Saturday Saints- #131

Today’s letter is “V”, and thus we have as our saint of the day Vincent de Paul:

St. Vincent de Paul (24 April 1581 – 27 September 1660) was a French Roman Catholic priest who dedicated himself to serving the poor. He is venerated as a saint in the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. He was canonized in 1737. He was renowned for his compassion, humility and generosity and is known as the “Great Apostle of Charity”.

He lived a truly fascinating life, and I would encourage my readers to follow this link to his wiki, which tells so much more about him.

vincent_de_paul

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Selected Sunday Scriptures- #132

Two passages from St. Paul’s epistles stood out to me in the last week, and I wanted to share them with you. The first is from the letter to the Galatians:

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and turning to a different gospel— not that there is another gospel, but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, If any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed.

10 Am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ.

(Galatians 1:6-10)

One thing about reading St. Paul’s letters is we know there have been other letters sent, often to him, but sometimes from him. So there is this sense of catching part of a conversation or dialogue. Yet, while we might like to know the full context, we are still hearing the authoritative (and thus important) part of that conversation.

Here we can see St. Paul lamenting several things. What I read from this is as follows:

  • The Galatians are very quickly abandoning the true faith
  • They are ditching the truth for the sake of another gospel
  • Someone else is treading to lead them astray
  • Anyone who tries to lead you from the truth is automatically anathema
  • The Galatians are apparently doing this to please men

From the later context of the letter we can see what is going on: there has been a wave of “Judaizers” coming to the Church in Galatia who are trying to insist that Gentile converts to Christianity adopt completely the Mosaic law. This is leading the Church in Galatia astray- they are losing sight of the important of faith and think that following the works of the Mosaic law is all they need to be saved. And so St. Paul sent his letter to correct this.

What intrigues me is the last part, because it seems the most important to us today. The Galatians were evidently doing this in order to please other human beings (the Judaizers and presumably other Jews). While the particular currents of heresy might ebb and flow throughout history, the desire to please human beings remains. And now, just as then, it can lead us astray. Thus, the central lesson of this passage is to remind us that we must never forsake the truth for the sake of popularity.

The second passage that interests me is from the Second Letter to the Corinthians:

We want you to know, brethren, about the grace of God which has been shown in the churches of Macedo′nia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of liberality on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own free will, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints— and this, not as we expected, but first they gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God. Accordingly we have urged Titus that as he had already made a beginning, he should also complete among you this gracious work. Now as you excel in everything—in faith, in utterance, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in your love for us—see that you excel in this gracious work also.

I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. 10 And in this matter I give my advice: it is best for you now to complete what a year ago you began not only to do but to desire, 11 so that your readiness in desiring it may be matched by your completing it out of what you have. 12 For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a man has, not according to what he has not. 13 I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, 14 but that as a matter of equality your abundance at the present time should supply their want, so that their abundance may supply your want, that there may be equality. 15 As it is written, “He who gathered much had nothing over, and he who gathered little had no lack.”

(2 Corinthians 8:1-15)

Generosity must come from the heart. It can never be ordered or compelled. Taxation is never generosity, no matter how the money is spent. It can never be charity, for charity is love, and again, love comes from the heart. “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love.” (1 John 4:18). We pay taxes out of fear, so they cannot meet that requirement.

St. Paul understood this, and so his invitation to the Corinthians to be generous was itself an act of love. He was giving them an opportunity to perfect themselves in their faith journey.

 

 

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Random Thought on Hardship/Suffering

Thanks to some recent comments on this blog, and some e-mails discussions I have been participating in, I have been re-reading two of my posts lately:

The Misery of Too Much Comfort

The Necessity of Suffering

I have been thinking about those posts, and what I’ve written. The ideas I explored there were never fully developed, and I know I need to examine them again.

One idea that I had was the realization that suffering was still not necessarily the right word to use. I am still not sure on what word is right, although I am leaning towards hardship now. But that is a discussion for another post. Instead, I want to explore a rather simple idea with this particular post:

No man of worth has ever become that way without enduring hardship.

I cannot think of any man who is an exception to this rule. Indeed, I think that enduring and overcoming hardship is an essential component of becoming a man of worth.

At the same time, I think that men can, depending on their life circumstances, avoid suffering and hardship more easily than women. As someone recently pointed out to me, women, by virtue of their biology, will endure suffering on a fairly regular basis for much of their life. And certain other events and circumstances also involve suffering, and more specifically, pain. We men don’t really have that- unavoidable pain as a result of biology. At least, I cannot think of any examples (please correct me in the comments if I am wrong).

All of which together means that men can, if they are “lucky”, avoid a lot of pain, suffering and hardship. At the same time, our avoiding that pain, suffering and hardship is often the worst thing for men. It is a sure fire way to create a spoiled brat, and a pathetic weakling. At least, that is my experience. I am curious what my readers think on the matter.

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Saturday Saints- #130

Today marks the Nativity of the Forerunner of Christ St. John the Baptist. I don’t believe I have done a post dedicated to him yet, and even if I have, a new one seems appropriate. Here is the account of his birth:

57 Now the time came for Elizabeth to be delivered, and she gave birth to a son. 58 And her neighbors and kinsfolk heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. 59 And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they would have named him Zechari′ah after his father, 60 but his mother said, “Not so; he shall be called John.” 61 And they said to her, “None of your kindred is called by this name.” 62 And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he would have him called. 63 And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all marveled. 64 And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. 65 And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea; 66 and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him.

67 And his father Zechari′ah was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying,

68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has visited and redeemed his people,
69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David,
70 as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
71 that we should be saved from our enemies,
and from the hand of all who hate us;
72 to perform the mercy promised to our fathers,
and to remember his holy covenant,
73 the oath which he swore to our father Abraham, 74 to grant us
that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
might serve him without fear,
75 in holiness and righteousness before him all the days of our life.
76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people
in the forgiveness of their sins,
78 through the tender mercy of our God,
when the day shall dawn upon us from on high
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

 

80 And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness till the day of his manifestation to Israel.

(Luke 1:57-80)

More can be found at his wiki, located here.

 

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It Could Be Worse

I have had some dark times in my life. I’ve written about a few of them on my blog here. But whenever I stop and begin to brood overmuch, I try to recall that my life could be worse. A lot worse.

For example, I have a buddy who is currently trying to get custody of his son. He didn’t know he had a son until recently- his ex-girlfriend of many years ago lied to him when she broke up. And in the meantime she has turned out to be crazy and also a criminal. So he is fighting not just for visitation rights but custody to try and get his son away from mom and into a healthy environment.

I don’t have the concerns of a desperate parent right now- so it could be worse.

Then there is a co-worker of mine who made a huge mistake and is now facing criminal charges. He will probably lose his job no matter what. And his life is a mess now.

I am not facing criminal charges- so it could be worse.

An old example is a former co-worker of mine. He has been married and divorced several times. He is basically consigned to poverty for the rest of his life because of child support and alimony payments. There is no escape for him (besides maybe leaving the country).

I am not a financial slave to the family law system- so it could be worse.

It is important to count your blessings. While a small step, it is an important step to avoid falling into the pit trap that is despair.

[And no, I am not in a bad place now- I am appreciative of the fact that I am not, having looked around at some people around me]

 

 

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A Note On Comments Policy

I tend to be fairly lenient when it comes to comments. Probably too lenient at points, especially when people bring stuff from other blogs over here. However, I do have some limits. I posted earlier in the year about this subject. Here is what I said was not permitted:

  1. Obscenity or excess profanity. The latter is sometimes appropriate, but most of the time is unnecessary. Keep it clean, or keep it elsewhere.
  2. Link dumping to your own blog. If you have your own blog, that is great. Feel free to link it on occasion,  or when you have a post worth reading. But linking to your homepage every comment is irksome and will get you banned.
  3. A lack of civility. One can challenge the ideas of another while still keeping it civil. If anything, this is easier with the internet, because you don’t have the other person right in front of you getting in your face. Take the time to be respectful, even if you think the other person doesn’t deserve it.
  4. Sock Puppets. Just don’t do it. Use one ID, and keep at it. If you need to switch, e-mail me to let me know. You can find my e-mail in the About page.
  5. Linking to harmful or obscene websites. Nothing more need be said.
  6. Lying about what I or other commenters have said. Feel free to critique myself or the other readers all you want. Just don’t misrepresent what folks are actually saying. This is a pet peeve of mine, and will get you banned.
  7. Extreme or excessive off-topic comments. Posts are meant to discuss specific topics, and just those topics. If you want to talk about something else, use another blog (such as your own), or petition for a post on that/those subject(s).

I am going to add or modify this a bit, with a new addition:

8. No troll names. It doesn’t have to be creative, but using your name to troll me, or my readers, and you will be banned. Use John or Jane Doe if you want.

I mention this because I got several comments recently from someone who hadn’t shown up before. And the name used was basically a troll name- “Provide logical supporting evidence for your conclusions, please.” If that commenter wants to try again with a different name, he or she is free to do so. But please folks, nothing like that.

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Saturday Saints- #129

We come again to the letter “U”. Our saint for today is Pope Urban I:

Pope Urban I (Latin: Urbanus I) was Bishop of Rome or Pope from 222 to 23 May 230. He was born in Rome and succeeded Pope Callixtus I, who had been martyred. It was previously believed for centuries that Urban I was also martyred. However, recent historical discoveries now lead scholars to believe that he died of natural causes.

Much of Urban’s life is shrouded in mystery, leading to many myths and misconceptions. Despite the lack of sources he is the first Pope whose reign can be definitely dated. Two prominent sources do exist for Urban’s pontificate: Eusebius’ history of the early Church and also an inscription in the Coemeterium Callisti which names the Pope

Urban ascended to the Chair of Saint Peter in the year of the Roman Emperor Elagabalus’ assassination and served during the reign of Alexander Severus. It is believed that Urban’s pontificate was during a peaceful time for Christians in the Empire as Severus did not promote the persecution of Christianity.

(Source)

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