I have a memory of my very early childhood when I was perhaps 5 years old, and that memory is of great intimacy with God, who spoke to me simply…
I have a memory of my very early childhood when I was perhaps 5 years old, and that memory is of great intimacy with God, who spoke to me simply and with love, and I to him. As I grew older, and my brain grew “bigger,” my heart also seemed to diminish and I lost that experience of intimacy with God. I have spent my later years trying to recover that intimacy.
I do not offer this memory as proof that little children, or, by analogy, the mentally disabled, all have this intimacy, but only to indicate that there are mysteries in how God relates to us that cannot be simply reduced to high intellectual knowing.
It would seem rather that God relates to us in ways appropriate to our state. It would also seem we should at least be open to the possibility that the mentally disabled may have an even greater intimacy with God than we of “able mind” can only admire as we seek to become more “like little children, so as to enter the Kingdom of God” (Mk 10:15).
Msgr. Charles Pope is a pastor in the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.
A short biblical passage supplied by St. Peter in Acts helps us understand more about how to get to heaven. Having heard a sermon that he preached on Pentecost, many…
A short biblical passage supplied by St. Peter in Acts helps us understand more about how to get to heaven. Having heard a sermon that he preached on Pentecost, many were struck to the heart and asked what they should do. Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, everyone of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).
But this is not to be understood as a ritualistic observance we fulfill on one day, but is meant to usher in a whole renewal of the human person. And thus we should look at all three things that Peter indicates in some more detail.
The word translated as “repent” is metanoia, which means more than to clean up our act. It means to come to a whole new mind, rooted in what God teaches and reveals, with new priorities and the ability to make better decisions.
To be baptized is not only to be cleansed of our sins, but also to see our old self put to death and for Christ to come alive in us. Baptism ushers in the beginnings of a lifelong healing process that must continue by God’s grace. Baptism also points to all the sacraments of the Church. Having been brought to new life, we must also be fed by the Eucharist and by God’s word, we must see the wounds of sins healed in confession, we must be strengthened for a mission by confirmation. Baptism also makes us a member of the Body of Christ. And thus, we are called to walk with all the members of Christ’s body — the Church. St. Peter also speaks of receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit. And thus we are taught that our dignity is to be swept up into the life, love and wisdom of God. We are called to be sanctified by the Spirit, to see sins put to death and many virtues come alive.
As can be seen, there are many dimensions to the work of God in saving us. Thus, we are to walk in a loving covenant relationship with the Lord. We are to do this in fellowship with his Church, through the grace of the sacraments, obedience to the Word of God and prayer (see Acts 2:42).
St. Thomas states this himself in his Summa Theologiae: “The authority of Holy Scripture wherein they are so named. For the name ‘Seraphim’ is found in Isaiah 6:2; the name ‘Cherubim’…
St. Thomas states this himself in his Summa Theologiae: “The authority of Holy Scripture wherein they are so named. For the name ‘Seraphim’ is found in Isaiah 6:2; the name ‘Cherubim’ in Ezekiel 1 (cf. 10:15-20); ‘Thrones’ in Colossians 1:16; ‘Dominations,’ ‘Virtues,’ ‘Powers,’ and ‘Principalities’ are mentioned in Ephesians 1:21; the name ‘Archangels’ in the canonical epistle of St. Jude (9); and the name ‘Angels’ is found in many places of Scripture” (Summa Theologiae Prima Pars, Q 108, Art. 5).
Some, today, are critical of this citing from various unconnected Scriptures and wonder if the terms are not interchangeable.
But St. Thomas carefully sets forth the sensibility of the names of the nine choirs which speak to their property, eminence and participation in the divine economy. His reasoning is complex, but it has a depth that many of his merely dismissive critics lack.
In effect, St. Thomas argues as to the fittingness of the names of the ranks since they bespeak different levels and functions as well as properties. In this way, they are not simply different names used in different places of Scripture to designate the same reality.
There are real distinctions in the names of the ranks, which indicate nine divisions, or strata, if you will, which are also termed choirs, not in the sense of song, but in the sense of groups or a variety of levels of organization.
There is very little other than Scripture. There are some scurrilous stories in apocryphal writings involving the Infancy Narratives, but they are not Scripture and have been rejected by tradition…
There is very little other than Scripture. There are some scurrilous stories in apocryphal writings involving the Infancy Narratives, but they are not Scripture and have been rejected by tradition as unworthy of our attention.
Though we know so little of Joseph in Scripture, he seems to have been the strong, silent type. Not a word of his is recorded. But his actions have much to say, especially to men. Let’s consider a few examples of his active virtue.
He was a man who obeyed God and clung to his wife. At a certain point, it was discovered that Mary was pregnant, though not by Joseph. Scripture says that Joseph was a “just man.” This does not mean that Joseph was a fair and nice guy (though I presume he was). What it means was that he was a follower of the Law. The Law said that if a man discovered that a woman to whom he was betrothed was not a virgin, he should divorce her and not “sully” his home. Joseph, as a just man — that is, a follower of the Law — was prepared to follow its requirements. To fail to divorce Mary would expose Joseph to cultural ramifications. But Joseph is told in a dream not to fear, that Mary has committed no sin. The Gospel of Matthew records: “When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home” (1:24). So, here is a man who obeys God even if it is not popular, even if he may suffer for it. Here is a man who agrees to cling to his wife, for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness or health. This is what a man is to do.
Joseph was a man whose vocation is more important than his career. In Bethlehem, Joseph is warned by an angel in a dream: “Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him” (Mt 2:13). Joseph may well have had much to lose in this flight. Back in Nazareth he had a business, a career if you will. He had business prospects, business partners and contacts. Fleeing to a distant land might mean others would take his business, etc. But Joseph was a father and husband before he was a businessman. His vocation outweighed his career.
Joseph was a man of work. Scripture speaks of Joseph as a “carpenter” (Mt 13:55). The Greek word however is tektonos, which can mean more than a worker in wood. It can also refer to a builder or any craftsman. It was through his work that Joseph supported his family. It is the call of a man to work diligently and to responsibly, reliably provide for his family. Joseph models this essential aspect of manhood. St. Paul, in his Second Letter to the Thessalonians, felt it necessary to rebuke some of the men of his day for their idleness and concludes, “Such people we instruct and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to work quietly and to eat their own food” (3:12).
Rev. Msgr. Charles E. Pope is a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.
There is no obvious connection about how a third-century cleric and martyr came to symbolize romantic love. There are actually two men from the early Church known as Valentine. The…
There is no obvious connection about how a third-century cleric and martyr came to symbolize romantic love. There are actually two men from the early Church known as Valentine. The first was a Roman priest. He was decapitated in A.D. 268 for the crime of trying to convert a member of Emperor Claudius the Goth’s household. He also was a renowned healer.
The second Valentine was a bishop who was also a renowned healer and was turned over to authorities for converting people to Christianity. He was imprisoned and an attempt was made to force him to sacrifice to pagan gods. When he refused, an attempt was made to club him to death. When that failed, he was beheaded in A.D. 273.
One current and credible theory of the romantic connection to Valentine comes from the poet Geoffrey Chaucer. He wrote in a poem in 1375 that it was on Feb. 14 that birds sought out their mate: “For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s day, / Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate” (from “Parlement of Foules”). And since no record exists of romantic celebrations on Valentine’s Day prior to this poem, it may be the source of the holiday we know today. Beginning in the 14th century, courtly love among the nobles and wealthy began to be celebrated on Feb. 14. The practice gradually spread.
Another largely discredited theory held that Valentine’s Day was created as an attempt to supersede the pagan holiday of Lupercalia that was celebrated near the ides of February in Rome.
So as best as we can conclude, St. Valentine’s feast day came to be associated with romantic love through Chaucer’s poem. It was really more the day of the feast (Feb.14) than St Valentine himself where the connection was made, since it was on that day that a popular notion held that birds mated up.
Rev. Msgr. Charles E. Pope is a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.
More should be said of St. Joseph, especially today when fatherhood is in such crisis. St. Joseph was a strong man who was willing to sacrifice career and personal comfort…
More should be said of St. Joseph, especially today when fatherhood is in such crisis. St. Joseph was a strong man who was willing to sacrifice career and personal comfort to protect and care for his family. He listened to God and did what he was instructed to do in the obedience of faith. Here is a powerful model for men and fathers today. I often preach on St. Joseph when I give men’s conferences.
That said, the reserve in emphasizing Joseph extends to the Scriptures themselves. This is not due to any neglect of St. Joseph personally, but extends from the emphasis that the true Father of Jesus is God the Father.
We ought not be overly forgetful of St. Joseph. Even if what we know of him from the Scriptures is very limited, what we do know is powerfully inspiring.