CACINA

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in Uncategorized by Mike on June 14, 2009

Gospel reading of the day:

Mark 14:12-16, 22-26

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples said to him, “Where do you want us to go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?” He sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city and a man will meet you, carrying a jar of water. Follow him. Wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?”‘ Then he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready. Make the preparations for us there.” The disciples then went off, entered the city, and found it just as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover. While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it. He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many. Amen, I say to you, I shall not drink again the fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” Then, after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Reflection on the gospel reading: It is a good thing on this feast of Corpus Christi to proclaim that we believe that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist. But the devotion to the Real Presence in the Eucharist over and against the other modes of the Real Presence in the Eucharistic assembly curiously points to areas where we Christians continue to have need for conversion.

We rightly see in the bread and the wine the the Lord’s presence, but in the children that fidget in front us at church and in the strange homily that knocks at the stone in our hearts, we perhaps grow annoyed or even anxious. Our blindness to Christ in the assembly, our deafness to Christ in the Word, and our resistance before Christ in service evince the continuing need for our conversion. May a prayerful and meditative attentiveness to the implications of our Eucharistic faith on this wonderful feast lead us to recognize Christ in all the ways he offers himself to us.

Spiritual reading: We cannot love God unless we love each other. We know him in the breaking of bread, and we know each other in the breaking of bread, and we are not alone anymore. Heaven is a banquet, and life is a banquet too – even with a crust – where there is companionship.

We have all known loneliness, and we have learned that the only solution is love, and that love comes with community. (Dorothy Day)

A Feast for Us!

Posted in Uncategorized by fatherjimb on June 14, 2009

June is a month of special feasts, including that of the Body and Blood of Christ formerly known as Corpus Christi.  It was created at a time when people lost the belief of the Eucharist as being Christ present among them.  During the reformation this belief was challenged and became for many at best a symbolic action.   During the early 1930’s a movement within the Catholic community began to again look at our Sunday liturgy and recapture the importance of Christ in the Eucharist.  The end result was the revision of the Mass as we know it today, harkening back to an earlier liturgical style yet making it more accessible to 20th century people.

There is a danger, however, that we can get caught up in the rules or go off on making it a multimedia event.  Both have their place in making the Eucharistic liturgy meet our needs yet we should always focus on what it is that makes it special.  Perhaps the story of Babette’s Feast is a good metaphor to help us understand what Eucharist means.

The story concerns two sisters, Martina (named for Martin Luther) and Philippa (named for Luther’s friend and biographer Philip Melanchthon) who live in a small village on the remote western coast of Jutland in the 19th century. They are the daughters of the now deceased pastor who founded his own strict Christian sect. The sect draws no new converts and the aging sisters preside lovingly over their dwindling flock of white-haired believers.

Each in their youth was a ravishing beauty  courted by an impassioned suitor who fell desperately in love, developing grand plans both for themselves and their “angels.”  Each daughter eventually deflects her pursuer, choosing, instead, a life of quiet piety and Puritanical simplicity following in their father’s footsteps. Their father was of the belief that marriage and happiness as such is a falsehood.

Many years later Babette Hersant appears at their door. She bears a letter from Philippa’s former suitor, explaining that she is a refugee from revolutionary bloodshed in Paris, and recommending her as a housekeeper. The sisters take Babette in, and she spends fourteen years as their cook, a modest but benign figure who gradually eases their lives and the lives of many in the remote village. Her only link to her former life is a lottery ticket that a friend in Paris renews for her every year.

One day, she wins the lottery of 10,000 francs.  Rather than return to her former home she instead decides to use the money to prepare a delicious dinner for the sisters and their small congregation on the occasion of the founding pastor’s hundredth birthday. More than just an epicurean delight, the feast is an outpouring of Babette’s appreciation, an act of self-sacrifice with Eucharistic echoes; though she doesn’t tell anyone, Babette is spending her entire winnings on her gesture of gratitude.

The sisters agree to accept Babette’s meal, and her offer to pay for the creation of a “real French dinner”. She leaves the island for a few days in order to return to Paris where she personally arranges for supplies to be sent to Jutland. The ingredients are plentiful, sumptuous and exotic, and their arrival causes much discussion amongst the group. As the various never-before-seen ingredients arrive, and preparations commence, the sisters begin to worry that the meal will be, at best, a great sin of sensual luxury, and at worst some form of devilry or witchcraft. In a hasty conference, the sisters and the congregation agree to eat the meal, but to forego any pleasure in it, and to make no mention of the food during the entire dinner.

The last and most relevant part of the story is the preparation and the serving of an extraordinary banquet of royal dimensions, lavishly deployed in the unpainted austerity of the sisters’ rustic home.

Although the other celebrants do their best to reject the earthly pleasures of the food and drink, Babette’s extraordinary gifts as a Chef de Cuisine and a true connoisseur break their distrust and superstitions, elevating them not only physically but spiritually. Old wrongs are forgotten, ancient loves are rekindled, and a mystical redemption of the human spirit settles over the table – thanks to the general elation nurtured by the consumption of so many fine culinary delicacies and spirits. The Eucharistic celebration around the table portends the grace God has been allotted to them.  For them and us it is an ever present hope for the coming of the kingdom we proclaim.

The menu is a true feast with caviar, turtle soup, quail in stuffed pastry shells, a delightful salad and Blue Cheese, papaya, figs, grapes and pineapple. The grand finale dessert is a rum sponge cake with figs and glacéed fruits). Numerous rare wines along with various champagnes and spirits, complete the menu. Babette’s purchase of the finest china, flatware, crystal and linens with which to set the table ensures that the luxurious food and drink is served in a style worthy of the famous former Chef of “Café Angalis.” Babette’s previous occupation has been unknown to the sisters until she confides in them after the meal.

The sisters assume that Babette will now return to Paris, and when she tells them that all of her money is gone and that she is not going anywhere, the sisters are aghast. Babette then tells them that dinner for 12 at the Café Anglais has a price of 10,000 francs. Martina tearfully says, “Now you will be poor the rest of your life”, to which Babette replies, “An artist is never poor.”

God has prepared a feast for us too through Jesus who is both the reason for the feast and the feast itself.  It is too easy to allow the ritual to become a rote action or to make it into the personal action of the priest and ministers.  This is a feast to which we are all invited to taste of the choicest of food and the finest of drink.  Jesus tells us “My flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.”  let us be mindful of what we do, and say and enjoy this feast which the Lord has made for us for when we east this bread and drink this cup we proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes in glory.

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in Christianity, ethics, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on June 13, 2009

Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 5:33-37

Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, Do not take a false oath, but make good to the Lord all that you vow. But I say to you, do not swear at all; not by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is his footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Do not swear by your head, for you cannot make a single hair white or black. Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ Anything more is from the Evil One.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: The gospel reading for the day is about our personal integrity and the reliability of our word. Say, “Yes,” when we mean, “Yes,” and, “No,” when we mean, “No.” Our vocations as Christians are to live and speak truthfully. Jesus tells us that we do not need to make oaths, because our integrity is a sufficient guarantee of what we promise. This does not mean that we need to tell everyone everything, but it does mean that whatever we say and do is trustworthy.

Saint of the day: Anthony of Padua was born in 1195 at Lisbon, Portugal as Ferdinand de Bulhoes. At the age of 15, this son of a knight at the court of King Alfonso II became an Augustinian monk at San Vincente just outside Lisbon. He had studied under the priests of the Lisbon cathedral, who had inspired him. In 1212, Ferdinand migrated to the priory of Santa Cruz at Coîmbra because he found the visits of friends too disturbing. At Coîmbra Ferdinand was well-educated by teachers from Montpellier, Toulouse, and Paris in Scripture. He was ordained in 1219 or 1220.

He had lived a quiet life as a canon in Coîmbra for eight years when Don Pedro of Portugal brought from Morocco in 1220 the relics of recent Franciscan martyrs. On hearing of their martyrdom, Anthony was fired with missionary zeal, which he had little hope of fulfilling as a canon regular. He laid his heart bare before some Franciscans who had come to Holy Cross Monastery to beg. With their encouragement, Ferdinand transferred to the Franciscan Order at Olivares in 1221 and took the name Anthony. He left to go to Morocco to evangelize. Shipwrecked at Sicily, he joined some other brothers who were going to Assisi. He lived in a cave at San Paolo leaving only to attend Mass and sweep the nearby monastery. One day when a scheduled speaker failed to appear, the brothers pressed him into speaking. He impressed them so that he was thereafter constantly traveling, evangelizing, preaching, and teaching theology through Italy and France. A gifted speaker, he attracted crowds everywhere he went, speaking in multiple tongues. One of the most beloved of saints, his images and statues are found everywhere. He died June 13, 1231.

Spiritual reading: The moral revival that certain people wish to impose will be much worse than the condition it is meant to cure.

If our present suffering ever leads to revival, this will not be brought about through slogans, but in silence and moral loneliness, through pain, misery, and terror, in the profoundest depths of each person’s spirit. (Simone Weil)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in Christianity, ethics, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on June 12, 2009


Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 5:27-32

Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go into Gehenna.

“It was also said, Whoever divorces his wife must give her a bill of divorce. But I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus’ teaching on divorce is quite hard, but it does seem for various good scholarly reasons that he was opposed to divorce and remarriage. If we look at scripture as a set of propositions without any greater context, we would have to conclude that divorce and remarriage are forbidden.

But in fact, Jesus lived in a time and a place with a concrete set of circumstances, and even the teaching on divorce is not as easy to understand as we might first think it to be. Women in Jesus’ time relied on their husbands for their well-being, and though a man could divorce a woman, a woman neither could divorce a man nor resist the divorce. In Jesus’ time, if a man divorced his wife, the woman, without any economic power, most often fell into the deepest poverty.

It seems quite possible that our Lord when he condemns divorce was reflecting on the social and cultural circumstances of his day. His preoccupation with the plight of the poor no doubt led him to conclude that divorce forced women into untenable situations. Given the situation of the day, he challenged a system that forced powerless women into poverty.

Of course, in our time, women have the right to divorce, and they have economic power. The social and cultural system is different, and therefore, the moral obligations must fit the needs of our own situation.

Saint of the day: Stephen Bandelli was born in 1369 in Italy into a noble family. Little is known of his early years except that he applied for admission to the Dominicans in his hometown and received the habit while still very young.

Stephen earned a degree in canon law and a master’s degree in theology, and lectured at the University of Pavia. He was a man of superior intellect and a careful student. Tradition holds that he was “another Saint Paul,” and that his sermons were effective in bringing many Christians to a more fervent life and many sinners back into the fold. Aside from this, tradition holds that he was prayerful, penitential, had a spirit of poverty, was charitable, and was a model religious. When Stephen died in 1450, he was buried in the Dominican church of Saluzzo.

Spiritual reading: Beg our Lord to grant you perfect love for your neighbor. If someone else is well spoken of, be more pleased than if it were yourself; this is easy enough, for if you were really humble, it would vex you to be praised . . . Comply in all things with others’ wishes, though you lose your own rights. Forget your self-interests for theirs, however much nature may rebel. (Teresa of Ávila)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on June 11, 2009

Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 5:20-26

Jesus said to his disciples: “I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.

“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment. But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, Raqa, will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna. Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court with him. Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus unfolds in the Sermon on the Mount his treatment of the fundamental characteristics of Christian life. On Monday, we read the Beatitudes where Jesus called us to compassion, gentleness, justice, and clear-sightedness. In the passage we read on Tuesday, he called us to a lively faith lived in relationship with others. In yesterday’s reading, he called us to faithfulness and constancy. And here in the reading from today’s gospel, he calls us to forgiveness and reconciliation.

All of these patterns of Christian life address who we are as people who are connected to other people. Compassion, gentleness, justice, witness, faithfulness, and reconciliation all are about how we live with others. Christian life ultimately and primarily is a set of relationships through and in which we discover the Lord. And that discovery presupposes a particular way we live with one another.

Saint of the day: All we know of Barnabas is to be found in the New Testament. A Jew, born in Cyprus and named Joseph, he sold his property and gave the proceeds to the Apostles, who gave him the name Barnabas. He lived in common with the earliest converts to Christianity in Jerusalem. He persuaded the community there to accept Paul as a disciple; was sent to Antioch, Syria to look into the community there; and brought Paul there from Tarsus. With Paul, he brought Antioch’s donation to the Jerusalem community during a famine and returned to Antioch with John Mark, his cousin. The three went on a missionary journey to Cyprus, Perga (when John Mark went to Jerusalem) and Antioch in Pisidia, where they were so violently opposed by the Jews that they decided to preach to the pagans. Then they went on to Iconium and Lystra in Lycaonia, where they were first acclaimed gods, then stoned out of the city, and then returned to Antioch in Syria.

When a dispute arose regarding the observance of the Jewish rites, Paul and Barnabas went to Jerusalem, where at a council, it was decided that pagans did not have to be circumcised to be baptized. On their return to Antioch, Barnabas wanted to take John Mark on another visitation to the cities where they had preached, but Paul objected because of John Mark’s desertion of them in Perga. Paul and Barnabas parted, and Barnabas returned to Cyprus with Mark; nothing further is heard of him, though it is believed his rift with Paul was ultimately healed. Tradition has Barnabas preaching in Alexandria and Rome, the founder of the Cypriote Church, the Bishop of Milan (which he was not), and has him stoned to death at Salamis about the year 61. The apocryphal Epistle of Barnabas was long attributed to him, but modern scholarship now attributes it to a Christian in Alexandria between the years 70 and 100; the Gospel of Barnabas is probably by an Italian Christian who became a Moslem; and the Acts of Barnabas once attributed to John Mark are now known to have been written in the fifth century.

Spiritual reading: It is for the prodigal son that the Father lays out his banquet.

If the son had lived economically, he would not have thought of returning. (“Prodigal Sons” by Simone Weil)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on June 10, 2009

Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 5:17-19

Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Matthew wrote his gospel for Jews who had come to believe that Jesus was the messiah. These Jewish believers were anxious that what they were doing was not a rejection of Judaism. This passage from the Sermon on the Mount is a reassurance to them that what they were doing was not a replacement but an upgrade of their earlier practice. In this passage, Jesus tells us that he came to reveal the deepest spirit of the law, and it is in obedience to the spirit of the law that we shall find our way into the presence of God.

Saint of the day: Edward Joannes Maria Poppe was born in Temse in 1890 as the third child and eldest son of a baker. He studied at the college of Sint-Niklaas from 1905 until 1910, where he was a member of De Klauwaerts, a Flemish student association in the Flemish Movement of before World War I.

Although his father died in 1907, he was able to continue his studies and to go to the seminary in 1910 to become a priest. He studied Thomism at the Catholic University of Louvain. Influenced by the works of Louis de Montfort, he became devoted to the Blessed Mother. In 1913, he moved to the Great Seminar of Ghent, where he became a member of Filioli Caritatis, a group of young priests aiming for priestly sanctity.

When the war started in 1914, Poppe was called to arms, but fell sick in Bourlers, part of Chimay. After strengthening again in Temse, he went to the seminar of Mechelen, which stayed open. Finally, on May 1, 1916, he was ordained a priest. His motto was “Accendatur” – “May the fire be kindled,” referring to Luke 12:49.

Poppe became the parish associate pastor in Sint-Coleta, a poor laborers’ parish in Ghent. He started a communion bond for the youngest children, introducing them to many aspects of Christianity. Poppe also chose to live in severe poverty and to be like one of his parishers.

Exhausted, due to his way of living and his weak health, he was transferred to a monastery in Moerzeke. Mostly confined to his bed, he wrote numerous texts for the “Eucharistische Kruistocht” (“Eucharistic Crusade”) of the Averbode Abbey, often appearing in the popular youth magazine Zonneland.

When his health slightly improved, he was appointed as spiritual leader of the military school in Leopoldsburg in 1922. A cardiac crisis in 1923, when visiting his mother with Christmas, made it impossible for him to return to Leopoldsburg, and he again was confined to the monastery of Moerzeke. He died there on June 10, 1924.

Spiritual reading: The one who is always alone is worthy of God, and to the one who is always at home is God present, and in that one who stands always in the present does God the Father bear the Son unceasingly. (Meister Eckhart)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on June 9, 2009

Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 5:13-16

Jesus said to his disciples: “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Implicit in the message of Jesus in today’s passage taken from the Sermon on the Mount are two themes. They are the need to keep the message fresh in our lives and the imperative to be examples to others of what it means to be a Christian.

In his first analogy, Jesus compares us to salt, and when he specifically mentions its savor, he warns us not to lose our zest. Knowledge and love of God and understanding of the implications of the gospel for our lives are not fixed and unchanging bodies of knowledge and affection. With God, there is always more to understand, and with God, there is always more to love. The temptation for Christians is to get stuck in a single definition or framework and stop growing through exposure to new challenges. Jesus warns us to avoid this trap.

It is not enough, however, that we continue on some self-satisfied journey of personal self-improvement, content to have an experience of religion that might boil down to, “me and Jesus.” We are to be cities on hills and lights on lampstands: our Christian charism is specifically our relationships to others as their companions and servants. Jesus’ second warning today is that we be people for others, that we proclaim the gospel not just in what we say but also what we do and that we live the gospel in a way that others can see.

Saint of the day: Jose Anchieta, S.J., the apostle of Brazil, was born on March 19, 1534 at San Cristobal de la Laguna, Canary Islands, Spain. The son of a wealthy and prominent family, and possibly related to Saint Ignatius of Loyola, he was educated in Portugal. He became a Jesuit in 1551 at age 17.

A missionary to Brazil, he arrived in July 1553. He is called the National Apostle of Brazil. He was a cofounder of the cities of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. In his youth, he dislocated his spine. When he joined the Jesuits, he was sent to Brazil for its mild climate in the hope that his back would improve. It never did, and he was in constant pain for the 44 years he worked in the Americas.

He and the Jesuit Emanuel Nóbrega arrived at Piratininga on the feast of Saint Paul. For this reason, he named the mission Sao Paulo. In 1553, he first met the Tupi Indians who lived on the outskirts of the settlement. Adept at languages, Jose soon learned to speak the language of the Tupis. For two decades, Jose worked on a grammar and dictionary used by Portuguese settlers and missionaries.

Jose was later held hostage for five months by the Tamoyo tribe. During this time, he occupied himself by composing a Latin poem in honor of the Blessed Virgin. Since he had no writing supplies, he wrote in wet sand and memorized the verses. When he again reached Sao Vicente, he committed all 4,172 lines to paper.

Jose converted the Maramomis tribe, and composed plays for his students to perform, writing them in Latin, Spanish, Portuguese, and Tupi. Because his dramas were the first written in Brazil, Jose is known as the Father of Brazilian national literature.

He became a Jesuit provincial in 1577. In letters to his fellow missionaries, he warned that burning desire was not enough: “You must come with a bag-full of virtues.” He died June 9, 1597 at Reritigba, Brazil.

Spiritual reading: God does not seek God’s own benefit. In everything God acts only out of love. Thus, the person who is united with God lives the same way – she or he is innocent and free.

She or he lives for love without asking why, and solely for the glory of God, never seeking personal advantage: God alone is at work in them. (Meister Eckhart)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on June 8, 2009

Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 5:1-12

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him. He began to teach them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you
and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.
Rejoice and be glad,
for your reward will be great in heaven.
Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: The gospel of Matthew presents to us today the Beatitudes, the heart of Jesus’ teaching, and a pattern of life that we might take as the essence of how we as Christians should move through the world. In each beatitude, Jesus commences his teaching with the notion that the ones who have this quality are blessed, that is, they possess both good fortune and happiness. The Beatitudes call us to lives of gentleness, justice, compassion, and clear sightedness. Moreover, the Beatitudes speak to our conditions of weakness, that when we suffer a material, psychological, or spiritual deprivation, then are we blessed. When we have cause to mourn, we also shall have the grace to know that others love us even as they comfort us in our mourning. When we are persecuted and we stand by our principles despite our pain, then we receive the blessing to know of our own integrity in the face of adversity. Whatever value the 10 Commandments may have in the lives of Christians, the Beatitudes are indeed Jesus’ declaration of what Christian life means.

Saint of the day: Antony Mary Gianelli was born near Genoa, Italy, in 1789. As a youth Antony was conspicuous for his gentle docility, industry, and intelligence. A generous benefactress made it possible for this middle-class boy to study in Genoa. He so distinguished himself in his seminary studies that he was allowed to preach while he was still only a subdeacon. Even then his eloquence drew crowds. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1812 by special dispensation because he was not of canonical age for ordination. He engaged in pastoral and educational work as a parish priest, gave numerous missions, and became known for his preaching and as a confessor besieged by penitents. He became archpriest of Chiavari in 1826. Before he was 40, he had founded a congregation of priests (in 1827), Missioners of Saint Alphonsus Liguori, and one of women (in 1829), Sisters of Santa Maria dell’Orto (‘of the Garden’), who were devoted to teaching poor children and caring for the sick. These sisters spread to the United States and Asia. In 1838, he was appointed bishop of Bobbio, where he ruled wisely until his death on June 8, 1846. Because he was a man of extraordinary virtue and prudence, he gained the support of his priests.

Spiritual reading: What God requires of the soul is the essence of self-surrender. The free gifts he asks from us are self-denial, obedience and love. The rest is his business. (St. Jean-Pierre de Caussade, S.J.)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on June 7, 2009

Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 28:16-20

The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they all saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted. Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: At the core of our faith abides the Holy Trinity, whose feast this Sunday after Pentecost we together keep. When we enter the church, we receive our baptism in the names of the members of the Trinity.

God as our father and mother gives us life. God as son and brother saves us. God as spirit moves in us to animate us and make us holy. The Trinity is God as source and origin, the agency through whom all things are done, the being in whom we abide. God as our life and being, God as our Lord and Savior, God as our Guide and Teacher.

All things bright and beautiful, all things that lift us up, all things that save us from ruin, heal our brokenness, and make of us the best we can be begin In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, let us keep the feast.

Spiritual reading:

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through a confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation.
(“Breastplate” by St. Patrick)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on June 6, 2009

Gospel reading of the day:

Mark 12:38-44

In the course of his teaching Jesus said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes and accept greetings in the marketplaces, seats of honor in synagogues, and places of honor at banquets. They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext, recite lengthy prayers. They will receive a very severe condemnation.”

He sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents. Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, “Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: God sees with different eyes than the world uses to see. Great benefactors make donations to institutions, and institutions in turn memorialize them with their names placed on buildings and endowments; the world often uses quantities to measure the value of a contribution. But God sees the little things that the world ignores and weighs things in proportion to the circumstances of the individual. God is interested in our proportionality: when we give, just how much of ourselves do we give?

Saint of the day: Robert Salt was a Carthusian martyr. Robert was a lay brother in the Carthusian community of London who, with six other members of the order, was starved to death at Newgate by order of King Henry VIII of England after they resisted his Dissolution of the Monasteries. On May 29, 1537 all were sent to Newgate, where they were chained standing and with their hands tied behind them to posts in the prison, and so left to die of starvation. However Margaret Clement, who as Margaret Giggs had been brought up in the household of St. Thomas More, bribed the gaoler to let her have access to the prisoners, and disguised herself as a milkmaid and carried in a milk-can full of meat, wherewith she fed them. After the king’s inquiry as to whether they were not already dead, the gaoler was afraid to let her enter again; but she was allowed to go on the roof, and uncovering the tiles, she let down meat in a basket as near as she could to their mouths. However they could get little or nothing from the basket, and as the gaoler feared discovery, even this plan was soon discontinued. Robert died on June 9 of starvation.

Spiritual reading: We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not yet learned the simple art of living together as brothers. (Martin Luther King)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in Christianity, politics, religion, scripture by Mike on June 5, 2009

Gospel reading of the day:

Mark 12:35-37

As Jesus was teaching in the temple area he said, “How do the scribes claim that the Christ is the son of David? David himself, inspired by the Holy Spirit, said:

The Lord said to my lord, ‘Sit at my right hand until I place your enemies under your feet.’

David himself calls him ‘lord’; so how is he his son?” The great crowd heard this with delight.

Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus in today’s passage demonstrates his sense of irony. The messiah, of course, is David’s son, and a father does not ascribe lordship to his son, but David in the psalm does just that when he calls his son, the messiah, lord. Moreover, this passage represents a rare instance where Mark’s gospel hints at Jesus’ divinity, because the Greek word used for lord typically replaces an equivalent term in Hebrew used to describe God.

In any event, we see that Jesus has the capacity to use a teaching moment to entertain his listeners. This is a very human thing, to be amusing, and our Lord shows here that he has this ability, too. We are engaged in serious business, this project of being alive, but it includes the many pleasures of our diversions. Let us pray to God that we may make light of our project in the midst of the seriousness of it, that we never take ourselves so seriously that we fail to find the humor in ourselves and the rest of the whole thing, as well.

Saint of the day: Boniface was born around 673-680 at Crediton, Devonshire, England. Educated at the Benedictine monastery at Exeter, England, he became a Benedictine monk at Exeter. A misissionary to Germany from 719, he was assisted by Saints Albinus, Abel, and Agatha. Boniface destroyed idols and pagan temples, and built churches on the sites. He became a bishop and the archbishop of Mainz. He reformed churches in his see and built religious houses in Germany. Among the people he ordained to the priesthood was Saint Sola. He founded or restored the dioceses of Bavaria, Thuringgia, and Franconia. He evangelized in Holland, but was set upon by a troop of pagans, and he and 52 of his new flock, including Saints Adaler and Eoban, were martyred. He died June 5, 754.

In Saxony, Boniface encountered a tribe worshipping a Norse deity in the form of a huge oak tree. Boniface walked up to the tree, removed his shirt, took up an axe, and without a word he hacked down the six foot wide wooden god. Boniface stood on the trunk, and asked, “How stands your mighty god? My God is stronger than he.” The crowd’s reaction was mixed, but some conversions were begun.

One tradition about Saint Boniface says that he used the customs of the locals to help convert them. There was a game in which they threw sticks called kegels at smaller sticks called heides. Boniface bought religion to the game, having the heides represent demons, and knocking them down showing purity of spirit.

Spiritual reading: Forgiveness creates an obligation for which there are no exceptions allowed. Love is a fire which goes out if it does not kindle others.

Thou hast burned with joy; kindle those who come near you with the same, lest thou becomest like a stone, hard and cold. You have received much; you must also give. (Giovanni Papini)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on June 4, 2009

Gospel reading of the day:

Mark 12:28-34

One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?” Jesus replied, “The first is this:

Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.

The second is this:

You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

There is no other commandment greater than these.” The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher. You are right in saying,

He is One

and

there is no other than he.

And

to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding with all your strength,

and

to love your neighbor as yourself

is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding, he said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” And no one dared to ask him any more questions.

Reflection on the gospel reading: It has been said that the meaning of life is in the giving and receiving of love. If this is so, true discipleship lies in giving and receiving love, that absolute availability to the needs of another that forfeits, forgets, and finishes itself in love’s object.

Saint of the day: Edfrith of Lindisfarne was a monk of the seventh and eighth centuries. Edfrith’s life is obscure prior to his becoming bishop in 698. He studied in Ireland and was well-trained as a scribe, an artist, and a calligrapher because it seems almost certain that he alone wrote and illuminated the Lindisfarne Gospels, which can now be seen in the British Library.

His masterpiece was dedicated to Saint Cuthbert and would have taken at least two years to complete. He welcomed the new text of the Gospels and the new layout, both of which came to him from Italy via Wearmouth-Jarrow. He provided evangelist portraits as a creative artist in a field of Mediterranean expertise, but he also excelled in insular majuscule script and Irish geometric and zoomorphic decoration of extraordinary delicacy and accuracy. The fusion of all these elements in one work is a tribute to Edfrith’s well-rounded education and the merging of Roman and Irish elements in Northumbria about 35 years after the Synod of Whitby.

The manuscript would have been enough to ensure Edfrith a place in art history; nevertheless, he was also a good bishop. Most of his memorable actions, however, are associated with Saint Cuthbert. The anonymous Life of Cuthbert was dedicated to Edfrith and he commissioned Saint Bede to write his prose Life of Cuthbert. He restored Cuthbert’s oratory on the Inner Farne Island for the use of Saint Felgild. He may also have been the recipient of a letter from Saint Aldhelm. He died in 721.

Edfrith was connected with Cuthbert even in death: He was buried near his tomb. His relics, together with those of Saints Aidan, Eadbert, and Ethelwold, were taken with Cuthbert’s in their wanderings through Northumbria from 875 to 995, when they reached Durham.

Spiritual reading: The Holy Ghost over the bent World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings. (“God’s Grandeur” by Fr. Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on June 3, 2009

Gospel reading of the day:

Mark 12:18-27

Some Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus and put this question to him, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us, ‘If someone’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no child, his brother must take the wife and raise up descendants for his brother.’ Now there were seven brothers. The first married a woman and died, leaving no descendants. So the second brother married her and died, leaving no descendants, and the third likewise. And the seven left no descendants. Last of all the woman also died. At the resurrection when they arise whose wife will she be? For all seven had been married to her.” Jesus said to them, “Are you not misled because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God? When they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but they are like the angels in heaven.

As for the dead being raised, have you not read in the Book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God told him, I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not God of the dead but of the living. You are greatly misled.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus tells us in this passage that God is the God of the living. Based on God’s love for life, Jesus argues for the resurrection and the continuity of our existence even after the end of this particular bodily existence. The question of the time of the resurrection has preoccupied many theologians from ancient times. A group of theologians has argued that perhaps the resurrection actually occurs in some way concurrently with death. In any event, Jesus clearly teaches here and elsewhere that the story of our lives does not end when our lives in this realm conclude. And he is most emphatic in this teaching: he tells the Sadducees in today’s reading not just that they are mistaken in their disbelief in the resurrection, but that they are greatly mislead.

Saint of the day: For those of us who think that the faith and zeal of the early Christians died out as the Church grew more safe and powerful through the centuries, the martyrs of Uganda are a reminder that persecution of Christians continues in modern times, even to the present day.

The Society of Missionaries of Africa (known as the White Fathers) had only been in Uganda for 6 years and yet they had built up a community of converts whose faith would outshine their own. The earliest converts were soon instructing and leading new converts that the White Fathers couldn’t reach. Many of these converts lived and taught at King Mwanga’s court.

King Mwanga was a violent ruler and pedophile who forced himself on the young boys and men who served him as pages and attendants. The Christians at Mwanga’s court who tried to protect the pages from King Mwanga.

The leader of the small community of 200 Christians, was the chief steward of Mwanga’s court, a twenty-five-year-old Catholic named Joseph Mkasa (or Mukasa).

When Mwanga killed a Protestant missionary and his companions, Joseph Mkasa confronted Mwanga and condemned his action. Mwanga had always liked Joseph but when Joseph dared to demand that Mwanga change his lifestyle, Mwanga forgot their long friendship. After striking Joseph with a spear, Mwanga ordered him killed. When the executioners tried to tie Joseph’s hands, he told them, “A Christian who gives his life for God is not afraid to die.” He forgave Mwanga with all his heart but made one final plea for his repentance before he was beheaded and then burned on November 15, 1885.

Charles Lwanga took over the instruction and leadership of the Christian community at court — and the charge of keeping the young boys and men out of Mwanga’s hands. Perhaps Joseph’s plea for repentance had had some affect on Mwanga because the persecution died down for six months.

Anger and suspicion must have been simmering in Mwanga, however. In May 1886 he called one of his pages named Mwafu and asked what the page had been doing that kept him away from Mwanga. When the page replied that he had been receiving religious instruction from Denis Sebuggwawo, Mwanga’s temper boiled over. He had Denis brought to him and killed him himself by thrusting a spear through his throat.

He then ordered that the royal compound be sealed and guarded so that no one could escape and summoned the country’s executioners. Knowing what was coming, Charles Lwanga baptized four catechumens that night, including a thirteen-year-old named Kizito. The next morning Mwanga brought his whole court before him and separated the Christians from the rest by saying, “Those who do not pray stand by me, those who do pray stand over there.” He demanded of the fifteen boys and young men (all under 25) if they were Christians and intended to remain Christians. When they answered “Yes” with strength and courage Mwanga condemned them to death.

He commanded that the group be taken on a 37 mile trek to the place of execution at Namugongo. The chief executioner begged one of the boys, his own son, Mabaga, to escape and hide but Mbaga refused. The cruelly-bound prisoners passed the home of the White Fathers on their way to execution. Father Lourdel remembered thirteen-year-old Kizito laughing and chattering. Lourdel almost fainted at the courage and joy these condemned converts, his friends, showed on their way to martyrdom. Three of these faithful were killed on road.

A Christian soldier named James Buzabaliawo was brought before the king. When Mwanga ordered him to be killed with the rest, James said, “Goodbye, then. I am going to Heaven, and I will pray to God for you.” When a grief-stricken Father Lourdel raised his hand in absolution as James passed, James lifted his own tied hands and pointed up to show that he knew he was going to heaven and would meet Father Lourdel there. With a smile he said to Lourdel, “Why are you so sad? This nothing to the joys you have taught us to look forward to.”

Also condemned were Andrew Kagwa, a Kigowa chief, who had converted his wife and several others, and Matthias Murumba (or Kalemba) an assistant judge. The chief counselor was so furious with Andrew that he proclaimed he wouldn’t eat until he knew Andrew was dead. When the executioners hesitated Andrew egged them on by saying, “Don’t keep your counselor hungry — kill me.” When the same counselor described what he was going to do with Matthias, he added, “No doubt his god will rescue him.” “Yes,” Matthias replied, “God will rescue me. But you will not see how he does it, because he will take my soul and leave you only my body.” Matthias was cut up on the road and left to die — it took him at least three days.

The original caravan reached Namugongo and the survivors were kept imprisoned for seven days. On June 3, they were brought out, wrapped in reed mats, and placed on the pyre. Mbaga was killed first by order of his father, the chief executioner, who had tried one last time to change his son’s mind. The rest were burned to death. Thirteen Catholics and 11 Protestants died. They died calling on the name of Jesus and proclaiming, “You can burn our bodies, but you cannot harm our souls.”

When the White Fathers were expelled from the country, the new Christians carried on their work, translating and printing the catechism into their natively language and giving secret instruction on the faith. Without priests, liturgy, and sacraments their faith, intelligence, courage, and wisdom kept the Catholic Church alive and growing in Uganda. When the White Fathers returned after King Mwanga’s death, they found five hundred Christians and one thousand catechumens waiting for them. The twenty-two Catholic martyrs of the Uganda persecution were canonized.

Spiritual reading: The more we live with people in a community, the more we must look to ourselves and regard the beam in our own eyes. The more we live with a babbling crowd, the more we must practice silence. “For every idle word we speak we will be judged.” (Dorothy Day)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on June 2, 2009

Gospel reading of the day:

Mark 12:13-17

Some Pharisees and Herodians were sent to Jesus to ensnare him in his speech. They came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man and that you are not concerned with anyone’s opinion. You do not regard a person’s status but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not? Should we pay or should we not pay?”

Knowing their hypocrisy he said to them, “Why are you testing me? Bring me a denarius to look at.” They brought one to him and he said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” They replied to him, “Caesar’s.” So Jesus said to them, “Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” They were utterly amazed at him.

Reflection on the gospel reading: Today’s gospel passage points to a preoccupation of Jesus, his concern with hearts that are true. More than once, the gospel tells us Jesus sees the hypocrisy of the people around him. There are lots of things that the gospel could have told us interested Jesus: whether people wore nice clothes, were attractive, were tall or short. None of these things apparently concerned Jesus. What concerned him was whether people meant what they said and said what they meant, whether they said, “Yes,” when they meant, “Yes,” and, “No,” when they meant, “No.” There are other lessens we can draw from this passage, like Jesus’ position on our relationship to government or Jesus’ sharp and probing intelligence, but what preoccupied our Lord in the exchange was his questioners’ fidelity to their hearts, that their outsides and insides matched in some way. If we wish to make a home for Jesus in our hearts, let them be true and sharp places that reflect on our faces and in our words the good that we nurture inside us.

Saint of the day: Erasmus was also known as Elmo. He was the bishop of Formiae, Campagna, Italy, and suffered martyrdom during Diocletian’s persecution of the Christians. He once fled to Mount Lebanon during the persecution and lived a life of solitude there for some time, being fed by a raven. After the emperor discovered his whereabouts, he was tortured and thrown in prison. Legend claims that an angel released him and he departed for Illyricum, eventually suffered a martyr’s death and was one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. Legend records that when a blue light appears at mastheads before and after a storm, the seamen took it as a sign of Erasmus’s protection. This was known as “St. Elmo’s fire.”

The blue electrical discharges under certain atmospheric conditions have also been seen on the masks or riggings of ships. Erasmus is also invoked against stomach cramps and colic. This came about because at one time he had hot iron hooks stuck into his intestines by persecutors under Emperor Diocletian. These wounds he endured with fortitude. He was martyred by disemboweling in 303 at Formiae, Italy.

Spiritual reading: As truly as God is our Father, so truly is God our Mother, and he revealed that in everything, and especially in these sweet words where he says: “I am he; that is to say: I am he, the power and goodness of fatherhood; I am he, the wisdom and the lovingness of motherhood;

I am he, the light and the grace which is all blessed love; I am he, the Trinity; I am he, the unity; I am he, the great supreme goodness of every kind of thing; I am he who makes you to love; I am he who makes you to long; I am he, the endless fulfilling of all true desires. For where the soul is highest, noblest, most honorable, still it is lowest, meekest, and mildest.” (A Book of Showings by Dame Juliana of Norwich)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on June 1, 2009

Gospel reading of the day:

Mark 12:1-12

Jesus began to speak to the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders in parables. “A man planted a vineyard, put a hedge around it, dug a wine press, and built a tower. Then he leased it to tenant farmers and left on a journey. At the proper time he sent a servant to the tenants to obtain from them some of the produce of the vineyard. But they seized him, beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. Again he sent them another servant. And that one they beat over the head and treated shamefully. He sent yet another whom they killed. So, too, many others; some they beat, others they killed. He had one other to send, a beloved son. He sent him to them last of all, thinking, ‘They will respect my son.’ But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ So they seized him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come, put the tenants to death, and give the vineyard to others. Have you not read this Scripture passage:

The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
by the Lord has this been done,
and it is wonderful in our eyes?”

They were seeking to arrest him, but they feared the crowd, for they realized that he had addressed the parable to them. So they left him and went away.

Reflection on the gospel reading: With Easter and Pentecost now complete, we return to the celebration of ordinary time. It is truly good that we should celebrate ordinary time, because God, through Jesus, has sanctified it and filled it with meaning. We as Christians live in confidence that if any one thing is meaningful, everything is meaningful. If a baby’s smile has meaning, there is nothing without meaning. Let us embrace ordinary time and celebrate it with joy.

Saint of the day: All the voices around Justin clamored that they had the truth he sought so desperately. He had listened to them all since he first came to Rome to get his education. They each shouted that they held the one and only answer but he felt no closer to the truth than when he had started his studies. He had left the Stoic master behind but the Stoics valued discipline as truth and thought discussion of God unnecessary. He had rejected the Peripatetics who seemed more interested in money than discussion. The Pythagoreans had rejected him because he didn’t know enough music and geometry, the things that would lead him to truth. He had found some joy with the Platonists because the contemplation of ideas gave wings to his mind, but they had promised wisdom would let him see God and so, where was God?

There was one place that Justin always escaped to in order to get away from these shouting, confusing voices and search out the quiet inner voice that led him to truth. This place was a lonely spot, a path that seemed made for him alone in a field by the sea. So sure was he of the isolation of his retreat that he was shocked one day to find an old man following him.

The old man was not searching for truth but for some of his family. Nonetheless they began a discussion in which Justin identified himself as a philologian, a lover of reason. The old man challenged him — why was he not a lover of truth, a lover of deeds. Justin told him that reason led to truth, and philosophy led to happiness. This was certainly an interesting thing for Justin to say since he had not found the truth in the study of reason or happiness in his quest among the philosophers! Perhaps the old man sensed this for he asked for Justin’s definition of philosophy and of happiness.

In the long discussion that followed, Justin spoke eloquently to the old man’s searching questions but even Justin had to admit that philosophers may talk about God but had never seen h im, may discuss the soul but didn’t really know it. But if the philosophers whom Justin admired and followed couldn’t, then nobody could, right?

The old man told him about the ancient prophets, the Hebrew prophets, who had talked not of ideas but of what they had seen and heard, what they knew and experienced. And this was God. The old man ended the conversation by telling Justin to pray that the gates of light be opened to him.

Inflamed by this conversation, Justin sought out the Scriptures and came to love them. Christ words “possess a terrible power in themselves, and are sufficient to inspire those who turn aside from the path of rectitude with awe; while the sweetest rest is afforded those who make a diligent practice of them.”

Why hadn’t Justin known about Christianity before with as much as he had studied? He had heard about it, the way other pagans of second century Rome had, by the rumors and accusations that surrounded the persecution of Christians. The fearlessness of their actions made him doubt the gossip, but he had nothing else to go by. Christians at that time kept their beliefs secret. They were so afraid that outsiders would trample on their sacred faith and desecrate their mysteries that they wouldn’t tell anyone about their beliefs — even to counteract outright lies. To be honest, there was good reason for their fears — many actors for example performed obscene parodies of Christian ritual for pagan audiences, for example.

But Justin believed differently. He had been one of those outsiders — not someone looking for trouble, but someone earnestly searching for the truth. The truth had been hidden from him by this fear of theirs. And he believed there were many others like him. He exhorted them that Christians had an obligation to speak of their faith, to witness to others about their faith and their mysteries.

So Justin took his newfound faith to the people. This layman became the first great apologist for Christianity and opened the gates of light for so many others. He explained baptism and Eucharist. He explained to the pagans why they didn’t worship idols and why that didn’t make them atheists. He explained to the Jews how Christians could worship the same God but not follow Jewish laws. He explained to the Greeks and the philosophers how philosophy did not take into account the dignity of humankind. He wrote long arguments known as apologies and traveled to other lands in order to debate publicly. His long education in philosophy and rhetoric gave him the skills he needed to match his opponents and the Holy Spirit gave him the rest.

It is not surprising that Justin was arrested during the persecution under Marcus Aurelius. Along with four others (Chariton, Charites, Paeon, and Liberianus) he was brought before the Roman prefect, Rusticus, to be accused under the law that required sacrificing to idols. When Rusticus demanded that they “Obey the gods at once, and submit to the kings,” Justin responded, “To obey the commandments of our Savior Jesus Christ is worthy neither of blame nor of condemnation.”

When Rusticus asked what doctrines he believed, Justin told him that he had learned all the doctrines available during his quest but finally submitted to the true doctrines of the Christians, even though they didn’t please others. (An understatement when he was under danger of death!)

When Rusticus asked where the Christians gathered, Justin gave a response that gives us insight into Christian community and worship of the time: “Where each one chooses and can: for do you fancy that we all meet in the very same place? Not so; because the God of the Christians is not circumscribed by place; but being invisible, fills heaven and earth, and everywhere is worshipped and glorified by the faithful.”

When Rusticus asked each of them if they were a Christian, they all responded the same way: “Yes, I am a Christian.” When Rusticus tried to put responsibility for this on Justin, they responded that God had made them Christians.

Just before Rusticus sentenced them he asked Justin, “If you are killed do you suppose you will go to heaven?” Justin said, “I do not suppose it, but I know and am fully persuaded of it.”

Justin and his fellow martyrs were beheaded in the year 165 and went to be with the Truth Justin had longed for all his life. He is often known as Justin Martyr and his works are still available.

Spiritual reading: Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime. (Martin Luther)