An Unexpected Journey? The Case For The Canonization Of J.R.R. Tolkien

In high school, I checked out Tolkien’s The Hobbit from the municipal library for the first time. I was a chapter or two into the book before I abandoned the work. “This is incredibly long-winded and includes boring descriptions. How could anyone consider this a classic of literature?!” I thought.

Five years and a master’s degree in theology later, I purchased a gold-leafed leather copy of The Hobbit at a local used book store. Perhaps I matured in my taste and knowledge of good writing. Or maybe God provided me the ability to make it through the verbose explanations of hobbits and their dietary preferences.  Since my unexpected return back to J.R.R. Tolkien’s work, I developed a hunger for Middle Earth and his other literary works.

Tolkien

Being a cradle Catholic myself, I am actually a bit embarrassed to admit that I did not realize until recently that Tolkien was a devout Catholic. He even called his masterpiece  “a fundamentally religious and Catholic work.” Whenever I read his writings, whether it be tales about hobbits or Middle Earth in general, Farmer Giles, or my personal favorite Leaf by Niggle, nostalgia for a deeper reality and a sense of wonder invades my heart, mind, and soul.

Tolkien’s Impact on Faith

Aside from the writings of spiritual greats like Saints John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, Francis de Sales, and John Paul II, to name a few, no other writer has impacted my life as much as J.R.R. Tolkien.  He inspires me to yearn for joy and realize that this life is a journey for the next. I would like to argue the case of the canonization of the great 20th century English writer using examples from both his writings and my personal life to demonstrate his impact on our pilgrim journey towards Heaven.

The canonization process is quite lengthy. After five years have passed since a person died, the Bishop of the Diocese upon which the individual passed away would need to petition the Holy See of Rome to start a Cause for Beatification and Canonization. This examination of the individual’s life is rigorous. Any miracles that are attributed to them are further scrutinized. Further information about this process may be found at the link at the end of this article.

Tolkien’s Strong Marian Devotion

Besides the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, and the Blessed Virgin Mary, the communion of saints provide me the most consolation during times of despair. They testify to the truth safeguarded in the Catholic Church. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “The term ‘communion of saints’ refers also to the communion of “holy persons” (sancti) in Christ who “died for all,” so that what each one does or suffers in and for Christ bears fruit for all” (961).  J.R.R. Tolkien’s writings helped further my understanding of the Catholic faith and promoted teaching truth for all!

Cure for Despair—Love of the Eucharist

Tolkien and Eucharist

As imaginative and impressionistic, Tolkien’s creation of Middle Earth is what stood out first for me is his thoughts about the Most Holy Sacrament. He said the following about the Eucharist:

Out of the darkness of my life, so much frustrated, I put before you the one great thing to love on earth: the Blessed Sacrament. . . . There you will find romance, glory, honor, fidelity, and the true way of all your loves on earth, and more than that: Death: by the divine paradox, that which ends life, and demands the surrender of all, and yet by the taste—or foretaste—of which alone can what you seek in your earthly relationships (love, faithfulness, joy) be maintained, or take on that complexion of reality, of eternal endurance, which every man’s heart desires (Letters of Tolkien, no. 43 pp. 53-54).

Food for the Journey

The Catechism of the Catholic Church in paragraph 1324 refers to the Eucharist as “the source and summit of the Christian life.” Tolkien held this belief as well. “The only cure for sagging or fainting faith is Communion,” he wrote. The Eucharist was a fixture in his life. Tolkien created a literary equivalent to the Bread of Life in his Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Elven bread known as lembas, provided nourishment for travelers. Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee ate this food during their arduous journey to Mount Mordor to destroy the One Ring.

Fellowship Never Fails

Fellowship of the Ring

Along with Tolkien’s profound love for the Eucharist and his implicit references to the Holy Communion in the Lord of the Rings, his focus on the importance of camaraderie—especially in suffering—is a Catholic tradition that he teaches believers and nonbelievers through his literature.

While Frodo bears the burden of carrying the One Ring, he did not lack help. In The Fellowship of the Ring the wizard Gandalf puts together a motley crew of four hobbits, two of the race of men, a dwarf, and an elf to sojourn across Middle Earth to destroy the Ring. At the end of the first part of the trilogy all hope appears lost when the fellowship is fractured leaving Frodo alone save for his friend and fellow hobbit—Samwise.

In the third book The Return of the King, weariness weighs down on Frodo more as he ascends Mount Doom in his attempt to destroy Sauron’s Ring. Listen to the hero’s lament when the evilness of the ring tempts him:


Frodo: I can’t recall the taste of food, nor the sound of water, nor the touch of grass. I’m naked in the dark. There’s nothing–no veil between me and the wheel of fire. I can see him with my waking eyes.

Sam: Then let us be rid of it, once and for all. I can’t carry the ring for you, but I can carry you! Come on!


Helping others shoulder their cross is the hallmark of Christianity. Cooperation in suffering pervades the history of Christianity. From Simon the Cyrene helping Jesus bear the weight of the cross up Calvary, to the modern day saints like Saints John Paul II and Maximilian Kolbe offering their suffering and death to alleviate the suffering of their fellow mankind, we are all called to a Catholic [a universal] camaraderie. J.R.R. Tolkien also reminds readers of this universal truth!

Teacher of Truth

J.R.R. Tolkien

A third reason why I believe J.R.R. Tolkien should be canonized as a saint is due to his ability to instruct without resorting to sounding preachy or judgmental. His short story Leaf by Niggle is instructive. It contains truths about the importance of our pilgrim journey on earth, purgatory, and loving your neighbor as yourself.

The main reason I enjoy Leaf by Niggle is due to the clear catholicity contained within the characters, plot, and symbols. Niggle represents everyman—humanity as an individual and as a collective. When I looked up the word “niggle” in a thesaurus, I learned that the name has synonyms which included: annoy, bother, discomfort, and anxiety. According to Lumen Gentium (The Dogmatic Constitution of the Church),

“On earth, still as pilgrims in a strange land, tracing in trial and in oppression the paths He trod, we are made one with His sufferings like the body is one with the Head, suffering with Him, that with Him we may be glorified” (7)

Niggle also suffered various disturbances of his artwork while he was on a pilgrim journey.

Plan for the Journey (Beyond)

Tolkien quote

Tolkien’s The Hobbit also teaches us the importance of preparation. An unexpected responsibility of helping a group of dwarves upended Bilbo Baggins’ cozy life. So too living the Gospel sometimes shakes up our “perfect little world”.

While I fear the unknown, I gained a sense of peace and joy as I read the writings of Tolkien. I have also discovered during my interactions with fellow LOTR fans [friends, co-workers, acquaintances, and even strangers] that a true sense of unity occurs. I can’t quite explain it but I always leave a conversation about Middle Earth with a joyful twinkle in my eyes. Any of his works have this effect in me. In fact, I leave with a more compassionate heart towards others in general. He possessed an ability to unite divergent people through literature and the world. This quality hints at his overall holiness and love of humanity.

Patron Saint of Fantasy Stories?

J.R.R. Tolkien’s name has become a token (no pun intended) reference for everything related to fantasy and epic-storytelling. The more well-known Catholic saints include priests, bishops, martyrs, nuns, or theologians. However, the Holy Spirit does work in mysterious ways above man’s total comprehensive nature. Is it possible that God has used the fantasy world created by Tolkien  to further belief in Jesus Christ?

According to St. Catherine of Sienna, “If you are what you should be, you will set the world on fire.” Tolkien certainly followed his natural (and supernatural) gifts. As a storyteller, he brought the world an unexpected set of characters that gained universal appeal. I pray for the opportunity to see the canonization of J.R.R. Tolkien in my lifetime. His writings have deepened my Catholic faith and love for humanity and God!

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Saint Stephen Pray for Us

Saint Stephen

Stephen, Stephen, I say:
here is a place for goodness, here is a time for mercy,
here at least is an opportunity to show charity!
For I stand continually in danger
although I do not always recognise this,
and I am the more miserable and wretched
when I forget that it is so.

St Stephen holding a Bible.
For God always sees my sins,
always his severe judgment threatens
the sinfulness of my soul,
always hell gapes and its torments are ready
to snatch my wretched soul away to that place.

Thus am I placed when I wake, thus when I sleep;
I am thus when I smile, thus when I jest;
thus when I am proud, thus when I am humiliated;
thus when angry, thus when vindicated;
thus, thus I am when I miserably love
the delights of the flesh.
Thus am I then always and everywhere.

So I pray you, Stephen, make haste
before I am condemned,
before the enemies of the human race
snatch me away to torment,
before the prison of hell swallows me up,
before the torments of eternal fire consume me.

Truly my need is great
when it impels me to ask for help
even of those by whom I deserve to be punished.
But you and all the saints are so full of such wealth
from the unending fount of all goodness,
that you delight rather to free by your goodness
those whom by justice you are able to condemn

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6 Epic Facts About The Saint Behind Santa Claus

G.K. Chesterton once wrote, “It is the test of a good religion whether you can joke about it.” I certainly think that he would have (and hopefully you will) chuckle at the following joke: What do you call Santa when he has no money? Saint ‘Nickel-less’. Get it? Nicholas?

If you enjoy wordplay, you’re welcome! However, if you find such repartee revolting, I apologize, and implore you to still read on.

Ironically, Nicholas came from a wealthy family (more about that later). Some believed his family riches provided means for him able to make generous visits through the night delivering anonymous gifts to the less unfortunate in his city.

Below are six common (or maybe not so common!) facts about the Catholic saint later popularized and associated with Santa Claus. Regardless of whether you heard of these facts before or not, they are still epic!

Santa Clout punched the heretic

saint nick arius meme

Nicholas had such a fervor for the faith that he slugged the heretic priest Arius in the face as he was leading Christians astray by denying the divinity of Christ.

Hearing things like this about saints also gives hope that Heaven is possible even those with quick and short-fused tempers.

He participated in the Council of Nicaea

Nicholas was  among the bishops who attended the 1st Ecumenical Council at the city of Nicaea in the early 4th century.

The significance of this council includes the formal declaration of the faith in the Nicene Creed—a profession uttered every Sunday Mass!

Saint Nick Arian meme

Imprisoned for his Catholic faith

Similar to his contemporary, Saint Athanasius, Nicholas also was jailed for his persistence in pursuing and evangelizing the truth of the Gospel.

This should not be of great surprise since Nicholas lived in the most tumultuous times in Catholic Church history. Emperor Constantine legalized Christianity in 312 A.D. But the Diocletian persecution of the turn of the century in 303 A.D. led to Nicholas being among numbers of Christians sent to prison for refusing to renounce Jesus Christ.

His tenacity for refusing to commit apostasy even in the face of persecution  is legendary. Nicholas’s faith and strength is on par with Saints Peter, Paul, Athanasius, and other bold proclaimers of the Good News!

The manna of Nicholas

manna of st. Nicholas

A legend began in Myra that every year on the feast day of Nicholas, the bones of the saint secrete a hyaline watery substance.

Known as the “Manna of Nicholas,” this substance is believed to have healing effects. If you want to find out more information about this interesting relic, check out this site.

He had philanthropic parents

The generosity of the bishop of Myra is well documented. However what you may not have known is that his parents’ generosity strongly influenced him.

According to Lumen Gentium, “The family is, so to speak, the domestic church. In it parents should, by their word and example, be the first preachers of the faith to their children; they should encourage them in the vocation which is proper to each of them, fostering with special care vocation to a sacred state.”

Nicholas’ parents both perished as a result of an epidemic. But the morals, character, and faith they instilled in him at a young age served him for the rest of his life.

A panoply of patronages

The final of the six epic facts about Nicholas relates to his ability to appeal to a variety of individuals. Along with being known as the patron saint bringing joy to child, Old Saint Nick also helps the following groups: merchants, haberdashers, longshoremen, brewers, pawnbrokers, judges, and archers.

Saint Nicholas

Nicholas exhibited true love of God and neighbor through his anonymous gift-giving, especially to impoverished children. The bishop of Myra exuded holiness in all facets of his life.

Together with his ability to give, and give generously, Nicholas withstood persecution and staunchly defended the divinity of Christ against the assault of Arianism.

Some may call him magical, but the true charm of Nicholas came from his profound love of Jesus.

Let us all model Nicholas this Advent and Christmas seasons mirroring the love of God for others to see!

Related Links

Who is St. Nicholas?

How St. Nicholas was the first “Secret Santa”

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5 Things That Make Saint Pope John Paul II, Well—Great!

Catholics enjoy the opportunity to look to holy men and women as role models and guides in fulfilling our true purpose in life. The more I read and learn about the saints, the more profoundly I experience fellowship. Saints lived through suffering experiences with patience and reliance on God’s help.

Perhaps no other 20th century figure, and this includes a legendary list, provided a better example of following the golden rule and forgiving other as St. Pope John Paul II. Being my personal hero, I was overwhelmed with joy upon his canonization a mere five years after his death! While countless reasons exist for why I love and admire John Paul II, here are five facts that make the great Polish pope, well, great.

JPII MORE THAN GOOD GREAT

A lifetime of tragedies

Born in 1920 Karol Wojtyla, who became John Paul II, grew up during one of the most tumultuous eras in Polish history—Nazi occupation and later during the reign of Communism. Before he turned 22, Karol lost all of his immediate family members (his mother passed away during childbirth, his sister died before Karol was born, and his brother and father stated reason/manner). As if losing a family was not enough suffering to last a few lifetimes for anyone, in the beginning of his pontificate, John Paul was shot in a failed assassination.

The leader of the Catholic Church united himself so much to the suffering of Christ on the Cross. According to Jason Evert author of Saint John Paul the Great: His Five Loves, “When someone mentioned the impending suffering that would be required by one of his surgeries, [the pope] replied, ‘The Church needs suffering.’”

Marian devotion

John Paul II and Mary

The Polish pope’s famous motto was Totus Tuus. This Latin phrase translates as “Totally Yours”, and was a reference to Mary’s total obedience to the Father’s will.

Among the defining events of the sainted pontiff’s life, the assassination attempt on May 13th, 1981 certainly had to be a monumental turning point. Already possessing a strong piety to the Blessed Virgin, this only increased after the bullet missed hitting vital organs by mere millimeters. He quipped, “It was a mother’s hand that guided the bullet’s path.” Totally trusting in the mediation of Mary in his life, John Paul II provides a good example for other Catholics to rely on the Mother of God to be a good protector and guide towards Christ.

Jason Evert in his biography talks of the pope’s admiration to Mary in this way, “In True Devotion to Mary, St. Louis de Montfort wrote, ‘the most faithful servants of the Blessed Virgin, being her greatest favorites, receive from her the best graces and favors from heaven, which are crosses.’ If suffering is a sign of predilection, then John Paul II must have been one of our Lady’s favorites!” Of the importance of the rosary John Paul II declared, “[The rosary is] our daily meeting which neither I nor the Blessed Virgin Mary neglect.”

Recently, my family started praying a decade of the Rosary each night before putting the kids to bed. My outlook on life and graces for patience have never been higher. I am thankful for John Paul the Great’s great witness to Marian devotion!

A people’s pope

John Paul II and World Youth Day

Thousands of young people cheer Pope John Paul II during the 1992 World Youth Day in Czestochowa, Poland.

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Paul II instituted World Youth Day, a worldwide gathering of Catholic youth every four years. He saw the importance of youth, especially teens as being the future of the Church. The excitement that revolves around this event continues even in the years after his death. The Polish pope traveled extensively across the globe administering to all God’s people and showing the love of Christ. His long tenure afforded the opportunities for a generation to grow up under his papacy and enjoy stability of leadership for the Catholic Church.

Lover of confession

Pope John Paul II quote on confession

Although John Paul II lived a remarkable life and endured his sufferings of Parkinson’s disease to the end, the most impressive feat of his papacy (and priesthood) was his daily reception of the Sacrament of Confession. He declared,

“It would be an illusion to seek after holiness, according to the vocation one has received from God, without partaking frequently of this sacrament of conversion and reconciliation. Those who go to Confession frequently, and do so with the desire to make progress, will notice the strides that they make in their spiritual lives.”

I feel out of whack spiritually when I fail to go to the proverbial “Medicine Box” for over a month. His near mastery of virtue—through the aid offered by the Holy Spirit in the confessional—is evident by his encounter with all he met and his quick canonization less than half a decade after his death.

Heroic herald of truth

Along with John Paul II’s ability to forgive others, such as the man who attempted to murder him, the Polish pope safeguarded and articulated the Catholic Church’s teaching boldly and clearly. Intrepidly standing up to the evils of Communism, the sainted pope never watered down truth for the sake of diplomacy.

St. John Paul II stated, “Remember that you are never alone, Christ is with you on your journey every day of your lives!” Truly God gifted the world with the holiness of Karol Wojtyla. St. Thérèse of Lisieux wrote,  “You cannot be half a saint. You must be a whole saint or no saint at all.” Following in the footsteps of Pope John Paul II will not be an easy feat, but it is a surefire and joyful path toward closer union with God.

Thank you Lord for the life of this wonderful saint, John Paul II!

Related Links

St. John Paul II & the Eucharist

St. Pope John Paul II

Here’s why John Paul II said “Do not be afraid”

Analysis of JPII’s The Splendor of Truth

On Polish Horseshoes, Karol Wojtyla, Accordions, and Other Possibly Polish Things

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How Saint Marianne Cope Perfectly Lived out the Corporeal Works of Mercy

Saint Marianne Cope

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 2447, The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities.”

All of the saints performed great works of caring for the poor. “The corporal works of mercy consist especially of feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead. Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God,” the Catechism states.

I knew little about Saint Marianne Cope. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI describes her best. In his 2005 Beatification Address for her, he declared, “The generosity of Mother Marianne was, humanly speaking, exemplary…All that she achieved was inspired by her personal love of the Lord, which she in turn expressed through her love of those abandoned and rejected by society in a most wretched way.”

During Cope’s canonization on October 21st, 2012, Benedict XVI said, “She is a shining and energetic example of the best of the tradition of Catholic nursing sisters and of the spirit of her beloved Saint Francis.”

Learning about Marianne Cope has renewed my passion for serving others and for performing corporeal works of mercy with Jesus at the heart of my intentions.

Heart of a Healer

Born in 1838 in Germany, Cope’s family immigrated to the United States early in her childhood. Living in industrial city of Utica, New York the saint’s family held factory jobs for a living.

Even Marianne worked to help support her family. When she was in 8th grade her father, Peter, became seriously ill. As the oldest child, Marianne left school to work in a textile mill to help provide for her family. This early experience proved a foreshadowing pattern of serving others for this saint.

Corporeal works of mercy

In 1862, Peter Cope passed away. Since her younger siblings were then able to take care of themselves, it was at this point Marianne pursued her vocation to the religious life.

From Average Administrator to Extraordinary

Cope became a member of the Sisters of St. Francis of Syracuse, New York. Here Marianne served as teacher and principal. In 1870, Marianne was selected to be a governing council of her religious order.

From 1870 to 1877,  Marianne Cope acted as hospital administrator. Critics often condemned the saint for bringing in  alcoholics and other “outcast patients.”  Her kind and loving approach to such patients earned Marianne love and admiration by the citizens of New York.

Saint Marianne Cope’s Love Amid Leprosy

Mother Cope’s contribution to the medical field would have landed her in the hospital hall of fame. But, God had other plans for her. More extraordinary plans!

In 1883, Cope received a petition from King  Kalākaua of Hawaii to minister to people suffering from leprosy. Yes, you read right. Leprosy. The same disease that plagued the world in biblical times.

Saint Marianne Cope

Over 50 religious congregations rejected Kalākaua’s plead for aid. Highly contagious, leprosy incited fear and judgment into people’s hearts. Not Saint Marianne Cope. Confidently and joyfully she wrote back to the king, “I am not afraid of any disease, hence it would be my greatest delight even to minister to the abandoned lepers.”

It took a special person to build and sustain healthcare facilities for the lepers. Combining her hospital administration experience with her loving demeanor, Cope cared for both the physical and spiritual side of the lepers’ experience.

In 1887 the saint moved to the Kalaupapa peninsula of Molokai. Initially she planned to remain in Hawaii for a few years. God had different plans. A year later Mother Marianne met and cared for the legendary future saint, Fr. Damian. Although she only knew him for a couple years before his death in 1889, it was a providential meeting.

Imagine the incredible grace it was for both Fr. Damian and Mother Marianne. The saints cared for others and let God care for them. Remember Jesus tells us in Matthew 25:40, “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least  brothers of mine, you did for me.

Be Merciful Too

Let us too live out the Gospel mission like St. Marianne Cope. You may not be a called to help minister to people with contagious diseases, but we are called to love and take care of the sick, poor, the weary, and the disenfranchised. Reach out to a friend who is feeling isolated this winter. Offer to bring warm soup to a sick neighbor.

Saint Marianne Cope


“My heart bled for the children and I was anxious and hungry to help put a little more sunshine into their dreary lives.”

“We bring no gift to Your Majesty except our service in behalf of your suffering people, whose infirmity we bear in our hearts.”  

“We were not only willing but anxious to go and care for the poor outcasts.”  

Related Links

Saint Marianne Cope- Franciscan Media

Saint Marianne Cope Shrine and Museum

St. Marianne Cope: A saint for outcasts and lepers

 

 

 

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Spiritual Surgeons—St. Lawrence of Brindisi


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on July 24, 2019.


What are the qualities of a good doctor? Is it talent alone? Medical training? Ability to communicate? Or a combination of these skills plus others?

Medicine is a broad field and so is the term doctor. I always have been interested in the process of healing, treating, and combating infirmities. I even contemplated getting thought about pursuing a science degree in college! Lately, my wife and I have been re-watching Grey’s Anatomy from the beginning of the series. While I don’t condone the morality of many of the characters, I do admire their strong desire to best care for their patients.

spiritual surgeons

Humanity Needs Healing

Humanity is a broken race in need of healing. People suffer from physical, mental, and spiritual illnesses. Outwardly and historically, physical ailments have been most obvious and most attention focused to resolve. As someone who suffers from anxiety and depression, I am pleased with the efforts made in the 21st century to spread more awareness of mental illnesses. What has definitely fallen by the wayside is spiritual health.

Spiritual Doctors Help Lead to the Divine Physician

Side effects from failings to treat spiritual health include the following: selfishness, greed, envy, laziness, lust, despair, and self-doubt to just name a few. We need spiritual healing just as much, actually more so than other kinds of healing. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 386,

Sin is present in human history; any attempt to ignore it or to give this dark reality other names would be futile. To try to understand what sin is, one must first recognize the profound relation of man to God, for only in this relationship is the evil of sin unmasked in its true identity as humanity’s rejection of God and opposition to him, even as it continues to weigh heavy on human life and history.

The false philosophy of materialism rejects the idea that humanity is in need of spiritual healing. This is a dangerous and slippery slope to follow. While Jesus is the Ultimate Divine Physician, God sometimes raises up particular saints whose writings provide prescriptions to remedy sin. These individuals are known as the Doctors of the Church. This third installment of Spiritual Surgeons will focus on probably one of the least known Doctors—St. Lawrence of Brindisi.

St. Lawrence of Brindisi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Capuchin Franciscan’s ability to promote peace amidst strife, Scriptural shrewdness, and voluminous insight on the Virgin Mary rightly place him among the greatest spiritual specialists.

Deft Diplomat

According to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in his March 23rd, 2011 General Audience, “Thanks to his mastery of so many languages, Lawrence was able to carry out a busy apostolate among the different categories of people.” Living during the 16th century, the Franciscan priest was a key figure in refuting the heresies of the Reformation. Benedict XVI described the diplomacy of Lawrence as effective against the Protestants arguments. “With his calm, clear exposition he demonstrated the biblical and patristic foundation of all the articles of faith disputed by Martin Luther.

Catholic Diplomacy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Along with the German pope’s accolades, St. Lawrence maintained the peace promoted by his predecessor and spiritual father—St. Francis of Assisi. In his First Sermon for the Feast of St. Francis St. Lawrence declared, “‘God is wonderful in his saints’ for if the works of nature are marvelous much more marvelous are the works of grace.” At select points in history God raises up saints to combat the errors of the time. Just as St. Francis was raised to fight the corruption of the 12th century, St. Lawrence fought charitably against the errors of the Protestant reformation.

Bible Brilliance

Another gift the Holy Spirit granted St. Lawrence was an ability to interpret Scripture both skillful and faithfully.

studying the bible

 

 

 

 

The Apostolic Doctor’s Three Sermons for the Feast of St Francis displays his penchant for reading and applying the Bible. He  makes frequent references to Old Testament figures such as Jonathan, Jacob, Daniel, Mordecai, and Moses to describe how God clothes a “lesser” figure with grace. Lawrence wrote in his First Sermon, “As the servant is sometimes dressed in nobler clothes than the Lord, so it will be permissible for me to say that Francis is the more wonderful Crucified than Christ, as God has so arranged for His greater glory.” Wow! His high praise of Francis definitely resonates with the biblical tradition that God selects the imperfect to testify to Divine Love and Truth.

Master of Mariology

Before researching this post, I honestly knew very little about St. Lawrence of Brindisi. As impressive as his diplomacy and academic knowledge are what impressed me most about the Apostolic Doctor is his mastery on the subject of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Pope Benedict XVI referred to the Capuchin saint as “a highly qualified Mariologist” (March 23rd, 2011 General Audience).

According to Cuthbert Gumbinger, O.F.M. Cap, S.T.D. in St. Lawrence of Brindisi, Apostolic Doctor, “Specialists in Mariology declare that the sixty-two sermons of Lawrence’s Mariaele form a complete summa of this matter, prominent in Marian literature not only at his time, but ever since!” (emphasis mine).

Mary Clothed with the Sun

 

 

 

 

 

A reflection on the Annunciation demonstrates Lawrence’s masterful understanding of the significance of Mary. Hail, full of grace; the Lord is with you.’ This is a new form of greeting, never heard by another, never encountered before,” Lawrence writes. What makes the Capuchin priest exemplary in his study of Mary is the combination of simplicity and unwavering truth.  In his First Sermon in the Mariale, Lawrence reflecting on Revelation 12 tells us,

Moreover, for this has She been clothed with the Sun, that we might know, that just as the Sun, one though it be, nevertheless illumines each and every man and warms with its heat as if it had been founded by God for each individual man, for there is not one who can hide himself from its heat;94in the same manner the Virgin Theotokos is the Mother of each and everyone, thus common to all as the very own Mother of each.

 Here in this sermon Lawrence seamlessly discusses all four major doctrines pertaining to Mary: Her Virginity, Motherhood, Assumption, and Excellent Virtue (Immaculate Conception). Never have I read such a clear, consistent, and intriguing homily on Mary.

Although St. Lawrence of Brindisi is not a household name like an Augustine or Therese of Liseux, his sundry of vocations throughout his life as a diplomat, teacher, preacher, and scholar are second to none!

 Collect Prayer from Feast Day for St. Lawrence of Brindisi

O God, who for the glory of your name and the salvation of souls bestowed on the Priest Saint Lawrence of Brindisi a spirit of counsel and fortitude, grant, we pray, that in the same spirit, we may know what must be done and, through his intercession, bring it to completion. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Related Resources

http://www.franciscan-archive.org/laurentius/lau01005.html

http://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/audiences/2011/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20110323.html

https://napcc.net/images/uploads/documents/Threesermons.pdf

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Happy Feast Day St. Anthony of Padua!

June 13th is always a special date for my family: it is my oldest son’s birthday–and the feast day for Saint Anthony of Padua! Primarily known as the Patron saint of lost items, Anthony was my mom’s go-to saint the many times she lost her keys, purse, or other important articles either at home or work.

Saint Anthony of Padua

Not Simply a Patron for Chronic Losers (of Items)

Anthony lived in the 12th century and was a Portuguese Catholic priest. He became a friar of the Franciscan Order. Like St. Francis of Assisi, Anthony came from a wealthy family but lived a humble and obedient life in service to the Lord. He is best known for his outstanding preaching and expertise of the Scriptures.

What I just recently learned is that St. Anthony is actually a Doctor of Church.  He is a spiritual giant in the history of Catholicism. Not all does he aid us daily affairs (like losing our keys for 37th) but the saint’s writings inspire hope and inform us about God’s love.

Along with celebrating my son’s birthday, I wish to discover the great wisdom of St. Anthony of Padua. Find your faith with the help of the great patron of Lost Items! **stops typing and searches pockets to make sure car keys are still there**

Below are a few simple yet powerful quotes from the great Doctor of the Church to help you discover [or rediscover] your faith in the Good News of the Gospel!

Enjoy!

Wisdom from the Evangelical Doctor

“Attribute to God every good that you have received. If you take credit for something that does not belong to you, you will be guilty of theft”

“Christians must lean on the Cross of Christ just as travelers lean on a staff when they begin a long journey.”

“The devil is afraid of us when we pray and make sacrifices. He is also afraid when we are humble and good. Satan is especially afraid when we love Jesus very much. He runs away when we make the Sign of the Cross.”

“The saints are like the stars. In his providence Christ conceals them in a hidden place that they may not shine before others when they might wish to do so. Yet they are always ready to exchange the quiet of contemplation for the works of mercy as soon as they perceive in their heart the invitation of Christ.”

Related Links

St. Anthony Shrine

St. Anthony to the Rescue

St. Anthony, Cooler Than Just Finding Your Lost Crap


P.S. Thank you for reading about Saint Anthony. He’s the ‘bee-knees’ (or is it St. Ambrose, the patron of bees?). No matter, I appreciate you reading and hope you have a wonderful day. Ask Anthony for help if you lose something (don’t feel bad I lose something almost daily).

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