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Did Constantine found the Catholic Church?

In remembrance of a Reformer

St. Charles Borromeo

“Christ summons the Church, as she goes her pilgrim way, to that continual reformation of which she always has need, insofar as she is an institution of men here on earth. Consequently, if, in various times and circumstances, there have been deficiencies in moral conduct or in Church discipline, or even in the way that Church teaching has been formulated—to be carefully distinguished from the deposit of faith itself—these should be set right at the opportune moment and in the proper way.” (St. Charles Borromeo, Decree on Ecumenism, 6, Austin Flannery translation)

Today is both the feast day and 400th anniversary of the canonization of St. Charles Borromeo. Appointed Bishop of Milan at the tender age of 25, St. Charles lived during the throes of the Protestant schism and is regarded today as being one of the chief Reformers of the Catholic Church. He played a crucial role in the success of the Council of Trent, which crystallized, formalized, and preserved the apostolic Faith while also making necessary sweeping reforms. At its conclusion, he oversaw the revision and compilation of the new Catechism, Missal, and Breviary.

St. Charles restored ecclesiastical discipline and extensively instructed in the areas of preaching, education of the young, and repression of avaricious priests. He revived strict religious observance in monasteries and convents, as well as founded seminaries for the instruction of the clergy. Above all, he insisted on living the example of reform personally: he allotted most of his income to charity, shunned luxuries, and imposed severe penances on himself. During plagues and famines he visited and fed thousands of people daily, tended to and arranged their medical needs, and depleted his resources in order to clothe, shelter, and bury them.

Profound piety marked St. Charles’ life. He had great devotion to the Blessed Virgin and to the meditation on Christ’s Passion. He frequently spent 5+ hours on his knees in fervent prayer, at times entire days or nights. Every morning before saying Mass he went to Confession.

Pope Benedict XVI said in a written message today:

“[St. Charles] was aware that serious and credible reform had to begin with pastors”.  [He focused on] the centrality of the Eucharist, … the spirituality of the cross, … assiduous participation in the Sacraments, … the Word of God, … and love and devotion for the Supreme Pontiff, readily and filially obedient to his directives as a guarantee of true and complete ecclesial communion”.

After surviving an assassination attempt and suffering many hardships in his efforts to reform, defend, and minister to the Church, St. Charles Borromeo died at the age of 46. His parting words were, “Ecce venio,” or, “Behold, I come.”

For a more in-depth treatment of this great saint, please visit his page @ EWTN.

All Saints Day 2010

Some snapshots of our day today:

All Saints Day coloring craft

I helped the kids do this fun and easy craft. We colored a few of our favorite saints and adorned them with cotton ball “clouds.” My 3 ½ year old little girl loved this! We talked briefly about each of the saints as we colored, and she developed a particularly fond affinity towards St. Elizabeth of Hungary.

I found the coloring pages for free at places around the web such as Paper Dali, Waltzing Matilda, and Catholic Mom. A simple Google Image search yields great results as well!

After lunch we settled down to watch “St. Peter.” It is LONG (197 minutes)! There were several moving and beautiful moments in the movie, particularly when Jesus forgave Peter for his betrayal and entrusted him to shepherd the flock of Christians. But I found that overall the movie was lacking, for a variety of reasons. It is not one I would necessarily recommend to anyone to watch. I wonder if there is a better movie out there about St. Peter and the early Church, made from a Catholic perspective?

 

All Saints Day cupcakes

Later in the day we made All Saints Cupcakes. The white frosting represents the saints that we honor for the holiness of their lives, while the red represents those who have shed blood for the love of Jesus Christ.

Do not be afraid to be saints. Follow Jesus Christ who is the source of freedom and light. Be open to the Lord so that He may lighten all your ways.

– Pope John Paul II

I hope your day was a blessed one!

Follow the All Saints Day Link-up to view more related posts around the blog-o-sphere. :)

Return to full communion

Today, as many Protestants celebrate “Reformation Day,” and we Catholics reflect upon the events that separated millions of Christians from us, we would do well to remember that reforming and separation must never be ends in themselves, least of all to the point of becoming so comfortable with schism that we forget that it exists, or that we are in it. Today we ought to reflect on the schism that continues to divide Protestants and Catholics, and earnestly pray that God by His grace may reconcile us, in one family, at one table, so that the world may see our unity in love and know that this love is from Christ, and that Christ is from the Father.

via Trueman and Prolegomena to “How would Protestants know when to return?”

7 Quick Takes Friday

7 Quick Takes Friday

1 ♥

Saint-O-Lanterns. October 31st is All Hallow’s Eve, the vigil before the Feast of All Saints on November 1st. Unfortunately, what has traditionally been a Christian Catholic penitential day of taking stock of one’s life and the life hereafter has been largely secularized. Our family’s aim is to reclaim Hallowe’en for the Church. One of the small ways in which we are doing this with our young children (almost 3½ and 2 yo) is by carving ‘Saint-O-Lanterns,’ or religious-themed pumpkins, to light up our home and point our minds and hearts to God. This year Mommy (me) chose Jesus and the Holy Spirit (represented by a dove):

Saint-O-Lanterns 2010

Visit the Saint-O-Lantern link up to see more!

 

2 ♥

Reformation Day. October 31st is also, for some Protestants who acknowledge it, the celebration of the Reformation — or, more precisely, the anniversary on which Martin Luther is said to have nailed his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg. Some thoughts on the subject: Reformation Day and Schism

3 ♥

Agora. My husband and I recently rented and watched ‘Agora.’ As I suspected when I watched it, much of it is fairytale and exaggeration with a little bit of anti-Catholicism thrown in for good measure. Fr. Barron comments:

4 ♥

Abortion in the Voting Booth. Confirming what all Catholics should already know, Cardinal-designate and Archbishop Raymond Burke reminds the faithful that they have “a very serious moral obligation” to vote in accordance with the Church’s moral teachings, especially regarding abortion and life issues. Full article: Catholics Can’t Vote for Pro-Abort Politicians

5 ♥

Blog Finds. I’ve stumbled upon some great new bloggers recently!

6 ♥

New books. Is there anything better than purchasing a quality book? It is one of my favorite little perks in life. My recent buys (most are for our daughter for Christmas):

7 ♥

Quote of the Day.

Eating and drinking don’t make friendships – such friendship even robbers and murderers have. But if we are friends, if we truly care for one another, let’s help one another spritually….Let’s hinder those things that lead our friends away to hell.
- Saint John Chrysostom
To see this week’s 7 Quick Takes Friday hosted by Jennifer, as well as others’ posts, please go here!

The Bottom Line

“How do you know that you are actually loving Jesus, and not your own fictional version of what you want Jesus to be? How do you know you are not worshiping a Jesus made in your own image? You must have some sort of belief or dogma as well as your good life or how is your life to be distinguished as Christian, and if you have some belief then how do you know it is the one which will lead to your souls salvation?”

This is the bottom line question between Catholics and Protestants, and it is the question that I have never once had even the beginning of a satisfactory answer from a non Catholic. In fact, most often they cannot even seem to understand that it is a necessary or possible question at all.

Without a coherent ecclesiology and a universally agreed, external and infallible authority structure the question cannot be answered and the non Catholic can only resort to subjective sentimentality.

The Catholic answer of an infallible, divinely appointed authority on earth may be difficult to accept, indeed even the suggestion of it will cause scandal and outrage. It may inconceivable for the non-Catholic imagination and may seem awkward and awful in application, but at least it offers a positive and intellectually coherent theory on which an ecclesiology and soteriology can be based.

The Bottom Line.

Early Christians on ‘the Church’

“Who’s who”:

St. Irenaeus, a Bishop in Lyons, was taught and influenced by St. Polycarp, the Bishop in Smyrna, who himself was the personal disciple of the Apostle John.

St. Ignatius was the personal disciple of the Apostle John, and was appointed to his post as Bishop of Antioch by the Apostle Peter himself. He was martyred for the faith.

St. Cyprian was an adult convert and became Bishop in Carthage. He was martyred for the faith.

St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, was so influential that he is known today as the “Father of Western Christianity.”

Death and priorities

Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying. Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day. Do it! I say. Whatever you want to do, do it now! There are only so many tomorrows.

(Pope Paul  VI)

 

My grandfather unexpectedly passed away last night at the age of 94. It is the first time I have witnessed someone dying. I am grateful to God because I was able to speak to him while he was still awake and tell him all the important, heartfelt things that rarely get said. It gave me great peace and judging by the look in my grandpa’s eyes, it meant the world to him.

He didn’t live a religious or pious life in all the years I knew him; however, recently he hung a cross in his car and the day he died (before he fell suddenly ill) he asked my daughter to pray for him. He also happily shared how his friend and landlord had just spoken to him and told him he had prayed for him at church. This was out of character for my grandpa. I always knew him as a man gruff about feelings or religion. But in the last two years he has had many close friends and family members die and he himself came close to death at one point… I hold out hope that the overwhelming loss prompted him to take the time to think seriously about God and ultimately caused him to place his belief in Him. I trust in God’s inexhaustible mercy…if my grandpa truly desired God, I know God will not refuse him.

God's judgementI don’t believe it was coincidence that while I was praying the evening before he died, God strongly impressed upon me the reality of Heaven, Hell, and all of the souls that live in darkness only to go on to an eternity in darkness. I understood with incredible clarity just how grave the situation is, and the heavy grief it causes Him to lose even one of His beloved to the depths of Hell. I felt the weight of this reality, and how nothing else should matter to us but the salvation of souls.

No matter what the cost.

How many opportunities do we pass up to share the basic fact that Jesus is Lord? That Heaven and Hell are real, and there is one way, one truth, one life? How many times do we hide, minimize, or apologize for our faith because we are embarrassed, outnumbered, or don’t want to pay the price (of losing a friendship, family member, job, respectability, freedom, or even our life)?

How much time do we spend on storing up treasures on earth (striving for popularity and friendships, frequent vacations, sporting achievements, gourmet meals, career advancements, ‘new’ and ‘exciting’ sexual experiences, public recognition, or that ‘perfect’ body), in comparison to how much time we spend on storing up treasures in Heaven (by daily prayer, meditation on the Scriptures, regular confession, frequent taking of the Eucharist, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, almsgiving, fasting, evangelizing, properly catechizing and protecting the purity of our children, pilgrimages, service to the poor/sick/helpless/orphaned/widowed/imprisoned, etc.)?

If people would do for God what they do for the world, what a great number of Christians would go to Heaven! – St. John Vianney, the Curé of Ars

With my grandpa’s death these thoughts have hit me even harder. As my grandpa lay sedated in his hospital bed, struggling for every breath as his lungs filled up with fluid, the utter futility and vanity of all that this world has to offer was abundantly clear to me. His family and friends were almost entirely gone, having passed from this life before him. The jobs he performed in his younger days were irrelevant. His passion for fishing and hunting was meaningless. The money he had so carefully stored up for himself was not there to comfort him. Whether he was skinny or fat didn’t matter. No one cared what clothes he was wearing or what ‘apps’ his cell phone had. The car he drove and the stuff sitting in his house will either be given to someone else or end up in the local dump. Everything that used to matter was suddenly seen for what it truly was: useless and inconsequential.

What will be there to assist me and you at the hour of our death? In that moment where you know this is the end, and you reflect back on the sum of your life, what will bring you strength and comfort?

For me, the degree of comfort I receive will correspond only to how wildly loved God.

The only “people” I can count on being there to help me transition from this life to the next will be my guardian angel, and if God has found special favor with me, the Blessed Virgin, and/or some Saints and/or my Beloved Savior himself. The only “things” that will bring me peace, hope, and courage will be my faith in God’s infinite mercy and love, and the recollection of our relationship while travailing this earth: how fervently and unceasingly I prayed and how He patiently listened to and taught me in return; how regularly I asked forgiveness and how often He gave it; how often I ate the Bread of Life and how often He sustained my life because of it; how sincerely I tried to stay faithful to His teachings and how abundantly He gave me the grace to do so; how confidently and persistently I proclaimed His reality to all and how He responded by drawing them to Himself; how mindfully I had compassion on the needy and how He blessed my contributions a hundredfold…

As Fr. John Corapi has so famously said, “In the end, forever, you and I will be in Heaven or Hell. Period.”

That is the only thing that matters.

Time is running out

I am struck tonight by how little time is left to love God properly, and by the utter futility of all things in this world next to knowing and proclaiming Jesus as Lord.

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