Lent and Easter Wisdom From St. Francis and St. Clare of Assisi
Lent and Easter Wisdom From St. Francis and St. Clare of Assisi by John Kruse
Please contact the event organiser. Although they lived more than years ago, St Francis and St Clare of Assisi serve as excellent guides for the modern Lenten journey. Both saints underwent powerful conversion experiences in their lives as they sought the joy and fulfilment that comes from following Christ to the Cross and from sharing in the new life of his resurrection.
When: Saturday 14 th March I do not know what to make of them. But I cannot ignore my growing suspicion that many of the non-Catholics who tell me how dear this or that exceptional Catholic in their life might be are simply being insincere. I would prefer that they would tell me that as long as I claim allegiance to the Bishop of Rome, I am damned to hell. We mentioned Robert Jeffress and his sensational, anti-Catholic sermon earlier. Years later, when he gained a national spotlight because of his involvement in the Trump-campaign, this sermon was dug up because of an invitation his church made to Sean Hannity to speak to the congregation; Hannity happens to be a practicing Roman Catholic.
Quite understandably, people wanted to know why he would permit a devotee to rewarmed-Dagon-hat-wearing paganism to potentially lead his flock astray. What was different? We go one by one based on our relationship with Christ. The Presbyterian Church USA has carried out a very similar thing, although with the sort of careful, educated classiness for which they have a reputation. Their Book of Confessions includes the Westminster Confession, including section xxxv, 6, but instead of mentioning the antichrist, they have reworded it so that it is an affirmation of the presbyterial model of church governance.
Why should this bother me, a Catholic? Because no one has dealt with the original words of the Westminster Confession.
Clare of Assisi, Saint 1194-1253
Now we can get past all of that awkward, eschatological stuff. But some Catholics have long memories. As far as I can tell, neither the Church of Scotland nor the Presbyterian churches that are descended from her have ever issued a formal apology for anti-Catholic bigotry. We cannot pretend that nothing ever came of those libels.
John Knox, the father of the Church of Scotland, describes in vivid detail in his History of the Reformation in Scotland what happened on May 11, , when he preached a sermon against Catholic idolatry in St. For the next two days, the populace rioted, and when they were done, they had looted, desecrated and destroyed four monasteries in the locale.
This is just one horrific incident among many. But no more has been done to express sorrow for even this one act of violence against houses of worship than to get rid of the embarrassing mention of the antichrist in the Westminster Confession. Admittedly, it took Catholics a while to get around to apologizing for our own crimes against Protestants, some of which helped to provoke the outbreak of violence at St.
But recently, our popes have made a number of public apologies, and begged for forgiveness. But it seems to me that this new habit of making apologies for the injustices of the Reformation era is up to this point uniquely Catholic. If we are really to move forward in dialogue with one another, we cannot keep avoiding the antichrist-libel. For this reason, I have a great deal more respect for Lutherans of the Wisconsin and Missouri Synods.
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At least they are consistent and faithful to their founding documents, without shying away from the difficult parts of them. I see in these two churches worthy and honorable rivals who are not yet ready to concede any common ground too quickly. And yet, I must confess, they too perplex me. My Lutheran friends express to me their esteem for Catholic theologians, including one who would become a Pope towards the end of his career, Joseph Ratzinger. How can it be possible to benefit from exposure to theology espoused by the antichrist? We live in a blessed time where we can have these discussions without fear of bloodshed.
I think that we are finally at a point in history where we have realized that we want to get along with one another. But being too nice will simply sabotage it all. On the contrary, now God is man; theology subsists in history. This paper will explore the implications of this fact, which extend beyond these ancient Christological controversies, and into issues surrounding the nature of Scripture, Tradition, and ecclesial authority today.
Wherever theology has been abstracted as authority and source apart from history, in everything from theories of Papal authority to Barthian Word theology, the incarnational core of the faith has been left behind with the Apostolic history. The theological pursuit must never circumvent or separate itself from the historical question. Whether in Scripture or Tradition, councils or magisterium, a theology apart from history cannot be located any more than God can be apprehended apart from the incarnation. He exercised authority too, as head of his family after his father died, tutor and fellow at Oriel College in Oxford, Vicar of the University Church of St.
Mary the Virgin, and then as the founder of the Oratory of St. Newman demonstrated obedience to authority, disappointment with some of the decisions those in authority were making, and endured challenges to his own authority. His most famous response to authority, both secular and ecclesiastical, came with his reactions to the definition of Papal Infallibility at the First Vatican Council in When former Prime Minister William Gladstone argued that English Catholics must deny the infallibility of the Pope in the name of being good English subjects and citizens—rights and responsibilities they had just received from Parliament and Crown in —Newman answered Gladstone with a defense of authority based upon truth, citing the rights and responsibilities of conscience, not as an individualistic determination of truth, but as hearing the voice of God.
Stephanie A. Mann earned her B. She attends the Church of the Blessed Sacrament, and blogs at www. In January of the noted author James K. Smith visited Wichita as the keynote speaker for our fifth annual Eighth Day Symposium. Around a year after that visit he reached out to me for an interview to be published in Comment Magazine , the excellent, like-minded journal that he edits. His experience at EDI gave him hope for the future of faith. I want to use those two phrases as bookends to this inaugural Eighth Day Florovsky Lecture.
But I also want to weave the theme of cultural renewal through the lecture, since that is the mission of Eighth Day Institute. Matthew Baker, to whom this lecture and this Florovsky Week is dedicated. I know that sounds like a lot. It is. I promise!
So first, remembrance. I believe Jamie is right. Remembrance is at the heart of cultural renewal. Georges Florovsky. Mary of Egypt…she has a fascinating story…you really should come and learn about her! They are for sell. Lewis and J. Tolkien—who spurred one another on to write stories and essays that have had unimaginable influence on so many people around the world, including Warren Farha who created this whole Eighth Day enterprise when he opened Eighth Day Books. To the proprietor of Eighth Day Books, a peddler of books and culture! While the focus this evening is on Florovsky himself, the emphasis for the week is to remember the common heritage we all share in the first millennium of Christian history.
We want to remember that common tradition as a way to overcome our divisions, in this instance as a way to deal with one of the key theological issues that divided Christians during the Reformation period: justification by faith alone. Let me get back to remembrance.
Remembrance is central to the work of Eighth Day Institute because it is central to the life of the Church. We remember His death, burial, and resurrection, every Easter—or Pascha, as the Orthodox Tradition calls it.
Every year we remember the Ascension forty days after the Resurrection and then Pentecost ten days later to remember the descent of the Holy Spirit. And we remember the saints, just as St. Paul does in the Epistle to the Hebrews in his famous chapter on faith; just as the early Christians did when they celebrated the death day of the martyrs as their true birthday, for it was on the day of their martyrdom, the day they bore witness to their Savior, that they were born into the kingdom of God and became fully alive.
Today, for example, we remember the 45 Holy Martyrs of Nikopolis—they were burnt alive in the year under the Roman Emperor Licinius. Had you heard of them before tonight? They are a part of the great cloud of witnesses and we should know them. Now, what does all this talk about remembrance have to do with cultural renewal? Why do I think Jamie is right to say that remembrance is at the heart of cultural renewal? In order to answer that question, I need to lead us astray for a moment by introducing you to a couple of other heroes of mine. McIntire, ed.
Consequently any break in the continuity of the educational tradition involves a corresponding break in the continuity of the culture. There are five key ideas to be gleaned from this passage; or we can frame them as five questions that can be answered:. Culture is something that is built; it is created.
And it takes a lot of work. It is a laborious enterprise. Building or creating culture is a prominent theme in the work of Florovsky. A social inheritance, a tradition of learning into which the members of a society must be initiated. In the church and in the family.
And it is the responsibility of the parents to pass that faith on to their children. That means the church and families—YOU! Do we still have this? Look around and I think the answer is pretty obvious. Has our civilization died? At least not yet. But we have broken the tradition of learning. We have forgotten. We have failed to do the laborious work of preserving what was handed down through so many generations. And so I do believe that we—western civilization, that is—are on the path toward death.
Now for one more sidetrack. In this same book with Dawson and Florovksy, I also met T. Eliot asked this in and he ultimately said no, based on the second of two criteria. Here are his critieria:. Our culture has positively become something else. And I would argue in at least two ways. The civilization of a world in which pride of place, in terms of a scale of values, is given to entertainment, and where having a good time, escaping boredom, is the universal passion. To have this goal in life is perfectly legitimate, of course.
Only Puritan fanatic could reproach members of a society wanting to find relaxation, fun and amusement in lives that are often circumscribed by depressing and sometimes soul-destroying routine. But converting this natural propensity for enjoying oneself into a supreme value has unexpected consequences: it leads to culture becoming banal, frivolity becoming widespread and, in the field of news coverage, it leads to the spread of irresponsible journalism based on gossip and scandal.
Today, intellectuals have disappeared from public debates, at least the debates that matter. Because in the civilization of the spectacle, intellectuals are of interest only if they play the fashion game and become clowns. This culture has given itself over, in a passive manner, to what a critic now relegated to obscurity [not at Eighth Day Books! Does this sound familiar to you? It does to me. Our culture has been taken captive by the spectacle; or I should say we have willingly submitted to the rule of the spectacle. We might even put it in the words of the title to a wonderful book by the social critic Neil Postman: We are Amusing Ourselves to Death.
Franklin Sanders, a farmer-economist friend in Dogwood Mudhole, TN once called it Americanity, which he suggested consists of the twin pillars of individualism and greed. I need not say more, except that I would argue that many Americans who call themselves Christians are just as captive to this new global culture that is smitten by the gods of entertainment, comfort, and convenience. Taking up the cross and dying to self is not on their agenda.
All that to say that I think Eliot would agree that today we do indeed fit into his third historical era of the post-Christian. That choice is all the more pressing to us: will we form a new Christian culture? Do we have the strength, the stamina, the will to build or create a new Christian culture? I had to do it. But we are here to learn about Florovsky. But before we turn to Florovsky, I do want to formally dedicate this lecture and this week, and for that matter, the work of Eighth Day Institute, to the memory of Fr.
Matthew Baker. Please do read it. All I will say right now is that, even though I never met him in person, I still consider Fr. Matthew a dear friend. This is how the communion of saints works. Fr Matthew was the driving force behind the Florovsky Symposium, which began the same year we launched the Eighth Day Symposium in I coordinated a live feed broadcast of all four of those symposia from Princeton University to Wichita, KS.
Without ever meeting him in person, I felt like I knew a man who had drunk deeply from the well of the Fathers and of Florovsky; a man who, under the influence of Florovsky, understood my passion for pursuing the unity of Christians, a passion that was born in me when I worked in Mexico and experienced a Baptist church divide three times over the course of two months. Many predicted Fr. Matthew would be the most important theologian of the 21st century, just as many have called Florovsky the most important theologian of the 20th century.
His loss is truly tragic. It really does break my heart. So, to organize this evening, this inaugural Florovsky Week, is truly an honor for me because I see it as a continuation of his work. As I note in the program, this week we humbly stand on the shoulders of two giants: Fr. Georges Florovsky and Fr. May their memory be eternal! But I have to present you Florovsky now, and I only have about ten minutes left for the rest of this lecture! How in the world can I do Florovsky justice? I vividly remember Fr. It was way longer than he had time to present. He had so much to say, too much to say.
It was an impossible situation for him. I felt his pain then. And I feel exactly the same way today. There is so much to say about Florovsky. And I intend to keep it. So let me simply share a few memories and explain how Florovsky has a mission, or maybe better put, a message for our secular age. My next memory is my reception into the Orthodox Church.
She also included a passage by Fr. Thomas Hopko—this passage! Little did I know back then in how significant this gift would be, how much the author of this book would shape my life. Thank you, Carol, for this amazing gift! Clare is generally represented in art bearing a ciborium. When, some time later, a larger force returned to storm Assisi, headed by the General Vitale di Aversa who had not been present at the first attack, Clare, gathering her daughters about her, knelt with them in earnest prayer that the town might be spared. Presently a furious storm arose, scattering the tents of the soldiers in every direction, and causing such a panic that they again took refuge in flight.
The gratitude of the Assisians, who with one accord attributed their deliverance to Clare's intercession, increased their love for the "Seraphic Mother". Clare had long been enshrined in the hearts of the people, and their veneration became more apparent as, wasted by illness and austerities, she drew towards her end. Brave and cheerful to the last, in spite of her long and painful infirmities, Clare caused herself to be raised in bed and, thus reclining, says her contemporary biographer "she spun the finest thread for the purpose of having it woven into the most delicate material from which she afterwards made more than one hundred corporals, and, enclosing them in a silken burse, ordered them to be given to the churches in the plain and on the mountains of Assisi ".
When at length she felt the day of her death approaching, Clare, calling her sorrowing religious around her, reminded them of the many benefits they had received from God and exhorted them to persevere faithfully in the observance of evangelical poverty. Pope Innocent IV came from Perugia to visit the dying saint, who had already received the last sacraments from the hands of Cardinal Rainaldo. Her own sister, St. Agnes , had returned from Florence to console Clare in her last illness; Leo, Angelo, and Juniper, three of the early companions of St.
Francis , were also present at the saint's death-bed, and at St. Clare's request read aloud the Passion of Our Lord according to St. John, even as they had done twenty-seven years before, when Francis lay dying at the Porziuncula. At length before dawn on 11 August, , the holy foundress of the Poor Ladies passed peacefully away amid scenes which her contemporary biographer has recorded with touching simplicity. The pope, with his court, came to San Damiano for the saint's funeral, which partook rather of the nature of a triumphal procession.
The Clares desired to retain the body of their foundress among them at San Damiano, but the magistrates of Assisi interfered and took measures to secure for the town the venerated remains of her whose prayers, as they all believed, had on two occasions saved it from destruction. Clare's miracles too were talked of far and wide.
It was not safe, the Assisians urged, to leave Clare's body in a lonely spot without the walls; it was only right, too, that Clare, "the chief rival of the Blessed Francis in the observance of Gospel perfection ", should also have a church in Assisi built in her honour. Meanwhile, Clare's remains were placed in the chapel of San Giorgio, where St.
Francis's preaching had first touched her young heart, and where his own body had likewise been interred pending the erection of the Basilica of San Francesco. Two years later, 26 September, , Clare was solemnly canonized by Alexander IV, and not long afterwards the building of the church of Santa Chiara, in honour of Assisi's second great saint, was begun under the direction of Filippo Campello, one of the foremost architects of the time.
On 3 October, , Clare's remains were transferred from the chapel of San Giorgio and buried deep down in the earth, under the high altar in the new church, far out of sight and reach. After having remained hidden for six centuries--like the remains of St. Francis --and after much search had been made, Clare's tomb was found in , to the great joy of the Assisians. On 23 September in that year the coffin was unearthed and opened, the flesh and clothing of the saint had been reduced to dust, but the skeleton was in a perfect state of preservation.
Finally, on the 29th of September, , the saint's bones were transferred, with much pomp, by Archbishop Pecci, afterwards Leo XIII , to the shrine, in the crypt at Santa Chiara, erected to receive them, and where they may now be seen. The feast of St. Clare is celebrated throughout the Church on 12 August [later changed to 11 August -- Ed. Cyril of Alexandria June St. Cyril of Alexandria, Bishop and Doctor of the Advertise on Catholic Online Your ads on catholic.
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