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Posts Tagged ‘Doctor of the Church’

St. Thomas Aquinas (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

In the traditional calendar March 7th is the Feast Day of St. Thomas Aquinas (c. 1225 – 1274), the Angelic Doctor of the Church and Patron Saint of Catholic schools, scholars, theologians, and booksellers. Studying under St. Albert the Great at Cologne from 1248 to 1252, St. Thomas’s large frame and quiet demeanor led to fellow students dubbing him the “Dumb Ox.” This “Dumb Ox” went on to become arguably the greatest theologian of the Church. Among his voluminous works, Summa contra Gentiles and the Summa Theologiae represent the high points of scholasticism, remaining unsurpassed in scope and quality even today.

Numerous Popes have praised St. Thomas and his work. The words of Pope Leo XIII in calling for a renewal of scholastic philosophy are representative of papal praise of the Angelic Doctor:

While, therefore, We hold that every word of wisdom, every useful thing by whomsoever discovered or planned ought to be received with a willing and grateful mind, We exhort you, Venerable Brethren, in all earnestness to restore the golden wisdom of St. Thomas, and to spread it far and wide for the defense and beauty of the Catholic Faith, for the good of society, and for the advantage of all the sciences. (Leo XIII, On the Restoration of Christian Philosophy Aeterni patris (4 August 1879), 31)

Read more about St. Thomas:

Catholic Encyclopedia Article on St. Thomas at New Advent

“St. Thomas Aquinas, Master of the Sacred Page” at The New Theological Movement Blog

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"Adoration of the Shepherds" by Gerard van Honthorst, 1622 (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

Ah, yes, Christmas, that time of year with a winter nip in the air (unless you live in parts of Florida where record highs in the 80s are forecast this weekend) and the time of year when the thoughts of old school Protestants (meaning those few Protestants who still find the need to base their beliefs on a militant anti-Catholicism), New Age “pagans,” and militant atheists turn yet again to the supposed “pagan” origins of Catholicism. Along with Easter and Halloween, the Feast of Christmas is yet another of those celebrations we are told “prove” the pagan origins of Catholicism. After all, everyone knows Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular are nothing more than “dressed up” paganism. It’s just too bad everyone is wrong…

Instead of merely reposting my piece on the true, non-pagan, origins for the December 25th date of Christmas, I share this link to a wonderful piece by Rev. Dwight Longenecker which does an excellent job of explaining (yet again) once and for all the true background of the Christian celebration of Christmas on December 25th.

Allow me to highlight a few points from Rev. Longenecker:

1. The “pagan origin” claimants begin with the capital mistake of assuming that mere resemblance proves causality. Simply because two things resemble each other does not mean one is the cause of the other. Two things can be strikingly similar yet share absolutely no causal relationship what-so-ever. Simply because Christians and pagans observed certain feasts at similar times throughout the year does not mean one automatically caused the other.

2. The Roman feast most often associated with Christmas by the “pagan originists” is Saturnalia, a Roman feast for the god Saturn which was held from December 17 to 23. However, this feast, while occurring on the wrong date (if Christianity “co-opted” this feast, why not make the date of Christmas December 17th to really sock it to those pagans?), also had nothing to do with the imagery of the solstice and the return of the sun. The focus of this feast centered more on the theme of sacrifice-to-appease-the-gods-for-a-good-harvest.

3. The Roman feast associated with the solstice was Dies Natalis Sol Invictus. The only problem here is the inconvenient fact that this feast wasn’t instituted until around AD 278, well after the spread of Christianity throughout the Roman Empire, and for quite some time remained a rather minor feast with a small cult. Further, we find no evidence that Sol Invictus was celebrated on December 25th until AD 360 – decades after Emperor Constantine’s conversion to Christianity in AD 315. In fact, the promotion of the feast was due to the influence of Julian the Apostate who attempted to turn back the tide of Christianity sweeping the Empire. Huh, so that means Sol Invictus was used by the Roman authorities in an attempt to “win back” Christians to paganism, not the other way around.

4. The “pagan origins” nonsense completely ignores the fact that thousands (some sources say millions) of Christians lost their property and in many cases their lives over their complete refusal to, as Rev. Longenecker puts it, “offer so much as one grain of incense to the pagan gods.” Yet, the “pagan originists” would have us believe the very people who were giving their lives over refusal to participate in anything even resembling paganism suddenly decided to “co-opt” pagan festivals.

5. If we actually take time to read the historical record provided us in the writings of the early Church Fathers, we find a clear answer as to why Christmas is celebrated on December 25th. As early as AD 386, we find a sermon by St. John Chrysostom linking the date of Christmas to the date of the Annunciation (the day the Angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would conceive and give birth to Jesus). The wording of his sermon suggests this linking was already a long-accepted tradition within the Church. We need to remember early Christians were primarily Jewish converts and thus the roots of Christianity are in Judaism, not Romanism. The Jews believed the world began on March 25th. They also believed great men died on the same date as the date of their conception. Therefore, we find the early Christians believed the date of Jesus’ conception was March 25th. Let’s count nine months and see what we find: December 25th.

So, just as I pointed out last time, the date of Christmas has nothing to do with Romans or paganism, but everything to do with early Jewish belief and the dating of Jesus’ conception by early Christians.

Merry Christmas!

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St John Chrysostom (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

We cannot Serve God and Money

In today’s Gospel, our Lord tells us what we should understand as a self-evident truth: we cannot serve two masters. Specifically, He says we cannot love God while at the same time loving money. This is not to say that money or wealth is inherently evil, however when we worship it as a god, it always leads to our doom. As St. Paul warns us, “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and hurtful desires that plague men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs” (1 Tim. 6:9-10).

How often do we deny money is our god, yet our actions reveal otherwise? Whenever we desire the latest fashion, the latest electronic gadget, the newest car, the fanciest house, do we not through our very actions worship money as out god? When we seek fame and fortune for its own sake, we forsake our one and true Lord and Master.

To put it plainly: when we make money our lord and master, we are in mortal danger of banishment from the service of Christ. God is infinite and perfect love, yet true love is not easy and what we are called to return to God in love is not easy. St. John Chrysostom clearly tells us this when he writes, “I now say again to you, what I am always saying: that Christ urges His hearers to obedience to His words, both by means of what is profitable to them, and by what is painful; like a good physician, pointing out the disease that comes through neglect, and the good health that will come through obedience to His directions.”[1]

What does it profit us more as we are being eaten with the cancer of sin: to believe everything is fine and we should not trouble ourselves with it or to understand we are inflicted with a painful and deadly disease? Is it not better to know of the disease, no matter how painful, so that we might recognize it and fight it? Our Lord tells us the Truth: if we pretend there is no disease, we condemn ourselves to the fires of hell – for we must never forget that it is not God who sends us to hell, but we ourselves who do so through the actions and choices of our own free will. No, God does not send us to hell, but it is He alone who reaches out His hand in friendship and love to pull us up from the abyss of our own damnation. Without Him we have only death, but with Him we have only life.

Again, it is not wealth itself which is our enemy; it is our relationship to money which can make us master over it or slave to it. St. John Chrysostom recalls to mind here the example of Job:

Job was indeed rich. But he was no slave of mammon. He possessed riches and ruled them, as a master, not a slave. He held all he had as though he were the steward of another man’s riches. And not only did he not rob others of what belonged to them, he gave what was his to those in need…And so he did not grieve when he lost them. But the rich now are not like this, but rather in a state worse than any slave, and as though paying tribute to some tyrant. For the minds of such men become a sort of stronghold, held by money; and from there each day money sends out its commands, commands that are fulfilled by the violation of justice, and decency; and there is no one who does not obey.[2]

Our Lord implores us to take heart: “Behold the birds of the air, for they neither sow, nor do they reap, nor gather into barns: and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not you of much more value than they?” Now, Jesus is not calling on us to be lazy and slothful, with a “the Lord will provide” attitude; instead He reminds us that God provides all that we are and all that we ever will be. We must trust in Him for our ultimate nourishment and our ultimate life comes from a life in, through, and with the Holy Trinity.

We are called to take heart and to not lose our faith amongst the anxieties of the world: “If then God takes such care of the creatures He has made for our sake, how much more will He not provide for our own needs? If He cares for the servants, how much more will He not care for the masters? … He did not say we are not to sow, but that we are not to be solicitous. Neither did He say we were not to work, but that we must never be fainthearted, now wear ourselves out with anxieties. He commanded us to eat; but not to be over-concerned about it.”[3]

Our Lord calls us, in love, to follow Him on the difficult path: “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” (Lk. 9:23-25)

Yet, our Lord, in His infinite and perfect love, understands we cannot instantly become Christ-like. We approach Him as pilgrims on a journey, some faster and some slower than others, yet all on the same path. As we see this message in today’s Gospel, St. John Chrysostom writes of Christ’s lesson to us:

For you now however, it is enough to learn not to be grasping, that almsgiving is a beautiful thing, to know also that you must give to others a share of what is yours. If you do this well, Beloved, you will soon go on to higher things…Meanwhile therefore let us put away all excessive luxury, and be content with what is fitting and moderate; and let us learn to acquire by honest labour all we are to possess…

Therefore keeping before our mind those degrees of self discipline which have been set before us, let us strive to attain at least to those midway on the road, so that we may be delivered from the wrath to come and, drawing ever nearer, may come at last to the very crown of all blessings; and may it be given to each one of us to attain to this, by the grace and love of Jesus Christ our Lord, to Whom be glory and honour for ever. Amen.[4]

+JMJ


[1] M. F. Toal (ed), The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers, Volume 4 (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2000), 102.

[2] Ibid., 103.

[3] Ibid., 105.

[4] Ibid., 107.

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St. Notburga (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

September – Month of Our Lady of Sorrows

Sunday, September 11 – 13th Sunday After Pentecost (Traditional) / 24nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (New)

Sts. Protus and Hyacinth (257), Brothers, Martyrs (Traditional)

St. Adelphus (5th c.), Bishop (Historical)

St. Paphnutius (356), Bishop (Historical)

Monday, September 12 – The Most Holy Name of Mary (Traditional / New)

Tuesday, September 13

St. John Chrysostom (407), Bishop, Doctor of the Church, Patron of Orators (New)

Wednesday, September 14 – Exaltation of the Holy Cross (335, 629) (Traditional / New)

St. Maternus (1st c.), Bishop (Historical)

St. Notburga (1313), Virgin, Patroness of Peasants, Servants, and the Poor (Historical)

Thursday, September 15 – The Seven Sorrows of Our Lady (Traditional) / Our Lady of Sorrows (New)

St. Nicomedes (90), Martyr (Traditional)

St. Catherine of Genoa (1510), Widow (Historical)

Friday, September 16 – Obligatory Day of Abstinence

St. Cornelius (253), Priest, Martyr and St. Cyprian (258), Bishop, Martyr (Traditional / New)

Sts. Euphemia, Lucy, and Geminianus (4th c.), Martyrs (Tradiationl)

Saturday, September 17

St. Robert Bellarmine (1621), Jesuit, Bishop, Cardinal, Doctor of the Church (New)

The Imprinting of the Stigmata of St. Francis of Assisi (1224) (Traditional)

St. Hildegarde (1179), Abbot (Historical)

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Pope St. Pius X (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

August – Month of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

September – Month of Our Lady of Sorrows

Sunday, August 28 – 11th Sunday After Pentecost (Traditional) / 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (New)

St. Augustine (430), Bishop, Doctor of the Church, Patron of Theologians (Traditional, New)

St. Hermes (132), Martyr (Traditional)

Monday, August 29 – Beheading of St. John the Baptist (c. 32) (Traditional, New)

St. Sabina (127), Martyr (Traditional)

St. Medericus (Merry) (700), Abbot (Historical)

Tuesday, August 30

St. Rose of Lima (1617), Virgin, First Canonized Saint of the Americas, Patroness of South America and Gardeners (Traditional)

Sts. Felix and Adauctus (304), Martyrs (Traditional)

St. Fiancre of Brie (670), Hermit, Patron of Gardeners and Cab Drivers (Historical)

Blessed Bronislava (1259), Virgin, Patroness of Happy Death and Disease Prevention (Historical)

Wednesday, August 31

St. Raymond Nonnatus (1240), Religious, Patron of Midwives (Traditional)

St. Aristedes (2nd Century) (Historical)

Thursday, September 1

St. Giles (724), Abbot, Patron of the Physically Disabled (Traditional)

Twelve Holy Brothers (258), Martyrs (Traditional)

St. Anna, the Prophetess (1st Century) (Historical)

Friday, September 2 – First Friday (Obligatory Day of Abstinence)

St. Stephen (1038), King of Hungary (Traditional)

St. Agricolus (700), Bishop, Patron of Avignon (Historical)

St. Ingrid of Sweden (1282), Virgin (Historical)

Saturday, September 3 – Fist Saturday

St. Gregory the Great (604), Priest, Doctor of the Church, Patron of Teachers and Music (New)

St. Pius X (1914), Pope (Traditional)

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Edward the Confessor (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

 

Month of the Most Holy Rosary

Sunday, October 10 – 20th Sunday after Pentecost (Traditional) / 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (New)

St. Francis Borgia (1572), Priest, Religious, Patron of Portugal (Traditional)

St. Ghislain (Gislenus) (680), Abbot (Historical)

Monday, October 11

The Divine Maternity of Our Lord (Traditional)

St. Firminus (543), Bishop (Historical)

Tuesday, October 12

St. Wilfrid (709), Bishop of York (Historical)

Our Lady of the Pillar (36) (Historical)

Wednesday, October 13

St. Edward the Confessor (1066), King and Patron of England (Traditional)

St. Gerald of Aurillac (909), Patron of Bachelors and the Handicapped (Historical)

Thursday, October 14

St. Callistus I (222), Pope, Martyr (New, Traditional)

Friday, October 15

(Obligatory Day of Abstinence from Meat or Substitution of Some Other Sacrifice)

St. Teresa of Jesus (Teresa of Avila) (1582), Virgin, Religious, Doctor of the Church, Reformer of Carmel, Patroness of Headache Sufferers (New, Traditional)

Saturday, October 16

St. Hedwig (1243), Widow, Religious (New, Traditional)

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1690), Virgin (New)

St. Gerard Majella (1755), Religious, Patron of Expectant Mothers (Historical)

St. Gall (635), Priest, Religious (Historical)

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St. Michael

Month of Our Lady of Sorrows (Sept) / Month of the Most Holy Rosary (Oct)

Sunday, September 26 – 18th Sunday after Pentecost (Traditional) / 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time (New)

Sts. Cosmas & Damian (283), twins, Martyrs, Patrons of Physicians and Pharmacists (New)

Sts. Cyprian & Justina (3rd c.), Martyrs (Traditional)

Sts. Isaac Jogues, John de Brebeuf, Priests and Companions (1642, 1646, 1648, 1649), Martyrs, Secondary Patrons of Canada (Traditional/some places)

Monday, September 27

St. Vincent de Paul (1660), Priest, Founder, Patron of All Charitable Societies (New)

Sts. Cosmas & Damian (283), twins, Martyrs, Patrons of Physicians and Pharmacists (Traditional)

Tuesday, September 28

St.Wenceslaus (929), Duke, Martyr, Patron of Bohemia (New, Traditional)

St. Lawrence Ruiz, Husband, Father and Companion (1633-1637), Martyr (New)

Blessed John of Dukla (1484), Religious (Historical)

Wednesday, September 29

Sts. Michael, Gabriel & Raphael, Archangels (New)

Dedication of the Basilica of St. Michael the Archangel (530), (Michaelmas Day) (Traditional)

Thursday, September 30

St. Jerome (420), Priest, Doctor of the Church, Translator of the Latin Vulgate Bible (New, Traditional)

Friday, October 1 – First Friday

(Obligatory Day of Abstinence from Meat or Substitution of Some Other Sacrifice)

St. Therese of Lisieux (1897), Virgin, Religious, Doctor of the Church, Patroness of All Foreign Missions (New)

St. Remigius (Remi) (530), Bishop (Traditional)

Saturday, October 2 – First Saturday

The Holy Guardian Angels (New, Traditional)

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