Saints Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea: Witnesses to Spiritual Renewal and the Dignity of Life

In the tapestry of Christian history, certain individuals shine as beacons of faith and devotion. Among these luminaries are Saints Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, both figures who play pivotal roles in the Gospel narratives surrounding the life, death, and teachings of Jesus Christ. Their stories reflect profound spiritual truths and lessons that continue to inspire believers across the world.

Jesus and Nicodemus: Embracing Spiritual Rebirth Through Baptism

The encounter between Jesus and Nicodemus, as recounted in the Gospel of John, offers a glimpse into the transformative power of spiritual rebirth through baptism. Nicodemus, a Pharisee, seeks wisdom under the cover of night. This darkness can be seen as symbolic of his initial lack of understanding or hesitation to fully embrace the truth of Jesus’ message. Yet, by approaching Jesus, Nicodemus takes the first step out of this spiritual darkness.

Their conversation centers around the concept of baptismβ€”a second birth that ushers believers into the realm of the spirit. Through baptism, individuals shed their old selves, emerging as adopted children of God, free from the constraints of original sin. Nicodemus’s willingness to engage in dialogue, despite his initial reservations, demonstrates his openness to spiritual growth. He becomes a beacon of hope for all who seek understanding and a deeper connection with divine truth.

Joseph of Arimathea: Honoring the Dignity of the Human Body

In the final chapters of the Gospel of John, we find Joseph of Arimathea alongside Nicodemus, participating in one of the most poignant moments of Christ’s crucifixion and burial. Their actions serve as a testament to the sanctity of the human body and the importance of performing corporal works of mercy, such as burying the dead.

Joseph of Arimathea’s pivotal role in taking down Jesus’ body from the cross and providing a dignified burial emphasizes the reverence that must be accorded to every human being, even in death. This act of devotion aligns with Isaiah 53:9, portraying Joseph as fulfilling the prophecy that the Messiah would find rest among the wicked, despite his innocence.

Saints Nicodemus and Joseph: Symbolizing Life’s Bookends

Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea represent the bookends of human existence, each illustrating crucial aspects of the Christian journey. Nicodemus, encountered at the beginning of the Gospel of John, serves as a reminder that even in moments of uncertainty or darkness, approaching Jesus with an open heart can lead to enlightenment and spiritual rebirth. His story encapsulates the truth that the seeker of truth will find illumination, even when grappling with fear or doubt.

On the other hand, Joseph of Arimathea’s appearance at the close of John’s Gospel encapsulates the significance of the body in Christian theology. His act of compassion and reverence for the body of Christ in death echoes the belief in the resurrection of the body and the Christian hope for eternal life. This reflects the teachings of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which underscores the respect and charity due to the bodies of the departed.

Conclusion

Saints Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, though living in different times and contexts, share a common thread in their interactions with Jesus and their roles as witnesses to profound spiritual truths. Nicodemus teaches us the importance of seeking the light of truth, even when it seems shrouded in darkness. Joseph of Arimathea, by honoring the body of Christ in death, reinforces the Christian commitment to the dignity of every human life.

Their stories remind us that the Christian journey spans from the moment of spiritual awakening to the final resting place, each step infused with profound meaning. The lessons they offer continue to guide believers in understanding the transformative power of faith and the compassionate responsibilities we hold toward one another, both in life and in death.

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A Life Update from The Simple Catholicβ€” Dreams Realized

The cool thing about pursuing your dream is the amazing doors it opens up.

This year I signed at least six clients (two renewed contracts so far) and met with lots of inspiring small Catholic business owners.

I’ve been featured on a couple podcasts, interviewed for a diocesan newspaper, and even had an article published (as a cover story) for one of my dream publications.

Freelancing has given me and my family more financial and scheduling freedom which has led to less stress.

I’m even trending towards being able to cut back hours at my main job by the end of the year.

Dreams Take Time to Take Root

The seeds were planted back in 2015. Well, maybe even further back in 1996 when I wrote silly stories about my orange stuffed animal named Snap on my mom’s typewriter.

Grateful for all those in my network (Catholic and writing) who have helped encourage, support, or teacher me valuable insights about my industry.

Special shout-out to my wife, parents, and siblings who have encouraged me along the way.

And finally, most importantly, thankful for God for giving me the opportunities and strength to carry on and craft my writing skills.

What’s your dream?

Start traveling towards it today. πŸ™ πŸ™‚

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Catholic Meme Mondayβ€” Issue 94

Hope you had a blessed week!

Time for another Catholic Meme Monday. βœοΈπŸ™

It’s a pretty awesome name! Right?? πŸ™‚πŸŽΆπŸŽ΅πŸ”₯πŸ”₯
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This might be one of the most fun words! πŸ™‚
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One of the most persistent pray-ers. πŸ™πŸ™πŸ™
I was also simultaneously thinking about writing this post and how I was going to phrase it while I was doing the other chores.
It helps that I have ADHD and energy typically courses through me like a raging river in the mornings. πŸ™‚πŸ™‚
This is a Daniel-heavy Catholic Meme Mondayβ€” blame the Bible in a Year for it. Lol
Punny!! πŸ˜†πŸ˜†πŸ˜†
Meme of the year candidate.
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πŸ’¦ into 🍷not πŸŽƒ juice
Image credit: Thy Geekdom Come (follow on Facebook). πŸ™‚
I busted out laughing with this one. πŸ˜†πŸ˜†πŸ˜†βœ¨πŸ˜‡
One of the best Venn diagrams I’ve ever seen. πŸ˜†
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Be like Saint Francis of Assisi. πŸ™πŸ™πŸ™
Let’s end with some laughs and 🎡🎢 references. πŸ˜†

That’s all I have this week. Stay tuned for next week’s Catholic Meme Monday. Receive updates straight to your email inbox by subscribing to The Simple Catholic blog.

P.S. If you prefer receiving quality Catholic humor in daily doses follow me on Instagram @thesimplecatholic.

Thank you for sharing!

A 437 Word Interview with Father Richard Libby


Editor’s Note: Matthew Chicoine interviewed Father Richard Libby via phone call on August 23rd, 2023. Some of the questions have been rearranged and edited to provide the best reader experience without losing any  integrity of the answers given.


Father Richard Libby

Today’s topic is sacramentals and Catholic saints and devotions attached to them. I had the pleasure of interviewing Father Richard Libby about his experience with sacramentals and how they impacted his spiritual life.

Thank you for meeting with me again Father Libby. πŸ™‚

Happy to talk with you Matthew!

What’s a sacramental?

An object that leads us to greater devotion. Items like the Rosary, the scapular, and the medal. They are intended to stir up our devotion.

Has your mindset towards sacramentals change much since you were ordained a priest?

There wasn’t much of a change in my attitude over the sacramentals since becoming a priest. But I have seen more and more how sacramentals are instruments to help us our journey. I have developed a new appreciation.

What sacramentals have you used during your priesthood most often?

The Rosary and the Brown Scapular. I’m also developing a greater appreciation of the Saint Benedict Medal and the Holy Face Medal.

Holy water is a sacramental and some people don’t see it as a sacramental. I like to do the rite of sprinkling once a month at my parish. I enjoy having it in the Epiphany Blessing. Holy Water is recommended in blessings such as the investiture of the Brown Scapular.

Describe a bit of your spirituality.

I was a devotee of the Brown Scapular. Since becoming a priest, I have have the opportunity to visit a Carmelite hermitage and developed friendships with them.

Which Catholic saint has had the biggest impact on your spiritual life?

The Blessed Virgin Mary and Her Rosary. I try to make it a point to pray it daily. While it’s not a required devotion, it’s such a part of our life it’s hard to imagine a Catholic without a rosary.

The three popes (John Paul II, Benedict XVI, Francis) I know the best in my lifetime have had a notable devotion to Mary.

John Paul II had a year of the Rosary during his pontificate. JPII wrote a document on the Rosary. He was influenced by Saint Louis de Montfort. Perhaps there is no more noteworthy child of Mary, in recent history, than John Paul II.

Benedict XVI’s devotion was a bit more reserved than JPII’s. However, he did dedicate his Pontificate to Mary, so there’s no question the Blessed Virgin Mary was influential on his papacy.

Pope Francis goes to the Saint Mary Major Basilica in Rome anytime he goes on a major trip.

Any last words of advice, for new Catholic converts in terms of beginning or learning about a sacramental and devotion.

Meet with your parish priest and ask them for guidance. They should be able to connect you with resources about sacramentals.

Thank you for your time, Father Richard! It was great chatting with you. 

You’re welcome! Great talking with you too.


About Father Richard Libby:

Father Richard Libby is a priest of the Diocese of Corpus Christi, where he serves as pastor of St. Helena Parish and as the chancellor of the diocese.  In his free time, he enjoys reading, writing poems and short stories, and birdwatching.


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Why Saint Pius X is the Eclipser of Errors


Editor’s Note: Post originally published on August 23, 2017.


Pope Pius X

Pius X was an influential successor of St. Peter at the turn of the 20th century. Born Giuseppe Mechiorre Sarto in 1835, he lived near Venice, Italy. Coming from a poor family of ten children, Giuseppe acquired an education aided through his keen intellect and high moral character. Eventually, he rose the ranks of the Catholic Church and became supreme pontiff in 1903. He led the Church until 1914.

To be honest, my initial knowledge about Pius X was overshadowed by his predecessor and later successor bearing the same appellationβ€”Pius IX and Pius XII. However, the more I read and learned about the sainted bishop the more I gained an appreciation for what he offered the Church.

Marian devotion

Following the tradition of his predecessor, Pius IX, Pius X held a strong devotion to Mary. He dedicated an entire encyclical on the Mystery of the Immaculate Conception. The Italian pope definitively declared the significance of Mary in Ad Dieum Illum Laetissimum,

His Mother most holy should be recognized as participating in the divine mysteries and as being in a manner the guardian of them, and that upon her as upon a foundation, the noblest after Christ, rises the edifice of the faith of all centuries (no. 5).

Mary-And-The-Moon.jpg

Pius X lauded the intercessory nature and power of Mary throughout this encyclical letter. Safeguarding and passing on the teaching of the Church, the Italian pope cited his predecessor’s clear and definitive language on the importance of Mary. β€œBy this companionship in sorrow and suffering already mentioned between the Mother and the Son, it has been allowed to the august Virgin to be the most powerful mediatrix and advocate of the whole world with her Divine Son (Pius IX. Ineffabilis) (no. 13), wrote Pius X.

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Emphasis on the Eucharist

Pius X’s love and admiration for the Blessed Mother ultimately helped him grow in closeness with Jesus. As a result, it should not be a surprise that the saint held a deep reverence and adoration for the Sacrament of the Eucharist. If Pius X’s pontificate could be summed up in a single theme it would be the promotion of Holy Communion to young people.

In his encyclical letter, Quam Singulari the Italian pope lowered the minimum age to receive the Eucharist to seven years old. The ancient church allowed for children to receive the sacraments of initiation at a young age. Pius X condemned the error that delayed children from receiving the body and blood of Jesus until age ten or sometimes not until the adolescent years.

On Holy Communion for Youth

Over time this practice dissipated and the age to receive the Eucharist was increased. The pope wasted no time in chastising the error which distinguished the age of reason between receiving Confession and Holy Communion. He boldly proclaimed in his encyclical,

The abuses which we are condemning are due to the fact that they who distinguished one age of discretion for Penance and another for the Eucharist did so in error. The Lateran Council required one and the same age for reception of either Sacrament when it imposed the one obligation of Confession and Communion.

Therefore, the age of discretion for Confession is the time when one can distinguish between right and wrong, that is, when one arrives at a certain use of reason, and so similarly, for Holy Communion is required the age when one can distinguish between the Bread of the Holy Eucharist and ordinary bread-again the age at which a child attains the use of reason (Quam Singulari).

Pius X unified the Catholic Church by lowering the age to seven for Holy Communion. Children acquire countless graces from this sacrament to ward off evil.

Today’s world is as challenging to raise a family in the faith perhaps as any time in history. I am grateful I will have the weapon of the Eucharist to help my children fight the spiritual battles they will face daily.

eclipse gif.gif

Clarity of Truth

This year’s feast day of St. Pius X coincided with the epic solar eclipse. This saint and stellar event both elicit curiosity and awe. Truth has a penchant for grabbing people’s attention. Pope Pius X’s encyclicals are loaded with truth as the Italian pope acted as a guardian of Christ’s teaching. He wrote in Ascendi Dominici Gregis a lengthy refutation of the various errors and heresies surrounding his time. Pius X found the root cause of the prevalent heresy of his timeβ€”Modernism. He detailed this in his encyclical letter,

According to this teaching Modernism]…it is inferred that God can never be the direct object of science, and that, as regards history, He must not be considered as an historical subject (Ascendi Dominici Gregis no. 6).

In other words, the Enlightened Man never intends for faith and science to intermingle or coexist. According to the Modernist, a harmony between the two sources of man’s knowledge of God is simply a moral machination on the part of the Catholic Church.

truth

From my experiences, the error of Modernity certainly eclipses truth [no pun intended!]. Creation is a revelation of God’s divine providence. Christianity is insistent that Christ became man. Knowledge through the senses is a path toward which God elects to reveal His grandeur. Amid cosmic events like the August 21st solar eclipse, humans grasp their small place in the universe. Despite our apparent insignificance, I’ve noticed that encountering God’s august nature can draw me closer to Him.

Wisdom from Pius to Guide Your Week

I discovered two concise quotes from St. Pius X to close my reflections on his life. The first concerns Mary [fun factβ€”the symbol of the Moon is traditionally associated with Her!] and the second relates to Christβ€”the true sun!

Of Mary he proclaimed, β€œ Let the storm rage and the sky darken β€” not for that shall we be dismayed. If we trust as we should in Mary, we shall recognize in her, the Virgin Most Powerful who with virginal foot did crush the head of the serpent.”

Regarding Jesus’ body and blood, the pope said, β€œHoly Communion is the shortest and safest way to heaven.”

Sadly, I did not get to experience the fullness of the solar eclipse of 2017. Darkness did cover the earth in my location, but clouds and storms prevented me from actually seeing the unique event of the moon aligning with the sun. I am blessed that I had an increased encounter with the true Sunβ€”the Son of God. I am grateful for the gift of St. Pius X the Eclipser of Error who made Eucharist a priority for young people.

total-solar-eclipse

Thank you for sharing!

Catholic Meme Mondayβ€” Issue 93

Hope you had a blessed week!

Time for another Catholic Meme Monday. βœοΈπŸ™

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Lifegoals is to make it to daily Massβ€” daily.
🎡 Happy Birthday Dear Methuselah!! 🎢
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A photo from a couple years back but the shenanigan sentiment is still the same.
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Adam tries to negotiate for the perfect spouse. Lol
πŸ˜†πŸ˜†πŸ˜† What is (Sega) Genesis?
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“Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” β€”John 20:29
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Too funny!! πŸ˜†πŸ™‚
Jesus is the Bread of Life. 🍞🍷β™₯οΈπŸ™

That’s all I have this week. Stay tuned for next week’s Catholic Meme Monday. Receive updates straight to your email inbox by subscribing to The Simple Catholic blog.

P.S. If you prefer receiving quality Catholic humor in daily doses follow me on Instagram @thesimplecatholic.

Thank you for sharing!

Catholic Meme Mondayβ€” Issue 92

Hope you had a blessed week!

Time for another Catholic Meme Monday. βœοΈπŸ™

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Hair is power! Lol
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God can hear our prayer even when we can’t articulate it. πŸ™
The Mass Mindset. ☝️
Looks accurate! πŸ˜†πŸ™
🍞🍞🍞🍞🐟🐟 xπŸ™= ♾️
Anthony, something is lost and must be found. πŸ™
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Happy Belated Feast to Saint Dominic. πŸ“Ώ πŸ™ 🌹
A meme for Catholic spelling nerds! πŸ˜†πŸ™‚
I might be in trouble too with things posts…lol

That’s all I have this week. Stay tuned for next week’s Catholic Meme Monday. Receive updates straight to your email inbox by subscribing to The Simple Catholic blog.

P.S. If you prefer receiving quality Catholic humor in daily doses follow me on Instagram @thesimplecatholic.

Thank you for sharing!