But she, not finding where her foot might rest, returned to him into the ark: for the waters were upon the whole earth: and he put forth his hand, and caught her, and brought her into the ark. And having waited yet seven other days, he again sent forth the dove out of the ark. And she came to him in the evening, carrying a bough of an olive tree, with green leaves, in her mouth. Noe therefore understood that the waters were ceased upon the earth. And he stayed yet other seven days: and he sent forth the dove, which returned not any more unto him.
The Coptic Christians, whose ancient communities are enduring a prolonged martyrdom in the Middle East, have long given the Blessed Virgin the title of The Beautiful Dove because they see a type or figure of our Lady in this story from Genesis. In common with all of Christendom prior to the time of Luther the Copts find the New Testament present within the Old. In its pages, the stories, the people, the artefacts used, the sacrifices offered and so on everything which Jesus and the Apostles make plain can be seen under a veil as it were. Christians have long delighted in piercing that veil and in unfolding into plain sight the truths which we can now see thanks to the revelation of Christ and the faith passed on through the Apostles. The three journeys of the dove are types of, respectively, the girlhood of Mary, her role as Mother of God and her Assumption into heaven.
The earth covered in waters represents a world drowned in narrow materialism, sin and self-regard. From the moment of her Immaculate Conception our Lady became a pilgrim: in this world but not of it. Noah and his family in the Ark stand for the anawim the humble righteous ones looking with hope for the coming kingdom which would dry up the waters and flood the world instead with the spirit of love and devotion. Mary became in a special way the representative and ambassador of the anawim. She flew forth across the waters filled with love and hope but could find nowhere where here foot might rest. She was sustained only by the wings of faith and the winds of the spirit…click here to read more
The painting is a detail from The Annunciation by Fra Filippo Lippi
Why be a giver?
You might be thinking, “Why should I part with my hard earned money and give it to someone else? No one’s done any favors for me?” The short answer is that you do it because Jesus commanded you to when He said “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). How can you love your neighbor as yourself, if you allow your neighbor to do without while you live comfortably? You, in essence, love yourself more than your neighbor.
We are all in this together. We are all on the same journey, heading hopefully to the same place – eternal life with Christ. Are you ready to stand before Christ for your particular judgment and answer these questions?
As Paul went on and on, a young man called Eutychus who was sitting on the window-sill grew drowsy and was overcome by sleep and fell to the ground three floors below.
If Eutychus isn’t the patron saint of ordinary churchgoers then perhaps he should be. On days when the sky is blue, the sun is warm, the sermon is dull and a tall glass of something cool is waiting for you outside then who is the one whose attention would not waver at least a little? I don’t think that this is a cautionary tale (spoiler alert: it has a happy ending) its more an observation that even in the presence of the famous Apostle to the Gentiles human flesh is weak. If it were not there would have been no need for the Incarnation.
There are many positive arguments that can be made in favour of churchgoing but Eutychus I think points us towards a negative one. Church services can be dull or worse than dull. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The temptation to think that the Church can pretend to be a part of the entertainment industry is something that should be firmly resisted….click here to read more
As a Christian, living in the Mystical Body off Christ, I can choose to live in the joy of the Lord or stay in my misery, isolated from the Spirit of God who dwells within.
When I live in my head, I live in a prison of whirling thoughts cut off from others and God.
If I go deeper into my being and live in my human emotions, in pain or in self-manufactured “happiness”, I end up stuck as a victim of others and in my sinful, independent self.
However, if I allow God to draw me even deeper into my core, united to Him, joy springs up automatically.
Now I exist in a state of effortless prayer connected to God. Living in my spirit , as a child of God, I am in my true self.
This joy is the contagious Presence of the Holy Spirit, blessing others with a taste of the Father’s love.
Give freely from your wealth to alleviate the suffering of the poor; that is the easiest way to define the virtually unknown virtue of Munificence. A person truly practices Munificence when he/she uses his/her wealth to alleviate the suffering of the poor, while acknowledging the merit of poverty for oneself in regards to eternal life. Remember, you can’t take it with you!
As with the virtue of Magnanimity, with Munificence, intention matters. The primary purpose must be to alleviate the suffering of the poor; to address poverty. If the primary purpose for donating from one’s wealth was for a tax deduction, then the person would not be munificent, albeit generous.
As a society, we should be… Read more…
The doctrine of Hell is one that is easily distorted into portraying Christians as gleefully awaiting non-Christians to be sent there, while thinking that we have a free pass where what we do doesn’t matter. While it is true that some Christians have so missed the point about what they are called to be that they do think this way, it is an aberration which perverts what Christianity really believes.
Far from being a cruel belief invented by a vindictive people in a way that contradicts the concept of a loving God, the concept of Hell recognizes that:
- God created us with an immortal soul
- God created us with free will to choose Him or to reject Him
- If we misuse free will in a way which rejects God, our immortal soul has to exist somewhere that is the logical result of that rejection
So, Hell is not an issue of “don’t steal that cookie or you’re going to burn forever!” It’s a reality of, “If you choose to reject God, that decision has eternal consequences if you do not change your ways.”
Going from good to great sounds daunting, doesn’t it? It need not be so. To be magnanimous or noble-minded, to be great, simply means that we need to recognize the talents that God has given us and use them to the best of our abilities for the benefit of others. That added extra phrase, ‘for the benefit of others,’ marks the clear distinction of intention between self-sacrificing love for one’s neighbor and self-serving love. Where do you start?
Take an honest assessment of your talents. Perhaps you are a good listener. If so, be magnanimous with your time and give a listening ear to those in need. Perhaps you are a good communicator/teacher. If so, share your knowledge with others. God gave each of us talents, differing talents, which is a good thing. Read more…
One of the things people in modern times find hard to reconcile is how God can be love (1 John 4:16) and the existence of Hell. The general assumption is that Hell is an arbitrary, disproportionate punishment tacked on to a crime—something like shooting a person for jaywalking. Because of this, it is assumed that God, being “good” (in an undefined way) would not really send them to Hell for their own actions. Maybe Nazis, but not “good” people. I suspect this is where the whole “God doesn’t care about X!” attitude comes from.
But this is to miss the point about what Hell is about. It is not an arbitrary sentence to a crime like, “If you commit theft, I will punish you with Prison.” It is more like, “If you jump off of a cliff, you will die.” In other words, Hell is the logical consequence for choosing to do what goes against what God has called us to be.
Generous to a fault – Have you ever heard that phrase? It describes a person who gives until he has nothing else to give; he gives from the heart for the benefit of others. He gives in a self-sacrificing manner, making the gesture magnanimous. The saints are great examples of people who do things for the right reason, with the right intention – that of self-sacrificing love. Saint Francis of Assisi is one of the most magnanimous saints, according to Father Romano Guardini:
The perfection of expression can be seen in the saints. God appears in them. But since man is the image of God, and God is the model of man, this manifestation also reveals the essential nature of man, of every man. He becomes truly himself. How did St. Francis of Assisi become truly himself? By not… Read more…
Since ancient times there have been those who say that Jesus taught one doctrine openly and another, higher, one secretly to those initiated into His circle.From time to time groups have emerged, and still emerge, which claim to be custodians of this doctrine or to have ‘rediscovered’ it. A claim which, of course, it is impossible to either verify or to disprove. A somewhat related theory suggests that during His youth our Lord went to India and upon His return taught some form of Buddhism or Vedanta Hinduism to those followers whom He had first drawn to Him by preaching a radical form of Judaism.
To some extent these are all conspiracy theories; a way of viewing the world which is notoriously difficult to unsettle. Anyone who wishes to believe such a theory, whatever form it may take, is meeting a psychological need and is likely to be impervious to those facts which fail to meet that need. Nonetheless I think that it is a worthwhile exercise to demonstrate why I think these are untenable approaches for explaining the mission of Jesus.
It is certainly true that there are a number of texts which show our Lord unfolding His teaching in a veiled way (the parables) before huge crowds and in a more explicit way (the discourses) before His disciples. What they don’t show is that there is any difference in content between the parables and the discourses, the latter explain the former they don’t alter their meaning. Moreover the category of ‘disciples’ is not clearly defined….click here to read more