel of God and by the merits of Christ, withdrawn from the general law of original sin. Her redemption was
the very masterpiece of Christ's redeeming wisdom. He is a greater redeemer who pays the debt that it may not be incurred than he who pays after it has fallen on the debtor.
Such is the meaning of the term "Immaculate Conception."
Fundamentalists’ chief reason for objecting to the Immaculate Conception
and Mary’s consequent sinlessness is that we are told that "all have sinned"
(Rom. 3:23). Besides, they say, Mary said her "spirit rejoices in God my Savior"
(Luke 1:47), and only a sinner needs a Savior.
Let’s take the second citation first. Mary, too, required a Savior. Like all other descendants of Adam, she was subject to the necessity of contracting original sin. But by a special intervention of God, undertaken at the instant she was conceived, she was preserved from the stain of original sin and its consequences. She was therefore redeemed by the grace of Christ, but in a special way—by anticipation.
Consider an analogy: Suppose a man falls into a deep pit, and someone reaches down to pull him out. The man has been "saved" from the pit. Now imagine
a woman walking along, and she too is about to topple into the pit, but at the
very moment that she is to fall in, someone holds her back and prevents her. She
too has been saved from the pit, but in an even better way: She was not simply
taken out of the pit, she was prevented from getting stained by the mud in the
first place. This is the illustration Christians have used for a thousand years
to explain how Mary was saved by Christ. By receiving Christ’s grace at her
conception, she had his grace applied to her before she was able to become mired
in original sin and its stain.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that she was "redeemed in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son" (CCC 492). She has more reason to call God her Savior than we do, because he saved her in an even more glorious manner!
But what about Romans 3:23, "all have sinned"? Have all people committed
actual sins? Consider a child below the age of reason. By definition he can’t
sin, since sinning requires the ability to reason and the ability to intend to
sin. This is indicated by Paul later in the letter to the Romans when he speaks
of the time when Jacob and Esau were unborn babies as a time when they "had done nothing either good or bad" (Rom. 9:11).
We also know of another very prominent exception to the rule: Jesus (Heb.
4:15). So if Paul’s statement in Romans 3 includes an exception for the New Adam
(Jesus), one may argue that an exception for the New Eve (Mary) can also be
Paul’s comment seems to have one of two meanings. It might be that it refers not to absolutely everyone, but just to the mass of mankind (which means young children and other special cases, like Jesus and Mary, would be excluded without having to be singled out). If not that, then it would mean that everyone, without exception, is subject to original sin, which is true for a young child, for the unborn, even for Mary—but she, though due to be subject to it, was preserved by God from it and its stain.
The objection is also raised that if Mary were without sin, she would be equal
to God. In the beginning, God created Adam, Eve, and the angels without sin,
but none were equal to God. Most of the angels never sinned, and all souls in heaven are without sin. This does not detract from the glory of God, but manifests it by the work he has done in sanctifying his creation. Sinning does not make one human. On the contrary, it is when man is without sin that he is most fully what God intends him to be.
The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception was officially defined by Pope Pius IX in 1854. When Fundamentalists claim that the doctrine was "invented" at this time, they misunderstand both the history of dogmas and what prompts the Church to
issue, from time to time, definitive pronouncements regarding faith or morals. They are under the impression that no doctrine is believed until the pope or an ecumenical council issues a formal statement about it.
Actually, doctrines are defined formally only when there is a
controversy that needs to be cleared up or when the magisterium (the
Church in its office as teacher; cf. Matt. 28:18–20; 1 Tim. 3:15, 4:11)
thinks the faithful can be helped by particular emphasis being drawn to some already-existing belief. The definition of the Immaculate Conception was prompted by the latter motive; it did not come about because there were widespread doubts about the doctrine. In fact, the Vatican was deluged with requests from people desiring the doctrine to be officially proclaimed. Pope Pius IX, who was highly devoted to the Blessed Virgin, hoped the definition would inspire others in their devotion to her. [emphasis mine -ed.]
This was like something out of Narnia! The girls (and Hubby) loved it!
Next trip, there will be more time spent there, since I think the girls liked this the best out of the indoor museums.
Did I mention that the Museum of American History is closed for renovations (due to reopen in July), but that they moved some of their things into the Air and Space Museum? This was the girls' favorite part of it. That is the world's first computer in the background. It took up 1500 square feet of space, roughly the size of our home in Florida. Amazing. iPods are more powerful than these old monsters. (And, yes, those are the actual C3PO and R2D2. The kids were MOST impressed by that!)
And how about a picture of my girls? That's Big Girl on the left, Little Girl on the right.
Oh, did I mention the exhibit on Bibles from before the year 1000? I'd like to grab some of those Fundamentalists who insist that the Catholic Church tried to keep the Bible from people and show them this exhibit. Seriously. This was my favorite part of our trip. I saw the actual handwriting of Pope St. Gregory the Great, St. Athanasius, St. Ephram, Eusubius, and a host of monks who are surely praying for us all at this moment. It was awe-inspiring to look at these ancient Bibles and notations on Scripture from so early in the Church's history. I was near tears, and it took a lot to tear me away. I couldn't take pictures inside (for obvious reasons), but you can go here and read about the display at the Smithsonian site. If you are anywhere near DC, be sure to check this exhibit out while you can. It is amazing. Do it right after you're done at the monastery and the Basilica! ;) This was actually our first stop after visiting the Castle to map out our plan of attack.