In 13 History on 2016/10/14 at 8:56 AM

Dear Followers and Visitors,

Thank you for your faithfulness in following the blog.  No more will be added.  The first post was on 3/2/2011 and many of you have entered at different times, so you do have a cornucopia full of posts that you might have not read.

Also, you might want to check my other blogs:



http://ideastocontemplate.wordpress.com   (my husband’s essays)

http://aroundtheworldandthroughthelens.wordpress.com     (our world travels)

Wishing you the best,

Barbara Reagan, retired research historian

The Great Schism

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2016/10/14 at 12:00 AM

Perhaps the saddest event within our 2000 years of Christian history is the Great Schism of 1054, by which the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church was cleaved in half between East and West.

After a millennia of unity – albeit at times a very tense and strained unity – the Body of Christ no longer beat with one heart. Divided along cultural, theological, political and geographical lines, Rome and Constantinople were no longer sisters.
While there has been a general softening in hostilities between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, and while recent popes have reached out with gestures of conciliation, this division between Eastern and Western Christianity remains unhealed.
Though centuries in its making, with facets that are many and varied, the real heart of the division between Catholics and the Orthodox is really papal authority.
Because the pope is the successor of St. Peter, the undisputed leader of the apostles and the rock upon whom Christ founded His Church, Catholics believe the pope to have authority over all bishops and patriarchs, whereas the Orthodox insist upon the absolute equality of the Bishop of Rome and the Patriarch of Constantinople.
Because unity on this issue of gravest importance has yet to be attained, this sad division remains. And division is precisely the theme of our Gospel today.
In words that may shock ears attuned to a culture that insists that “being nice,” is the highest virtue, our Lord says: “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! . . . Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.”
So how do we reconcile these words from our merciful Lord, Whom we are accustomed to seeing so generously healing the sick and lame, and so gently calling children to Himself? Didn’t Jesus die for us all, and doesn’t He want all of us to be one body in Him?
Yes, Jesus did die for all mankind without exception. And yes, He does want us all to be united as one body. But that unity is not contingent upon Him, but rather upon us. If there is a division between Christ and us, it is not Christ’s fault.
Our Lord knew during His time on earth that He would be rejected and despised by many. Jesus knew there would be those people who, hardened by sin and selfishness, would turn away from Him and oppose Him to their own peril.
And the hard truth is that while our blessed Lord desires the salvation of all men more than anything else, He will allow us to damn ourselves if we fail to reconcile ourselves to Him and the Truth He has revealed through His Church.
My dear brothers and sisters, I cannot say it enough to you: we must never presume upon our salvation. Yes, salvation is a free gift given by God. Yes, God is merciful beyond measure and will pardon even the very gravest of sins if we are sorry for them.
But our redemption is a process with which we must cooperate. Specifically, we must conform our lives to our Lord’s teaching as it is divinely revealed to us through the Church. And we must beg pardon for those times that we fail.
So our work in the process of our own redemption is that of seeking out the Truth that our Lord has so lovingly revealed in the teachings of the Church and written upon our hearts, and then – by God’s grace, so freely given – doing our best to live by that Truth.
Our work in the process of our own redemption is a matter of coming to know Christ, to love Christ, and to be like Christ. If we hope to be saved, my dear brethren, then we must have a real relationship with the Savior!
Because Jesus Christ is our brother and friend, we must be intimate with Him in prayer. Because He is our savior, we must constantly thank and adore Him. And because Christ will be our Judge, we must obey Him and seek His mercy for our sins.
As the author of the Letter to the Hebrews tells us today, we must “rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us, while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith.”
But as with all things, we must not think only of ourselves. True charity demands that we try to help others along the path of salvation. And so the life of the Christian is necessarily evangelical by nature – helping others to know the truth and live by it.
The primary way that we evangelize is by living our Catholic faith with authenticity, for we cannot hope that others will adopt our faith if we ourselves are failing to live it well. But living our faith with integrity is only the beginning.
In a society such as ours that is now embracing as normal and good a whole host of evil and perverse practices, and even taxing its citizens to pay for those evils, we must also be willing to engage in battle with evil.
In a society such as ours that understands contraception as a necessity, abortion as a fundamental right, pornography as a pastime, and same sex unions as a matter of equality, we must hold fast to and promote our Catholic teachings with all the more tenacity – for souls are being lost to these evils in our midst.
Indeed, my brothers and sisters, we must be so convinced of the Truth of what Christ teaches us through His Church that we are willing to suffer the loss of relationships with loved ones rather than deny or disobey it.
We must be willing to suffer the pain that division with others brings in order to remain true to Jesus and to help others know Him. That’s the meaning of today’s Gospel!
There can be no doubt that living our Catholic faith with integrity is difficult today because it requires nothing less than dying to ourselves so that Christ may live in us. Our faith demands that we suffer, for there is no Catholicism without the cross.
Moreover, our world is filled with many temptations and with so many charlatans who, tickling our ears with lies and half-truths, sow doubts in our faith and distort the truths of Christ’s teachings.
Yet we must not be discouraged, even when those we love turn away from us because of our adherence to our Catholic faith. We must not be discouraged even when we have to suffer for our faith, as did poor Jeremiah in our first reading.
For as Jesus told His disciples during His sermon on the mount: “Blessed are you when they insult you, and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in Heaven” (Mt 5:12).
Brethren, none of us likes to be at odds with others. None of us likes to suffer the pains of division or persecution. Certainly, we should never seek division with others, but being true disciples of Christ may necessitate it.
Our readings today ask us the question if we are willing to suffer division for our faith. For the sake of souls, let us resolve to suffer whatever divisions necessary in this life so that we may not suffer eternal division from Christ in the next.
18 August 2013

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio.
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St. Dominic by Fr. Reid

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2016/10/07 at 12:00 AM

• The great mendicant, St. Dominic, once said that “A man who governs his passions is master of the world. We must either command them, or be commanded by them. It is better to be a hammer than an anvil.”

• When it comes to the spiritual life, our passions are the intensely powerful feelings or desires that lead us into sin, particularly the capital sins of lust, anger, greed, and envy.

• When we give free reign to our passions, we fall prey to concupiscence, hedonism, unbridled pleasure-seeking, and in the worst cases, hatred.

• Thus, St. Dominic’s point is well taken, for all of us from time to time have felt the turbulent waves of sinful inclinations rise and crash within ourselves.

• Sometimes it can feel like our passions – particularly those that inflame our lower appetites – are tyrants that must be obeyed. Emotions, especially when they are strong, can lead us to say and do all sorts of things that we know are wrong and sinful.

• Thus, it is so very important that every man of God learn how to govern his passions so as not to be a slave to them, for it is not God’s will that we be at the mercy of our emotions and passions, but rather that we learn self-control and restraint so that we may protect ourselves from sin.

• Truly, my friends, in our day and age, I cannot stress enough to you how important it is to guard ourselves from sin. Sin not only distorts and perverts our true selves, but it offends God. Moreover, as St. Paul wrote to the Romans, “the wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23).

• Thus, as true followers of Christ, we must be willing to endure all types of suffering and punishments rather than commit sin, for the sufferings of this world are only temporary, but the suffering that we will have to endure for our un-repented mortal sins is eternal.

• There is a hell, my friends, and it would do us good to try to avoid it! This requires that we fight. While God’s grace is constantly trying to pull upward, our passions and sinful inclinations drag us downward, and thus we must be vigilant in fighting these passions.

• Our second reading from the Letter of St. James talks about what falling prey to our sinful passions can do to us, while the first reading from the Book of Wisdom gives us an example of how sin can harden our hearts and blind us to truth and goodness.

• St. James tells us that “where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice.” He then asks: “Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from? Is it not from your passions that make war within your members?”

• The point St. James is making is that if we fail to fight against our sinful passions and inclinations, we will lose our inner peace, making us vulnerable to falling even deeper into sin.

• Rather than sating our desires, giving in to our passions, my friends, simply inflames them all the more. And when the sins we commit are mortal, it robs us of our interior peace because our Lord, Who entered our souls at baptism, flees from us until we make a good confession and are absolved from our sins.

• Further, the more we give into our sinful passions and inclinations, the less able we are to see the Truth and act in accord with it. Sin hardens our hearts, and if we fail to fight the sin in our life, our hearts will harden to the point that we begin to hate that which is good and holy.

• We see a very clear example of this in the first reading from the Book of Wisdom. This reading tells the story of wicked men who wish to cause suffering to a just man. While this passage is often understood to be a prophecy of Jesus’ passion and death, it shows us clearly how sin can devastate us morally.

• The wicked men mentioned in this passage want to harm the just man because he is just. They know of his innocence and goodness, but their sins have hardened their hearts to such a degree that the just man’s very presence is a reproach to them.

• While it is a very normal human feeling not to like some people, if we actually hate another person and wish them harm, then there is something seriously wrong with us, namely, that we have given in to our sinful passions to such a degree that we are now mastered by them.

• The good news is that it is never God’s will that we persist in our sinfulness. As the Divine Physician, He is capable of healing us and restoring us to full spiritual health. But in order for this to happen, we must align our wills with His most holy will.

• Last week I mentioned that if we suffer from a weak will, we can strengthen our wills through fasting and penances. Every time we choose, out of love for God, to voluntarily deny ourselves something we desire, our wills grow stronger, rendering us more capable of saying no to our passions and sinful desires as they arise.

• But there is an even more fundamental step we must take first if we truly wish to strengthen our wills and protect ourselves from sin, and this we read about in today’s Gospel. It is this: we must learn to be humble and charitable.

• In the Gospel today Jesus says to the 12 apostles: “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” Then taking a child and embracing him, Jesus tells the 12 that they must be ready to  receive such a child in His name.

• In these words and actions of Jesus, we see these two virtues humility and charity extolled.

• St. John Vianney once said that: “Humility is to the various virtues what the chain is in a rosary. Take away the chain and the beads are scattered; remove humility, and all virtues vanish.”

• Thus, humility is the root of every other virtue. Humility nourishes our soul and makes us capable of receiving God’s grace so that the virtues can take root and grow in our souls.

• Moreover, humility helps us to see how truly weak we are, and thus it induces us to seek our Lord’s strength and protection all the more when we’re bombarded by temptation.

• Charity, on the other hand, is the form of all the virtues. Whereas humility prepares us to receive the other virtues, charity helps to perfect the other virtues within us.

• Because charity is the most important and most powerful of all virtues, the more we grow in charity, the more the other virtues naturally grow within us as well, including the virtues of temperance, chastity, and meekness, which help us to control our passions.

• The more we grow in humility, the more we see God and ourselves as we truly are. The more we grow in charity, the more we love God for Who He Is. The more that we know God and love God, the more we want to serve Him and avoid offending Him.

• My dear friends, let us learn to turn away from sin by strengthening ourselves against our passions and sinful inclinations through growing in the virtues of humility and charity.

• Let us avoid sin at all cost, not only because sin has the power to distort and destroy our souls, but also out of our love for God, Whom we should love above all things.

Copyright 2010 by Reverend Timothy S. Reid

Reverend Reid is pastor of St. Ann’s Catholic  Church in Charlotte, NC