Mass Schedule – Easter III (April 26, 2015)
30, St. Catherine of Sienna 1380 A.D.
01, St. Philip & St. James, Apostles
02, St. Athanasius, Bp. of Alexandria 373 A.D.
+ Catherine Benincasa, born in 1347, was the youngest (one of my sources says the 23rd) of twenty-five children of a wealthy dyer of Sienna (or Siena). At the age of six, she had a vision of Christ in glory, surrounded by His saints. From that time on, she spent most of her time in prayer and meditation, over the opposition of her parents, who wanted her to be more like the average girl of her social class. Eventually they gave in, and at the age of sixteen she joined the Third Order of St. Dominic (First Order = Friars, Second Order = Nuns, Third Order = Laymen) as a nurse, caring for patients with leprosy and advanced cancer whom other nurses disliked to treat. She soon acquired a reputation for her insights and sound judgement, and many people from all walks of life sought her spiritual advice, both in person and by letters. About four hundred letters from her to bishops, kings, scholars, merchants, and obscure peasants have been collected in books. She persuaded many priests who were living in luxury to give away their goods and to live simply. In her day, the popes, officially Bishops of Rome, had been living for about seventy years, not at Rome but at Avignon in France, where they were under the political control of the King of France (the Avignon Papacy, sometimes called the Babylonian Captivity of the Papacy, began when Philip the Fair, King of France, captured Rome and the Pope in 1303). Catherine visited Avignon in 1376 and told Pope Gregory XI that he had no business to live away from Rome. He heeded her advice, and moved to Rome. She then acted as his ambassador to Florence, and was able to reconcile a quarrel between the Pope and the leaders of that city. She then retired to Sienna, where she wrote a book called the Dialog, an account of her visions and other spiritual experiences, with advice on cultivating a life of prayer.
+ Our Monday Morning Bible Study meets next Monday, May 4th, at 10:00
+ Outside the pages of the New Testament itself, Athanasius is probably the man to whom we chiefly owe the preservation of the Christian faith. He was born around AD 298, and lived in Alexandria, Egypt, the chief center of learning of the Roman Empire. In 313 the Emperor Constantine issued the Edict of Milan, which changed Christianity from a persecuted to an officially favored religion. About six years later, a presbyter (elder, priest) Arius of Alexandria began to teach concerning the Word of God (John 1:1) that “God begat him, and before he was begotten, he did not exist.” Athanasius was at that time a newly ordained deacon, secretary to Bishop Alexander of Alexandria, and a member of his household. His reply to Arius was that the begetting, or uttering, of the Word by the Father is an eternal relation between Them, and not a temporal event. Arius was condemned by the bishops of Egypt (with the exceptions of Secundus of Ptolemais and Theonas of Marmorica), and went to Nicomedia, from which he wrote letters to bishops throughout the world, stating his position. The Emperor Constantine undertook to resolve the dispute by calling a council of bishops from all over the Christian world. This council met in Nicea, just across the straits from what is now Istanbul, in the year 325, and consisted of 317 bishops. Athanasius accompanied his bishop to the council, and became recognized as a chief spokesman for the view that the Son was fully God, co-equal and co-eternal with the Father. The party of Athanasius was overwhelmingly in the majority. (The western, or Latin, half of the Empire was very sparsely represented, but it was solidly Athanasian, so that if its bishops had attended in force, the vote would have been still more lopsided.) It remained to formulate a creedal statement to express the consensus. The initial effort was to find a formula from Holy Scripture that would express the full deity of the Son, equally with the Father. However, the Arians cheerfully agreed to all such formulations, having interpreted them already to fit their own views. (Those of you who have conversed with members of the Watchtower Society, who consider themselves the spiritual heirs of Arius, will know how this works.) Finally, the Greek word “homo-ousios” (meaning “of the same substance, or nature, or essence”) was introduced, chiefly because it was one word that could not be understood to mean what the Arians meant. Some of the bishops present, although in complete disagreement with Arius, were reluctant to use a term not found in the Scriptures, but eventually saw that the alternative was a creed that both sides would sign, each understanding it in its own way, and that the Church could not afford to leave the question of whether the Son is truly God (the Arians said “a god”) undecided. So the result was that the Council adopted a creed which is a shorter version of what we now call the Nicene Creed, declaring the Son to be “of one substance with the Father.” At the end, there were only two holdouts, the aforesaid Secundus and Theonas.
+ Wednesday, April 29, Agape & Christian Education and I hope you all can come out as well as bring a friend. I have resumed the class I started last fall on the Sacraments of the Church. Thanks goes out to all our cooks, teachers, and helpers and especially to Jackie Jamison for her leadership in organizing and developing our Wednesday Agape. All teachers please remember that class is over at 7:15.
+ All Saints Men’s Group will met next on May 5, at 7:00 a.m. in undercroft.
+ The Holy Communion is celebrated this week Wednesday through Saturday at 12:15 p.m.
+ All Saints parishioner may obtain a Mass card from the Church office. A Mass card is a greeting card given to someone to inform him or her that a deceased loved one or friend was remembered and prayed for at a weekly Mass. It is a specifically Christian way to express one’s love. Call Julie McDermott at the Church office (434-979-2842) and she will help you fill out the form. The celebrant will sign the card and we will mail it from the Church to the family of the loved one.