An Ancient Feast for These Times

michael

Earlier this week on the 8th, we celebrated a lesser known feast of St. Michael the Archangel, no longer on the liturgical calendar, which commemorates his appearance in a cave on Mount Gargano in Italy in the fifth century. We first posted this two years ago but wanted to share it with you again.  Here is the story behind the feast, according to Dom Gueranger:

A celebrated apparition of the Archangel took place, under the Pontificate of Gelasius I, in Apulia, on the top of Mount Gargano, at whose foot lies the town of Siponto.

A bull belonging to a man who lived on the mountain, having strayed from the herd, was, after much searching, found hemmed fast in the mouth of a cave. One of its pursuers shot an arrow, with a view to rouse the animal by a wound; but the arrow rebounding struck him that sent it. This circumstance excited so much fear in the bystanders and in them who heard of it, that no one dared to go near the cave. The inhabitants of Siponto, therefore, consulted the Bishop; he answered that in order to know God’s will, they must spend three days in fasting and prayer. Continue reading

An Ancient Feast for These Times

michael

Today we are celebrating a lesser known feast of St. Michael the Archangel, no longer on the liturgical calendar, which commemorates his appearance in a cave on Mount Gargano in Italy in the fifth century.  Here is the story behind the feast, according to Dom Gueranger:

A celebrated apparition of the Archangel took place, under the Pontificate of Gelasius I, in Apulia, on the top of Mount Gargano, at whose foot lies the town of Siponto.

A bull belonging to a man who lived on the mountain, having strayed from the herd, was, after much searching, found hemmed fast in the mouth of a cave. One of its pursuers shot an arrow, with a view to rouse the animal by a wound; but the arrow rebounding struck him that sent it. This circumstance excited so much fear in the bystanders and in them who heard of it, that no one dared to go near the cave. The inhabitants of Siponto, therefore, consulted the Bishop; he answered that in order to know God’s will, they must spend three days in fasting and prayer. Continue reading

A saint talks about vocations

Recently, we each received a copy of The Meaning of Vocation, a collection of Bl. Pope John Paul II’s thoughts on vocations, the call to holiness, and responding to God’s grace.

Today we are going to be part of a vocation panel at a local parish, so it seemed appropriate to share this quote from a homily of JPII’s, given this day in 1979.

How many young people do not possess the truth, and drift along without a “reason why”; how many, unfortunately, after empty and exhausting searches, disappointed and embittered, have given and still give themselves up to despair!  And how many have succeeded in reaching the truth only after years of tormented questioning and painful experiences!

Just think, for example, of St. Augustine’s dramatic path to arrive at the light of truth and at the peace of regained innocence!  What a sigh he heaved when at last he arrived at the light!  And he exclaimed with nostalgia: “Sero Te amavi!” [Late have I loved thee.]

Just think of the effort the famous Cardinal Newman had to make to arrive with the force of logic at Catholicism!  What a long and painful spiritual agony!  It is really a great thing to know that one possesses truth.

He has chosen you, in a mysterious but real way, to make you saviors with him and like him.  Yes, Christ calls you, but he calls you in truth.  His call is demanding, because he invites you to let yourselves be “captured” by him completely, so that your whole lives will be seen in a different light.  Let yourselves be seized by Jesus and try to live just for him!

 – Pope John Paul II, homily at Mass for the students of the Pontifical Major Seminary of Rome, October 13, 1979

Illumined by the light of the Gospel

Today we celebrate the one year anniversary of our blog – and the feast of St. Therese of Lisieux.  Just last weekend her relics were being venerated at the Little Flower Basilica here in town.  We were unable to go, but there’s just something comforting about the fact that she was “in town” for the weekend.  Of course, she is always around, no farther away than a prayer, and her powerful intercession has been felt by each of us at different times throughout our lives.

She is the youngest doctor of the Church, and the most recent, being declared a doctor Continue reading

They Picked Up Stones

By guest blogger Dr. David Delaney

Thursday’s Gospel reminds me of the dangers of the fallen heart.  The Pharisees, the teachers of the law, were so sure that they knew the fullness of the Law (Jn 8:51-59).  However, when faced with the Law’s fullness, Jesus who is the Law, they could not recognize Him.  He did not conform to their limited understanding of God.  They refused to step back and ask themselves if this might be a new Prophet, even the Messiah.  Their hearts were closed to a re-evaluation of their interpretation of the law; they did not consider if they understood it only partially.

I can’t help but see a parallel here to recent criticisms of our Holy Father Francis from some Catholics who are concerned about his liturgical sensibilities.  I share their concern for authentic liturgy.  I strongly believe that a liturgy that helps us to understand we are at once on earth and in heaven, is necessary for the new evangelization.  However, a group of these “liturgically sensitive” Catholics seems to have allowed this concern to affect the openness of their hearts to our newly elected Vicar of Christ and have given themselves up to suspicion and even contempt.  Like the Pharisees, some have even taken to calling him the equivalent of “possessed.”

Pope Francis is going to be full of surprises for all of us.  Before Pope Francis, we had two great teaching popes who used their personal gifts to bring a new synthesis of the faith to the contemporary world.  Francis will be another great teaching Pope, but he will be more sparing in his use of words.  He will use words, but he will demonstrate them in action in ways that will surprise most of us, and unfortunately, his demonstrations will become a stumbling block to others who have not fully understood the teaching of his predecessors.

Blessed John Paul the Great emphasized in his writings the necessity of acting in love, in accord with the teachings of Christ through His Church.  His message that we must not be afraid, gave us the hope that Christ was still faithful to His promises, the He is still alive in His Church. Benedict XVI, perhaps the greatest theological intellect to grace the papal office since St. Gregory the Great (though JPII was not far behind), emphasized the need for faith.  He fought especially against the dictatorship of relativism by which the enemy seeks to undermine the reasonableness of belief.  Benedict demonstrated that greatness of intellect does in fact bring one to deep faith in Christ.  A most important message for our time.

By most accounts of those who know him, Pope Francis like his predecessors, is a very intelligent man of great faith, humility, love and holiness.  However, his personal style is more like his name’s sake.  While St. Francis was a great evangelist, we have nothing of his writings.  He was a man of living out the words he preached (though there is no evidence he said “preach always and if you must, use words”).  I believe that this is what we will see from Pope Francis.  He will teach using few words, which will be followed by provocative acts of love and humility.

Expect to see love lived out in ways that will teach us anew what it means to be a Christian.  For those of us who have read the words of the previous popes, but not yet let these words fully penetrate our hearts and convict us by how we live, expect to be a little bit uncomfortable.  However, we must let our hearts be docile and trust in Christ that He is still leading His Church through Pope Francis.

I believe that this is the papacy of love; it is the necessary final step in experiencing the new springtime in the Church, the fruits of the last 30 years of preparation for this new evangelization.  When as faithful Catholics we begin to allow our actions to authentically witness to Christ, the pagan empire will begin its Christian conversion once again.  Let us open our hearts to Christ in His Vicar.  Let us not be one of the Pharisees who begins to pick up stones…

Dr. Delaney is Professor of Systematic Theology at the Mexican American Catholic College in San Antonio, Texas.  He previously wrote for the now defunct Cosmos-Liturgy-Sex blog.