Monthly Archives: February 2015

Saturday Saints- #57

Today’s saint is another one who made a significant impact in Ireland. Our saint is Saint Declan of Ardmore:

Declán of Ardmore (Irish: Declán mac Eircc, Latin: Declanus, died 5th century), also called Déclán or Declan, was an early Irish saint of the Déisi Muman, who was remembered for having converted the Déisi in the late 5th century and for having founded the monastery of Ardmore (Ard Mór) in what is now Co. Waterford. The principal source for his life and cult is a Latin Life of the 12th century. Like Ailbe of Emly, Ciarán of Saigir and Abbán of Moyarney, Declán is presented as a Munster saint who preceded Saint Patrick in bringing Christianity to Ireland. He was regarded as a patron saint of the Déisi of East Munster.

More can be found out about him at his wiki, found here.

 

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Tradition Thursday- #13

For the next set of posts in this series, I’ve decided to focus on Saint Cyril of Jerusalem’s Catechetical letters. I will begin with the prologue to them, which is lengthy and thus necessary of heavy trimming. I will explain more about these letters in the next post of this series. Here are some selections:

1. Already there is an odour of blessedness upon you, O you who are soon to be enlightened : already you are gathering the spiritual flowers, to weave heavenly crowns: already the fragrance of the Holy Spirit has breathed upon you: already you have gathered round the vestibule of the King’s palace ; may you be led in also by the King! For blossoms now have appeared upon the trees ; may the fruit also be found perfect! Thus far there has been an inscription of your names , and a call to service, and torches of the bridal train, and a longing for heavenly citizenship, and a good purpose, and hope attendant thereon. For he lies not who said, that to them that love God all things work together for good. God is lavish in beneficence, yet He waits for each man’s genuine will: therefore the Apostle added and said, to them that are called according to a purpose. The honesty of purpose makes you called: for if your body be here but not your mind, it profits you nothing.

2. Even Simon Magus once came to the Laver : he was baptized, but was not enlightened; and though he dipped his body in water, he enlightened not his heart with the Spirit: his body went down and came up, but his soul was not buried with Christ, nor raised with Him. Now I mention the statements of (men’s) falls, that you may not fall: for these things happened to them by way of example, and they are written for the admonition of those who to this day draw near. Let none of you be found tempting His grace, lest any root of bitterness spring up and trouble you. Let none of you enter saying, Let us see what the faithful are doing: let me go in and see, that I may learn what is being done. Do you expect to see, and not expect to be seen? And thinkest thou, that whilst you are searching out what is going on, God is not searching your heart?

3. A certain man in the Gospels once pried into the marriage feast , and took an unbecoming garment, and came in, sat down, and ate: for the bridegroom permitted it. But when he saw them all clad in white , he ought to have assumed a garment of the same kind himself: whereas he partook of the like food, but was unlike them in fashion and in purpose. The bridegroom, however, though bountiful, was not undiscerning: and in going round to each of the guests and observing them (for his care was not for their eating, but for their seemly behaviour), he saw a stranger not having on a wedding garment, and said to him, Friend, how did you get in here? In what a colour! With what a conscience! What though the door-keeper forbade you not, because of the bountifulness of the entertainer? What though you were ignorant in what fashion you should come in to the banquet? — you came in, and saw the glittering fashions of the guests: should you not have been taught even by what was before your eyes? Should you not have retired in good season, that you might enter in good season again? But now you have come in unseasonably, to be unseasonably cast out. So he commands the servants, Bind his feet, which daringly intruded: bind his hands, which knew not how to put a bright garment around him: and cast him into the outer darkness; for he is unworthy of the wedding torches. You see what happened to that man: make your own condition safe.

4. For we, the ministers of Christ, have admitted every one, and occupying, as it were, the place of door-keepers we left the door open: and possibly thou entered with your soul bemired with sins, and with a will defiled. You entered, and were allowed: your name was inscribed. Tell me, do you behold this venerable constitution of the Church? Do you view her order and discipline , the reading of Scriptures , the presence of the ordained , the course of instruction ? Be abashed at the place, and be taught by what you see. Go out opportunely now, and enter most opportunely tomorrow.

If the fashion of your soul is avarice, put on another fashion and come in. Put off your former fashion, cloke it not up. Put off, I pray you, fornication and uncleanness, and put on the brightest robe of chastity. This charge I give you, before Jesus the Bridegroom of souls come in and see their fashions. A long notice is allowed you; you have forty days for repentance: you have full opportunity both to put off, and wash, and to put on and enter. But if you persist in an evil purpose, the speaker is blameless, but you must not look for the grace: for the water will receive, but the Spirit will not accept you. If any one is conscious of his wound, let him take the salve; if any has fallen, let him arise. Let there be no Simon among you, no hypocrisy, no idle curiosity about the matter.

5. Possibly too you have come on another pretext. It is possible that a man is wishing to pay court to a woman, and came hither on that account. The remark applies in like manner to women also in their turn. A slave also perhaps wishes to please his master, and a friend his friend. I accept this bait for the hook, and welcome you, though you came with an evil purpose, yet as one to be saved by a good hope. Perhaps you knew not whither you were coming, nor in what kind of net you are taken. You have come within the Church’s nets : be taken alive, flee not: for Jesus is angling for you, not in order to kill, but by killing to make alive: for you must die and rise again. For you have heard the Apostle say, Dead indeed unto sin, but living unto righteousness . Die to your sins, and live to righteousness, live from this very day.

7. We may not receive Baptism twice or thrice; else it might be said, Though I have failed once, I shall set it right a second time: whereas if you fail once, the thing cannot be set right; for there is one Lord, and one faith, and one baptism : for only the heretics are re-baptized , because the former was no baptism.

8. For God seeks nothing else from us, save a good purpose. Say not, How are my sins blotted out? I tell you, By willing, by believing. What can be shorter than this? But if, while your lips declare you willing, your heart be silent, He knows the heart, who judges you. Cease from this day from every evil deed. Let not your tongue speak unseemly words, let your eye abstain from sin, and from roving after things unprofitable.

11. Let me give you this charge also. Study our teachings and keep them for ever. Think not that they are the ordinary homilies ; for though they also are good and trustworthy, yet if we should neglect them today we may study them tomorrow. But if the teaching concerning the laver of regeneration delivered in a consecutive course be neglected today, when shall it be made right? Suppose it is the season for planting trees: if we do not dig, and dig deep, when else can that be planted rightly which has once been planted ill? Suppose, pray, that the Catechising is a kind of building: if we do not bind the house together by regular bonds in the building, lest some gap be found, and the building become unsound, even our former labour is of no use. But stone must follow stone by course, and corner match with corner, and by our smoothing off inequalities the building must thus rise evenly. In like manner we are bringing to you stones, as it were, of knowledge. You must hear concerning the living God, you must hear of Judgment, must hear of Christ, and of the Resurrection. And many things there are to be discussed in succession, which though now dropped one by one are afterwards to be presented in harmonious connection. But unless thou fit them together in the one whole, and remember what is first, and what is second, the builder may build, but you will find the building unsound.

12. When, therefore, the Lecture is delivered, if a Catechumen ask you what the teachers have said, tell nothing to him that is without. For we deliver to you a mystery, and a hope of the life to come. Guard the mystery for Him who gives the reward. Let none ever say to you, What harm to you, if I also know it? So too the sick ask for wine; but if it be given at a wrong time it causes delirium, and two evils arise; the sick man dies, and the physician is blamed. Thus is it also with the Catechumen, if he hear anything from the believer: both the Catechumen becomes delirious (for he understands not what he has heard, and finds fault with the thing, and scoffs at what is said), and the believer is condemned as a traitor. But you are now standing on the border: take heed, pray, to tell nothing out; not that the things spoken are not worthy to be told, but because his ear is unworthy to receive. You were once yourself a Catechumen, and I described not what lay before you. When by experience you have learned how high are the matters of our teaching, then you will know that the Catechumens are not worthy to hear them.

14. And when the Exorcism has been done, until the others who are being exorcised have come , let men be with men, and women with women. For now I need the example of Noah’s ark: in which were Noah and his sons, and his wife and his sons’ wives. For though the ark was one, and the door was shut, yet had things been suitably arranged. If the Church is shut, and you are all inside, yet let there be a separation, men with men, and women with women : lest the pretext of salvation become an occasion of destruction. Even if there be a fair pretext for sitting near each other, let passions be put away. Further, let the men when sitting have a useful book; and let one read, and another listen: and if there be no book, let one pray, and another speak something useful. And again let the party of young women sit together in like manner, either singing or reading quietly, so that their lips speak, but others’ ears catch not the sound: for I suffer not a woman to speak in the Church. And let the married woman also follow the same example, and pray; and let her lips move, but her voice be unheard, that a Samuel may come, and your barren soul give birth to the salvation of God who has heard your prayer; for this is the interpretation of the name Samuel.

17. We for our part as men charge and teach you thus: but make not our building hay and stubble and chaff, lest we suffer loss, from our work being burnt up: but make our work gold, and silver, and precious stones! For it lies in me to speak, but in you to set your mind upon it, and in God to make perfect. Let us nerve our minds, and brace up our souls, and prepare our hearts. The race is for our soul: our hope is of things eternal: and God, who knows your hearts, and observes who is sincere, and who is a hypocrite, is able both to guard the sincere, and to give faith to the hypocrite: for even to the unbeliever, if only he give his heart, God is able to give faith. So may He blot out the handwriting that is against you , and grant you forgiveness of your former trespasses; may He plant you into His Church, and enlist you in His own service, and put on you the armour of righteousness : may He fill you with the heavenly things of the New Covenant, and give you the seal of the Holy Spirit indelible throughout all ages, in Christ Jesus Our Lord: to whom be the glory for ever and ever! Amen.

 

(Source here)

As always, comments may follow later as time and thought permits.

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In Search Of Something… But What?

Western media is starting to take notice of the fact that a number of western women are joining the “ranks” of ISIS. One such article from the New York Post can be found here. A few snippets:

But why would “straight-A” students from London seek out ISIS, whose brutal MO includes savage beheadings and burning their captives alive?

Some are coerced — but not all, says law professor Jayne Huckerby, head of Duke University’s International Human Rights Clinic.

“Why do they go? In many cases it’s the same reason as men,” Huckerby told The Post.

In case your curious, Jayne is a woman. I wasn’t sure at first, as that name can be used by both men and women. I checked for reasons that will be clear later. But to continue, what are some of those reasons?

Some are alienated by harassment or discrimination against Muslims at home, and want to join what they see as a pro-Muslim movement. Some, according to the ISD, enjoy the shocking violence.

and then there is this:

Others find “a sense of camaraderie and sisterhood . . . in ISIS-controlled territory, in contrast to the fake and surface-level relationships they have in the West,” according to the study.

All very interesting, especially that second snippet. There might even be some truth there. Of course, I have my own theories. As I’m sure do my readers. I very much doubt that most of the reasons these women have are the same as the men. However, they might well be related.

My principle theory is this: these women are seeking out what they perceive to be “real” men. Not the tame men around them, but wild, uncontrolled, unrestrained, authentic men. Perhaps Jayne is too caught up in her Leftist mindset to figure this out. When I first suspected it was a man speaking I thought it was merely blue-pill thought. But nope. Probably ideology getting in the way. Or maybe she doesn’t want to express the truth, assuming she can even understand it. Setting that aside, I think that these women are searching for something they feel they cannot get at home in the West.

However, the “study” does get kinda close to the truth when it talks about “fake and surface-level relationships .” This is something we have forgotten in the West, to our great detriment. No matter how much we indoctrinate women, or men, some things will never change. One thing about female nature that cannot be changed is that women want real men- masculine men. Even when women don’t understand what they want, they will know they want it. And if they cannot find it, they will seek it out.

Of course, if any of my readers disagree, they are free to voice that disagreement below. But I’m not quite done. You see, I have another theory/idea I would like to bounce off folks.

What I wonder is if Christian women would act in a similar manner if Christian men went off to fight ISIS. Suppose that a Christian militia of overseas fighters was formed, almost like a new version of the Knights Templar or Hospitallar, dedicate to fighting ISIS. Further suppose that Christian men in the West joined it to go fight in the Middle East against ISIS and its allies. Would there be that same level of draw amongst Christian women as there is presently among Islamic women?

Feel free to chime in and let me know what you think.

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Selected Sunday Scriptures- #63

The first passage today is from the Letter to the Romans:

13 Then let us no more pass judgment on one another, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. 14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for any one who thinks it unclean. 15 If your brother is being injured by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. Do not let what you eat cause the ruin of one for whom Christ died. 16 So do not let what is good to you be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God does not mean food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit; 18 he who thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. 20 Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for any one to make others fall by what he eats; 21 it is right not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that makes your brother stumble. 22 The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God; happy is he who has no reason to judge himself for what he approves.

(Romans 14:13-22)

Re-reading this particular passage, I realized that I haven’t been keeping St. Paul’s admonition in mind. Even as I go about my day, I don’t stop to consider whether I am making it easier or harder for others to live the Faith. I think it is easy for us to forget that what we do affects others in profound ways, even when we don’t intend it. Which means that it is essential we always keep others in mind with how we act, even when performing actions we ourselves consider innocuous. After all, we all have our own strengths, and our own weaknesses. Without knowing the weaknesses of others, it behooves us to actively work to build up others, lets we set a stumbling block in front of them.

Since we are on the topic of food, Lent has begun, which brings with it the topic of fasting and abstinence. It is common for many to give something up during Lent, whether an additional type of food or something else. But when making this sacrifice, we must be careful to not lead us to boast. Otherwise we shall be as the Pharisee Jesus warns of us:

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank thee that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

(Luke 18:9-14)

This failing is one that I suspect I am especially prone to. When we avoid most serious sins, we are too often inclined to think better of ourselves than we should. All too easily we forget that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23). Further, it is only with God’s strength, and not our own, that we can resist sin and temptation.

17 “Let him who boasts, boast of the Lord.” 18 For it is not the man who commends himself that is accepted, but the man whom the Lord commends.

(2 Corinthians 10:17-18)

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Saturday Saints- #56

Today’s saint is one who was quite popular during the Medieval era. Our saint is Saint Catherine of Alexandria:

Saint Catherine of Alexandria, also known as Saint Catherine of the Wheel and The Great Martyr Saint Catherine (Greek: ἡ Ἁγία Αἰκατερίνα ἡ Μεγαλομάρτυς) is, according to tradition, a Christian saint and virgin, who was martyred in the early 4th century at the hands of the pagan emperor Maxentius. According to her hagiography, she was both a princess and a noted scholar, who became a Christian around the age of fourteen, and converted hundreds of people to Christianity. Over 1,100 years following her martyrdom, St. Joan of Arc identified Catherine as one of the Saints who appeared to her and counselled her.

The Orthodox Church venerates her as a Great Martyr, and celebrates her feast day on 24 or 25 November (depending on the local tradition). In the Catholic Church she is traditionally revered as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. In 1969 the Catholic Church removed her feast day from the General Roman Calendar; however, she continued to be commemorated in the Roman Martyrology on November 25. In 2002, her feast was restored to the General Roman Calendar as an optional memorial.

In recent times there is some controversy over whether she was a historical person or a compilation of historical figures meshed together in one saint. Those interested in learning more about this figure can check out her wiki, located here.

St. Catherine

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Bringing Men Back to the Church

Reader mdavid alerted me to the following article concerning evangelization and men in the church: Bringing Men Back to the Church. The first sentence:

Here’s a simple formula, tried and true, for getting families into church: If the fathers come, the wives and children will come, too.

The article is short and worth a read in its entirety. Here are the stats which lie at the heart of its argument:

  • If a child is the first in the family to become a Christian, there’s a 3.7 percent probability that the rest of the family will become Christians.
  • If mom is the first in the family to become a Christian, there’s a 17 percent probability that the rest of the family will follow.
  • If dad is the first in the family to become a Christian, there’s a 93 percent probability that everyone else in the family will follow his lead.

I can attest to personal anecdotes which firmly support this. A follow-up post will touch on that story more. The article itself is short on solutions, so I invite my readers to take this opportunity to offer their thoughts on how to address this problem.

In the meantime, here is another good blog post by Beefy Levinson which touches on why the priest shortage in the US is artificially created.

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Tradition Thursday #12

For today’s Tradition post we cover another important early Father of the Church, St. Polycarp. Polycarp was a disciple of John during his youth, and later became a bishop. Here is his letter to the Philippians:

These things, brethren, I write to you concerning righteousness, not because I take anything upon myself, but because you have invited me to do so. For neither I, nor any other such one, can come up to the wisdom 2 Peter 3:15 of the blessed and glorified Paul. He, when among you, accurately and steadfastly taught the word of truth in the presence of those who were then alive. And when absent from you, he wrote you a letter, which, if you carefully study, you will find to be the means of building you up in that faith which has been given you, and which, being followed by hope, and preceded by love towards God, and Christ, and our neighbour, is the mother of us all. Galatians 4:26 For if any one be inwardly possessed of these graces, he has fulfilled the command of righteousness, since he that has love is far from all sin.

But the love of money is the root of all evils. 1 Timothy 6:10 Knowing, therefore, that as we brought nothing into the world, so we can carry nothing out, 1 Timothy 6:7 let us arm ourselves with the armour of righteousness; Ephesians 6:11 and let us teach, first of all, ourselves to walk in the commandments of the Lord. Next, [teach] your wives [to walk] in the faith given to them, and in love and purity tenderly loving their own husbands in all truth, and loving all [others] equally in all chastity; and to train up their children in the knowledge and fear of God. Teach the widows to be discreet as respects the faith of the Lord, praying continually 1 Thessalonians 5:17 for all, being far from all slandering, evil-speaking, false-witnessing, love of money, and every kind of evil; knowing that they are the altar of God, that He clearly perceives all things, and that nothing is hid from Him, neither reasonings, nor reflections, nor any one of the secret things of the heart.

Knowing, then, that God is not mocked, Galatians 6:7 we ought to walk worthy of His commandment and glory. In like manner should the deacons be blameless before the face of His righteousness, as being the servants of God and Christ, and not of men. They must not be slanderers, double-tongued, 1 Timothy 3:8 or lovers of money, but temperate in all things, compassionate, industrious, walking according to the truth of the Lord, who was the servant Matthew 20:28 of all. If we please Him in this present world, we shall receive also the future world, according as He has promised to us that He will raise us again from the dead, and that if we live worthily of Him, we shall also reign together with Him, 2 Timothy 2:12 provided only we believe. In like manner, let the young men also be blameless in all things, being especially careful to preserve purity, and keeping themselves in, as with a bridle, from every kind of evil. For it is well that they should be cut off from the lusts that are in the world, since every lust wars against the spirit; 1 Peter 2:11 and neither fornicators, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, shall inherit the kingdom of God, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 nor those who do things inconsistent and unbecoming. Wherefore, it is needful to abstain from all these things, being subject to the presbyters and deacons, as unto God and Christ. The virgins also must walk in a blameless and pure conscience.

And let the presbyters be compassionate and merciful to all, bringing back those that wander, visiting all the sick, and not neglecting the widow, the orphan, or the poor, but always providing for that which is becoming in the sight of God and man; Romans 12:17; 2 Corinthians 8:31 abstaining from all wrath, respect of persons, and unjust judgment; keeping far off from all covetousness, not quickly crediting [an evil report] against any one, not severe in judgment, as knowing that we are all under a debt of sin. If then we entreat the Lord to forgive us, we ought also ourselves to forgive; Matthew 6:12-14 for we are before the eyes of our Lord and God, and we must all appear at the judgment-seat of Christ, and must every one give an account of himself. Romans 14:10-12; 2 Corinthians 5:10 Let us then serve Him in fear, and with all reverence, even as He Himself has commanded us, and as the apostles who preached the Gospel unto us, and the prophets who proclaimed beforehand the coming of the Lord [have alike taught us]. Let us be zealous in the pursuit of that which is good, keeping ourselves from causes of offense, from false brethren, and from those who in hypocrisy bear the name of the Lord, and draw away vain men into error.

Stand fast, therefore, in these things, and follow the example of the Lord, being firm and unchangeable in the faith, loving the brotherhood, 1 Peter 2:17 and being attached to one another, joined together in the truth, exhibiting the meekness of the Lord in your intercourse with one another, and despising no one. When you can do good, defer it not, because alms delivers from death. Tobit 4:10, Tobit 12:9 Be all of you subject one to another 1 Peter 5:5 having your conduct blameless among the Gentiles, 1 Peter 2:12 that you may both receive praise for your good works, and the Lord may not be blasphemed through you. But woe to him by whom the name of the Lord is blasphemed! Isaiah 52:5 Teach, therefore, sobriety to all, and manifest it also in your own conduct.

I am greatly grieved for Valens, who was once a presbyter among you, because he so little understands the place that was given him [in the Church]. I exhort you, therefore, that you abstain from covetousness, and that you be chaste and truthful. Abstain from every form of evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:22 For if a man cannot govern himself in such matters, how shall he enjoin them on others? If a man does not keep himself from covetousness, he shall be defiled by idolatry, and shall be judged as one of the heathen. But who of us are ignorant of the judgment of the Lord? Do we not know that the saints shall judge the world? 1 Corinthians 6:2 as Paul teaches. But I have neither seen nor heard of any such thing among you, in the midst of whom the blessed Paul laboured, and who are commended in the beginning of his Epistle. For he boasts of you in all those Churches which alone then knew the Lord; but we [of Smyrna] had not yet known Him. I am deeply grieved, therefore, brethren, for him (Valens) and his wife; to whom may the Lord grant true repentance! And be then moderate in regard to this matter, and do not count such as enemies, 2 Thessalonians 3:15 but call them back as suffering and straying members, that you may save your whole body. For by so acting you shall edify yourselves. 1 Corinthians 12:26

For I trust that you are well versed in the Sacred Scriptures, and that nothing is hid from you; but to me this privilege is not yet granted. It is declared then in these Scriptures, Be angry, and sin not, and, Let not the sun go down upon your wrath. Ephesians 4:26 Happy is he who remembers this, which I believe to be the case with you. But may the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ Himself, who is the Son of God, and our everlasting High Priest, build you up in faith and truth, and in all meekness, gentleness, patience, long-suffering, forbearance, and purity; and may He bestow on you a lot and portion among His saints, and on us with you, and on all that are under heaven, who shall believe in our Lord Jesus Christ, and in His Father, who raised Him from the dead. Galatians 1:1 Pray for all the saints. Pray also for kings, 1 Timothy 2:2 and potentates, and princes, and for those that persecute and hate you, Matthew 5:44 and for the enemies of the cross, that your fruit may be manifest to all, and that you may be perfect in Him.

These things I have written to you by Crescens, whom up to the present time I have recommended unto you, and do now recommend. For he has acted blamelessly among us, and I believe also among you. Moreover, you will hold his sister in esteem when she comes to you. Be safe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with you all. Amen.

 

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