I went up to one of the bishops afterwards and I said ‘bishop, I gotta tell ya, this is so powerful. I had no idea there were so many Christians in Iraq.’ That bishop was gentle with me, but this is what he said: ‘Son, this is where Christianity started. You didn’t invent Christianity in America, you just domesticated it.’ He said, ‘you go back and you tell the Church in North America that we are praying for them. We are praying for them to remember who they are.’
The Father accepts the sacrifice, the Son is the sacrifice offered, the Church prays and offers the sacrifice—but it is the Spirit who accomplishes the miracle of the sacrifice, the transubstantiation. Here as everywhere, it is he who actualizes, liberates and fills the expectant form with its eternal content. He is the Lord of the Sacraments because, in regard to them, his office is at once public and personal. As Spirit charged with a churchly office, he prepares the vessel, creates the universally valid framework, and from the life of Christ, moulds the forms which appear to be fixed and lifeless. And as the Spirit of Love he breathes the life of Christ into them, informing them with a unique, historical character: our encounter with the divine.
In the other Sacraments a particular aspect of Christ’s earthly existence is offered to the believer; but in the Mass and the Eucharist we are presented with the whole of his incarnate existence, in the same sense in which his whole life was consummated and fulfilled in the sacrifice of Calvary. In the same way that the sacrifice of Calvary, while taking place in time, contained, as did all the actions of Christ on earth, a latent eternity (for otherwise there would be no universal salvation or redemption); it also contained potentially all subsequent eucharistic sacrifices. So that the celebration of the Mass is not a new act, distinct numerically from the act on Calvary, but the realization by the Church of something already present in history.
Oh boy. Misconceptions and stupidity.
Something in the tag to take your mind off things.
Today is the Feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist, the day we commemorate the martyrdom of the one who came before Christ to announce His coming to the world, the last of the prophets before the revelation of the Son. John the Baptist is said to be the cousin of Jesus, his mother being Elizabeth, the sister of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He is one of few people whose birth is commemorated along with his death, the others being Mary and Christ Himself.
St. John the Baptist was beheaded on the orders of King Herod Antipas, who was driven to order the execution at the behest of his step-daughter. She, whom tradition (and Josephus) has named Salome, danced for the king, which pleased him enough that he promised to her whatever she desired. She, goaded on by her mother who was offended by John’s claims that the king’s marriage was unlawful, asked for the head of John on a dish.
St. John the Baptist is venerated by many Christians. The Catholic Church commemorates both his martyrdom and his nativity. The Orthodox, who know him as St. John the Forerunner, have at least six feast days commemorating the saint. Both believe him to have been born without sin, though not conceived without sin as Catholics believe Mary to have been. He is one of the co-patrons of the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, the cathedral seat of the Bishop of Rome, along with St. John the Evangelist and Christ Himself. He is also the patron of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta, a Crusader order and the world’s oldest surviving order of chivalry, known colloquially as the Knights Hospitaller.
John is also honored in Islam as a prophet and a forerunner of Jesus. They know him as Yahya ibn Zakariya (John, son of Zachariah). His remains are said to be found in the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, the former site of a basilica dedicated to the saint.
As long as we live, we fight, and as long as we are fighting, that is a sign that we are not defeated and that the good Spirit dwells within us. And if death does not meet you as the victor, he should find you a warrior.
Today is the Feast of St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo Regius in Africa, philosopher, theologian, and Doctor of the Church.
Raised on the classics of a Roman education, he was a wily and hedonistic young man who became invested in the Manichaeanism of his friends. He had an affair with a young woman by whom he had a son named Adeodatus. He taught rhetoric in Carthage, where he abandoned Manichaeanism, then in Rome, where he would pick up philosophical skepticism and Neoplatonism. Eventually teaching in the imperial court in Milan, he met Ambrose, the local bishop, whose rhetoric, along with readings of the life of St. Anthony the Great and the epistles of St. Paul, led him into a personal crisis of faith, which would eventually end up with him embracing the Christianity of his devoted mother, Monica. He would go on to be elected as the Bishop of Hippo Regius in North Africa and ordained a priest.
As bishop, he was an able administrator and talented preacher, recorded by his friend Possidius as an adept intellectual, a tireless worker, a chaste cleric, and a prudent pastor. He partook in the Synod of Hippo in 393, which affirmed the Catholic canon of the Bible, which includes the Deuterocanon, and which was approved by the Council of Carthage in 397.
As writer, he composed many works on theology and apologetics, from his Confessions, recognized by many as the first major Western autobiography, and his De Civitate Dei (The City of God), to lengthy treatises against the Manichaeans, the Arians, the Donatists, and the Pelagians. He laid out the groundwork for many doctrines, from the unity of body and soul and the existence of original sin to the allegorical view of the Genesis account of Creation and the just war theory.
In the midst of the illness that would take his life, the Arian Vandals attacked Northern Africa. He ordered his library and the books within to be guarded carefully and kept safe. The Vandals finally came after Augustine had passed away. They razed the city, but Augustine’s library was left unharmed.
Augustine is recognized by many as both the “Last of the Romans” and as the first philosopher and theologian of the Medieval period. His writings had a profound impact on the direction of Christian theology throughout the Middle Ages and his thought has influenced countless theologians throughout the ages, from the “Angelic Doctor” St. Thomas Aquinas to modern philosophers and theologians all the way down to Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI).
I haven’t read much Augustine, since I’ve only read The City of God and parts of his Confessions. His style is long-winded, rambling, even droll at times, yet his writings are chock full of information, even if some of it may seem irrelevant to his discussed topic. Personally, I prefer the organized format of Aquinas’ Summa and the witty style of Chesterton’s apologetics. Nevertheless, reading St. Augustine has been an enlightening and fulfilling experience.