Spiritual Gut-Check

As I’m sure you’re abundantly aware, today is the Memorial of St. Gerald of Aurillac, who also happens to be my confirmation saint. Yes, the late-9th and early 10th-century nobleman who made a vow of celibacy and sought to rule his territory according to the principles of the Gospel (yes, the Gospel can actually help you be a good civil leader!). You can read his biography or just get the skinny on him.

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Of course, in celebrating his memorial, I was “reduced” to using the 2nd reading in the Common of Holy Men for the Office of Readings…of course. (Don’t worry if half those words are meaningless; it’s not the real point)! Thanks be to God for such a providential direction, for it led me to a forgotten, but excellent exhortation by St. John Chrysostom, which I found to be beautiful, and so thought it worth sharing:

 

From a homily on the Acts of the Apostles by Saint John Chrysostom, bishop (Homilia 20, 4: PG 60, 162-164)

fresco_of_stjohnchrysostomThere is nothing colder than a Christian who does not seek to save others.

You cannot plead poverty here; the widow putting in her two small coins will be your accuser. Peter said, Silver and gold I have not. Paul was so poor that he was often hungry and went without necessary food.

You cannot plead humble birth, for they were humbly born, of humble stock. You cannot offer the excuse of lack of education, for they were uneducated. You cannot plead ill-health, for Timothy also had poor health, with frequent illnesses.

Each one can help his neighbor, if only he is willing to do what is in his power. Look at the trees that do not bear fruit: have you not noticed how strong and fine they are, upstanding, smooth, and tall? If we had a garden, we would much prefer trees with fruit—pomegranates and olives—to trees that are for pleasure, not for utility, and any utility these have is small.

Such are those men who think only of their own concerns. In fact, they are even worse: the trees are at least useful for building or for protection, whereas the selfish are fit only for punishment. Such were those foolish virgins who were chaste, comely, and self-controlled, but did nothing for anyone. So they are consumed in the fire. Such are those men who refuse to give Christ food.

Notice that none of them is accused of personal sins. They are not accused of committing fornication or perjury or any such sin at all: only of not helping anybody else. The man who buried the talent was like this. His life was blameless, but he was of no service to others.

How can such a person be a Christian? Tell me, if yeast did not make the whole mass like itself, is it really yeast? Again, if perfume failed to pervade all around it with its fragrance, would we call it perfume?

Do not say, “It is impossible for me to influence others.” If you are a Christian, it is impossible for this not to happen. Things found in nature cannot be denied; so it is here, for it is a question of the nature of a Christian.

Do not insult God. If you say that the sun cannot shine, you have insulted Him. If you say that a Christian cannot help others, you have insulted God and called Him a liar. It is easier for the sun not to give warmth or shine than for the Christian not to shed his light. It is easier for light to be darkness than for this to happen.

Do not say then that it is impossible. The opposite is impossible. Do not insult God. If we have put our affairs in order, these things will certainly come to be and will follow as a natural consequence. The light of a Christian cannot escape notice. So bright a lamp cannot be hidden.

St. Gerald of Aurillac, pray for us! St. John Chrysostom, pray for us!

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#CatholicFamilyCulture The Spiritual Life

A couple facts have recently dawned upon me regarding the attempt to offer daily bits of advice regarding the building up of a Catholic Family Culture:

  1. The average parent who would hopefully be reading such blog posts, tweets, or FaceBook posts probably doesn’t have time to be checking such things on a daily basis; if you do, that might be another issue.
  2. Being attentive to such things requires a bit of time which is not available to me either.
  3. I don’t need to be emotionally or psychologically bolstered by anyone giving daily attention to my Twitter feed or FaceBook wall.

Continue reading “#CatholicFamilyCulture The Spiritual Life”

Authentically Looking at the Human Person III: A Real Reformation

We – or maybe I should say “I” – have been reflecting upon the way that we see other people as people.  One of the flaws underlying the mainstream culture is a confusion regarding who we are as human beings. Continue reading “Authentically Looking at the Human Person III: A Real Reformation”

A Catholic Kind of Advent & Christmas

While it may seem simple (or totally predictable, given my background), one of my favoriteIMG_0874 pastimes, especially during the summer is to walk through shallow – and not-so-shallow – streams.  Whether it’s in a field or in the mountains is irrelevant (although I think I’d prefer a stream running through a mountain meadow); there’s something peaceful and intriguing about such an experience. That being said, on multiple occasions I’ve unintentionally found myself up to my neck in water or carried downstream by a powerful current.  To stand in anything more than a trickle requires calculated treading and sure footing. Continue reading “A Catholic Kind of Advent & Christmas”

Just another day…of the unexpected

This is a city with millennia of history; why should I expect anything other than lots of cool surprises? Yes, I’m a slower learner.  Now, since yesterday was a day that ends in “y,” so it was a good day to visit yet another of the 5,000 (yes, 5,000) chapels in Rome.  This time it was a neighborhood to the south around the Colosseum. Continue reading “Just another day…of the unexpected”