Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Doctors of the Church - St. Francis de Sales

St. Francis defined love as a choice of the will.

“The pleasure and the movement of the will towards kind things is properly speaking, Love.”

We learn to choose love - in part through reception of the Eucharist.

On the Feast of Corpus Christi, the church recognizes the gift that unites us with God and with each other.

”You learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by running, to work by working, and just so, you learn to love by loving. All those who think to learn in any other way deceive themselves."

“Within the practices of religion, the Blessed Sacrament is what the Sun is to the stars; it is truly the soul of the Christian religion. It is the ineffable mystery that comprehends divine charity, by which God, truly uniting to us, communicates to us his magnificence, graces and favors.”

”I often speak with my Teacher, Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, because I can learn from Him. Jesus is the Teacher of the science of holiness. I go to Him because I would like to learn from Him how to become a saint. Of what use to me is all knowledge and education, if I do not become holy?"

"When you have received Him, stir up your heart to do Him homage; speak to Him about your spiritual life, gazing upon Him in your soul where He is present for your happiness; welcome Him as warmly as possible, and behave outwardly in such a way that your actions may give proof to all of His Presence." 

St. Francis worked with and influenced others who became saints.

He and St. Jane de Chantal founded the Order of the Visitation, sisters who served as teachers or nurses. He chose the name in honor of the humility and love Mary showed by attending to her cousin Elizabeth.

Later, prior to the 20th century, St. John Bosco founded a religious congregation inspired by the teachings of St. Francis de Sales. St. John recognized people’s potential and strove to evoke their innate holiness working with young men which society judged to be beyond help.

We can grow in love and should not be discouraged when we find it challenging.

For St. Francis wrote, “Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections, but instantly set about remedying them -- every day begin the task anew.”
  • How does your participation in the sacraments enrich you?
  • How do you personally demonstrate your love of God with your whole heart, soul, strength, and mind?
  • How does your love of God impact how you love others?
  • How do others inspire you to be your best self?
Read more about St. Francis from Pope Benedict XVI

By Laura Ross
Faith Formation Commission

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Doctors of the Church: St. Leo the Great

Saint Leo The Great
Birthdate Unknown- Died 461
Feast Day: November 10

Leo the Great was recognized as a peacemaker and unifier during an age where the Church and its people were in desperate need of both. The decaying Roman empire was in a state of collapse, leaving room for many forms of heresy to spread and barbarian armies to infiltrate. Leo faced these challenges head on.

“Virtue is nothing without the trial of temptation, for there is no conflict without an enemy, no victory without strife”

Leo was a Deacon resolving a dispute in Gaul for the Imperial Court in 440 when Pope Sixtus III passed and Leo was chosen successor.

Leo’s writing on the Incarnation, originally recorded in a letter to the Patriarch of Constantinople, was adopted as official doctrine of the Church at the Council of Chalcedon in 451. His teaching on the human and divine nature of Christ is captured in his famous quotation:

“It is one in the same Son of God Who exists in both natures, taking what is ours to himself without losing what is His own.”

This thinking, and Leo’s persuasive abilities were used to combat heresies such as Pelagianism (denying original sin, redemption through Christ and the origin of grace from God) and Manichaeism (combining elements of Christianity, Dualism, Buddhism and Babylonian folklore) to further his objective of unity for the Church.

Leo continued to add discipline and depth to his teaching by explaining the importance of Christ’s passion through his writings and many sermons (nearly 100 of which are still preserved today).

“No one, however weak, is denied a share in the victory of the cross. No one is beyond the help of the prayer of Christ.”

“Our sharing in the Body and Blood of Christ has no other purpose than to transform us into that which we receive”

Leo is also famous for using his persuasive abilities to avoid the ravages of attack by brutal enemies. He traveled unarmed to meet the notorious Attila the Hun and somehow convinced him to withdraw the armies advancing on Rome. Raphael’s fresco depicting the meeting is located at the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City.

Similarly, Leo convinced the Vandal Gaiseric not to burn Rome at the conclusion of their pillage in 455. Upon their departure, Leo actively aided those who were devastated by the ransacking and those who lost loved ones to captivity by the perpetrators.

Leo’s faith, strength, disciple and administrative talents kept the Church unified through the collapse of Rome and positioned it as one of the most influential institutions of the medieval world. 

  • How can I focus on ways to use my talents to aid our community?
  • How can faith lift me to take on the challenges of our times?
  • How do I fearlessly get involved so my good intentions can affect positive change?
Carl Casareto
Faith Formation Commission Member

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Doctors of the Church - St. John of Avila

The Apostle of Andalusia

John of Avila, was born in Almodovar del Campo, in the Provence of Ciudad Real, on the 6th of January in the year of 1499. His parents, Catalina Xixon and Alfonso de Avila, where a devote Catholic couple. His parents had the means to send him to the University of Salamanca to study Law. He was confronted during his studies in Salamanca and left without a law degree. After some time, he enrolled into the University of Alcala. Under the wings of the Dominican friar Domingo de Soto, he received his bachelor’s degree in philosophy and theology.

During his time in school his parents died and they left him substantial inheritance. Thereafter, he liquidated the assets and gave the money to the poor. His spiritual desire was in missionary work. After he was ordained a priest in the spring of 1526, he set his eyes on Tlaxcala. However, while in Seville the Archbishop saw in him the opportunity to evangelize in Andalusia. 

The young priest went on to make missionary contributions; creating a following of disciples; establishing schools and colleges in Andalusia. Some of his note worthy disciples include the Jesuits. He became spiritual adviser to other Saints. These include St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross and others. 

St. John of Avila died on the 10th of May, 1569 in the city of Montilla in Cordoba. His remains are located in the Jesuit Church of the Incarnation.

Jaime Gonzalez
Faith Formation Commission Member

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

What is going on at Mass?

The Mass is an integral part of our faith. The Eucharist is the source and the summit of our faith. Yet, how often do we find ourselves going through the motions at Mass? How often do we think about the history of the Mass or why we say the words we do?

The Faith Formation Commission is offering the chance to go through aspects of the Mass and answer some of these questions by offering another teaching Mass on June 8. All are welcome to join us. however, due to popularity, we ask that you register in advance. The registration form also includes the opportunity to ask questions.

In the meantime, you can find out more about the Mass parts here. All the answers to the question, "What's happening?" will be answered.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Doctors of the Church: St. Hilary of Poitiers

St. Hilary of Poitiers was born in Poitiers, France, in 315.

His parents were pagans and raised Hilary as a pagan; his education included learning Greek, a common language of the day.

Hilary lived the common life of the time working, marrying and having a family (a daughter). He dedicated himself to the study of the New and Old Testaments which led Hilary to abandon his standing as a pagan and become a Christian about the time that he was 35 years of age. He was baptized a Christian along with his wife and daughter.

He was held in high regard in the Christian community in Poitiers; he was elected as the Bishop of Poitiers in 353.

During the years Hilary served as the Bishop of Poitiers, the universal Christian community was divided in its interpretation of the relationship of Jesus Christ to God the Father. Two distinct concepts predominated thinking within Christianity at the time:
  • The assertion that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who was begotten by God the Father, is distinct of the Father and is subordinate to the Father (known as Arianism- a belief held largely by the eastern Christian church);
  • The assertion of Jesus Christ as within the Holy Trinity – God in three persons – Father, Son, Holy Spirit. (a belief held largely in the western Christian church)
St. Hilary was a firm believer and guardian of the Holy Trinity. His strong beliefs brought him into conflict with the Roman emperor of the day, Constantius II; Hilary’s actions to defend his thinking on the Holy Trinity resulted in his being sent into exile in Phyrgia (a region in modern day Turkey) by Constantius II for a period of 4 years.

He devoted much of his time in exile to writing. Among theological works composed by St. Hilary while in exile, is De Trinitate (On the Trinity); it is comprised of 12 books and considered a major theological work on the topic.

St. Hilary of Poitiers died in 367; he was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius IX in 1851.

A quote attributed to St. Hilary of Poitiers:

“There is no space where God is not; space does not exist apart from Him. He is in heaven, in hell, beyond the seas; dwelling in all things and enveloping all. Thus He embraces, and is embraced by, the universe, confined to no part of it but pervading all.”

To Reflect Upon:
  • How do we respond when faced with topics or issues where individuals hold strong convictions or line of thinking that differ from our own? How can we face approach a dialogue on these topics constructively while holding true to our beliefs? 

By Ken Kenriksen

Monday, May 8, 2017

Doctors of the Church: St. Bede the Venerable

Saint Bede the Venerable

Feast Day May 25

Born in the Medieval Anglican Kingdom of Northumbria, in what is now northern England, Saint Bede made a significant impact on mankind while living of his life inside the walls of a Monastery. Entrusted to an abbot by his parents at the age of seven, Bede became Deacon at 19 and Priest at 30. Educated in scripture, lives of the saints, sciences, and history, Bede developed into a humble and trusting servant of God.

Among his more famous quotations are:

“All of the ways of this world are as fickle and unstable as a sudden storm at sea.”

“The life of man appears for a short space, but of what went before, or what is to follow, we are totally ignorant’

“Christ is the Morning Star, who, when the night of this world is past, gives to his saints the promise of the light of life, and opens everlasting day”

“I was no longer the center of my life and therefore I could see God in everything”

“Unfurl the sails, and let God steer us where He will.”

St. Bede is credited with writing 45 books on topics of history and faith during his lifetime. No small feat considering,

“I am my own secretary; I dictate, I compose, I copy all myself.”

Study and teaching were important to Bede’s path to sainthood and he embraced this path.

“I have devoted my life to the study of scriptures, observing monastic discipline, and singing daily services in church; studying, teaching and writing have always been my delight.”

Bede’s most famous work, Historia Ecclesiatica, is an account of the influence of Christianity in the unification of the disparate tribes and races of early Britain. It is written in a manner similar to Acts of the Apostles, where Luke relates the movement of the Church from Jerusalem to Rome, St. Bede introduces us to the Saints and missionary heroes who bring the gospel to tribal Kings and spread faith that brings a common bond to the people of the British Isles. Bede’s work shows how St. Alban, St Augustine, Pope Gregory the Great and numerous other bishops and monks influenced warlords and kings and ultimately brought faith in Christ to the non-Roman barbarian north.

St. Bede’s writings from the monastery were widely known during his lifetime. His work was read in churches and he was sought by kings and other people of importance, even Pope Sergius. Despite this notoriety, St. Bede remained true to his monastic calling and with the exception of one brief teaching expedition in the school of the Archbishop of York, he remained inside the Monastery of St. Paul, Jarrow all of his adult life.

St. Bede shows us how observing and understanding holy lives can supplement scripture on a personal path to a quality life. His discipline and devotion to learning on the journey to sainthood can be an inspiration to us all. He is the patron saint of scholars.

  • Who's lives inspire you to reach for your best?
  • Which gifts give you the greatest impact from your little corner of the world?
  • Are there practices you can use to maximize the benefit of your gifts?
By: Carl Casareto

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Doctors of the Church: St. Teresa of Avila

St Teresa, whose name was Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada, was born in Avila, Spain, in 1515.

Her parents were devoutly Catholic which set a strong foundation for the development of St Teresa’s spirituality. Her family was large – Teresa had 3 sisters and 9 brothers. She found great comfort in her youth in spiritual readings, in particular, she was struck by the stories of martyrs for the faith.

Teresa was a pupil of Augustinian nuns in Avila; as an adolescent she read the classics of Franciscan spirituality introducing her to contemplation and prayer. 

At age 20, Teresa entered the Carmelite monastery of the Incarnation in Avila. The spiritual focus of the Carmelite Order is contemplation – encompassing prayer, community and service. Teresa developed a deep spirituality through her devotion to the Order and its mission. In one of her many writings, she shares the following to describe her deep spirituality;

‘A feeling of the presence of God would come over me unexpectedly so that I could in no wise doubt either that He was with me or that I was wholly absorbed in Him.’ 

St. Teresa wrote several works that are observed by scholars to be remarkable as ‘mystical literature of the Catholic Church’. 

Through her experiences in the Carmelite Order, she became disenchanted with the practices of the Order, particularly the lax manner in which the Order observed cloister – a practice designed to strengthen spirituality and the practice of prayer. She developed a desire to return the Order to more conservative practices and held an ideal to reform the Order. She succeeded in this regard when in 1562 she founded the first reformed Carmelite monastery in Avila, with the blessing of church hierarchy and heads of the Carmelite Order. She dedicated her efforts to continue to found more reformed Carmel monasteries, several of which were built in Spain. In 1580, through her strong efforts, she received approval from Rome which authorized reformed Carmels as a separate and autonomous province. 

St. Teresa died in October 1582 while actively working on expansion and the building of new Carmel monasteries.

St. Teresa was beatified by Pope Paul V in 1614 and canonized by Pope Gregory XV in 1622. She was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI in 1970; she and St. Catherine of Siena were the first women to be honored with this title. 

Quotes attributed to St. Teresa of Avila:

“More tears are shed over answered prayers than unanswered prayers” 

“The feeling remains that God is on the journey, too.”

By: Ken Henriksen
Faith Formation Commission 

If St. Teresa of Avila interests you, watch for photos and reflections from the group of parishioners that will be visiting Avila this summer as part of a pilgrimage.