June 28, 2010
On Tuesday we celebrate the wonderful feast of Saints Peter and Paul. Peter and Paul remind us on the two imperatives of the Church: to keep ‘the catholic faith that comes to us from the apostles’ but also to spread it throughout the world. We are Christians who have inherited a living tradition and are duty bound to share it with others. Both those things are necessary. Tradition without preaching is dead, preaching without the tradition is rootless.
One of the striking things about the early Church is the way in which the gospel message exploded across the Roman Empire. Well within a hundred years it had reached its remotest corners such as the British Isles. The Apostles we celebrate this weekend and their fellows were responsible for this because they were filled with the Holy Spirit. Peter and Paul were in no doubt about their need for this divine help: Peter had denied Christ and run away, Paul had persecuted the early Church. Perhaps if they had been less cowardly and less opinionated they wouldn’t have known their need of God?
Peter and Paul show us how God can take our weak points and transform them. On this feast day let us reflect how God will transform and build up his Church once again if only we will let him have his way. May the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul pray for us so that we can hear what the Spirit is saying to us today.
June 21, 2010
There are just three celebrations of birthdays in the liturgical calendar. That of Christ is obvious, and most Catholics would know about the feast of Our Lady’s birth in September. But I wonder how many of us would get the third? On Thursday we celebrate – the nativity of St. John the Baptist. That his is only one of three should alert us to him importance.
The gospel tells us that even in his mother’s womb he leapt at the approach of the Christ child in his mother’s womb. And John’s life can be seen as one long continuation of that desire for Christ. We find him at the beginning of Christ’s ministry, and John’s questions and observations all point to Christ. Jesus builds on the foundations that John has established. The preaching of John prepares the way for the revealing of Jesus. And that is why he is such a good example for the Christian – he points from himself and to Jesus.
We are called to do the same. Our prayers and praise, our charitable actions are all meant to point from us and towards Christ. We do these things not to get the attention for ourselves but for Him.
June 14, 2010
The idea of patron saints for people, places, and causes is wonderfully comforting. It reminds us that we are not in this alone, but rather have a whole team of saints cheering and praying for us. We’re not quite sure how St. Anthony of Padua came to be patron saint of those who have lost things but most Catholics are aware of this devotion. We could also do well to learn a little more about this saint.
Anthony was born in Lisbon in 1195. He became an Augustinian friar but when he encountered the newly founded Franciscans he became one of their number. Anthony held numerous posts in the Order across France and Italy but it was as a preacher that he was most renowned. He didn’t pull his punches and was very direct with those who loved riches more than their fellow men and women. His own life was as eloquent as his preaching and when he died in 1231 he was popularly regarded as a saint.
Travellers to northern Italy would be well advised to make a little detour to Padua on their way to Venice. The town has wonderful paintings by Giotto but also has the shrine of Anthony whose relics are venerated there to this day.