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In Ruthwell Scotland there is a preaching cross. It is eighteen feet tall and made of stone. A preaching cross marks the place where itinerant traveling priest or monks would come to proclaim the word of God. Carved into this particular cross are scenes from the Bible, decorative vine work, and eighteen verses of an old English poem.
For centuries it was thought that the eighteen verses comprised the entire poem, but in 1822 a 10th century book was found that contained the complete text. The poem is titled, “The Dream of the Rood.” Continue reading “Sermon: Feast of the Holy Cross”
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In the garden of Eden, the piece of fruit that Adam and Eve took that bite from is never identified as an apple. Although never named, that apple has perhaps become the most infamous piece of fruit known to humankind. Today, I would suggest to you that the second most infamous piece of fruit is a pear, because it was a pear that St. Augustine stole when he was sixteen years old. Why did he steal a pear and what is his significance?
He wrote in his work Confessions, “Yet I was willing to steal, and steal I did [… the pear …] although I was not compelled by any lack, unless it were the lack of a sense of justice or a distaste for what was right and a greedy love of doing wrong. For of what I stole I already had plenty, and much better at that, and I had no wish to enjoy the things I coveted by stealing, but only to enjoy the theft itself and the sin.” Continue reading “Sermon: St. Augustine”
About the image: Meeting of St. Francis of Assisi with St. Dominic, Josep Benlliure y Gil.
A man curious about Catholicism approached a Dominican monk.
He asked the Dominican about various subjects and eventually the conversation turned to religious orders. “So you are a Dominican?”
“What can you tell me about the Dominicans?”
“Well, in short, we were founded by St. Dominic in the 13th century, in part to counter the Albigensian heresy.”
“I see. What about the Jesuits I keep hearing about?”
“They were founded by St. Ignatius of Loyala in the 16th century, in part to counter the Protestant Reformation.”
“Hmmm … so which is the greater order?”
The Dominican pondered this question for a moment and then replied: “Well, when was the last time you met an Albigensian?” Continue reading “Sermon: Dominic”
Information regarding the image: Title – Thomas à Kempis on Mount Saint Agnes – (1569). In the Our Lady’s Basilica in Zwolle there is a painting on which Thomas van Kempen is pictured, with in the background the building complex of the Agnietenberg monastery. Also on the painting Arnold Waeyer (1606-1692), the archipelago of Salland can be seen. He led an important part of the church life of the Zwolle Catholics in the shelter period. The painting contains a comprehensive Latin text.
If the text is reliable, the painting would date from 1569 and be painted on behalf of Johannes Cuperinus, the last prior of the Agnietenberg monastery. He said, adding the text and self-portrait in 1654. In the Stedelijk Museum Zwolle, a virtually identical painting hangs. (source) I’ve tried to locate the Latin text, but have not been successful.
The library at Nashotah House is something to behold. Two stories and a basement, wall-to-wall books and periodicals, almost all of which pertain to God and the Church. In addition, in the basement along one wall is a must visit at least once per week section. This is where they have the books that they are giving away. Duplicates, out of date, a bit to worn, etc. copies. It wasn’t every week that you will find one, but occasionally you will come across a gem. And I believe it was in my Junior year that I came across this one: My Imitation of Christ, published by the Confraternity of the Precious Blood. It is The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis. Continue reading “Sermon: Thomas à Kempis”
The Book of Judith can be found in the apocrypha, which means, according to Article 6 of the 39 Articles, “the Church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners; but yet doth it not apply them to establish any doctrine.” Which is kind of interesting, given that, in the end, Judith beheads her enemies and is celebrated as a hero, but I’m getting ahead of the story.
The book begins, “It was the twelfth year of Nebuchadnezzar who reigned over the Assyrians in the great city of Nineveh,” which rabbinical scholars state is the equivalent of, “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….” In other words, it is historical fiction. That said… Continue reading “Sermon: Mary Magdalene”
In our reading to the Philippians, Paul said, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” So, if I was to ask you, how would you say that you are working out your salvation?
Some may have a pretty good plan, while others take the Hail Mary approach. Not the Hail Mary prayer, but the Hail Mary play in football, when you are at the end of the game and behind, so you make one last play and hope you come down with a score. I suspect most fall somewhere in-between, but it was Benedict of Nursia who worked out his salvation with a very specific Rule. You know it as the Rule of St. Benedict, which was written about the year 530 a.d. Continue reading “Sermon: St. Benedict of Nursia”
Early sources state that St. Edward “was a young man of great devotion and excellent conduct. He was completely Orthodox, good and of holy life. Moreover, he loved above all things God and the Church. He was generous to the poor, a haven to the good, a champion of the Faith of Christ, a vessel full of every virtuous grace.” He was martyred for good old fashioned greed. Greed of power and greed of wealth.
Around 963 Edgar the Peaceable was King of England. Prior to the birth of his first son, he had a dream which was interpreted for him: “After your death the Church of God will be attacked. You will have two sons. The supporters of the second will kill the first, and while the second will rule on earth the first will rule in heaven.” The first son was Edward, but the queen died shortly after giving birth. Edgar married again and gave birth to the second son, Ethelred, and Ethelred’s mother had great ambitions for her son. Citing some technicalities in the birth of Edward, she claimed that her son should be heir to the thrown, which set off divisions throughout the kingdom. Continue reading “Sermon: Edward, King and Martyr”
I confess, I love reading Stephen King, enough so that when I’m not satisfied with other things that I’ve been reading, I’ll go pick up one of his books that I haven’t read for awhile and read it again. I also like reading about how he writes and what sparks the ideas for his stories and books. In several of these stories, he actually writes about a writer, and in the case of the short story, The Body (the movie Stand by Me is based on the story), he writes about Gordie LaChance, an author who is telling the story of when he was twelve. On writing, Gordie says, “The most important things are the hardest to say. They are the things you get ashamed of because words diminish them – words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they’re brought out. But it’s more than that, isn’t it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you’ve said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it. That’s the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for want of a teller, but for want of an understanding ear.” Continue reading “Sermon: The First Book of Common Prayer (1549)”
Dame Julian of Norwich (d.1416) is one of the most celebrated English mystics, and her collected writings, Revelations of Divine Love, form the first book written by a woman, to be published in English. It contains her sixteen “shewings” or visions/revelations. Continue reading “Sermon: Julian of Norwich”