Remembering the “Doctors” of the Church

IMG_07881 St. Jerome, Doctor of Biblical Science

It has been a year-and-a-half since we covered the Doctors of the Church as a parish theme. ‘Remember? It was during the Year of Faith. It seems that every other week or so, we come upon one of the great Doctors on the Church calendar (for their feast days). Last week on Jan. 28th, we had the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church. Next on the calendar on Feb. 21st we’ll have the feast of St. Peter Damian, Bishop and Doctor of the Church.

As we go along and honor those Church Doctor days of the year, it helps me to recall our concentration on every one of them in that Year of Faith. We studied one of the Doctors for each of our weekends (in handouts and homilies), and we also had about eight films that year that I showed for us to learn some more things of that particular, wise saint. In my research for you, I put up a place on our web site for listings of each of them, according to their groupings of East/West, and period of history. I also put up the particular title of doctor, as described by the Church. I thought I would put that list up here on The Blog today.

WESTERN ROMAN CHURCH DOCTORS

1 St Ambrose, 340-397 (Pastoral-Doctor)
2 St Jerome, 345-420 (Doctor of-Biblical-Science)
3 St Augustine, 354-430 (Doctor-of-Grace)
4 St Gregory the Great, 540-604 (Doctor of Hymnology)

EASTERN CHURCH DOCTORS

5 St Athanasius, 295-373 (Doctor-of-Orthodoxy)
6 St Basil the Great, 330-379 (Doctor-of-Monasticism)
7 St Gregory Nazianzus, 330-390(Doctor ofTheologians)
8 St John Chrysostom, 345-407 (Doctor of Preachers)

EARLY CHURCH DOCTORS

9 St Ephraem, 306-373 (Doctor of Deacons and Poets)
10 St Hilary, 315-368 (Doctor of-Christ’s-Divinity)
11 St Cyril of Jerusalem, 315-387 (Doctor of Faith and against-Heresy)
12 St Cyril of Alexandria, 376-444 (Doctor-of-the Incarnation)
13 St Leo the Great, 390-461 (Doctor of Doctrine)
14 St Peter Chrysologus, 400-450 (Doctor of Homilies)
15 St Isidore, 560-636 (Doctor of Education)
16 St Bede the Venerable, 673-735 (Doctor of English History)
17 St John Damascene, 676-749 (Icon/Image Doctor)
18 St Peter Damian, 1007-1072 (Doctor of Reform and Renewal)

MIDDLE AGE CHURCH DOCTORS

19 St Hildegard de Bingen, 1098-1179 (Doctor of Mystic Marriage)
20 St Anselm, 1033-1109 (Doctor of Scholasticism)
21 St Bernard of Clairvaux, 1090-1153 (Devotional and Eloquent Doctor)
22 St Anthony of Padua, 1195-1231(Evangelical Doctor)
23 St Albert the Great, 1200-1280 (Doctor of Science)
24 St Bonaventure, 1217-1274 (Seraphic Doctor)
25 St Thomas Aquinas, 1225-1274 (Angelic Doctor)
26 St Catherine of Siena, 1347-1379 (Doctor of Unity)

COUNTER REFORMATION CHURCH DOCTORS

27 St John of Avila, 1500-1569 (Doctor of Evangelization)
28 St Teresa of Avila 1515-1582 (Doctor of Prayer)
29 St Peter Canisius, 1521-1597 (Doctor of Catechetical Studies)
30 St John of the Cross, 1542-1591 (Mystical Doctor)
31 St Robert Bellarmine, 1542-1621 (Doctor of Church State Relations)
32 St Lawrence of Brindisi, 1559-1622 (Doctor of Conversions and Missions)
33 St Francis de Sales, 1567-1622 (Doctor of Authors and the Press)

MODERN ERA CHURCH DOCTORS (1700’s-2000’s)

34 St Alphonsus Liguori, 1696-1787 (Morality and Marian Doctor)
35 St Therese of Lisieux, 1873-1897 (Doctor of Confidence and Missionaries)
240px-Jerome_RCC_Bronx_jeh

The naming of the Church Doctors did not follow in the above order; the listing is by the saint’s time period. The last Doctors chosen have been John of Avila and Hildegard of Bingen (in 2012), Therese (in 1997) and Catherine of Siena and Theresa of Avila (in 1970). Numerous saints could be in future consideration to become “Doctors,” including Pope John Paul II, but now would be too soon to name him. I think that the Franciscan theologian Duns Scotus should be the next one to be named a Church Doctor. It would probably delight our own guest priest Fr. Rom, as he sits in the Duns Scotus chair at Catholic University. Since Pope Francis has a liking to his names’sake saint, it could be a possibility. Still, Pope Francis was a Jesuit priest all through up to his papacy, so if a Jesuit theologian is on any list for possible new Doctors of the Church, I would think the S.J. one might get a nod. But I am not sure which Jesuit that would be. Of recent candidates who have newly-shaped Church theology, Teilard de Chardin S.J. was a little too controversial in his cosmic Christ views, and a few noted Biblical theologians might have sided too much on their scientific methods of Form Criticism over faith perspectives to merit any consideration.

Still, it’s likely that Pope Francis will be interested in naming a new Doctor, with three added over by his past two predecessors. Another will be “due” ahead. I will guess here that the next added Doctor of the Church will be John Henry Newman of England, once his canonization goes through. (He is now a “blessed” of the Church.) He would be unique in that he was English, and would be the first English saint in modern times (17th century to present), and that he was a bishop who was a convert. It would make for a fascinating choice, one that Pope Francis would easily warm up to. Who knows? It might be in the works!

Final Look: Doctors of the Church

1114131347
I took us for a Year of Faith study of the Church Doctors. It was our St. Edward parish expression (and pastor’s input) of a walk of faith with some of the greatest Catholics of faith in history.
We took a look at each of the 35 Doctors had to offer to the Church and to posterity. Each of the 35 Saints had made a vital and valued contribution to the Church’s understanding of Our Lord and how He desires for our progress in The Faith. Week per week, we examined those contributions and models of faith.

Faith leads us onward in our relationship with God and to His people in the Body of Christ.

Two resources I used was “The 33* Doctors of the Church” by Fr. Chris Rengers (*written prior to the update of St. Hildegard and St. John of the Cross to the listing) and the papal collection of Wednesday audiences on the subject of The Church Doctors (which can be seen online).

One of the 35 Church Doctors has a slogan attached to his life; it might sum up what all of the people of God could live by. St. Anselm described his spiritual journey as “faith seeking understanding.”

He talked about the need for growth in our spiritual side, just as the body grows from food. Growth is very important to the Christian and to the Church. “Every soul requires its suitable food,” said he, and adding some examples, he mentioned “growth in kindness, tenderness of service, mercy, cheeful encouragement, and loving forbearance (where there had not been strong before).”

Hopefully, after our past year in the Church, we have grown some in faith.
The Church Year ends on the 34th Saturday of the Year, November 30th, the Feast of St. Andrew. The 1st Sunday of Advent, Dec. 1st and its Saturday eve vigil, starts the new Church Year.

Fr. Barry

Perspective

1101131701-1
I had a new perspective this past week—I was out in the ocean on a ship for several days. I had to adjust to a new perspective: being on water and experiencing things from water. All around me was sea.

It was so different than the land environment I am usually on. For one thing, we were constantly moving, whether ocean cruising or just rocking in place, upon the face of the water. In the ebb and flow of the sea, and its motion, your body (especially your legs) begins to work with the new environs, undoing “land” habits (at least for a temporary time away from earth and dirt) and newly-getting “sea legs” and a mindset/head for ocean motion.

1103131056
It was a new perspective and experience, and one sees things in a different way from offshore. For example, the sky looks different at night from the vantage of being many miles out in the ocean. So does the sunrise and sunset. The horizon is always moving, even sometimes bobbing up and down in a slight way, or now and then, in a more pronounced way.

There also is a different sense of size and significance. Though in a large ship, we still seemed quite small when compared to the size of the immense ocean around us and under us. You have a feeling, too, of being at nature’s mercy (even with all the security and control in modern transportation). In addition, there is a sense of mystery, as so much is unknown right under the waves. There is a smallness or invitation to humility in all of it.

These thoughts reminded me that our Life of Faith as Catholics is also a life from a different perspective. We are now “in Christ.” As I said in homilies last week, we are in-the-world-but-not-of-it anymore, when following Jesus as His disciples. We make adjustments, now, for the godly living into the Kingdom of God experience. We have willingly moved from a world-only perspective to a Realm-of-God perspective. Jesus takes His disciples to a new place and perspective, a new living reality. “Behold, the kingdom of heaven is at hand!,” said the Savior, in augurating this New Way. Matthew 3:2
Preceding this wondrous announcement, Jesus uses the word “repent.” Repent.. (for) the Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand.

Repent speaks of change and conversion and adjustment.
Matthew 3:2

Disciples seek to follow Jesus into this Way. It requires adjustments, just like the world of difference of experiencing the land to that of the sea.

We Catholics now seek a Faith asks us to use new “sides” to ourselves, in adjusting ourselves to the Ways and Works of God.

Faith has us see things in a new way, too, perhaps unlike our usual view of life with natural eyes. Supernatural sense, or the life of “faith” in Jesus Christ, asks us to see and live as Jesus does. To love as Jesus loves. To hope and plan and choose as Jesus does.

Faith asks us to live apart from worldliness, if we can, (like off its ground), to try to act with God in His righteousness and with a heart united to His own in Christ.

There’s a song that I thought of while on my Atlantic journey:
From “That’s what Faith must be” (M. Card), the chorus goes:
To see with my heart, to know with my soul, to be guided by a Hand I cannot hold, To trust in a way that I cannot see— that’s what Faith must be.

Jesus’ Lost Coin

 

A Homily      The Parable of the Lost Coin.     From Luke 15

The lesson:  It is a good thing to make God joyful.

{Read it prior to homily reading, please}

 

The Sunday Gospel in Luke today takes us into the great fifteenth chapter, which has some famous parable teachings of Jesus.  The one parable there, usually overlooked, is the three verse lesson called The Parable of the Lost Coin  (Lk. 15:8-10).  Yet it really has a lot to say to us—for it guides us as Christ’ Church to bringing Him joy. We have some things to question from the verses:  What’s the big deal about finding one coin? Who is the woman in the parable?  Why a woman?  How valuable are these 10 silver coins, and to their owner, and what was one such coin worth in today’s money, as if we’d lost it?     Why the diligent search for it—don’t we have coins lost in our sofas or in our car or forgotten in a pants pocket, or on the dresser, or in a drawer somewhere?    Why does Jesus teach about joy in heaven over someone’s repentance in conclusion with this story (and its book-end parables of the finding of a lost sheep and finding of a prodigal son?)Let’s answer those questions…

What’s with the one lousy coin?  How important could it be? Well, it was more that a penny or nickel like in today’s money values.   This coin, or “drachma” (as they called it) was worth a day’s wages.  If lost—then it was one full day’s pay out of a ten-day earning.  So it’s not like losing a quarter and then finding it and getting your quarter back.

When I was a teenager and getting paid in cash for some day’s work—sometimes I could make $200 in a day—and I still remember the time back then when I once lost my paycheck.  You can believe I looked long and hard until I found it.  (Which I did.  I might have been able to get the paycheck re-written the next week,  but I needed some money right away, and where was that lost money of mine?!) The woman in the parable lost a day’s wages.   It seemed to be a big deal for her, too.  The woman is not portrayed as a wealthy person in the parable, but some worker living on “day to day” money.  (There were wealthier woman of the times, in the Middle East, back then, who actually wore coins up on their hats, for decoration.   The parable is surely not addressing this type of woman.  The coin is not a frivolous loss, like a decorative coin would be ,off of a rich lady’s hat and so easy to replace on a hat).  The woman in the parable definitely needed all those ten days wages.   One lost day of wages—“the lost coin”—would have been a lot for her.  I think of an unemployed woman, someone I know, who this Summer was out of work, except for just a week or so’s work and earnings, which had to sustain her all Summer long, until her Fall job started up again.   If she had misplaced a day’s paycheck, then a diligent search for it would have started.  I can tell you that!   So—draw THAT comparison in this parable of the lost coin.

Joy in heaven

Well, let’s speak about that joy of finding the coin.  As the illustration suggests a little celebration for the woman, Jesus seems to be drawing much more of a celebration about it.  As Jesus is telling this parable, there is much excitement and joy in His voice.  Why is HE elated for this woman in his illustration and her found coin? Because the coin found in the parable represents us.  We are the coin found.  We are that one sinner who repents and that causes heaven to rejoice.

Jesus was rejoicing over people responding to Him and believing the Good News and following Him.   We belong to Him, the Divine Son, but were lost in sin.  We were lost to Him like a dear possession.  He knows the Pharisees listening to this parable valued their coins and money—so He uses this illustration for them.  Yet it also works in application to you and I.   We belong to God, and He wants us back in His care.  He wants the sinner to be found.   Jesus says at the parable’s end, that repentance led to the person’s recovery to God.

Jesus reveals that Heaven is a place of joy, and its joy is increased by the sinner who repents.  Heaven, with all its saints and angels, wants more into its eternal celebration.  Thus, they rejoice with God over another one added in to His elect company.

In this parable, you get it our Savior is sad that some Pharisees are not rejoicing that Jesus is leading people to find faith and love and hope. You are to conclude from Him, that, if you wouldn’t care about whether a person is saved or not, then, of course you wouldn’t rejoice over their finding salvation. But because God so cares, and the angels of God so care for humanity, and all of Christ’ faithful should do so also, that, when one of us in the lost human community truly repents and surrenders their self to God, then some joy and happiness is in order.  It is what brings Jesus joy.   It should bring it to us, too.  A “lost coin” is the soul found.

The point of the story about the woman is that of the ten coins, this one lost one is noticeably missed and precious.   It’s just like a lost sinner—one is noticeably missed and precious to God. God notices who is missing.  He goes in search of it.   He asks the church to assist him in finding the lost sinner. This brings us to the question: Who is the woman in the parable?  You should surmise it by now that she is the church.   You guessed it right.

The woman is the church—the faith community whom we profess to be. Jesus led into His teaching on the parable of the woman and her lost coin with the parable of male shepherd finding his one lost sheep (of the hundred).  In the Shepherd image in Luke 15, Jesus is talking about Himself.  He has used a male image in the first parable, and now, in the next parable He switches to a female image.  Why?  Because the Church is the bride of Christ.  She is related to the shepherd.  He has asked her to help in the search for lost souls.  Do you see its connection now in this parable?  The Church loves her Shepherd, so she serves Him to bring Him joy.

You know that—as the church—that Jesus has asked us to seek and save the lost as our responsibility of His holy ones.  We were the little lamb or sheep brought home on His shoulders, and now we are the church helping in the mission to the spiritually lost.  In the New Testament writings, you notice that the church is often represented as a female. For example, the church is spoken of as a bride, or as a virgin, or as the wife of the Lamb. In Revelations, the church is working in tandem so much with the Holy Spirit, that the call is heard:  “The Spirit and the Bride say come!”   The woman, the church, is being inspired by the Holy Spirit to win souls to God.  It’s Revelations 22:17—one of the final verses in the Bible, and is says:  The Spirit and the Bride say come—to the world—they say come to Jesus for salvation and shepherding.  Come home to Jesus.

The Lord is seeking those who are perishing today.  That’s the parable of the Shepherd looking for lost sheep.   He wants us in the sheep saving rescue operation—the church—as the woman diligently seeking the lost coin.    He wants people back to the fold who have strayed, too.   This is the third of the parables of Luke 15, in the prodigal son found.   For finding these former or fallen away Catholics—we call that our “New Evangelism”   God seeks after the sinners (and backsliding believers who sin) through the agency of His holy people, the Church of God, in Christ Jesus.  We are His family of believers, The Church.

Next, the parable gives us two things that the woman in the parable (the  church) is set to do in seeking her coin (the lost soul).   A coin of those days could easily get lost when just dropped to the ground, whether inside or outside, since there was much dust and dirt beneath their feet everywhere.   In the parable, it seems presumed that the coin is thought to be ‘hiding in the dark and the dust?’  Did you hear that detail?   The woman in the parable, that is, the church, goes to put a Light on, and then she starts to sweep.  These are our two things to be busy doing in seeking the lost coin, er, the lost souls around us today.

She lights a lamp first.   What’s that detail about?   It is because she needs to see in the dark, or at least to see with full light through the shady and shadowy places.   For the Church, this is symbolic of our need to invite the help of the Holy Spirit to be the light and power over all darkness.   We are asked by Jesus to turn the Light of the Holy Spirit on.   We can’t see well without His Spirit.    This is a message heard all throughout Luke’s Gospel message and in his Acts of the Apostles:  We need the Spirit.   Even Samuel the prophet and King David of the Old Testament knew to call on God’s Spirit this way, as they prayed in trust:  “The Lord is My Light and My Salvation, of whom should I be afraid if I have the Lord?” (We also need Light to see what God needs us to see.)

Next, there is some sweeping going on.    What does one sweep away usually from the floor?  It is dirt and dust we sweep away.   This describes what the woman in the parable, the Church, is meant to be doing.   Yes, housecleaning!   Sweeping around.   Kicking up the dirt of sin and the dust of our inaction or inactivity of disobedience.    In the OT, dust refer to our fallen body (Gen.2:7), or of death (Ps. 22:19), or even humiliation (Ps. 72.9)—so the Spirit is outpoured in our New Covenant in Christ, to bring us Light and Healing, to overcome this fall of humanity.   But we must exercise our faith and our authority in Jesus Christ to get the broom out and help find some sinners lost below the dirt and the dust.

Here—- stop and think of some examples going on that show this lamp lighting and sweeping going on for the Lord, as His Church.

 

It is a good thing to make God joyful.   As Jesus explains, there is joy in heaven over the salvation of a sinner.   This is a major emphasis of this parable of the Lost Coin.

 

Or, like the parable says, we sweep, and jingle-jangle, we hear something that has been touched by our broom.  We lower the lamplight. We see a coin.  It is the Lord’s coin.   We pick it up and present it back to Him.   He becomes exceedingly glad about it, as does all His company above in Glory.  The found coin is a person found for Heaven.

By estimate, there are a ten thousand coins, that is, lost persons, right here in the Bowie vicinity.  They are people living as “lost.”  They don’t have Jesus.   Jesus has sent His Church, the woman, to go find them.   See them, hear their jangle in our brooms of compassionate and interest in them.  Clean off their dust, and help them get picked up, and bring to them to the saving message of Jesus Christ, and join them into a community of people of other “found people” who are thankfully living the Christian way of freedom and happiness.

 

Does that describe what we are doing here?    The parable is a self-check for a church.

 

What a joy it is to God when we are doing this job for him of seeking the lost and finding them.  The Lord uses our heart for evangelism and the Gospel, and He does a mighty thing through it.  Psalm 113:7 describes it, as God uses the faith community:  He raises the poor out of the dust, and lifts the needy out of the dirt, dust and ashes; that he may set them to be seated with royal places, in a stature with the King of the people.

 

Yes, praise the Lord! He raises the poor out of the dust. God raises the poor of this world from the dust, from the humiliation, from the degradation of sin. And He lifts them up to sit into a heavenly stature. He makes us to be sons and daughters of God. That is salvation.  We each, as found by the Church as led by Jesus Christ, are those drachmas found, of great value to God, to be His possession forever.

 

Fr. Barry’s Tie Ins.    √ We have a model in St. Basil the Great, Doctor of the Church, who urges us to use the Holy Spirit to be our Light and to help in the sweeping.   (See parish bulletin insert—9-15 St. Ed’s.)

 

√ Tie in to this time of year.  A Gathering, harvest-of-souls time. Our parish programs to share faith are just begun.   Invite people in.

 

√ Message about lost coins—the tenth that is lost to the church (one missed coin out of the ten)—as when tithes are not given to her, for her mission, she is not able to best do what she is called to do.  Priorities need to be re-addressed.   A parish needs to support herself and her staff.

It is a hidden message of this parable of the lost coin.

####################################################

 

“Faith” Encyclical of Pope Francis: A Review, Part 3

Start of Part III     “Faith” Encyclical

Hurrah!  You are still with me in this blog of reviewing Pope Francis’ first encyclical, Lumen Fidei.

The earlier blogs reviewed the first parts of Lumen Fideo.  It covered a summary of the faith of Abraham and the faith of Israel. This time,we move into Christian Faith. This is how Pope Francis is leading the encyclical. We go from the Hebrew Faith revelation to the Christian Faith one of fulfillment.

(I have remarked in an earlier blog how most Catholics know that Pope Benedict was the one who had started on this Light of Faith encyclical, before he was moved by God to step down from the papacy.   When Benedict gave in to allow a healthy, new successor to take over—it was to no surprise that new Pope Francis would want to complete this papal encyclical, to bless us in The Year of Faith.)

The turning point in man’s relationship with God came with Abraham and Israel. Faith, as revealed through Abraham and Israel, is not just a belief that God exists. Rather, it is a belief that opens up into a relationship. Abraham and Israel acted within this relationship: Abraham by moving to the land promised him and his descendants and by trusting that God would give him descendants; Israel, by leaving Egypt, following Moses into the desert, and promising to keep God’s law.

What is the faith lesson for both?  It is that: Here is a God Who can be trusted, counted on, and to whom we can entrust our whole life.

Christian faith has all of these elements, yet now, we have a definitive fulfillment of faith. The full revelation and the fulfillment of all God’s promises are now present in the person of Jesus Christ. Now, the word of God upon which Abraham and Israel entrusted their lives is the incarnate Word of God. This Word reveals God’s love for us and the Trustworthiness of his promises by Christ’s death on the Cross.

Additionally, the grace of Jesus Christ is the source of our faith, a grace and a faith which even an infant can receive. The sacrifice of Christ is the source of grace for this faith and is also the object of this faith, since the sacrificial death of Christ proves God’s love for us and the trustworthiness of all the promises given to us by Jesus.

Continuing with Pope Francis’ encyclical, we move to the account of salvation by Christian faith.  Faith opens us up to the life of God, of the Blessed Trinity. Through faith, God lives in us through Jesus Christ. The law was inadequate to achieve salvation since it did not include this gift of the Divine Life. The law was not able to make us holy as God is Holy. This failure is manifested in two ways: one is openness to a deeper relationship with God, the other is a prideful self-satisfaction with one’s own ability to keep the law. Jesus encountered both. He found openness in His Apostles and Disciples (He found it most profoundly, of course, in His Blessed Mother). He found prideful self-satisfaction in the scribes and Pharisees.

Faith centers our lives on Christ, not on ourselves. While the law turns us to ourselves, Christ turns us to God and neighbor. Jesus is closer to us than we are to ourselves. This expands our lives into an infinite horizon. No longer closed to ourselves, we can see ourselves as God sees us, we can live a life in which Christ lives in us. This is salvation, having Christ live in us that we may live with Him in His love for His Father in the Holy Spirit.

End of Part III

“Faith” Encyclical of Pope Francis: Review, Part 2.

Review, Part 2

(You need to read Part I, first, in this series.  Also, you can read the encyclical online at the Vatican web site, or numerous other ones.  Or buy the encyclical at the Basilica/Shrine bookstore in D.C.)

Continuing with Pope Francis’ encyclical, Lumen Fidei (Light of Faith), we now enter chapter 1.  In this chapter the Holy Father looks at the different manifestations of Faith in Salvation History, beginning with Abraham. For Abraham faith opened up a way, a new horizon, opened up by God’s word. The faith of Abraham is a kind of faith that is only possible in relation to God’s word. Because it is the word of God, and God is absolutely faithful to his word, we can give our lives in reliance on the word of God. The word faith in Hebrew is derived from the word “to uphold.” Faith upholds our relationship with God and his promise, while God’s faithfulness upholds his own word and promise.

Faith in God is not something alien to Abraham. He has sensed it in the core of his being. The Holy Father introduces a concept here in his words that could sound strange to us: “memory of the future.”  Say what?  How can we remember the future?

What is being remembered in Abraham is the promise given by God. The promise given to Adam and Eve, but, even more, the promise imbedded in us as creatures created by God. In this, the Holy Father expresses a concept from Pope Emeritus Benedict. As creatures, we already have the truth of who we are in us. Original sin, while it damages creation, does not destroy it. God’s revelation and grace revive what was damaged. So, in a sense, we “wake up” from our fallen state and discover who we were created to be. God promises an heir to Abraham. God reawakens this hope for Abraham. The horizon of faith opened up for Abraham is connected to the hope for descendants, a hope that is the center of our hopes in our natural lives.

So we are reviewing the Faith of Israel, and how Pope Francis sees that period of faith and its lessons with the patriarchs…  all related to the light of faith.

Now, we move on to Israel’s Faith.

Abraham’s faith tapped into a “memory” of a relationship with God.

This is a concept that Pope Francis takes from his predecessor’s early work on this encyclical on faith. Pope Benedict the XVI had an Augustinian-influenced theology.  This section on Israel’s faith will look at it from the Augustinian acknowledgement of “original sin” and how this clouded the heart-view of man to God.  Yet, while man is yoked with original sin, St. Augustine would teach how there was still a kind of “memory” of a relationship with God.

That memory is sort of understood by man’s empty heart and emptiness, which so troubles him….. or understood some, too, through man’s lost or confused and limited mind, which keeps reminding him of how is must be capable of so much better.   Three are the voids and question marks of man.   We are a marred creature…

Yet what has marred mankind?  This is a question he does quest to find an answer (even when man wants to keep denying religious practice or observances).   Man still sees or knows that a separation of man occurred from our Source or Creator, as we chose self over the reign of God, as it seems obvious that selfishness is a big dilemma of man.

As I person tried to explain her disturbing self-absorbion:  “I can’t help it, this being selfish and greedy and all, as I was just born this way!”

Yet there is another option out there:  living by Faith.  What does it lead to?   An acknowledgement of God, and an obedient and loving trust before Him.   We desire to get back into friendship with God.

But what of this desire of recovery back to God-ly cooperation and friendship?

Abraham’s faith was based on this “inchoate” memory of this relationship.  Abraham acts to respond back to God.   It is a start back.

What does “inchoate” mean?  in·cho·ate [ in kṓ ət ]

1. just beginning: just beginning to develop  2. imperfectly formed: only partly formed    3. chaotic: lacking structure, order, or organization

Synonyms: undeveloped, incipient, immature, beginning, starting, budding, developing, emergent, early, embryonic.

Now, in the follow-through after Abraham, of a NATION of faith response, Israel’s faith will rest on memory, too. But, not an inchoate memory or sense but a remembrance of concrete actions performed by God on their behalf: the release from slavery in Egypt, the giving of the Law, the wandering in the desert, the manna, the water from the rock, the entry into the promised land. Israel’s faith is based on God’s actions in forming and saving them.  Faith responds to God’s first move.

Another aspect of Israel’s faith is the constant temptation and frequent fall into idolatry. The hiddenness of God is something Israel must contend with in its faith life. The making and worshiping of the Golden Calf is the first instance of Israel trying to make something with their own hands that they could worship. This is the constant drama of Israel’s faith lived out in a fallen, pagan world. God’s faithfulness to the covenant, despite the people’s repeated failures,becomes an important revelation of who this merciful God is.

A third aspect of Israel’s faith is the presence of a mediator in Moses.  Not only can the people not make an image of this God, they cannot directly meet Him. They have to not only trust God– they need to trust the people He sends to represent him. Pope Francis here brings out the challenge modern man faces in this aspect of faith:  modern man wants to know on his own. Modern man wants to know directly, not relying on anyone else. But, this way of knowing also shows our ability to share knowledge. Knowledge becomes a source of a relationship. It is a kind of knowledge that rests on love.

This is a lot to digest.   It is our history of faith, and it is worthy to know.

Next time we move into Christian Faith and the centrality of love in that faith, as we keep examining “Lumen Fidei.”

“Faith” Encyclical of Pope Francis: A Review: Part 1

During the Summer, Pope Francis issued his first encyclical letter.   It has not a surprising title for The Year of Faith; it’s called “Lumen Fidei” (Light of Faith) and you can find the papal work online in a few places, such as the Vatican website.    Let’s take a look at what it is about…

As he begins, the Holy Father compares our modern times with ancient pagan times. He notes that in ancient times there was a cult of the Sun, the Sol Invictus or victorious Sun. For ancient cultures, the rising of the sun every morning was interpreted as the light’s victory over darkness. Pope Francis notes, though, that the Sun cannot overcome all the darkness that we face as human beings. It may illuminate the visible, material world around us, but it does not disclose the meaning of our lives nor does it penetrate the darkness of evil and death.   Yet, this big fire ball in the sky does give a message–there is a need for light for physical life.   So, one can arrive easily at another conclusion:  we need light for spiritual, soulful life.

The Holy Father then brings up a modern philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, who lived in the latter half of the nineteenth century.  Nietzsche, you may recall, was a German of the latter 1800’s who challenged all the foundations of morality, claiming there was no one to answer to, and he was going around a lot in his time saying “God was dead.”  Nietzsche got a lot of press for that audacious stand.  However, as it the way of man, Nietzsche would die.  And he did.   In a philosophy book I saw a two-phase cartoon with commentary…

Nietzsche:  August 23rd, 1900:  “I declare that God is dead.”

God:  August 26th, 1900:  I can confirm it here, and so can you there:  “Nietzsche is dead.  P.S.  I am still living, and always will be.”

Citing a letter from Nietzsche to his sister, the Pope highlights the distinction Nietzsche drew between faith in God and the search for truth. He told his sister that if she wanted peace and happiness– then believe!–because it is a nothing pursuit, but, if she wanted truth, then she had to seek it, because it was made up of some ‘reality,’ so Nietzsche concluded, but only to man in his private life, and not in any higher sense (like to God or any higher power–thus no absolute truth) .

This is a distinction that still holds in our culture. To seek the truth is considered a noble endeavor. But, it has to me your own truth; what is true for you. We are encouraged, indeed, we are compelled by a kind of moral imperative, to seek our own truth, our own rules, and to construct our own reality.  Modern philosophers may not go around saying God is Dead, but say:  Our need for soulful absolute truth is dead.   We do better on our own, than trusting in God.  Therefore, turning to faith in God is seen as a weakness, a failure in taking up this call.   That’s the rebellion that some people have now versus God and versus people of the Catholic Church who live by faith.

But, if we are to take their advice and go seek out our own truth without God, where will we look? We have no other choice than this world. The point the pope makes is that in this situation we are no better off than the ancient pagans who were worshipping the Sun. The same lack of light on the meaning of our lives and on evil and death is still there. This world reveals nothing on these questions. Whether the light is the Sun or the light is our own will to power, we will still be in the dark on these central questions of human life. Only faith in God reveals to us the complete truth of who we are and what our lives are about.

We can say that this pursuit of having one’s own truth, and rejecting that there is a God of Truth will better and even excellent principles to follow, is a will to power.   Man wants to shake his fist to the sky and say “neh!”

In this introductory section of the encyclical, then, it compares the philosophy of Nietzsche, the “will to power”, with pagan worship of the sun. Both can only illuminate part of our reality. Neither can deal with the questions of sin, evil, suffering, and death. Nor can they open up the horizons of understanding as Faith in God can. The introduction goes on to speak of the future. In our secular society, the future becomes a dream, a dream to which we are called to give our full effort to achieve. This future dream is held out to be inevitable (the right side of history). It is also posited as reason limited to a scientific account of reality. So, there is a kind of moral imperative attached to supporting this dream future. There is also an imperative to leave out any transcendent account of the human person and his destiny.

The future for us, the baptized into Christ, is full of hope. But, this is a hope that transcends what this world can offer. This hope does not negate the call to bring God’s love into the world. It, in fact, frees us to do so in ways that are radical and truly self-denying. Without faith in God, there is nothing left but this life and the things it promises.

Without faith, we would just be going around in circles.

True progress comes from the increase in the manifestations of the Kingdom of God; in the presence in the world of that transforming love of God and of the horizon of understanding that is opened up to us by God’s revelation and self-gift in Jesus Christ.                  End of Part 1

My Weekly Bulletin Saints in this Year of Faith

0718131733-1  The Flame of Faith Burning from Age to Age.

I chose for the parish a special theme for this Year of Faith; it was to take a look at all of the 35 “Doctors of the Church,” one-at-a-time.  They are all models of faith to better know.   In mid-July, we are more than two-thirds done through the “Doctor’s” list.  (We also have included some non-Doctor saints in this weekly survey to fill up the “Year of Faith,” which comes to an end in Advent.)  Last Sunday we covered St. Hilary, whom I figured that few if maybe not any persons had ever heard his story of faith.  He was a protector and defender of Church teaching, related much with S. Athanasius, whom helped open our Doctors series last Advent. Both of these Doctors preserved Church teachings on the Trinity and the Divine Identity of Jesus. (They opposed Arianist Heretics were trying to change Early 3rd/ 4th C. Christianity to their new whims and ideas and compromises.  These two bishops stood their ground; our Creed today is shaped and kept true today because of such Doctors of the Church.  For example, the phrase “consubstantial with the Father” is one of their creedal definitions.)

Soon, we will have all our former bulletin inserts on the Doctors (and saints) on the parish web site.  We are preparing it now.

Here’s the 2-Page Insert from Church Doctor St. Athanasius

ST. ATHANASIUS    + DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH + LIVED: 295 TO 373 A.D.  FEAST: MAY 2ND   “HELPING THE CHURCH IN A KEY TIME”

Athanasius led a tumultuous but dedicated life of service to the Church. He was the great champion of the Faith against the widespread heresy of Arianism, the teaching by Arius that Jesus was not truly divine. The vigor of his writings earned him the title of Doctor of the Church.  He helped keep the Church true to the Lord.

Born of a Christian family in Alexandria, Egypt, and given a classical education, Athanasius became secretary to Alexander, the bishop of Alexandria, entered the priesthood and was eventually named bishop himself. His predecessor, Alexander, had been an outspoken critic of a new movement growing in the East—Arianism.

When Athanasius assumed his role as bishop of Alexandria, he continued the fight against Arianism. At first it seemed that the battle would be easily won and that this heresy would be condemned. Such, however, did not prove to be the case.

THE UPS AND DOWNS OF A SAINT

The Council of Tyre was called and for several reasons that are still unclear, the Emperor Constantine exiled Athanasius to northern Gaul (France). This was to be the first in a series of travels and exiles for him reminiscent of the life of St. Paul.

After Constantine died, his son restored Athanasius as bishop. This lasted only a year, however, for he was deposed once again by a coalition of Arian bishops.  Athanasius took his case to Rome, and Pope Julius the 1st called a synod to review the case and other related matters.  It was not an easy matter to settle, as Arians had made many connections politically and in public popularity. Plus, the Emperor in Constantinople had made himself the executor of Christianity and could get confused in doctrinal debates.  While this secular power had helped Christianity get out of the Roman Empire’s persecution, now there were mixed State-Church issues to work out.  While the Church tried to settle the doctrinal matter, five times was Athanasius exiled for his defense of Christ’s divinity. Eventually the Truth won out, and today the name of Athanasius is a great Church hero.  In the end the Church knew that all her key decisions need to be made by popes and apostles, as on only them did Christ lay his authority to shepherd and govern.   +++

APOSTOLIC TIME TO REFLECT, PRAY, DISCERN, AND LEAD

During one period of his life, Athanasius he enjoyed 10 years of relative peace—so he was able to be reading, writing and promoting the Christian life along the lines of the monastic ideal to which he was greatly devoted. His dogmatic and historical writings are almost all polemic, orthodox stands.  He preferred the monastery life of perfecting his own life and receiving from the Lord all He was to write and teach to the Faithful as one in the apostolic succession of the Savior.  He was a listener for the Truth.  He teaches all Catholics/Christians today to do the same.

Among his ascetical writings, his Life of St. Anthony achieved astonishing popularity and contributed greatly to the establishment of monastic life throughout the Western Christian world. St. Anthony of the Desert had established centers for desert retreats in Egypt/North Africa which proved very instrumental for teaching and firming up Church members.  Anthony and Athanasius worked for the same causes–one in the cities, the other in desert retreat, one as monk and the other as bishop.  Both loved praying in long times of solitude, so as to clearly discern Jesus’ coming to them.

THE WILLINGNESS TO WITNESS TO THE LORD JESUS

Athanasius suffered many trials while he was bishop of Alexandria. He was given God’s grace to remain strong against what probably seemed at times to be insurmountable opposition. Athanasius lived his office as bishop completely. He defended the True Faith for his flock, regardless of the cost to himself. In today’s world we Catholics are experiencing this same call to remain true to our faith. It is Athanasius’ witness that he was willing to go through hardships.

Today Catholic leaders and all of the flock have pressures from secular powers to compromise our Faith and to back down from defending it.  With moral decay around us in society and with even some fellow Christians already caved in around us to practicing serious sin (in weak consciences, poor formation or bargained faith), the Church has a challenge of fidelity on her watch.  While “Arians” have subsided, a similar religion that  reduces Jesus to a prophet-level has arisen in our day, and Islamic peoples sometimes express no respect to Catholic beliefs.  Our belief that Jesus divinely saves will be fought.

In some of his years, Athanasius suffered the life of an exile, hiding and fleeing from place to place, so to stay alive to keep teaching the True Faith of Jesus.  He was following a path like that of St. Paul the Apostle, who said his ministry took him: “[O]n frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my own race, dangers from Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers at sea, dangers among false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many sleepless nights, through hunger and thirst, through frequent fasting, through cold and exposure. And apart from these things, there is the daily pressure upon me of my anxiety for all the churches” (2 Corinthians 11:26-28).  All for Jesus Christ.

In this Year of Faith, let us reflect:  Have we gone through trials and changes?  Have we decided to ‘hang in there’ and trust in the Lord? Is our Catholic Faith worth our suffering?  Will we be Jesus’ evangelizers or not? Are we continuing “to press on to know the Lord” (Hos 6:3) in deeper knowledge as we go — so to please Him, and perhaps be more equipped to serve His call?

Go to our parish web site where we are adding all the Doctors of the Church bulletin inserts, so you can see all of the collection.

 

0718131733-1

A Summer Drive in your 2013 faith vehicle (what?!)

My own Christian Car “Ad”

Hey, there’s nothing like a Summer Drive in a great vehicle, huh?  In this Year of Faith, what are you spiritually driving?
Hi, this is St. Anthony of Padua.   Can I help you find The Ride of the 2013 Summer?  After all, do you what to go places this Summer?  What not in a ride in Christianity by Catholic?  This is great vehicle of Summer 2013.  Take to the Highway to Heaven in a Summer adventure you’ll remember forever.   Drive behind the the will (wheel) of God, with superb handling on the chassis of the Church and God’s dependable truths.   You’ll get mileage in the Sacraments that can impress any mpg stats.   Your GPS (God’s Piloting Spirit) is totally reliable to find the best route to your best life.   The Scriptures and the Catechism and other holy reading is your fuel to take you further onto the Kingdom of God.   Sightseeing your life in Christ and His beautiful plans for your heart and mind is like a drive by the ocean or through a national park– it’s just exhilirating to know God is with you and that He has things to show you.  You won’t need car washes–this vehicle is cleaned of heart– at every Mass you make.  If necessary, receive Reconciliation, if any road damage occurs, but you’ll be fixed up faster than you can say AAA.  So get in and join what millions already have called– an incomparable Christ-life. It’s a ride on the open gospel parkway.  Faith is your joy on This Ride. Safety also is our concern.  The 2013 Christianity by Cadillac Catholic comes with self-loading “heir” seatbelts, sensor interior and exterior lighting, and automatic warning lights on the dash for when you’ve made a bad turn into heresy or falsehood.   While in meditation, just put the vehicle in cruise control in The Spirit.  With a strong exterior craftmanship to deal with worldliness and rough roads–you’ll be ready for all-terrains and long-distances, too.   The Vehicle of Faith It has a great ac system for the “heir of Christ” and you’ll Beat the Heat for sure. This ride also has a sound system that can bring the peace that passes understanding to your mind and soul and the upbeat encouragement that puts joy in your drive.   So, it’s time for the Summer.  And It’s Christianity by Catholic.  Your Year of Faith is now.

 

Dolores Hart in St. Francis parish film this weekend

Hart 1We are showing another film in our Doctors & Saints of the Church series. This Sunday at 6 p.m. in the pastor’s residence it is “St. Francis” starring Bradford Dillman as St. Francis and Dolores Hart (photo) as St. Clare. We are showing the 1961 film version in honor of Hart being in it, and that she is in the news this month over a book about her life in leaving Hollywood 50 years ago (after this film) and joining Catholic religious life.

Dolores went from being a famous actress to joining a convent for a religious life. She is in Washington on a book signing day this month to talk about “Ears of the Heart” a book she wrote of her whole experience so far of being a woman religious. It is probably an interesting read. Dolores was a pretty big star when she answered a vocation from God to leave Hollywood. She had been in the Paramount film Loving You with Elvis Presley in 1957. She acted in nine more movies with other big stars such as Montgomery Clift, Anthony Quinn and Myrna Loy. She also gave a Tony-nominated performance in the Broadway play The Pleasure of His Company and appeared in television shows, including The Virginian and Playhouse 90. Yet an important chapter in her life occurred while playing Saint Clare in the movie Francis of Assisi, which was filmed on location in Italy. She longed in real life for the very role she was playing.
Mother Dolores, as she is known now, entered the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, Connecticut, at the peak of her career, to answer a mysterious call she heard with the “ear of the heart”. While contracted for another film and engaged to be married, she abandoned everything to become a bride of Christ.
She entered the convent, and began a new life as a cloistered sister, which continues to today. Her 2013 book by Ignatius Press answers some curious questions as to what has happened to her over that time. The book will be on sale at the National Shrine Basilica of Mary in D.C., among other places.
When Mother Dolores was asked to compare her experience of working with Elvis and working in a cloister, she amusingly said: “God is bigger than Elvis.” As for her relationship with Hollywood today, she commented: “As a former actress, I remain a voting member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, though now prioress of an abbey.  Assisi in Italy is shown in the photo below, where Francis and Clare lived their saintly faith.

city-of-assisi-italy-02220px-Francis_of_Assisi_FilmPoster

St. Edward the Confessor parish is showing films all through this Year of Faith. We are featuring saints that became Doctors of the Church. This motion picture aims to tell the story of Francis of Assisi. We hope it sheds a little light on him for our movie goers.