Arroyo Speaks

  • J.R.R. Tolkien Letters

    From two letters of J. R. R. Tolkien (1892-1973) to his son Michael (1920-1984), on the Blessed Sacrament:

    • March 1941:

    “Out of the darkness of my life, so much frustrated, I put before you the one great thing to love on earth: the Blessed Sacrament. … There you will find romance, glory, honour, fidelity, and the true way of all your loves upon earth, and more than that: Death: by the divine paradox, that which ends life, and demands the surrender of all, and yet by the taste (or foretaste) of which alone can what you seek in your earthly relationships (love, faithfulness, joy) be maintained, or take on that complexion of reality, of eternal endurance, which every man’s heart desires.”

    • November 1963:

    “The only cure for sagging of fainting faith is Communion. Though always Itself, perfect and complete and inviolate, the Blessed Sacrament does not operate completely and once for all in any of us. Like the act of Faith it must be continuous and grow by exercise. Frequency is of the highest effect. Seven times a week is more nourishing than seven times at intervals. Also I can recommend this as an exercise (alas! only too easy to find opportunity for): make your communion in circumstances that affront your taste. Choose a snuffling or gabbling priest or a proud and vulgar friar; and a church full of the usual bourgeois crowd, ill-behaved children – from those who yell to those products of Catholic schools who the moment the tabernacle is opened sit back and yawn – open necked and dirty youths, women in trousers and often with hair both unkempt and uncovered. Go to Communion with them (and pray for them). It will be just the same (or better than that) as a mass said beautifully by a visibly holy man, and shared by a few devout and decorous people. (It could not be worse than the mess of the feeding of the Five Thousand – after which [Our] Lord propounded the feeding that was to come.)

    I myself am convinced by the Petrine claims, nor looking around the world does there seem much doubt which (if Christianity is true) is the True Church, the temple of the Spirit dying but living, corrupt but holy, self-reforming and rearising. But for me that Church of which the Pope is the acknowledged head on earth has as chief claim that it is the one that has (and still does) ever defended the Blessed Sacrament, and given it most honour, and put it (as Christ plainly intended) in the prime place. ‘Feed my sheep’ was His last charge to St Peter; and since His words are always first to be understood literally, I suppose them to refer primarily to the Bread of Life. It was against this that the W. European revolt (or Reformation) was really launched – ‘the blasphemous fable of the Mass’ – and faith/works a mere red herring. I suppose the greatest reform of our time was that carried out by St Pius X: surpassing anything, however needed, that the [Second Vatican] Council will achieve. I wonder what state the Church would now be but for it.

    … I live in anxiety concerning my children: who in this harder crueller and more mocking world into which I have survived must suffer more assaults than I have. But I am one who came up out of Egypt, and pray God none of my seed shall return thither. I witnessed (half-comprehending) the heroic sufferings and early death in extreme poverty of my mother who brought me into the Church; and received the astonishing charity of Francis Morgan. But I fell in love with the Blessed Sacrament from the beginning – and by the mercy of God never have fallen out again: but alas! I indeed did not live up to it. I brought you all up ill and talked to you too little. Out of wickedness and sloth I almost ceased to practise my religion… Not for me the Hound of Heaven, but the never-ceasing silent appeal of Tabernacle, and the sense of starving hunger. I regret those days bitterly (and suffer for them with such patience as I can be given); most of all because I failed as a father. Now I pray for you all, unceasingly, that the Healer (the Hælend as the Saviour was usually called in Old English) shall heal my defects, and that none of you shall ever cease to cry Benedictus qui venit in nomme Domini [‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord’].”

    (These letters are numbered 43 and 250, respectively, in: The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, edited by Humphrey Carpenter with the assistance of Christopher Tolkien. The full book is available for free online. According to the editors, the allusion to Pius X is a “[possible] reference to [this pope’s] recommendation of daily communion and children’s communion.” Tolkien’s father died when he was 4. Regarding his mother’s death and Fr. Morgan, here’s an excerpt from Wikipedia: “Mabel Tolkien was received into the Roman Catholic Church in 1900 despite vehement protests by her Baptist family, which stopped all financial assistance to her. In 1904, when J. R. R. Tolkien was 12, his mother died of acute diabetes… insulin would not be discovered until two decades later. Nine years after her death, Tolkien wrote, ‘My own dear mother was a martyr indeed, and it is not to everybody that God grants so easy a way to his great gifts as he did to Hilary and myself, giving us a mother who killed herself with labour and trouble to ensure us keeping the faith.’ Before her death, Mabel Tolkien had assigned the guardianship of her sons to her close friend, Father Francis Xavier Morgan of the Birmingham Oratory, who was assigned to bring them up as good Catholics.” In this Oratory, also a crucial element in the life of St. Newman, Tolkien attended Mass and was an altar boy between 1902 and 1911.)

    Image: Rorate Mass before dawn during Advent of 2018 at the Igreja Paroquial de São Nicolau in Lisbon, Portugal. Photo apparently sent by this church to the website of the New Liturgical Movement, where I found it.

    _

    BlessedSacrament #Eucharist #Communion #Tolkien #LOTR

  • Thoughts on Faith and Depression

    For those undergoing challenges and might be prone to bouts of depression, often thoughts of “why has God forsaken me ” comes to mind. Indeed, we’ve heard these very words uttered from the lips of Christ Himself during the Palm Sunday liturgy, as we will again in the days to come during Holy Week.

    Many think of faith as being a kind of contract between God and ourselves, if I worship you, you’ll make my life good. It doesn’t work that way, we are the created, we follow God’s rules.

    To really understand, we really need to look at the lives of the Saints, those who suffered for their faith and were rewarded with glory and blessings beyond our imagination.

    St. Francis gave up a life of luxury to live as the poorest of the poor. It is estimated that thousands of Catholics, Christians, die for their faith each year. In each of these, Christ waits to welcome them into the gates of Heaven. Many, if not most, of these will never be canonized but they still are active praying for us here in Earth.

    To get a grip on this depression which is so rampant in our day and age, we should read the rest of the Psalm that Christ utters on the Cross. Though it begins as a cry of desperation, it continues as a very of praise to the God who delivers!

    Psalm 21, read it!

    1Unto the end, for the morning protection, a psalm for David.

    2 O God my God, look upon me: why hast thou forsaken me? Far from my salvation are the words of my sins.

    3 O my God, I shall cry by day, and thou wilt not hear: and by night, and it shall not be reputed as folly in me.

    4But thou dwellest in the holy place, the praise of Israel.5In thee have our fathers hoped: they have hoped, and thou hast delivered them.

    6They cried to thee, and they were saved: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.7But I am a worm, and no man: the reproach of men, and the outcast of the people.

    8All they that saw me have laughed me to scorn: they have spoken with the lips, and wagged the head.9He hoped in the Lord, let him deliver him: let him save him, seeing he delighteth in him.

    10For thou art he that hast drawn me out of the womb: my hope from the breasts of my mother.

    11I was cast upon thee from the womb. From my mother’s womb thou art my God,

    12depart not from me. For tribulation is very near: for there is none to help me.

    13Many calves have surrounded me: fat bulls have besieged me.

    14They have opened their mouths against me, as a lion ravening and roaring.15I am poured out like water; and all my bones are scattered. My heart is become like wax melting in the midst of my bowels.16My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue hath cleaved to my jaws: and thou hast brought me down into the dust of death.17For many dogs have encompassed me: the council of the malignant hath besieged me. They have dug my hands and feet.18They have numbered all my bones. And they have looked and stared upon me.19They parted my garments amongst them; and upon my vesture they cast lots.20But thou, O Lord, remove not thy help to a distance from me; look towards my defence.21Deliver, O God, my soul from the sword: my only one from the hand of the dog.22Save me from the lion’s mouth; and my lowness from the horns of the unicorns.23I will declare thy name to my brethren: in the midst of the church will I praise thee.24Ye that fear the Lord, praise him: all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him.25Let all the seed of Israel fear him: because he hath not slighted nor despised the supplication of the poor man. Neither hath he turned away his face from me: and when I cried to him he heard me.26With thee is my praise in a great church: I will pay my vows in the sight of them that fear him.27The poor shall eat and shall be filled: and they shall praise the Lord that seek him: their hearts shall live for ever and ever.28All the ends of the earth shall remember, and shall be converted to the Lord: And all the kindreds of the Gentiles shall adore in his sight.29For the kingdom is the Lord’s; and he shall have dominion over the nations.30All the fat ones of the earth have eaten and have adored: all they that go down to the earth shall fall before him.31And to him my soul shall live: and my seed shall serve him.32There shall be declared to the Lord a generation to come: and the heavens shall shew forth his justice to a people that shall be born, which the Lord hath made.

    An historical text maintained by the British and Foreign Bible Society.Learn More About Douay-Rheims Challoner Revision 1752

  • Covid Update

    Dad recently died. I was quarantined during Thanksgiving vacation, when I’d planned to be in Tulsa to visit him and family. During these past five years in Boise I thought that, next month, next week, next year I might be able to go down and see Dad. Unfortunately there wasn’t a next month after January 29th.

    That’s the nature of time there isn’t a guarantee of next time. There’s only the guarantee that you have today.

  • Remembrance


    This is the link to the memorial video for Dad

    Thank you Cheryl for the beautiful acapella rendition of Amazing Grace.

    Thank you to family and friends that have supported my sisters and I during this time. Your prayers for us and our father are appreciated.

    When you view this, please join your prayers with ours for the repose of the soul of José Antonio Arroyo Rivera, my father. Pray for God’s infinite Divine Mercy.

  • Pope St. Fabian
    Pope from 236-250 A.D.
    Died: 250 A.D.
    Pronounced: FAY-bee-uhn

    How do we know he was pope?

    The Liber Pontificalis (“Book of Popes”) lists Pope St. Fabian as the immediate successor of Anterus. Church historian Eusebius, writing around 325 AD, confirms the same and lists him as the 19th successor of St. Peter.

    Give me the scoop on Fabian.

    Fabian’s elevation to the papacy was nothing short of miraculous (more on that in a minute), and he was blessed to rule in peace for the majority of his time in the Chair of Peter. This allowed him, with the help of Roman officials, to return the bodies of Sts. Pontian (Pope #18) and Hippolytus to Rome for a proper Christian burial.

    Fabian was also responsible for assigning St. Cyprian as the bishop of Carthage and leader of the Church in Africa. Incidentally, St. Cyprian is the reason we know St. Fabian was such a holy guy since the former wrote to Fabian’s successor saying so.

    At the end of his papacy, a renewed Roman vitriol was ushered in by new emperor Decius (not a holy guy), resulting in another persecution of the Church and, ultimately, Fabian’s martyrdom by beheading. Fabian is commonly depicted with St. Sebastian because of their shared feast day (A week ago! January 20). His remains lie in the church of St. Sebastian Outside the Walls in Rome.

    What was he known for?

    We can thank St. Fabian for informing us of the origin of Sacred Chrism, that sweet-smelling oil used at priestly ordinations, baptisms, the sacrament of Confirmation, and the consecration of altars. Fabian wrote in his Second Epistle to the Bishops of the East:

    “Our predecessors received from the Apostles and delivered to us that our Savior Jesus Christ, after having made the Last Supper with his Apostles and washed their feet, taught them how to prepare the Holy Chrism.”
    – Pope St. Fabian

    Those words indicate that the Chrism originated from none other than Christ himself (hence the name)!

    Fun Fact…

    According to Eusebius, Fabian was practically a stranger to papal electors when a successor to St. Anterus was being chosen. Not only did he travel from the countryside for the festivities, but Fabian was also a layman to boot. Eusebius writes that Fabian “was on the mind of none” as a possible choice for pope. Nevertheless, a dove flew in the room and settled on his head, causing the electors to take it as a divine choice and unanimously pick Fabian on the spot. Good thing he wasn’t afraid of birds.

    What else was going on in the world at the time?

    Fabian’s third year in office (238) was particularly tumultuous for the Roman Empire, becoming known as the Year of Six Emperors.


    Coming Monday….Pope St. Cornelius
    Can’t get enough papal history?
    Click here for more on St. Fabian (The Pope With a Bird on His Head) from The Popecast, a short podcast about popes from the author of Popes in a Year.

    SOURCES (and further reading)
    – John, E. (1964). The Popes: A concise biographical history. New York: Hawthorn Books.
    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05742d.htm
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Fabian

  • Reflection

    Thoughts and musings about Dad and Life

     

    Dad and Frances Arroyo

    As my father lay on a ventilator in a hospital, having been brought back to life by a combination of compressions and rescue efforts of medical staff, I am pondering my life, and the lives of those who’ve impacted my life. He is the last of my parents, mother having passed, Grandma and Grandpa, my step father, all proceeding him. At 84, he has survived the longest.

    It is inevitable, with the passage of time, people we love pass on. First, my grandmother, Wilma, died at the age of 64 in 1984. I was 23 and I was forever changed by her loss. The date of her loss, August 30, 1984 seared into my memory.

     

    1984, just a couple of months before Grandma passed away.

    Ten years later, in 1994, Grandpa died. I was 33, a father to 4 boys by that time and living outside Philadelphia. He had begun to suffer from dementia, which was difficult to watch when he had always been such a paragon of strength and vitality. Grandpa always commanded respect, not by being demanding or “commanding”, but by the way he always carried himself. I always liked to think of him as a man who never spoke unless he had something to say. He was quiet, and when he spoke, you listened.

     

    About 1978, the Mcgrew’s anniversary dinner.

    Mother died about 14 years ago, December 11, 2007, in the middle of the worst ice storm in memory, Shirley Anne Beio, my mother died. Very reminiscent of today’s crisis, travel was nearly impossible.

     

    So, today I wait for news of my Dad. I had made plans to visit him over Thanksgiving, last November. I was in quarantine from exposure to the coronavirus, so was unable to make the trip. The Pandemic has made us rethink plans, try to reschedule.

    I’ve lived in Boise almost 5 years now and have not made a trip back so it’s been that long since I’ve seen loved ones. I know that my Dad has been separated from his family most of his life. He was in Oklahoma when his mother, my grandmother Aurea died. I can appreciate how difficult that must have been for him as well.

    “Someone once told me that time was a predator that stalked us all our lives. But I rather believe than time is a companion who goes with us on the journey, and reminds us to cherish every moment because they’ll never come again. What we leave behind is not as important how we lived. After all, Number One, we’re only mortal.”
    SIR PATRICK STEWART – Jean-Luc Picard

  • Thoughts from Padre Jesus Camacho

    https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10225516931298088&id=1470819152

    Gracias Padre Jesus Camacho

    TWO QUESTIONS
    1) When you pray does it include asking God to be a good friend / a good friend and to find a true friend / a true friend?

    2) Have you ever wondered if your way of living indicates that you are: a) part of the problem or b) part of the solution in the world in which you live?

  • #111 – Pope Formosus

    Pope from October 6, 891 – April 4, 896

    Lived: 816 – April 4, 896

    pronounced: fohr-MOE-suss

    Give me the scoop on Formosus.

    Likely born in Rome around the year 816, Formosus was a busy churchman prior to being pope. He was appointed a cardinal and bishop of Porto in 864 by Pope St. Nicholas the Great, and in the ensuing decades would travel numerous times as representative of the pope. He was apparently a candidate for the papacy as early as 872, but his personal piety likely wasn’t the reason. Formosus was elected pope in 891, but was quickly met with more bickering and infighting among the Carolingians, the Frankish nobility. Formosus picked sides and eventually crowned the German King Arnulf as emperor just before his death.

    Also during his papacy, a petition from the East arrived asking Formosus to rule whether or not clergy ordained and laity baptized by Photius — the “Pho”ny Patriarch of Constantinople — actually received legitimate sacraments. The pope said “no go” to the clergy, but affirmed that the laity’s baptisms were valid. Formosus died April 4, 896 at the age of 80, but wouldn’t stay buried for long.

    What was he known for?

    Formosus was best known for provoking the anger of popes before him and after him, for a couple of reasons. One had to do with Formosus’ part in a Roman faction opposed to the crowning of Charles the Bald as emperor in 871. The group, along with Formosus, fled Rome in fear that the pope, John VIII, would bring the crozier down hard for their chicanery and opposition. Their fleeing did no good, and John VIII, you’ll recall, thought it best to excommunicate the lot.

    Related to his exile was Formosus’ ambition to take over the Bulgarian Church as archbishop there, to say nothing of his hope to ascend to the papacy. Since it was explicitly banned in canon law that bishops change dioceses — including the See of Rome — Formosus’ scheming to do just that wasn’t taken lightly by the popes who dealt with it. He eventually was reconciled to the Church (he otherwise wouldn’t be a legitimate pope), but he wasn’t done being punished.

    Fun fact: Formosus is the only pope to have ever been put on trial…after he was dead. You’ll get the full story on Wednesday, but suffice it to say that one of Formosus’ successors was none too pleased with the latter’s disregard for canon law, and even claimed that the late pontiff was never really pope at all.

    What else was going on in the world at the time?

    Around the year 895, a treatise known as the Musica enchiriadis was written, though no one knows by whom. It’s the oldest surviving document that attempts to lay down guidelines for a musical style known as “polyphony.” Polyphony is present particularly Gregorian chant, where one hears two or more independent melodies being sung simultaneously. Here’s a good example.

    SOURCES (and further reading)John, E. (1964). The Popes: A concise biographical history. New York: Hawthorn Books.
    Pope Formosus – newadvent.org/cathen/0…
    Pope Formosus – en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    Polyphony – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyphony

  • Pope St. Nicholas I

    105 Pope St. Nicholas I

    Pope from April 24, 858 – November 13, 867
    Lived: c. 800 – November 13, 867

    Give me the scoop on Nicholas I.
    A Roman from a noble family, Nicholas was well-known, even before becoming pope, for his holiness, goodwill, intelligence, and ability to lead. He was a subdeacon under Pope Sergius II and a deacon under St. Leo IV. Nicholas was elected on April 24, 858 and wasted no time doing a little spring cleaning (‘twas the season). With the Holy Roman Empire in shambles and Christian morality in a sad state of decay, Nicholas the Great led the Church well through a time where things could easily have dwindled into anarchy. We’re guessing he loved that line from Romans: “Do not grow slack in zeal” (12:11).

    During his time in office, Nicholas continued to restore churches and was an active proponent of the religious life, considering he himself lived monastically, through and through. He died November 13, 867, and after death was venerated as a saint.

    What was he known for?
    Many bishops of the time were living worldly and decadent lives, so one of Nicholas’ hallmarks was reforming and renewing the standards to which bishops and priests should be held. He twice excommunicated the archbishop of Ravenna, John, for basically being a tyrant who extorted his subordinate bishops and imprisoned his priests, not to mention forging papal documents and abusing the pope’s representatives. Nicholas also battled with Hincmar, archbishop of Reims, over the pope’s supremacy, but thankfully that issue was resolved without Hincmar getting the boot.

    Nicholas also dealt with the emperor wanting a divorce, seemingly a foreshadowing of Henry VIII nearly 700 years later, when Lothair II left his lawful wife, Theutberga, to marry another woman, Waldrada. The area bishops, who were in Lothair’s pocket, approved of his abandonment, as did a meeting of bishops where papal representatives were bribed. Nicholas, never one to back down, convened his own meeting, thank you very much, where he reversed the decision and excommunicated his representatives. Even Lothair besieging Rome for two days (which he did promptly thereafter) couldn’t discourage The Other Jolly Old St. Nick, despite the pope himself effectively being imprisoned without food in St. Peter’s during that time. Lothair ultimately reconciled to the pope and retreated.

    Fun fact: Nicholas had to deal with another case involving marriage, but with an entirely different result. Judith, princess of Italy, had married Baldwin, Count of Flanders without her father’s consent. Frankish bishops, naturally, demanded Judith be excommunicated. Nicholas, on the other hand, said, “Guys, seriously? Take a chill pill,” urging leniency and preferring instead to protect the inherent freedom of marriage.

    What else was going on in the world at the time?
    Sts. Cyril and Methodius, the great missionary brothers and co-patrons of Europe, began what became known as their “Mission to the Slavs.” Among their many acts was inventing the Cyrillic alphabet and the first Slavic literary language, into which they eventually translated the Bible. Some Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches still use “Old Church Slavonic” (the original language) in their liturgies.

    SOURCES (and further reading)
    John, E. (1964). The Popes: A concise biographical history. New York: Hawthorn Books.
    Pope St. Nicholas I – http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11054a.htm
    Pope Nicholas I – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Nicholas_I
    Old Church Slavonic – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Church_Slavonic

  • MIRACLE APPROVED! FATHER MCGIVNEY TO BE BEATIFIED!

    Priest launched international lay movement, died in 19th century pandemic

    MEDIA RESOURCESJOIN THE GUILD

    ROME – The Vatican today (May 27) announced that Pope Francis approved the promulgation of a decree recognizing a miracle attributed to the intercession of the founder of the Knights of Columbus, Venerable Father Michael J. McGivney, a Connecticut priest who served his flock during the pandemic of 1890, before himself becoming ill and dying of pneumonia.

    The pope’s action means that Father McGivney can be declared “Blessed,” the step just prior to sainthood. An additional miracle attributed to Father McGivney’s intercession will be required for his canonization as a saint.

    McGivney is best known for founding the Knights of Columbus in 1882. Nearly a century before the Second Vatican Council, his prescient vision empowered the laity to serve Church and neighbor in a new way. Today, the Knights of Columbus is one of the largest Catholic organizations in the world with 2 million members in North and Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia, and Europe.

    The miracle recognized as coming through Father McGivney’s intercession involved an unborn child in the United States who in 2015 was healed in utero of a life-threatening condition after prayers by his family to Father McGivney.

    A date will soon be set for the beatification Mass, which will take place in Connecticut. It will include the reading of an apostolic letter from the Holy Father and the bestowing of the title “Blessed” on Father McGivney.

    Earlier this year, in an address to the Knights of Columbus Board of Directors, Pope Francis said the organization has been faithful “to the vision of your founder, Venerable Michael McGivney, who was inspired by the principles of Christian charity and fraternity to assist those most in need.”

    “Father McGivney has inspired generations of Catholic men to roll up their sleeves and put their faith into action,” Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson said. “He was decades ahead of his time in giving the laity an important role within the Church. Today, his spirit continues to shape the extraordinary charitable work of Knights as they continue to serve those on the margins of society as he served widows and orphans in the 1880s. Father McGivney also remains an important role model for parish priests around the world and left us a transformative legacy of effective cooperation between the laity and clergy. 

    Born of Irish immigrant parents in 1852 in Waterbury, Connecticut, Father McGivney was a central figure in the dramatic growth of the Church in the United States in the late 19th century. Ordained in Baltimore in 1877, he ministered to a heavily Irish-American and immigrant community in the then-Diocese of Hartford. At a time of anti-Catholic sentiment, he worked tirelessly to keep his flock close to the faith in part by finding practical solutions to their many problems – spiritual and temporal alike. With a group of the leading Catholic men of New Haven, he founded the Knights of Columbus in 1882 at St. Mary’s Church to provide spiritual support for Catholic men and financial resources for families that had suffered the loss of their breadwinner.

    The fledgling group soon became a major force in the areas of evangelization, charity, racial integration, and the defense of religious freedom. 

    Father McGivney spent his entire priesthood in parish ministry and died of pneumonia on August 14, 1890— two days after his 38th birthday – after falling ill amid a pandemic. Recent scientific evidence indicates that that pandemic – like the current one – may have been caused by a coronavirus.

    Known by his contemporaries for his devotion to the faith and his embodiment of the characteristics of the “Good Samaritan,” his cause for sainthood was opened in the Archdiocese of Hartford in 1997. St. John Paul II – who was pope at that time – lauded Father McGivney’s principles, stating in 2003, “In fidelity to the vision of Father McGivney, may you continue to seek new ways of being a leaven of the Gospel in the world and a spiritual force for the renewal of the Church in holiness, unity and truth.”

    In March 2008, he was declared a Venerable Servant of God by Pope Benedict XVI, who during his visit to St. Patrick’s Cathedral cited the “remarkable accomplishment of that exemplary American priest, the Venerable Michael McGivney, whose vision and zeal led to the establishment of the Knights of Columbus.”

    Two recent books also tell the story of Father McGivney and his legacy: Parish Priest (2006), his biography; and the The Knights of Columbus: An Illustrated History (2020).

    More information is also available at www.FatherMcGivney.org

    Photos and other visual resources are available here.

  • #101 Pope Gregory IV
    image

    Pope from March 828 – January 25, 844

    Died: January 25, 844


    Give me the scoop on Gregory IV.

    Born in Rome late in the 8th Century, Gregory was known for his penchant for learning and his rugged good looks (yes, seriously) prior to being pope. After priestly ordination, Gregory served as cardinal and pastor of the Basilica of St. Mark, which he adorned with mosaics still able to be seen today. His election happened similarly to Pope Valentine’s – with a unanimous election by Rome’s nobility (who by now pretty much controlled papal elections) and a lot of protest from Gregory himself as he prayed in the Basilica of Sts. Cosmas & Damian. Though he was elected in October of 827, he wasn’t able to begin leading the Church in earnest until Spring 828, once the emperor could assess the choice and give his approval.
    During Gregory’s pontificate, St. Ansgar continued making great headway evangelizing Sweden and the surrounding area, which prompted Gregory to name him First Bishop of Hamburg, send him the pallium, and give him “full authority to preach the Gospel … before the body and confession of St. Peter” as the pope’s official representative among the Northern European population. Gregory IV died after nearly 16 years in office on January 25, 844.

    What was he known for?

    Gregory IV’s time in office was defined by his part in some not-so-brotherly love among the Carolingians, the heirs to the Frankish throne. Louis the Pious was Holy Roman Emperor at the time, but in 817 he had made an agreement which divided the empire three ways, one for each son from his first wife. Louis made the unfortunate decision to renege in 829 after being persuaded by his second wife to also assign a kingdom to his youngest son, Charles the Bald.
    Dear ol’ dad was first imprisoned by the older three, then released and restored to power when the trio warred amongst each other. Louis continued to favor Charles, at which point Lothair, the oldest son, persuaded Gregory IV to intervene and play peacekeeper. The pope ended up doing more harm than good, since his choice to accompany Lothair’s army over the Alps was misconstrued as Gregory being on the eldest son’s side (which wasn’t the case). With mistrust on all sides, and despite Gregory’s best intentions and efforts, the empire basically crumbled as a result of this great quarrel. Bummer for the Franks and, as it turned out, for the rest of Europe for many years thereafter.

    Fun fact: When Muslims captured Sicily in 831, it didn’t take rocket science to infer that Rome would soon be next. In response, Gregory IV built a fortress at Ostia, the mouth of the Tiber River, to hold off the Muslim army, should they try to attack the Eternal City. The fortress was named, creatively, “Gregoriopolis.”

    What else was going on in the world at the time?Around the mid-830s, the Vikings (not the Minnesota ones) began to move south and stick a thorn in the side of Europeans, France and England especially, as the Norse ruler Ragnar Lodbrok rose to power.

    SOURCES (and further reading)John, E. (1964). The Popes: A concise biographical history. New York: Hawthorn Books.
    Pope Gregory IV – http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06789b.htm
    Pope Gregory IV – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Gregory_IV
    830s – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/830s

    image

    Sent by Karin Kirby

  • #100 Pope Valentine

    Pope from August 31, 827 – October 10, 827

    Lived: 800 – October 10, 827
    Give me the scoop on Valentine.

    Valentine, a Roman by birth, advanced very quickly in his service of the Church. Being very holy and of pure morals, he for good reason became a favorite of both St. Paschal I and Eugene II. Valentine was ordained by Paschal to the diaconate and named archdeacon (basically, “chief deacon”), then continued to serve in that role under Eugene II. His election was unanimous among the nobility, priests, and people on August 31. Incidentally, his election wasn’t even able to be confirmed by the emperor, since Valentine died just 40 days later, at the young age of 27.


    What was he known for?

    Valentine wasn’t around long enough to be known for much, but being Pope No. 100 is still pretty neat.


    Fun fact: Apparently, Valentine was deep in prayer in the Basilica of St. Mary Major — and thus not even present at the election — when he was chosen to succeed Eugene II. A crowd traveled to the church and carried Valentine back to the Lateran Palace to be consecrated, despite his loud objections to let him finish praying.

    What else was going on in the world at the time?

    Nothing to note. Those five weeks, as it turned out, were all very “ordinary.”
    SOURCES (and further reading)John, E. (1964). The Popes: A concise biographical history. New York: Hawthorn Books.
    Pope Valentine – http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15254b.htm
    Pope Valentine – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Valentine

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  • John Paul II’s mom chose life after her doctor advised an abortion
    Karol Wojtyla with his parents. Photo courtesy of the Diocese of Krakow.
    By Courtney Mares

    One hundred years ago on May 18, Emilia Wojtyla gave birth to her second son, Karol, after a difficult and life-threatening pregnancy. The child would grow up to be St. John Paul II.

    In a new book published in Poland, Milena Kindziuk describes how St. John Paul II’s mother was advised to get an abortion.

    “She had to choose between her own life and that of the baby she was carrying, but her deep faith did not allow Emilia to choose abortion,” Kindziuk said in an interview with ACI Stampa.

    Source: John Paul II’s mom chose life after her doctor advised an abortion

    The Polish Bishops’ Conference has asked Pope Francis to name St. John Paul II a patron of Europe and doctor of the Church.

    Source: Polish bishops call for John Paul II to be named a doctor of the Church

  • Imagine if you were born in 1900

    This is a repost from Ted Bauer’s Blog, linked below to the original article.

    Got this via my girlfriend’s grandmother (86):

    Source: Imagine if you were born in 1900

    It’s a mess out there now. Hard to discern between what’s a real threat and what is just simple panic and hysteria. For a small amount of perspective at this moment, imagine you were born in 1900.

    On your 14th birthday, World War I starts, and ends on your 18th birthday. 22 million people perish in that war. Later in the year, a Spanish Flu epidemic hits the planet and runs until your 20th birthday. 50 million people die from it in those two years. Yes, 50 million.

    On your 29th birthday, the Great Depression begins. Unemployment hits 25%, the World GDP drops 27%. That runs until you are 33. The country nearly collapses along with the world economy.

    When you turn 39, World War II starts. You aren’t even over the hill yet. And don’t try to catch your breath. On your 41st birthday, the United States is fully pulled into WWII. Between your 39th and 45th birthday, 75 million people perish in the war.

    Smallpox was epidemic until you were in your 40’s, as it killed 300 million people during your lifetime.

    At 50, the Korean War starts. 5 million perish. From your birth, until you were 55, you dealt with the fear of polio epidemics each summer. You experience friends and family contracting polio and being paralyzed and/or dying.

    At 55 the Vietnam War begins and doesn’t end for 20 years. 4 million people perish in that conflict. During the Cold War, you lived each day with the fear of nuclear annihilation. On your 62nd birthday you have the Cuban Missile Crisis, a tipping point in the Cold War. Life on our planet, as we know it, almost ended. When you turn 75, the Vietnam War finally ends.

    Think of everyone on the planet born in 1900. How did they endure all of that? When you were a kid in 1985 and didn’t think your 85 year old grandparent understood how hard school was. And how mean that kid in your class was. Yet they survived through everything listed above. Perspective is an amazing art. Refined and enlightening as time goes on. Let’s try and keep things in perspective. Your parents and/or grandparents were called to endure all of the above – you are called to stay home and sit on your couch.

  • Theology of Jesus’ Blood Type

    I am often told that Religion has no place in science.  Oddly enough, science has not only formed my faith; science has sealed my Faith.

    Most Christians have heard of the Shroud of Turin, the ancient relic that bears the image of a crucified male.  Blood typing has been done on the Shroud, and it was determined that the crucified male, who many believe to be Jesus of Nazareth, has AB blood.

    A lesser know relic is the Sudarium of Oviedo, the cloth, that tradition teaches, covered the face of Jesus before He was wrapped in a burial shroud and laid in the tomb.  The blood on this cloth is also from a male and also Type AB.

    There has also been several miracles where a consecrated Host miraculously became true flesh and began to bleed true blood.

    One such miracle occurred in the 8th century.

    A priest in Lanciano, Italy was doubting the real presence in the Eucharist while offering Mass, when suddenly the Eucharist miraculously turned into human flesh and blood.

    Similarly, 500 years after the miracle of Lanciano, another priest, in Orvieto, Italy, who was also doubting the real presence of Jesus, similarly experienced a Eucharistic miracle where the host started bleeding all over his corporal (a cloth used in the liturgy).

    You can still see the cloth on display in the Cathedral of Orvieto and the non-decomposing flesh and blood in the Church of San Francesco today.

    Miracle of Buenos Aires

    More recently, in 1996, another Eucharistic miracle occurred in Buenos Aires, Argentina when a consecrated Host was found on the ground and placed in a glass of water to dissolve, as is custom.

    Days later, the Eucharist hadn’t dissolved at all — it had, however, turned into bloody Flesh.

    The Cardinal and then-Bishop Jorge Bergoglio (now Pope Francis) had a photograph taken of the bloody Host, then stored the Host in a tabernacle to decompose.

    Three years later, that same bloody Flesh remained!

    That’s when Dr. Ricardo Castañón, a Bolivian neurophysiologist, was called in to have samples from the Host examined in a laboratory environment.

    Doctor Castañón took it to the San Francisco Forensic Institute without telling anyone there what it was or where it came from. After testing, he was told the samples constituted heart muscle, specifically from the myocardium of the left ventricle.

    Further, the tests showed the blood was human, with human DNA, and of the AB type — the same as found on the Shroud of Turin and the Sudarium of Oviedo.  Upon further investigation, he also discovered the Host from the miracle of Lanciano was Blood Type AB, as well!

    Coincidence?  Maybe?

    But consider this: Blood Types were not discovered until 1900.  The discovery of Blood Type AB came along seven years later, in 1907. Maybe because it’s so rare?  Only four-percent of the World population has Blood Type AB.

    Well, here’s where it gets interesting…

    Where Science and Theology Merge

    The Eucharist is the sacrament of communion with one another in the one body of Christ, writes Rev. Dr. Stany Antony OMI.  This, he continued, was the full meaning of eucharistic koinonia in the early Church.

    Scriptures appears to be in agreement.

    St. Paul tells us in Cor 10:16-17 that we just don’t participate in the Eucharist, we are in communion in the blood of Christ. “…nonne communicatio sanguinis?” as it is written in the Latin Vulgate; κοινωνία or koinonia in Greek.

    Early Church Father and Orator,  St. John Chrysostom (c. 349 – 407) commenting on Paul’s words, — almost 1500 years before the discovery of blood types — said this:

    The bread which we break, is it not a communion of the Body of Christ? Wherefore said he not, the participation? Because he intended to express something more and to point out how close was the union: in that we communicate not only by participating and partaking, but also by being united. For as that body is united to Christ, so also are we united to Him by this bread. (Homily 24 on First Corinthians: 4)

    In 1485,  more than 400 years before the classification of blood based on the presence and absence of antibodies, St. Thomas Aquinas wrote, “…the Eucharist is the sacrament of the unity of the Church, which results from the fact that many are one in Christ”.

    In 1566, almost 300 years before science established the ABO Blood Group System, the Church had this to say about the Eucharist:

    For what bread and wine are to the body, the Eucharist is to the health and delight of the soul, but in a higher and better way. This Sacrament is not, like bread and wine, changed into our substance; but we are, in some wise, changed into its nature, so that we may well apply here the words of St. Augustine: I am the food of the frown. Grow and thou shalt eat Me; nor shalt thou change Me into thee, as thy bodily food, but thou shalt be changed into Me.”

    In other words, “by this sacrament we unite ourselves to Christ, who makes us sharers in his Body and Blood to form a single body.” (Cathecism 1331).

    Or simply put, “He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me and I in you” (John 6:56)

    So, what’s this have to do with Blood Typing?

    You see, I, like many, once believed that Jesus’ Body and Blood just enters our body during Holy Communion.  However, if that was the true theology of the Eucharist, Jesus’ divine Blood Type could be not AB.

    Why?

    Because theologically if Jesus’ Blood just enters us, He would be simply donating His sacred blood to all.

    Science has shown that only Universal Donors can give blood to all without any harm to the recipient; only people with Blood Type O.  However, with Blood Type O, one could not receive blood from any other type, but their own.

    The Church has always taught that during Holy Communion we unite with The Body of Christ.

    Simply put, Jesus receives us all, body and soul, and unites us all, body and soul, in Him — and by all bodies, I mean all blood types.

    Christ is therefore the Universal Acceptor, theologically and biologically.  Anyone who took High School Biology knows blood type of the universal acceptor.

    That blood type is … AB Blood.

    If the Shroud of Turin is a fake, how would the forgers get Jesus’ Blood Type theologically correct — centuries before science knew blood type existed?

    Further, if these Eucharistic miracles were also all staged, how would all these Blood Types not just match, but also coincide theologically and biologically?

    Coincidence?

    Maybe, but the odds would favor coincidence to favor the most popular Blood Type.

    Approximately, 47% of Italians have Blood Type O, while less than 4% share AB.  In Argentina, where the most recent miracle took place, half the population is Blood Type O. [note]

    When you include Rh factors, the statistic of chance is almost eliminated.

    Rh factor was discovered after the discovery of Blood Types — 40 years after!  Only one percent of the world population is AB-positive … the same Blood Type in the Eucharistic miracles in Buenos Aires and Lanciano — miracles which occurred 1,300 years apart.

    The science is clear —  and because it’s clear, my Faith is sealed.

    « Teach Your Kids the Five-Finger PrayerHoly Rackafratz! How to Curse Like A #Christian »

    The Theology of Jesus’ Blood Type

    June 9, 2017 by Corporation You

    I am often told that Religion has no place in science.  Oddly enough, science has not only formed my faith; science has sealed my Faith.

    Most Christians have heard of the Shroud of Turin, the ancient relic that bears the image of a crucified male.  Blood typing has been done on the Shroud, and it was determined that the crucified male, who many believe to be Jesus of Nazareth, has AB blood.

    A lesser know relic is the Sudarium of Oviedo, the cloth, that tradition teaches, covered the face of Jesus before He was wrapped in a burial shroud and laid in the tomb.  The blood on this cloth is also from a male and also Type AB.

    There has also been several miracles where a consecrated Host miraculously became true flesh and began to bleed true blood.

    One such miracle occurred in the 8th century.

    A priest in Lanciano, Italy was doubting the real presence in the Eucharist while offering Mass, when suddenly the Eucharist miraculously turned into human flesh and blood.

    Similarly, 500 years after the miracle of Lanciano, another priest, in Orvieto, Italy, who was also doubting the real presence of Jesus, similarly experienced a Eucharistic miracle where the host started bleeding all over his corporal (a cloth used in the liturgy).

    You can still see the cloth on display in the Cathedral of Orvieto and the non-decomposing flesh and blood in the Church of San Francesco today.

    Miracle of Buenos Aires

    More recently, in 1996, another Eucharistic miracle occurred in Buenos Aires, Argentina when a consecrated Host was found on the ground and placed in a glass of water to dissolve, as is custom.

    REPORT THIS AD

    Days later, the Eucharist hadn’t dissolved at all — it had, however, turned into bloody Flesh.

    The Cardinal and then-Bishop Jorge Bergoglio (now Pope Francis) had a photograph taken of the bloody Host, then stored the Host in a tabernacle to decompose.

    Three years later, that same bloody Flesh remained!

    That’s when Dr. Ricardo Castañón, a Bolivian neurophysiologist, was called in to have samples from the Host examined in a laboratory environment.

    Doctor Castañón took it to the San Francisco Forensic Institute without telling anyone there what it was or where it came from. After testing, he was told the samples constituted heart muscle, specifically from the myocardium of the left ventricle.

    Further, the tests showed the blood was human, with human DNA, and of the AB type — the same as found on the Shroud of Turin and the Sudarium of Oviedo.  Upon further investigation, he also discovered the Host from the miracle of Lanciano was Blood Type AB, as well!

    Coincidence?  Maybe?

    But consider this: Blood Types were not discovered until 1900.  The discovery of Blood Type AB came along seven years later, in 1907. Maybe because it’s so rare?  Only four-percent of the World population has Blood Type AB.

    Well, here’s where it gets interesting…

    Where Science and Theology Merge

    The Eucharist is the sacrament of communion with one another in the one body of Christ, writes Rev. Dr. Stany Antony OMI.  This, he continued, was the full meaning of eucharistic koinonia in the early Church.

    Scriptures appears to be in agreement.

    St. Paul tells us in Cor 10:16-17 that we just don’t participate in the Eucharist, we are in communion in the blood of Christ. “…nonne communicatio sanguinis?” as it is written in the Latin Vulgate; κοινωνία or koinonia in Greek.

    Early Church Father and Orator,  St. John Chrysostom (c. 349 – 407) commenting on Paul’s words, — almost 1500 years before the discovery of blood types — said this:

    REPORT THIS AD

    The bread which we break, is it not a communion of the Body of Christ? Wherefore said he not, the participation? Because he intended to express something more and to point out how close was the union: in that we communicate not only by participating and partaking, but also by being united. For as that body is united to Christ, so also are we united to Him by this bread. (Homily 24 on First Corinthians: 4)

    In 1485,  more than 400 years before the classification of blood based on the presence and absence of antibodies, St. Thomas Aquinas wrote, “…the Eucharist is the sacrament of the unity of the Church, which results from the fact that many are one in Christ”.

    In 1566, almost 300 years before science established the ABO Blood Group System, the Church had this to say about the Eucharist:

    For what bread and wine are to the body, the Eucharist is to the health and delight of the soul, but in a higher and better way. This Sacrament is not, like bread and wine, changed into our substance; but we are, in some wise, changed into its nature, so that we may well apply here the words of St. Augustine: I am the food of the frown. Grow and thou shalt eat Me; nor shalt thou change Me into thee, as thy bodily food, but thou shalt be changed into Me.”

    In other words, “by this sacrament we unite ourselves to Christ, who makes us sharers in his Body and Blood to form a single body.” (Cathecism 1331).

    Or simply put, “He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me and I in you” (John 6:56)

    So, what’s this have to do with Blood Typing?

    You see, I, like many, once believed that Jesus’ Body and Blood just enters our body during Holy Communion.  However, if that was the true theology of the Eucharist, Jesus’ divine Blood Type could be not AB.

    Why?

    Because theologically if Jesus’ Blood just enters us, He would be simply donating His sacred blood to all.

    Science has shown that only Universal Donors can give blood to all without any harm to the recipient; only people with Blood Type O.  However, with Blood Type O, one could not receive blood from any other type, but their own.

    The Church has always taught that during Holy Communion we unite with The Body of Christ.

    Simply put, Jesus receives us all, body and soul, and unites us all, body and soul, in Him — and by all bodies, I mean all blood types.

    Christ is therefore the Universal Acceptor, theologically and biologically.  Anyone who took High School Biology knows blood type of the universal acceptor.

    That blood type is … AB Blood.

    If the Shroud of Turin is a fake, how would the forgers get Jesus’ Blood Type theologically correct — centuries before science knew blood type existed?

    Further, if these Eucharistic miracles were also all staged, how would all these Blood Types not just match, but also coincide theologically and biologically?

    Coincidence?

    Maybe, but the odds would favor coincidence to favor the most popular Blood Type.

    Approximately, 47% of Italians have Blood Type O, while less than 4% share AB.  In Argentina, where the most recent miracle took place, half the population is Blood Type O. [note]

    When you include Rh factors, the statistic of chance is almost eliminated.

    Rh factor was discovered after the discovery of Blood Types — 40 years after!  Only one percent of the world population is AB-positive … the same Blood Type in the Eucharistic miracles in Buenos Aires and Lanciano — miracles which occurred 1,300 years apart.

    The science is clear —  and because it’s clear, my Faith is sealed.Would you buy the book “Theology of Jesus’s Blood Type”?YesNoOther:VoteView ResultsCrowdsignal.com

    James Dobkowski

    James Henry is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul,  the book series Hail Mary. and two children books: The Second Prince and Klaus: The Gift-giver to All.   For six years, James taught At-Risk kids in Los Angeles. Today, he lives in New York where he continues to write — and teach. To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman & McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988 or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.

  • #53 Pope St. John I
    https://www.facebook.com/idkofcprolife/photos/a.635864463458259/1049390032105698/?type=3&eid=ARAP0sJhX_BNuBuA5StB0–pyXundCix_yOVpd6EbtVfKUU3wzXtAHyniMZzshiAa6mu0fofL3jcum5a&__xts__%5B0%5D=68.ARCT3F8UtgCyQNHy-978YKp3PvA4OhKXoc4uOoW8zbI7gZyDMMQl-P2Trsf5i8P_YWOe6RagAnNFWkCZzy55AALSwe_wmbFyYsWcXne8MRbTBFkivLtwpJg3FmnmxiZAMSps4KfbTQYbKqkTkK218BC9IV-gANu7wq7jRoQWgFys1YjfTWhCcCw5rkf8KviQffpea8lna3T7jbYMVETPYDCj5EmOZKviZucP9c3GTVdo4LvSBXM4n1lanqyWDXsTXInBCBnnCN5T8r1G4KFO3ybb6rXXmO3UmJq6X-rnR2dNmuw1XnwsVV8BkXKfctwCnN_tThLu8GrnOlFLLQqbUJW9Hw&__tn__=EHH-R

    23 Johns ago, there was a First!

    Pope St. John I

    Pope from 523-526 A.D.
    Died: 526 A.D.

    Give me the scoop on John I.
    The first of over 20 popes to be called “John” was born in Tuscany in 470, but moved to Rome at a young age. He served as a priest for most of his life, and was already sickly and somewhat frail at his election on August 13, 523. Most of his time in office was spent wrestling with the centuries-old battle between Arian Christians — those who said Christ wasn’t divine — and the true Church (more on that in a minute). John I died at the age of 56 on May 18, 526 and was eventually interred in St. Peter’s Basilica, having been pope for two years, nine months, and seven days. He was immediately venerated as a martyr, and his feast is celebrated on May 18.

    What was he known for?
    The death of the Byzantine emperor, Anastasius I, paved the way for a new emperor, Justin I around the time of St. John I’s election. This new ruler was a Catholic who, wishing to eradicate Arianism in his territories, reversed many prior edicts tolerating the heresy and made demands on Arian property and professions of faith. Theodoric, the Arian king of Italy, threw a bit of a tantrum upon hearing about this, and demanded that the pope go to Constantinople to help the Justin reconsider his moves.

    When John I arrived, the people were ecstatic (“you guys…THE POPE IS HERE”) since the pope, you know, never came to Constantinople. John was given a welcome one fit for St. Peter himself, with even the emperor himself prostrating himself at John’s feet. Though some concessions were made, the conversations with Justin on rescinding the demands against the Arians were likely half-hearted, but were done moreso out of a desire for unity than a disdain for Arian Christians themselves (think: hate the sin, love the sinner). Upon John’s return from Constantinople, Theodoric was still a liiiittle upset, so he had John thrown in prison before the latter could return to Rome. John, being of ill health, could no longer handle the stress of the situation and died a few days later.

    Fun fact: Of the 23 popes (and 4 antipopes) named John, only the first and the last (John I & John XXIII) are recognized as saints in the Roman Church.

    What else was going on in the world at the time?
    Around the same time John I died, a great earthquake reaching a magnitude near 7.0, followed by ensuing fires, struck Antioch (modern-day Turkey & Syria), killing an estimated 250,000 people in the region.

    Coming tomorrow….Pope St. Felix IV (III)

    SOURCES (and further reading)
    John, E. (1964). The Popes: A concise biographical history. New York: Hawthorn Books.
    Pope St. John I – http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08421a.htm
    Pope John I – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_John_I
    526 Antioch Earthquake – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/526_Antioch_earthquake

  • #95, Pope Adrian I

    Pope from February 1, 772 – December 25, 795

    Lived: c. 700 – December 25, 795


    Give me the scoop on Adrian I.

    A Roman by birth, Adrian set himself up well to follow Stephen III and take over the papacy at such an uneasy time in the Church’s history. Adrian was from a noble family, had been a valuable steward to both Paul I and Stephen III before him, and (perhaps most important) he was a pious man to boot. These qualities of Adrian’s helped the Roman clergy fend off a coup from the Lombards to put Stephen’s rogue assistant, Paul Afiarta, on the throne. At the election, Rome’s clergy unanimously said, “Yo, Adrian,” consecrating him pope on February 1, 772.
    One of Adrian’s major successes in office was helping quash the iconoclast heresy once and for all. In the Seventh Ecumenical Council, at Nicea in 787, the question was settled and the use of images in veneration and worship approved. Though we’re unsure how large a role the pope played, Adrian I nevertheless approved the council’s findings at its closing. Adrian I died on Christmas Day, 795, and was buried in St. Peter’s Basilica.

    What was he known for?

    Adrian I’s near-quarter-century in office was mostly occupied in solidifying relations with Charlemagne and the Frankish Kingdom, and managing the lands he’d been given by Pepin (Charlemagne’s dad) in northern and central Italy. Charlemagne, a zealous and faithful Catholic ruler, came to the pope’s aid in defeating the Lombard king, Desiderius, and ultimately drove them from Italy for good in 774. It was then that Charlemagne reaffirmed his father’s gift to the Church a decade and a half earlier.  
    After his win over the Lombards, Charlemagne traveled to Rome and spent Easter with Adrian I. It was there that he also asked the pope to help him unify western Europe under canon law. Adrian was happy to do so, and provided the king with a compendium of the law from the Sixth Century, which had recently been updated and enlivened by Adrian. This move eventually helped Catholics see the pope as the source of guidance on Church law, no matter how large or small.

    Fun fact: 

    Adrian’s reign of 23 years, ten months, and four days was the longest of any successor of St. Peter up to that point in history, and remained so for a millennium afterward. Holding the silver medal behind St. Peter (34 or 37 years) for the next 1,003 years, it wasn’t until Pius VI’s papacy from 1775-1799 that Adrian I relinquished second place. He’s now No. 6 on the list of longest-serving popes, behind Peter, Bl. Pius IX (1846-1878), St. John Paul II (1978-2005), Leo XIII (1878-1903), and Pius VI.

    What else was going on in the world at the time?

    783 was a rough year for Charlemagne. On April 30, his wife, Hildegard, died in childbirth after bearing her ninth child in 12 years. Just months later, Charlemagne’s mother, Bertrada of Laon, died and was buried next to Pepin at the Abbey of St. Denis in Paris. He did, however, marry again in October.

    SOURCES (and further reading)John, E. (1964). The Popes: A concise biographical history. New York: Hawthorn Books.
    Pope Adrian I – http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01155b.htm
    Pope Adrian I – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Adrian_I
    780s – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/780s

  • #94, Pope Stephen III

    Pope Stephen III

    Pope from August 7, 768 – February 1, 772
    Lived: 720 – February 1, 772

    Give me the scoop on Stephen III.
    Stephen was born in Sicily, the son of a man named Olivus. Stephen first served as a Benedictine monk in the abbey of St. Chrysogonus (sound familiar? His name is in the Roman Canon), then was ordained a priest and sent to work in the Lateran Palace under Zachary, Pope No. 91. Following St. Paul I’s death, Stephen III was finally elected after a yearlong sede vacante, being consecrated on August 7, 768. During his time as pope, Stephen suffered as a result of a lack of unity among the Franks, and thus had little protection from the Lombards when they invaded Rome in 771, killing two men who helped get Stephen elected. Stephen III died on February 1, 772.

    What was he known for?
    With not one, but TWO antipopes opposing Stephen III prior to election, his accession to the papacy had more drama than a high school hallway. Before Paul I’s death, Constantine, a layman and a Roman noble, wanted to be made a priest and placed on the throne as the next pope. He coerced a bishop to ordain and consecrate him, then even “reigned” for a few months. Soon a rival group said, “Nice try,” and instead promoted a priest named Philip. This latter antipope was described as nothing more than a Lombard tool. Christopher, the head of Rome’s clergy, said, “tool indeed” and rallied the majority of Rome’s lay and clergy population to depose Philip and elect a third man, Stephen, to become Paul I’s real successor and rightful pope.

    Fun fact: After the hullabaloo between Constantine, Philip, and Stephen, not to mention all of the ensuing bickering and violence between the trio’s supporters, a council at the Lateran Palace in 769 decided, from then on, that only clergy should elect a pope.

    What else was going on in the world at the time?
    In 771, Carloman, the son of Pepin and brother of Charlemagne, died of a severe nosebleed, leaving his brother to be sole ruler of the Frankish Kingdom.

    SOURCES (and further reading)
    John, E. (1964). The Popes: A concise biographical history. New York: Hawthorn Books.
    Pope Stephen (III) IV – http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14289a.htm
    Pope Stephen III – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Stephen_III https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/770s

  • Interacting with Atheists: 5 Foundational Principals
    Interacting with atheists can be draining. Not every conversation will go well, especially when you start out. But if you follow these five principles, you can drastically improve your mindset and your conversations.

    Here’s the first principle: pray every day. Develop a daily prayer routine. Decide on a specific segment of time as your personal prayer baseline. It could be ten or fifteen minutes. Currently, I aim for twenty minutes, but I don’t always hit my mark. But I want to grow in my prayer life. Some spiritual masters recommend thirty minutes per day with the goal of building up to a holy hour every day. 

    This principle drives us to develop a deeper relationship with the Lord. This will allow you to discern more effectively what a person needs to hear in conversation. Also, it will prevent you from getting burned out or discouraged when dialogue goes bad. You don’t need me to tell you that conversations about religion often get heated. Daily prayer will help us to keep our cool during such encounters.

    As a baptized Christian, you have the indwelling Holy Spirit. Conversing with God every day deepens this reality, allowing the Holy Spirit work through you. Daily prayer will help you know what to say and how to say it. So that’s the first tip: pray every day.

    Here’s the second principle: whenever possible, start by asking questions rather than making statements. Asking questions places you in the driver’s seat of the conversation. You can steer it where you want it to go. You can make sure it stays on topic.

    Questions provide an avenue to learn what the other person actually thinks, providing you with valuable information for deciding how to help your conversation partner.

    Greg Koukl points to three helpful questions that can be asked in almost any context:

    • “What do you mean by that?”
    • “How did you come to that conclusion?”
    • “Have you ever considered . . . ?”

    Questions are powerful. And they’re fun! When you dialogue with an atheist, it’s much less stressful to ask questions than to try to give a detailed argument from memory.  Also, once you see the power of asking questions, you can start to develop your own questions to use in apologetic/evangelistic contexts.
     
    The God of the Bible is a bloodthirsty dictator.”
    “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”
    “Religion is the cause of war, suffering, and intolerance.”
    “Do you believe in Santa Claus, too?”
    (Etc.)
    Here’s the third principle: Don’t let people get away with vague, wishy-washy criticisms. Sometimes people make vague objections they think are enough to win the day. Consider the following:

    • “You know the problem of evil, right? That’s why I don’t believe in God.”
    • “You Catholics have that abuse scandal. Who would want to join a corrupt Church like that?”

    Too often, we immediately launch into a defense. Before the skeptic elicits a response from us, we must require that he make his criticism clearer, provide more detail, and, whenever possible, give us the fullness of the argument he has in mind.

    Consider the first example above. I’d respond, “Tell me more. What do you have in mind concerning the problem of evil? Can you spell it out for me?” These questions encourage the person to clarify, and they also allow you to assess how much homework he has done. Moreover, you don’t start floundering around with fancy arguments before understanding what he’s saying.

    Here’s the fourth principle: apologetics is most helpful to those who are already open to the truths of faith. An angry, hostile atheist can swiftly resist philosophical argumentation. Even the most powerful arguments may fly right past him as he pulls out his list of grievances against religion.

    This principle encourages realistic expectations. The most hardened, angry skeptics need our prayers. Perhaps they’ve been abused by a priest in the past, or dealt with some other terrible circumstance in life. The Holy Spirit can work on the heart and soften them for future conversations.

    On the other hand, those with a sincere desire to understand can be led closer to Christ with answers from the Christian intellectual tradition. But if that’s true, should we not even bother with apologetics when talking to those who are closed to faith? Not so fast. Apologetics in that circumstance can bolster the faith of the believer making the arguments, or of other believers listening to the conversation. I find this to be exactly right.

    Here’s the fifth principle: don’t neglect the soft skills of evangelism. By “soft skills” I mean the ways of conducting ourselves outside of apologetic encounters. How should we interact with others? I submit that two keys are kindness and treasure recognition. Kindness consists of showing genuine respect for others and developing an interest in understanding their point of view. As Catholic Christians, we must keep in mind the divinely revealed truth that everyone we encounter is a treasure of intrinsic value whom God commands us to love.

    So don’t be a jerk. Give more compliments. Be openly Catholic by saying grace before meals, keeping prayers or pictures of saints on your desk, and include Mass in your discussion of the weekends and holidays. These soft skills do not require an advanced apologetic, and they can go a long way toward building trust and plausibility in religion.

    Not all evangelism requires explicit gospel-preaching. Simply by going about your normal dealings, extending kindness to others, and being openly Catholic, you show Catholicism to be a live, reasonable option.
     
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