Vol 13 Issue 6 ~ Editor: Rev. Fr. Courtney Edward Krier
February 8, 2020 ~ Saint John of Matha, opn!
1. What is the Holy Eucharist
2. Septuagesima Sunday
3. Saint Cyril of Alexandria
4. Family and Marriage
5. Articles and notices
Last week I introduced the topic of suffering and how the culture today is seeking to eliminate suffering if not by science then by death. I did not want to make it seem that one ought simply to suffer or that one should simply allow another to suffer. Christ showed Himself the Good Samaritan (cf. Luke 10:30ff) and all Christians must be good Samaritans. Charity obliges one to alleviate the sufferings of others when one is able. John the Beloved disciple wrote: He that hath the substance of this world, and shall see his brother in need, and shall shut up his bowels from him: how doth the charity of God abide in him? (1 John 3:17) This can be found in the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. The thirsty are quenched, the hungry are satiated, the needy are clothed, the homeless sheltered, the sorrowful comforted, the sick visited and the dead buried. (cf. Matt. 25:35ff) The opportunities to practice charity abound, and the charity performed is meritorious. The Catholic Church was the first to open houses of charity, to open hospitals, to open schools. She did this not to establish a heaven on earth, but to follow the example of the Bridegroom, whom she follows. Charity involves suffering: patience, self-denial, sacrifice; and why one does not want to be charitable: to avoid the suffering, the carrying of the Cross, of being a Simon of Cyrene, a good Samaritan.
Physical deformity (including disease) was a result of sin (Original Sin firstly, and personal sin secondly—example: HIV, STDs, and FAS). Deformity reflected the consequence of sin, removing the deformity was a reflection of removing sin. This is seen in Christ’s cure of the blind man read in John’s Gospel: And Jesus passing by, saw a man, who was blind from his birth: And his disciples asked him: Rabbi, who hath sinned, this man, or his parents [personal sin], that he should be born blind? Jesus answered: Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents; but that the works of God should be made manifest in him [freeing him from the consequence of original sin: physical and spiritual deformity]. I must work the works of him that sent me, whilst it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. (John 9:1-5)
So that the multitudes marvelled seeing the dumb speak, the lame walk, and the blind see: and they glorified the God of Israel. (Matt. 15:31)
It was the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaias: God himself will come and will save you. Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall be free. (Isa. 35:4-6) And it was the sign to the followers of John the Baptist and to everyone thereafter that He Who was to take sin out of the world can be recognized by His ability to take the consequences of sin out of the world: The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead rise again, the poor have the gospel preached to them. (Matt. 11:5; cf. Luke 7:22) That the Church was to continue the mission is found in the miraculous gift the Apostles (and certain saints) had in curing the bodily deformities and therefore the power to cure the spiritual deformities: They brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that when Peter came, his shadow at the least, might overshadow any of them, and they might be delivered from their infirmities. (Acts 5:15) The Spirit of God moved the Church to continue in charity, in seeking the alleviation of the consequences of sin in order to draw the hearts of man to faith and to embrace the faith: See how these Christians love one another was fulfilling the words of Christ: By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another. (John 13:35) The Church continues in her charity, though today seemingly quashed by the state-god and a world immersed in narcissism blind to the reality of suffering. This is not a call to pity, but to good works.
What one must understand, then, is that as long as there is sin in the world, there will be suffering; to eliminate suffering one must eliminate sin—which is self denial, a crucifixion of the flesh that gives life to the mind and soul that lives for God (Good and Truth). But if one believes one can eliminate suffering without eliminating sin, one only causes more suffering to oneself and to the other—begetting a culture of death (killing) as it is properly named and as was indicated last week. This outlook is what distinguishes the Christian from the pagan. Here is the grace one must ask: To see the light of the Truth, not the darkness of denial.
As always, enjoy the readings provided for your benefit.—The Editor
WHAT IS THE HOLY EUCHARIST
By Rev. Courtney Edward Krier
Old Testament Prefigurements of the Holy Eucharist
Old Testament Sacrifices
Bread and Wine
There is also found a foreshadowing of the washing of feet before the institution, the crucifixion, and the breaking of bread (Holy Eucharist).
When Jacob was blessing his sons, he said to Juda:
Juda, thee shall thy brethren praise: thy hands shall be on the necks of thy enemies: the sons of thy father shall bow down to thee. Juda is a lion’s whelp: to the prey, my son, thou art gone up: resting thou hast couched as a lion, and as a lioness, who shall rouse him? (Gen. 49:8-9)
Jacob then continues to prophesy:
The sceptre shall not be taken away from Juda, nor a ruler from his thigh, till he come that is to be sent, and he shall be the expectation of nations. [And he, the Messias] Tying his foal to the vineyard, and his ass, O my son, to the vine. He shall wash his robe in wine, and his garment in the blood of the grape. His eyes are more beautiful than wine, and his teeth whiter than milk.
Though it is understood that Judea would be filled with peace and abundance (cf. Heinish, Christ in Prophecy, 34f; Orchard, 204), the Messianic overtures are prominent and the reference to robe and wine and blood can be clearly understood in the use of Christ’s words:
And taking the chalice, he gave thanks, and gave to them, saying: Drink ye all of this. For this is my blood of the new testament, which shall be shed for many unto remission of sins. And I say to you, I will not drink from henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I shall drink it with you new in the kingdom of my Father. (Matt. 26:27-29)
Isaias took the meaning also to refer to the act of redemption:
Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bosra, this beautiful one in his robe, walking in the greatness of his strength. I, that speak justice, and am a defender to save. Why then is thy apparel red, and thy garments like theirs that tread in the winepress? I have trodden the winepress alone, and of the Gentiles there is not a man with me: I have trampled on them in my indignation, and have trodden them down in my wrath, and their blood is sprinkled upon my garments, and I have stained all my apparel. For the day of vengeance is in my heart, the year of my redemption is come. (Isa. 63:1-4)
One may see that wine and Christ’s act of redemption are coupled, but Christ is offered in the appearance of wine after offering Himself in the likeness of wine.
In Isaiah also the Holy Spirit testifies this same thing concerning the Lord’s passion, saying, Wherefore are Your garments red, and Your apparel as from the treading of the wine-press full and well trodden? Isaiah 63:2 Can water make garments red? Or is it water in the wine-press which is trodden by the feet, or pressed out by the press? Assuredly, therefore, mention is made of wine, that the Lord’s blood may be understood, and that which was afterwards manifested in the cup of the Lord might be foretold by the prophets who announced it. The treading also, and pressure of the wine-press, is repeatedly dwelt on; because just as the drinking of wine cannot be attained to unless the bunch of grapes be first trodden and pressed, so neither could we drink the blood of Christ unless Christ had first been trampled upon and pressed, and had first drunk the cup of which He should also give believers to drink. (Cyprian, Letter 62/63, 7)
The Passover sacrifice and the deliverance of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery is replete with types and figures of the Redemptive Act and the Sacraments of the New Law. Here, that which pertains to the bread and wine in as far as it typifies the Holy Eucharist will be considered. To this extent, the stress on the unleavened bread may be said to take precedence over everything, yet attached to that of the Paschal Lamb.
And they shall take of the blood thereof [lamb], and put it upon both the side posts, and on the upper door posts of the houses, wherein they shall eat it. And they shall eat the flesh that night roasted at the fire, and unleavened bread with wild lettuce.
And you shall observe the feast of the unleavened bread: for in this same day I will bring forth your army out of the land of Egypt, and you shall keep this day in your generations by a perpetual observance. The first month, the fourteenth day of the month in the evening, you shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the same month in the evening. Seven days there shall not be found any leaven in your houses: he that shall eat leavened bread, his soul shall perish out of the assembly of Israel, whether he be a stranger or born in the land. You shall not eat any thing leavened: in all your habitations you shall eat unleavened bread. (Exod. 12:7-8, 17-20)
. . . [T]hat you eat no leavened bread. . . . Seven days shalt thou eat unleavened bread: and on the seventh day shall be the solemnity of the Lord. Unleavened bread shall you eat seven days: there shall not be seen any thing leavened with thee, nor in all thy coasts. And thou shalt tell thy son in that day, saying: This is what the Lord did to me when I came forth out of Egypt. And it shall be as a sign in thy hand, and as a memorial before thy eyes: and that the law of the Lord be always in thy mouth, for with a strong hand the Lord hath brought thee out of the land of Egypt. Thou shalt keep this observance at the set time from days to days. (Exod. 13:3, 6-10)
These words of Moses find an echo in the words of Saint Paul describing the Eucharistic Sacrifice. Paul knew well the symbolism of the Passover Sacrificial Meal and its prefigurement of the Sacrifice of the New Testament:
For as often as you shall eat this bread, and drink the chalice, you shall shew the death of the Lord, until he come. Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. But let a man prove himself: and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of the chalice. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord. (1Cor. 11:26-29)
These words of Saint Paul are reminiscent of the words God spoke to Moses: Behold I will rain bread from heaven for you: let the people go forth, and gather what is sufficient for every day: that I may prove them whether they will walk in my law, or not. (Exodus 16:4)
That the Passover Sacrifice could be made on another day is found in Numbers (9:10-11):
Say to the children of Israel: The man that shall be unclean by occasion of one that is dead, or shall be in a journey afar off in your nation, let him make the phase to the Lord. In the second month, on the fourteenth day of the month in the evening, they shall eat it with unleavened bread and wild lettuce.
But even here the unleavened bread is again found essential to the sacrificial meal. It may be asked why wine is not mentioned and would thereby seem unessential. One may answer that the Hebrews at this time were slaves, and wine was only allowed to the Egyptian nobility. Nor was it available while wandering in the desert. Once they obtained their deliverance and once they enter the Promised Land, wine becomes a necessary part of the ceremony. At the time of Christ, the wine was poured and drank four times and with a fifth cup filled for Elias—he who was to come to announce the Messias. The first cup in thanksgiving for blessings; the second cup in thanksgiving for deliverance; the third cup in thanksgiving for the meal; the fourth cup (after the ‘fifth’ cup is poured for Elias, but not drank) in supplicating God to accept the sacrifice offered. (Cf. Aherne, Pasch or Passover, CE) This fourth cup seems to be the one Our Lord used when He instituted the Holy Eucharist as the words He pronounced over the chalice indicate. (Cf. CCD, The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, 43)
That bread and wine became essential to the Passover sacrificial meal—though not the sacrifice itself, as the lamb was—foreshadows the unleavened bread and wine mixed with water that would be essential to the New Testament sacrifice, yet would not be the sacrifice itself, but the true Lamb of God through transubstantiation. Saint Paul can state: The chalice of benediction, which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? And the bread, which we break, is it not the partaking of the body of the Lord? (1 Cor. 10:16) and, again, For as often as you shall eat this bread, and drink the chalice, you shall shew the death of the Lord, until he come. (1 Cor. 11:26). Further, in reference to the unleavened bread, St Paul earlier instructed the Corinthians:
Know you not that a little leaven corrupteth the whole lump? Purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new paste, as you are unleavened. For Christ our pasch is sacrificed. Therefore let us feast, not with the old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Cor. 5:6-8)
The deliverance of the Israelites from captivity places them in dependence of God’s care. The type of the Eucharist is now not necessarily seen in the Israelites offering a sacrifice to God, but God providing manna from heaven—food for the journey. And, not only food, but drink, too. In this sense, God would not only provide food and drink for the Israelites in their journey to the promised land; He would also provide food and drink for those redeemed in their journey to the true Promised Land. Just as the Passover—witnessed by the Paschal Vigil ceremony with readings referencing Baptism and the Holy Eucharist which the neophytes receive—contain both prefigurements of Baptism and the Holy Eucharist, so the Exodus contains the types of Baptism and Holy Eucharist:
For I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea. And all in Moses were baptized, in the cloud, and in the sea: And did all eat the same spiritual food, And all drank the same spiritual drink; (and they drank of the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ.) But with most of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the desert. (1 Cor. 10:1-5)
The last verse of Paul seems to be what John contemplates when, in the Apocalypse, he is told to write to the Churches of Epheses and Pergamus:
He, that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches: To him, that overcometh, I will give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of my God. . . . He, that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches: To him that overcometh, I will give the hidden manna, and will give him a white counter, and in the counter, a new name written, which no man knoweth, but he that receiveth it. (Apoc. 2:7, 17).
(To be continued)
The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers
M. F. Toal
THE GOSPEL OF THE SUNDAY
MATTHEW XX. 1-16
At that time: Jesus spoke to His Disciples the following parable: The kingdom of heaven is like to an householder, who went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. And having agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.
And going out about the third hour, he saw others standing in the market place idle. And he said to them: Go you also into my vineyard, and I will give you what shall be just. And they went their way. And again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did in like manner. But about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing, and he saith to them: Why stand you here all the day idle? They say to him: Because no man hath hired us. He saith to them: Go you also into my vineyard. And when evening was come, the lord of the vineyard saith to his steward: Call the labourers and pay them their hire, beginning from the last even to the first.
When therefore they were come, that came about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. But when the first also came, they thought that they should receive more: and they also received every man a penny. And receiving it they murmured against the master of the house, saying: These last have worked but one hour, and thou hast made them equal to us, that have borne the burden of the day and the heats.
But he answering said to one of them: Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst thou not agree with me for a penny? Take what is thine, and go thy way: I will also give to this last even as to thee. Or, is it not lawful for me to do what I will? Is thy eye evil, because I am good? So shall the last be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.
EXPOSITION FROM THE CATENA AUREA
ORIGEN: For the first workers being approved by the testimony of faith, received not the promise. God, the householder, providing some better thing for us who were called at the eleventh hour, so that they should not be perfected without us (Heb. xi. 39). And because we have obtained mercy, for the reason that we stood the whole day idle, we hope to be the first to receive reward, because we are Christ’s; and after us He will pay those who have laboured before us; and therefore is it said: Call the labourers and pay them their hire, beginning from the last even to the first.
CHRYSOSTOM, as above: We give more readily to those to whom we give something freely, because we give only for our own honour, Therefore God in rendering reward to all the saints appears as just: but in giving to the Gentiles He is seen as merciful, as the Apostle says: But the Gentiles are to glorify God for his mercy (Rom. xv. 9). And so is it said: Beginning from the last even to the first. That the Lord may make known His inestimable mercy, He first renders payment to the latecomers, and the least deserving; afterwards to the first: for boundless mercy has not regard to order.
AUGUSTINE, De Spir. et Litt. 24: Or the lesser are found to be first, because the lesser have been made rich. The Gospel continues: When therefore they were come, that came about the eleventh hour, received every man a penny. GREGORY: They received the same coin who had laboured at the eleventh hour (for which they had longed with all their soul), and they who had laboured from the first: since, equally with those who were called from the beginning of the world, they received the reward of eternal life who had come to God at the end of the world.
CHRYSOSTOM, as above: And not unjustly: for he that was born in the first time of the world, lived no longer than his allotted time. And what loss would it be to him if after going forth from the body the world then stood still? And those born at the end, they lived no less than the days assigned to them: and what would it profit them if, after receiving their wage, the world should come to an end, since they had finished their life’s task before the world had ended? Then also it rests not within man’s power that he be born either before or after, but with the power of God. Neither can he claim to be first in order who was born first, nor is he to be held as the lesser who was born later.
And receiving it they murmured against the master of the house. If that be true which we have said, that the first as well as the last shall each live their allotted time, and neither more nor less, and that for each one death is his own consummation, what then does this mean: We have borne the burthen of the day and the heats? Because to us is given a great power to fulfil justice, and to know that the end of the world is near. Whence Christ also, warning us, has told us: The kingdom of heaven is at hand. But to them it was a grievous thing to know that there were yet to be prolonged tracts of time. Though they did not live all through this time, yet they seem to have borne the weight of all the years of it. Or again the burthen of the day means the onerous precepts of the Law: the heats, the burning trials of error which the evil spirits kindled against them, urging them to be as the Gentiles. From out all this the Gentiles came forth as children believing in Christ, and fully redeemed by the shorter way of grace.
GREGORY, as above: Or to bear the burthen of the day and the heats signifies to be wearied by the heats of the flesh borne through the years of a longer life. But it might be asked: how may they be said to murmur who are called to the kingdom of heaven? For no one who murmurs will receive this kingdom, and no one murmurs who receives it. CHRYSOSTOM, Hom. 65 in Matth.: We ought not to search into the parables so as to scrutinise literally whatever is contained there, but seek rather to understand its purpose and search no further. He does not therefore introduce this remark in order to show that certain individuals were stirred to envy, but to show that some attained to such honour that they awakened envy in others.
GREGORY: Or because the ancient Fathers, up to the Coming of Christ, although they lived just lives, were not brought into the kingdom, and so this murmuring was theirs. But we who have come at the eleventh hour murmur not at the end of the day’s toil, because, coming into this world after the Advent of our Mediator, we are conducted into the kingdom as soon as we leave the body. JEROME:
Those of each earlier calling all envy the Gentiles, and their calling is changed in favour of the Gentiles. HILARY: This murmuring of the servants of the vineyards is like to the arrogance of a stubborn people under Moses.
But he answering said to one of them: Friend, I do thee no wrong. REMIGIUS: This one may stand for all who believed among the Jews, and whom, because of their faith, He calls friend. CHRYSOSTOM, Super Matthaeum: They were not grieving as though defrauded of their wages, but because, these later ones received more than they merited. So do the envious grieve when to another something is given, as though it were taken from themselves: from which it is apparent that envy arises from vainglory. For he who is envious grieves that he is second when he desired to be first; accordingly the Lord takes away their motive for envy, saying: Didst thou not agree with me for a penny?
JEROME: The denarius bears the effigy of the king; you have received therefore the reward which I promised, that is, My image and likeness: what further do you seek? Or do you desire, not that you yourself received more, but that another receive nothing? Take what is thine, and go thy way.
REMIGIUS: That is, receive thy reward and enter into glory. I will also give to this last, that is, to the Gentiles, according to their merit as to thee. ORIGEN: Perhaps it was to Adam He said: Friend, I do thee no wrong, etc. The denarius, which is salvation, is yours: I will give to the last as to thee. It is not unbelievable that this last is the Apostle Paul, who in one hour laboured more abundantly than all they (I Cor. xv. 10).
AUGUSTINE, De San. Virg. 26: Because eternal life will be equally the possession of all the blessed, the denarius, which is the wage of all, is given to each alike. But because in the life eternal the brightness of each one’s merits shall shine forth differently, there are many mansions in the Father’s House. But with a denarius one does not live more richly than another; but with manifold mansions one may be honoured more evidently than another. GREGORY: And because to enter the kingdom comes only from the goodness of His will rightly docs He add: Is it not lawful for me to do what I will? For the question of one who is murmuring against the will of God is foolish. One may murmur if that is not given which is due, but not if that is not given which is not due: hence is simply added: Is thy eye evil, because I am good?
REMIGIUS: By eye He desires to signify the state of the mind. For the Jews had an evil eye, that is, they were of an evil disposition of mind, and therefore they were grieved because of the salvation of the Gentiles. He then makes clear what is the aim of the parable, when He finally
adds: so shall the last be first, and the first last; this, namely, that from being at the head the Jews are moved around to the tail, and we, from the tail, are changed to the head.
CHRYSOSTOM, super Matth.: Or He calls the first last, and the last first, not so that the last may be more honoured than the first, but that they may become co-equal; and that between them there is no difference by reason of time. That He said: Many are called, but few chosen, refers not to the saints who are gone before, but to the Gentiles; since of many who are called from these same Gentiles few shall be chosen.
GREGORY: For many come to faith, but few are brought into the heavenly kingdom. And many serve God with their tongue, but turn from Him in their lives. From this we should reflect on two things. The first is that no one should presume concerning his own salvation; for though he is called to the faith, he knows not whether he will be chosen to enter the kingdom of heaven. The second is, that no one should take it upon himself to despair of his neighbour, whom he sees steeped in vice, because no one knows the richness of the divine mercy.
Or again: our morning is childhood; by the third hour we may understand the time of adolescence, because as at that time the sun is mounting up so also is the heat of growing life; the sixth hour stands for young manhood, because the sun is then at its zenith, so is man then at the fullness of his strength. The ninth hour stands for mature age, in which as the sun recedes from the full noon day heat, so does later age decline from the heats of youth. Lastly the eleventh hour is that time which is called infirmity, or old age.
CHRYSOSTOM, Hom. 65 in Matt.: That He did not hire them all together, but some in the morning, some at the third hour, and so on, proceeds from their varying states of mind. He called them when they were ready to obey; as He called the Good Thief when he was ready to rsepond. If however they say: Because no man hath hired us, as was said, we must not search into all that is said in the parables. Besides, it was not the Lord, but the labourers, who say this. For that He, in what relates to Himself, calls all from their first beginning is signified when it is said: He went out early to hire labourers.
GREGORY: They therefore who fail to live for God until their old age stand idle in the market place until the eleventh hour: yet these also the Master hires, and for the most part rewards earlier, for they depart from this life for the kingdom of heaven before those who seemed to have been called from childhood.
ORIGEN: Why stand you idle is not said to those who began living in the Spirit, but were overcome by the flesh, so that they may live again in the Spirit if they desire to return. This we do not say so as not to dissuade those wicked children who, living riotously, have consumed the substance of the Gospel teaching, from returning to their Father’s House; since they are not as those who sinned in youth, while yet untaught in the things of faith.
CHRYSOSTOM, Hom. 65 in Matt.: That He said: The last shall be first,and the first last, refers obliquely to those who at first were conspicuous in virtue, and afterwards despised it; and to those likewise who, being converted from evil, then surpassed many who were already in grace. This parable therefore was composed so that they who were converted in their later years might have confidence, and be not fearful that they will receive less than the rest.
St. Cyril of Alexandria, Bishop, Confessor, Doctor of the Church
1. St. Cyril came of a prominent family in Alexandria. After having lived for some time as a hermit in the desert, he succeeded his uncle as bishop of his native city. At first he was rather harsh and impetuous and resorted to stringent measures against the Novatian heretics, as well as against the powerful Jewry. Thus, he came into conflict with the imperial governor; as a result, grave disorders arose in the city. When, in 429, Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople, refused to honor Mary as Mother of God, and this heresy was spreading into Egypt, Cyril courageously opposed the error. It was his report to Rome that induced Pope Celestine I to condemn the heresy formally.
Likewise, the Council of Ephesus, under the presidency of St. Cyril, condemned this heresy in 431, and declared Nestorius deposed from his office. In this way the Saint exercised an important influence in favor of the declaration of the dogma of Mary’s divine motherhood. He published excellent exegetical, dogmatic, and polemic treatises against the Arians and Nestorians, an apology against Julian the Apostate, as well as sermons and letters. He wrote with admirable warmth and depth about the Holy Eucharist and about the mysterious dwelling and working of the Holy Trinity in the soul of man. St. Cyril died on June 27,444. In 1882 he was declared a Doctor of the Church.
2. “Unconquerable champion of the most blessed Virgin Mary’s divine motherhood” (Collect). Nestorius had dared to assert that in Christ, besides the person of the Son of God, there was also a human person. This meant that Christ was not true God and true man in one person. It was, therefore, wrong to pray: “I believe in Jesus Christ, Son of God, true God of true God who—one and the same—became man for us, born of Mary, the Virgin; who was crucified and died for us.” Rather, as he taught, there were two distinct persons in Christ, one divine and the other human. Mary did not give birth to God, that is, the Son of God, but only to a man—Christ. As a consequence, he refused to give Mary the title of Mother of God, but only that of Mother of Christ.
This was the point that drew St. Cyril into the controversy. For he realized that this doctrine touched the true faith concerning Christ, who is, in one person, at the same time God and man; it would also destroy belief in the Singular dignity and sublimity of Mary. If she was merely “mother of a man” then she was no more than the mother of any other man. Therefore, St. Cyril fought with all his powers to defend the dignity of the Mother of God. We are grateful to him for that, and, along with the Greek Church, we praise him as the “Defender of the true and unadulterated faith,” the “Father of Orthodoxy.” We rejoice in the fact that the people of Ephesus loudly acclaimed the Fathers of the Council, with St. Cyril at their head, for having accorded to Mary the title of God-bearer. In the torchlight procession that conducted the theologians and prelates to their quarters, St. Cyril was given highest honor, since he had acted in the name of the Pope and under his instructions.
“It is for thee to be on the watch, to accept every hardship, to employ thyself in preaching the Gospel, and perform every duty of thy office, keeping a sober mind” (Epistle). St. Cyril found himself faced with an error which would radically destroy Christianity. Nestorius would not listen to reason; on the contrary, when Cyril begged him to concede to the wishes of the faithful and call Mary Mother of God, he retorted with an insulting letter and refused to appear before the Council of Ephesus. After the Council had formulated its decisions, a group of bishops sympathetic to Nestorius declared St. Cyril deposed because he had acted contrary to the Emperor’s orders. After many distasteful discussions and quarrels, the Saint finally won his point; but it had cost him days and nights of exertion, persistent self-control, and banishment of both Nestorius and Cyril. The latter was kept under strict guard, but he endured everything with heroic patience. The Mother of God, whose cause he had so valiantly defended and for whose sake he had been persecuted and insulted, now saw to it that he was not exiled. Instead, he received permission to return to Alexandria. Thus, he could declare, in the words of St. Paul: “I look forward to the prize that is waiting for me, the prize I have earned. The Lord, the judge whose award never goes amiss, will grant it to me when that day comes” (Epistle).
3. St. Cyril was a man of faith. As soon as he heard that the Patriarch of Constantinople was denying the divinity of Christ and the divine motherhood of Mary, he forcefully challenged the heresy, both in his Easter sermon of 429 and in a pastoral letter to the monks of Egypt. Naturally, severe criticism was leveled at him; but he remained firm and appealed to the pope, though he well knew that he was exposing himself to great dangers in so doing. But here was not a matter of personal interest; it touched the very purity of Catholic faith.
St. Cyril was a champion of the Church. With complete fidelity, he stood by Rome and the pope, while the majority of his fellow-bishops preferred to curry favor with the Emperor of Constantinople, even at the risk of disagreement with the Holy See. Supported by Rome and in spite of all opposition, attack and persecution, he triumphantly fulfilled the task that God had given him, that of being advocate and herald of the divine motherhood of Mary. May he be a model for us in our attitude toward the great questions of our day! He teaches us loyalty to the Chair of Peter in Rome.
Collect: God, who didst make Thy confessor and bishop, blessed Cyril, an unconquerable champion of the most blessed virgin Mary’s divine motherhood, grant, at his intercession, that we who believe her to be in very truth God’s mother, may earn the safeguard of her motherly protection. Amen.
AND OUR CHILDREN
Planning the Family Activities for Christian Feasts and Seasons
By Mary Reed Newland (1956)
ST. VALENTINE’S DAY is not one of the major feasts of February, but it has the peculiar distinction of being celebrated by almost everyone for reasons known to almost no one. Because it is most of all celebrated by children in school, we ought to know more about it.
There are three Saints Valentine listed in early martyrologies for the date of February 14. That their feasts should end up united to a celebration in honor of lovers seems to have been more an accident than a design, though there are interesting complications that conspired to make this so.
Long ago the Romans celebrated the eve of their Lupercalia on February 14. This being a time of great festivity it is thought by some that the martyrdom of the saints on this day was merely an added attraction to the pagan celebration. Still another possibility connects the Roman celebration in honor of Juno with this feast. The drawing of partners for the festival by maidens and youths oftentimes degenerated into extreme improprieties, and it is thought the desire to redeem the day suggested to the Christians that they fix it as the date of the martyrs’ feasts. Pope Gelasius appointed it an official feast in the fifth century and named St. Valentine the patron saint of lovers.
Add to this the widespread belief during the Middle Ages that February 14 was the time of the mating of birds; so it is no wonder that from it all evolved the custom of consecrating it to lovers as a proper day to exchange notes and poems and lovers’ tokens. In Chaucer’s Parliament of Foules there are lines spoken by Nature thus:
Ye knowe wel, how on Saint Valentines day,
By my statute, and through my governance,
Ye do chese your makes, and after flie away . . . .
The third line, I have discovered, translates “Ye do choose your mates. . . .”
The legend that one of the Saints Valentine left a note in his cell the morning of his execution, into which he “cut curious devices” and wrote “pious exhortations and assurances of love to the keeper’s daughter, signing them ‘your Valentine,’ ” is of doubtful origin but accounts for the lacy paper and the signature which are (or used to be) part of all valentines. All this makes quite a potpourri of things which have contrived to make a great to-do about valentines, though only a little to do with the Valentines. And they are not without relevance on a day consecrated to lovers. When love is so lightly abused and profaned, the petition in the Collect for their Mass seems especially apropos.
Grant, we pray, almighty God, that we who celebrate the birthday of the blessed martyr Valentine, may in virtue of his intercession be freed from all the evils that threaten us.
(The “birthday,” the children must understand, which a saint’s feast celebrates, is his birthday into Heaven—except in the case of Our Lady and St. John the Baptist.)
“Now here is a sour note,” some sentimental soul will comment; “consigning love to the category of evils that threaten us and begging that from these we be freed. I for one am all for love and I’ll thank St. Valentine to free me not.” Nor did the Saints Valentine deplore the business of love, else they would not be saints. Rather did they love to the limit of folly and end up losing their heads for love. It is the difference in loves and manners of loving that is the issue here: there is love that is holy and love that is not, and if you are celebrating this day as a Christian with the Church who is Christ’s own True Love, a requirement implicit is that you make yours a feast of holy love.
On this feast we celebrate the kind of love that leads men to shed their blood, die in prison, burn at stakes, part with their heads for love of Him who is All Love. If we use the graces of the feast well, perhaps we can translate this in terms of the love required by our vocation. We may not presently be called to violent death for the love of God, but with grace we may daily slay a little of the self-love that is between us and God, trying harder to love the people in our lives who are not so easy to love.
A QUESTION OF VALENTINES (THREE)
But we should start with the stories of the Saints Valentines—as well as we can discover them (most of what is known is taken from a thirteenth-century collection of legendary lives of the saints) .
One St. Valentine is said to have been a Roman priest living in the third century. He was arrested and called before the emperor Claudius the Goth to give testimony of his faith, and having stubbornly declared himself a Christian he was commanded to expound his opinions of the gods Jupiter and Mercury. Since neither of these was reputed to excel in morals or integrity, Valentine dismissed them tartly as “shameless and contemptible characters.” So saying, he was committed to a magistrate named Asterius who was appointed to pronounce sentence. Turning the tables by restoring the sight of the magistrate’s blind adopted daughter, Valentine converted the magistrate and his family and was rewarded for his pains by being beaten and decapitated. This is apparently the Valentine who is supposed to have left the note signed “your Valentine.”
The second Valentine was said to be an Umbrian bishop in the same century and had adventures much like the first except that he was more cautious. He promised to cure the son of a pagan philosopher in Rome if the philosopher and his family became Christians—which they did, together with three of the philosopher’s disciples. The boy was cured, and the enraged prefect Abundias had this Valentine beheaded.
About the third nothing is known, except that he and his companions are supposed to have died in Africa, early in the history of the Church.
This is “love stuff” of the kind that interests even small boys who are temporarily convinced that girls are old things, and it certainly puts a new meaning on the well-worn “Be my valentine.” What if we turned that about so that it read from up to down instead of right to left—from God to man, that is? This makes “be my valentine” rich with possibilities. Could it be that Christ has been saying this to us all these years on this feast and we have missed the point? Perhaps it means “Be My martyr. Be My saint.”
A VALENTINE GAME
A good valentine game to play at a party or in a classroom on this feast is patterned on “Who am I?” but it is called “What valentine am I?” Each child uses his patron saints, gives brief hints about their lives and, if possible, shows symbolic clues. For example, Elizabeth, Betty, Betsy, or Bess can use any of St. Elizabeth’s lines at the Visitation (after some profitable research into the Gospel to find exactly what they were) or could wear a crown or carry a basket of bread or roses for St. Elizabeth, Queen of Hungary. If she were a mother and had one, she could merely point to “my son John.” A girl named Mary has countless Mary symbols she might use, or she can repeat that meaningful line of Our Lady at the marriage feast at Cana: “Do whatever He tells you.” It sums up everything Our Lady has to say. A girl named Ann can wear a crown and hold a doll wearing a crown, because St. Ann is often shown crowned in the statues venerated at her great shrines. Another symbol of St. Ann is a cradle with a child in it representing the Blessed Virgin. The question “What valentine am I?” translates, in this game: “What lover of Christ am I?” It is a good question.
The Austrian custom of baking valentines is a happy solution for mothers forced by local custom to supply valentines for an entire classroom, though I personally rebel loudly at this custom. I like baking the cookies because I want to but not because I must. Ginger cookie dough is spread quite thin and cut into hearts, baked and decorated with liturgical symbols telling of God’s love (confectioner’s frosting for these). Even when shapelessly formed, these symbols of divine love are gay and eloquent. For special gifts for special people, we cut the hearts very large, freehand, and wrap them in red tissue with lace paper frills tied in the bows.
Most fun of all is making valentines at home. The materials cost little or nothing if you keep a supply of construction papers, pastes, and other such items on hand, and the work provides many opportunities for mothers and children to discuss the differences between friendship and love and the lamentable forcing of the boy-friend issue in the first grade. It is not always the children who are at fault. Abetted by the teasing of grownups, children little more than babes make the unfortunate conclusion that boy must meet girl and be boy-friend and girl-friend at six years of age; they never do learn that it is possible to be that rare and wonderful creature—a friend who happens to be a boy. The same parents who wring their hands over high-school children determined to go steady are the ones who encourage puppy love in the kindergarten.
(To be continued)
Father Krier will be in Pahrump on February 13. He will be in Albuquerque February 17 and Eureka February 18.
The Annunciation to the Second Coming of Christ in MUSIC
This inspirational music is made up of the Classics: Price, Anderson, Stokowski, Lanza, Peerce, Shaw Chorale, Luboff Choir. Put together by Joseph Saraceno
The Annunciation to the Second Coming goes through the different phases of Our Lady and Our Lord’s life up to the Second Coming all in mostly classical music. Starts with Jerusalem, Ave Maria, for the Annunciation, Christmas Carols for the birth, Bless this House, Knol Nidre, The Our Father for His ministry.
The music takes you on an incredible and sublime spiritual journey, hand in hand with Our Lord, from the Crucifixion, to the Resurrection Alleluia, Pentecost Sunday and ends with Battle Hymn of the Republic for Christ’s Return.
Two C/D’s are 45 minutes each for only $15.00 plus $5.00 postage. Add $10:00 O/Seas Copyrights on this music has expired.
Send to: Joseph B.D. Saraceno
17024 S. Western Ave Spc-8
Gardena, CA. 90247-5215
For those who purchase through Amazon, please help support the work here at Saint Joseph’s by going through this link: http://smile.amazon.com/ch/94-2855162
The topics of Faith and Morals will correspond to the Roman Catholic Faith in Tradition and the Magisterium. The News will be of interest. The commentaries are for the reader to ponder and consider. The e-mail address will be for you to provide thought for consideration. The donations will be to support the continuation of this undertaking.
While the Newsletter is free of charge it is not free of cost. Please consider supporting St Joseph’s Catholic Church with a tax – deductible donation by clicking the secure link: Donate
Or if you prefer send a check to
Catholic Tradition Newsletter
c/o St Joseph’s Catholic Church
131 N. 9th St
Las Vegas, NV 89101
Visit us on the Worldwide Web: http://stjosephlv.org
e-mail news and comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org