Category Archives: Saints

Sunday Devotional: ‘This I command you: love one another’

John 15:9-10, 12-14, 16-17

Jesus said to his disciples:
“As the Father loves me,
so I also love you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments,
you will remain in my love….
This is my commandment:
love one another as I love you.
No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
You are my friends if you do what I command you….
It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you
and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain,
so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.
This I command you: love one another.

In our corrupt times, the word “love” is used to justify any or all deeds, even the most perverse. Pedophilia is called “man-boy love”; bestiality is called “zoophilia” — love of animals; incest is given a veneer of faux science by calling it “genetic sexual attraction”.

“Love” has become a synonym of “Do as thou wilt”.

So what is love?

Here are some clues from Holy Scripture.

(1) Love is selfless and self-sacrificing

1 John 4:7-10

Beloved, let us love one another,
because love is of God;
everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.
Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.
In this way the love of God was revealed to us:
God sent his only Son into the world
so that we might have life through him.
In this is love:
not that we have loved God, but that he loved us
and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.

Few of us will be called to die for someone else, but many have and do sacrifice for others: parents for their children; adult children for their elderly parents; care-givers for the elderly and sick; all who give their money, time and labor for another or a good cause, with no benefit to themselves.

So this is one measure of love: How much will you sacrifice for another?

(2) Other attributes of love

From the famous passage from St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians:

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Love is patient, love is kind.
It is not jealous, 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.

(3) The way to God is through the heart, not the mind

Reading St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, I was struck by the rest of the passage:

1 Corinthians 13:8-13

Love never fails.
If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing;
if tongues, they will cease;
if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing.
For we know partially and we prophesy partially,
but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.
When I was a child, I used to talk as a child,
think as a child, reason as a child;
when I became a man, I put aside childish things.
At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror,
but then face to face.
At present I know partially;
then I shall know fully, as I am fully known.
So faith, hope, love remain, these three;
but the greatest of these is love.

I understand the above passage as St. Paul’s reminder to us that, in the end, the way to God cannot be accomplished through our mind alone — our efforts to know and understand God, the unimaginably awesome being who created the Universe. In St. Paul’s words, “for we know partially”. How can the created ever fully know the Creator?

The great St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), the philosopher-theologian who wrote tomes of impeccable logic and reasoning, but lived only to the young age of 49, knew well the limits of human intelligence and how “partially” we know.

On December 6, 1273, St. Thomas had a mystical experience while he was celebrating Mass, after which he abandoned his scholarly routine and refused to write again. When his friend and fellow theologian Reginald of Piperno begged him to get back to work, St. Thomas replied:

“Reginald, I cannot, because all that I have written seems like straw to me” (mihi videtur ut palea).

Three months later, on March 7, 1274, St. Thomas passed, leaving the Summa Theologica uncompleted.

There’s a reason why the Greatest Commandment of all begins not with our minds, but with our hearts.

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

~Eowyn

Sunday Devotional: Whom Christ struck blind

Acts 9:26-31

When Saul arrived in Jerusalem he tried to join the disciples,
but they were all afraid of him,
not believing that he was a disciple.
Then Barnabas took charge of him and brought him to the apostles,
and he reported to them how he had seen the Lord,
and that he had spoken to him,
and how in Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus.
He moved about freely with them in Jerusalem,
and spoke out boldly in the name of the Lord.
He also spoke and debated with the Hellenists,
but they tried to kill him.
And when the brothers learned of this,
they took him down to Caesarea
and sent him on his way to Tarsus.

The church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria was at peace.
It was being built up and walked in the fear of the Lord,
and with the consolation of the Holy Spirit it grew in numbers.

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. The Pharisees claimed prophetic or Mosaic authority for their interpretation of Jewish laws. Though a Jew, Saul was by privilege a Roman citizen.

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. Falling 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, for three days, he remained blind and neither ate nor drank.

As in all genuine encounters with God — including our own, should we be so graced — Saul’s dramatic confrontation 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, arguably the most influential early Christian missionary. Perhaps even more important, Paul developed the first Christology — doctrines and theories of the meaning of believing in Jesus Christ.

Imagine the radical changes in thought and belief that Saul’s conversion required. He had to change not only his Jewish conception of who the messiah was, particularly the absurdity to Jews of a crucified messiah, but also the grandiose belief in the superiority of the Jewish people.

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 covenant of the Old Testament with a new covenant. This was made clear by Jesus 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 superseded by the universal faith of Christianity.

Paul was indefatigable in bringing the Word of Christ to both Jews and Gentiles. Through his missionary activities and writings he eventually transformed religious belief and philosophy around the Mediterranean Basin. His leadership, influence and legacy led to the formation of communities dominated by Gentile groups who worshiped the God of the ancient Jews, adhered to the Mosaic moral code of the Ten Commandments, but relaxed or abandoned entirely Judaism’s ritual and dietary teachings since those laws and rituals had either been fulfilled in the life of Christ or were symbolic precursors of Christ.

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’s missionary travels — preaching and establishing Christian nodes and communities — can be grouped into three. As seen in the map below, he traversed the Mediterranean region, in a time when travel was arduous, laborious and dangerous.

~Click map to enlarge~

The 14 letters (Epistles) attributed to Paul in the New Testament were written during ten years of his missionary journeys. It is possible that Paul also traveled to other countries like Spain and Britain. Among the writings of early Christians, Clement of Rome said that Paul was “Herald (of the Gospel of Christ) in the West” and that “he had gone to the extremity of the west.”

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 wrote around A.D. 110 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.

June 29, therefore, is the joint feast day of Sts. Peter and Paul.

Shortly before he was martyred, St. Paul had written to St. Timothy these famous words (2 Timothy 4:6-8):

“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 post-conversion Paul who turned his back on his past and devoted the rest of his life to Jesus; the Apostle to the Gentiles who taught us about Jesus’ New Covenant; the author of all those letters that teach and inspire “so long as men can breathe, or eyes can see”; the saint who so loves Jesus that he joyfully went to his martyrdom — I love St. Paul with all my heart. I can only hope that, should our time darken to the point when Christians are persecuted as in the days of the early Church, I too will have his courage to “finish my course,” “keep my faith,” and stand “ready to be sacrificed.”

I now conclude this post with my favorite passage — St. Paul’s 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 love and peace of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you,

~Eowyn

Sources used:

  • One Hundred Saints (Little, Brown and Co., 1993).
  • Rosemary Ellen Gulley, The Encyclopedia of Saints (NY: Visionary Living, 2001).
  • St. Paul,” Catholic Online.
  • Paul the Apostle,” Wikipedia.

Sunday Devotional: The two witnesses of the Resurrected Christ

Luke 24:13-35

That very day, the first day of the week,
two of Jesus’ disciples were going
to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus,
and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred.
And it happened that while they were conversing and debating,
Jesus himself drew near and walked with them,
but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.
He asked them,
“What are you discussing as you walk along?”
They stopped, looking downcast.
One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply,
“Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem
who does not know of the things
that have taken place there in these days?”
And he replied to them, “What sort of things?”
They said to him,
“The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene,
who was a prophet mighty in deed and word
before God and all the people,
how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over
to a sentence of death and crucified him.
But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel;
and besides all this,
it is now the third day since this took place.
Some women from our group, however, have astounded us:
they were at the tomb early in the morning
and did not find his body;
they came back and reported
that they had indeed seen a vision of angels
who announced that he was alive.
Then some of those with us went to the tomb
and found things just as the women had described,
but him they did not see.”
And he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are!
How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!
Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things
and enter into his glory?”
Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets,
he interpreted to them what referred to him
in all the Scriptures.
As they approached the village to which they were going,
he gave the impression that he was going on farther.
But they urged him, “Stay with us,
for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.”
So he went in to stay with them.
And it happened that, while he was with them at table,
he took bread, said the blessing,
broke it, and gave it to them.
With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him,
but he vanished from their sight.
Then they said to each other,
“Were not our hearts burning within us
while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?”
So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem
where they found gathered together
the eleven and those with them who were saying,
“The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!”
Then the two recounted
what had taken place on the way
and how he was made known to them in the breaking of bread.

Modern Christology, the systematic study (“ology”) of Jesus Christ, is a product of the Enlightenment, distinguished from the pre-modern variety in its purpose and intent. Instead of studying Christ as the object of religious devotion or faith by, say, exploring the abiding mystery of the Trinity (that three persons are in one God) or the hypostatic union (that Jesus has two natures, both God and man), modern Christology means to study Jesus as a figure in history, i.e., Jesus the man instead of Jesus the Christ.

Modern Christology’s historical reconstructions of Jesus have regularly been put forward as challenges to faith. In a speech in 1996, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said that “The identification of only one historical person, Jesus of Nazareth, with . . . the living God, is now relegated as a relapse into myth. Jesus is consciously relativized as one religious leader among others.” The result is an erosion of faith even among the clergy. As examples:

  • A survey in 2002 found that a third of the clergy in the Church of England doubted or outright disbelieved in the physical resurrection of Christ. No doubt the percentage is much higher today, 16 years later.
  • At the 2017 Christmas midnight Mass, Fr. Fredo Olivero of the Church of San Rocco di Torino in the Archdiocese of Turin, Italy, substituted the syrupy Italian pop-religious tune “Dolce sentire” for the Creed, explaining, “Do you know why I do not say the Creed? Because I do not believe it. . . . After many years I understood that it was something I did not understand and that I could not accept. So let’s sing something else that says the essential things of life.” (Source: George Weigel in First Things)
  • Not to be outdone, Fr. Paolo Farinella of Genoa, Italy, announced in the leftist Italian newspaper, La Repubblica, that Christmas is just “a fairy tale from the nativity scene with lullabies and bagpipes, the exclusive support of a capitalist and consumerist economy”. (First Things)

Having studied some of the writings of modern Christologists, what I find curious is that, in their search for the historical Jesus, these theologians and scholars pay scant attention to an important concept in law which is critical to the testimony and determination of truth.

That 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.”

The apostles and disciples were the percipient witnesses of the historical Jesus. Their accounts are contained in the four canonical Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. And it is their behaviors, lives, and deaths that provide the most compelling testimony of not just Jesus the man, but Jesus the Christ.

This is what we know:

  • All the apostles, except the youngest named John, abandoned Jesus after he was taken away from the Garden of Gethsemane by Roman soldiers.
  • The apostle Simon Peter—on whom Jesus founded and to whom he entrusted his Church—thrice denied he even knew Jesus.
  • The apostles were understandably frightened by Jesus’ crucifixion, which was the Roman Empire’s cruelest form of execution reserved for the worst criminals. They were so frightened that they went into hiding.
  • On the third day after Jesus died, His body disappeared from the tomb.
  • After that, the apostles became completely transformed—from cowering to being fearless men; from illiterate fishermen to bold preachers in different languages (!) to crowds of strangers; from having abandoned their master and teacher to die alone on the cross to become martyrs for the faith.

Such a total transformation can only be accounted for and explained by their witnessing something extraordinary that happened in that brief interim between the crucifixion of Jesus and the disappearance of his body. What happened had to be something even more extraordinary than the miracles the apostles had witnessed in the three years of Jesus’ public ministry. Those miracles included:

  • The multiplication of a few fishes and loaves to feed thousands;
  • The healing of the blind, the lame, and the sick;
  • The resurrection of Lazarus from the dead;
  • The casting of demons from the possessed;
  • Jesus walking on water;
  • Jesus calming a stormy sea;
  • Jesus reattaching the severed ear of a Roman soldier in Gethsemane.

That super-extraordinary event was the Resurrection.

Only the risen Christ could have so convinced sane, rational men such as the two disciples in Luke 24, as to completely, with assistance from the Holy Spirit, transform them into men they were not. Only by seeing the risen Christ — by speaking, walking, and eating with Him and in the case of doubting Thomas, by touching the wounds of the risen Christ — could the apostles have changed overnight from being frightened little rabbits into fearless outspoken men whom no one could silence and who went to a martyr’s death, willingly and joyfully, for their risen Lord.

And so, in the end, modern Christologists’ quest for the historical Jesus remains ever sketchy and elusive because of their refusal to heed an important concept in law for determining and establishing truth — that of percipient witness. The quest for the Christ Jesus is right there, in the personal testimonies, lives and deaths of His apostles and disciples.

See also:

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

~Eowyn

The Empty Tomb

Mark 16:1-6

When the sabbath was over,
Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome
bought spices so that they might go and anoint him.
Very early when the sun had risen,
on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb.
They were saying to one another,
“Who will roll back the stone for us
from the entrance to the tomb?”
When they looked up,
they saw that the stone had been rolled back;
it was very large.
On entering the tomb they saw a young man
sitting on the right side, clothed in a white robe,
and they were utterly amazed.
He said to them, “Do not be amazed!
You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified.
He has been raised; he is not here.”

John 20:2-9

So she ran and went to Simon Peter
and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them,
“They have taken the Lord from the tomb,
and we don’t know where they put him.”
So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.
They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter
and arrived at the tomb first;
he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.
When Simon Peter arrived after him,
he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there,
and the cloth that had covered his head,
not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.
Then the other disciple also went in,
the one who had arrived at the tomb first,
and he saw and believed.
For they did not yet understand the Scripture
that he had to rise from the dead.

Below is a reconstruction of what happened from the book, The Truth About the Shroud of Turin (Regnery, 2010), pp. 189-191, by my friend Robert K. Wilcox. No matter how many times I read this, it never fails to move me to tears.

The tomb, a rocky chamber carved out of a hillside, a stone rolled against the door, is dark and silent. Lying on a slab is a long, rectangular cocoon, the hills and valleys of which are clearly the contours of a human body. The body of Jesus lies there, face up, a ribbon around the head and chin to keep the mouth closed, packed on all sides with bags of spices.

At some unknown moment in the dead of night, the air in the tomb becomes electric.

At first the vibrations are minute, the sort that could be detected by sensitive twentieth-century instruments; then they dramatically increase until they shake the ground and blow the boulder from the door.

A glow, faint at first, emanating from the shroud suddenly intensifies until rays of light shoot through the threads, star-filled golden rays filling the tomb and pouring out the door.

For thirty seconds — no more — the blinding, pulsating movement continues.

The source of the activity is the corpse, the body, somehow being revitalized, dematerialized, its mass being converted into energy, pure energy, which in the material world is radiant white light.

The body rises from the slab through the cloth, hovers for a moment in midair, then disappears.

The cocoon collapses. Darkness returns. Shouts of “Earthquake! Earthquake!” diminish as the guards run for their lives. And in the air, the distinct odor of scorched linen.

When dawn comes, the women in Jesus’ life draw tentatively toward the tomb, look in the opening, and see the shroud unopened, still wrapped, but definitely deflated. The body is gone. At sunrise the disciples come. John enters the tomb, puts his hand on the cloth, and presses it to the slab. Jesus is there no longer. The disciples and the women quickly gather up the burial garments — the chin band is still in the shroud — and the spice bags and leave before the Romans can return.

At another time, in another place, when they have a chance to gather their wits, they will discover the figure of their master imprinted on the inside of the shroud. The images would be faint, probably not as dark as the passage of time and exposure to air have made them; and the images would be negative ones, a phenomenon that would also become clearer with the passage of time. Regardless, they would view these images as holy — imprints of their precious Lord. The disciples would pay more attention to the images on the shroud if they weren’t already waiting, with the greatest anticipation, for Jesus himself, who, before his death, had promised to visit them after he rose from the dead.

Our Lord is Risen!

Colossians 3:1-4

Brothers and sisters:
If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above,
where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.
For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
When Christ your life appears,
then you too will appear with him in glory.

A Joyous Easter to all!

See also:

~Eowyn

lilies

Holy Saturday: Our Lord stormed the gates of Hell

“. . . was crucified, died and was buried; he descended into hell; on the third day he rose again from the dead….” –Apostles’ Creed

The Saturday between Good Friday (when our Lord was crucified) and Easter Sunday (when He rose from the dead) is given little attention, although what Jesus did in that interregnum is no less significant.

On Holy Saturday, Jesus Christ our Lord undertook some of the most dramatic and important work of His salvific mission.

He went into the depths of “hell” — a realm of the dead called “the limbo of the patriarchs,” which was without the punishments of the damned and which no longer exists.

There, awaiting His coming, were the departed just. Among them were Adam and Eve, St. John the Baptist, and Jesus’ foster-father Joseph. To the souls of the just, Jesus proclaimed He had won their salvation and led them as the first entrants into Heaven.

What a magnificent sight that must have been!

From an ancient homily for Holy Saturday:

Something strange is happening – there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.

He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him, Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all.” Christ answered him: “And with your spirit.” He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying:

“Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.

I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise.

I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated. For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth.

For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.

See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.

I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.

Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God.

The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.”

Be Joyous!

~Eowyn

St. Patrick’s “Breastplate”

Saint Patrick

Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland.

Think of Patrick putting on the whole armor of God we read about in Ephesians.

In 1500 years the poem known as St. Patrick’s Breastplate has gone through a number of translations, and here is one: 

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.
I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth with His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.
I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In the predictions of prophets,
In the preaching of apostles,
In the faith of confessors,
In the innocence of holy virgins,
In the deeds of righteous men.
I arise today, through
The strength of heaven,
The light of the sun,
The radiance of the moon,
The splendor of fire,
The speed of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of the sea,
The stability of the earth,
The firmness of rock.
I arise today, through
God’s strength to pilot me,
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptation of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
afar and near.
I summon today
All these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel and merciless power
that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul;
Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me an abundance of reward.
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.


PEACE

Sunday Devotional: The Eyewitnesses of the Transfiguration

Mark 9:2-8

Jesus took Peter, James, and John
and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them,
and his clothes became dazzling white,
such as no fuller on earth could bleach them.
Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses,
and they were conversing with Jesus.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply,
“Rabbi, it is good that we are here!
Let us make three tents:
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified.
Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them;
from the cloud came a voice,
“This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”
Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone
but Jesus alone with them.

In law, there’s an important concept critical to the testimony and 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 and only recently discovered it.

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