Reflecting on 21 Centuries of Faith

Tag Archives: Saints

Listening to the Golden-Mouthed

By the grace of God, I have been entrusted with a First-Class relic of St. John Chyrsostom whose feast we commemorate today. He is one of my favorite Pastristic Fathers and Doctor of the Church.

Thanks to Catholic Online for the following short bio:

St. John, named Chrysostom (golden-mouthed) on account of his eloquence, came into the world of Christian parents, about the year 344, in the city of Antioch. His mother, at the age of 20, was a model of virtue. He studied rhetoric under Libanius, a pagan, the most famous orator of the age.

virtue. He studied rhetoric under Libanius, a pagan, the most famous orator of the age.In 374, he began to lead the life of an anchorite in the mountains near Antioch, but in 386 the poor state of his health forced him to return to Antioch, where he was ordained a priest.

In 398, he was elevated to the See of Constantinople and became one of the greatest lights of the Church. But he had enemies in high places and some were ecclesiastics, not the least being Theophilus, Patriarch of Alexandria, who repented of this before he died. His most powerful enemy, however, was the empress Eudoxia, who was offended by the apostolic freedom of his discourses. Several accusations were brought against him in a pseudo-council, and he was sent into exile.

In the midst of his sufferings, like the apostle, St. Paul, whom he so greatly admired, he found the greatest peace and happiness. He had the consolation of knowing that the Pope remained his friend, and did for him what lay in his power. His enemies were not satisfied with the sufferings he had already endured, and they banished him still further, to Pythius, at the very extremity of the Empire. He died on his way there on September 14, 407.

He also wrote a wonderful and short Homily on Marriage. Take a gander and let me know what you think.

Troparion to St. John (Tone 8)


Grace like a flame shining forth from thy mouth has illumined the universe, and disclosed to the world treasures of poverty and shown us the height of humility. And as by thine own words thou teachest us, Father John Chrysostom, so intercede with the Word, Christ our God, to save our souls.

St. John Chrysostom, ora pro nobis!

Discouragement

At different times during our lives we face discouragement. Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta says the following:

Don’t give in to discouragement……. If you are discouraged it is a sign of pride because it shows you trust in your own powers. Never bother about people’s opinions. Be obedient to truth. For with humble obedience, you will never be disturbed.

St. Francis de Sales would also say that discouragement is the fruit of a wandering heart. In order to cure our wandering heart, the saint of divine love says that we should train it by bringing it back into the presence of the Master:

If the heart wanders or is distracted, bring it back to the point quite gently and replace it tenderly in its Master’s presence. And even if you did nothing during the whole of your hour but bring your heart back and place it again in Our Lord’s presence, though it went away every time you brought it back, your hour would be very well employed.

He also says that many of us struggle in our spirituality because we let others write the “story” of our lives. In other words, we allow others to dictate how we view ourselves which in turn affects how we view our Lord. The remedy for this he says, is to abide in the truth and to see ourselves and others in truth.

Some might recommend to love ourselves and others by ignoring our/their faults and shortcomings. The problem with that is two-fold. The first is that by ignoring our faults, one cannot truly accept oneself and the result is that we skew reality. The ultimate challenge with skewing reality is that we become incapable of relating to the world in the way God intended. As a result, we try to transform ourselves into something that we are not because we are so afraid of realizing that our gifts and short-comings, for better or worse, make us who we are – whether we like it or not. St. Francis de Sales says,

Do not wish to be anything but what you are, and try to be that perfectly.

and,

Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections.

The second  problem is that we cannot truly love or even be friends with those around us. One of my favorite lines in First Knight is when Lancelot, knowing that he is going to betray Arthur says,

My Lord must not think too highly of me, lest he’ll be disappointed. 

Arthur in his wisdom, and a man who is not afraid of making his heart vulnerable in order to truly love responds,

Then I’ll take you as I find you, if you’ll do as much for me.

Scripture proclaims,

For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103: 11-12) [My emphasis]

or the prophet Micah proclaims,

He will again have compassion upon us, he will tread our iniquities under foot. Thou wilt cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. (Micah 7:19) [My emphasis]

We usually interpret this as the Lord forgiving and forgetting. And yet, that is not possible. If He did forget, they would have never exsisted

Blessed Mother Teresa or Calcutta gives us the final secret.

Obey the Lord of the House and you will never go wrong.

 

St. Cloud, Ora pro nobis!

Have you every heard of St. Cloud or Clodoald? Every year that I teach the Confirmation class, I always have at least one student that chooses to be confirmed under the name and patronage of St. Cloud. Thanks to St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Washington in the District of Columbia, for their Saint of the Day feature on it’s web site. Here is a short biography on this beloved saint.

Cloud (Clodoald, Clodulphus) of Nogent, Abbot (RM)
Died c. 560. Saint Cloud was the grandson of King Clovis and Saint  Clotilde. Upon the king’s death in 511, his realm was divided between his four sons. His second son, Clodomir of Orléans, was killed 13 years later (524) in a  battle against his cousin, King Gondomar of Burgundy (who had already murdered Saint Sigismund), leaving three sons to share his dominions, the youngest of which was Clodoald or Cloud.

The fatherless boys were thereafter raised in Paris by their grandmother, Saint Clotilde, who lavished them with care and affection, while their kingdom was administered by their uncle Childebert of Paris. When Cloud was eight, Childebert plotted with his brother Clotaire of Soissons, to seize their land by eliminating the boys. Through an agent they gave their mother, Clotilde, the choice of killing her grandsons or forcibly closing them up in a monastery. Childebert’s familiar so twisted Clotilde’s reply that it was made to appear that she had chosen death.

Clotaire seized and stabbed the eldest, 10-year-old Theobald. In fear the second child, Gunthaire, fled to his uncle Childebert, whose heart was so softened by fear and sickened at the brutal murder of his nephew Theobald that he tried to protect him. But Clotaire disapproved of such faintheartedness. He dragged Gunthaire from Childebert’s arms and killed him, too. With his two brothers were murdered, Cloud escaped to safety and lived in hiding in Provence. The uncles suffered the same fate that they imposed on their nephews. It is said that Cloud cut off his hair with his own hands to indicate his renunciation of the world.

When Cloud came of age, he decided that he already knew enough about the world of the court and politics. Although he had opportunities to regain his kingdom, he resigned all claim to the Frankish throne by voluntarily being tonsured as a monk. He then hid himself in a hermit’s cell, where he gained masterly over his passions through austerity and prayer.

Later he placed himself under the discipline of Saint Severinus, a hermit living near Paris. With the guidance of this experienced master the fervent novice made great progress in Christian perfection; but he was troubled at being so close to Paris and the center of power, where he was known. So he withdrew to Provence, where he passed several years, and wrought many miracles. Seeing he gained nothing by the remoteness of his cell from Paris
because so many came to him for healing and counsel, he returned to Paris, where he was received with joy. At the earnest request of the people he was ordained priest by Bishop Eusebius of Paris, in 551, and served that church for some time.

Afterwards, he became the abbot-founder of Nogent-sur-Seine near Versailles, which is now a collegiate church of canons regular called Saint Cloud. Until his death at age 36, Saint Cloud was generous in distributing his wealth to churches and the poor, and indefatigable in teaching the people in the area around Nogent. His relics can still be found at Saint-Cloud’s (Attwater, Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Husenbeth, Walsh).

In art, Saint Cloud is portrayed as a Benedictine abbot giving his hood to a poor man as a ray of light emanates from his head. He may also be shown with royal insignia at his feet or instructing the poor (Roeder). He is invoked against carbuncles (Roeder).

Everyday Saints

I am hoping to counting among these blessed souls one day:

Vatican City, Apr 13, 2011 / 11:27 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Benedict XVI offered those gathered in St. Peter’s Square a reflection on the “simple,” less well-known saints, as he brought his two-year stretch of teachings on the Church’s saints to a close.

“In my life of faith, there are many saints, but not all of the guides on my path are great saints,” the Pope told the thousands of pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square for the April 13 general audience.

It’s estimated there are over 10,000 “canonized” Catholic saints – men and women who the Church declares to be in Heaven. But what of all those who are also in Heaven and have never been formally canonized? Well, it’s to such individuals that Pope Benedict turned his thoughts today.

“I look also to ‘simple’ saints, those good people I see in my life who will never be canonized, who are normal people, so to speak, without visible heroism, but in whose everyday goodness I see the truth of faith.”

Today’s address was the final installment in a series of meditations on the lives of the saints that the Pope delivered nearly every Wednesday for the past two years. Beneath the warmth of the noontide Roman sun, he urged all those present to seek holiness, describing it as “the fullness of Christian life, a life in Christ.”

Pope Benedict reminded his audience that, “(w)e are all called to saintliness: it is the very measure of Christian life.” Achieving holiness, he concluded, requires opening ourselves “to the action of the Holy Spirit” so that we can become part of “the great mosaic of sainthood that God creates throughout history.”

St. Nicholas of Flue

Today, is my first born son’s birthday. We woke up and suddenly discovered that he was 16. Wow! He is named Nicholas because he was born on the Feast of St. Nicholas of Flue. Just to assist in understanding this man of God and saint, here is a tour of his home.

A Man Who Developed the Seasons

Sometimes, I think when we look at our liturgical calendar, see the saints that are listed and immediately glaze over. Most think we are remembering the saint for their death. In actuality, we celebrate their life – a life now spent in the presence of the Living God. We also celebrate the impact of their contributions upon Christendom.

For our beloved saint of the day, we owe him a great deal – well, at least that is what I think. St. Cyril of Jerusalem is most well known for his Mystogagia. These mystagogical and catechetical lectures were given to the neophytes after their entrance into the Church on Easter Sunday. He also provides us with a 4th century view into how Baptism was celebrated, the Liturgy of St. James, the logic of catechumenal preparation and even the doctrine of the Eucharist. They are broken down into five lectures:

  • Lecture 1-3: Baptism and Chrismation
  • Lecture 4: Doctrine of the Eucharist
  • Lecture 5: The Eucharistic Liturgy

But wait! There’s more…

Now, I know you are thinking, “That’s great DQ but I am not going to read them.” That is fine.  BUT, I am confident that one of your most favorite time of the year is Holy Week, and, you love the liturgy.

Dom Gregory Dix writes,

Cyril’s Holy Week and Easter cycle is at the basis of the whole of the future Eastern and Western observances of this culminating point of the Christian year. He gave to Christendom the first outline of the public organization of the divine office; and the first development of the proper of seasons as well as the saints. He was certainly the great propagator, in not the originator, of the later theory of Eucharistic consecration by the invocation of the Holy Ghost, with its important effects in the subsequent liturgical divergence of East and West. In the Jerusalem church in his time we first find mention of liturgical vestments, of carrying of lights and the use of incense at the gospel, and a number of other minor elements in liturgy and ceremonial, like the lavabo and the Lord’s prayer after the Eucharistic prayer, which have all passed into the tradition of catholic Christendom. Above all, to him more than to any single man is due the successful carrying through of that universal transportation of the liturgy from an eschatological to an historical interpretation of redemption, which is the outstanding mark left by the fourth century on the history of Christian worship.[1]

So, what has this liturgical giant given us? In summary:

  • Provided an outline and public organization of the Divine Office
  • Developed the form and initial content of the proper of seasons and saints
  • Introduced a theology of consecration of the sacred elements through the invocation of the Holy Spirit

Historically, he also documents that from antiquity there was a tradition of:

  • Use of liturgical vestments
  • Use of carrying of processional candles
  • Use of incensation of the Gospel
  • Use of the lavabo
  • Organization of the Lord’s prayer after the Eucharistic prayer

I think we much to be thankful for!

Sancta Cyril, ora pro nobis!


[1] The Shape of the Liturgy, pp. 350 f.

To Prepare You for St. Patrick’s Day

I offer this meditation for you to assist your spiritual preparation for St. Patrick’s Day.

And of course, on a more serious note, the Irish Monks…

Ecclesial Immigration

Did you know that you are a resident alien? That is what the word parishioner means. It comes from the Hellenistic Greek word παρоικια. The word was used in the Septuagint to describe the Jews as sojourners in a foreign land (cf. Gen 15:13, Exd 6:4, Deu 10:19).

As parishioners we should remember that while living here on earth, we are true citizens of the Kingdom of God:

So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God…(Eph 2:19)

Thus, we should not establish “roots” in the things of this earth but

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. (Col 3:2)

The Second Vatican Council in Sacrosanctum Concilium (par. 2) affirms this when she says,

It is of the essence of the Church that she be both human and divine, visible and yet invisibly equipped, eager to act and yet intent on contemplation, present in this world and yet not at home in it; and she is all these things in such wise that in her the human is directed and subordinated to the divine, the visible likewise to the invisible, action to contemplation, and this present world to that city yet to come, which we seek.

Sacred Scripture also shares,

For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city which is to come. (Heb 13:14)

Naturally, we should feel most at home during the liturgy when heaven and earth embrace through the Divine Mysteries. Did you ever wonder why we have a procession for anything and everything we do? We enter those Divine Mysteries through processions or as it is defined: an assembly on the move. On the move to what, where or whom? To the true love of our hearts, heaven, and the Most Blessed Trinity.

Next time you go to Mass remember that you are truly home in the Church. Additionally, as you consider the challenge(s) that the U.S. is grappling with concerning immigration (legal or otherwise) remind yourselves that you too are a sojourner in a land that is not your own.

The Test of Orthodoxy: Vincentian Canon

How does one know if a teaching is orthodox or not? This question arose very early in the Church and as Providence would have it, the Lord provided a champion to communicate a guiding principle that has been used for over 1600 years.

The widely known three-fold test of orthodoxy, articulated by St. Vincent of Lerins (400-450):

Care must especially be had that that be held which was believed everywhere (unique), always (semper), and by all (ab omnibus).

The principles of diffusion, endurance, and universality in this triple norm distinguish a Christian’s religious truth (orthodoxy) from error.[1]


[1] Peter Klein, ed., The Catholic Source Book: A Comprehensive Collection of Information about the Catholic Church, 3 ed. (Dubuque, Iowa: ACTA Publications, 1999), 74.

The Feast Day of My Wife’s Peeps

Today, the Universal celebrates the feast of Sts. Cyril and Methodius (not the other guy). being that there are the “Apostles of the Salvs” and somehow in the great gene pool of Europe the Croatians are related, we are honoring them in the Silva household today.

Evidently, noodle soup is a traditional staple of the Slavs and Croats. I am told by the children that mom is cooking it up for dinner tonight. Mmmmm! Thank you Sts. Cyril and Methodius! Here is some more info on these illustrious saints that seemed to have been forgotten on their feast day.

Denver, Colo., Feb 13, 2011 / 08:00 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Feb. 14, the universal Church will honor brothers Sts. Cyril and Methodius, who are called the “Apostles of the Slavs” for their tireless work in spreading the Gospel throughout Eastern Europe in the ninth century.

Such was their influence in Church history, through their evangelization efforts, that the late Pope John Paul II named the two brothers the patron saints of Europe along with fifth century monastic leader St. Benedict.

Born into a prestigious senatorial family in Thessalonica, in 827 and 826 respectively, Sts. Cyril and Methodius renounced their wealth and status. They chose instead to become priests.

Both were living in a monastery on the Bosporus – now known as the Istanbul strait which separates Europe and Asia – when the authorities from the Khazar Empire sent to Constantinople for a Christian missionary. Cyril was chosen and was accompanied by his brother. Both learned the Khazar language and converted many of the people.

Soon after the Khazar mission, there was a request from officials in Moravia – a region in the present-day Czech Republic –  for missionaries who could preach and celebrate liturgical services in the local dialect. Although German missionaries had already labored among the people for some time, they had little success.

In order to fulfill this mission, Cyril and Methodius took the step of adapting the Greek alphabet into a script for the Slavonic language. The result was the “Cyrillic” alphabet, which was first used to translate the Bible and liturgical books. It also became the primary means of written communication for large portions of the world, including modern day Russia.

The two labored in Moravia for four years until 868, achieving greater success than the German missionaries. Their Byzantine origins and use of the vernacular language caused some German church officials to regard them with suspicion. However, after being summoned to Rome they met with Pope Adrian II who warmly approved of their methods.

Cyril and Methodius were commended by the pope for their missionary activity and ordained bishops. Yet Cyril would not return to Moravia, and died in Rome in 869.

In order to further Methodius’ work in Moravia, Pope Adrian II appointed him archbishop of a new archdiocese in the territory, independent from the German church. Unfortunately this had the effect of angering his German critics, who had him deposed and imprisoned for a period of three years.

Pope Adrian’s successor, John VIII, managed to have Methodius freed and had him reinstated as archbishop, after which he expanded his work to incorporate the region of modern day Poland. The new Pope continued to support Methodius’ use of the Slavic languages in worship and his translations of the Bible, despite continuing controversy with some elements of the German church.

Eventually, with the assistance of several Greek priests, he translated the whole Bible into the language that is known today as Church Slavonic. He chose his successor from among the native Moravian Slavs whom he had evangelized, and died on April 6 in 885.

Sts. Cyril and Methodius’ missionary work among the Slavs laid the essential foundation for the later Christianization of Ukraine and Russia in 988, when the Russian Prince Vladimir accepted Baptism.