Being alone. It’s that all-too-familiar human experience. It lies at the root of our fears, ultimately making the vast wilderness frightening and the dark so haunting. The unnerving experience of being alone often descends upon men and women and has the power to paralyze them or otherwise entrap them in illusions of helpless desperation or worse, despair.
The second of a series of three interviews with Fr. Nageeb Michael, OP, this video focuses on the current suffering of Iraqi Christians. Fr. Nageeb speaks at length about the current persecution of the Christian community in his homeland and even introduces his viewers to priests he knows personally who were killed for the Christian faith. The interview concludes with a plea for solidarity with and prayers for the Christian community of Iraq.
When we look back on the past, it is sometimes tempting to think of historical events as having a certain inevitability: because they happened in the way they did, it was necessary that they happen in such a way. With the aid of hindsight, we can discern how certain cultural movements or personalities influenced particular events or individuals and draw out connections and causalities that may even have been latent at the time. In itself, this can be a useful and fruitful exercise, especially when we consider the providential hand of God who is able to draw good even out of the evil actions of men.
To many Christians, recent legal restrictions such as the HHS mandate seem like a “soft persecution.” It is tempting for us to portray such restrictions using the language and imagery of martyrdom. But is it accurate at all? One scholar, writing recently, thinks that contemporary Christians have the whole thing wrong—the history of martyrdom and its application today. Don’t we risk making a ridiculous comparison?
First Communion season is upon us. Young boys and girls in their white suits and white dresses line the aisles of churches across the country. Some come with smiles a mile wide, and others with lips nervously quivering. Why all the fuss?
Pope Francis is a master of understatement: ”He always does a nice job, the Holy Spirit, throughout history.”
In his recent homily for the memorial of St. Athanasius, Pope Francis spoke about the role of the Holy Spirit in fostering harmony in the Church. In the context of the dispute among the early Christians as to whether Gentile converts should be held to the observance of the Jewish law, the Holy Spirit inspired the apostle James, bishop of Jerusalem, to speak in such a way that the dispute was settled (cf. Acts 15:7-21). As the apostles themselves described their consensus, “‘It is the decision of the holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities” (Acts 15:28). As Pope Francis preached, “The Holy Spirit had … to foster harmony among these positions, the harmony of the Church, among them in Jerusalem, and between them and the pagans. He always does a nice job, the Holy Spirit, throughout history. And when we do not let Him work, the divisions in the Church begin, the sects, all of these things … because we are closed to the truth of the Spirit.”
On the evening of that first day of the week, when, for fear of the Jews, the doors were locked where the disciples were, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
It wasn’t just Peter, of course. The others had also denied Jesus. When he asked them to stay awake with him and keep watch, they had slept. When he was arrested, they had fled. When he was condemned to death, they had kept their distance. And now he was dead. It was evening, and the doors were locked.
The saints are the hermeneuts of the Scriptures. Pope Benedict XVI reminds us of this in Verbum Domini: ”The interpretation of Sacred Scripture would remain incomplete were it not to include listening to those who have truly lived the word of God: namely, the saints” (VD 48).
The content of the Gospel is simple, but it is difficult to express simply. Consider the rare eloquence of a crucifix, or the unsurpassable summaries of the faith in Scripture: e.g., “God is love” (1 Jn 4:16). Akin to these condensations is a little book by St. Athanasius called On the Incarnation. Before reading the book as an undergraduate, I had never seen the whole account of Christianity so plainly and appealingly set out.
Now take Francis and take Poverty
to be the lovers meant in my recounting.
Their harmony and their glad looks, their love
and wonder and their gentle contemplation,
served others as a source of holy thoughts.
So sings Saint Thomas Aquinas in Dante’s Paradiso. The great Dominican theologian lauds the virtue of the holy and beloved Saint Francis of Assisi in Dante’s epic poem. Perhaps surprising to some, Dante, writing less than a century after the death of Saint Francis, chooses a Dominican to give his eulogy. And in the next canto, it is none other than the great Franciscan theologian Saint Bonaventure who sings the praises of Saint Dominic. By thus arranging his poem, Dante immortalizes the profound bond between the Dominican and Franciscan orders.