July 6, 2018
We are used to the countries of these islands having their patron saints – Andrew, David, George, and Patrick but the entire continent of Europe too has its patron whose feast we celebrate on Wednesday: Benedict. Born in Umbria around 480 Benedict died at the famous and still functioning monastery of Monte Casino in 547.
While still a young man Benedict had decided to flee what he considered the corrupt world in order to spend more time seeking God. His first attempt at setting up a community was not entirely successful because, like many young men, he was too intolerant of human frailty. But Benedict learnt from these mistakes and established a community and an order that flourish to this day.
The Rule of St Benedict is a masterpiece of common sense in which he shows himself a keen student of human psychology. Benedict’s rule is firm but gentle, shrewd but sensitive, and seeks to develop the individual as well as the community.
So great has been Benedict’s influence, especially over education, that he is counted as patron of Europe because he contributed so much of what is good in our common culture on this continent. May his prayers help us as we strive to build afresh a Christian culture that cherishes the individual and seeks their growth in a community of love. P.D.
July 2, 2018
There are undoubtedly many different versions of Christianity on offer in the world today – churches and sects abound. That’s why the feast days that occur around this time are so important. Yesterday we celebrated the feast of the early martyr and theologian, Irenaeus. He could trace his teaching back directly via St. Polycarp to St. John the Evangelist. Tomorrow we celebrate the feast day of the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome – Christians who were put to death for their faith in the first century. And today we celebrate the feast day of Saints Peter and Paul, both martyred in Rome in the 60s of the first century.
All these martyrs gave their lives because they knew Jesus as their risen Lord. They all knew too that the community that gathered to celebrate the Eucharist was the way in which that risen Lord was encountered. And they all knew that authentic teaching about Christ was found by following the teaching of the Apostles who had been personally present with Christ whilst he was upon earth.
Our communion with them and with their successors the bishops and Pope guarantee that among all the confusing versions of Christ’s teaching on offer what we believe is what he and his earliest followers taught – ‘the Catholic faith that comes to us from the Apostles’.