When June 28th does not fall on a Sunday, it is celebrated as the feast day of St. Irenaeus of Lyons. The title of our blog is taken from a phrase in his Against the Heresies, an early Christian writing that was a milestone in Christian thought. Irenaeus was working against Gnosticism, a system of erroneous beliefs that was growing in his time. In this long work, Irenaeus gives us a very strong and early explanation of what true Christian faith is all about. He is among the earliest figures to attest to the authority of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John as the Four canonical Gospels. Irenaeus also laid the foundations for the doctrine we know today as apostolic succession. But above all, Irenaeus offers a beautiful description of faith in the Trinity, namely that the Word of God and the Spirit of God are like “the two hands of God.” His devotion to true faith, and his understanding of the Word and the Spirit as God’s hands so to speak, provide us with a great source of inspiration for our ministry in this blog.
During Holy Week, we turn attention to the Paschal Mystery, which “has two aspects: by His death, Christ liberates us from sin; by His Resurrection, He opens for us the way to a new life” (CCC 654). This article is meant to help us follow in Jesus’ footsteps “with all faith and devotion,” as Palm Sunday exhorts us to do. Along the way, we will notice how in His living, dying, and rising again, Jesus reveals the depth of God’s love for us.
Ash Wednesday is a day of mercy that ushers in the Lenten season. As a holy day proclaiming God’s mercy, we should understand this call to join in His mercy in two senses: first, we ourselves are in need of God’s mercy, and can approach God with hope. Second, we are invited to be people of mercy.
We read in Joel (2:12-28), the proclamation of God’s mercy and the offer of hope that God will relent. Joel tells us that even amidst crises and amidst our infidelity, God invites us to return to Him with our whole heart, to be converted (cf. Jl 2:12-13). We know that God does indeed relent and extend his mercy and forgiveness to all who believe in and receive Jesus. He is true to what the prophets proclaim: He is slow to anger and rich in kindness.
“Then God said: Let the water teem with an abundance of living creatures, and on the earth let birds fly beneath the dome of the sky… of the heavens and the earth at their creation.” (Gen 1:20-2:4a)
The first creation story is a rich narrative. It addresses human dignity, the nuptial mystery (how the creation of man and woman in God’s image and likeness and their fruitful relationship reflects the mystery of God’s relationship with us), and the harmony of creation and our need to “exercise dominion” over it as stewards. But let us focus here on the seventh day of creation as key to the meaning and purpose of creation.
In Part 1 of this series on the Book of Revelation, we reviewed the basics of the Book of Revelation: it is a letter, a prophecy, and an apocalypse all in one. We also reviewed how Catholics are to interpret scripture. We also briefly noted Raymond Brown’s outline of the structure of Revelation. In this post, we will pay close attention to the Letters to the Seven Churches.
As a prophetic, apocalyptic, and “epistolary” text, Revelation is addressed to real communities living in the first century A.D. Just as Paul wrote letters to specific communities with specific issues, we must assume that John of Patmos did not pick seven churches on whim. He had their situation in mind. So it may be helpful to ask, “What did John of Patmos see?”
When we read the Book of Revelation, we may wonder, is the world really ending, and is it ending soon? These are two questions that the Book of Revelation poses. The answers are not always clear if we read the Book of Revelation on our own, and oftentimes the interpretations offered in popular books are not helpful either. In the last two hundred years, it has become popular among some Christians to read Revelation as a step-by-step prediction of the end of the world, which they believe to be near. We need to remember that this is a difficult text. Yet despite it complexity, we can certainly appreciate the message at the heart of the Book of Revelation: Jesus is Lord, and we need to undergo ongoing conversion and persevere in true faith, not simply so that we ourselves might be saved, but also as a sign to others.
We are told in John’s Gospel that “the whole world” probably cannot contain the books that would be written if we recorded every single thing Jesus did (cf. John 21:25). Despite this wealth of material, the fact that all three Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) recount the Parable of the Sower suggests that this Parable was an especially powerful story.
Because the Parable of the Sower is common to the Synoptic Gospels, we are probably already quite familiar with it: Jesus tells the story of a sower who scattered seed all around the ground. Some seed fell on a path, where birds ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky ground, which lacked the depth for the seed to take root and grow. Still other seed fell among thorns, which choked up the seed. Finally, some seed fell into good soil and bore tremendous fruit (“thirty and sixty and a hundred fold”).
Before I was rediscovered by my Lord through this community, I consider myself a Catholic rooted in weak faith. For a long time, much of what I did was limited to lip service, far and distant from an honest service to God. A major part of the change that has redirected my journey back to the Lord is a clearer understanding of the Scripture.
The story of the persistent Canaanite woman has intrigued and puzzled Christians for two thousand years. Why would Jesus treat this pious woman with what seems like indifference, even hostility? Why does he refuse (it seems) to answer our own prayers? The solution can be found in the very Biblical category of testing.
Saint John XXIII’s vision for the Second Vatican Council was deeply intertwined with his desire for a “new Pentecost.” On Christmas day in 1961, the Pope solemnly convoked the Council in the constitution Humanae Salutis, which he concluded with a wonderful prayer:
May there thus be repeated in the Christian family the spectacle of the Apostles gathered together in Jerusalem, after the Ascension of Jesus to heaven, when the newborn Church was completely united in communion of thought and of prayer with Peter and around Peter, the shepherd of the lambs and of the sheep.
To nurture and promote the love of the Gospel of Christ.