Eclipse of Faith?

For a moment today, the sun will be darkened by planetary motions which scientists can predict even if not fully understand.

Shutterstock_475042897Faith in things unseen is a fundamental principle of the Christian view of the world. Religious faith is more complicated than having faith that the sun is still there even when we can’t see it. It’s a belief in things that cannot be seen or measured, but are nevertheless real – a spiritual world exists too. We can know enough about this realm using our human reason alone to agree on a public morality which should allow us to live in mutual respect and peace.

Through Divine Revelation, we believe that higher truth has been revealed through the Scripture and Sacred Tradition of the Church, enabling us to profess our faith in the Nicene Creed we pray every week at Mass.

Saints and spiritual writers encourage us to keep the faith during times of personal faith eclipse – times in our lives when God may seem absent and our spirits dark. When such feelings persist, St. John of the Cross called them the “Dark Night of the Soul.” We learn much about God and move into closer union with God, not by fleeing the dark night, but by learning to find God in the dark. Faith that God is near, even when we can’t see.


St. Pius X and Holy Communion

HolyCommunionPope St. Pius X promoted both frequent, even daily, reception of Holy Communion for adults and ensured that the practice of the Church was to welcome children to First Communion and First Penance when they had reached the age of reason, age seven.

They need not have a perfect understanding of Holy Eucharist, but merely an understanding that the Eucharistic Bread is different from ordinary bread and to receive it with a degree of piety and reverence appropriate for their age. 

The Pope called the reception of Holy Communion the "surest, easiest, shortest way" to heaven.

 


Saint Helena, Empress

Saint Helena's statue in the Vatican
St. Helena in St. Peter's

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Helena, an important saint in the church and in the iconography of our own parish.

St. Helena, whose son battled his way to imperial power ultimately under the banner of the Christian cross, was brought to the imperial court by her son and deputed to search for sites important to Christians in the Holy Land. Well into her senior years, she directed the demolition of pagan shrines often built over these sites and undertook excavations in Jerusalem which ultimately uncovered the True Cross, the tomb of Jesus and other precious relics.

Her pilgrimage and building opened the way for countless other pilgrims through the centuries to make the difficult journey to the holy sites in and around Jerusalem.

Travel pilgrimages survive today as a form of devotion, though usually not as perilous as those of yesteryear. The journey theme itself, however, is still an important metaphor for the life of Christian discipleship: we begin our challenging journey in this life in the footsteps of Jesus and follow His Way to the heavenly Kingdom. 

St. Helena's energy and enthusiasm for new projects in her senior years, her resilience of spirit following her divorce by her husband and her hope to search for the unseen can be inspirations for us today. We too, should revere Jesus' memory and the places he trod during His earthly life.

Let us ask her protection on life's journey as we follow Jesus on The Way.

 

 


Forgive Us Our Trespasses As We Forgive Those Who Trespass Against Us


The Balance ScalesWhat interesting Scripture readings for mass this morning. The first reading recounts Joshua's passage through the River Jordan with the Ark of the Covenant and the entire people of Israel, mirroring Moses' passage through the Red Sea - both leading the people to the Promised Land.

The gospel is from Matthew, whose gospel is carefully constructed around Mosaic themes, depicting Jesus as the "New Moses," who fulfills the Old Covenant and forms a new Covenant with his people. Like Moses and Joshua, but surpassing them both, Jesus leads them into the Kingdom of God.

The parable of the unforgiving servant reminds us that old rules no longer apply in the New Kingdom. The "lex talionis" or eye-for-an-eye is an overly rigorous expression of justice. Instead, we should show the same freely given forgiveness Jesus issues to us to our brothers and sisters in return.

Today, some grudge, resentment or unpaid debt will surely come to mind before Communion. Let us ask Jesus to help us release it, for in doing so we not only release our debtor, but our own spirit too. If we can't find the forgiveness in our own heart yet, we can surely find it in the Heart of Jesus.