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Under the Mantle: Marian Thoughts from a 21st Century Priest

Father Donald Calloway, MIC, skillfully shares his personal insights on topics including Divine Mercy, the Eucharist, the Church, Confession, prayer, the cross, masculinity, and fe... Read more

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Meet Mary Through Larry

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When I was in high school, I was a member of an academic challenge team (think Jeopardy, only in random classrooms with buzzer systems and pages of questions). We would gather to practice after school, and I tended to be the Bible/Christianity/Catholicism guy. One day, our coach was reading out a definition, the content of which certainly seemed to describe a saint — holiness, goodness, a person held up as a model by the Catholic Church. But I hesitated. It seemed too broad, somehow — too obvious. One of my teammates buzzed in, gave the answer very confidently: "Saint."

"No."

He was immediately ready to argue, turning to me for support. But I waved him off. Something still hadn't quite clicked.

The coach read a few words farther into the definition, and I was certain. I buzzed. "Doctor of the Church?"

I had to repeat myself twice, for none of us were used to that phrase, but I'd gotten it right.

Many people have never heard of the term "Doctor of the Church," and yet most Catholics are familiar with at least a few of the saints who are accorded that additional title. The list includes renowned greats such as St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Therese of Lisieux, and St. Theresa of Avila, for example. (The complete list is at the end of this piece.) What puts them on this list? Well, the decision is up to the Holy Father, and the deciding factor is the quality of their teaching of the faith through personal holiness, "eminent doctrine," and some quantity of writings.

One of the doctors of the Church, St. Lawrence of Brindisi, whose feast we celebrate July 21, was outstanding for his preaching and teaching on the Blessed Virgin Mary. In a collection of his sermons on her called the Mariale, he taught that all her honors and privileges flow from one title in particular: the fact that she is the Mother of God by being the Mother of Jesus.

Everything else depends upon that one relationship, between a mother and a Son from 2000 years ago, a relationship that will be eternal, now, and have eternal consequences affecting every person. All graces flow through Jesus. No grace comes to a creature except through the Word made flesh, and the Word made flesh does not come to us except through Mary. Because she is mother of Jesus, as Dr. Mark Miravalle shows so well in Meet Your Mother, she is mother to us all.

Let us ask St. Lawrence of Brindisi and Mary, the Mother of the Word made flesh, to pray for us that we may be transformed by the renewal of our minds. Let us turn to the Doctors of the Church so that we may learn the fullness of truth from the greatest and holiest of teachers, letting ourselves be transformed according to the demands of truth and conformed to God's own goodness through His grace.

Doctors of the Church

1. St. Ambrose
2. St. Jerome
3. St. Augustine
4. St. Gregory the Great (Pope)
5. St. Athanasius
6. St. Basil the Great
7. St. Gregory of Nazianzus
8. St. John Chrysostom
9. St. Ephraem the Deacon
10. St. Hilary
11. St. Cyril of Jerusalem
12. St. Cyril of Alexandria
13. St. Leo the Great (Pope)
14. St. Peter Chrysologus
15. St. Isidore of Seville
16. St. John Damascene
17. St. Bede "the Venerable"
18. St. Peter Damian
19. St. Anselm
20. St. Bernard of Clairvaux
21. St. Anthony of Padua
22. St. Albert the Great
23. St. Bonaventure
24. St. Thomas Aquinas
25. St. Hildegard of Bingen
26. St. Catherine of Siena
27. St. Teresa of Avila
28. St. John of Avila
29. St. Peter Canisius
30. St. John of the Cross
31. St. Robert Bellarmine
32. St. Lawrence of Brindisi
33. St. Francis de Sales
34. St. Alphonsus Liguori
35. St. Therese of Lisieux

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