Today’s saint Athanasius, “the champion of orthodoxy” was exiled three times by general councils or synods dominated by Arian bishops, twice by order of the Emperor. He was slandered, condemned by a false council, tried and acquitted of various absurd charges. In fact, Constantine and his successors considered Athanasius a trouble-maker.
But Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman called him ‘a principal instrument after the Apostles by which the sacred truths of Christianity have been secured and conveyed to the world’. Newman wrote “The body of bishops failed in their confession of the Faith…They spoke variously, one against another; there was nothing, after Nicea, of firm, unvarying, consistent testimony, for nearly sixty years. There was untrustworthy Councils, unfaithful bishops; there was weakness, fear of consequences, misguidance, delusion, hallucination, endless, hopelessness, extending into nearly every corner of the Catholic Church. The comparatively few who remained faithful were discredited and driven into exile; the rest were either deceivers or were deceived.”
Sometimes, and more frequently, standing up for the Truth about God, the human person, marriage, and life, means standing alone. Lord Jesus, by your powerful grace and thru the intercession of St. Athanasius, give us courage, strength, and perseverance to stand firm in faith (Ephesians 6:13).
For more on Newman and St. Athanasius, see http://www.newmanreader.org/works/athanasius/original/Read More
Today, as I was reflecting on St. Joseph the Worker, I recalled a quote, “He who works with his hands is a laborer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.” I think we can all agree that the most important “work” that Joseph ever accepted (in union with the protection of the Holy Family) was the shaping of the human soul of his adopted son Jesus. God saw in the heart of the man Joseph, a father that would “build” a son, helping him to “grow in wisdom, and stature, and favor with God and men” (Luke 2:52). Today’s saint undertook his noble work with the strength of a laborer, the skill of a craftsman, and the joy and care of an artist.
Let us join God in his work within us, that through the intercession of St. Joseph, Christ may be formed and fashioned in our souls and revealed to the world in our words and deeds.Read More
I’m excited to announce that my new, FREE online 10-part series on Living the Beatitudes is ready to go! You can sign up here http://thecatholicyearoffaith.com/beatitudes
Happy Feast of the Annunciation! I am so grateful that Mary said Yes! Though still a mystery, she was saying yes to be the Mother of the body of Jesus AND the Mother of the Body of Christ- all of us! What a fruitful Mother! In 2005, Pope Francis (then cardinal) washed the feet of new and expectant mothers and said “Some of you are holding your babies in your arms. Others of you are carrying them in your womb. All of you are women who have chosen life. I, as a priest, am going to repeat the act of Jesus, and carry out a concrete act of service for women who have said yes to life. In washing your feet, I am washing those of all mothers, and of my mother, who felt me in her womb.” Thank every Mom and Dad you meet today for saying Yes to Life!Read More
[Thomas] said to them, ‘Unless I … place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe.’ Eight days later, his disciples were again assembled in the house, and Thomas was with them … Jesus came and stood among them, and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side … ‘ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and My God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.’—John 20:24-29
The Apostle Thomas is my patron, and quite frankly, I think he gets a bad rap. He is regularly labeled as “doubting Thomas” because of his inability to trust the witness of his fellow apostles that they had seen the resurrected Lord. (Of course, none of the grieving apostles had believed the earlier testimony of Mary Magdalene, either (see Mark 16:10-11).
Though Thomas struggled to believe in the Resurrection the first moment he’d heard of it, he spent the rest of his life trusting in the Lord and leading thousands of others to faith in Christ. He died a martyr for his witness of the resurrected Lord. Catholics in India still celebrate a liturgy attributed to him.
No one deserves to be remembered exclusively by the one moment their faith flagged or failed. Jesus models the proper response. He sought out Thomas not to upbraid the apostle, but to meet him in his weakness, gently guiding his hand into the wounds of love. Thomas responded with the most explicit confession of Jesus’s divinity in the Gospels, “My Lord and my God!”
The story of St. Thomas’ restoration gives us hope and the final beatitude from Christ, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” (John 20:29).
“Lord, I believe; help my unbelief” (Mk 9:24). Help me to encourage and strengthen those whose faith is failing, especially during times of grief or loss.
For more reflections like this, sign up for Ascension Press’s Year of Faith series – Faith in Action here
During the Year of Faith, the Church invites us to grow in our personal faith, and to understand better the content of our faith, particularly the Universal Catechism of the Catholic Church, so that we might clearly and confidently share it with the world.
Thomas has created individual presentations as well as parish missions and full retreats using the themes from the year’s inaugural document Porta Fide and Rome’s suggestions for celebrating this exciting year.
Invite Thomas Smith help guide your parish community, staff, or group through the riches of our faith during this special year of grace.
My new 3-session parish mission Discovering the Beatitudes as Pathways to the Kingdom has been enthusiastically received from the hundreds who have already experienced the profound invitation of these eight gifts. Friend Bishop Ricken has also recommended the Beatitudes as one of the 10 ways we can live the Year of Faith http://www.usccb.org/news/2012/12-150.cfm
Check out my Year of Faith topics here: http://gen215.org/talks/Read More