October 23, 2015
On Wednesday we celebrate the feast of the Apostles Simon and Jude. We know little about them – the scriptures tell us that Simon had once been one of the ‘Zealots’ (a sect within Judaism), and that Jude is not to be confused with Judas Iscariot. Legend holds that they suffered a martyr’s death in Persia, but we have no reliable evidence for this.
The one thing that is certain though is that they were part of ‘the Twelve’. We find their names in each list of the Apostles, albeit with some variation in reference. And this is what we can recall today: we ‘hold and teach the Catholic faith that comes to us from the Apostles’.
We live in an age in which people think that in religion, as with almost anything else, they can do their own thing. This D-I-Y approach is not the Christian understanding. We don’t make up a faith to suit our needs and desires. We receive the faith of the Church which teaches what God has revealed about himself. But as well as receiving we’re also called to give. The Catholic ‘tradition’ is the process of handing on the faith from one generation to another. May the holy Apostles Simon and Jude help us with their prayers as to engage in that task.
October 9, 2015
Next Thursday we celebrate the feast of St Theresa of Avila, one of the most compelling and intelligent women in the liturgical calendar. She was born in 1515 and died in 1582. So she lived through the Protestant Reformation, one of the most turbulent times in the Church’s history.
The Church too was undergoing a period of reform and Teresa was one of the leading lights in that. The Carmelite monastery she joined as a young woman was lax and far removed from its original ideal. Supported by other like minded friends Teresa established a new convent which was far more rigorous and austere.
Along with St John of the Cross and others she wrote cogently and passionately about the spiritual life. She was quite clear that prayer had to be focussed on Christ. She was also insistent that the key measure of spiritual growth was not the number of mystical experiences one had (though she had quite a number) but the growth in love that was manifest to all. As she said: ‘ Accustom yourself continually to make many acts of love, for they enkindle and melt the soul’.
May St Theresa of Avila pray for us and for the Church that we may experience something of her zeal, fervour, but above all love.