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Teaching and Learning with Verbum’s New High School Curriculum

This guest post is by Robert Klesko, Catholic Educational Resources Product Manager at Verbum.

“You are all missionary disciples of Christ. With your help, students will love and serve Jesus Christ in the world.”

Bishop Dennis J. Sullivan, Bishop of Camden

I heard the above words during an in-service for Theology teachers in the Diocese of Camden that I was blessed to attend earlier this month. While I was in New Jersey to present the new Verbum High School Curriculum to high school teachers, and the Bishop’s words resonated with my teacher’s heart. Indeed, his words provide a point of reflection for us all.

Anyone involved in teaching the faith is a missionary and our missionary work extends to classrooms, RCIA programs, Bible studies, weekend homilies, and prison ministry. Jesus commands us to “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Mt. 28:19). One of our special tasks, of course, is to pass on the faith to our young people, and we at Verbum take this divine duty very seriously. As a high school theology teacher, I used to strive every day spark my students’ interest and desire for meaning. There are so many competing voices in the world vying for our attention, and this is especially true for adolescents. My goal was to make the faith relevant, exciting, and engaging on a daily basis, and I did this by integrating technology into the classroom. Technology is the currency of the modern student. At Verbum, we have embraced the great gifts of technology and used it to form a compelling, dynamic, and Spirit-charged tool for the proclamation of the kerygma.

When I was invited to join Verbum and work on our digital high school theology curriculum, I was opened up to the great possibilities that this technology has in store with all levels of theological instruction. Verbum allows you to engage the vast Catholic tradition directly while simultaneously being part of a wider network of learners. As a teacher, I always wondered how to make complicated group work and collaboration more effective, and Verbum provides an excellent answer by gathering people of common interest and mission into a community. Perfect for face-to-face instruction with its various interactive tools, wonderful for facilitating learning beyond the borders of the traditional classroom, Verbum makes education possible where you are.

It was these capabilities that I was pleased to share with my fellow teachers in Camden and in my meetings with educators across the country. The response has been overwhelmingly positive:

  • Father Allain Caparas, Director of Catholic Identity at Gloucester Catholic, noted the “need to use technology to reach our students,” and concluded that Verbum would be a great benefit to help students become active learners, and defenders, of the faith. “[Verbum is] worth our time and worth our investment (Catholic Star Herald).[1]
  • “Every Catholic high school that is serious about providing a passionate, compelling evangelization and catechesis to students should investigate the Verbum curriculum” says Marie Pitt-Payne, Theology teacher at St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy, the first Verbum-equipped school.

Again and again, I have encountered administrators and educators who have had epiphanies about ways that Verbum can transform high school religious education. Part of this epiphany is Verbum’s ability to put the great sources of the faith at the fingertips of students in an accessible and searchable way:

“Students crave depth and answers; they need hard information,” said Janice Schumann, a Senior Religion teacher from Wildwood Catholic.

The knowledge that Verbum provides, with its “documents that demonstrate that scholars and saints have studied and researched the faith,” will inspire students to do the same, Schumann believes (Catholic Star Herald).

Combining the vast Catholic tradition and cutting-edge software tools in a compelling curriculum for high school students, Verbum is opening minds and hearts to the possibility of teaching the faith in a new and engaging way. Verbum is pushing the paradigm to new heights and changing the way teaching and learning are taking place. We do this because we believe that we are all missionaries—“laborers in the vineyard” (Mt. 20:8)— of the Lord, and our goal is to create inspired believers for the future.

If you’re reading this blog, please take some time to think about anyone you know who has an active role in ministry in the Church. Tell them about Verbum and invite them to invest in our powerful software. Consider adopting Verbum for your school, or visit Verbum.com to see how it can help you improve your own personal ministry.

For more information about the Verbum High School Curriculum—including a visit to your Catholic high school!— please contact Robert at Robert.Klesko@verbum.com.



[1] Original article can be found at: http://catholicstarherald.org/spiritual-instructional-and-communal-refreshment/

The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery: The Crucifixion of Our Lord

This post is by Brody Stewart, Verbum Marketing and Promotions Coordinator.

When I meditate upon Jesus’ crucifixion, I can’t help but think about Palm Sunday. Why is that?

Palm Sunday should be a celebration of Christ’s victorious entry into Jerusalem (Mt. 21:7-9); the fulfillment of messianic prophesies (Zec. 9:9); and the royal procession for the King of All Creation (Lk. 19:39-40).

But during the Palm Sunday liturgy, these triumphant events are juxtaposed with a memorial of Christ’s crucifixion.

If you’re a contemporary American Catholic (like myself), you’ve probably celebrated a Palm Sunday Mass in which the Gospel is read more like a play than a pericope. The priest takes the role of Jesus, the lector narrates, and the people in the pews speak for the angry mob. As the narrative progresses, we inevitably come to the scene of Christ’s condemnation:

 Pilate again said to them in reply, “Then what do you want me to do with the man you call the king of the Jews?” They shouted again, “Crucify him.” Pilate said to them, “Why? What evil has he done?” They only shouted the louder, “Crucify him.” So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas to them and, after he had Jesus scourged, handed him over to be crucified. (Mark 15:12-15, NABRE, emphasis added)

Crucifixion, Seen from the Cross

Crucifixion, Seen from the Cross, by Jacques Tissot, 1890.

We, as hapless members of the congregation, are compelled to chant: “Crucify him! Crucify him!”

It’s very uncomfortable. It ought to be.

It’s easy for us to picture the pristine, glorified Christ hanging on a cross. It’s far more difficult to picture the blood, the pain, and the death—in short, the penalty for our sins.

The truth of the matter is that we are responsible for Christ’s death. Every time we lie, cheat, or steal; every time we gossip, slander, or boast; every time we lust, lash out, or refuse to forgive—we may as well be shouting, “Crucify him!

When I meditate upon the crucifixion, I can’t help but think about my own part in Christ’s passion and death. It’s sobering, but it’s also illuminating. It transforms the Sunday-school platitude into a life-giving reality:

“While we were still sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, NABRE).

The Fourth Sorrowful Mystery: Jesus Carries the Cross

This post is by Brody Stewart, Verbum Marketing and Promotions Coordinator.

In classical art, we’re often presented with a familiar scene: Jesus, cross on his back, valiantly marches towards Calvary. Less commonly, we’ll see depictions of Simon the Cyrenian helping Jesus carry his cross. Only in a select few paintings will we see Simon carrying the cross for Jesus.

Has this confused anyone else?

cross_compare

When we read the Gospel accounts of “The Way of the Cross,” we find that Matthew, Mark, and Luke all mention Simon the Cyrenian carrying Christ’s cross. It’s only in the gospel of John that Jesus reportedly carried the cross on his own.

On the surface this seems confusing. But looking deeper, it’s not difficult to see that both reports are part of the larger narrative. Christ carries his cross until he can go no further, at which point Simon the Cyrnenian is pressed into service. Chronologically, these events are reflected in St. John Paul II’s Scriptural Way of the Cross.

In preserving both halves of the narrative, Holy Mother Church offers us two spiritual lessons:

1. Jesus carries his cross, and calls us to imitate him.

As God of the universe, Jesus could have abandoned his salvific mission. Instead, he submitted himself to torture and death. Jesus never took the easy way out. In carrying his own cross, he models for us the perfect response to our own trials and temptations. He even goes so far as to tell us that “whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27, NABRE). We can courageously carry our own crosses with the knowledge that the God-who-became-man carried his first.

Simon the Cyrenian Compelled to Carry the Cross with Jesus

Simon the Cyrenian Compelled to Carry the Cross with Jesus by Jacques Tissot, 1894

2. God is merciful, and sends us help in our distress

To quote the Psalmist, “God is our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in distress” (Psalm 46:2). During Christ’s distresses, God did not spare his son this help: in the wilderness, angels were sent to minister to him (Mt 4:11); in the garden , an angel was sent to strengthen him (Lk. 22:43); and on the road to Calvary, Simon the Cyrenian was called to carry the cross for him (Mt. 27:32). If God offered this help to Jesus, how much more will he offer it to us—for whose sake Jesus came to save?

Just as Christ was helped by Simon the Cyrenian,  God uses his people to help us carry our crosses. Rather than relying on our own strength in times of trial, we can trust in God’s goodness and mercy.

The Third Sorrowful Mystery: The Crowning with Thorns

This post is by Brody Stewart, Verbum Marketing and Promotions Coordinator.

For today’s reflection, I’d like to share an excerpt from one of St. John Chrysostom’s homilies. These words of the famed “golden-mouthed” orator are sure to be more moving than my own.

crowning with thorns

Crowning with Thorns by Caravaggio, 1604.

Weaving a crown out of thorns, they placed it on his head, and a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They spat upon him and took the reed and kept striking him on the head. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the cloak, dressed him in his own clothes, and led him off to crucify him  (Matthew 27:29, NABRE).

What plea shall we have after this for being moved by injuries, after Christ suffered these things? For what was done was the utmost limit of insolence. For not one member, but the whole entire body throughout was made an object of insolence; the head through the crown, and the reed, and the buffeting; the face, being spit upon; the cheeks, being smitten with the palms of the hands; the whole body by the stripes, by being wrapped in the robe, and by the pretended worship; the hand by the reed, which they gave him to hold instead of a sceptre; the mouth again by the offering of the vinegar. What could be more grievous than these things? What more insulting?

For the things that were done go beyond all language. For as though they were afraid lest they should seem to fall short at all in the crime, having killed the prophets with their own hands, but this man with the sentence of a judge, so they do in every deed; and make it the work of their own hands, and condemn and sentence both among themselves and before Pilate, saying, “His blood be on us and on our children,” and insult Him, and do despite unto Him themselves, binding Him, leading Him away, and render themselves authors of the spiteful acts done by the soldiers, and nail Him to the cross, and revile Him, and spit at Him, and deride Him. For Pilate contributed nothing in this matter, but they themselves did every thing, becoming accusers, and judges, and executioners, and all.

And these things are read amongst us, when all meet together. For that the heathens may not say, that ye display to people and nations the things that are glorious and illustrious, such as the signs and the miracles, but that ye hide these which are matters of reproach; the grace of the Spirit hath brought it to pass, that in the full festival, when men in multitude and women are present, and all, as one may say, at the great eve of the passover, then all these things should be read; when the whole world is present, then are all these acts proclaimed with a clear voice. And these being read, and made known to all, Christ is believed to be God and, besides all the rest, is worshipped, even because of this, that He vouchsafed to stoop so much for us as actually to suffer these things, and to teach us all virtue.

Saint John Chrysostom, Homilies on the Gospel of Saint Matthew, Homily 87.

The Second Sorrowful Mystery: The Scourging at the Pillar

This post is by Brody Stewart, Verbum Marketing and Promotions Coordinator.

“Then Pilate took Jesus and had him scourged” (John 19:1, NABRE).

This event takes up all of nine words in Scripture. It’s easy to skim over if you’re not reading closely. And getting whipped doesn’t seem all that bad in comparison with being crucified. This one verse almost seems like an afterthought.

But it wasn’t an afterthought for Jesus.

Scourging at the Pillar

The Scourging at the Pillar by Jason Jenicke. http://www.jasonjenicke.com/

In ancient Rome, a “scourge” was a very different thing than your father’s belt. This instrument of torture consisted of multiple leather thongs, each woven with shards of metal or stone. With every lash of the whip, the flesh of a criminal would be ripped from his back.

Scourging was so severe a punishment that Jewish law imposed restrictions on its use:

Forty stripes may be given him, but not more; lest, if one should go on to beat him with more stripes than these, your brother be degraded in your sight. (Deuteronomy 25:3, RSVCE).

In essence, scourging was an excruciating form of punishment.

When we meditate upon the Scourging at the Pillar, we remember what Christ had to endure. But more importantly, we remember why he endured it:

He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5, RSVCE).

The First Sorrowful Mystery: The Agony in the Garden

This post is by Brody Stewart, Verbum Marketing and Promotions Coordinator

The Sorrowful Mysteries have always seemed the easiest for me to meditate upon. There’s something altogether relatable about Jesus in his moments of weakness, anxiety, and suffering. While we see Jesus being tempted by Satan (Lk. 4:2), or weeping at the death of his friend (Jn. 11:35), we get a real sense of his humanity in the first of the Sorrowful Mysteries: The Agony in the Garden.

Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to feel sorrow and distress. Then he said to them, “My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch with me.” He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.” When he returned to his disciples he found them asleep. He said to Peter, “So you could not keep watch with me for one hour? Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Withdrawing a second time, he prayed again, “My Father, if it is not possible that this cup pass without my drinking it, your will be done!” Then he returned once more and found them asleep, for they could not keep their eyes open. He left them and withdrew again and prayed a third time, saying the same thing again. Then he returned to his disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Behold, the hour is at hand when the Son of Man is to be handed over to sinners. Get up, let us go. Look, my betrayer is at hand.” (Matt 26:36-46, NABRE)

The first thing that strikes me about this account of Christ’s agony is that he is “sorrowful even to death.” The first time I read this passage, I was taken aback. “Even to death?” I wondered, “Isn’t that a bit… melodramatic?” But we see in Saint Luke’s account of events that Jesus isn’t just using dramatic language:

He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground. (Lk 22:44, NABRE)

We’ve all experienced some amount of sadness, anxiety, or depression. Some of us have experienced more than our share. But have you ever been so agonized that you sweat blood?

There’s a reason Jesus is so perturbed: he’s God. He knows precisely what awaits him in a few short hours. He knows precisely how he will suffer at the hands of Roman soldiers. And he knows precisely when and how he will die.

Agony2

The Agony in the Garden by Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo, 1772.

As the God of the universe, Jesus could choose to prevent all of this. But what does he do instead? He prays to his Father that “this cup [might] pass from me.” He asks for a way out. This is exactly what you or I would do in our own sorrowful circumstances. Jesus has lowered himself to the level of broken humanity.

But Jesus continues his prayer: “yet, not as I will, but as you will.” He recognizes his own dependence upon the Father. He sees the necessity of his mission. He resolves to carry it out.

Jesus participates in our suffering, and models the proper response.

After his first hour of prayer, he returns to find his disciples asleep. He’s understandably upset. He’s lived and travelled with these men for the last three years. These are his most loyal servants. These are his closest friends. And they can’t stay awake for one hour.

Jesus withdraws to pray again, and again, finds disciples asleep. This happens not once, not twice, but three times. The men Jesus trusted most—Peter, James, and John—have failed him three times. And, on this most agonizing night, their failure is followed by Judas’ ultimate betrayal.

Imagine the tone in Jesus’ voice when he asks, “Are you still sleeping? Look, my betrayer is at hand.”

With the weight of the world on his shoulders, he is failed and betrayed by his closest friends.

Jesus’ bodily suffering may not have begun yet, but in the Garden of Gethsemane he experienced the fullness of spiritual, mental, and emotional agony.

When I meditate upon this portrait of Jesus, I see a God who intimately understands our sufferings. I see a God who cares to share in our sorrows. I see a God who is truly man.

The Fifth Joyful Mystery: The Finding of Jesus in the Temple

This post is by Kathryn Heltsley, Product Marketing Copywriter for Verbum.

“. . . and his mother kept all these things in her heart” (Luke 2:51).

The fact of the Annunciation is the reality that was in front of Mary throughout all the events of her Son’s life. When we arrive at the Temple in Jerusalem in this Joyful Mystery, Mary and Joseph had lived in the presence of this child, God made flesh, for 12 years. This presence became the consciousness in which they lived.

the-finding-of-the-saviour-in-the-temple-1862.jpg!xlMedium

The Finding of the Saviour in the Temple by William Holman Hunt, 1862.

In his reflections on the Most Holy Rosary, Monsignor Luigi Giussani writes,

“Consciousness is an eye wide open to reality, which by its very nature never ends…For the Virgin, [reality] was the presence of that child.”

Because of the Annunciation, Mary knew that this child was God. Yet he came to her in human form, the frailty of his human body entrusted to her care. It was by faith she knew he was God, not by the evidence of what she could see. What a mystery it must have been to her the first time he skinned his knee! Think of the preconceptions that we would have in the same situation. The doubts we would feel that “there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to [us] by the Lord!” (Lk 1:45) Every piece of evidence pointing to Jesus’ mortality would attack our faith, would clash against our idea of what it meant to be the Son of God. Like the apostles, we would be scandalized by the reality of what the Messiah must face, by the fact of his suffering and sacrifice.

the-navarre-bible-saint-lukes-gospelMary encountered these things that she did not understand. But she did not allow her lack of understanding to separate her from reality. “Thus,” writes Giussani, “we pray to our Lady to help us take part in the consciousness by which she lived…” Mary offers a perfect example of faith for us to follow: “[her] faith was the basis of her generous fidelity throughout her life—but there was no reason why it should include detailed knowledge of all the sacrifices God would ask of her, nor of how Christ would go about his mission of redemption. That was something she would discover as time went by, contemplating her Son’s life” (Navarre Bible: The Gospel of Luke).

When Mary and Joseph discover Jesus in the Temple, he had been there three days, amazing the teachers with his understanding and insights. Upon their arrival, his words to Mary and Joseph reveal his divine Sonship, “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Lk 2:49). And so, despite her anxiety at being separated from her young son—and even her anger at his treatment of her (Lk 2:48)—this is a Joyful Mystery. The joy of being reunited with Jesus, and of seeing him as he truly is for the first time.

 

 

 

 

 

The Fourth Joyful Mystery: The Presentation

This post was writtten by Brandon Rappuhn, Marketing Copywriter at Faithlife.

Does anyone else experience feelings of melancholy while praying through this mystery?

After three joyful mysteries related to the divine birth of the Messiah, the holy Son of God, the Presentation brings me feelings of joy, but also melancholy. This mystery also uniquely announces the purpose of Christ’s mission in theological and physical terms: to fulfill the old laws, to bring open the kingdom of God to the Gentiles, and finally, to die for the sins of his people.

This mystery comes from the Gospel of St. Luke (Lk 2:22–38). Three major events occur in this mystery, any one of which provides enough to contemplate for the duration of ten Hail Marys.

Jesus Begins Fulfilling the Old Laws

Jesus is presented before the Lord in accordance with the Jewish law. St. Luke is explicit, perhaps partly for the benefit of his non-Jewish readers, in that every male “shall be consecrated to the Lord” and that sacrifice is needed. Not only is it significant that a sacrifice is given, but the matter of the sacrifice carries its own significance, as well. Church Father Venerable Bede (672-735) explains the meaning of this sacrifice:

Now this was the victim of the poor. For the Lord commanded in the law that they who were able should offer a lamb for a son or a daughter as well as a turtle dove or pigeon; but they who were not able to offer a lamb should give two turtle doves or two young pigeons. Therefore the Lord, though he was rich, deigned to become poor, that by his poverty He might make us partakers of His riches.

The Lord, rich in terms of spiritual wealth and holiness, made himself poor in terms of worldly wealth and material possessions, so that, through him, he could share with us the wealth of holiness. A faithful Jew, Mary upheld the letter of Jewish law by presenting him to the priest with their humble offering of sacrifice. Mary and Joseph would continue throughout their life to raise the child Jesus in accordance with God’s laws and traditions. After all, Jesus did not come to abolish the law and the prophets, but to fulfill them.

Jesus’ Messianic Kingship is Predicted

debanderson_saintsimeon

Saint Simeon by Deborah Anderson

Simeon was an elderly, devout man who awaited the coming of the Messiah. When Mary brought Jesus to the temple, Simeon was filled with the Holy Spirit. Simeon knew that the Messiah for whom he had waited for was upon him, and Simeon he rushed to greet him Lk 2:25. Simeon then predicts the purpose of Christ’s mission, saying, “For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and glory for your people Israel.” He and Anna, the prophetess, recognize that the “redemption of Jerusalem” was at hand. “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel,” Simeon said. And Jesus sets himself up not only as king of the Jews, but king of the Gentiles as well; for the first time, opening the doors to the kingdom of God for those beyone the nation of Israel.

The Cross is Foreshadowed

Simeon further predicts one final thing, which is the hardest truth of them all. To Mary, he says, “and you, yourself, a sword will pierce” Lk 2:35. Mary herself will not be unaffected by Israel’s reaction to Jesus, but she hears and obeys Jesus by not intervening during his trial and crucifixion Lk 11:27-28.

In the midst of the joyful mysteries of the infancy and childhood of Jesus, we find a mysterious foreshadowing of his crucifixion. At this point in the mysteries, considering the crucifixion while Christ is still a child may feel disturbing and even shameful. But if we are to think of Christ as our king, we must also think of his cross as his throne. Only then do we take Christ as he is: the lowly king Phil 2:5–8, the Messiah of nations Phil 2:10, and the ransom of his people.

For now, while we’re still praying the joyful mysteries, our Savior is an innocent child, with his whole life ahead of him. Yet, as I pray this mystery, I can’t help but think of the worldwide mission ahead of Jesus, with the cross planted firmly at the end of the long road.

Let us pray the rest of these mysteries, remembering where Christ came from, where he is headed, and that he will return again.

The Third Joyful Mystery: The Nativity

Nativity by Deborah Anderson

Nativity by Deborah Anderson

This blog post is dedicated to my mother, Eleanor, whose strong faith has inspired me throughout my life.

Regarding the birth of Christ, there is a much-quoted opening to Meister Eckhart’s Christmas sermon in which he states, “St. Augustine says that this birth is happening continually. But if it does not happen in me, what does it profit me? What matters is that it shall happen in me” (Meister Eckhart, from Whom God Hid Nothing, 45).

What I think Eckhart means is that we need to “give birth to” God’s will in our lives. He also says, “We are all mothers of God, for God is always needing to be born.”

As I look back over my experience as a mother, with the joys and the sacrifices that motherhood entails, “giving birth” seems to be the perfect metaphor for change, and especially the kind of unpredictable transformation that being open to God’s will can bring.

But it takes time and willingness to discern God’s will for our lives. My mother and her best friend from grade school have said the Saint Andrew Christmas Novena together for 55 years, even though they live in different states. To me, the novena represents a meditation on the moment of Christ’s birth “in piercing cold” that can bring us closer to aligning our wills with God’s.

Saint Andrew Christmas Novena

debanderson_motherandchildHail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God! to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Savior Jesus Christ, and of His Blessed Mother. Amen. (Say 15 times a day from St. Andrew’s Day, November 30th, until December 24th.)

 

The Second Joyful Mystery: The Visitation

This post was written by Greg Hoerter, Manager of Strategic Partnerships for Verbum Catholic Products.

The Joyful Mysteries are my favorite mysteries to pray. After all, we are all seeking joy in our lives and wish to pray that God brings joy to our loved ones and us.  But the mystery that I always had problems with was the Visitation. I used to wonder, “What was so joyous about traveling 80 miles to the hill country on a mule to help out an older, pregnant relative for 3 months?”

Of course, reading the scripture passages surrounding any mystery will help you better understand the entire context of that mystery, and Verbum is a great tool for doing just that. But in the case of the Visitation, I found some very pleasant surprises by going just a little deeper.

Visitation of Mary by Rogier van der Weyden, 1445.

Here’s how to dive more deeply into the meaning of the Visitation in Verbum:

Besides all of the Ark of the Covenant typology you will find between 2 Samuel 6:9-11 and Luke 1:39-56, I recommend you run a Bible Word Study on the word “exclaimed” (Greek: ἀναφωνέω anaphōneō) in Luke 1:42. You will notice it occurs only once in the whole New Testament, which should make you wonder about the special significance of this particular Greek word.

In the Bible Word Study, if you scroll down and look at the Greek Old Testament, the Septuagint, and you will find that it occurs only five times in the whole Greek Old Testament.  Every occurrence, such as 1 Chronicles 15:28, have to do with offering loud praise and music to the Ark of the Covenant. Here, Gospel writer Luke uses the word “exclaim” to indicate that Elizabeth literally shouts out blessings to Mary as the NEW Ark of the Covenant!

And speaking of blessings, do a quick bible search for these words: blessed NEAR women. Your results will bring you the stories of the only two other women in scripture that were called “Blessed among Women”: Jael and Judith. Both of these women—Jael in Judges 5:24 and Judith in Judith 13:18—crushed the head of the enemy of God’s people.

Luke, then, is featuring Mary as the New Eve, based on the promise of Genesis 3:15: “I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel” (Douay-Rheims).

In just one verse, we see the New Ark of the Covenant and the New Eve if we just look beneath the surface. Elizabeth knew this, and she wanted us to know this as we meditate on the Holy Rosary.

 

 

 

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