St Benedict – 11 July

July 10, 2015

Greece has been very much in the news lately. Its current precarious economic situation should not mask the tremendous contribution that Greek thought and practice has made in forming European and indeed worldwide civilisation. Much of our thinking about humanity, culture, and democracy stems from Ancient Greece. Another great influence for us in the Western Church has been that of the saint we celebrate on Saturday.

Benedict was born around 480 and died in Monte Casino in 547. He was a man steeped in the scriptures but also the Graeco-Romano culture of the declining Roman Empire. He gathered a group of likeminded men around him and devised a rule so that they could live together. At the heart of that rule was prayer, and the importance of nourishing that prayer through reading and pondering of the scriptures.

Benedict’s followers founded monasteries and schools and his entire approach had formed much of what we consider valuable in education and as to how it is best imparted. His monks brought an air of ‘civilisation’ across the Western world through their learning and moderation. They improved agriculture and helped foster societies in which the weak were prized rather than despised.

Benedict has been named as Patron Saint of Europe. As we face many questions about the future of that continent let us ask for his prayers that we may put peace firmly on the agenda.

St Thomas the Apostle – 3rd July

July 3, 2015

Poor Thomas, always to be known as ‘doubting Thomas’ when the opposite is true. The feast we celebrate today is that of the Lord’s Apostle Thomas who ‘was not with the twelve’ when the risen Jesus first appeared. Thomas’ reaction is entirely understandable – who would believe such a thing? And yet Jesus is able to use his hard-headed reason to extract one of the most wonderful expressions of faith in the entire Bible: ‘My Lord and My God’ exclaims Thomas.

The account of this appearance of the risen Lord is not just about Thomas coming to faith it’s also about us too. We are the ones who are described as ‘not having seen yet believe.’ We trust to the testimony of Thomas and the other apostles, to the constant tradition of the Church, the witness of the scriptures and our own personal encounter that Jesus is indeed risen.

To many outside the Church that seems impossible. But to some who are genuinely open and searching they too can come to realise that it is true that ‘The Lord is Risen.’ We are called to show by our lives that we are alive with the life of the risen Christ. The church is called to continue his work. Let us ask ‘Believing Thomas’ for his prayers.