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Showing posts from June, 2020

Christianising Rome

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Christinanising RomeThe Feast of SS Peter and Paul will fall this coming Monday. It marks day when, according to tradition, both Peter and Paul died for their faith. Peter was crucified upside-down on Vatican Hill--at the time this was the site of Emperor Nero's private sports complex where he would race chariots against carefully picked opponents in order to prove how great a charioteer he wasn't (cf. Tacitus Annales 14). The one visible remnant of Nero's private circus is the obelisk (now crowned with a cross) at the centre of St Peter's Square--it marked the centre of Emperor's chariot track. Peter's relics lie in the basilica that was built atop of Nero's circus, close to where he died. Paul was beheaded outside the walls of the city of Rome on the Laurentian Way. According to legend, his body was then transferred to a burial site owned by a Christian woman located on the road to Ostia. The location is now the of site of the Papal Basilica of St Paul ou…

Spiritual Evolution

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This coming Friday marks the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. When we talk about the Sacred Heart we are not, in fact, talking about Jesus' actual anatomical heart. Rather, we are using it as a poetic way of reflecting and focussing on God's boundless and extraordinary love for mankind. The devotion to the God's love is at the very centre of the spirituality of such figures St Bernard of Clairvaux and St Bonaventure. The modern devotion has its origins in pre-Revolutionary France before disseminating across Europe. Indeed, the Feast of Sacred Heart was first celebrated in 1670 in a seminary in Rennes. 
The French-ness of Friday's Feast provides us with a nice segue into the thoughts of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955). A Jesuit priest, philosopher, and paleontologist, Teilhard was one of the scientists who worked on the discovery of the Peking Man--the fossils of a subspecies of Homo Erectus found outside modern-day Beijing. He spent his life attempting to reco…

Eucharistic Bird-spotting

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Pelecanidae PelecanusAs some of you may know, one of my hobbies is birding. Sarah and I are members of the Massachusetts Audubon Society and we frequent nature reserves and parks armed with binoculars and a bag-full of bird identification manuals.  
As we approach the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, I thought it opportune to focus on the pelican--a bird that has come to symbolize the Passion of Christ and the Eucharist. There are eight living species in the genus Pelecanus. Clumsy in their appearance, pelicans are large water birds that struggle to fly gracefully. They have an almost disproportionately large bill and throat pouch which enables them to scoop up water containing fish. While most think of them as having an exclusively pescatarian diet, they are omnivorous and opportunistic  Indeed, the captive Great White Pelicans of St James' Park in London are known to swallow city pigeons--an act that has scarred countless tourists for life. 
Throughout the middle ages, the p…

Trinitas in Unitate

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''And the catholic faith is this: that we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Essence...which faith unless everyone do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.''  After the Apostles and Nicene Creeds, the Athanasian Creed is the third of the Catholic church's official creeds. It is distinguishable from the the other two creeds on account of its explicit Trinitarianism and harsh condemnations for those who disagree with its content. As such, it has been attributed to Athanasius of Alexandria, the c.3rd patristic writer and defender of Trinitarianism although it is more likely to have had a western author owing to the fact it was written in Latin and not Greek. 
Trinitarian orthodoxy is rather hard to understand as it simply does not fit within the realms of comfortable logic--it is a real mystery. This is probably why so many Trinitarian heresies have gained traction over t…