In the News: Feb. 20, 2017

By Michael Duricy

Read recent items about Mary in both Catholic and secular news. Also see International Marian Research Institute news and updates.

ML/IMRI Features

Marian Events

Mary in the Catholic Press

Mary in the Secular Press

Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute Features


"True Devotion to Mary" Study

All are invited to learn about Saint John Paul II's spirituality of Saint Louis de Montfort's True Devotion to Mary. The Discussion Group will meet on Saturdays at 10:30-11:30 a.m. from February 18 - March 25, 2017 at the Spirit Center of Saint Albert Church in Kettering, Ohio.  The book, Preparation for Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary by Father Hugh Gillespie (New York: Montfort Publications, 2012) will be available for $8.50. Free coffee and tea hosted by the Legion of Mary. For further information, call Gloria Dodd at 937-229-1431.

Mary in Media: Books, Films, Music, etc.

New Marian Documentary Film from Brazil

Marias: Faith in Womanhood (2016) by Joana Mariani is now available through iTunes. This is a film about the feminine. Visiting celebrations of the Virgin Marys (Marias) from Brazil, Cuba, México, Peru, and Nicarágua, the director, Joana Mariani, observes the similarities and disparities among their cultures, and listens to women who have their very particular stories about life, faith, and devotion. The result is a very singular film showing that the image of the Virgin Mary (Maria) is a lot more than a religious figure or the mother of Christ. Click here for more information


From the Marian Treasure Chest

Brother John Samaha sent us the text below with the following comments: "If you are interested in Mary's place in Islam, look over the attached article which appeared in Vidyajyoti Journal of Theological Reflection, June 2017."

The Virgin Mary in the Qur'an by Father Joseph Stefanelli, S.M.

Contemporary interest in Islam and the Qur'an, its sacred book, runs high. Qur'an means literally a book, a reading, a recitation; and is sometimes less accurately transliterated from Arabic to English as Koran.

Among the queries raised concerning the Qur'an is the place Mary, the Mother of Jesus, occupies in Islam. For the past two millennia people have given many faces to Mary. Some of the most impressive images of her are found in the Qur'an. And ample evidence exists to indicate that the sources of the Marian references in the Qur'an are found in early Judaic and Christian traditions.

Muslims believe the Qur'an has a mysterious origin. It is the word of God that brings deliverance to those who believe in it. It enlightens the soul. It is the "guarded tablet" that no one can imitate. It is the new Revelation "in the Arabic language" that came to "confirm" previous revelations contained in the Torah and the Gospel. This is the reason Jews and Christians are called "People of the Book."  

In the Hebrew Scripture (Old Testament) the prophets are considered bearers and interpreters of God's word, God's instruments. They transmit the divine message by human means. Christians, in contrast, regard Jesus as the Eternal Word who did not come "with a book," and remains a living and active Person.

The central idea of the Qur'an is that everything comes from God (Allah in Arabic), the universal Creator, and everything returns to God. God is the Creator of the universe, angels and demons, and of all persons. Through the prophets, God spoke to the people and taught them the laws of human conduct and of worship. For reward or for retribution in the life to come, he will raise them up for judgment. The Qur'an explains that God wishes to reveal himself to people.  

The Qur'an mentions the Torah and the Psalms, recognized as books of early revelation, and the Gospels. In the Muslim view the Qur'an was given to complete and confirm the truths of these earlier books. It states that the prophets preached the One Only God, and that two of the prophets, Adam and Jesus, were born by direct intervention of the Creator. The Qur'an also records other humanly impossible conceptions that were announced by angels: those of Abraham and Sara, of Zachariah and Elizabeth, and Mary, the Mother of Jesus.

Mary and her son, Jesus the prophet, hold a privileged place in the Qur'an. Mary is the only female whose name is cited. While other females are not named at all, Mary's name is repeated frequently. The expression "Jesus son of Mary" appears thirteen times; and "Jesus, the Messiah, son of Mary" is found three times. About forty-five times we find Mary's name or references to it.

According to the Qur'an God made Mary and Jesus a sign, a witness to faith: "And We made the son of Mary and his mother a portent" (S. 23:50; S. 21:91).

Three suras (chapters) in the Qur'an  bear titles recalling various aspects of Christian tradition: Sura 3, The Family of 'Imran; Sura 5, The Holy Table, concerning imagery recalling Jesus' miracles; and Sura 19, Mary, giving prominence to Mary and Zachariah.

In general, the Qur'an focuses on two particular events in the life of Mary: her birth and her time in the Temple. "The angels said: O Mary! Allah has chosen thee and made thee pure and has preferred thee above all women of creation." (S. 3:42)

The same God who has chosen Adam, Noah, and the families of Abraham and 'Imran also chose Mary. The texts indicate clearly three points: Mary is favored; she is pure; she is chosen over all women of the world. In comparing Marian texts of the Qur'an with Christian sources we find some close similarities with the Protoevangelium of James and other apocryphal writings. 

God chose Mary and prepared her for an important mission, "to adore and pay homage." (S. 3:43) Mary was chosen to be a messenger of God and to bear a child through the Word of God rather than normal intercourse.

Like their Christian counterparts did with the Bible, Muslim commentators embellished the Qur'an. Muslim stories about Mary are based on the same apocryphal stories believed by Christians in countries where Islam replaced the Gospel.

The important point in Mary's genealogy for Muslim exegetes is that her family is from David's lineage, because Islam places great importance on lineal descent from the prophets.

Nothing is said about Joseph in the Qur'an, but he has a place in the Muslim tradition.

Mary's Annunciation holds special significance in the Qur'an, especially in suras 3 and 19.

Sunni, Shi'ite, and Sufi commentators all express profound reverence and deep appreciation for Mary. Although the vocation and mission of Jesus, and Mary's association with him, are not clearly stated in Islam as in the Gospels, particularly Luke's, these beliefs are found in the Qur'an or indicated in commentaries.

Both the Qur'an and the entire Islamic tradition consider Mary the most blessed and prominent of women. This belief reaches back to Muhammad as noted in Musnad by Ibn Hanbal. The founder of Islam placed Mary above even his daughter, Fatimah, and said Fatimah would have been highest among women were it not for Mary.

The Qur'an is clear that Mary was born without sin, and that Jesus son of Mary was born of a woman who had no relations with a man, since the common reference to a man in that culture is as son of his father, not of his mother.

Christianity and Islam are both missionary faiths originating among Semitic peoples. They have this in common: belief in one God, who is just, merciful, omnipotent, omniscient, and who acts in history. Accepting Jesus as prophet and Messiah, Islam thus elevates his mother, Mary, to a special position and role. Since some Qur'anic statements about Mary do not exist in the New Testament, scholars look for other sources in existence at the birth of Islam. The influence of canonical Christian Scripture on the Qur'an and Islam is minimal, but the apocryphal texts seem to have been a considerable influence, especially the Protoevangelium of James.

Even though Christianity and Islam grew from the same Near Eastern monotheistic tradition, and even though from its inception Islam recognized the common heritage--acknowledging both the virgin birth and Jesus as prophet--Muslims reject the divinity of Jesus. The strong aversion of the Qur'an to Jesus being the Son of God might be attributed to the fact that its sources were removed from the truth of the Gospel. Islamic unfamiliarity with the divinity of Jesus might be attributed to the fact that its sources were removed from the truth of the Gospel. That unfamiliarity with the divinity of Jesus and the Gospel might also contribute to its anti-Christian attitude.

While Islam seems unwilling to delve deeper into Qur'anic textual sources, the similarity between the Qur'an and Christian Scripture might serve as the springboard of a fruitful journey of dialogue. And mutual understanding of Mary might be a bridge.


Marian Events

Event: Celebrate Our Lady of Trust

Date: Sunday February 26, 2017

Time: 3:30-4:30 p.m.

Place: Saint James Church9025 Larimore Ave, Omaha, NE 68134

The service will include Adoration and Recitation of the Rosary. Click here for more information [then scroll to page 8] or click here for Directions.


Mary in the Catholic Press

"The Trend of 'Virgin Mary Superstar' is not Catholic,” Affirms Pope Francis (Zenit) February 10, 2017

Pope Francis supports the "Marian theme" of the next World Youth Day in 2019 at Panama. However, he specifies that it is about the "true Virgin Mary," of "her who is Mother and  gives birth to Jesus in our hearts."

This specification of the Pope was made during an exchange in the Vatican with 140 Superiors General of masculine Religious Congregations on November 25, 2016, in the framework of the 88th General Assembly of the Union of Superiors General (USG) at Rome. Up to now the exchange remained private; L’Osservatore Romano published it in its Italian edition on February 10, 2017....

Click here to read the complete article.


Mary in the Secular Press

The director and editors of All About Mary under the auspices of the International Marian Research Institute do not necessarily endorse or agree with the events and ideas expressed in this feature. Our sole purpose is to report on items about Mary gleaned from a myriad of papers representing the secular press.

'All hail, lantern of light!' (A Clerk of Oxford blog) February 2, 2017

Candlemas is the Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, and the end of the forty-day Christmas season. It takes its English name from the custom of blessing and processing with candles on this day, a practice linked to the words of Simeon on meeting Christ that He is "a light to lighten the Gentiles." This is a festival of light and hope, a first shoot of spring.

The name Candlemas dates from the Anglo-Saxon period (the first recorded appearance of the name is in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle's entry on the death of Svein Forkbeard in 1014), and there is plentiful and evocative evidence of the observance of this feast in England from the tenth century onwards. In the past I've posted an Anglo-Saxon sermon for this feast, a Candlemas miracle-story about Saint Dunstan, Cnut's Candlemas song at Ely, a particularly lovely Middle English Candlemas carol, The queen of bliss and of beauty, and Margery Kempe's description of her experience of the celebrations of this day--five centuries of Candlemas Days.

The liturgy for this day is particularly dramatic, encouraging the congregation to re-enact the Gospel story by bearing the light of Christ in their hands. The Presentation in the Temple is also represented in medieval drama, in several different versions, so here are a few short extracts, in modernized spelling, from the fifteenth-century N-Town Plays. The full text can be found here, and you might like to compare the treatment of the same subject from the York Corpus Christi Plays....

Click here to read the complete document.


Previous Post

The Marian Library included in visual arts journal

"The Marian Library at the University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio has been blessed with a priest who is passionate about collecting art specifically devoted to the Virgin Mary."

Read More
Next Post

Weekly Features: Feb. 20, 2017

Have you ever noticed a parrot with Our Lady in a work of art? Learn about the parrot as a symbol in this week's features. Other resources include Mary and the Holy Spirit, Latin American titles of Mary and more.

Read More