By James R. A. Merrick, Ph.D. – The earliest Christians clung to the Eucharist as lovingly as the Apostles clung to the resurrected Body of Christ. When Jesus no longer walked the earth after His Ascension, the early Christians talked as though he was no less physically present to them through the Eucharist. Let us look at two striking representatives who were both martyred for their Christian faith in the second century: St. Ignatius of Antioch (c. 35 – 110) and St. Justin Martyr (c. 100 – 165).
Dr. Luke Arredondo
If someone asks you to identify the single most important doctrine in Christianity, how would you reply? It’s probably not the principle of double effect. Could it be the fall of Adam and Eve? Creation itself? The infallibility of Scripture? All of those are fine and well, and very important for Christianity. But according to St. Paul, there is one teaching that stands out above all the rest. If this one teaching is true, it changes everything, and if it is not, then everything is a lie.
Fr. John-Mary S.W. Bowlin, KCHS
Love is concerned with the present and the duties of the present, pleasing the Beloved now. Holiness is, practically speaking, fulfilling the duties of our state in life. Therefore, we should understand our duties well – our duties to God, our neighbor and ourselves, as well as the priorities of our duties, while also accepting our limitations.
Fr. Justin Braun
Holy Week provides all of the faithful, from the pope down to the infant just baptized, an opportunity to enter into the Paschal Mystery of Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection in the most intimate of ways. Holy Week is marked by numerous mystery-laden and symbolic rituals that draw us nearer to the Lord’s life, so that we may learn how to live our life in imitation of him.
I would urge every household of faith, every domestic church, to make these holiest of days unique and significant for their family. This is counter cultural in our society, and it takes real effort for individuals and families to embrace the meaning of Holy Week. When I was growing up here in East Texas it was easier to celebrate and embrace the liturgies of Holy Week as special. The challenge of keeping Holy Week also reminds me of the ongoing challenge we all face of keeping the Lord’s Day holy. Our culture promotes a model where Sunday is barely different from any other day of the week. Our tendency to lose this focus on the Lord’s Day as a day of rest, a day of worship, a day of family and a day of care for others begins also to undermine our experience of Holy Week as holy days. As people of faith, we have the joyful challenge of bringing the holiness of these days into our lives and of modeling this holiness for the culture.
We are confronted with a clash between truth and sentimentality. In a world ruled by sentimentality, everything is “nice.” It is a utopia in which there is no sin and everyone accepts everyone. C. S. Lewis had a more trenchant notion of what it is like to be “nice” and only “nice”. In his novel, That Hideous Strength (1945), he presents N.I.C.E. as “The National Institute for Coordinated Experiments” which was a front for sinister supernatural forces. If the truth is not nice, it is because it is liberating. And there are many people who simply do not want to be liberated. Liberation simply requires too much honesty and too much effort.
Holiness is not beyond our grasp—it is what we were all created for! We give glory to God by fulfilling his will which he summarized in the two Great Commandments (Matt. 22:37-39). The example of the saints is so important because it shows us what love looks like in action. In order to follow their examples, we have to know their lives, which is why we should read and study the lives of the saints.
The sacred liturgy is always the safeguard of the Church’s teaching, and specifically in her prayers of the Mass and the rituals, we see the unfolding of our theology in practice. A privileged place to see this is in the Preface Prayer, which begins with the dialogue between the priest and people and culminating in the prayer of the Sanctus, or Holy, Holy, Holy. In this article, I want to encourage you to read through the text of the Preface for the Solemnity of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Pay closer attention to the text, what it says and how it should be a prayer that shapes the way you can understand who Joseph is and what he offers us as a saintly example, second only to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
We are created to know, love, and serve God in this life, so as to be happy with him in the next. In fact, everything exists for our union with God, through Christ, in His Mystical Body, the Church. While God’s plan for each person differs from person to person, every man, woman and child who has ever lived and will ever live, was created to be a saint. No matter our state in life, our wealth, or education, we are all called to enjoy eternal life with God in Heaven.
“If you are walking along the street and find a crumpled one-hundred-dollar bill in the gutter, will you go in there and pick it up?” Fr. Ahiaba asked. “…Yes! Because of the value. That is how the human soul is before God. Wherever you are trashed or dumped, he comes down there and picks you up. That is the approach that I see. That you have value. Their life is created in the image and likeness of God. Of course, we do not say that what they did is good; they did not steal candy to get into prison. Some are the most dangerous people in Texas, but still, they have value.”
By Teresa Darby
Iconography is the art of writing icons. It is proper to say that the icons are written rather than painted, meaning that there is a certain language being used in the creation of an icon. As with any language, the language of Iconography has its own rules and requires study and understanding. The discipline of exploring the symbolic meaning of this language is called Iconology.