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Urban Impressions of the Stations of the Cross

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Doctors of the Church - St. John Chrysostom

St. John attested to Jesus' divinity against the heresy of Arianism.

How can we be like God?
We can imitate God by loving one another.

“The Holy Scriptures were not given
to us that we should enclose
them in books, but that we should
engrave them upon our hearts.”

When we pray, we come to know God’s love.

“Everywhere, wherever you may find yourself, you can set up an altar to God in your mind by means of prayer.”

When we love God, we learn how to demonstrate our love for one another.

“But first I want you to tell me this: do you know the power of love? Christ passed over all the marvelous works which were to be performed by the apostles and said, "By this shall men know that ye are my disciples, if ye love one another.”

“No act of virtue can be great if it is not followed by advantage for others. So, no matter how much time you spend fasting, no matter how much you sleep on a hard floor and eat ashes and sigh continually, if you do no good to others, you do nothing great.”

In our hearts, we come to love others through empathy- understanding what it means to live as they do.

“Helping a person in need is good in itself. But the degree of goodness is hugely affected by the attitude with which it is done. If you show resentment because you are helping the person out of a reluctant sense of duty, then the person may receive your help but may feel awkward and embarrassed. This is because he will feel beholden to you. If,on the other hand, you help the person in a spirit of joy, then the help will be received joyfully. The person will feel neither demeaned nor humiliated by your help, …. And joy is the appropriate attitude with which to help others because acts of generosity are a source of blessing to the giver as well as the receiver.”

As we do good for others, we can show love for ourselves as well.

“The Church is a hospital, and not a courtroom, for souls. She does not condemn on behalf of sins, but grants remission of sins....In the Church, the troubled find relief, and the heavy-laden, rest.

“Come to me,” says the Lord, “all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

What could be more desirable than to meet this voice? What is sweeter than this invitation? The Lord is calling you to the Church for a rich banquet. He transfers you from struggles to rest, and from tortures to relief. He relieves you from the burden of your sins. He heals worries with thanksgiving, and sadness with joy.

How has prayer helped you to empathize with others?

Which experiences of helping others have you found personally rewarding in ways which are intangible?

What did you learn and how did volunteering bring you contentment?

A famous literary maxim is “To err is human, to forgive divine.” 

When you attend mass, how do the readings and homilies attest to this?

To read more about St. John, please visit this page or this page from the Vatican.

Laura Ross
Faith Formation Commission member

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Doctors of the Church - St. Cyril of Jerusalem

The early Church had to endure many controversies during the first centuries. During these times, Cyril came into the world at or near Jerusalem. The year was 315 A.D. and not much is known of his parents. However, he did receive a formal education which centered on the Church fathers, philosophers and the Bible. He was ordained a priest. Later, when the Bishop died he became the Bishop of Jerusalem. 

During the time of his See, he was exiled three times. He was the Bishop of his See for 37 years, but spent almost 20 years in exile. The main reason was due to the spread of Arianism. 

Over the course of his time as Bishop, he delivered 24 catechesis. The majority of which are addressed to the catechumens who are about to receive Baptism. They explain the Sacrament of Baptism, conversion from secular morals and explain the 10 dogmatic truths in the Creed.

It is important to note that Cyril, was part of the First Ecumenical Council of Nicea. Which gave us The Nicene Creed. 

In one of his lectures he goes on to explain that there are two kinds of faith. The first, is a gift from our Lord, as was given at the last hour to the “Good” thief. The second, type of faith given by our Lord. Is the Holy Spirit. This type of faith goes beyond the doctrinal matters and produces effects beyond any human capability. Cyril sites Matthew 17:20, for further explanation. 

It becomes apparent that Cyril was courage’s during his life as Bishop and his works further reinforce his virtue of fortitude. I am reminded as a cradle Catholic. That it is to one’s best interest to read St. Cyril’s catechesis, to gain a richer and deeper understanding of our Baptism. 

By Jaime Gonzalez
Faith Formation Commission

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Holy Cross & St. Peter Damian

Doctors of the Church: St. Peter Damian 

St. Peter Damian was born in Ravenna, Italy in 1007.

St. Peter Damian was one of the most significant figures in the church during the eleventh century. 

At the age of 34, he left a comfortable life as a professor and writer to join the Monastery of Fonte Avellana, an order of Benedictine monks known for their austere lifestyle. 

St. Peter found his calling within this cloistered, monastic life – a life dedicated to prayer and charity. There are two aspects of St. Peter Damian’s life that elevate him in standing among the saints – his devotion to the Holy Cross and his dedication to the formation of rules for leading a monastic life. 

In his time at Fonte Avellana, Peter was drawn to and embraced the order’s Hermitage of Fonte Avellana; the hermitage focused their devotions on the Holy Cross, the central mystery of faith. 

Peter’s personal devotion to the Holy Cross is reflected in statements in his writings at the time:

‘O Blessed Cross, you are venerated, preached, and honored by the father of the Patriarchs, the predictions of the prophets, the senate of Apostles that judges, the victorious army of Martyrs, and the throngs of all the Saints’. 

The Holy Cross represents the supreme act of love for humanity by God. 

Peter compiled a rule for monastic life in which he stressed the rigor of the life of a hermit devoted to a prayerful life. In the silence of the cloister, the monk is called to spend a life of prayer by day and by night, with strict fasting; a monk must put into practice generous brotherly charity in obedience to the leadership of the monastic order. In his time as a Benedictine monk, St. Peter founded 5 additional monastery based hermitages in Italy.

Peter described the hermit’s life as ‘the parlor in which God converses with men’. 

His example of quiet contemplation and connection with God carries forward to today’s life – the special quality that silence in prayer and reflection brings to our lives as we listen to God’s voice in prayer. 

St. Peter Damian died in 1072; he was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope Leo XII in 1828. 

For Reflection:
  • Can you think of opportunities to build time into your daily life for silent prayer and reflection? Think of opportunities to enrich your connection with God through prayer?
  • The Holy Cross is venerated during the Easter season; the rich, moving story of the Passion of Christ calls out the significance of the Holy Cross to Catholic Faith. Can we reflect on the significance of the Holy Cross beyond just the Lenten and Easter seasons? How can we do so? 

By Ken Henriksen
Faith Formation Commission

Note: the quotations from St. Peter Damian are cited from: Church Fathers and Teachers – From Saint Leo the Great to Peter Lombard, by Pope Benedict XVI, published by Ignatius Press, 2010.