Friday, August 31, 2007

St. Ignatius of Antioch

Today's assignment is to read a sample of the letters of St. Ignatius. He was the third bishop of Antioch, a large Christian city north of Israel. He was arrested and martyred in Rome in the year 107.

St. Ignatius was eager to embrace the suffering of a martyr for the sake of Christ, as we see in his letter to the Romans. He is also a champion of the role of the bishop in keeping the Church connected to the Apostles, and of the primacy of Rome as an apostolic see. Finally, Ignatius is the first Christian writer to refer to the Chrch as "Catholic".

His writings can be found in the link below:

Also, see Pope Benedict's wonderful essay on St. Ignatius, given at his general audience in March.
Ad Jesum Per Mariam,
Mr. B.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Why the pictures?

We had a rather lively discussion today about Christ as the Judge of humanity. It seems that popular spirituality shoves this part of Christ's identiy under the rug and instead directs our attention to how remarkably merciful, loving, and downright friendly our Lord is. He is, in the popular view, "our brother."

True, we often need to be reminded of Christ's love and mercy, but if we fail to keep in mind that it is the love and mercy of God Incarnate, a God who by right could easily judge us all as sinners and condemn us to hell, then it ceases to be anything remarkable at all.

To be sure, the possibility of overemphasizing the role of eternal Judge exists, but this extreme is not one toward which popular devotion tends, at least not in the west. And so we must be on our guard. Do not let yourselves be deceived or led away from the Truth of Christ. See St. Paul's exhortation on not allowing the gospel to be "watered down" in his letter to the Galatians, particularly 1: 6 - 8.

Until next time,
Ad Jesum Per Mariam.
Mr. B.

Who is your Jesus: Friend? Judge? Savior?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles

Your assignment for tonight: read the extracanonical text known as the Didache. Write a reflection / response to this text and explain why you think it was not included in the canon of scripture. See the post below for the link.

Ad Jesum per Mariam,
Mr. B

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Didache: The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles

Here is the link to the Didache text. Our books should be in soon, but in the meantime, enjoy.

Ad Jesum Per Mariam,
Mr. B

Thursday, August 23, 2007

What is History?

For centuries mankind has taken account of events in its history. These events and their impact have been passed down by word of mouth, have been recorded and studied, and have shaped the way we view ourselves and our culture. History is not just a combination of dates and facts, but rather it is the story of humanity where dates serve as benchmarks or milestones.

Is it possible to have both an unbiased and an accurate history?
Writers of History are limited by the perspective from which they view history. We discussed the events during and following October of 1492 as an example. From the perspective of a European, 1492 marked the “discovery” of America, which was soon viewed as an exotic land full of promise, adventure, and wealth. However, from the perspective of the native civilizations, 1492 began a long and destructive relationship with Europeans which included war, enslavement, disease, and oppression.

Historians must then try their best to incorporate various perspectives into a history that provides a “big picture”.

What is a Saint? Are the saints a biased lens through which to view the history of the Church?
Saints are simply individuals of heroic virtue that have led Christ-like lives. The Church holds them up of examples of how to follow Christ in every age and every place. For years the Church has used a formal canonization process to proclaim saints, but in he early Church sainthood was largely a matter of popular devotion rather than official declaration.

It should be noted that the Church does not “make” saints of people. Rather, she publicly recognizes that someone has become a saint. (Just like me recognizing that your uniform is red does not make it red, but rather points out what is already true.) Technically all those who are in heaven enjoying the beatific vision of God are saints – we may never know most of their names.

One might assume that saints will present only the “rosy” side of the Church and overlook any dark chapters in the Church’s history. They are, after all, the “heroes” of the Church. However, we must keep in mind that we are examining the writings of individuals who were simply members of the Church at the time of writing. No one is declared a saint until well after his or her death. Many saints (St. Joan of Arc, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Catherine of Siena, and even St. Paul) were openly critical of the Church and often suffered ridicule for it. Yet their conviction was in loyalty to the Gospel and faithfully adhering to the example set by Jesus Christ.

Next time we will examine the notion of Salvation History vs. Secular History. Until then,
Ad Jesum Per Mariam,
Mr. B.