Category Archives: Saints

Sunday Devotional: The eyewitnesses of the Transfiguration

Matthew 17:1-8

Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother,
and led them up a high mountain by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them;
his face shone like the sun
and his clothes became white as light.
And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them,
conversing with him.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply,
“Lord, it is good that we are here.
If you wish, I will make three tents here,
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
While he was still speaking, behold,
a bright cloud cast a shadow over them,
then from the cloud came a voice that said,
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased;
listen to him.”
When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate
and were very much afraid.
But Jesus came and touched them, saying,
“Rise, and do not be afraid.”
And when the disciples raised their eyes,
they saw no one else but Jesus alone.

In law, there’s an important concept critical to the determination of truth.

The concept is “percipient witness”. According to Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary, a percipient witness is “A witness who testifies about things she or he actually perceived. For example, an eyewitness.”

Today, the universal Church celebrates and remembers a particular event about which the Apostles were percipient witnesses — the Transfiguration.

2 Peter 1:16-18

Beloved:
We did not follow cleverly devised myths
when we made known to you
the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,
but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty.
For he received honor and glory from God the Father
when that unique declaration came to him from the majestic glory,
“This is my Son, my beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”
We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven
while we were with him on the holy mountain.

Do you doubt these percipient witnesses?

This is how the Apostles — percipient witnesses of the transfigured and later resurrected Christ — died, testifying to the truth they’d witnessed until their last breath:

  • St. Stephen, the first martyr of Christianity, was stoned to death in Jerusalem, c. AD 34.
  • St. James, son of Zebedee and brother of St. John the Apostle, was the first Apostle to be martyred. King Herod had St. James beheaded in 44 AD.
  • St. James, son of Alpheus, was reported by the Jewish historian Josephus to have been stoned and then clubbed to death in 62 AD.
  • St. Jude Thaddaeus was crucified in Syria, c. 65 AD.
  • St. Simon the Zealot ministered in Persia and was sawn in half, c. 65 AD after refusing to sacrifice to the sun god.
  • St. Peter and St. Paul were both martyred in Rome about 66 AD, during the persecution under Emperor Nero. St. Paul was beheaded. St. Peter was crucified, upside down at his request, because he did not feel he was worthy to die in the same manner as his Lord.
  • St. Mark, a rope around his neck, was dragged to death in Alexandria, Egypt, in AD 68.
  • St. Thomas was pierced to death in India, 72 AD, where the ancient Marthoma Christians revere him as their founder.
  • St. Matthias, who was chosen to replace Judas, was burned to death in Syria, c. 80 AD.
  • St. Bartholomew (identified as Nathaniel in the Gospel of John) is believed to have been skinned alive and crucified. He ministered in India with St. Thomas, in Armenia, Ethiopia and Southern Arabia.
  • St. Philip was crucified in Hierapolis, Asia Minor, 80 AD, for converting the wife of a Roman proconsul. He also ministered in North Africa.
  • St. Andrew was crucified in Patras, Greece. He also preached in Asia Minor and modern-day Turkey. Christians in the former Soviet Union say he was the first to bring the Gospel to their land.
  • St. Matthew was beheaded in Ethiopia. He had also ministered in Persia.
  • St. John was the only Apostle who died a natural death from old age, after surviving an ordeal of being thrown into boiling oil. He was the leader of the church in Ephesus and is said to have taken care of Mary the mother of Jesus in his home. In mid-90s AD, he was exiled to the island of Patmos, where he wrote the last book of the New Testament–the Revelation.

Below is an account of the Apostles’ martyrdom by Dean Jones in the stunning one-man play St. John in Exile. Though filmed in 1986, I had never heard of or seen it until I discovered it two years ago.

I urge you to watch St John in Exile, which reduced me to weeping, in its entirety.

May the love and peace of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you,

~Eowyn

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Valentine’s Day and the meaning of true love

Today is Valentine’s Day — the day when TV commercials nag men to buy roses, candy, and jewelry for their wives or girl friends.

But did you know that the day is named after a real person, St. Valentine?

At least three different Saint Valentines, all of them martyrs, are mentioned in the early martyrologies under the date of February 14th. But the man for whom Valentine’s Day is named most likely was a priest at Rome who, in the second half of the 3rd century, was arrested and killed by the Emperor Claudius for secretly marrying Christian couples during a time of persecution in the Church. Legend has it that while he was imprisoned and waiting for his martyrdom, he sent letters to his fellow Christians signing them, “From Your Valentine.” (See joandarc’s post, “St. Valentine“)

The popular customs associated with Valentine’s Day probably came from a conventional belief in England and France during the Middle Ages, that on 14 February, i.e. half way through the second month of the year, the birds began to pair. Thus in Chaucer’s Parliament of Foules we read:

For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s day
Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate.

For this reason the day was looked upon as specially consecrated to lovers and as a proper occasion for writing love letters and sending lovers’ tokens. [Source: Catholic Encyclopedia]

So what is love?

I can find no better definition and description of true love than the words of St. Paul:

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Love is patient, love is kind.
It is not jealous, it is not pompous,
It is not inflated, it is not rude,
it does not seek its own interests,
it is not quick-tempered,
it does not brood over injury,

it does not rejoice over wrongdoing
but rejoices with the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things.

And here’s the true meaning of Valentine’s Day:

The Greatest Commandment of all is to love God with your whole heart, your whole mind, your whole soul, and with all your strength; and to love your neighbor as you love yourself.

May the love of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you today!

~Eowyn

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Sunday Devotional: Simeon and Anna recognized the child Jesus as Christ

Malachi 3:1

Thus says the Lord GOD:
Lo, I am sending my messenger
to prepare the way before me;
And suddenly there will come to the temple
the LORD whom you seek,
And the messenger of the covenant whom you desire.
Yes, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.

Luke 2:22, 25-38

When the days were completed for their purification
according to the law of Moses,
Mary and Joseph took Jesus up to Jerusalem
to present him to the Lord….
Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon.
This man was righteous and devout,
awaiting the consolation of Israel,
and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit
that he should not see death
before he had seen the Christ of the Lord.
He came in the Spirit into the temple;
and when the parents brought in the child Jesus
to perform the custom of the law in regard to him,
he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying:

“Now, Master, you may let your servant go
in peace, according to your word,
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and glory for your people Israel.”

The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him;
and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother,
“Behold, this child is destined
for the fall and rise of many in Israel,
and to be a sign that will be contradicted
–and you yourself a sword will pierce–
so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”
There was also a prophetess, Anna,
the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher.
She was advanced in years,
having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage,
and then as a widow until she was eighty-four.
She never left the temple,
but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer.
And coming forward at that very time,
she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child
to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.

The above passage from Malachi 3 is only one of many foretellings of the coming of Jesus Christ in the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh), the textual source for the Christian Old Testament.

Some of the other foretellings are:

Isaiah 7:14

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Jeremiah 23:5

Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.

Micah 5:2

But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.

Numbers 24:17

there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.

Psalm 22:1, 16, 18

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?

they pierced my hands and my feet.

Zechariah 9:9

behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.

Zechariah 11:12

So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver.

All of which raises the question of why most Jews, then and now, refuse to believe that Jesus is Messiah, unlike, as Luke 2 recounted, Simeon and Anna the prophetess in the Temple who immediately recognized the child Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Among the reasons why they don’t, according to the article “Why Don’t Jews Believe In Jesus?,” are:

  • The Jewish Messiah must be descended on his father’s side from King David, but Jesus was not because Christians say he was the product of a virgin birth and therefore had no father, which would mean Jesus was not descended from David.
  • Jews don’t believe in miracles: “Even if the individual claiming personal revelation performs miracles [as Jesus did], there is still no verification that he is a genuine prophet. Miracles do not prove anything. All they show—assuming they are genuine—is that he has certain powers. It has nothing to do with his claim of prophecy. Judaism, unique among all of the world’s major religions, does not rely on ‘claims of miracles’ as the basis for its religion. In fact, the Bible says that God sometimes grants the power of ‘miracles’ to charlatans….”

Now you see why the Talmud, the collection of the sayings and writings of rabbis regarded as superior even to the Torah — the first five books (Pentateuch or five books of Moses) of the 24 books of the Hebrew Bible– calls Jesus a “bastard,” “fool” and “charlatan”; His mother Mary a “whore”; and Christians “idolators” and less than human. (See Rev. I. B. Pranaitis, The Talmud Unmasked: The Secret Rabbinical Teachings Concerning Christians; and “Truth About the Talmud“.)

Zechariah 7:12

They made their hearts like flint so that they could not hear the law and the words which the LORD of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prohpets

In his 1991 essay in First Things, “When Jews Are Christians,” David Novak, a Jew, explains that there are three types of Jewish converts to Christianity:

  1. Fake converts: “Secret Jews” who converted to Christianity not out of a genuine belief, but for self-interested opportunistic reasons — to escape persecution (as during the Inquisition), or for social and/or economic gain.
  2. Genuine converts: Jews who sincerely believe Christianity is the true faith, and no longer think of themselves as Jews.
  3. Jewish Christians, aka Messianic Jews: Novak identifies this group as a new kind of Jewish converts to Christianity who believe in Christ but claim to be Jews and practice Judaism, insisting they are practicing the true Judaism. The State of Israel rejects these Jewish Christians or Messianic Jews as Jews. In 1989, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled against two Jewish Christians, Jerry and Shirley Beresford, who petitioned for Israeli citizenship as Jews under the Law of Return, which guarantees immediate Israeli citizenship to every Jew. The Court rejected their petition on the grounds that the Law of Return specifically precludes any Jew who has affiliated with another, non-Jewish, religious community, never mind the fact that the Law of Return is applied to Jewish atheists although atheism, arguably, is a form of religion.

Novak takes a different position than the Israeli Supreme Court. Claiming to speak for “normative Judaism,” Novak maintains Jewish Christians are still Jews because:

“Jewish status is defined by the divine election of Israel and his descendants. One does not become a Jew by one’s own volition. Even in the case of converts to Judaism . . . [a] gentile’s choice to become a Jew is a necessary but not sufficient condition of conversion . . . the convert’s choice is not sufficient to make him or her a Jew: it only makes one a candidate for conversion. The actual conversion itself is the act of an authoritative Jewish Tribunal who . . . [l]ike God . . . is under no compulsion to elect, which is to say convert, anyone. Since Jews are elected by God, there is absolutely nothing any Jew can do to remove himself or herself from the Covenant.”

All of that only works if the Jews of today are actually biological descendants of the ancient Hebrews with whom God had made His covenant. The problem is there is compelling DNA evidence that Ashkenazi Jews, who comprise 90% of the world’s (and U.S.) Jews, are biological descendants of the Khazars, an amalgam of Turkic clans that settled the Caucasus in the early centuries CE and converted to Judaism in the 8th century. See:

Revelation 2:9

I know the blasphemy of them
which say they are Jews, and are not,
but are the synagogue of Satan.

Remember to tell the Triune Godhead you love Him with your whole heart, your whole soul, your whole mind, and with all your strength, and may the love and peace of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you,

~Eowyn

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Sunday Devotional: The Importance of the Baptism of Our Lord

Matthew 3:13-17

Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan
to be baptized by him.
John tried to prevent him, saying,
“I need to be baptized by you,
and yet you are coming to me?”
Jesus said to him in reply,
“Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us
to fulfill all righteousness.”
Then he allowed him.
After Jesus was baptized,
he came up from the water and behold,
the heavens were opened for him,
and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove
and coming upon him.
And a voice came from the heavens, saying,
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

The account of Jesus’ baptism is significant for at least two reasons:

(1) The Baptism of our Lord by St. John the Baptist is one of several instances in the Old and New Testaments  — see also Genesis 1:26, John 5:7, and Matthew 28 — when the nature of the Triune Godhead is revealed as the vexing mystery of three Persons in one God.

Our greatest theologians had sought in vain to plumb the mystery of the Triune Godhead — of three Persons in one God.

St. Thomas Aquinas concluded in Summa Theologica:

We cannot come to the knowledge of the Trinity by reason alone, that is, by the natural and unaided efforts of the human mind. By our natural reason, we can know that God exists; that he is the First Cause of all; that he is one, infinite, simple, immutable, etc. But that the one God subsists in three really distinct Persons is a truth that can be known only by supernatural means. That is a truth beyond the reach of human reason to know, to prove, or to disprove. We know this truth by divine revelation, and accept it by supernatural faith; we take it upon the authority of God himself.… By aid of the light of glory the soul in heaven sees God himself clearly and truly.

And so we accept our human limitation and believe, putting our trust in the words of St. Paul that we shall understand fully when we see God face to face:

1 Corinthians 13:11-12

When I was a child, I spoke like a child,
I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child;
when I became a man, I gave up childish ways.
For now we see in a mirror dimly,
but then face to face.
Now I know in part;
then I shall understand fully,
even as I have been fully understood.

(2) Matthew 3’s account also speaks to the importance that Jesus holds for Baptism. Though a sacrament meant for sinful humanity, the sinless Son of God chose to be baptized before He began His public ministry.

These are the words on Baptism of His apostle St. Paul:

“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” -Romans 6:3-4

But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” -1 Corinthians 6:11

“For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” -Galatians 3:27

Baptism purifies and sanctifies (makes holy) the person, making him/her a dwelling of the Holy Spirit. That means that without Baptism, a person is without the Holy Spirit and rendered defenseless against the Evil One.

I don’t know what other Christian denominations believe about baptism, but in the Catholic Church — notwithstanding its many flaws, including the terrible sins committed by its clergy — the sacrament of Baptism is an act of exorcism:

Since Baptism signifies liberation from sin and from its instigator the devil, one or more exorcisms are pronounced over the candidate. The celebrant then anoints him with the oil of catechumens, or lays his hands on him, and he explicitly renounces Satan. (#1237 of Catechism of the Catholic Church)

In this manner, through the exorcizing sacrament of Baptism, “all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well as all punishment for sin. In those who have been reborn nothing remains that would impede their entry into the Kingdom of God, neither Adam’s sin, nor personal sin, nor the consequences of sin, the gravest of which is separation from God.”

Moreover, through Baptism we receive the gift of grace from the Holy Trinity — to believe in God, to love Him, and to grow in goodness. “Thus the whole organism of the Christian’s supernatural life has its roots in Baptism.”

So if you are a Christian, don’t make the mistake of postponing the baptism of your child(ren) like a friend of mine (see “Without Baptism, we are abandoned to the wolves“). Baptism — clothing your child “with Christ” — is the most important thing you can and will ever do for your child.

May the peace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you,

~Eowyn

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Sunday Devotional: Are you the one who is to come?

Today is the third Sunday of Advent — a season observed by Christians as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the incarnation and birth of the Second Person of the Triune Godhead.

The term advent is an anglicized version of the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming”. And so, this season of Advent is also about a second advent or second coming — His return at the end of all things.

And how do we know that He is the One?

Having created us with the ability to reason, God fully expects us to use our minds — to good purpose.

Did you know that even John the Baptist did not believe blindly, but used his rational faculty to sift through the available empirical evidence and determined that Jesus indeed was whom he was awaiting — “the one who is to come”.

Matthew 11:2-6

When John the Baptist heard in prison of the works of the Christ,
he sent his disciples to Jesus with this question,
“Are you the one who is to come,
or should we look for another?”
Jesus said to them in reply,
“Go and tell John what you hear and see:
the blind regain their sight,
the lame walk,
lepers are cleansed,
the deaf hear,
the dead are raised,
and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.
And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”

So, on this third Sunday of Advent, do not be disheartened by the darkness of our culture, polity and society, but take comfort in these words from the Epistle of James.

James 5:7-10

Be patient, brothers and sisters,
until the coming of the Lord.
See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth,
being patient with it
until it receives the early and the late rains.
You too must be patient.
Make your hearts firm,
because the coming of the Lord is at hand.
Do not complain, brothers and sisters, about one another,
that you may not be judged.
Behold, the Judge is standing before the gates.
Take as an example of hardship and patience, brothers and sisters,
the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.

Love God with your whole heart, your whole soul, your whole mind, and with all your strength.

May the peace of love of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you!

~Eowyn

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We are all called to be saints!

Revelation 7:9-14

After this I had a vision of a great multitude,
which no one could count,
from every nation, race, people, and tongue.
They stood before the throne and before the Lamb,
wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.
They cried out in a loud voice:

“Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne,
and from the Lamb.”

All the angels stood around the throne
and around the elders and the four living creatures.
They prostrated themselves before the throne,
worshiped God, and exclaimed:

“Amen. Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving,
honor, power, and might
be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”

Then one of the elders spoke up and said to me,
“Who are these wearing white robes, and where did they come from?”
I said to him, “My lord, you are the one who knows.”
He said to me,
“These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress;
they have washed their robes
and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb.”

Today is All Saints’ Day — the day when we remember and honor the saints.

Do not be intimidated by the word “saint” — it simply means “holy”.

The Oxford Dictionary defines “holy” as a person who is dedicated to God, who is morally and spiritually excellent.

Today is the feast day of all holy persons, among whose ranks may be your family and friends who have passed away, whose numbers are far greater than those formally declared as saints by the Catholic Church.

Among the many things that distress me about the Church today is how rarely, if ever, priests make mention of the saints in their homilies. That puzzles me because the saints are our role models. They were, like us, wholly imperfect human beings. As an example, St. Jerome (331-420) is described as “By nature an irascible man with a sharp tongue” who “made enemies as well as friends” — which goes to show that one doesn’t have to be perfect to be a saint!

1 John 3:1-3

Beloved:
See what love the Father has bestowed on us
that we may be called the children of God.
Yet so we are.
The reason the world does not know us
is that it did not know him.
Beloved, we are God’s children now;
what we shall be has not yet been revealed.
We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him,
for we shall see him as he is.
Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure,
as he is pure.


God created us so that we eventually will join Him in Heaven for all eternity.

Since saints are holy, and only holy people will see God face to face, that means we are all called to be saints.

This morning, on All Saints’ Day, I’ll say it outright:

I want to be a saint!
And I want all of you to be saints!

Please join me in making the same affirmation. And let us help each other to become saints.

For the lives of some saints, please go to our “Angels & Saints” page.

The Greatest Commandment is to love God with our whole hearts, our whole souls, our whole minds, and with all our strength.

May the peace and joy and love of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you,

~Éowyn

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Sunday Devotional: Be persistent in proclaiming the truth

2 Timothy 4:1-8

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus,
who will judge the living and the dead,
and by his appearing and his kingly power:
proclaim the word;
be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient;
convince, reprimand,
encourage through all patience and teaching.
For the time will come
when people will not tolerate sound doctrine
but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity,
will accumulate teachers
and will stop listening to the truth
and will be diverted to myths.
But you, be self-possessed in all circumstances;
put up with hardship;
perform the work of an evangelist;
fulfill your ministry.
For I am already being poured out like a libation,
and the time of my departure is at hand.
I have competed well;
I have finished the race;
I have kept the faith.
From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me,
which the Lord, the just judge,
will award to me on that day,
and not only to me,
but to all who have longed for his appearance.

Sometimes God uses a drastic method to get our attention. That’s what happened to an awful man named Saul.

Born c. AD 5 in the Mediterranean city of Tarsus (in today’s south-central Turkey), Saul was a Hebrew of the tribe of Benjamin, whose father and grandfather were Pharisees.

An approximate contemporary of the twelve Apostles, Saul neither followed nor even saw Jesus preach. Instead, being a zealot for Jewish law and traditions, he saw Jesus’ disciples as enemy and dedicated himself to the persecution of the early Christians, most notably the killing by stoning of St. Stephen.

When Saul was in his late 20s, as he was approaching Damascus from Jerusalem on a mission to arrest all Christian Jews in Damascus, he and his company were struck by a great light and fell to the ground. Saul alone heard a voice: “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” Saul asked the voice to identify  himself. The voice answered, “Jesus of Nazareth, whom you persecute.” Trembling, Saul cried out, “Lord, what will you have me to do?” The resurrected Christ told Saul that in Damascus, he would learn what would be expected of him.

As Saul got off the ground, he realized he had become blind. He was led to Damascus, where he remained blind for three days, without eating or drinking.
Like all genuine encounters with God — including our own, should we be so graced — Saul’s dramatic encounter with the risen Christ changed him forever.

Now renamed Paul (which means Little), not only did he stop persecuting Christians, he became a devoted follower of Christ, perhaps the most influential early Christian missionary. The first Christology — doctrines and theories of the meaning of the belief in Christ — was developed by Paul.

More importantly, more than any of Christ’s disciples, it was Paul who fully understood that, by His incarnation, death and resurrection, Jesus replaced the convenant of the Old Testament with a new convenant. This was made clear by Christ Himself in the Last Supper:

“This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me” (1 Cor 11.25; cf. Mt 26.27-29; Mk 14.24, Lk 22.20; Heb 8.6, 9.15)

Henceforth, God’s chosen are all who “take up their cross” and follow Jesus the Christ. In other words, what once was a tribal religion — Judaism — is now superceded by the universal faith of Christianity.

That is why St. Paul is called the “Apostle to the Gentiles.” Without the work of Paul, formerly the sinful Saul of Tarsus, you and I might not be Christians.

Paul was beaten, arrested and imprisoned on more than one occasion. Neither the Bible nor other sources say how or when Paul died, but Ignatius, probably around 110, wrote that Paul was martyred. According to Christian tradition, St. Paul was beheaded in Rome during the reign of Nero, on June 29, AD 67 — the same day as St. Peter was crucified upside down.

Shortly before he was martyred, St. Paul had written to St. Timothy these famous words:

“I am even now ready to be sacrificed, and the time of my dissolution is at hand. I have fought a good fight; I have finished my course; I have kept the faith. As for the rest, there is laid up for me a crown of justice which the Lord, the just judge, will render to me in that day: and not only to me, but to them also that love His coming.”

For all these reasons — the sinful pre-conversion Saul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, teaching us about Jesus’ New Covenant — I love St. Paul with all my heart. I hope that, should our time darken to that point when Christians are persecuted as in the days of the early Church, I too will “finish my course,” “keep my faith,” and stand “ready to be sacrificed.”

I now conclude this “Sunday Devotional” with my favorite passage from St. Paul (letter to the Ephesians 6:10-16):

Finally, draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power. Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground. So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace. In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

May the peace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you,

~Eowyn

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St. Francis of Assisi’s end times prophecy and the two popes

At the end of the book, Works of the Seraphic Father St. Francis Of Assisi (London: R. Washbourne, 1882), is a section titled “Some Prophecies of the Holy Father St. Francis.” On pp. 248-250 is the following prophecy about the Church (paragraph breaks added):

Shortly before he died in 1226, St. Francis of Assisi called together the members of his order and warned them of great tribulations that would befall the Church in the future, saying:

Act bravely, my Brethren; take courage, and trust in the Lord. The time is fast approaching in which there will be great trials and afflictions; perplexities and dissensions, both spiritual and temporal, will abound; the charity of many will grow cold, and the malice of the wicked will increase.

The devils will have unusual power, the immaculate purity of our Order, and of others, will be so much obscured that there will be very few Christians who will obey the true Sovereign Pontiff and the Roman Church with loyal hearts and perfect charity. At the time of this tribulation a man, not canonically elected, will be raised to the Pontificate, who, by his cunning, will endeavour to draw many into error and death.

Then scandals will be multiplied, our Order will be divided, and many others will be entirely destroyed, because they will consent to error instead of opposing it.

There will be such diversity of opinions and schisms among the people, the religious and the clergy, that, except those days were shortened, according to the words of the Gospel, even the elect would be led into error, were they not specially guided, amid such great confusion, by the immense mercy of God.

Then our Rule and manner of life will be violently opposed by some, and terrible trials will come upon us. Those who are found faithful will receive the crown of life; but woe to those who, trusting solely in their Order, shall fall into tepidity, for they will not be able to support the temptations permitted for the proving of the elect.

Those who preserve their fervour and adhere to virtue with love and zeal for the truth, will suffer injuries and, persecutions as rebels and schismatics; for their persecutors, urged on by the evil spirits, will say they are rendering a great service to God by destroying such pestilent men from the face of the earth. But the Lord will be the refuge of the afflicted, and will save all who trust in Him. And in order to be like their Head [Jesus Christ], these, the elect, will act with confidence, and by their death will purchase for themselves eternal life; choosing to obey God rather than man, they will fear nothing, and they will prefer to perish [physically] rather than consent to falsehood and perfidy.

Some preachers will keep silence about the truth, and others will trample it under foot and deny it. Sanctity of life will be held in derision even by those who outwardly profess it, for in those days Jesus Christ will send them not a true Pastor, but a destroyer.

H/t Yahoo News commenter Sabazios for the St. Francis prophecy.

Below are 6 facts for your reflection and discernment:

Fact No. 1

“Church law says a pope’s resignation is valid only if he takes the decision in full freedom and without pressure from others.” (Reuters)

Fact No. 2

On Feb. 28, 2013, after serving 8 years, Pope Benedict XVI stepped down from the papacy. He is the first pope to resign since Pope Gregory XII in 1415, and the first to do so on his own initiative since Pope Celestine V in 1294.

Described as “the main intellectual force in the Church” since the mid-1980s, now-Pope Emeritus Benedict was originally a liberal theologian, but adopted conservative views after 1968. A genuine scholar, Benedict’s prolific writings defend traditional Catholic doctrine and values. During his papacy, Benedict XVI advocated a return to fundamental Christian values to counter the increased secularisation of the West. He regards relativism’s denial of objective truth, and the denial of moral truths in particular, as the central problem of the 21st century. Pope Benedict also revived a number of traditions, including elevating the Tridentine Mass to a more prominent position.

Fact No. 3

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and his spokesmen repeatedly deny he was forced to resign. (Reuters)

Fact No. 4

Despite the denials, speculations that Benedict had been forced to resign persist to this day.

“Two years ago this week, [Pope] Benedict’s announcement that he was stepping down for health reasons shocked the Catholic Church and much of the world. It also loosed conspiracy theorists who believe Benedict was forced to resign…. The circumstances surrounding Benedict’s decision to step down have titillated scholars and the journalists alike, especially given the fact that his resignation came not long after the ‘Vatileaks’ scandal. The release of internal Vatican memos, by some accounts, revealed how Benedict’s efforts to reform the church, like provide transparency on the global sex abuse scandal and the management of the Vatican bank, were undercut by internal politics. (The Atlantic)

Fact No. 5

Homosexuals love Pope Francis:

  • Pro-homo GQ loves the Pope
  • Pope Francis made the cover of Time, New Yorker, Rolling Stone and The Advocate, an LGBT magazine that makes no secret of its problems with previous Popes but chose Francis as “person of the year”. (CNN)

Fact No. 6

The satanic pop singer who calls herself “Madonna” — she who dressed up as the Baphomet in the 2012 Super Bowl halftime show and cavorted with horned masked demons in the recent Grammy Awards show before a cheering crowd also wearing horns — calls Pope Francis “kind of groovy.” (Billboard)

Draw your own conclusion!

See also Joan’s post on St. Francis of Assisi.

~Éowyn

Drudge Report has gone to the dark side. Check out Whatfinger News, the Internet’s conservative frontpage founded by ex-military!

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St. Francis of Assisi

This is a re-publishing of Joan’s 2014 post.

Today, October 4, is the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226).

St. Francis is an unusual saint in that he is known and admired by even non-Catholics and non-Christians. Lamentably, most of his admirers know only one facet of St. Francis — his endearing closeness with birds and animals. But there is so much more to this saint.

Did you know that St. Francis was called by Jesus Christ our Lord to reform and repair the Catholic Church, which had fallen to a corrupt and heretical clergy?

History repeats itself, and we find a Church similarly in disrepair in our own time. May St. Francis be a reminder and role model for all faithful clergy and laity as we are called, as he was, to repair and reform a Church in disarray.

See also “St. Francis of Assisi’s end times prophecy and the two popes“.

~Eowyn


I cannot tell you how much St. Francis has helped me in my life with all of the wonderful creatures that Our Dear Lord has entrusted to me, protecting and healing them.  St. Francis is one of my favorite saints, and I love him very much, a “giant” of holiness.  Today, the Universal Church celebrates his Feast Day.

Dante Alighieri, the famous poet, the author of the Divine Comedy, said of St. Francis, “A sun was born into the world.”  Francis was born at the end of 1181 or the beginning of 1182, to a rich family, his father being a successful cloth merchant and being raised by an adoring French mother.  He lived a carefree life, most interested in chivalrous ideals and chivalrous dreams of greatness and nobility.  Francis, age 20, participated in a military campaign, was taken prisoner and later released because he was so very ill.  This illness caused Francis to search his soul and look inward to his purpose in life, to determine and define what was important in life.  He had abandoned his worldly lifestyle and began to notice the beauty, purpose and virtues of God’s creatures, whom he loved and how they lived in simplicity.

One day, Francis rode the plain of Assisi and noticed a disfigured and horrible looking leper man.  Francis got off his horse, wherein the leper outstretched his hands to receive alms.  But Francis did more than give him money, he kissed the leper because he saw Jesus in Him, he saw “Jesus in disguise,” as Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta would say – an event that changed Francis’ life.

After his exchange with the leper, Francis visited hospitals, served the sick and the forgotten, gave clothes and money to those who needed it.  On a particular day in or about 1205, Francis was praying at the Church of St. Damian outside the walls of Assisi when he heard a voice, an interior instruction that he took to heart, “Francis, go and repair my house, which you see is falling down.”  Francis thought that Our Lord meant to repair that specific Church, when indeed and in fact Our Lord was referring Francis to renew and repair His Church.  Pope Benedict XVI tells us, “…that at that moment, St. Francis was called to repair the small church, but the ruinous state of the building was a symbol of the dramatic and disquieting situation of the Church herself.  At that time, the Church had a superficial faith which did not shape or transform life, a scarcely religious clergy, and a chilling of love.  It was an interior destruction of the Church which also brought a decomposition of unity, with the birth of heretical movements.  Yet, there at the centre of the Church in ruins was the Crucified Lord, and he spoke:  He called for renewal, He called Francis to the manual labour of repairing the small Church of St. Damian, the symbol of a much deeper call to Renew Christ’s own Church, with her radicality of faith and her loving enthusiasm for Christ.”

Francis took clothes and supplies from his father’s storage house, selling these items, as well as selling his father’s horse.  He brought these monies to the priest at St. Damian, but the priest would not take the money, Francis leaving the money on a window sill.  Francis’ father learned what had happened and demanded that Francis return everything that he had taken from him, reporting the matter to Bishop Guido of Assisi.  The Bishop told Francis to return these monies to his father, “He (God) does not wish His Church to profit by goods which may have been gotten unjustly.”  Francis responded, “The clothes I wear are also his.  I’ll give them back.”  He stripped off his clothes and gave them to his father saying, “Hitherto I have called you father on earth; but now I say, ‘Our Father, who art in Heaven. “ Clothes of a laborer were found and given to Francis, wherein Francis made a cross upon the cloth with some chalk and left.

Pope Benedict tells us about another event that comes to mind , of the dream of Pope Innocent III in 1207.  “…he saw the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the mother of all churches, collapsing and one small and insignificant brother, whom the Pope recognized as Francis , when Francis later visited him.”  Pope Benedict goes on to say, “…it is important to note that St. Francis does not renew the Church without or in opposition to the Pope, but only in communion with him.  The two realities go together:  the Successor of Peter, the Bishops, the Church founded on the succession of the Apostles and the new charism that the Holy Spirit brought to life at that time for the Church’s renewal.  Authentic renewal grew from these together.”

In 1208, Francis lived as a hermit, but then had another internal transformation, affected by the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus’ discourse to the apostles whom he sent out to evangelize and teach the nations.  Accordingly, Francis went out just as the apostles did to teach by example, living in poverty and preaching the Gospel.  He had other brothers, companions who followed his way of life.  On one particular day, Francis told the brothers they were going to preach.  Francis and his band of brothers walked through a town but said nothing.  One of the brothers asked Francis why they didn’t preach.  Francis told him that they did preach saying, “Preach the Gospel constantly, and when necessary, use words.”  It was, therefore, Francis’ incredible example of holiness, and that of the brother companions, that taught the people of God.

In 1209 Francis and his brother companions travelled to Rome to propose to Pope Innocent III the plan for a new kind of Christian life.  The Pope welcomed Francis and of course, recognized Francis from the dream that he had.  The Pope welcomed Francis and encouraged him.  Pope Benedict XVI tells us that “St. Francis really did have an extremely intimate relationship with Jesus and with the word of God, that he wanted to pursue …: just as it is, in all its radicality and truth.  It is also true that initially he did not intend to create an Order with the necessary canonical forms.  Rather, he simply wanted, through the word of God and the presence of the Lord, to renew the People of God, to call them back to listening to the Word and to literal obedience to Christ.  Furthermore, he knew that Christ was never “mine” but is always “ours”, that “I” cannot possess Christ that “I” cannot rebuild in opposition to the Church, her will and her teaching.  Instead, it is only in communion with the Church built on the Apostolic succession that obedience too, to the Word of God can be renewed.”  And Pope Benedict goes on to say that “Francis knew that the centre of the Church is the Eucharist, where the Body of Christ and His Blood are made present through the priesthood, the Eucharist and the communion of the Church.  Wherever the priesthood and the Eucharist and the Church come together, it is there alone that the world of God also dwells.  The real historical Francis was the Francis of the Church, and precisely in this way he continues to speak to non-believers and believers of other confessions and religions as well.”  Indeed and in fact, in St. Francis’ “First Admonition,” he says very passionately:

“Wherefore, O you sons of men, how long will you be dull of heart (Ps. 4,3)?  Why do you not recognize the truth and believe in the Son of God (John 9, 35)?  Behold:  daily he humbles himself (Phil 2,8) as when from heaven’s royal throne (Wisd 18, 15) he came down into the womb of the Virgin.  Daily He Himself comes to us with like humility; daily he descends from the bosom of the Father (John 1, 18; 6, 38) upon the altar in the hands of the priest.  And as he appeared to the Apostles in true flesh, so now also he shows himself to us in the sacred bread.  And as they by their bodily sight saw only His flesh, yet contemplating Him with the eyes of the spirit believed Him to be very God, so we also, as we see our bodily eyes the bread and wine, are to see and firmly believe that it is His most holy body and blood living and true.  And in this way, the Lord is always with His faithful, as he Himself says:  “Behold, I am with you until the end of the world (Mt 28, 20).”

And in the writings of St. Francis, (Francis of Assisi, Scritti, Editrici Francescane, Padova 2002, 401), Pope Benedict reminds us of the love that Francis had for Jesus in a special way in the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist, “Let everyone be struck with fear, let the whole world tremble, and let the heavens exult, when Christ, the Son of the living God, is present on the altar in the hands of a priest.  Oh stupendous dignity!  O humble sublimity, that the Lord of the universe, God and the Son of God, so humbles himself that for our salvation He hides himself under an ordinary piece of bread.”

Francis and his friars became numerous and established themselves at the Portiuncula, or the Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli, the center of Franciscan spirituality.  Clare, a young woman of Assisi from a noble and wealthy family loved Franciscan spirituality, and established the Order of Poor Clares, the second Franciscan order.

Pope Innocent III’s Successor, Pope Honorius III, in 1218, issued a “Bull” which is a formal document, a pronouncement, which supported Francis and his development of the first Friars Minor, who began to spread the Gospel to other European countries, and even in Morocco.  In 1220, Francis visited the Holy Land, sowed the seed which is evident in today’s world, making this place the Site for the Order, showing today the great merits of the Franciscans in the Holy Land.  After Francis returned to Italy from his missions, he developed his “Rule” which was approved by the Pope.

Francis also had great communication skills with God’s creatures and control of them, a gift given to Him by God.  “His love for and power over the lower animals were noted and often referred to by those who knew him:  his rebuke to the swallows while he was preaching at Alvian, “My sisters the swallows, it is now my turn to speak.  You have been talking enough all this time;” the birds that perched around him while he told them to praise their Creator; the rabbit that would not leave him at Lake Trasimene; and the tamed wolf at Gubbio…”  Francis even had a pet falcon that he loved very much, who accompanied him where he went.

In 1224, Francis saw a vision of Jesus crucified in the form of a seraph, and after that vision, received the stigmata from the Seraph Crucifix, becoming one with the Crucified Jesus.  Francis, thus, suffered with the wounds of Christ.  Francis died humbly, on the earthen floor, on October 3, 1226, in the Portiuncula with his brother friars.

Pope Benedict XVI I believe summarizes St. Francis beautifully.  He said:  “It has been said that Francis represents an alter Christus, that he was truly a living icon of Christ…Indeed, this was his ideal: to be like Jesus, to contemplate Christ in the Gospel, to love him intensely and to imitate his virtues.  In particular, he wished to ascribe interior and exterior poverty with a fundamental value, which he also taught to his spiritual sons.  The first Beatitude of the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5:3) found a luminous fulfilment in the life and words of St. Francis.  Truly, dear friends, the saints are the best interpreters of the Bible.  As they incarnate the word of God in their own lives, they make it more captivating then ever, so that it really speaks to us.  The witness of Francis, who loved poverty as a means to follow Christ with dedication and total freedom, continues to be for us too an invitation to cultivate interior poverty in order to grow in our trust of God, also by adopting a sober lifestyle and a detachment from material goods…”

Finally, Pope Benedict XVI  says, “Dear friends, Francis was a great Saint and a joyful man.  His simplicity, his humility, his faith, his love for Christ, his goodness towards every man and every woman, brought him gladness in every circumstance.  Indeed, there subsists an intimate and indissoluble relationship between holiness and joy.  A French writer once wrote that there is only one sorrow in the world:  not to be saints, that is, not to be near to God.  Looking at the testimony of St. Francis, we understand that this is the secret of true happiness:  to become saints, close to God!”

Happy Feast Day, dearest St. Francis!  I hope you are having a big party in heaven today with Our Lord, the Blessed Mother Mary whom you loved and honored, with the angels and the saints, along with all of God’s blessed creatures!  I love you!

-Joan

Sources:

  • General Audience of Pope Benedict XVI, Paul VI Audience Hall, January 27, 2010, website of the Vatican, the “Holy See”.
  • “The Body of the Lord,” website of the Vatican, the “Holy See”.
  • One Hundred Saints, Bulfinch Press, AOL Time Warner Book Group.
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Sunday Devotional: You were called for freedom!

Galatians 5:1, 13-18

Brothers and sisters:
For freedom Christ set us free;
so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.

For you were called for freedom, brothers and sisters.
But do not use this freedom
as an opportunity for the flesh;
rather, serve one another through love.
For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement,
namely, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
But if you go on biting and devouring one another,
beware that you are not consumed by one another.

I say, then: live by the Spirit
and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh. 
For the flesh has desires against the Spirit,
and the Spirit against the flesh;
these are opposed to each other,
so that you may not do what you want.
But if you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

For you were called for freedom, brothers and sisters…so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.”

Let those words ring in your ears, and in the ears of all despots, in America and across the world, who are bent on imposing their will and dicta on us, always cloaked in the cover of “good” intentions, whether they be the Marxist false siren of utopian communism, or the neo-Marxist “climate change” save-the-world cultists, or the LGBT-pronoun cultural-Marxists of ivory-tower academe.

For our freedom comes not from men, but from God. As it is said in Sirach 15:14, 16:

God in the beginning created human beings
and made them subject to their own free choice….
Set before you are fire and water;
to whichever you choose, stretch forth your hand.

Thomas Aquinas conceived an act of free will to be any thought, word, deed, desire, or omission that comes from a person acting with full knowledge of what s/he is doing, “who is free to act or to refrain from action, and who gives the full assent of his will to the act.”¹ The essence of free will, therefore, is choice—the favoring of one thing and the eschewal of another—informed by reason.

But God’s supreme gift of free will does not mean license, the freedom to break rules or principles, to “do as thou wilt” — that first temptation “to be as gods” whispered by the serpent in the first Garden. As Sirach 15:17-20 reminds us:

Before man are life and death, good and evil,
whichever he chooses shall be given him.
Immense is the wisdom of the Lord;
he is mighty in power, and all-seeing.
The eyes of God are on those who fear him;
he understands man’s every deed.
No one does he command to act unjustly,
to none does he give license to sin.

The gift of free will is terrifying, for when it is exercised to evil, the consequences are disastrous.

Terrifying though it is, free will is given to humans (and angels) because only by freely electing to believe in, obey, honor, and love God do the preceding acts have authenticity and meaning. For what good is a love that is coerced? As St. Thomas put it, “Man has free will: otherwise counsels, exhortations, commands, prohibitions, rewards and punishments would be in vain.”²

Choose wisely! Choose to be good.

Psalm 119:1-5, 10

Blessed those whose way is blameless,
who walk by the law of the LORD.
Blessed those who keep his testimonies,
who seek him with all their heart.
They do no wrong;
they walk in his ways.
You have given them the command
to observe your precepts with care.
May my ways be firm
in the observance of your statutes!
With all my heart I seek you;
do not let me stray from your commandments.

May the love and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you!

~Eowyn


¹Paul J. Glenn, A Tour of the Summa (Rockford, Illinois: Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., 1978), p. 99.
²Summa Theologia of St. Thomas Aquinas, Volume One (New York: Benziger Brothers, 1947), p. 418.

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