11 Practical Tips for Catholics Receiving Communion

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Here are some tips for Catholics as they prepare to Receive Holy Communion (these were originally sent to families as their children were preparing to receive Holy Communion for the first time):

Communion Tips

  1. Reconciliation Before Communion – It would be very healthy for you to establish a routine for your whole family of going to Confession monthly
    • Find your local Confession times, or call to make an appointment
      • If possible, get in line together and go one-after-the-other
    • If anyone has committed a mortal sin, he/she must be absolved of that sin (via Confession) before receiving Holy Communion (otherwise he/she commits another serious sin: sacrilege)
    • Keep in mind St. Paul’s warning not to profane the Body and Blood of the Lord:
      • Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord . . . For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. (1 Cor. 11:27, 29)
  2. Refrain From Food & Drink for an Hour – We are required to not eat or drink anything except water and medicine (as needed) for an hour before receiving Holy Communion
    • Special circumstances can relieve you of the requirement to fast (e.g. pregnant women or others who need to replenish nutrients more frequently, etc.)
    • We had to remind our daughter who was preparing for her First Holy Communion that she would no longer be able to have a mint on the way to Mass because she would need to observe the hour fast in preparation for receiving Jesus
      • If you happen to have other things you normally consume while you travel (coffee, other non-water drinks, gum, snacks, etc.), remember not to have them while traveling to Mass (or, for that matter, any time within an hour before receiving Holy Communion)
  3. Reverence Jesus to Greet Him – When you enter a Catholic church, look for the tabernacle. At some point (generally, as you get to your pew), it’s customary to genuflect as a sign of honor and greeting to Jesus.
    • Orient your body and your mind toward Jesus in the tabernacle as you genuflect
    • Genuflect slowly and deliberately
    • Touch your knee to the floor
    • The knee is a sign of power and bending it is a sign of your respect of greater power and you placing what power you have at the service of someone else (we obviously do both for Jesus)
    • Traditionally, we lower our right knee
      • If Jesus is exposed in the monstrance, we traditionally use both knees
      • There is also an old tradition of genuflecting on your left knee for your bishop, the bishop of a diocese you’re visiting, or the Pope)
    • A traditional prayer (for which there is an indulgence) whenever you reverence the Eucharist is to say “My Lord and My God!”
    • While genuflecting, you may also bow your head and/or make the Sign of the Cross
    • We also genuflect as we pass in front of the tabernacle (i.e. when walking across the church we stop and genuflect at the middle line of the church instead of just passing in front of Jesus without showing Him any sign of respect) and entering/leaving the Sanctuary (the raised area where the altar and tabernacle are)
    • If you are physically unable to genuflect, no worries! Genuflection is a custom, not a rule. If you are able, you can make some other form of reverence.
    • When we offer acts of reverence like this, we help train our bodies and others around us (e.g. our children) to see/understand Jesus’ Presence in the Eucharist
  4. Remove Your Mask – When approaching to receive Holy Communion, before you get to Father, please remove/lower your mask.
    • Since mask-wearing was implemented, we’ve had a number of people who have dropped Jesus because they were trying to negotiate transferring Our Lord from their hands to their mouths while taking off a mask
    • The King of the Universe humbles Himself to take the form of bread so He can come to us in love. We ought to take the greatest possible care to treat Him well.
    • It’s much safer if you simply remove your mask before getting to Father, so you can receive Jesus without any fear of dropping Him
  5. Recognize Jesus – As Father holds up the Sacred Host, look at it and remind yourself that the thing in his hand is actually God Almighty
    • Consider, since this is God Almighty, how ought you treat Him?
    • What can I do to show Him the respect and honor He is due as God?
    • There is nothing in the entire world more valuable than what the priest is holding and you are about to receive
      • If you really believe this, how ought your life change?
  6. Reverence Him – As the priest presents the Eucharist to us, we reverence Jesus by either bowing or kneeling
    • If you bow, bend your head far enough that the top of your head points to Jesus (your face will be pointed toward the ground)
  7. Respond “Amen” – After the priest says “The Body of Christ,” we respond “Amen.”
    • This means not only “I agree,” but “I stake my life on this”
    • It is not simply an agreement that what the priest is holding is Jesus (which, in itself, is a lot), but your “Amen” says “I believe all that the Holy Roman Catholic Church officially teaches”
      • As such, only Catholics may receive it, and Catholics may not receive communion in any other religion
      • Receiving Holy Communion is a sign of unity within the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church today and throughout time
      • Holy Communion makes us the Church (i.e. we receive the Body of Christ and thus He makes us the Body of Christ–the Church
  8. Receive Communion – It’s important to note that we never “take” Communion (e.g. grab the Sacred Host from the paten or from Father’s hand). We always “receive” Communion (i.e. allow Father to place the Sacred Host on your tongue or hand). This echoes how we receive all graces from God (as free gifts).
    • On the Tongue (the historical and worldwide norm)
      • Stick your tongue out as far as possible (your head will naturally tilt back slightly)–this will give Father a good surface on which to place the Eucharist
      • The host will stick to your tongue–just don’t pull back before Father has given you Communion
    • On the Hand
      • Make a throne for Jesus – put your right hand below your left. Receive with your left hand; transfer Jesus to your mouth with your right hand
      • Give Father a good surface – make your “hand throne” nice and flat
      • Hold your hands high – show God that you are eager to receive Him by lifting up your hands (shoulder height–or right below his hand level)
      • Every Crumb of Communion is Jesus
        • Reverently consume all crumbs as Jesus
        • Don’t wipe the crumbs off your hand (we don’t want to be brushing Jesus onto the floor to be trampled on); rather, reverently bring them to your mouth
    • Most people make the Sign of the Cross after receiving Holy Communion
  9. Reflect on Our Lord – After you have received Jesus in Holy Communion, you have time to just sit and be with Him
    • Whereas most of the rest of Mass is communal prayer, this time after receiving Communion is an intimate time for you and Jesus
      • primarily worship Him as God
      • tell Him how much you love Him
      • praise Him
      • thank Him for His providence
      • ask forgiveness for your sins [receiving the Eucharist forgives small sins if we ask]
      • you can also ask for help to live a better life
      • ask for your needs and the needs of others
      • tell Him what is on your mind–hopes, fears, anxieties, sadnesses, joys, etc.)
    • Many people will bury their faces in their hands to block out distractions or they will stare at the crucifix to better focus on Jesus (obviously, we still have to be mindful of our children, but, to the degree you can, focus on Jesus as much as possible)
    • Kneeling is normal during this time as a sign of honor to Jesus, but you can also sit–the important thing is to focus on Jesus
    • This time lasts until the priest says “Let us pray”
      • Many people wonder when is the appropriate time to switch from kneeling to sitting. There is no particular time because you can either sit or kneel during the entire time.
      • Whether you’re kneeling, sitting, or you do a little of both, take this entire time to talk with Jesus very intimately inside you until Father says “Let us pray”
  10. Return Thanks After Mass – It’s customary to offer prayers of thanksgiving after Mass has ended
    • Thank You, Jesus, for allowing me to receive You
    • Thank You for this great gift of Yourself to me
    • Thank You for being in Your Catholic Church
    • Thank You for my faith
    • Thank You for being able to go to Mass (without being persecuted for it)
    • Thank You for our parish
    • Thank You for our priest
    • Thank You for my life and Your plan for my life
    • Thank You for my family
    • Thank you for all you provide for me
    • etc.
  11. Respect Jesus’ Presence in the Church – Jesus’ Presence remains in the uneaten hosts that are placed in the Tabernacle
    • The nave (where the pews are) and the sanctuary (where the altar and tabernacle are) are special because they have Jesus’ Presence.
      • We respect Jesus’ Presence by leaving those spaces as a room for prayer
      • Please try to move socializing to the narthex (gathering space) so people in the nave (where the pews are) can better focus as they pray
    • A great way to respect Jesus’s Presence in the Tabernacle and build your relationship with Him is by visiting Him outside of Mass (this is called “Eucharistic Adoration”)
      • Whether you can come and spend an hour in Jesus’ Presence or you can simply stop for a minute on your way to work, visits to the Blessed Sacrament are some of the best time you can spend on Earth
      • The practice of visiting Jesus in the tabernacle has been the springboard that started many ordinary people on the path to sainthood

Kneeling Before the Majesty of God

I just gave a talk on Eucharistic Adoration for Sacred Heart Church of Gladwin, MI and St. Athanasius Church of Harrison, MI.

Kneeling Before the Majesty of God: Eucharistic Adoration by Casey Truelove

Updates:

  1. In answer to how many times a day someone may receive Holy Communion: Canon 917 implies a max of twice.
  2. Around 12:45, I mention that there is no Eucharist in Protestant communities, especially because of their rejection of the sacrificial aspect of the liturgy. In that comment I mentioned King Henry VIII and the Anglicans (along with Lutherans). I meant to refer to Calvin and Luther as ones who explicitly rejected the Mass as sacrifice. Anglicans have their own reasons for lacking a valid Eucharist and among them is rejecting transubstantiation, but I’m not sure Henry VIII actually rejected either transubstantiation or the sacrifice of the Mass (it appears that later Anglicans were the ones who rejected those).

The Stumbling Block

I recently read that Bishop Erwin Kräutler’s argument for wanting to ordain married men to the priesthood in the amazon is that “indigenous people don’t understand celibacy.”

Granted this was a press conference answer and not a theological treatise, but it begs the question: “Which culture (indigenous or not) has ever imediately understood celibacy?” I think it would be helpful to remember that what we preach is “a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles.” (1 Cor 1:23)

Yes, we may not be understood, but we continue to preach. We don’t pander half-truths to avoid difficult teachings (like saying “her” in reference to one’s mom when the audience will clearly think one is speaking of his wife, so as not to have to explain why one is celibate). We preach the whole Gospel, in season and out.

Part of that Gospel is the example of our holy men and women “who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 19:12) When I was a single man, I was singly for God, but awaiting my vocation. As a married man, I am for my wife, for God. And one day death will separate my wife and me, and we will again be singly for God–and (God willing) foreverso in Heaven. Our holy celibates have sacrificed marital relations (not because marital relations are evil but because of how large of a sacrifice it is to offer to God) to skip directly to be forever singly for God now. This allows them a unique ability to point the rest of mankind toward Heaven (and confirm their lives to be even closer to the way Jesus lived). This gives a great example to the world of caring for Heaven above all else… so much so that Jesus followed up the above quote with “He who is able to receive this, let him receive it.” (ibid.)

To dismiss this all out of hand simply because it is not culturally understood seems quite rash. I can only assume that most if not all Catholic missionaries to every new culture throughout history have had challenges explaining celibacy (among other things) to those who were new to the Gospel. This is not a unique situation.

Yes, people are without the Sacraments in remote areas, but isn’t that how it has always been with missions? The Church slowly expands through the culture and as more and more people convert, the men are taught to pray/discern whether God is calling them to the priesthood (and with it celibacy) and as more men listen to God’s call, more priests are available to bring the Sacraments to remote areas. If the people are not understanding celibacy, perhaps the fault is more on the end of those proclaiming the message rather than the hearers…

Granted, mandatory clerical celibacy is merely a discipline of the Western Church (and Eastern Bishops), and as such, may be changed, but if it were to be changed, I think the reasoning needs to be more sound than simply “these people don’t get it.”

So Progressive

From today’s 1st reading:

Anyone who is so “progressive” as not to remain in the teaching of the Christ does not have God; whoever remains in the teaching has the Father and the Son.

2 John 1:9

How many people have lost God for trying to be “progressive?”


Lord, help me to never be so progressive as to leave any of your teachings. I want to have you. I would lose everything else for only you.

Amen.

His Office Let Another Take

Recently, our bishop died (Bishop Joseph Cistone). May God rest his soul. While the Vatican is working to appoint a new bishop, it is important to recall that this isn’t the same as any mere restaffing of a company’s open position.

Continuity in the Early Church

We saw in the early Church how the first bishops (the apostles) saw that their positions of leadership would need to be continued after their own deaths in order to lead the Church throughout time. After the loss of Judas, they knew someone had to take his place:

For it is written in the book of Psalms, ‘Let his habitation become desolate, and let there be no one to live in it’; and ‘His office let another take.’ So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.”

Acts 1:20-22

The apostles recognized themselves as stewards of the authority and power given to them by Jesus. Only they had this authority and power from Jesus to lead the fledgling Church. Only they had been set up by Jesus to be “overseers” (Greek: “episkopos”; English: “bishop”), but they need to hand this position on to future generations.

Later, St. Paul recognized the need to pass on the leadership:

…and what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

2 Timothy 2:2

Eventually, the Apostles spread out and each took charge over a particular area (today called a “diocese”). As the Church spread to new areas, new dioceses were created, so new men were appointed as bishops.

Apostolic Succession

Episcopal Consecration of Deodatus
Claude Bassot (1580-1630)

In order to continue the Church throughout time, the Apostles/bishops (as in the above quote) appointed others to take the place of their deceased members. We call this “Apostolic Succession.” The Apostles’ power and authority (from Jesus) was handed down throughout successive generations within the one Church to certain men in order that they might preserve His teachings and help lead His Church to deeper holiness. Each of these bishops was called to be the spiritual leader of his respective diocese.

Some men tried to fake their way into these positions in order to gain power and influence. When there was a dispute, the question would come: “Who ordained you?”

To prove that a man was a true bishop, he would have to show how he was ordained by someone who was ordained by someone (…) who was ordained by Jesus.

Let them produce the original records of their churches; let them unfold the roll of their bishops, running down in due succession from the beginning in such a manner that [their first] bishop shall be able to show for his ordainer and predecessor some one of the apostles or of apostolic men—a man, moreover, who continued steadfast with the apostles. For this is the manner in which the apostolic churches transmit their registers

Tertullian Demurrer Against the Heretics, 32 [200 AD]

Succession Today

Today, Apostolic Succession is present among the Catholic and Orthodox bishops throughout the world. They have the authority from Jesus, through the Apostles to sanctify, teach, and govern their respective dioceses. All the more, then, should they be holy men who do not scandalize the faithful, but rather lead them on in fidelity to Jesus’ teachings.

Eventually, Rome will appoint a successor to Bishop Cistone who will take the helm for the Diocese of Saginaw, MI. More than a mere CEO, that man will be ordained with the same power and authority that Jesus gave to the Apostles to help lead souls to Heaven.


Lord, please bless the Diocese of Saginaw with a holy bishop. Let him be a man after Your own heart who will be our spiritual father. Give him great courage and wisdom to lead all of us closer to You.

Amen.

Featured Photo credit: Saginaw.org

Of Ministers and Millstones

A Common Illness

Now, while I mentioned in my previous post that the Catholic Church possesses the fullness of truth and grace, not all “Catholics” actually live the Catholic life. Think about it this way… It’s kind of like all people are sick (with sin) and those of us who are in the Catholic Church have made it to the hospital where we have the full suite of elixirs to slowly heal us (prayer, learning the truth, living the moral life, and receiving the Sacraments). However, even though we’re in that place of healing, some might neglect (or worse refuse) to make use of those medicines, so they fail to get better.

Not Taking Their Own Medicine

In this analogy, even the hospital staff (those who work for the Church–even to the highest levels) are also sick and need to continually to take advantage of the elixirs. Unfortunately, as has been seen by the recent scandals, many workers in God’s Church have not continued their elixir regiment. So they are getting sicker and sicker and making those around them worse off as well.

The Evil of Scandal

I am disgusted by and angry at what these men have done–both because of how they have hurt those vulnerable young men, seminarians, and young women (over which much ink has already rightly been spilled), but also because of how their acts have given scandal (bad example that draws people away from God). If a doctor dies from a sickness that his medicine is supposed to heal, people think his medicine doesn’t work–they don’t realize that he’s sick because he isn’t taking his own medicine. Similarly, if a deacon/priest/bishop/pope is found to have egregiously failed the moral life, people are turned away from the perfect elixir of Catholicism (lived fully) and are led to believe that Catholicism is a sham–no better than a cheap bottle of phony tonic water. So this perfect medicine is rejected without even being tried.

Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.

G. K. Chesterton

My previous post was about how Jesus said that those who do great works in His name are essentially on the same team. Right after that, however, Jesus warned us about scandal:

Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung round his neck and he were thrown into the sea.

Mark 9:42

Obviously, the clerical abuse victims are not sinning by being abused, but they are driven toward the sin of rejecting God by the actions of these men (scandal).

So, while all people working in Jesus’ name are on the same team, there are many whose actions don’t always work for the good of the team. God Himself let us know that it would be better to be violently drowned than to be someone who works against Him. So, whether or not any earthly court exacts justice against these men and their atrocities, be assured that they will receive a full justice in the long run.

Do the horrible acts performed by Catholic clerics take away from the authority and holiness of the Church?

In short: no. To assume this would be to fall to the ad hominem logical fallacy (the character of the messenger changes the veracity of the message). As I described above, if many Catholic leaders failed to live the Catholic life, they’re failing to let the medicine of real Catholicism heal them. The same was the case in Jesus’ time–the scribes and Pharisees failed to live what they were teaching.

Then said Jesus to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice.

Matthew 23:1ff

The scribes and Pharisees were given the authority (Moses’ seat) to teach, but they misused it. They handed on the teachings, but they didn’t live them out. Similarly, Catholic leaders now have God’s authority to teach, but some have failed to live up to those teachings. Even St. Paul had to chide St. Peter (the first Pope) for acting hypocritically with regard to his interaction with Gentiles. (Galatians 2:11-14) This, chiding, however, doesn’t reduce Peter’s authority.

These inconsistencies (whether scribes, Pharisees, Peter, or today’s clerical abuses) cause scandal. Whereas they don’t reduce the person’s authority, they do reduce the perception of that authority in people’s minds. These scandals lead people to reject God. These people who are supposed to be on God’s side are effectively working against God.

It is a particularly serious sin when someone who is actually supposed to help people toward God, to whom a child or a young person is entrusted in order to find the Lord, abuses him instead and leads him away from the Lord. As a result, the faith as such becomes unbelievable, and the Church can no longer present herself credibly as the herald of the Lord.

Pope Benedict XVI, Light of the World, The Pope, the Church, and the Signs of the Times: A Conversation With Peter Seewald, p. 23-25

Black Frocks

In 1919 Major League Baseball fans were rocked by the scandal that some of the Chicago White Sox players had possibly colluded in intentionally losing the World Series in exchange for money. This earned them the nickname of the “Black Sox.” We could say of many of today’s clerics that they have earned the title of “Black Frocks.” (I know, clerics are normally black, but you get what I mean.) However, we cannot judge the truth and goodness of Christ’s “team” by the actions of the players who are colluding against her (praying poorly, teaching poorly, living immorally, failing to receive the Sacraments well). They give a bad example, but can never sully her true nature.

Is This The End of the Church?

While we may have our Black Frocks, our game is not over. Our World Series is not lost–in fact, we have a sneak peak into the fact that we will eventually win the game (even if, for now, it may seem like we’re down 100 to 1 in the bottom of the 9th). Many have said “this is the end of the Catholic Church.” Jesus knew this was coming, and along with the above “sneak peak,” He gave us His promise when He made St. Peter the first pope:

And I tell you, you are Peter [“Rock”], and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.

 

Mt 16:18

He knew the powers of death would attack the Church (including infiltrating her ranks). He knew many would be scandalized. He knew many would assume an end (not only now, but many times throughout history). But, more accurately than Babe Ruth calling his shot over the fence, Jesus has promised that those powers of death SHALL NOT PREVAIL!


Lord,

Thank you so much for Your Church and Your Sacraments. Keep me strong so that I may never again fail to receive Your medicine. May I always be on Your team–always fight on Your side of the battle. Please use me to draw as many people to You as possible. Please diminish the power of the scandals that I have caused. Thank you for helping me to see the error of my ways and seek forgiveness. Please continue to point out the path of holiness that I must walk; continually purify me more and more. Please heal those whom I have hurt. Please heal all who have been hurt by Church members. Please help all who have caused scandal to see their errors, seek Your forgiveness, and work for the salvation of as many souls as possible. We trust in the hope You have given us and we long for many to enjoy the fruit of that hope.

Amen.

God’s Side

St. John the Apostle once complained to Jesus:

“Teacher, we saw a man casting out demons in your name, and we forbade him, because he was not following us.”

Mk 9:38

Jesus responded by basically saying everyone who works in His name is on the same team:

“Do not forbid him; for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon after to speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is for us…”

Mk 9:39-42

Here, we see a man who does not have the authority of the Apostles, but is still working in Jesus’ name. This made me think of some common questions:

Do we Catholics think we’re the only true Christians?

No, we recognize that all other religions who believe that Jesus is God (who became incarnate, died for us, rose from the dead, and is now in Heaven) are true Christians. In fact if you were to get baptized in one of those religions and then converted to Catholicism, you wouldn’t get re-baptized because we recognize the validity of Baptism in all truly Christian communities. All Christians are working toward the same goal: drawing closer to Jesus and drawing as many people to Him as possible.

In St. Ignatius of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises, the retreatants are asked to picture a great battle between Jesus and Satan and to reflect on whether each of their actions have them battling under Jesus’ banner or Satan’s. Whether they are within the fullness of the Mystical Body of Christ or not, those who work in Jesus’ name are operating under His banner.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church recognizes:

…many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church…

CCC 819

Does that mean there is no difference between Catholic Christians and non-Catholic Christians?

No. While, we’re on the same team, only Catholics have the fullness of the truth (all of the teachings), apostolic authority (bishops who are successors to the apostles with the bishop of Rome [Pope] as their head), and all of the Sacraments (Baptism, Reconciliation, Confirmation, Communion, Marriage, Holy Orders, and Anointing of the Sick).

If elements of sanctification and truth are found outside of the Catholic Church, does that mean the Catholic Church doesn’t have ALL the elements of sanctification and truth?

Any elements of sanctification and truth found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church are also found within her. The Catholic Church possesses the fullness of truth and sanctification (not just part of it)–that’s one of the definitions of Catholic (see CCC 830). We definitely recognize the good being done in other Christian religions, but we know that same type of work can be done in the Catholic Church. I recognize in the work of non-Catholics like Randy Clark a great charism of healing, given to him by God, but I also see it in Catholics like Fr. Matthias Thelen.

So, what about non-Christians? Do we believe they are totally wrong or is there anything good in those religions?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church recognizes that, in fact, all religions (not just Christians) have pieces of the truth (some more than others):

The Catholic Church recognizes in other religions that search, among shadows and images, for the God who is unknown yet near since he gives life and breath and all things and wants all men to be saved. Thus, the Church considers all goodness and truth found in these religions as a preparation for the Gospel and given by him who enlightens all men that they may at length have life. (CCC 843, emphasis mine)

So, in all of these religions, there are pieces of truth that are actually preparing those people to receive the fullness of truth that God has to offer in the Catholic Church.

See more here (1:06:00 – 1:12:25 in the video in tandem with the first handout).

Those Who Hear the Word of God and Do It

In Luke 8:21, after Jesus was told His mother and brethren were standing outside desiring to see Him, He replied:

“My mother and my brethren are those who hear the word of God and do it.”

Now, at first reading, this might seem to be an insult to Mary, His mother, but we know Jesus is God and that He follows His own commandments. Rather than an insult, this is an honor. Don’t read this is as Jesus saying “I don’t have a mother,” nor “I care more for people who do my will than I do my own mother.” Rather, we can see in Jesus’ words a special honor for Mary’s docility to the will of God.

The Golden Chain quotes St. John Chrysostom as commenting on this passage:

Now He does not say this by way of reproof to His mother, but to greatly assist her, for if He was anxious for others to beget in them a just opinion of Himself, much more was He for His mother.

Golden Chain 9819

1640-50
The Virgin in Prayer by Sassoferrato

Read: Mary and my brethren (relatives–cousins, aunts, uncles, etc.) are among those who hear the word of God and do it.

In fact a few chapters later, Jesus again highlights Mary’s obedience again. Lk 11: 27-28:

27 As he said this, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that you sucked!”28 But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”

Mary is certainly blessed among women for being the Mother of God. Jesus doesn’t reject that; rather He emphasizes how Mary is even more blessed because she perfectly kept God’s word (she did the will of God).

If Jesus Didn’t Rise From the Dead…

In 1 Cor. 15:12-19, St. Paul briefly plays devil’s advocate. What if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead? If so:
…our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ… …your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. …we are of all men most to be pitied. 1 Cor 15:14-19
True… All Christians admit this: IF, Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, Christianity would be a silly group of people following a dead guy, and, as St. Paul mentioned, we would be most pitiable. Yes, Christianity hinges on the Resurrection of Jesus. This makes me think of Lee Strobel’s story (book, movie). He was an atheist and an award-winning investigative journalist whose wife had recently become a Christian. He wasn’t very happy with that idea, so he decided to prove to her that Christianity was silly. He learned this same concept: that Jesus’ Resurrection is the linchpin to the Christian belief. So he set out, as a journalist, to disprove Jesus’ Resurrection. St. Paul, however, was among those who literally met Jesus after His Resurrection, so he is certain that this is not the case:
 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead… 1 Cor. 15:20 [emphasis mine]

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Caravaggio

St. Paul would go on to join the Apostles in giving their lives rather than renounce belief in Jesus and His Resurrection. After consulting many secular authorities and looking into historical accounts, Strobel too was forced to admit the plausibility of the Resurrection. This caused a change in him so great that he became a Christian and eventually a pastor.
God, May my life constantly be formed and guided by You and the truth of Your Resurrection to the world. Amen.