The Church

UNITY: The Unity of the Spirit by J. Hampton Keathley III,

October 18, 2016

From: Biblical Studies Foundation Introduction I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:1-6) These first verses of chapter four, first of all provide an environment that is crucial for the equipping of all saints that Paul will discuss below. It is not so much a program that is needed [...]

UNITY: Building The Church’s Unity by R. Kent Hughes

October 17, 2016

From: Ephesians: The Mystery of the Body of Christ I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with long-suffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:1-6) The opening sentence of chapter 4, where Paul says, As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received, marks the turning point in the book of Ephesians.  The [...]

PRAYER: Praying Ephesians 4:1-16, by Becky Pliego

October 17, 2016

From Daily On My Way I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore he says: “When he ascended on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.” (Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that he also first descended [...]

UNITY: Pray Without Ceasing, by Margaret O’Gara

September 29, 2016

From No turning Back The theme of this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is “pray without ceasing.”  Taken from the short letter of Paul to the Thessalonians, this exhortation to pray without ceasing reminds us of the necessity of prayer for the Christian life.  Paul wants the church to help the weak, to encourage the fainthearted, and admonish idlers, not to repay evil for evil.  And in the midst of their rejoicing they must “pray without ceasing.”  But today this prayer without ceasing is set alongside the great prayer of Jesus for the unity of his followers.  Jesus prayed that his followers may all be one: As you, Father are in me and I am in you, may they also be one in us, so that the world may believe [...]

PRAYER: Prayer To Saint Peter

September 12, 2016

Author unknown Saint Peter, O glorious Saint Peter, who, in return for your strong and generous faith, your profound and sincere humility, and your burning love, was rewarded by Jesus Christ with singular privileges. In particular, you were graced with the leadership of the other apostles and the primacy of the whole church, of which you were made the foundation stone. Please obtain for us the grace of a lively faith, that shall not fear to profess itself openly, in its entirety and in all of its manifestations, even to the shedding of blood, if occasion should demand it. Make us willing to sacrifice life itself rather than surrender. Obtain for us, likewise, a sincere loyalty to the church. Grant, moreover, that we may follow, in all [...]

SPIRITUAL WARFARE: Stand Firm by Anthony Esolen

May 26, 2016

Or End Up on the Wrong Side of Eschatology From Touchstone One day, said Saint Jerome, the world awoke and groaned to find itself half Arian.  It was the reasonable position of the time, bearing all the marks of historical inevitability.  It shrugged away the most challenging points of Christology, for if Christ was but a creature, a Platonic demiurge, we need not puzzle our minds over how God might be both one and three.  We need not be stunned into reverence by the words, “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,” since the Word was, in a sense, already “flesh.” Arianism was an easy slide.  Most of the bishops leaned that way; it was the way of the well-stuffed.  But Athanasius rose up contra [...]

TRINITY: Faith Is Our Fortress by Corwin C. Roach

May 26, 2016

From In Spirit and In Truth Almighty and everlasting God, who hast given unto us thy servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of the Divine Majesty to worship the Unity; we beseech thee that thou wouldest keep us stedfast in this faith, and evermore defend us from all adversities, who livest and reignest, one God, world without end. Amen. The original form of the Trinity Collect which was retained until 1662 prayed “that through the steadfastness of this faith, we may evermore be defended from all adversity.”  Our present form separates this clause into two.  We pray that we may be kept steadfast in the Faith and that God may defend us.  Although [...]

POETRY: Passing Ordinary Time, by Enuma Okoro

May 25, 2016

It is a hard art to learn, catching quiet by palms raised cupped in air shifting location here and there like trying to guess the pattern of falling leaves, and hoping to feel the soft descent of moments when silence slips between sounds. This ordinary time is gifted with days, weeks of mundane grace routinely following the liturgy of hours anticipating creation tuning its prayer and praise to the rhythms of incarnate love. I am used to the uproar, the Holy drama, the appetite’s gnarled discord of fasting and feasting on borrowed time, the knocking of angels, the blubbering piety of waiting, appointed seasons for guilt and grief, tears of joy and disbelief, the birth of miracles, the passion of virgins, the mourning of a love so [...]

SATURDAY READING: Secularizations by Richard John Neuhaus

May 7, 2016

From First Things As with most academic traditions, and especially those that are viewed as soft, there are orthodoxies and fashions, and sometimes sudden turns, that are conventionally described – following Thomas S. Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions of almost half a century ago – as paradigm shifts.  Sociology is generally seen as one of those soft disciplines.  From its once enormous popularity in the academy, it has in recent decades fallen upon hard times.  As Peter Berger and others have argued, sociology did itself in by, among other things, its reckless abandonment of the intellectual discipline appropriate to being a discipline and its eagerness to make itself useful to sundry ideological and social [...]

SATURDAY READING: On Pilgrimage, by Dorothy Day

March 5, 2016

From The Catholic Worker January January 17, 1948, West Virginia, 5°: When you are in the country, the temperature is important. To write, I lie in bed with a hot-water bottle at my feet, a loose old coat covering me. A bathrobe would not be enough. The hot-water bottle is a pint-size whiskey bottle. This is a good house, a good farm, in spite of the fields being far from the house beyond the woods. Spring, summer, and fall are so beautiful in the country, but the winters are hard. Yesterday the snow fell all day and the children ran out getting pans of it to eat. My son-in-law David calls it the poor man’s manure, as it is filled with chemicals that enrich the soil. It tastes sooty, just as it does in the city. The wheat, barley, [...]

LENTEN MEDITATION: The Memory Of God by Richard Valantasis

March 3, 2016

From Centuries of Holiness One way to articulate a goal of human existence comes from a metaphor of the ascetical tradition: the remembrance of God.  The concept is relatively simple: our task as humans is to remember that God exists and that God is present in the course of daily living.  This means that, since Christians know that God exists and that God is forever present to them, they must bring the remembrance of that reality to bear in every moment.  So the remembrance of God is a kind of recollection of God in every event of the day.  As seekers bathe, eat, work, relate to others, commute to work, sit idle, watch television – whatever seekers do in a day – seekers remember that they are before God, in God’s presence: [...]

LENTEN MEDITATION: Message For Lent by Pope Francis

February 15, 2016

Make your hearts firm. (James 5:8) Dear Brothers and Sisters, Lent is a time of renewal for the whole church, for each community and every believer.  Above all it is a time of grace.  God does not ask of us anything that he himself has not first given us.  We love because he first has loved us.  He is not aloof from us.  Each one of us has a place in his heart.  He knows us by name, he cares for us, and he seeks us out whenever we turn away from him.  He is interested in each of us; his love does not allow him to be indifferent to what happens to us.  Usually, when we are healthy and comfortable, we forget about others (something God the Father never does): we are unconcerned with their problems, their sufferings, and the [...]

STORY: The Strength Of God by Sherwood Anderson

February 12, 2016

The Reverend Curtis Hartman was pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Winesburg, and had been in that position ten years.  He was forty years old, and by his nature very silent and reticent.  To preach, standing in the pulpit before the people, was always a hardship for him and from Wednesday morning until Saturday evening he thought of nothing but the two sermons that must be preached on Sunday.  Early on Sunday morning he went into a little room called a study in the bell tower of the church and prayed.  In his prayers there was one note that always predominated.  “Give me strength and courage for thy work, O Lord!” he plead, kneeling on the bare floor and bowing his head in the presence of the task that lay before him. [...]

CANDLEMAS: The Fulfillment Of Advent, by Philip H. Pfatteicher

February 2, 2016

From Journey Into The Heart of God The celebration of Christmas may be understood to extend at its fullest length until February 2, the Presentation of our Lord in the Temple and the purification of Saint Mary the Virgin, often called Candlemas from the custom of blessing candles on that day, inspired by the Gospel, Luke 2:22-40, which includes the Song of Simeon that praises Christ as “a light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of your people Israel.”  The block of the liturgical year that began with the successive lighting of the candles of the Advent wreath finds its fulfillment in the blessing and procession with lighted candles in celebration of the arrival of the Lord in his Temple.  The antiphon of the Introit [...]

UNITY: The Spiritual House Of God by Sharanya Tiwari

February 1, 2016

From The Catholic Register (Sharanya Tiwari is a Grade 11 Catholic high school student of Hindu faith. Out of all the entries, it was her essay on Christians united in “their rich faith in Christ” that set her apart from the others in the annual Friars’ Student Writing Award held in conjunction with the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.) In a society where divisions exist within particular religions, even the strongest believers can have difficulty understanding their faith. They may even underestimate their spiritual worth. Today, there are many denominations within Christianity. However, despite these many denominations, one indisputable similarity exists between all Christians — their faiths can be traced back to Jesus [...]

PRAYER: Prayers For The Peace And Unity Of The Church by Arthur Judson Brown

February 1, 2016

O God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, our only Savior, the Prince of Peace, give us grace seriously to lay to heart the great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions.  Take away all hatred and prejudice and whatsoever else may hinder us from Godly union and concord, that, as there is but one body and one Spirit, and one hope of our calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, so we may henceforth be all of one heart and of one soul, united in one holy bond of truth and peace, of faith and charity, and may with one mind and one mouth glorify you, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, Amen. O God of Peace, who through your son, Jesus Christ, did set forth one faith for the salvation of mankind, send your [...]

UNITY: Ecumenical Dialogue by Pope Francis

January 26, 2016

From The Joy of the Gospel Commitment to ecumenism responds to the prayer of the Lord Jesus that “they may all be one.”  The credibility of the Christian message would be much greater if Christians could overcome their divisions and the church could realize “the fullness of catholicity proper to her in those of her children who, though joined to her by baptism, are yet separated from full communion with her.”  We must never forget that we are pilgrims journeying alongside one another.  This means that we must have sincere trust in our fellow pilgrims, putting aside all suspicion or mistrust, and turn our gaze to what we are all seeking: the radiant peace of God’s face.  Trusting others is an art and peace [...]

PRAYER: Salt Of The Earth, Day 8 — The Fellowship Of The Apostles

January 25, 2016

A Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, 2016; created by Churches Together in Britain and Ireland Starting Point Reflections from Levi Ivars Graudins, the founder of the Gaizins House of Prayer. Set in Gaizins, Latvia’s highest hill, this house of prayer regularly hosts the 40-hour fellowship of Christian leaders who, for the duration, are supported in prayer and worship by the faithful.  These encounters renew the leaders as fellow-workers in Christ, and help shape the visible expression of ecumenical life in Latvia. Jesus’s commandment to love one another is not theoretical.  Our communion of love with one another becomes concrete when we gather together intentionally, in apostolic simplicity, as Christ’s disciples to [...]

PRAYER: Salt Of The Earth, Day 7 — Hearts Burning For Unity

January 24, 2016

A Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, 2016; created by Churches Together in Britain and Ireland Starting Point Reflections inspired by Latvians who have come to faith through the Alpha Course. The disciples who leave Jerusalem for Emmaus have lost their hope that Jesus was the Messiah and walk away from their community.  It is a journey of separation and isolation.  By contrast, they return to Jerusalem full of hope with a Gospel message on their lips.  It is this resurrection message that drives them back into the heart of the community and into a communion of fellowship.  So often Christians try to evangelize with a competitive spirit, hoping to fill their own churches.  Ambition overrides the desire for others to hear the [...]

PRAYER: Salt Of The Earth, Day 6 — Hospitality For Prayer

January 23, 2016

A Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, 2016; created by Churches Together in Britain and Ireland Starting Point This reflection comes out of the experience of an ecumenical prayer chapel in the center of the small town, Madona. The chapel grew out of the experience of praying through the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity together.  The group represents Lutheran, Catholic, and Orthodox traditions.  They continue to join in round the clock prayer. As long as God’s people are divided and Christians are estranged from one another, we are like Jesus in Samaria, strangers in a foreign land, without safety, refreshment, or a place of rest.  Isaiah tells us of the Lord’s mighty act: he posted sentinels on the walls of Jerusalem so [...]

PRAYER: Salt Of The Earth, Day 5 — Listen To This Dream

January 22, 2016

A Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, 2016; created by Churches Together in Britain and Ireland Starting Point Reflections from the editors of an ecumenical journal, Kas Mus Vieno? (What Unites Us?), founded in 2005 as a response to disunity. Christian disunity hurts.  Churches suffer from their inability to be united as one family at the Lord’s Table.  They suffer from rivalry and from histories of combativeness.  When Joseph shares his dream with his brothers they react with anger and violence as the dream implies they must bow down before him.  In Egypt, when they ultimately do bow before him, they experience reconciliation and grace rather than the abasement and dishonor they feared. Jesus, like Joseph’s story, [...]

PRAYER: Salt Of The Earth, Day 4 — A Priestly People Called To Proclaim The Gospel

January 21, 2016

A Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, 2016; created by Churches Together in Britain and Ireland Starting Point Reflections inspired by the Producers of Vertikale, a Sunday morning Christian program on Latvian TV. They have learnt “that only when we recognize other Christians as brothers and sisters can we dare to take God’s Word into the public space.” Words flood our lives: in conversation; from television, radio, and social media.  These words have the power to build up and to knock down.  Much of this ocean of words can seem meaningless: diversion rather than nourishment.  This ocean could drown us, where there is little meaning to grasp.  But the saving Word we have heard has been thrown to us as a lifeline. [...]

PRAYER: Salt Of The Earth, Day 3 — The Witness Of Fellowship

January 20, 2016

A Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, 2016; created by Churches Together in Britain and Ireland Starting Point This reflection is inspired by Chemin Neuf. Chemin Neuf in an international Catholic community with an ecumenical vocation that has been present in Latvia since the early 2000s.  Catholic and Lutheran members experience the joy of the “common life” in Christ which is “to welcome, love, serve, pray, and witness with Christians from diverse traditions.”  They also experience the pain of disunity: “The world cannot believe that we are Jesus’s disciples when we cannot receive together the body and blood of Christ.”  As a sign of this division, they place an empty paten and chalice on the [...]

PRAYER: Salt Of The Earth, Day 2 — Called To Be Heralds Of Joy

January 19, 2016

A Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, 2016; created by Churches Together in Britain and Ireland Starting Point Reflections from the creators of Christian programming at Latvian State Radio In the Soviet era, a Christian presence through public media was impossible in Latvia.  Since independence, Latvian State Radio broadcasts Christian programs providing a forum for leaders from diverse churches to encounter one another.  This public witness of mutual respect, love, and joy contributed to the spirit of Latvian ecumenical life. The joy of the Gospel calls Christians to live the prophecy of Isaiah: “to bring good news to the oppressed.” When we are saddened by our own suffering, we may lack the vigor to proclaim the joy that [...]

PRAYER: Salt Of The Earth, Day 1 — Let The Stone Be Rolled Away

January 18, 2016

A Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, 2016; created by Churches Together in Britain and Ireland Starting Point Reflections from the Catholic Youth Centre of the Archdiocese of Riga [Latvia] (CYCAR) From their experience of organizing an annual Ecumenical Way of the Cross, the CYCAR reflect on the meaning of the passion and resurrection in their context, and the Lord’s mighty acts that Christians are called to proclaim. Latvia’s Soviet history continues to cast a shadow.  The grief and pain of wounds inflicted are difficult to forgive and, like the stone at Jesus’s tomb, they can imprison us in a spiritual grave.  Jesus’s resurrection is the earthshaking event that opens our graves, frees us from pain and [...]

SERVICE: A Culture Of Solidarity by Pope Francis

January 12, 2016

From The Church of Mercy What does serving mean?  It means giving an attentive welcome to a person who arrives.  It means bending over those in need and stretching out a hand to them, without calculation, without fear, but with tenderness and understanding, just as Jesus knelt to wash the apostles’ feet.  Serving means working beside the neediest of people, establishing with them first and foremost human relationships of closeness and bonds of solidarity.  Solidarity, this word that frightens the developed world.  People try to avoid saying it.  Solidarity to them is almost a bad word.  But it is our word!  Serving means recognizing and accepting requests for justice and hope, and seeking roads together, real paths that [...]

EVIL: The Shock Of Orthodoxy

October 13, 2015

So a few weeks ago now a short man in a tiny car tooted around three cities in the United States. And the Earth stood still. I kept wondering what Barack Obama, President of the United States, was thinking about all of this.  He who officially believes that Christianity should be eradicated because of all the harm it does in the world. Christians shot in a mass shooting?  Well, thank you for helping me clean up some of the mess. He’s not subtle about his hatred of us. But then this little, tiny man shows up.  His little cape (a pellegrina, technically) blows up around his face.  He snatches his little skullcap (a zucchetto, technically) off his head so the wind won’t blow it away. And he just stands there. He waves a bit. [...]

PRAYER: Novena For The Persecuted Church And Religious Freedom

October 12, 2015

From the website: Pray More Novenas O great cloud of witnesses! O host of angels and saints worshiping God for all eternity! O holy ones in Heaven above, pray for us! You who were once part of the church on Earth, you who were faithful servants of the church militant, you who suffered for the love of God, pray for us! In all ages, the church is persecuted and hated. We pray, oh Lord, through your holy saints, that we may be blessed with the freedom to worship and adore you at all times! We pray that you may bless your church throughout the world and me personally with your grace to persevere with love in the face of persecution just as you did on the cross. (Mention your personal intentions here.) Litany of Martyrs: Day 1 St. Joan of Arc [...]

PRAYER: A Prayer For Peace, by Dorothy Day

September 28, 2015

Rome.  The fast of the twenty women, which I had come to join and which was the primary reason for my visit to Rome during the final session of the [Second Vatican] Council, began on October 1, a Friday.  That morning I checked out of my hotel and proceeded to the great square in front of St. Peter’s to wait for Barbara Wall and Eileen Egan at the end of the Colonnade.  We were going to Mass together on that First Friday morning. Without tickets we could not have got in, since all the Masses which preface the meetings of the Council are packed to the doors.  The laity receive communion not at the main altar but at a side altar.  All around there were confessionals, frequented, I was edified to see, by bishops and cardinals, [...]

HOMILY: Three Movements Of The Christian Life, by Pope Francis

September 24, 2015

From Walking With Jesus Homily For the Mass With the Cardinals, March 14, 2013 In these three readings for today’s Mass, I see a common element: that of movement.  In the first reading, it is the movement of a journey; in the second reading, the movement of building the church; and in the third, in the Gospel, the movement involved in professing the faith. Journeying.  “O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord,” (Isaiah 2:5).  This is the first thing God said to Abraham: Walk in my presence and live blamelessly.  Journeying: our life is a journey, and when we stop moving, things go wrong.  Always we are journeying, in the presence of the Lord, in the light of the Lord, seeking to live with the [...]