Quiet Corner
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Although Adam and Eve, along with Noah and his family and the revelers at Babul, are lost to history, the patriarch Abraham and his wife Sarah have some historical credibility. The migration of Abraham’s family from Mesopotamia to Canaan was part of a general movement in Asia Minor dating from sometime in the first half of the second millennium before Christ. While there is no physical evidence of Abraham’s trek, his ancestral story has affinities to other late second-millennium stories and the names Abraham and Sarah fit language patterns of that era. Biblical scholars tend to acknowledge that the patriarch Abraham, the ancestor of Israel, was an actual historical person. more
Elijah, also known as Elias, was a distinctive Hebrew prophet whose exploits are recounted largely in the First and Second Books of Kings. Elijah is familiar to Christian believers through his close association with John the Baptist and through his appearance with Moses at the transfiguration of Christ. Elijah was one of those rare Old Testament figures who, like Enoch, did not die but was taken up into heaven on the fiery chariot noted in the celebrated Negro spiritual. Lack of a recorded death possibly indicates a Jewish belief in Elijah’s continued influence over Jewish history and even his eventual return into history. The Jews of Jesus’ era certainly anticipated Elijah’s return and were only too anxious to see Elijah in the person of St. John the Baptist. more
The spiritual life of the Christian is often depicted as a search for God. “Seek always His face,” the Psalmist advises. Jeremiah concurs with these words, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” His fellow prophet Isaiah certainly agrees, “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near.” Jesus himself speaks on the need to search for God, “Ask and you shall receive. Seek and you shall find. Knock and it shall be opened unto you.” And, even more pointedly, Jesus instructs, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all things will be added to you.” more
On October 7, 1974, Monsignor Barry R. L. Connerton and I stood on the steps of the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul in Providence. The Most Reverend Kenneth Angell had just been ordained as auxiliary bishop of Providence by Bishop Louis E. Gelineau. Monsignor Connerton, then assistant editor of the then-Providence Visitor, suggested that I should write a weekly column for the diocesan newspaper. I had written innumerable Letters to Editor to both the Providence Visitor and the Providence Journal. more
Undoubtedly, the greatest contribution that the Jewish people have made to civilization is their belief in a Creator God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the personal God known as Father to Christians, and honored for his transcendence within the Islamic world. But, while God must always be central to revelation, the Jewish community made another very significant impact on world religions by linking belief in God with the need for social justice. more
The celebration of the dutiful wife from the Old Testament Book of Proverbs is the first reading at Mass this coming Sunday. The much appreciated woman is hailed both for her spousal support as well as her practical shrewdness: “Her husband, entrusting his heart to her, has an unfailing prize. more
Although St. Peter’s Basilica is by far the most famous church in Rome, the actual cathedral church for the diocese of Rome is the Lateran Basilica dedicated to St. John the Baptist. Until the Middle Ages, the bishops of Rome actually did live at the Lateral Palace adjoining the basilica. more
This weekend the Catholic world will consider two phases of the afterlife. The Solemnity of All Saints on Saturday reminds the faithful of those celebrated and sometimes uncelebrated heroes of the Christian life. The martyrs, monks, missionaries, mentors and married folk who dedicated their lives to Christ both in spirit and in deed are recalled, reverenced and now recruited as intercessors before the face of God. On Sunday, worshippers will recall their own beloved dead who perhaps have gone on to full glory or may still be in need of the Church community’s intercessory prayers to release them from the final residue of sin. Eternity, fully enjoyed by the saints and coveted by the souls in purgatory, should be an equally important part of the Gospel message for those believers still working out their ultimate destiny here on earth. more
St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross is more often remembered as Edith Stein, the brilliant philosopher, who was born into an observant German-Jewish family, inclined toward atheism as a young adult, eventually converted to the Roman Catholic Church and then became a Discalced Carmelite nun. Reminiscent of Loyola, reading the life of St. Teresa of Avila was instrumental in her conversion in 1922 after which she gave up university life and taught in a Catholic grammar school for ten years. Still, Edith’s academic credentials are impressive. She worked with the eminent philosophers Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger. She translated Aquinas’ “On Truth” into German. She became a lecturer at the Catholic-associated Institute for Scientific Pedagogy in Munster in 1932, resigning in 1933 due to anti-Semitic legislation. At that time, Edith wrote to Pope Pius XI about Nazi abuse. more
Surely no line of Scripture is more misleadingly quoted than Jesus’ pronouncement to “…render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.” Not only is this quote broadly used to justify the separation of church and state, but more deviously it is being extended to endorse the separation of religion and society. Progressive politicians no longer mention freedom of religion but rather refer cleverly to freedom of worship. Religion, of course, embraces the fullness of the believer’s life: church, politics, business, family, etc. All human activity has a religious dimension. Worship on the other hand is what takes place within a church building. Worship is liturgical, ritualistic and ceremonial. The immediate focus of worship is the sacred; the broader focus of religion must include the secular. Progressive politicians have no problem with parishioners lighting candles, whiffing incense and singing hymns. That’s worship. But some government leaders do have trouble with religious persons protecting traditional marriage, shielding the unborn, defending authentic conception, preserving dignity at the end of life, limiting medical experimentation and maintaining cultural vestiges from America’s theistic roots. more
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