Catholic Book Review – Jesus and the Jewish Roots of Mary

Jesus and the Jewish Roots of Mary – Brant James Pitre

In Jesus and the Jewish Roots of Mary, Dr. Pitre takes readers step-by-step from the Garden of Eden to the Book of Revelation to reveal how deeply biblical Catholic beliefs about Mary really are. Dr. Pitre uses the Old Testament and Ancient Judaism to deconstruct, how the Bible itself teaches that Mary is in fact the new Eve, the Mother of God, the Queen of Heaven and Earth.

Pitre’s premise is that we must look to the Old Testament as well as the New Testament to find the Mother of God.

The book is a successful attempt in answering questions like – Are Catholic teachings on Mary really biblical? Or are they the “traditions of men”? Should she be called the “Mother of God,” or just the mother of Jesus?  By praying to Mary, are Catholics worshipping her? And what does Mary have to do with the quest to understand Jesus?

The book combines detailed biblical study with the author’s own personal reflections, Pitre explains how Mary the mother of Jesus came to be regarded as a new Eve, a new Rachel, the ark of the new covenant, heavenly queen, perpetual virgin, and mother of God. 


Hong Kong bishop consecrated in Cathedral of Immaculate Conception

Bishop Stephen Chow Sau-yan was ordained a bishop in Hong Kong’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on Saturday.

“As a successor to the Apostles by the grace of Almighty God, I request your constant prayers that I may always be loyal to God’s will as a shepherd to the People of God in Hong Kong, and faithfully carry out my duties,” Chow said at the Mass on Dec. 4.

Cardinal John Tong Hon, the apostolic administrator of Hong Kong, presided over the Mass. Cardinal Joseph Zen and auxiliary Bishop Joseph Ha were co-celebrants.

“Through the Bishop’s wisdom and prudence, it is Christ himself who leads you in your earthly pilgrimage toward eternal happiness,” Tong said in his homily, according to the diocese of Hong Kong.

“He has been entrusted with the task of bearing witness to the truth of the Gospel, and with the ministry of the Spirit and of justice,” he said.

During the Mass, Chow laid face down on the floor in total surrender to God as the congregation recited the Litany of the Saints in Cantonese.

Bishop Chow said in a brief speech at the end of the Mass that he wanted to help “foster healing and connections” in the Catholic community in his “beloved hometown.”

Saint of the Day – Dec 5, 2021

St Sabas

Born in Cappadocia, Sabas is one of the most highly regarded patriarchs among the monks of Palestine, and is considered one of the founders of Eastern monasticism.

After an unhappy childhood in which he was abused and ran away several times, Sabas finally sought refuge in a monastery. While family members tried to persuade him to return home, the young boy felt drawn to monastic life. Although the youngest monk in the house, he excelled in virtue.

At age 18 he traveled to Jerusalem, seeking to learn more about living in solitude. Soon he asked to be accepted as a disciple of a well-known local solitary, though initially he was regarded as too young to live completely as a hermit. Initially, Sabas lived in a monastery, where he worked during the day and spent much of the night in prayer. At the age of 30 he was given permission to spend five days each week in a nearby remote cave, engaging in prayer and manual labor in the form of weaving baskets. Following the death of his mentor, Saint Euthymius, Sabas moved farther into the desert near Jericho. There he lived for several years in a cave near the brook Cedron. A rope was his means of access. Wild herbs among the rocks were his food. Occasionally men brought him other food and items, while he had to go a distance for his water.

Some of these men came to him desiring to join him in his solitude. At first he refused. But not long after relenting, his followers swelled to more than 150, all of them living in individual huts grouped around a church, called a laura.

The bishop persuaded a reluctant Sabas, then in his early 50s, to prepare for the priesthood so that he could better serve his monastic community in leadership. While functioning as abbot among a large community of monks, he felt ever called to live the life of a hermit. Throughout each year—consistently in Lent—he left his monks for long periods of time, often to their distress. A group of 60 men left the monastery, settling at a nearby ruined facility. When Sabas learned of the difficulties they were facing, he generously gave them supplies and assisted in the repair of their church.

Over the years Sabas traveled throughout Palestine, preaching the true faith and successfully bringing back many to the Church. At the age of 91, in response to a plea from the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Sabas undertook a journey to Constantinople in conjunction with the Samaritan revolt and its violent repression. He fell ill and soon after his return, died at the monastery at Mar Saba. Today the monastery is still inhabited by monks of the Eastern Orthodox Church, and Saint Sabas is regarded as one of the most noteworthy figures of early monasticism.

Book Review – No. 1 ladies Detective Agency Book 2

Tears of the Giraffe

Tears of the Giraffe is the second in The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series of novels by Alexander McCall Smith, set in Botswana, which features the Motswana protagonist Precious Ramotswe.

The agency takes on two cases, one involving a college-aged boy who disappeared ten years earlier, and the other a local man who does not understand why his wife is so long away from home each day. The engagement of Mma Ramotswe and Mr JLB Matekoni endures, as he gets her a diamond engagement ring, and takes on two children from the orphan farm. A crime against Mma Ramotswe does not come off, leading the culprit, maid to her fiancé, to prison instead.

Newly engaged Mma Ramotswe is not impressed with Mr JLB Matekoni’s maid, Florence Pena. Unknown to him, she has been sleeping in his bed with her men friends. Obvious to Mma Ramotswe is that she does not keep the house clean. The maid, sensing that the forthcoming marriage will involve unpleasant changes in her own life, attempts to plant a gun at Mma Ramotswe’s home to have her jailed.

Mr JLB Matekoni is maneuvered by Mma Potokwane, the matron of the orphan farm, into offering a home to Motholeli and Puso, a sister and brother orphaned in the bush. He worries that this may affect his engagement to Mma Ramotswe. He likes the girl, who displays an aptitude for, and interest in, the work of the garage.

The first case is that of an American woman in her fifties who lost her son Michael Curtin in Africa ten years earlier. Mrs Curtin suspects he died but does not know and wants resolution. Mma Ramotswe meets the people who were involved in the community to which he belonged while his family lived in Gaborone. His attachment to the community kept him from returning to the US for his time at college. Mma Ramotswe speaks to the secretary in the college where one man from that time now teaches. It is the secretary’s last day, and she dislikes the professor for what he did to a relative of hers, and to many other women. Mma Ramotswe encounters the professor, who is a womanizer, known for dishonest manipulation to gain favors from his female students. She mixes lies with the truth to him, in short uses blackmail, to pull the truth of the events from him. She was powerful against him, to keep herself in charge of the situation. The professor had just started seeing the young man’s girlfriend Carla. Michael encountered the two together in a small hut. The two men fought; Michael ran and fell into a deep ditch (a donga) and broke his neck.

Mma Ramotswe sees Mr JLB Matekoni with the children on their day out shopping for new clothes. She meets them and understands that he has adopted them. She decides he is a very kind man, and takes the children to her house, where the family will live. Mr JLB Matekoni learns on a call to his garage that his maid has been arrested. Her plan turns against her, as her friend calls the police on her, and she ends up behind bars, all events occurring without her employer being aware of them, save for the end result.

Mma Ramotswe accepts the case of Mr Badule, a butcher who suspects his wife of an affair. Mma Makutsi expresses her yearning to do detective work, and Mma Ramotswe promotes her to assistant detective, while also retaining her secretarial role. Mma Makutsi follows the wife and talks with the maids at the home where the wife goes. She discovers that the woman’s son – unknown to her husband – is the son of another man, himself married to a wealthy wife, who is paying for the boy’s private education. Mma Makutsi finds it difficult to tell a lie, but she understands the importance of not hurting the client with information he does not need to know. Forced to report to the client herself, she tells him his wife is seeing another man so that his son can get the private school education he needs. The solution of the butcher’s case is the first test of Mma Makutsi’s detective and diplomatic skills.

Christmas Movie – Miracle on 34th Street

Miracle on 34th Street is a 1994 American Christmas fantasy comedy-drama film written and produced by John Hughes, and directed by Les Mayfield. The film stars Richard Attenborough, Mara Wilson, Elizabeth Perkins, and Dylan McDermott, and is the first theatrical remake of the original 1947 film. Like the original, this film was released by 20th Century Fox.

Cole’s Department Store’s special events director Dorey Walker (Elizabeth Perkins) fires Tony Falacchi (Jack McGee) from being the Cole’s Department Store’s Santa Claus after he gets drunk before taking part in the Thanksgiving parade. Immediately trying to find a replacement, she spots an elderly man (Richard Attenborough) who was berating the inebriated Santa before the parade. When Dorey begs him to take over, he introduces himself as Kris Kringle. Kris does so well during the parade that he is immediately hired to be Cole’s main Santa for the holiday period.

All the children in New York begin to believe that he is the real Santa, with the exception of Dorey’s six-year-old daughter Susan (Mara Wilson). Dorey’s boyfriend, attorney Bryan Bedford (Dylan McDermott), does his best to convince Susan to believe. While being babysat one night by Kris, Susan shares with him her Christmas wish, she would like a dad, a house used every year for the Cole’s catalogue photoshoot and a baby brother. Kris asks if she would begin to believe in Santa if she got all those things. Susan agrees that she would.

Kris is credited with bringing in increasingly more sales to Cole’s than previous years. One night, he is arrested for assaulting a man on the street, later revealed to be the original drunk Santa, Tony Falacchi. Falacchi had taken revenge by means of setting up Kris to be arrested, with the help of members of staff from a rival department store of Cole’s, Shopper’s Express. With the help of Bryan, Dorey takes Kris’s case to court, and drums up support for him from the public. It soon becomes clear that to get Kris acquitted and freed, Bryan must somehow prove that not only does Santa exist, but that Kris is the real one. It is a seemingly impossible task until Bryan comes up with a plan that requires some help from Susan.

Just as the judge (Robert Prosky) is about to make his decision – and it seems he was going to rule against Kris – Susan walks up to the judge with a Christmas card containing a one dollar bill. On the back, the words In God We Trust are circled. The judge realizes that, since the US Department of Treasury can put its official faith in God on US currency with no hard evidence, then the people of New York can believe in Santa Claus in the same way. Left with no choice, the elated judge dismisses the case and declares that Santa is real, existing in the person of Kris Kringle.