“Because God has made us for Himself, our hearts are restless until they rest in Him.”
― Augustine of Hippo
“Because God has made us for Himself, our hearts are restless until they rest in Him.”
― Augustine of Hippo
Jerome Emiliani lay chained in the dark dirty dungeon. Only a short time before he had been a military commander for Venice in charge of a fortress. He didn’t care much about God because he didn’t … continue reading
Pope Francis is insisting that his concern for the poor and critique of the global economic system isn’t some novel, communist-inspired ideology but rather the original and core “touchstone” of the Christian faith.
Schweitzer was an Alsatian theologian, musician, philosopher, and physician. Determined to become a medical missionary, he established a hospital in Gabon, Africa, in 1913 and later expanded it to include a leper colony. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952 for his medical and humanitarian work and for his “reverence for life” concept of universal ethics, which emphasizes respect for the lives of all beings. An organist to boot, he interpreted the music of what composer? More… Discuss
Stephen’s name means “crown,” and he was the first disciple of Jesus to receive the martyr’s crown. Stephen was a deacon in the early Christian Church. The apostles had found that they … continue reading
Martyr of Egypt. He was burned alive in Alexandria, Egypt, during the persecutions under Emperor Trajanus Decius. Nemesius was arrested and scourged and then burned to death. Like Christ, he was … continue reading
Nothing certain is known of her, but according to her untrustworthy legend, she was the daughter of a pagan priest at Antioch in Pisidia. Also known as Marina, she was converted to Christianity, whereupon she was driven from home by her father. She became a shepherdess and when she spurned the advances of Olybrius, the prefect, who was infatuated with her beauty, he charged her with being a Christian. He had her tortured and then imprisoned, and while she was in prison she had an encounter with the devil in the form of a dragon. According to the legend, he swallowed her, but the cross she carried in her hand so irritated his throat that he was forced to disgorge her (she is patroness of childbirth). The next day, attempts were made to execute her by fire and then by drowning, but she was miraculously saved and converted thousands of spectators witnessing her ordeal-all of whom were promptly executed. Finally, she was beheaded. That she existed and was martyred are probably true; all else is probably fictitious embroidery and added to her story, which was immensely popular in the Middle Ages, spreading from the East all over Western Europe. She is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, and hers was one of the voices heard by Joan of Arc. Her feast day is July 20th.
The holy men and women are also called the “Protomartyrs of Rome.” They were accused of burning Rome by Nero , who burned Rome to cover his own crimes. Some martyrs were burned as living torches at … continue reading
Martyr of Japan. A native of Korea, he was brought to Japan in 1591 as a prisoner of war and was subsequently converted to Christianity. Entering the Jesuits, he studied at the Jesuit seminary of … continue reading
Christian apologist, born at Flavia Neapolis, about A.D. 100, converted to Christianity about A.D. 130, taught and defended the Christian religion in Asia Minor and at Rome, where he suffered … continue reading
At the end of the sixth century anyone would have said that Augustine had found his niche in life. Looking at this respected prior of a monastery, almost anyone would have predicted he would spend … continue reading
St. Pope John I
May 18: St. John I, Pope and Martyr (Feast day – May 18) A native of Tuscany in Italy, John was elected Pope while he was still an archdeacon upon the death of Pope Hormisdas in 523. At that time, the ruler of Italy was Theodoric the Goth who subscribed to the Arian brand of Christianity, but had tolerated and even favored his Catholic subjects during the early part of his reign. However, about the time of St. John’s accession to the Papacy, Theodoric’s policy underwent a drastic change as a result of two events: the treasonable (in the sovereign’s view) correspondence between ranking members of the Roman Senate and Constantinople and the severe edict against heretics enacted by the emperor Justin I, who was the first Catholic on the Byzantine throne in fifty years. …Read More
Franciscan lay brother and mystic. Born to a peasant family at Torre Hermosa, in Aragon, on Whitsunday, he was christened Pascua in honor of the feast. According to accounts of his early life, … continue reading
Expectation, poetic thought by George B
It happen once before, creation,
when all there wasn’t turned into being
But then it all fell into complacency
And we became accustomed to just this -
We call being…
takes one to before creation,
when nothing was, yet,
everything had an equal chance to become…
fifty- fifty chance,
either – or
it is that simple,
being, not being,
Kierkegaard was a Danish philosopher and theologian and is generally considered, along with Friedrich Nietzsche, to be a founder of existentialism. Much of Kierkegaard’s work deals with religious problems, as he rejected organized Christianity and emphasized man’s moral responsibility and freedom of choice. Kierkegaard stressed the importance of the self and argued that “subjectivity is truth” and “truth is subjectivity.” Why did Kierkegaard publish many of his earlier works under pseudonyms? More… Discuss
Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe is a fictional autobiography of the eponymous English castaway marooned on a desert island for 28 years. During this time, Crusoe encounters cannibals, captives, and mutineers and endures endless hardships while preserving his human integrity. The first volume of Defoe’s Crusoe story was published in 1719 and garnered immediate acclaim. It is considered by some critics to be the first true English novel. What is the book’s full title? More… Discuss
Nothing much is known for certain about St. George, but the patron saint of England is popularly known in medieval legend for slaying a vicious dragon that was besieging a town in Cappadocia. When the people saw what had happened, they were converted to Christianity. To this day, St. George is often depicted with a dragon. St. George’s Day, sometimes referred to as Georgemas, has been observed as a religious feast as well as a holiday since the 13th century. More… Discuss
Acacius was bishop of Amida (Diarbekir), Mesopotamia. He sold the sacred vessels of his church to aid victims of the Persian persecution. His actions so impressed King Bahram V that he is reported to have ordered an end to the persecution of the Christians. His feast day is April 9th.
The Notre-Dame Affair was an anti-Catholic intervention performed by radical members of the Lettrist movement on Easter Sunday 1950. During a quiet moment in the Easter High Mass, Michel Mourre, disguised as a Dominican monk, climbed to the rostrum and declaimed a blasphemous anti-sermon on the death of God. Not surprisingly, his statements enraged the thousands of faithful present at the mass, who went after Mourre and his co-conspirators and may well have lynched them had it not been for whom?More… Discuss
Priestley was an English theologian and scientist. He prepared for the Presbyterian ministry but gradually rejected orthodox Calvinism for Unitarianism. His History of the Corruptions of Christianity, published in 1782, was officially burned in 1785, and he immigrated to the US in 1794, befriending the nation’s founders. As a scientist, his manipulation of gases enabled him to discover new ones, including “dephlogisticated air,” a breakthrough whose magnitude escaped him. What gas was it? More… Discuss
After New Zealand was named a British crown colony in 1840, Christian missionaries began to disseminate their teachings among the native Maori people. In the early 1860s, a religious-military Maori cult emerged, mingling Christian beliefs with native spiritual elements and urging followers to violently oppose the European presence. In March 1865, members of this Pai Marire movement killed missionary Carl Sylvius Völkner in a gruesome manner, hanging him before supposedly doing what to his body? More… Discuss
Feastday: February 23
Imagine being able to sit at the feet of the apostles and hear their stories of life with Jesus from their own lips. Imagine walking with those who had walked with Jesus, seen him, and touched him. That was what Polycarp was able to do as a disciple of Saint John the Evangelist.Feastday: February 23
But being part of the second generation of Church leaders had challenges that the first generation could not teach about. What did you do when those eyewitnesses were gone? How do you carry on the correct teachings of Jesus? How do you answer new questions that never came up before?
Polycarp, as a holy man and bishop of Smyrna, found there was only one answer — to be true to the life of Jesus and imitate that life. Saint Ignatius of Antioch told Polycarp “your mind is grounded in God as on an immovable rock.”
When faced with heresy, he showed the “candid face” that Ignatius admired and that imitated Jesus’ response to the Pharisees. Marcion, the leader of the Marcionites who followed a dualistic heresy, confronted Polycarp and demanded respect by saying, “Recognize us, Polycarp.” Polycarp responded, “I recognize you, yes, I recognize the son of Satan.”
On the other hand when faced with Christian disagreements he was all forgiveness and respect. One of the controversies of the timecame over the celebration of Easter. The East, where Polycarp was from, celebrated the Passover as the Passion of Christ followed by a Eucharist on the following day. The West celebrated Easter on the Sunday of the week following Passover. When Polycarp went to Rome to discuss the difference with Pope Anicetus, they could not agree on this issue. But they found no difference in their Christian beliefs. And Anicetus asked Polycarp to celebrate the Eucharist in his own papal chapel.
Polycarp faced persecution the way Christ did. His own church admired him for following the “gospel model” — not chasing after martyrdom as some did, but avoiding it until it was God’s will as Jesus did. They considered it “a sign of love to desire not to save oneself alone, but to save also all the Christian brothers and sisters.”
One day, during a bloody martyrdom when Christians were attacked by wild animals in the arena, the crowd became so mad that they demanded more blood by crying, “Down with the atheists; let Polycarp be found.” (They considered Christians “atheists” because they didn’t believe in their pantheon of gods.) Since Polycarp was not only known as a leader but as someone holy “even before his grey hair appeared”, this was a horrible demand.
Polycarp was calm but others persuaded him to leave the city and hide at a nearby farm. He spent his time inprayer for people he knew and for the Church. During his prayer he saw a vision of his pillow turned to fire and announced to his friends that the dream meant he would be burned alive.
As the search closed in, he moved to another farm, but the police discovered he was there by torturing two boys. He had a little warning since he was upstairs in the house but he decided to stay, saying, “God’s will be done.”
Then he went downstairs, talked to his captors and fed them a meal. All he asked of them was that they give him an hour to pray. He spent two hours praying for everyone he had every known and for the Church, “remembering all who had at any time come his way — small folk and great folk, distinguished and undistinguished, and the wholeCatholic Church throughout the world.” Many of his captors started to wonder why they were arresting this holy, eighty-six-year-old bishop.
But that didn’t stop them from taking him into the arena on the Sabbath. As he entered the arena, the crowd roared like the animals they cheered. Those around Polycarp heard a voice from heaven above the crowd, “Be brave, Polycarp, and act like a man.”
The proconsul begged the eighty-six-year-old bishop to give in because of his age. “Say ‘Away with the atheists'” the proconsul urged. Polycarp calmly turned to the face the crowd, looked straight at them, and said, “Away with the atheists.” The proconsul continued to plead with him. When he asked Polycarp to swear by Caesar to save himself, Polycarp answered, “If you imagine that I will swear by Caesar, you do not know who I am. Let me tell you plainly, I am a Christian.” Finally, when all else failed the proconsul reminded Polycarp that he would be thrown to the wild animals unless he changed his mind. Polycarp answered, “Change of mind from better to worse is not a change allowed to us.”
Because of Polycarp’s lack of fear, the proconsul told him he would be burned alive but Polycarp knew that the fire that burned for an hour was better than eternal fire.
When he was tied up to be burned, Polycarp prayed, “Lord God Almighty, Father of your beloved and blessed SonJesus Christ, through whom we have received knowledge of you, God of angels and powers, of the whole creationand of the whole race of the righteous who live in your sight, I bless you, for having made me worthy of this day and hour, I bless you, because I may have a part, along with the martyrs, in the chalice of your Christ, to resurrection in eternal life, resurrection both of soul and body in the incorruptibility of the Holy Spirit. May I be received today, as a rich and acceptable sacrifice, among those who are in you presence, as you have prepared and foretold and fulfilled, God who is faithful and true. For this and for all benefits I praise you, I bless you, I glorify you, through the eternal and heavenly High Priest, Jesus Christ, your beloved Son, through whom be to you with him and the Holy Spirit glory, now and for all the ages to come. Amen.”
The fire was lit as Polycarp said Amen and then the eyewitnesses who reported said they saw a miracle. The fire burst up in an arch around Polycarp, the flames surrounding him like sails, and instead of being burned he seemed to glow like bread baking, or gold being melted in a furnace. When the captors saw he wasn’t being burned, they stabbed him. The blood that flowed put the fire out.
The proconsul wouldn’t let the Christians have the body because he was afraid they would worship Polycarp. The witnesses reported this with scorn for the lack of understanding of Christian faith: “They did not know that we can never abandon the innocent Christ who suffered on behalf of sinners for the salvation of those in this world.” After the body was burned, they stole the bones in order to celebrate the memory of his martyrdom and prepare others for persecution. The date was about February 23, 156.
In His Footsteps:
When faced with challenges to your Christian life, try a version of Polycarp’s prayer of martyrdom: “Lord GodAlmighty, Father of your beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ, through whom we have received knowledge of you, God of angels and powers, of the whole creation and of the whole race of the righteous who live in your sight, I bless you, for having made me worthy of this day and hour, I bless you, because I may have a part, along with the martyrs, in the chalice of your Christ, to resurrection in eternal life, resurrection both of soul and body in the incorruptibility of the Holy Spirit. For this and for all benefits I praise you, I bless you, I glorify you, through the eternal and heavenly High Priest, Jesus Christ, your beloved Son, through whom be to you with him and the Holy Spirit glory, now and for all the ages to come. Amen.”
Saint Polycarp, sometimes Christ seems so far away from us. Centuries have passed since he and the apostles walk the earth. Help us to see that he is close to us always and that we can keep him near by imitating his life as you did.Amen
Died in 309, He and four companions, Elias, Isaias, Jeremy and Samuel were Egyptians who visited Christians condemned to work in the mines of Cilicia during Maximus persecution, to comfort them. … continue reading
Jerome Emiliani lay chained in the dark dirty dungeon. Only a short time before he had been a military commander for Venice in charge of a fortress. He didn’t care much about God because he didn’t need him — he had his own strength and the strength of his soldiers and weapons. When Venice’s enemies, the League of Cambrai, captured the fortress, he was dragged off and imprisoned. There in the dungeon, Jerome decided to get rid of the chains that bound him. He let go of his worldly attachments and embraced God.
When he finally was able to escape, he hung his metal chains in the nearby church of Treviso — in gratitude not only for being freed from physical prison but from his spiritual dungeon as well.
After a short time as mayor of Treviso he returned his home inVenice where he studied for the priesthood. The war may have been over but it was followed by the famine and plague war’s devastation often brought. Thousands suffered in his beloved city. Jerome devoted himself to service again — this time, not to the military but the poor and suffering around him. He felt a special call to help the orphans who had no one to care for them. All the loved ones who would have protected them and comforted them had been taken by sickness or starvation. He would become their parent, their family.
Using his own money, he rented a house for the orphans, fed them, clothed them, and educated them. Part of his education was to give them the first known catechetical teaching by question and answer. But his constant devotion to the suffering put him in danger too and he fell ill from the plague himself. When he recovered, he had the ideal excuse to back away, but instead his illness seemed to take the last links of the chain from his soul. Once again he interpreted his suffering to be a sign of how little the ambitions of the world mattered.
He committed his whole life and all he owned to helping others. He founded orphanages in other cities, a hospital, and a shelter for prostitutes. This grew into a congregation of priests and brothers that was named after the place where they had a house: the Clerks Regular of Somascha. Although they spent time educating other young people, their primary work was always Jerome’s first love — helping orphans.
His final chains fell away when he again fell ill while taking care of the sick. He died in 1537 at the age of 56.
He is the patron saint of abandoned children and orphans.
St. Joan de Lestonnac was born in Bordeaux, France, in 1556. She married at the age of seventeen. The happy marriage produced four children, but her husband died suddenly in 1597. After herchildren were raised, she entered the Cistercian monastery at Toulouse. Joan was forced to leave the Cistercians when she became afflicted with poor health. She returned to Bordeaux with the idea of forming a new congregation, and several young girls joined her as novices. They ministered to victims of a plague that struck Bordeaux, and they were determined to counteract the evils of heresy promulgated by Calvinism. Thus was formed the Congregation of the Religious of Notre Dame of Bordeaux. In 1608, Joan and her companions received the religious habit from the Archbishop of Bordeaux. Joan was elected superior in 1610, and many miracles occurred at her tomb. She was canonized in 1949 by Pope Pius XII. Her feast day is February 2.
Carmelite Latinpatriarch and papal legate. Peter was born in Gascony, France and joined the Carmelites while still a young man. In 1342 he was appointed procurator of the order and, from Avignon, he … continue reading
St. Ildephonsus is highly regarded in Spain and closely associated with devotion to the Blessed Virgin which he fostered by his famous work concerning her perpetual virginity. Born around 607, … continue reading
St. Vincent Pallotti, Priest (Feast – January 22) Born in Rome in 1795, St. Vincent became a priest and dedicated himself completely to God and cared for souls. He dreamed of gaining for Christ all … continue reading
Whence come the highest mountains? … They come out of the sea. That testimony is inscribed on their stones, and on the walls of their summits. Out of the deepest must the highest come to its height.
Evagrius Ponticus struggled with adulterous desires and physical illness before devoting his life to Christianity, becoming an ascetic monk in 383 CE. Despite later accusations of heresy, Evagrius exerted a tremendous influence on the church through his writings and is best known for categorizing eight forms of temptation. These eight evil thoughts are gluttony, greed, sloth, sorrow, lust, anger, vainglory, and pride. Who later revised the list to form the more commonly known Seven Deadly Sins?More… Discuss
|Definition:||(noun) A person pitied for his misfortune.|
|Usage:||If the poor wretch waked in the flames and perished, no one cared.|
The Nestorian Stele is an ancient stone artifact that reveals a Christian presence in 7th-century China. The Christian sect of Nestorianism originated in 5th-century Constantinople and reached China through missionaries. Inscribed in both Chinese and Syriac, the almost 10-foot (3-m) limestone stele, or stone slab, describes the existence of Christian communities in northern China and reveals that the Emperor Taizong had recognized Christianity by 635 CE. When was the stele unearthed?More… Discuss