Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Today's unusual feast

Today we celebrate a biblical event that we have become so accustomed to we don't realize how odd it was. The Gospel tells us that Mary went to visit Elizabeth and stayed three months. What the Bible never tells us is why.

It's worth noting that the story does not mention Joseph at all. Travel at that time for a woman was neither safe nor easy. It's not like she got in her car and drove over to visit a friend who is also pregnant. The Scriptures make the point of telling us that she went into the hill country. Is this merely a geographical reference or is it telling us that she was going into hiding? It may well be that by this point the gossip around the village had become too much to bear.or perhaps, she simply went to help her older pregnant relative.

We will also never know anything about what transpired in those three months. One can only imagine the conversations these two women might've had. Having both experience the miraculous power of God, they could understand one another.
Despite all the mystery still surrounding these events, the Gospel writers felt it important to include the story, and today we celebrate these two women and their time together.  

But let us also take a moment today and pray for pregnant women especially those pregnant and living in very difficult circumstances.

Monday, May 30, 2016

When did piety become a bad word?

Today we begin our reading of the Second Letter of St. Peter. Again it is classified as a catholic letter not because it belongs exclusively to the Catholic Church but because it is not addressed to a specific community but to all.

He opens much like St. Paul wishing us grace and peace in abundance. These are obtained by 

Through knowledge of God [the Father] and of Jesus our Lord

He also associates two other things with this knowledge, life and piety

I have written often about the word life, Zoe, the eternal life we receive from God. But the other word, piety seems to have fallen on hard times. 

All too often in our modern culture when we hear piety or the word pious, it conjures up negative stereotypes of a dower, puritanical religiosity. The pious never seem happy. 

The true meaning of the word is something much simpler. Eusebia literally means good worship.  Of course, if there is such a thing as good worship then there must be such a thing as bad worship. If prayer at its most basic is the lifting up of the heart and mind to God, then bad worship may well be those times when we lift up only one, or neither. How often can any of us recite our prayers and yet our mind is somewhere else? Or perhaps we turn our mind to God, but without truly lifting up our heart, opening our heart to hear God's will. 

The dialogue before the Eucharistic Prayer
Left up your hearts
We lift them up to the Lord

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God
It is right and just

Openness and gratitude would seem to be th basic attitudes of good worship, eusebia, piety. The truly pious people should be the happiest people in the world. I think of Pope Francis, you can see the grace and peace that radiates from his smile. Those are the fruits of true piety. 

Perhaps it is time for us to sweep away the stereotype and reclaim being pious and somethings all of us should strive for. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

What's the motive?

One of the more curious aspects of the human mind is how quickly we jump from a person's action to a decision about the motive. In seconds we judge not only the quality of the action, is it good or bad, but we react as if we know the motive. Particularly if it an action that we don't approve of. Even something as simple as a person walking past us without speaking. How quickly can we take offense?
We react as if the person intentionally snubbed us. 

Contrast that with what the scriptures teach us. In today's first reading St. Peter challenges the people, and therefore us, 

 as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct

But when they are not holy, notice how he describes it 

do not act in compliance with the desires of your former ignorance (1 Pt 1:14)

Like Jesus on the cross St. Peter attributes the behavior not to malicious intent, but ignorance. 

Is it possible for a person to act with a truly malicious intent? Certainly. But should that be our instantaneous presumption? No! If we are Christians we start with the presumption of ignorance. It is actually a double ignorance, their acting in ignorance and our ignorance of what is in another person's heart. 

Does it change the person's behavior? No, but it changes our response. We no longer react with that flash of anger, that can turn into a lasting grudge against someone. 

If we can train ourselves, and it does take practice, to presume ignorance until we have proof of something else, then we can be more peaceful in our own hearts. It is not our natural response, but with God's grace and lots of practice, it can become a habit. 

Monday, May 23, 2016

What was the thing?

Today we have one of the most interesting stories in Mark's gospel that may not be as simple as it looks.  On the surface, it appears to be a condemnation of materialism "go and sell what you have and give to the poor." Then this man who has learned and obeyed the commandments of the Torah his whole life will be ready to follow Jesus. 

The question Jesus never answers is what is the one thing. He tell him he is lacking one thing. He tells him that in order to acquire the one thing he needs to sell what he has, but he never names the one thing he is lacking. 

Perhaps this is good, because it creates a space for us to fill. What is the one thing that we are lacking? What is it that keeps us from following Jesus completely?  Jesus, "having looked at him, loved him" and he saw what was missing and what this particular man needed to do to fill the void properly.

Are we willing to hear the voice of Jesus, acknowledge what we are lacking, and do whatever Jesus calls us to do, or are we like the young man in the story, too wedded to our stuff, to our current way of life. 

Today let us open our hearts acknowledge what we lack, and listen for the voice of Jesus.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Sickness and forgiveness

Not having grown up Catholic the words sacraments meant nothing to me. I had grown up with the notion that you read the Bible, believed in Jesus, got baptized, and were saved. Then I really started to read the Bible, the whole thing. And sudden I found that "all that Catholic stuff" was right there in the Bible, including the seven sacraments— without that title. But what difference do titles make. The titles were not on the gospels, tradition assigned those but all Chrstians use them (The Gospel according to Matthew, etc)

Today in chapter 5 of the Letter to James it says,

Is anyone among you sick? He should summon the presbyters of the Church, and they should pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up. If he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven. 

Notice that it doesn't say "gather a group of Christians, have them stand around the person in a circle, and put a hand on them, prayer over them, and have someone anoint them"

St. James is very specific the person must be a presbyter (English translation: priest). We are still officially ordained "presbyters". The group of priests collectively is called the Presbyterate.  

Praying for one another is certainly important thing to do, but it does not take the place of the sacrament, the anointing according to the direct instructions of the word of God. 

Why does it have to be a presbyter? Many Catholics will ask, why can't deacons annoit. Firstly, because the Bible is specific. Secondly, the reason St. James is so specific is that the Sacrament of Annoiting is not simply about physically healing. Notice the last part,

If he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven. 

The Bible has always known what medicine is just beginning to admit, that the human person is one. You cannot divide them up and deal with the physical, the psychological, and the spiritual separately. All of the dimensions are interconnected. 

The Annoiting of the Sick always brings healing on the level that the person most needs it, from God's point of view. Sometimes that healing is the ultimate healing, passage into eternal life. No sacrament is ever without effect. 

Today we thank God for the gift of this sacrament, and when we are seriously ill we should follow the instructions of St. James. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

How to avoid God's judgement

As Christians we must remember that there are more than 10 imperatives in the Bible. While Jesus summarizes all of them in 2, the New Testament is filled with concrete things that we are commanded to do or not to do, as part of the two great commandments. 

Today's first reading opens with just such a command from St. James

Do not grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be judged. 

The Greek has that sense of muttering under your breath. All to often we don't reserve the comment to under our breath; we say it out loud, which is even worse. 

Not only does St. James tells what not to do, but he tells us the reward we get for not doing it. Don't grumble against others, and you can avoid judgement. And yet, even after reading thi,s how many of will make to bed this evening without falling into this sin, without having to comment negatively about somebody. 

St. Paul gives the Ephesians the same command (Eph. 4:29)

Thursday, May 19, 2016


In the first reading today St. James tells us that the workers who have not been justly paid, cry out to God and the cries

enter the ears of the Lord of Hosts (armies).

This notion is not new to St. James but is a central them throughout the Hebrew Scriptures 
Tzaak - the out cry, the cry that comes from the deepest part of your being

The word occurs 72 times beginning with the Book of Exodus when the children of Israel cried out to God because they are being held in slavery. 

What is as interesting is the fact that sometimes the people are not answered by God because they do not cry out to God from their hearts (Hosea 7:14)

What keeps us from crying out to God from our hearts? Pride? Do we see it as a sign of weakness? Are we afraid to open our hearts completely before God? 

Cry out to God all the earth!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

God willing

An expression that used to be common in America and is still commonly used in Spanish, but how many of us ever realized that the use of "God willing" or the more southern version, " the Good Lord willing" was part of an instruction of St James? It's purpose: to remind us of the brevity and uncertainty of life. 

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we shall go into such and such a town, spend a year there doing business, and make a profit”– you have no idea what your life will be like tomorrow. You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears. Instead you should say, “If the Lord wills it, we shall live to do this or that.

We forget that God is Being itself. The fact that I exists is because from moment to moment God holds me in being. Jesus tells us:

Apart from me you can do nothing (Jn 15:5)

And that includes existing. Even the person who denies the existence of God is being held in existence by the God they claim does not exist. 

St. James reminds us that we are an atmis ( mist, vapor, puff of smoke), that without God would simply vanish into nothingness. We appear briefly in this world and just as quickly we disappear from this world. But where will we disappear to, to eternal life in unity with God, or eternal separation from God. 

Will you have a tomorrow? God willing.

So don't waste the now that you do have.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Who's the adulterer?

As best we can figure out St. James appears to have invented the word "diptychsos" double-minded, or double souled,  used to refer to those who are Christian, but still too attached to the world.  Today in chapter 4 he uses even stronger language. He uses the word adulterer.  For him it is a simple choice you are a lover of the world or of God. 

"Whoever wants to be a lover of the world makes himself an enemy of God."

I don't think many of us consciously want to be lovers of the world, more often than not we are seduced. I have heard it said time and again, "It's not a sin to be rich". That may or may not be true. Last I checked greed was still a sin, and wanting more than you need is greed. 

If we listen to the voices of the world, we would believe that we have a right to acquire as much as possible as long as we don't break some human law. As if that is the only law. 

You ask but you do not receive because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 

And passion is not limited to lust, sometimes it is just the passion to have more. 

How many of us can even properly distinguish between need and want? Concepts like the common good and duty to society have all but vanished from our consciousness. Profit is seen by many as the primary good. If the answer to the question, why do we exist, is "to make money" then perhaps if you are a Christian you need to reexamine your purpose. 

St. James uses harsh language, but perhaps from time to time we need harsh. We are called to be the stewards of this world and lovers only of God. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Back to Ordinary Time

When we study the Bible we tend to group books into categories, the gospels, the Pauline Letters, the Pastoral Letters, etc. But the group whose title may confuse some are the 7 letters in the New Testament referred to as the catholic letters.  The Catholic Leters are the three of St. John, the two of St. Peter, the Letter of St. James, and the Letter of St. Jude. The title "Catholic letters" can be traced back as far the earliest centuries of the Church. 

They are called Catholic because unlike Paul's letters that were each addressed to a specific church to deal with specific problems, the Catholic Letters are addressed to the whole Church. They are truly universal. 

Two the Church returns to Ordinary Time and we pick up at the Seventh Week, and the first reading picks up in the middle of chapter 3 of the Letter of James, it would be valuable to take a few moments today and read chapters 1 and 2. James is direct, dealing head on with temptation, doubt, faith, and what he calls the double-minded, or double-spirited person. This is the person who wants to be Christian but not really let go of their attachment to the world. From time to time it is any of us. 

Sunday, May 15, 2016


Some folks got it, some folks don't—So goes the common wisdom.  But what is it? The dictionary definition is "compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others." And that is certainly how it gets used in th world. Tall, good-looking, nicely dressed, with a big smile. Worst of all this kind of charisma is to inspire devotion to the person themselves, to make them famous, rich, or powerful.

But even in the Church the word has drifted away from its Biblical meaning. When you hear the word "charismatic" what do you think of? Loud music, clapping, shouting, emotionalism.  Silent mediation is not charismatic prayer, or is it?

The Greek word "chrisma" (χάρισμα) refers to a gift. For Christians it is a gift freely given to an indivual by God for the building up of the body of Christ, the Church. In Chapter 12 of St. Paul's first letter to the Corinthians he provides probably his fullest excursus on the topic. In verse 7 he says clearly 
But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the profit of all.

A charisma is a manifestation of the Spirit.  We receive the Holy Spirit at Baptism, to wash us from original sin and incorporate us into the body of Christ. It is at confirmation that we receive that Spirit again to empower us for our unique role in the building up of the body. 

St Paul gives a list of some of the gifts, but the list is not meant to limit the Spirit to these things. Nor are the gifts of the Holy Spirit to me confused with magic. (Suddenly I can play the piano) As St. Thomas Aquinas taught us, "Grace builds on nature." The Holy Spirit may augment a natural talent or personality trait. 

And even for those who are not confirmed, you are the temple of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is at work in you right this minute. 

On this Solemnity of Pentecost, each of us needs to stop and take stock of the gifts that the Holy Siprit has given us.  Being a charismatic Christian has nothing to do with style of prayer. It is not done primarily in Church.  It has to do with using each and every charisma that God has given you to help others to experience the love of Christ, and the truth of the Gospel. 

All Christians should strive to be charismatic all the time, that our every word and action show the love of God to others. 

Saturday, May 14, 2016

The Thirteenth Apostle

Today we celebrate the thirteenth Apostle, St. Matthias.  One can only wonder what it must have been like to be chosen to take the place of Judas, the one who betrayed Jesus. Why did they need to replace him? Why not remain 12? 

The answer is simple, because Jesus sent them out in pairs. Certainly a part of this had to do with safety, and companionship, but there is another reason to send them in pairs. By sending them in twos  the truth could be better protected. 

We human beings are funny creatures. Let to our own devices, the stories we tell change over time. Even "eyewitness accounts" which is what the apostles provided change over time. We tend to highlight and expand the parts we like or the parts that make us look good, we tend to diminish the less flattering parts. History slowly mutates into legend. 

Sending the apostles out assured two points of view. But more importantly them could keep each other grounded in the truth. There would always be some there to curb the embellishment and remind them not to leave out the not so pretty parts. 

When we read the gospels today, part of what points to the veracity of the texts is that the apostles are not painted in the most flattering light. We see their imperfections. They are not mythic heroes. They are flesh and blood human beings struggling to understand. 

We have not one gospel but four. As these eyewitness (apostles) died off, the four evangelists like the four points of a compass, committed to writing and handed on to us in writing the story of Jesus as seen from four points of view. 

To the best of our knowledge St. Matthias was stoned to death in the area we now call the country of Georgia. 

St. Matthias, pray for us. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Help or blame

In Acts 20 today St. Paul speaking to the presbyters reminds them and us that we must help the weak, and then recites a saying that I heard a great deal when I was young, but can't remember the last time I heard it. "It is more blessed to give than to receive."

The word for weak is a general one referring to any lack of strength. It can refer to the physically weak, the psychologically weak, the spiritually weak, the morally weak. Even as read those phrases it is worth noticing our internal response. How do we feel about each group?

The fact is we don't like weakness of any kind. We would rather be thought of as sick than weak. Why? Because we think weakness is your own fault, as if a person can simply choose to be strong. We like to tell ourselves the lie that with enough effort anyone can go from weak to strong. "Pull yourself up by your own boot straps", as the old folks used to say. 

Have you ever stopped to notice how much longer it takes a human baby to become able to care for itself than animals? The word Pope Francis uses over and over again to describe us is "fragile."  Human being are very fragile compared to other creatures. And it doesn't appear to be a flaw. It's how we were made. 

Our weakness, our fragility is not something to be ashamed of; its part of what it means to be human. It forces us to depend on one another, and most of all it calls us to depend on God. God calls us to depend on him, but never forces. The choice is always ours. 

Perhaps if we could acknowledge our own weaknesses, then we could be more empathetic toward the weaknesses of others, and help them as St. Paul tells us we must rather than simply blame them as we so often do. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016


When you hear the name Josef de Veuster, the first thing that probably comes to your mind is —nothing. And yet, St. Damien as we should know him, was an absolute model of Christian charity. For sixteen years he cared for the lepers in the Kingdom of Hawai'i, knowing full well that he might easily contract the disease. And on April 15, 1889 he died from it. In 2009 he was canonized by Pope Bemedict XVI, and today we celebrate his memorial. 

When he arrived in Hawai'i in 1864 we were still busy killing each other in our own civil war. Half way around the world, this Belgian priest was entering into a strange culture of which he knew nothing. The lepers, as they would have been called, were forced to live in quarantine areas on the island of Molokai. Men women and children diagnosed with the disease were forced to relocated to these camps. The fear of the disease was beyond what we can imagine today. 

For most of us Christian charity consists in giving to a special collection, the food pantry, or the clothing closet. Rarely do we see a true imitation of Christ, a person who is willing to give their life out of love for strangers. 

Today as we remember St. Damien de Veuster, let us pray theater through his intercession our sense of charity toward the outcasts of our day might be expanded. 

Monday, May 9, 2016

A simple choice

In verse 33 of Jn 16 Jesus presents us with a simple choice. We can remain in him or in the world. If we are in him we have peace if we are in him we have thlpsis. It can be translated troubles, tribulation, oppression. It's root is the word for pressure. We all know the experience, life pressing down on us.

Don't misunderstand. Jesus is not promising that if we remain in him life's problems will go away. We will always have to face challenges in life. But if we remain in him we can face the challenges with a sense of peace. 

Perhaps that is the best way to measure whether or not I am remaining in him. If I am feeling all stressed out, perhaps that indicates that I have stepped out of him into the world. Maybe it's time for me to stop and pray. Take out my Bible and immerse myself in his word. Stop by a church and spend some time in silence before Christ present to us in the Blessed Sacrament. 

In the world or in him, where are you right now? 

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Being something more

Often when we speak of what Jesus does in the Ascension, we speak of him opening the gates of paradise to us but that is not precisely true. It is not precisely correct to say that  before humans couldn't enter heaven, and after Jesus we can.  The rules did not change. 

We are what has changed. A mere mortal even to this day cannot enter heaven. In order for a person to enter into heaven they must become something more. Just as we believe Jesus is "true God, and true man", so we  believe that the only thing that makes it possible for us to enter into heaven is to also become a composite of humanity and divinity. 

Scripture describes this composite in a variety of metaphors. We are grafted onto Jesus so that he is the vine and we are the branches or we can use the image of a body where we are other parts and he is the head. Stated in the negative "apart from me you can do nothing." More particularly, apart from him we cannot enter heaven. 

Today we celebrate Jesus showing us the way to eternal life in heaven. When he ascended he did not leave his humanity behind, he ascended body and soul, humanity and divinity. He modeled for a us what we must do. This is why he also insisted that we must remain in him. It is "through him, with him and in him" that our fragile humanity enter into that eternal kingdom of heaven. 

As we walk through our day to day existence do we really consciously strive remain in him? We are so easily distracted, preoccupied. We can often forget about him completely. The good news is that he never forgets about us.  On this day of the Lord, the Sunday of the Ascension, no matter what happens let us practice remaining in him.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Just say it

Jesus admits what will turn out to be one of the biggest problems in Christianity. 
I have spoken these things in "paroimia". (Jn 16:25)
The word can be translated, proverbs figure of speech, veiled speech, enigmatic speech. 

He is going back to the Father and when he comes back it will all be clear and our joy will be complete. But in the meantime, we must live with the paroimia. 

The great temptation is for us to try and turn his language, and in fact the many forms of speech in the bible into direct speech. Some people take it all literally: from creation in Genesis being 7 calendar day, to 144,000 being the number saved because Revelation says so. The other extreme are those who remove all historical content so that even the resurrection for them is a symbolic thing. As usual both extremes  miss the mark. The Bible does contain some history but it is a theology book.

Why couldn't Jesus have spoken mor plainly? He couldn't because we have no point of reference. Jesus was trying to decribe for us the world as God sees it, the Kingdom of God which we will only see in the next life. He is the second person of the trinity, he has come from the Father and is going back from whence he came. He has been there. He has seen it. 

Jesus spoke concretely when he could. He gives plenty of direct commands: love God, love your neighbor, go and teach all nations, do not be afraid...

But whenever he ventures beyond the mundane, there are no words. How can he or St. Paul describe fully the effects of baptism? What words can fully capture the Eucharist? Describe heaven, hell, purgatory, angels.  Even the concept of eternal is beyond our experience. 

For as smart as we like to think we are, the vast majority of the universe is beyond our comprehension in this life.  The up side is that we can constantly read the words of Jesus, and in fact most of the Bible, over and over again and never tire, because as we grow in faith, hope, and love we are able to comprehend ever more deeply, looking forward to that day when we will in the Kingdom, see as God sees.  

Friday, May 6, 2016

Multicultural Church

In today's first reading we hear the story of Apollos. He is one of many beyond they 12 and Paul who preached the gospel but is not often talked about. In the Catholic Church in the US we talk about multicultural churches as if it were a new phenomenon. We forget that the Church has been multicultural from her beginning. 

Apollos is the perfect example We are told he is a Jew. He is an Egyptian, a native of Alexandria. But his parents gave him a Greek name, Apollos. So we have a Greek-Egytptian Jew. Is that multi-ethnic enough? 

He would have been proud of both his Jewish heritage, and of being from Alexandria, a great center of learning. The story tells us he was an authority on the scriptures, the Old Testament as we call it today. The Greek translation of the Old Testament we call the Septuagent was created for inclusion in the Great Library of Alexandria at least two centuries before Jesus. Surely this would have the Scripture known to him. 

Often in the New Testament we will see Jews called by two names: a Semitic name from their Jewish roots, and also a Greek names that allows them to blend into the dominant culture. Much like when a José Gonzalez, goes by Joe.  And notice Latin is no where in the mix, it will not become the dominant language of the Empire or the Church for a while. 

I believe it was no accident that Jesus became incarnate and established his Church where he did. Jesus's command at the end of Matthew's gospel to "to out and teach all nations" was facilitated by location of the early Church around the Mediterranean. 

Multicultural Church is anything but new. It was the Church in the beginning. It is why we call ourselves Catholic. 

Thursday, May 5, 2016

How small is a micron?

When we hear the word micron, we think extremely small. And yet, that is the word used in Chapter 16 of John's gospel to describe the length of time between the Ascension and the second coming of Jesus. 

A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me

So far it has been almost two millennia and for us that does not seem like a little while, a micron in Greek.

Those of us who grew up with clocks that had hands and ticked developed a sense that time moved with a fixed rhythm. It ticked along one second at a time, constant, preictable. Modern physics tells us that the universe is not that simple. Our own human experience tells us that it is not that simple. When we are busy and things are going well time flies. At other times an hour can seem an eternity. 

We are reminded that with time, as with many other things, objective reality and our perception of it are not identical. Yet we have become so self-centered phrases like "Your perception is your reality" are accepted as fact. The so-called "appearance standard" and our obsession with polling to find out how people feel.

As Christians we believe that there is no such thing as "my reality" and "your reality"; there is reality. And how I feel about it doesn't change it. There is a unverse created by God, and I am not its center. The universe has physical and moral laws established by the same God, and the morality of a persons behavior is not judged by how it looks, to me or anyone else. Yes, we should avoid giving scandal when possible, but that cannot be the final measure. 

Perhaps today we should remember that each of us is a micron in the unverse. As infants, we perceive the world in relation to ourselves but we are suppose to outgrow that. In humility, we come to realize that there is objective reality, but God is the only one who can see it in its totality, and is therefore the only True Judge. And I remind myself particularly when judging others that my perception is merely my perception. It may or may not correspond to reality. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Ongoing revelation

As Chrstians we believe that Jesus is the fullness of God's revelation.  Yet in Jn 16 Jesus says clearly,

I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth.

But did that revelation of "all truth" end with the Bible? 
On one level our answer is yes. 
We believe that public revelation, revelation intended for all people, closed with the New Testament. 

On a deeper level however we recognize that the work of the Holy Spirit is not finished. The catechism puts it this way,

no new public revelation is to be expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ. Yet even if Revelation is already complete, it has not been made completely explicit; it remains for Christian faith gradually to grasp its full significance over the course of the centuries. (Catechism,n. 66)

Just as the truths of the New Testament are implicit in the Old, and their full true meaning is only reveled in Christ, so to the deepest truths of the New Testament are still being reveled to us. The truth is there but we have yet to grasp it. We may only fully grasp it in eternal life. 

Until then, we as individuals and a the one body of Christ, the Church, search. We read the Word of God, not in isolation but with the aid of centuries wisdom of all those who have gone before us. And we believe that the Holy Spirit continues to guide the search for the meaning of the scriptures within the Church. 

None of us will achieve "all truth" in this life, but we should never stop searching for the deepest possible understanding of it. 

Monday, May 2, 2016

Whom do we thank?

Every Sunday, Solemnity, and Feast day we recite the words of the creed, and when we speak of Jesus we decribe him as 
born of the Father before all ages.
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father.

But speaking for myself I rarely ever stop to think about who was personally responsible for making sure those words were part of our creed. We call it the Nicean Creed but it's formation happened over several councils and with no small bit of controversy. We speak of the trinity without much thinking but in the fourth century there were still those who refused to recognize Jesus's divinity. 

It was today's saint, Saint Athanasius, an Egyptian, who had the courage to argue and argue and argue to defend the true Christian belief. He was still just a deacon when he accompanied his bishop to the council of Nicea, and yet before his life ended he would argue with theologians, bishops, and four emperors. He was banished 5 times, yet he continued to stand his ground. He remained bishop of Alexandria for 45 years. 

When you here the word Coptic Chrisitians, it refers to those in or from Egypt, and Athanasius was to first to use Coptic in addition to the more common Greek in his writings. 

All Chrisitians owe St. Athanasius profound gratitude, because of what he was willing to suffer. 
Even when few appears to be on his side, he trusted in God and is a model of perseverance to us all.

St. Athanasius, pray for us.