Thursday, 29 January 2009

Earl Lauderdale - Pilgrimages

Haddington Pilgrimage

St Mary's Collegiate Church

Lamp o’Lothian

St. Mary’s High Kirk

THE SCOTSMAN 28 Jan 2009

RECOLLECTION by Rev Clifford Hughes

PATRICK MAITLAND, 17th EARL OF LAUDERDALE (Obituary, 9 December), is complete without reference to the Haddington Pilgrimage. Patrick's deeply held Anglo-Catholic - convictions found expression in his commit­ment to the Marian Shrine, at Walsingham, from 1955. When the Lauderdale Aisle in St Mary's Parish Church, Haddington, East Lothian, was restored in the late 1970s, it was consecrated by the then Episcopal Bishop of Edinburgh, Alistair Haggart, and dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the Christ Child, and the Three Kings, creating an intriguing ecclesiastical anomaly, an Episcopal chapel within a Presbyterian church. Patrick sought to attract pilgrims to what he called "the shrine of our Lady of Haddington".

The first pilgrimage in 1970 attracted 13 pilgrims. By-the turn of the century this annual festival, on the second Saturday in May, would bring to St Mary's more than 1,000 pilgrims: Catholics, Episcopalians, Anglicans (for there were busloads from south of the Border ),Presbyterians and others.

In the early years, pilgrims would walk, jog, cycle or motor the ten miles or so from St Mary's Whitekirk to the wonderfully restored medieval Church of St Mary, built to Cathedral proportions, on the banks of the Tyne at Haddington. They would run the gauntlet of Pastor Jack Glass and his banner-waving entourage of anti-Catholic ultra-Protestants, who objected volubly to the noon celebration of the Catholic Mass in a Church of Scotland building.

Over the years, praise bands and liturgical dance were innovations featured in this ecumenical gathering, and although it proved impossible to find a liturgy which would bring Catholics and non-Catholics to the same table/altar, the inspirational climax of every pilgrimage was prayer for healing during the afternoon's Episcopal/ Presbyterian Eucharist. Clergy of all denominations moved through the church to pray for anyone whose hand was raised.

As a seasoned journalist, Patrick recognised the value of a good story and from time to time would issue a press release with details of a dramatic healing, timed to boost pilgrimage numbers.

I worked with Patrick as minister of St Mary's from 1993-2001 and can attest to one miraculous healing - my own. When I was diagnosed with laryn­geal cancer, Pastor Jack promised to pray for me; Archbishop Keith Patrick, now Cardinal O'Brien, sent out a plea in a diocesan letter to elicit prayer for me. A rainbow coalition of prayer, indeed! My wonderful new voice is my testimony.

In the year which has seen the death of Elizabeth, Duchess of Hamilton, who played such a significant part in the restoration of St Mary's, and of Patrick, Earl of Lauderdale, it is sad that the pilgrimage, too, has run its course. But the Haddington Prayer lives on.


Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Saint Thomas Aquinas

Saint Day 28 January 2009

Thomas Aquinas died at the Cistercian Abbey of FOSSANOVA.

One of Saint Bernard's Italian visits took place in 1134 - 35, and amongst other places the Benedictine Abbey near Priverno turned itself over to the Cistercians. The first act of the Cistercian monk-engineers was to build a new dyke for swamp drainage - hence "Fossanova". A new abbey church was begun later in the 1100s, pioneering the "Cistercian Italian Gothic" style which became a model for many later abbeys and churches in Italy. It was consecrated by the powerful Pope Innocent III (during a break in his ongoing disputes with Emperor Frederick II) in 1208. The beautiful gothic church and the attached monastery buildings are said to be a close copy of Bernard's own monastery of Clairvaux in Burgundy (nowadays part of a high security prison). They are full of light and lightness, and these days are occupied by Franciscan Friars Minor. Fossanova's most distinguished though short lived visitor was Saint Thomas Aquinas, who fell ill whilst passing by and ended up dying there on 9 March 1274.

Note: macabre at the cost of popularity of the Saint’s remains.
It is said that shortly after his death, miracles began to occur near the place where his body was laid. Monks at the Cistercian abbey at Fossanova, where Thomas was buried, feared that some might steal the body. They exhumed the corpse and cut off its head, placing the latter in a secret corner of the chapel. Mutilations continued for almost fifty years until all that remained were the bones. These were finally moved to the Dominican monastery at Toulouse where they remain to this day.

writes the loveliest account of the end days of Thomas Aquinas.

The last word of St. Thomas is not communication but silence. And it is not death which takes the pen out of his hand. His tongue is stilled by the superabundance of life in the mystery of God. He is silent, not because he has nothing further to say; he is silent because he has been allowed a glimpse into the inexpressible depths of that mystery which is not reached by any human thought or speech.

The acts of the canonization process record: On the feast of St. Nicholas, in the year 1273, as Thomas turned back to his work after Holy Mass, he was strangely altered. He remained steadily silent; he did not write; he dictated nothing. He laid aside the Summa Theologica on which he had been working. Abruptly, in the middle of the treatise on the Sacrament of Penance, he stopped writing.

Reginald, his friend, asks him, troubled: "Father, how can you want to stop such a great work?" Thomas answers only, "I can write no more." Reginald of Pipemo seriously believed that his master and friend might have become mentally ill through his overwhelming burden of work. After a long while, he asks and urges once again. Thomas gives the answer: "Reginald, I can write no more. All that I have hitherto written seems to me nothing but straw."

Reginald is stunned by this reply. Some time later, as he had often done before, Thomas visits his younger sister, the Countess of San Severino, near Salerno. It is the same sister who had aided Thomas in his escape from the castle of San Giovanni, nearly thirty years ago. Shortly after his arrival, his sister turns to his traveling companion, Reginald, with a startled question: what has happened to her brother? He is like one struck dumb and has scarcely spoken a word to her. Reginald once more appeals to Thomas: Would he tell him why he has ceased writing and what it is that could have disturbed him so deeply? For a long time, Thomas remains silent. Then he repeats: "All that I have written seems to me nothing but straw... compared to what I have seen and what has been revealed to me."

This silence lasted throughout a whole winter. The great teacher of the West had become dumb. Whatever may have imbued him with a deep happiness, with an inkling of the beginning of eternal life, must have aroused in the men in his company the disturbing feeling caused by the uncanny.

At the end of this time, spent completely in his own depths, Thomas began the journey to the General Council at Lyons. His attention continued to be directed inward. The acts of the canonization report a conversation which took place on this journey between Thomas and Reginald. It seems to have arisen out of a long silence and to have receded immediately into a long silence. This brief exchange clearly reveals to what degree the two friends already live in two different worlds. Reginald, encouragingly: "Now you are on your way to the Council, and there many good things will happen; for the whole Church, for our order, and for the Kingdom of Sicily." And Thomas: "Yes, God grant that good things may happen there! "

The prayer of St. Thomas that his life should not outlast his teaching career was answered. On the way to Lyons he met his end.

The mind of the dying man found its voice once more, in an explanation of the Canticle of Canticles for the monks of Fossanova. The last teaching of St. Thomas concerns, therefore, that mystical book of nuptial love for God, of which the Fathers of the Church say: the meaning of its figurative speech is that God exceeds all our capabilities of possessing Him, that all our knowledge can only be the cause of new questions, and every finding only the start of a new search.


To glimpse something of the heart and soul of Saint Thomas here is just one example of his great eucharistic hymns, composed for the Feast of Corpus Christi. Perhaps even more than his great theological treatises -- works of art as well -- we see the fervent and simple faith that filled every fiber of his being! Alongside the ultimately untranslatable Latin of Saint Thomas I give the incomparable attempt at such a translation -- by the priest-poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins.


by Thomas Aquinas

Translation by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Adoro te devote, latens Deitas
Quae sub his figuris vere latitas.
Tibi se cor meum totum subiicit,
Quia te contemplans totum deficit.

Visus, tactus, gustus in te fallitur,
Sed auditu solo tuto creditur:
Credo quidquid dixit Dei Filius:
Nil hoc verbo veritatis verius.

In Cruce latebat sola Deitas,
At hic latet simul et humanitas:
Ambo tamen credens atque confitens
Peto quod petivit latro poenitens.

Plagas, sicut Thomas, non intueor;
Deum tamen meum te confiteor;
Fac me tibi semper magis credere
In te spem habere, te diligere.

¡O memoriale, mortis Domini!
Panis vivus, vitam praestans homini:
Praesta meae menti de te vivere,
Et te illi semper dulce sapere.

Pie pellicane, Iesu Domine,
Me inmundum munda tuo Sanguine:
Cuius una stilla salvum facere
Totum mundum quit ab omni scelere.

Iesu, quem velatum nunc aspicio,
Oro fiat istud quod tans sitio:
Ut te revelata cernens facie,
Visu sim beatus tuae gloriae.

Godhead here in hiding, whom I do adore,
Masked by these bare shadows, shape and nothing more,
See, Lord, at thy service low lies here a
Lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art.

Seeing, touching, tasting are in thee deceived:
How says trusty hearing? that shall be believed;
What God's Son has told me, take for truth I do;
Truth himself speaks truly or there's nothing true.

On the cross thy godhead made no sign to men,
Here thy very manhood steals from human ken:
Both are my confession, both are my belief,
And I pray the prayer of the dying thief.

I am not like Thomas, wounds I cannot see,
But can plainly call thee Lord and God as he;
Let me to a deeper faith daily nearer move,
Daily make me harder hope and dearer love.

O thou our reminder of Christ crucified,
Living Bread, the life of us for whom he died,
Lend this life to me then: feed and feast my mind,
There be thou the sweetness man was meant to find.

Bring the tender tale true of the Pelican;
Bathe me, Jesu Lord, in what thy bosom ran---
Blood whereof a single drop has power to win
All the world forgiveness of its world of sin.

Jesu, whom I look at shrouded here below,
I beseech thee send me what I thirst for so,
Some day to gaze on thee face to face in light
And be blest for ever with thy glory's sight. Amen.

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Sunday, 25 January 2009

Luke Fr Golden Jubilee

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Homily for the Conversion of St Paul, 25 January, 2009 11.00m
(Fr Luke’s Golden Jubilee of his Ordination to the Priesthood)
To begin with some facts and figures! St Paul was born two thousand years ago and that is why this year by special permission from Pope Benedict we are allowed to celebrate this feast of his conversion instead of our usual Sunday Mass.
Next, Rabbie Burns was born two hundred and fifty years ago today.
And, more immediate to us at Nunraw, fifty years ago today Fr Luke was ordained priest.
Fr Luke was actually ordained on a Sunday and the Mass, like this year was of the Conversion of St Paul and not as we would expect the Ordination Mass. Perhaps he had reason to identify with St Paul. (I can say that because he’s not here.) Fr Luke is taking his anniversary quietly because his health is frail and he is unable to attend long services like our Community Mass. But there will be an appropriate joint celebration for, and with him, later in the Community refectory. He will certainly need his walking stick after that! This Mass is being offered for him and his intentions.
When talking about his ordination day, Fr Luke, true Scot that he is, reminded me that it was Rabbie Burns’ birthday too. He hoped that Burns might have said of him, “A man’s a man and a monk for a’ that”.

But now to that other man, St Paul. Last year, on the feast Sts Peter and Paul when the Pope proclaimed a special Jubilee Year in honour of St Paul’s birth, he expressed a hope that we would reflect on Paul’s life, his writings, and on his message for the church in our own world today.
An initial examination of Paul’s personality and letters show that he was both a source of unity and of division among believers. He was a bold theologian with a deep understanding of the mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection. In the Second Letter of Peter we are told that Paul had written according to the wisdom given him but warned that there were some things hard to understand in them
Reflection on Paul became the soul of Christian theology both in the East and the West. In the sixteenth century a new understanding of Paul, influenced by various historical factors, abuses in the church, and so on, helped to give rise to the Reformation, the effects of which are still with us. Over the past hundred years, however, matters have improved in the understanding of Paul and of the bible generally through the better study and understanding of the Word of God. The ecumenical movement came to birth during that time and has helped us understand past divisions. There have been agreed statements between Catholics, Anglicans and the Reformed churches as to what Paul meant in his own day. They have looked at how Paul’s teaching can give us an appreciation of the Christian message and also how to work towards the unity which Paul himself strove for within the early church. It cannot be accidental that the feast of the Conversion of St Paul occurs within the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
Paul was fearless in preaching the death and resurrection of Christ for the salvation of the human race. He stood firm in his defence of what he understood as God’s will. He fought his battle at times single-handed. And he could break with friends and colleagues on the matter, as with Barnabas and Mark. He was warm-hearted, but could be blunt and frank, as he was with the Galatians. But Paul was nothing if not an honest-to-goodness human being who wanted the best for his fellow Christians and his hearers.
At the end of Paul’s life he was imprisoned. He was made to suffer for the gospel he preached. Yet his message still remains good for us today that the word of God is not chained. It is our lifeblood. It is a spur to greater freedom and fulfilment, whatever the suffering we may have to endure. For Paul, we see the love of God for each and every one of us ‘in Christ’ and ‘through Christ’. That is Paul’s message, one that remains true for us in our own world today.
Cf. The Legacy of the Apostle Paul: Reflections on the Bi-Millennial Jubilee of His Birth by Martin McNamara MSC (Scripture in Church #153, Jan-Mar 2009, 113-4,124-5.)
Homily by Abbot Mark.
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Labels: 25/01/09
Maureen said...
Thank you for the Blog on Fr. Luke. I was with him yesterday and he let me see it. He was very chuffed!

Maureen CP.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

St Aelred of Rievaux

Saint Aelred 2nd Patron of Nunraw Abbey

Chapter Sermon by Fr. Mark

St Aelred 12 January, 2009

It is interesting that St Aelred and his beloved Rievaulx lie not only nearer to us here at Nunraw than to any other Cistercian house but that he actually lived and was educated for some time in Scotland. Through his father and grandfather there is also a link with the life and cult of St Cuthbert, another of our local saints. This geographic connection with us is important. Vatican II stressed that the heart of the Church lies in its local rooted-ness. The whole Church is the summation of all the local Churches throughout the world. Each place and the people who live in it helps each of us go to God.

Wherever there is an encounter with God, there we have a sacred place; and those who experience God in that place are on the way to holiness and are saints of God.

Aelred was born in 1109 at Durham. He was sent to the Scottish court for his education. It is not very clear why this came about. But at the time relations between Northumbria and Scotland were close and representatives of Scottish royalty were often to be found in Durham. Northumbria had a long history as an independent kingdom that at times stretched from the Yorkshire wolds as far north as the Firth of Forth. As Aelred’s family were well-placed it is not surprising that they would have seen a future for him within the royal Household of the Scottish Court under King David. Aelred’s later writings show that he had received a well-rounded education there in his youth and that he had been a friend of the future king. Increasingly, however, he found the trappings of court life unsatisfying. At the age of 24 he entered Rievaulx.

Aelred’s whole being longed for God because, he said, God had instilled this desire in his heart. According to Aelred, man seeks to become like unto God, even when he wanders in the "land of unlikeness" because of his sins. It is only through Christ that man can realize his inmost desire, and hence he should love Christ as his dearest friend. Indeed, "God himself is friendship," and "he who dwells in friendship, dwells in God and God in him." This is where human friendship, if it is spiritually based, can be a means of friendship with God. Anyone who enjoys such a spiritual human relationship is by that very fact a friend of God.

For Aelred, the monastery is not only, as St. Benedict stated, a "school for the Lord's service" it is also a "school of love." Under the abbot, who stands in the place of Christ, the monks are brought to friendship with God through their fraternal love in community. Yet this does not mean that the monastic life is a source of continual joy. The abandonment of human will to the divine involves suffering, and daily life in community often presents trials and crosses. Some monks may even ask themselves, as did St Bernard, why they have come to the monastery or what is the value of their hidden life. To this, Aelred would respond by showing the importance of the imitation of Christ and of his apostles who suffered persecution and death.

It is everyone's lot in charity to help anyone journeying with them on the path to God. This peaceful confidence in the monastic life is not peculiar to Aelred, but he sets it forth with a charm that is entirely his own. St. Bernard, his master, is a Doctor of the Church. St. Aelred is only a doctor of the monastic life; and yet his teaching has a universal value.

(Taken from ‘Aelred of Rievaulx, A Study’ by Aelred Squire and some online material:)

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Our Lady of the Angels NIGERIA

Abbot Raymond. On Saturday set out for the flight to Nigeria. He will be joined with Abbot Celsus, Bethlehem Abbey, at Lagos, and make the mission to Our Lady of Angels, Cistercian Priory, Nsugbe, Onitsha. Hopefully the first Abbot will be elected for the community on this occasion.


Raymond left the Homily for the Solemnity of Epiphany and was delivered in the Commuity, Nunraw, this morning.

“With God, nothing shall be impossible”.

“With God, nothing shall be impossible”. So we hear the angel Gabriel assure Mary at the annunciation. Our God is great and Almighty, but how shall we measure the greatness of his works? If we measure them by their size we have the Universe; the Cosmos; all things Created, to consider. If we measure them by their littleness we have the world of the microscope to search into; an apparent infinity of littleness as vast as the greatness of outer space. If we measure them by another standard we learn that the “Mercies of God are above all his works”. If we measure them by their singularity or uniqueness we have the works of the Incarnation and the Eucharist.

But if we may dare to judge the greatness of the works of the Lord by the human standard of difficulty of accomp-lishement we might perhaps see the Epiphany as being at the top of the list. But how can it be difficult for God to accomplish anything? After all, he need only “speak and it comes to be”. However, revelation itself does give us the picture of God finding things “difficult”, as it were, when he has to deal with the free will of men.

God finds himself having to push and to pull; to persuade and to threaten, in order to get his way with us. God has to “wrestle” with us all, just as he had to wrestle with Jacob. By this standard then, the incarnation was the pure and simple will of God encountering the pure and simple will of the Virgin. No struggle, no difficulty, so simple and easy, for all its greatness. But when it comes to his Epiphany, to his unveiling to the rest of mankind, just who and what he was, then indeed there began a struggle, a titanic struggle, not only with the forces of darkness but also with every individual soul that is born. This is the great groaning of revelation that is still ongoing after two thousand years of Christian history. This is the great wrestling with the moral blindness and stubborn free will of mankind that will continue to the end of time.

By this standard then, perhaps the Epiphany is the greatest of God’s works and has yet to find its full accomplishment.

Wise Men bringing gifts

Epiphany and the Magi.

The Magi, Gaspar, Melchior and Balthasar, give the magic example of gift-giving. The gospel for the epiphany tells of the Wise Men bringing gifts. This reading from St. Basil reminds that we have that privilege as if the Child needs our gifts, from Mary and everyone. Very little people are lifted up simply in response with the feeling of gift to the Divine. “Think of shepherds receiving wisdom, of priests prophesying, of women who are glad of heart, as Mary was when told by the angel to rejoice and as Elizabeth was when John leapt in her womb. Anna announced the good news; Simeon took the child in his arms. They worshiped the mighty God in a tiny baby, not despising what they beheld but praising his divine majesty.”

St. Basil (Hom. 2, PG 31, 1472-46).

The star came to rest above the place where the child was. At the sight of it the wise men were filled with great joy and that great joy should fill our hearts as well. It is the same as the joy the shepherds received from the glad tidings brought by the angels. Let us join the wise men in worship and the shepherds in giving glory to God. Let us dance with the angels and sing: To us is born this day a saviour who is Christ the Lord. The Lord is God and he has appeared to us, not as God which would have terrified us in our weakness, but as a slave in order to free those living in slavery. Could anyone be so lacking in sensibility and so ungrateful as not to join us all in our gladness, exultation, and radiant joy? This feast belongs to the whole universe. It gives heavenly gifts to the earth, it sends archangels to Zechariah and to Mary, it assembles a choir of angels to sing, Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth.

Stars cross the sky, wise men journey from pagan lands, earth receives its saviour in a cave. Let there be no one without a gift to offer, no one without gratitude as we celebrate the salvation of the world, the birthday of the human race. Now it is no longer, Dust you are and to dust you shall return, but "You are joined to heaven and into heaven you shall be taken up." It is no longer, In sorrow you shall bring forth children, but, "Blessed is she who has borne Emmanuel and blessed the breast that nursed him." For a child is born to us, a son is given to us, and dominion is laid upon his shoulder.

Come, join the company of those who merrily welcome the Lord from heaven. Think of shepherds receiving wisdom, of priests prophesying, of women who are glad of heart, as Mary was when told by the angel to rejoice and as Elizabeth was when John leapt in her womb. Anna announced the good news; Simeon took the child in his arms. They worshiped the mighty God in a tiny baby, not despising what they beheld but praising his divine majesty. Like light through clear glass the power of the Godhead shone through that human body for those whose inner eye was pure. Among such may we also be numbered, so that beholding his radiance with unveiled face we too may be transformed from glory to glory by the grace and loving kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be honour and power for endless ages. Amen.

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I'm fine, I'm fine.


I'm fine, I'm fine.

There's nothing whatever the matter with me,

I'm just as healthy as I can be.

I have arthritis in both my knees

And when I talk I talk with a wheeze.

My pulse is weak and my blood is thin

But I'm awfully well for the shape I'm in.

My teeth eventually will have to come out

And I can't hear a word unless you shout.

I'm overweight and I can't get thin

But I'm awfully well for the shape I'm in.

Arch supporters I have for my feet

Or I wouldn't be able to walk down the street.

Sleep is denied me every night

And every morning I'm really a sight.

My memory is bad and my head's a-spin

And I practically live on aspirin.

But I'm awfully well for the shape I'm in.

The moral is, as this tale unfolds,

That for you and me who are growing old,

It's better to say, 'I'm fine,' with a grin

Than to let people know the shape we're in!


Thursday, 1 January 2009

Hogmanay Scotland


Scottish Hogmanay at Edinburgh is a major international attraction, and now is to extend to a four day celebration

The sound and sight of fireworks reached as far the Abbey from 25 miles.

At the Guest house Hours of Adoration in the Oratory lead up to the ringing out of the New Year 2009. The Vigil of the Night Office was in the monastery. In the morning Mass for the Solemnity of the Mother of God and Peace was celebrated in the Guesthouse for the visitors..

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Abbot Raymond

Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God.

Dear Friends,

I am off to Africa on 3rd January to make an official Visitation. I will be away for three weeks.

I ask your prayers for a safe journey and for the success of my mission.

Meanwhile you will find below a few words on the Motherhood of Mary.

God bless

Fr Raymond

Priory of Our Lady of the Angels. Cistercian Monks, Nsugbe, Nigeria

(See left Sidebar Link Nsugbe Priory)


By Water and Blood

The very sublimity of Mary’s title: ‘Mother of God’ can sometimes obscure for us the deep human reality of her Motherhood of Jesus. St John provides a balance by giving us three witnesses: Water and Blood witnessing to his Humanity and the Spirit witnessing to his Divinity.

This witness of the Spirit to his Divinity isn’t visible and tangible like water and blood, yet it is able to bring us an inner conviction far greater than that of our senses. Jesus compares it to the wind. You hear it, you feel it, yet you can’t see it, even though its power is one of the greatest forces in nature.

But let’s concentrate this morning on the other two witnesses: Water and Blood. “Jesus came by water and blood”, John tells us. This can hardly be the Blood and Water of the Cross. They certainly testified to the reality of his humanity but they were the Blood and Water by which Christ left this world, not by which he came into this world. And it is precisely this point: that he came by water and blood, which John offers us as such an irrefutable testimony to the reality of his humanity.

John, whether he does it consciously and deliberately, or whether he is unconsciously guided by the Spirit, speaks of Blood and Water when he speaks of Christ’s death, but he reverses the order and speaks of Water and Blood when he speaks of his birth. He left us by Blood and Water but he came to us by Water and Blood

So, by thus describing his Birth as, his Coming by Water and Blood, John gives us perhaps the ultimate and most basic evidence possible of the reality of Jesus’ human nature. The birth of every human child is accomplished in ‘water and blood’. First comes the breaking of the Mother’s waters and then the issue of the child smeared with blood, and by giving the water and the blood as signs of the genuineness of his humanity John assures us that the birth of Jesus of the Virgin Mary was no exception: It too came by water and by blood. John is embarrassingly explicit. That is precisely how real was the human birth of Jesus: Can any evidence be more compelling?

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