St. Methodius

June 14

Methodius I was a Patriarch of Constantinople. Before he became the patriarch, he spent years fighting the second outbreak of the iconoclast persecution in the Eastern Church. Niκephoros, the patriarch of Constantinople, was banished and replaced with an iconoclastic patriarch. Methodius, a monk, was sent by the deposed patriarch to Rome to report the matter. After several years in Rome, and a change in the eastern emperor (Leo V was murdered and replaced by Michael II), Methodius returned with a letter from the pope that attempted to persuade the eastern emperor to change his ways and restore Niκephoros. That didn’t work out so well. Methodius was scourged and imprisoned. After 7 years, Methodius was let out of prison, and he defended the icons even more strongly than before.

When the emperor Michael died, his son Theophilus re-invigorated the persecution. Methodius, after going toe-to-toe with the emperor was again scourged and imprisoned. He managed to escape after a day this time, and continued to work on the emperor.

After Theophilus, the Iconoclast persecution was brought to an end. Theodora, Theophilus’s wife and the regent for Michael III, restored images and freed the prisoners. The current patriarch of Constantinople was an unrepentant iconoclast setup by the government. He was deposed and Methodius was made patriarch. He restored the icons to the Hagia Sophia (yeah, that Hagia Sophia, the one that was a Catholic or Orthodox church from 562 to 1453) in a solemn procession and deposed many iconoclast bishops throughout his patriarchate. The restoration, or “Feast of Orthodoxy” is still celebrated in Byzantine Churches today.

Methodius is a Catholic and an Orthodox saint. He is named in the Roman Martyrology on June 14.

St. Anthony of Padua

Memorial; June 13

The patron saint of lost things devoted his entire life to losing himself in God’s will.

After switching from the Canons Regular of St. Augustine to the Orders of Friars Minor, St. Anthony wanted to go to Africa and spread the faith, but he soon found that God’s plan was different. On the way to Morocco, Anthony became ill and due to poor weather was forced to stay in Sicily to regain his health. After moving around a bit, he stayed in the town of Forli. While he was attending an ordination, those present discovered that no speaker had been appointed. St. Anthony was called to speak. Those in attendance were not expecting much, but the Holy Spirit inspired St. Anthony to give an excellent speech.

After this, St. Francis himself instructed him to teach theology to his brother friars. Later in life, he was a forceful speaker against heretics. He performed many miracles and converted many of them. He was so successful that he was called the “Hammer of the Heretics” (Malleus hereticorum). Some of the miracles he performed while alive include bi-location, rendering poisoned food safe to eat and preserving people from the rain on numerous occasions.

There are many other interesting stories and facts about St. Anthony at the Catholic Encyclopedia.

meal plans

One of my major stumbling blocks in losing weight is that I go out to eat—a lot. I’ve found that when I make a meal plan for the week, I tend to not eat out as much. This is good for two reasons: eating out is not cheap—it is very possible to have homemade meals cheaper than anything from McDonald’s—and it’s not particularly healthy.

I don’t usually plan breakfast—my breakfast is too light to have a real plan. For a few months, I ate Nature Valley crunchy granola bars for breakfast. One packages has two bars and 180 calories. Lately, I’ve been eating one-egg mini-omelets with cheese. These add up to about 140 calories (70 calories from each component).

For lunch this week, I’ve planned salads. Salads are quick and easy to make, and they are very easy to change so that I don’t get bored. I have a salad recipe book that I purchased1  for ideas when I’m not feeling particularly creative. This week, I am eating a simple green tuna salad. The ingredients are: a handful of spinach; a handful of arugula; half a small onion, sliced; one can of tuna, drained and rinsed a few times; and some parmesan cheese on top. I make the dressing myself too: 3 parts grapeseed oil (I ran out of Extra Virgin Olive Oil…) to one part white wine vinegar, with a dash of salt and some herbes de provence to kick it up a notch. It’s a very tasty salad, and fills me up very well. Not bad for about 400 calories!

Supper is always the tricky meal. I have the most trouble eating my planned suppers. This week I plan to make a simple chicken stir fry, but I have already managed to not eat it once. The trouble I tend to run into is that I am not home many nights of the week. I won’t be home again until Thursday night, so we’ll see if I actually manage to get to my chicken stir-fry this week.

By keeping my meal plans simple and repeating the items throughout the week, I can buy ingredients once a week and everything averages out to rather low cost. A carton of eggs and a bag of cheese cost maybe $5 together if you buy the good eggs. That’s less than a buck a meal, because the eggs will cover two weeks. A couple of bags of salad greens, a bag of cheese (I’m lazy and grating cheese is a pain.), some onions and 5 cans of tuna cost around $15-$20, which is $3-$4 per meal. Not quite as cheap, but healthy and filling. My chicken stir fry is really cheap. The chicken was $6 for a 3lb bag plus about $3 for veggies. That’s around $2 per meal when you add in the rice and spice costs. Awesome.

footnotes

1. Twelve Months of Monastery Salads: 200 Divine Recipes for All Seasons. This is a very nice recipe book. Brother Victor-Antoine d’Avila-Latourrette has quite a few very nice cook books—I’ve purchased three. Some recipes are duplicated between books, but overall they are all simple and delicious. I try to buy from my local Catholic book store, but they didn’t stock this particular book.

St. Barnabas

Memorial; June 11

St. Barnabas was a very early member of the Church. Born a Levite on Cyprus, he spent much time in Jerusalem. According to most accounts, he converted during the Pentecost and is mentioned in Acts for selling his property and giving the proceeds to the church (Acts 4:34-37).

Barnabas introduced Paul to the Apostles, who were wary and slow to believe his conversion. Much of Barnabas’s ministry after this involves Paul. He convinced Paul to start his journeys in Antioch, and accompanied on many of his voyages. His desire to bring St. Mark (the Gospel writer) along with them on one of the journeys caused a temporary rift with Paul. Barnabas was present at the Council of Jerusalem, and sided with Paul on the circumcision debate.

After his journeys, not much is written about Barnabas. He was one of the most highly esteemed men of the Church outside of the 12 Apostles. Many writings are attributed to him: Tertullian attributes the Letter to the Hebrews, Photius claims Barnabas, not Luke, wrote Acts of the Apostles and many attribute the Epistle of Barnabas to him, but these claims are doubted.

Further reading:
The Catholic Encyclopedia, http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02300a.htm
Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barnabas

fun things to watch, to read and to hear

There is a slight problem with writing every day’s memorial, feast or solemnity—not every day has one! Instead, here are a few of the things that I keep up with on a (mostly) regular basis.

National Catholic Register (website) – this website is a great daily read. They publish a couple of interesting articles every day, in addition to hosting about a dozen blogs. They also have a twice-daily blog roundup. You have to be careful that this doesn’t take your whole day.

XKCD (website) – this is a nerdy web comic published on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It’s a fun combination of current events, math, physics, engineering and computer nerds. Sometimes I disagree with the author’s viewpoints, but I’ve never seen one that’s not safe for work.

Crash Course World History (youtube) – this is a YouTube video series published weekly. I haven’t watched all of them, but the first dozen or so are very well done and seem to do a good job of seeing the whole picture.A 15 minute video can’t teach everything about a topic in history, but these do a good job getting the important facts out. They also have a biology course, but I haven’t watched any of those.

Catholic Stuff You Should Know (website, podcast) – this is a semi-regular podcast made by some seminarians and seminarians who are now priests in the Denver Diocese. They are awesome and cover all sorts of interesting Catholic topics. I’ve probably spent way too much time listening to these guys in the last couple of weeks.

St. Norbert

Note: I promise that I’ll eventually get back to my series about Love, but there is much work for me to do before I continue. For now, I am trying to simply update the site more frequently. I’m hoping to improve my writing skills and simply get in the habit of writing things that are meant to be read. I spend so much time at work writing computer code and technical documentation that I fell this is necessary.

Also, you should go see For Greater Glory. It’s about the Mexican Revolution, and I’m told that it is very powerful. I haven’t had a chance to see it yet, but hope to soon.

Optional Memorial; June 6

St. Norbert was a bishop to Germany a few hundred years after St. Boniface. St. Norbert was especially devoted to the Blessed Sacrament. I could regurgitate his life story here, but the Catholic Encyclopedia and Wikipedia have already done a pretty good job of that.

What strikes me about St. Norbert is his complete devotion to God, as shown through what he said at his ordination:

O Priest! You are not yourself because you are God’s. You are not of yourself because you are the servant and minister of Christ. You are not your own because you are the spouse of the Church. You are not yourself because you are the mediator between God and man. You are not from yourself because you are nothing. What then are you? Nothing and everything. O Priest! Take care lest what was said to Christ on the cross be said to you: “He save others, himself he cannot save!”

St. Boniface

Memorial; June 5

The German Church was in desperate need of reform in the early to mid 700s, and Pope Gregory II thought that St. Boniface was just the man for the job. Boniface, an English Benedictine Monk, gave up his election as abbot and went on a missionary journey to German lands in 719. What he found were pagans and poorly formed Christians. (Remember that at this time, the Catholic Church was the only Christian church.)

Soon after this first journey, Boniface started the hard work of reform. His primary aims were to increase the clergy’s loyalty to their bishop and to the pope and to open many houses of prayer. He was very successful in both of these tasks, and was responsible for getting the Benedictine nuns into the education business.

St. Boniface is also known for chopping down a tree—but not just any tree. He chopped down Donar’s sacred oak tree on Mount Gudenburg. As the people waited for their gods to strike him dead, he kept chopping until the trash crashed down and split into four parts. Legend has it that Boniface used the wood from the tree to build a chapel.

For his efforts and work at reform, Boniface was massacred with 53 companions as he was preparing them for confirmation.

life update

In December, my Knights of Columbus council elected me Grand Knight. Since then, life has been a little crazier than usual.

I still plan to finish the “Love” article series, but haven’t had a chance to get the rest of it out. While browsing my local Catholic book store, I found Pope Benedict’s encyclical Deus Caritas Est (God is Love) and want to read that before continuing with that series.

My weight loss plan is not gone, and I have not gone up. I just haven’t dropped as much as I’d have liked. I’m at 229.8lbs as of today. By the end of May I plan to drop to 225lbs or lower–the final goal being between 190lbs and 200lbs. It seems that it is getting harder to drop weight as I get lighter and lighter. My workout has also changed a few times–I’m due for a workout update soon.

I have also retried my gardening attempts this year–last year was not a good year to try it out. Something about setting a record for most days over 100 in recorded history.

I have several other interesting articles planned; hopefully, I will be able to get those written (or at least started) this summer!

Happy Easter!

Have a happy and blessed Easter season!

LA_Cathedral_Mausoleum_Resurrection

I will try to get my current article series finished and posted soon. Things beyond my control have prevented me from finishing it thus far, but I’m pretty sure I can get it done this week. Thanks for your patience!

love the sinner, hate the sin

Introduction

I recently attended a Catholic Men’s Conference, and one of the topics was love. In today’s society, it is not seen as a manly trait to consider topics such as love. In today’s society it unfortunately seems that to be manly requires one to be a womanizing philanderer with little to no moral compass. Hedonism and relativism seem to rule the perception of manliness.

This got me thinking about a variety of topics, but one phrase that kept coming back was “love the sinner, hate the sin.” I’ve never personally liked that phrase. My parents always told me not to hate anything. Therefore, I am hesitant to truly hate anything.

After thinking about the phrase some more, I’ve realized that there is a lot to unpack in it. In that simple 6 word phrase, you can actually learn everything you need to know about how to treat your fellow man.

In this series, I will present three primary topics: “What is love?”, “I am called to love?” and “I am my brother’s keeper?”

While my point of view is undoubtedly Catholic and I lean on St. Thomas Aquinas’ heavily, I have done my best to incorporate non-Catholic philosophers below. For example, I have found that Aristotle’s writings on several of these topics are most excellent.

What is love?

No, really, what is it?

Aristotle writes that to love is “wishing for [them] what you believe to be good things, not for your own sake but for [that person’s].” (Rhetoric ii, 4) Technically he calls this philia, which can be translated in a number of ways. In Greek, philia is a broad term of friendship, and includes love. Aristotle later writes:

[Love] has various forms—comradeship, intimacy, kinship, and so on.

Things that cause [love] are: doing kindness; doing them unasked; and not proclaiming the fact when they are done, which shows that they were done for our own sake and not for some other reason.

According to St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:4-6

Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice in wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.

Combined with the writings of Aristotle, we see that love is not about the giver—it is receiver. Love often requires sacrifice from the giver to the receiver. “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13) It becomes apparent that love will at some point require one to freely sacrifice for the sake of another. Love, however, is not just sacrifice. To truly love is to wish and to do good things for another person, not taking into account one’s own desires. Furthermore, all true friendships are based in love.

What is good?

If love is wishing and doing good things for another person, it would help to know what is good. Contrary to what many would have you believe: not everything that feels good is good for them, and not everything that feels bad is bad them.

I must start with the basis that it is possible to know the truth about things. Aristotle takes this as a given when he writes that “we have to start with the known, and ‘known’ has two meanings: there are things known to us, and things known absolutely.” (Ethics i, 4) Furthermore, he states that: “it is our duty to give first place to truth.” (Ethics i, 6) I may write an article on truth later, but for now it must wait.

There are two definitions of good. The first, most commonly used definition, states that it is plain and obvious what is good. Good brings pleasure, wealth, honor, etc. The problem with this definition is that it changes. When a person is under stress, they will change their definition to include stability. Some people think that being constantly entertained and not having to think is good. Some people think that good health is the only good. A better definition is needed. A person cannot wish good things for someone if what is good constantly changes!

The second definition of good is that which brings us closer to our final goal. It is not easy to always define what is good, because many people do not realize what their final goal is. Mankind does have a final goal, to be with our Creator after our earthly life is complete. (That sentence alone can probably spawn half a dozen articles.) The tricky part is determining what we must do to be with our Creator. Luckily, because we are able to determine the truth, we can figure this out.

This is where the Catholic Church comes into the picture—it has done a lot of this work for us. The church has had a lot of people with a lot of time to think. The church says that to be with our Creator, we must become like our Creator. We can do this by living the virtuous life, because “the goal of a virtuous life is to become like God.” (CCC 1803) The four cardinal virtues are prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance. (1805) They are the basis for morally good acts (1804) We can strengthen virtue through education, good acts and perseverance through hardship. (1839) The three other virtues—faith, hope and charity—are theological virtues. These are virtues that we use to relate to God and inform us on how to live morally. (1813)

Summary

To sum it all up: to love is to wish and to do good things for others. Good things and actions are those which lead to a life strong in the virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude, temperance, faith, hope and charity.

In two weeks: I am called to love?

Bibliography

The following sources were consulted but not directly referenced while writing this article.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, Part 3 “Life in Christ”, Section 1 “Man’s Vocation: Life in the Spirit”, Chapter 1 “The Dignity of the Human Person”:

· Article 5 “The Morality of the Passions”

· Article 7 “The Virtues”

Common Nonsense: 25 Fallacies About Life … Refuted, Rev. Cliff Ermatinger, L.C.

Summa Theologiae, St. Thomas Aquinas, I-II, 18; 26, 4. http://www.newadvent.org/summa/2.htm