Devotions and Sacraments. One should really not have one without the other; without both the meaning of both is lost. Blindly practicing one without the other means that you are missing the big picture - that is, what we do any of these things for. Leonard helped to establish the popular devotion to the Stations of the Cross, putting them in many churches and places like the Colosseum in Rome. He also championed the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The devotion to Christ's journey to the Cross and the gift of reconciliation that it affords us is certainly a balance worthy of our consideration.
Leonard reminds us to keep our sinfulness before us but to avoid scrupulosity by merely focusing on our own sinfulness, and instead focus on the salvific journey to perfection of Jesus and the journey to perfection of each one of us through devotions the Sacraments. God has done what He can do to pour grace into our lives; our acceptance of that salvation is in our hands.
But let us lay our stupor aside, and instead of flattering ourselves, let us try to draw some profit from our fear. Is it not true that there are two roads which lead to heaven: innocence and repentance? Now, if I show you that very few take either one of these two roads, as rational people you will conclude that very few are saved. And to mention proofs: in what age, employment or condition will you find that the number of the wicked is not a hundred times greater than that of the good, and about which one might say, "The good are so rare and the wicked are so great in number"? We could say of our times what Salvianus said of his: it is easier to find a countless multitude of sinners immersed in all sorts of iniquities than a few innocent men. ...that one could say what David said of his times: "All have gone astray... there is not even one who does good, not even one."
...So what must we do, we who know that the greater number is going to be damned, and not only out of all Catholics? What must we do? Take the resolution to belong to the little number of those who are saved. You say: If Christ wanted to damn me, then why did He create me? Silence, rash tongue! God did not create anyone to damn him; but whoever is damned, is damned because he wants to be. Therefore, I will now strive to defend the goodness of my God and acquit it of all blame....
...I want to send all of you away comforted today. So if you ask me my sentiment on the number of those who are saved, here it is: Whether there are many or few that are saved, I say that whoever wants to be saved, will be saved; and that no one can be damned if he does not want to be. And if it is true that few are saved, it is because there are few who live well. As for the rest, compare these two opinions: the first one states that the greater number of Catholics are condemned; the second one, on the contrary, pretends that the greater number of Catholics are saved. Imagine an Angel sent by God to confirm the first opinion, coming to tell you that not only are most Catholics damned, but that of all this assembly present here, one alone will be saved. If you obey the Commandments of God, if you detest the corruption of this world, if you embrace the Cross of Jesus Christ in a spirit of penance, you will be that one alone who is saved.
-- From the sermon titled The Little Number of Those Who Are Saved
Nov 27th - Vigilius (Fergal)
Even saints are human. The fight between Vigilius and Boniface, while well known, did not stop either from being considered saints. Popes stood behind each when they were right and had Vigilius succeed Boniface after his martyrdom. Popes also rebuked them when wrong.
Fergal was a well traveled monk and an astronomer. Like many of his Irish compatriots, he set out to claim the world for Christ. He seems to have been a bit more accepting of things than Boniface liked but that did not hinder his ability to pastor and bring others to Christ.
Language and thought can be a tricky thing, especially at times and places when orthodoxy is prized for its ability to bring stability and souls to Christ but the language can be foreign to its hearers and speakers. So at times heterodoxy and diversity are just as important. Both of these saints embody them and were both successful in their own right.
If we have any complaint with Vigilius it is with his more human side. His zeal or perhaps laxity allowed for the forced conversion of Jews under his care, a fault towards politics that was pointed out to him by Gregory the Great.
Our faults do not keep us from becoming saints; it is our ridged adherence to those faults which damn us.
Theology and pastoral care go hand in hand. Theological doctrine that doesn’t let itself be directed and formed by its evangelizing purpose and by the Church’s pastoral concerns is no less unthinkable than pastoral activity that doesn’t know how to use Revelation and Tradition to better understand the Faith and preach it as Jesus commands.
-- Pope Francis, Oct. 27, 2016 Address to John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family
Nov 28th - Irenarcus
You know how when you watch a movie and there are all sorts of minions working for the bad guy and you think to yourself (well, at least I do): "This is this guy's job. He gets up every morning and goes to work for an evil genius. Does he think about it or is it just a job?"
Irenarcus was an official torturer and executioner during the persecutions of Diocletian. So while he did not work for an evil genius, he did the dirty work for a guy who decided that Christians should be tortured and killed in order to change their minds. It was his job to try to persuade people through torture and death.
After a while he apparently did think about it. Impressed by the courage of his victims born from their Faith, women in particular, he converted, which placed him in the position of now being the tortured and executed.
In a Bond movie most of the minions die defending a morally objectionable leader. Irenarcus died defending the Faith of those he once persecuted. Like Paul before him, his change of heart was brought about by Jesus and the love of Jesus he saw in those he persecuted. Unlike Paul, he was not struck down but gradually worn down by the Faith that Jesus brought to us.
How are we influencing those around us? Is our humility and joy changing the lives of those around us or are we contentious, argumentative, non-charitable, or lacking charity? Jesus came to sow division (cf. Luke 12:49-53) but not through hatred and oppression. He humbly did so through peace. It is contentious because peace and humility elicit a negative response from those who are challenged by a truth that is different than the one they adhere to. Sometimes we are those who are intolerant and sometimes we are those not tolerated. We are called to be the latter and love is our only weapon.
Irenarcus reminds us to be tolerant with love and to allow the hardness of our own hearts to be melted by love.
May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we have for you, so as to strengthen your hearts, to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones. Amen. Finally, brothers and sisters, we earnestly ask and exhort you in the Lord Jesus that, as you received from us how you should conduct yourselves to please God and as you are conducting yourselves you do so even more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.
-- 1 Thessalonians 3:12—4:2
Nov 29th - Dorothy Day
For a time, I think, many people were drawn to Dorothy because of her "radical" message and just as many, if not more, were repelled by it.
When I first heard her speak, I was inspired; not because it was a radical, left-wing message of anarchy and social activism, but that it was the message of Christ, and that just seems radical. Her living of the moral imperative for the poor even more than her poignant life spoke to me at a time when I was trying to make sense of the world around me. That she should find Christ (or perhaps he found her) amidst her almost blind drive to activism and anarchic bohemianism made her conversion very powerful for me.
In the end it was her message of sacrifice, especially sacrifice for the Truth, that I carry in my heart. We must do hard things because we are called to do the hard things, but with all said and done it is not the hard things but only the daily things that we see as hard which blind us. She shows that with a deep immersion in the Sacraments and prayer the things that seem hard become easy.
She was a divisive figure during her life, but now, as with many of the saints in the canon, we can see her life of devotion to the Gospel in the light of fruits it produced and the miracles she accomplishes.
The following quote is attributed to her, but I was unable to find an exact source; but when looking at the other things she said, this is probably a good summation of what she believed and lived.
The Gospel takes away our right forever, to discriminate between the deserving and the undeserving poor.
Nov 30th - Andrew
Being an apostle means being a conduit, a teacher not about one's self but about the subject one is announcing. One does not point to oneself as the message and for that reason apostles are often remembered not for who they are but for what they did.
In the synoptic Gospels, Andrew is merely the brother of Peter (except in Luke where he does not even get a mention though he makes up for that in Acts), a fellow fisherman with (depending on the Gospel) the partners of Peter who have the pleasure of being Zebedee's sons. So, much like most of the Twelve, as important as he is as one of the Twelve, Andrew does not have much said about him. Perhaps it is the nature of apostleship and the communities of the Gospels affected by specific apostles as they went on their way teaching about Jesus.
But, we get glimpses. He is close enough to Jesus (and enough like his brother Peter) to question Jesus when he sits before the hungry crowd and invites the Apostles to feed the them, and to ask Jesus about his teachings on the destruction of Jerusalem.
But in John, it is different. In John it is Andrew who follows John the Baptist and to whom John points out Jesus. It is Andrew who introduces Peter to Jesus; later Andrew brings Greeks to see Jesus (though it never says they met him - I wonder if they are still standing by the door waiting...). John shows him as the perfect apostle - he points others to Jesus. He does not lord it over others, is not caught in a self-centered, smug knowledge. He is wrapped up in a joy that bursts forth and seeks out others to share it. May we too be apostles, humble enough to put Jesus first and selfless enough to be eager to share him with others.
As Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, "Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men." At once they left their nets and followed him. He walked along from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets.
He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him.
-- Matthew 4:18-22
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.