Full of Grace
~ Always and Forever ~
What’s in a word
In ordinary life it is very often possible to use two different words to describe the same property of an object or event without detracting from, or exaggerating, their value. However, when it comes to legal contracts, particularly of last wills or testaments, extreme care is taken to ensure that every single word and punctuation mark will not result in any ambiguity.
This, then, is the case where money, property or human honour is concerned. Sadly, in the realm of Divine honour, where the testament is the New Testament and the will is the Will of God, where such zeal should be at its greatest, it is all but absent, not merely among unbelievers but among those who are called to be the children of God, Catholics themselves.
God Himself, through Revelation, teaches the sacredness of the words of Scripture.
The following words of God, as expressed by St. Paul, in the letter to the Galatians (3:16,19), clearly establish this principle of the sacred inviolability of the words in Holy Scripture:
"To Abraham were the promises made and to his seed. He saith not, And to his seeds, as of many: but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. ... until the seed should come, to whom he made the promise."
The point could not be made clearer. The word seed must be in the singular to designate the one, Jesus Christ, and not in the plural, which would mean at least two or more, or even every member of the nation. The necessity of keeping to exact words in the Scriptures is, thus, brought out very clearly by God the Holy Ghost Himself.
This does not mean that a single word may never be replaced by another. Should this be done, however, the provision always applies that the new word may not in any way alter the meaning signified by the word replaced.
God, through His Holy Roman Church, teaches the sacredness of the words of Scripture.
We read in the Catechism of Pope St. Pius X that:
"The Church forbids Protestant Bibles because, either they have been altered and contain errors, or not having her approbation and footnotes explaining the obscure meanings, they may be harmful to the Faith. It is for that same reason that the Church even forbids translations of the Holy Scriptures already approved by her which have been reprinted without the footnotes approved by her."
This prohibition is for the very obvious reason that Protestants, in general, have vested interests in having a Bible which supports some of their erroneous opinions.
One of the doctrines they do not accept, is the Sacrament of Sacred Orders, i.e. the priesthood. Consequently, references to priests in the Bible, especially in the New Testament, as found in the one and only irrefutably correct or authentic version of the Bible, known as the Vulgate of the Holy Roman Church, must needs be retranslated by Protestants in their versions.
For example, in the epistle of St. James (5:14), instead of saying, Is any man sick among you? Let him bring in the priests of the church, ..., the Protestants say, bring in the elders. Now, elders, could be, but need not be, priests, and so the case for the necessity of Sacred Orders is weakened.
The danger of such false Bibles is very real. They can help both in the perversion of doctrine and morals, and be a factor in the maintenance of ignorance. The Church’s command to us, regarding Protestant Bibles, shows their potential hazard to souls. We are told, in the Catechism of Pope Pius X, that:
"A Catholic to whom a [Protestant] Bible has been offered by a Protestant or an agent of the Protestants [or a confused Catholic] should reject it with disgust, because it is forbidden by the Church. If it is accepted by inadvertence, it must be burnt as soon as possible or handed in to the Parish Priest."
It is, clearly, a very, very serious matter to be careless about having or passing on Protestant Bibles, unless necessary for the purposes of study. This we ought to see ourselves, even if the Church had not made a formal prohibition.
The Natural Law forbids us to read and promote bad books, that is, those which may endanger our faith and that of others. Such an activity is, therefore, a sin against the First Commandment. It is a sin against faith, as it may lead to the weakening or even to the loss of faith.
What is, therefore, most sorrowful and most incredible is that in the last thirty years or so, a vast portion of Catholics appear to have fallen into this grievous error, tacitly accepting an old Protestant detraction of the Most Holy Mother of God, which, of course, is a detraction of God Himself.
Grave doctrinal error
Ever since the acceptance by English-speaking Catholics of the so-called Jerusalem Bible, over thirty years ago, an extremely large number of them have espoused the error of the Protestants regarding Our Lady.
The error in question goes back over 400 years when, about 1526, William Tyndale, a Franciscan priest, brought out his own English version of the New Testament. It is so full of errors, that St. Thomas More wrote that looking for falsehoods in Tyndale’s bible was like looking for water in the sea. But this particular error of his became so firmly entrenched that it has gone on into the 20th and 21st centuries in Protestant bibles. It has now so tickled the intellects of many Catholic scholars and churchmen, that they too have inserted it into so-called Catholic bibles. It is that crass doctrinal error and great dishonour to Our Lady, by which She, from being accorded her singularly special relation to God, as being full of grace, is reduced to be one of an others, as being only highly favoured.
This has come about by adopting the Jerusalem Bible as the Catholic Bible, in which, as in several Protestant bibles (The King James Authorised Version RSV; the Ecumenical Edition - Collins, 1975; and The New English Bible - Oxford University Press, 1970) it is recorded that the Angel Gabriel’s greeting words, the words of God to Mary, were:
"Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you." [Lk 1:28]
How this is a dishonour to God and a detraction from His Most Holy Mother is, in part, very simply explained by the words of St. Thomas More. As recorded in The Lives of the English Martyrs [Dom Bede Camm O.S.B., Burns & Oates, 1910, Vol. 1, p.162], the Saint wrote of Tyndale’s heretical bible:
"He changeth grace into favour whereas every favour is not grace in English, for in some favours there is little grace..."
The Greek Connection
Although the above simple answer may more than please and satisfy the truly pious, it is most unlikely, however, that it will satisfy the Greek scholars. These are the people who whenever they are confronted by some Protestant biblical innovation, immediately rush off to consult their Greek versions of the Scriptures. For them, as indeed for all, therefore, there is a more systematic explanation of Our Lady being called full of grace, based on the Greek Bible.
This explanation comes from a late, well known scholar:
"The Angel Gabriel, addressing the Virgin of Nazareth after the greeting, chaire ‘rejoice’, calls her kecharitomene, ‘full of grace’. The words of the Greek text, chaire and kecharitomene are deeply interconnected: Mary is invited to rejoice primarily because God loves her and has filled her with grace in view of her divine motherhood! ... The expression ‘full of grace’ is the translation of the Greek word kecharitomene, which is a passive participle. Therefore to rend more exactly the nuance of the Greek word one should not say merely ‘full of grace’ but ‘made full of grace’, or even ‘filled with grace’, which would clearly indicate that this was a gift by God to the Blessed Virgin." [Pope John Paul II, General Audience, 8 May 1996, L’Osservatore Romano, English Edition.]
Could anything be clearer? Could anyone who call themselves Catholic and claims the love of Our Lady, continue to disparage Her as only highly favoured whom God has honoured with the unique title full of grace (our Blessed Lord excepted)?
The Pope’s explanation shows clearly what the truth is. The Protestant alternative is then a lie, inspired by the father of all lies, and now insinuated through human respect into the Bible and Liturgy of the one and only true Religion.
We ought to remember that Our Lady, though only a human being and less than an atom compared to God, is nevertheless not just like an other ordinary woman. The true words of god, Hail Mary, full of grace, announced Her uniquely special relation to Him. She would be the only human person who would rightly refer to God, the eternal, the infinite and uncontainable, as, My Son.
The true words, full of grace, placed Her in a class of Her own as regards sanctity, a fact recognised by the Church for many centuries by according to Her the worship of hyperdulia. Her sanctity is greater than that of all the angels and saints in heaven, now and to come, taken together.
Full of grace means, in other words, that She had, from the moment of Her Immaculate Conception, a participation in God’s Own Divine Nature, sufficiently full to be the Mother of God. This, though not infinite, was greater than the rest of creation put together! The false Protestant claim that God called her only highly favoured, would reduce this exalted dignity of the Mother of God to that of other ordinary women: highly favoured, but not full of grace.
The Holy Mass corrupted
This horrendous detraction is now found in the Liturgy of the one and only true Church of God, of which She is the Mother.
Thus, we read in the new Lectionaries of the Catholic Roman Church, for the new Mass (but not in the Traditional Latin Mass) for the great Feasts of the Immaculate Conception and Assumption of Our Lady, that God through the Angel Gabriel, called Her, so highly favoured. The same occurs in many Masses of Our Lady on Saturday and also in the Mass of the fourth Sunday of Advent (Year B).
We should be convinced that in the realm of doctrines this detaction is as great a crime as it would be to say that our Blessed Lord only spoke figuratively when He said: Except you eat the flesh of the son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you. [St. John 6:54]
This is because every word of Holy Scripture is the word that God, not man, has revealed, even though a man was the instrument to write down the Divine revelation. God, again by the means of the another of his instruments, one of the Dogmatic Councils of His Church, has, Himself, declared this fact. Thus the Solemn Definition of the Council of Trent (1545-63) confirmed infallibly that the Latin Vulgate version of the Bible is perfectly free from all error in matters of faith or morals, a genuine source of revelation and a faithful expression of the written word of God. As far as we Catholics are concerned, the effect of that Council’s definition of the composition and the contents of the Bible, is well expressed by the Catholic Encyclopaedia (1913):
"The great constructive Synod of Trent had put the whole sacredness and canonicity of the whole Traditional Bible forever beyond the permissibility of doubt on the part of Catholics."
Consequently, bearing in mind the scholarly explanation of Greek texts of the Scriptures, it follows that the greeting of Her true children to Our Lady has always been and will always be, Hail, full of grace. Deo gratias!
* * * * *
All for Jesus or, The Easy Ways of Divine Love
Fr. Frederick William Faber.
One day Our Blessed Mother appeared to St. Thomas of Canterbury and said "Thomas, your devotion is most acceptable to me; but why do you only call to mind the joys which I had on earth? Henceforth remember those also which I now enjoy in heaven; for everyone who honours both these I will console, exhilarate, and present to my most dear Son at the hour of death." St. Thomas felt his heart filled with a marvellous exultation, and he cried out "And how, my sweetest Lady, can I do this, when I do not so much as know what these joys are?"
Blessed Lady then told him, that he was
to honour with seven Hail Maries the following