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Christmas is like a well-cut diamond. Every time you turn it in the sun it gives off a different sparkle. It has many meanings.
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"Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts that nursed you!" Picture the scene: Jesus has just impressed a crowd and a woman, probably a mother, shouts out: "You must have had a wonderful mother!"
Devotional prayer to Mary, the mother of Jesus, has always been the centrepiece of Catholic piety. Among other things, those devotions have focused upon various Marian shrines, places where Mary allegedly appeared, Lourdes, Fatima, Guadalupe, Medjugorje, among other places.
"A common soldier dies without fear, Christ died afraid." Iris Murdoch wrote those words. Among other things, they unmask the simplistic notion that if one has faith and a clean conscience he or she will face death more serenely than someone who dies in bad conscience or dies lacking faith and virtue.