Monday, November 28, 2022

Of Relics

Incorrupt Body of St. John Vianney in Ars, France

 From Catholicism:

It is no surprise that in [St. John Damascene's] other masterpiece, On the Orthodox Faith , this eighth-century apologist gives us a beautiful defense of saints’ relics based on the fact that “through their minds God has also dwelt in their bodies.”

What’s the common thread uniting icons and relics? It is that God has sanctified stuff — matter, as we call it — and has chosen to give us divine assistance through its use. In his defense of relics, St. John goes on to cite the same passage from First Corinthians that the fathers of the Council of Trent did, in this excerpt from the Council’s 25th session: “the holy bodies of holy martyrs and of others now living with Christ — which bodies were the living members of Christ and ‘the temple of the Holy Ghost’ (I Cor., vi, 19), and which are by Him to be raised to eternal life and to be glorified, are to be venerated by the faithful85”

Like St. John, who points out miracles worked through the relics of the saints, the Council goes on to state a reason why the relics are to be honored: “for through these [bodies] many benefits are bestowed by God on men85” The fact that relics were used by God to bestow benefits on men is clearly to be seen in the inspired history of the Bible.

In the Fourth Book of Kings (or Second Kings, in Protestant Bibles), the story is told of Elias (Elijah) the Prophet being taken up to heaven in a fiery chariot. Eliseus (Elisha) the Prophet, who inherited his spiritual father’s “double spirit” — the legal prerogatives of firstborn son — took up the mantle of Elias which had fallen in the violence of the whirlwind. “And he took up the mantle of Elias, that fell from him: and going back, he stood on the bank of the Jordan; and he struck the waters with the mantle of Elias, that had fallen from him, and they were not divided. And he said: Where is now the God of Elias? And he struck the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, and Eliseus passed over” (4 Kings 2:13-14 / KJV: 2 Kings 2:13-14 ).

Elias had, previous to his being taken up, worked the same miracle using his mantle (2:8). This is how the two prophets ended up on the side of the Jordan they were on when the fiery chariot came. After Elias’ prodigious departure, the relic of his mantle became Eliseus’ “passport” to get back to the other side. Here is a concrete instance of God bestowing a benefit on men through a relic.

The next Old Testament relic apologetic also involves Eliseus. Here, the relic is not a garment, but the prophet’s dead body: “And Eliseus died, and they buried him. And the rovers from Moab came into the land the same year. And some that were burying a man, saw the rovers, and cast the body into the sepulchre of Eliseus. And when it had touched the bones of Eliseus, the man came to life and stood upon his feet” (4 [KJV:2] Kings 13:20-21).

There is no denying that the inspired history relates a cause-and-effect relationship between the dead man’s body touching the corpse of Eliseus, and that man’s resurrection.

Before proceeding to the New Testament, we cite one more B.C. proof: God chose to work many and great miracles through the Ark of the Covenant. What did the Ark contain? Relics. In it were found the tablets of the Law, the Rod of Aaron, and a jar of manna from the Israelites’ wandering in the desert. (Read more.)

Thursday, November 24, 2022

The Pilgrims

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Laudem Gloriae discusses the origins of our American Thanksgiving. To quote:

Queen Elizabeth had little patience for the Catholics, but even less for the Calvinists, who complained the Church of England remained too papist. In their desire to complete the Reformation and purify religion of popish trumperies, the Puritans broke from the Anglican Church, rejected the Book of Common Prayer, and preferred the anti-royalist Geneva Bible to the King James version. They instituted an independent congregationalist ideal that upheld the notion of the common priesthood of all believers, and thus granted an equal say among congregants in the election of the minister (some claim the roots of American democracy lie here). All of this naturally brought down upon them the wrath of the Crown. A number of Puritans sought refuge in Holland, where they lived in religious freedom for a dozen years, after which they chose to emigrate to America. After meeting another group of Puritans in Southampton, all boarded the Mayflower on September 16, 1620. Sixty-five days later, they sighted Cape Cod. The first Thanksgiving celebration (which lasted three days) took place in 1621 with about ninety Native Americans, and wasn't celebrated again until some years later, when in 1863 Abraham Lincoln declared it a national holiday. (Read more.)

More HERE.
The persistence of American Thanksgiving customs is impressive. While cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie may not have been on the menu at Plymouth in 1621, when venison and an unspecified "fowle"; graced the communal table, Americans have celebrated their unique holiday for giving thanks to God in ways that are highly recognizable from generation to generation, from century to century.

Friday, November 18, 2022

The Creation of Adam and Eve

From CNA:

The ceiling frescoes show the creation of the heavens and the earth, the creation of Adam and Eve, their expulsion from the Garden of Eden, the great flood, and the rebirth of humankind through Noah. Lev cited St. John Paul II’s description of Michelangelo’s work in his poem “Meditations on the Book of Genesis at the Threshold of the Sistine Chapel.”

“It is the book of the origins — Genesis,” the pope said. “Here, in this chapel, Michelangelo penned it, not with words, but with the richness of piled-up colors. We enter in order to read it again, going from wonder to wonder.”

Lev reflected on the first three panels depicting the creation of the world. These show “the mighty dynamic figure of God the Father at work.”

“It’s not what God creates, it’s that God creates,” she said. Michelangelo broke ground in portraying God as “physically engaged in creation.” For Lev, this offers “a preview of the Incarnation.”

Turning to Michelangelo’s famous depiction of the Creation of Adam, Lev noted that the artist depicts “just God and the creature formed in his likeness.” Adam is shown as “somewhat listless” in contrast with God’s energy. Adam is “sentient and awake but he has no will or strength or purpose to rise,” she said. “He looks completely passive and dependent despite that incredibly beautiful form.”

“It’s God who reaches towards man,” she continued. For Lev, the outstretched finger of God makes the viewer “almost lean forward in his seat waiting for that final Act of Creation, the divine spark, the Breath of Life that will release that latent energy and allow Adam to take his place as the greatest of creations.”

“This is the joy in humanity that permeates the Renaissance,” Lev said. (Read more.)

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Novena to St. Raphael Kalinowski

 St. Raphael of St. Joseph was a Polish Carmelite saint greatly venerated by St. John Paul. His feast is November 19. From Aleteia:
Born Joseph Kalinowski to a noble Polish family in 1835, the future saint lost his mother when he was just a baby, then his stepmother when he was 10. His father’s third wife became a great influence in his life, encouraging him spiritually as well as in his remarkable academic career. He graduated from the boarding school his father taught at, then headed to the improbably-named Hory Horki for university. Equally good, it seems, at a variety of sciences, he chose to study zoology, chemistry, agriculture, and apiculture (beekeeping).
But Kalinowski’s love of creation didn’t extend to a love of the Creator; gradually he drifted further and further from the faith of his youth. For him, knowledge and worldly success were enough. He had no particular need, he felt, of the things of God. Despite his aptitude, Kalinowski’s options were limited because of his ethnicity; Poles at the time were only permitted to pursue graduate studies if they were members of the Russian army. So Kalinowski enlisted in the Imperial Russian Army and began to study engineering. He spent some time as a math professor before beginning his work designing the railroad that would connect Kursk to Odessa.
It was during this time that the call of the Lord began to penetrate Kalinowski’s heart. As he worked on the railroad, he had many hours to spend in solitude. There, in the silence, God began to draw the young engineer back. He began to realize the need for an interior life, but still he remained far from the sacraments, seeing God more as an idea than as a lover.
Meanwhile Kalinowski was rising through the ranks, but his heart wasn’t with the Russian cause. He sympathized with the plight of his oppressed Polish brethren and when he was 27 he made the difficult decision to become a traitor—or, rather, a patriot.
After he defected to the Polish rebels during the 1863 January Uprising, Kalinowski’s brilliant mind was put to good use as minister of war. But while he had left behind the Russians, he still hadn’t left behind his sin. For 10 years, Kalinowski had been away from the sacraments; finally, his younger sister and his stepmother told him they would only get a particular gift for a friend of his if he would go to confession. Though not at all eager, Kalinowski went; in that moment, he experienced profound grace, mercy, and fullness of conversion. “After 10 years of apostasy,” he said, “I have returned to the bosom of the Church.” (Read more.)
More HERE.

Prayer in honor of Saint Raphael:
Lord God, You made Your Priest St. Raphael strong in adversity and filled Him with a great love in promoting Church unity. Through his prayers make us strong in faith and in love for one another, that we too may generously work together for the unity of all believers in Christ. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

A Prayer for America on Election Day

A psalm for David. Judge me, O God, and distinguish my cause from the nation that is not holy: deliver me from the unjust and deceitful man. For thou art God my strength: why hast thou cast me off? and why do I go sorrowful whilst the enemy afflicteth me? Send forth thy light and thy truth: they have conducted me, and brought me unto thy holy hill, and into thy tabernacles. And I will go in to the altar of God: to God who giveth joy to my youth. To thee, O God my God, I will give praise upon the harp: why art thou sad, O my soul? and why dost thou disquiet me? Hope in God, for I will still give praise to him: the salvation of my countenance, and my God. —Psalm 42 (The Vulgate)
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