Theological Meditations, Uncategorized

Palm Sunday: Choosing Barabbas Over Jesus

Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week. Holy Week is the last week of Lent, and thus is the week leading up to Easter. As such, it is a time to reflect upon the Death and Resurrection of Jesus with particular intensity.

 

 

In most Catholic Churches, at least of the Latin Rite, it is traditional to read stories from the Passion narrative. I think there is an important lesson to learn here. By reading the Passion narrative on Palm Sunday, we see the contrast between what transpired on these two days: those same people who welcomed Jesus in a kingly manner on Palm Sunday were the same people who chose Barabbas over Him just a few days later.

 

A lot of people reading the Gospels may say, “What hypocrites!” Others, seeing how Jesus’ death was initiated by a traitorous disciple and executed by the collusion of various religious and political leaders among the Israelites and Romans, may say, “Poor people! How easily manipulated by whatever happens to please them at that moment!”

 

 

The thing is, it is easy for people who have explicitly made the choice to accept Jesus, and who know Who Jesus Is, and who love Jesus, to say that. Such a person would, if present at the Way of the Cross, not be counted among those who would beat, spit on, or mock Jesus. In a word, hindsight is 20/20.

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Theological Meditations, Uncategorized

Prodigal Man: The Transition from a Life of Illusion to a Life of Truth

I know it’s been a while since I posted, but as they say, better late than never.

 

 

I believe that the readings from a few weeks ago (the Third Sunday in Lent) really touch on the heart of Lent. Easter celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus, which was the fulfillment of His Mission. In returning from the dead, Jesus defeated the forces of sin and death, proving they no longer have the final say, but HE does. In order to reap the fruits of Christ’s Death and Resurrection, we need conversion, that is, a turning away from or rejection of our sin and an attachment to the One Who alone provides salvation, and thus true happiness. Lent is thus a meditation on the nature of repentance.

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Theological Meditations, Uncategorized

The Monastic Tradition and Spiritual Growth

Yesterday was the feast day of St. Benedict. St. Benedict wrote the Rule of St. Benedict, a document that outlines the parameters of the monastic life to be followed by the monastic tradition that he founded. A copy of the document was later sent to his sister Scholastica, a nun, to be used by her monastic community. After his death, the Rule of St. Benedict was adopted by other monastic communities, and thus the Benedictine Order of monks and nuns was born. Monasticism was present in the West prior to the time of Benedict; nonetheless, there was no universally accepted rule used by the monks, that is, each monastic community had its own way of life. The Rule of St. Benedict was the first time one saw in the West a particular manner of organizing and living out the monastic life becoming widespread among multiple monastic communities, so that they were united as one order. Since the Benedictines were highly influential in the evangelization of Europe in the early Middle Ages, the Benedictines were also highly influential in the spread of monasticism throughout the West.

 

With this in mind, I think it is good to present some quotes from some of the holy men of Christian monasticism – both of the East and the West – concerning the nature of repentance. One of the foundational texts of Eastern monasticism was The Sayings of the Desert Fathers. The father of monasticism was St. Anthony of Egypt, whose wisdom and strict asceticism inspired others to follow in his path. The monks of the early Church were held in such high regard that biographies were made of some of the more historically significant ones (i.e., St. Athanasius’s The Life of Antony, composed shortly after his death). Yet, most of the early Christian monks were considered fountains of wisdom. Many of their sayings were preserved and passed on, starting with St. Antony himself, and lasting for several centuries after his death. Starting with Antony, it became a common trend to record the sayings of prominent monks from a particular community, and eventually certain teachings from certain monks became popular among multiple communities. These sayings were eventually grouped together in a text known as The Sayings of the Desert Fathers, written by an anonymous scribe in the late A.D. 6th century. Throughout the Middle Ages, this text became popular throughout both the Eastern and Western Church.

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Theological Meditations, Uncategorized

St. Patrick and the Future of Christendom (a.k.a., “Once The Green Confetti Has Settled Down”)

Yesterday was the Feast Day of St. Patrick. As many may know, St. Patrick – also known as the Apostle to the Irish or the Enlightener of Ireland – was the first Catholic religious leader to spread the Gospel to Ireland. As we celebrate the life of this great saint, let us first mediate upon certain implications of his life and his significance for our time.

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Theological Meditations, Uncategorized

Martyrdom, Penance and the Meaning of Lent

Ah, most valiant and blessed martyrs! Truly you are called and chosen for the glory of Jesus Christ our Lord! And anyone who exalts, honors and worships His Glory should read for the consolation of the Church these new deeds of heroism which are no less significant than the deeds of old. For these new manifestations of virtue bear witness to one and the same Spirit Who still operates, and to God the Father Almighty, to His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, to Whom is splendor and immeasurable power for all the ages. Amen. [1]

The Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicitas

 

I think it is very fitting that yesterday, the second day of Lent, we celebrate the Feast Day of Sts. Perpetua and Felicity. St. Perpetua was born in the late A.D. 2nd century to a rich family of Roman nobles from Carthage in North Africa. Perpetua came from a mixed family, with her mother being a Christian and her father a pagan. In the year A.D. 203, when Perpetua was still a young woman, she converted to the religion of her mother. Perpetua also converted to the Christian faith a slave owned by her family, Felicitas (better known in English as Felicity), as well as a group of others who knew her. Shortly thereafter, the Roman emperor Severus started a persecution of Christians, and it wasn’t long before the Christians in Perpetua’s community were subject to such persecution.

 

Perpetua was eventually arrested, and sentenced to death, refusing the entire time to reject her Christian faith. Her slave Felicity was arrested and sentenced to death with her. Felicity was pregnant, and gave birth in jail, but Felicity was sentenced to death shortly thereafter.

 

The acts of the martyrs – that is, texts that described the life and death of famous martyrs – were popular texts in the early Church. The story of the martyrdom of Sts. Perpetua and Felicity were of particular influence in the early Church. The story of their martyrdom was frequently read during liturgies. [2] Their was a particular devotion to them in the Church of Rome, and they were some of the saints commemorated in the Canon of the Mass (the main Eucharistic prayers of the Roman Rite). [3]

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