Sunday, 28 October 2012

Quick summary of 21 Ecumenical Councils -

This website hosts a fully linked summary of the 21 Ecumenical Councils of the Church. Very useful for students and those wanting a quick look at what happened.

Each council has a quick paragraph or sentence about:

1. Site
2. Year
3. Pope
4. Emperor
5. Action
6. Note
7. Heresiarch/Heretics OR Main Controversy

Thursday, 25 October 2012

SUMMARY OF Apostolic Letter - Porta Fidei - Pope Benedict XVI

Summary of the recent Motu Proprio "Porta Fidei" by The Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI for the Indictment of the YEAR OF FAITH, AD 2012-2013.
Full text:

1. The door of faith is always open to us. It is possible to walk through the door when the Word of God is proclaimed and the heart allows itself to be shaped by transforming grace. Walking through the door sets us on a lifelong journey.

2. There is a need to rediscover the journey of faith so as to shed ever clearer light on the joy and renewed enthusiasm of the encounter with Christ.

3. The people of today still experience a longing for Jesus. We cannot accept that salt should be tasteless. We must rediscover how to feed ourselves with the Word of God, through the Church.

4. In light of this, Pope Benedict XVI has called "The Year of Faith". In 1967, Pope Paul VI intended to show how much the essential content that for centuries has formed the heritage of all believers needs to be confirmed, understood and explored ever anew, so as to bear consistent witness in historical circumstances very different from those of the past. Pope Benedict XVI wants to continue that.

5. The Documents of Vatican II need to be read and interpreted correctly, become widely known, and taken to heart as important and normative texts within the Church's tradition.

6. The renewal of the Church is also achieved by the witness and lives of Christians. We are called to radiate Christ and all He has left us. The Year of Faith, from this perspective, is a summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the one Saviour of the world. Through faith, this new life shapes the whole of human existence according to the radical new reality of the resurrection. To the extent that he freely cooperates, man’s thoughts and affections, mentality and conduct are slowly purified and transformed, on a journey that is never completely finished in this life. “Faith working through love” (Gal 5:6) becomes a new criterion of understanding and action that changes the whole of man’s life (cf. Rom 12:2; Col 3:9-10; Eph 4:20-29; 2 Cor 5:17).

7. It is the love of Christ that fills our hearts and impels us to evangelize. Today too, there is a need for strong ecclesial commitment to new evangelization in order to rediscover the joy of believing and the enthusiasm for communicating the faith. Only through believing, then, does faith grow and become stronger; there is no other possibility for possessing certitude with regard to one’s life apart from self-abandonment, in a continuous crescendo, into the hands of a love that seems to grow constantly because it has its origin in God.

8. Pope Benedict XVI invited all the Bishops of the world to join him. We want to celebrate this year of faith in a worthy and fruitful manner. Reflection on the faith will have to be intensified. We will have the opportunity to profess our faith in the Risen Lord in our cathedrals and in the churches of the whole world; in our homes and among our families. Religious communities as well as parish communities, and all ecclesial bodies old and new, are to find a way, during this Year, to make a public profession of the Credo.

9. Aspire to profess the faith in fullness and with renewed conviction, with confidence and hope. The Year of Faith is a good opportunity to intensify the celebration of the faith in the liturgy, especially in the Eucharist. We pray that believers’ witness of life may grow in credibility. To rediscover the content of the faith that is professed, celebrated, lived and prayed, and to reflect on the act of faith, is a task that every believer must make his own, especially in the course of this Year. Memorize our Creed and say it everywhere and often!

10. Here is a path intended to help us understand more profoundly the content of the faith, and the act by which we choose to entrust ourselves fully to God, in complete freedom.

There exists a profound unity between the act by which we believe and the content to which we give our assent. “Man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved” (Rom10:10). The heart indicates that the first act by which one comes to faith is God’s gift and the action of grace which acts and transforms the person deep within.

There is a woman in Sacred Scripture named Lydia and “the Lord opened her heart to give heed to what was said by Paul” (Acts 16:14). Knowing the content to be believed is not sufficient unless the heart is opened by grace that allows the eyes to see that what has been proclaimed is the word of God.

Confessing with the lips indicates in turn that faith implies public testimony and commitment. Faith in Jesus points towards an understanding of the reasons for believing. Faith, precisely because it is a free act, also demands social responsibility for what one believes. The Holy Spirit makes us fit for fearless, frank, public witness of the faith, which was clearly demonstrated at Pentecost.

Profession of faith is an act both personal (I Believe) and communitarian (We Believe). 

Knowledge of the content of faith is essential for giving one’s own assent to the faith. Giving assent implies that you believe everything the Church teaches because God gave it to us.

There are also those who do not claim to have faith but are sincerely searching for the truth, which is a preamble to faith, on the path toward the mystery of God. Human reason itself has a permanent demand for something lasting and true, which is the encounter with God. To this encounter, faith invites us and it opens us in fullness.

11. For a systematic knowledge of the content of faith, The Catechism of the Catholic Church is an  indispensable resource.

Today, more than ever, we are faced with new questions, but we are not afraid to show there cannot be a conflict between faith and science.

13. This year, we must retrace our history of faith: the mysteries of holiness and sin. During this, we must keep our gaze fixed on Christ.

By faith, Mary said yes.
By faith, Mary stood with Jesus
By faith, Mary tasted the fruits of the Resurrection of Jesus
By faith, the Apostles left everything to follow their Master
By faith, the Apostles believed Jesus' teachings
By faith, the Apostles preached the Gospel throughout the whole world
By faith, the disciples offered the first Eucharist and gathered reading Scripture
By faith, the Martyrs gave their lives
By faith, men and women have consecrated their lives to Christ
By faith, unknown men and women have confessed Jesus and borne witness to Him in the workplace and in public life
We too live by faith.

14. The Year of Faith is a good opportunity to intensify the witness of charity: Faith without charity bears no fruit.

15. Having reached the end of his life, Saint Paul asks his disciple Timothy to “aim at faith” (2 Tim 2:22) with the same constancy as when he was a boy (cf. 2 Tim 3:15). We hear this invitation directed to each of us, that none of us grow lazy in the faith.

“That the word of the Lord may speed on and triumph” (2 Th 3:1): may this Year of Faith make our relationship with Christ the Lord increasingly firm, since only in him is there the certitude for looking to the future and the guarantee of an authentic and lasting love.

Make cool word clouds using "Wordle" at

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

The Institute for Psychological Sciences

The Institute for Psychological Sciences is a Catholic Graduate School specializing in the integration of Psychology and Theology. It was co-founded by Dr. Gladys Sweeney, Dr. Paul C. Vitz, and Fr. Benedict Groeschel, among others.

It offers a M.S. in General Psychology as well as a Psy. D. or M.S. in Clinical Psychology route.

IPS is located in Arlington Virgina

The Institute for the Psychological Sciences
2001 Jefferson Davis Highway
Suite 511
Arlington, VA  22202

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Canons of Dei Filius of Vatican I (1869-1870)


1. On God the creator of all things
1. If anyone denies the one true God, creator and lord of things visible and invisible: let him be anathema.
2. If anyone is so bold as to assert that there exists nothing besides matter: let him be anathema.
3. If anyone says that the substance or essence of God and that of all things are one and the same: let him be anathema.
4. If anyone says that finite things, both corporal and spiritual, or at any rate, spiritual, emanated from the divine substance; or that the divine essence, by the manifestation and evolution of itself becomes all things or, finally, that God is a universal or indefinite being which by self determination establishes the totality of things distinct in genera, species and individuals: let him be anathema.
5. If anyone does not confess that the world and all things which are contained in it, both spiritual and material, were produced, according to their whole substance, out of nothing by God; or holds that God did not create by his will free from all necessity, but as necessarily as he necessarily loves himself; or denies that the world was created for the glory of God: let him be anathema.

2. On revelation
1. If anyone says that the one, true God, our creator and lord, cannot be known with certainty from the things that have been made, by the natural light of human reason: let him be anathema.
2. If anyone says that it is impossible, or not expedient, that human beings should be taught by means of divine revelation about God and the worship that should be shown him : let him be anathema.
3. If anyone says that a human being cannot be divinely elevated to a knowledge and perfection which exceeds the natural, but of himself can and must reach finally the possession of all truth and goodness by continual development: let him be anathema.
4. If anyone does not receive as sacred and canonical the complete books of Sacred Scripture with all their parts, as the holy Council of Trent listed them, or denies that they were divinely inspired : let him be anathema.

3. On faith
1. If anyone says that human reason is so independent that faith cannot be commanded by God: let him be anathema.
2. If anyone says that divine faith is not to be distinguished from natural knowledge about God and moral matters, and consequently that for divine faith it is not required that revealed truth should be believed because of the authority of God who reveals it: let him be anathema.
3. If anyone says that divine revelation cannot be made credible by external signs, and that therefore men and women ought to be moved to faith only by each one's internal experience or private inspiration: let him be anathema.
4. If anyone says that all miracles are impossible, and that therefore all reports of them, even those contained in Sacred Scripture, are to be set aside as fables or myths; or that miracles can never be known with certainty, nor can the divine origin of the Christian religion be proved from them: let him be anathema.
5. If anyone says that the assent to Christian faith is not free, but is necessarily produced by arguments of human reason; or that the grace of God is necessary only for living faith which works by charity: let him be anathema.
6. If anyone says that the condition of the faithful and those who have not yet attained to the only true faith is alike, so that Catholics may have a just cause for calling in doubt, by suspending their assent, the faith which they have already received from the teaching of the Church, until they have completed a scientific demonstration of the credibility and truth of their faith: let him be anathema.

4. On faith and reason
1. If anyone says that in divine revelation there are contained no true mysteries properly so-called, but that all the dogmas of the faith can be understood and demonstrated by properly trained reason from natural principles: let him be anathema.
2. If anyone says that human studies are to be treated with such a degree of liberty that their assertions may be maintained as true even when they are opposed to divine revelation, and that they may not be forbidden by the Church: let him be anathema.
3. If anyone says that it is possible that at some time, given the advancement of knowledge, a sense may be assigned to the dogmas propounded by the Church which is different from that which the Church has understood and understands: let him be anathema.

And so in the performance of our supreme pastoral office, we beseech for the love of Jesus Christ and we command, by the authority of him who is also our God and savior, all faithful Christians, especially those in authority or who have the duty of teaching, that they contribute their zeal and labor to the warding off and elimination of these errors from the Church and to the spreading of the light of the pure faith.

But since it is not enough to avoid the contamination of heresy unless those errors are carefully shunned which approach it in greater or less degree, we warn all of their duty to observe the constitutions and decrees in which such wrong opinions, though not expressly mentioned in this document, have been banned and forbidden by this Holy See.

Friday, 12 October 2012

St. Dominic's Nine Ways of Prayer

St. Dominic's Nine Ways of Prayer

1. Bowing Deeply

He taught the brethren to do this whenever they passed before a crucifix showing the humiliation of Christ, so that Christ, who was humbled for our sake, might particularly see us humbled before his greatness. Similarly he told the brethren to humble themselves like this before the whole Trinity when¬ever ‘Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit’ was recited solemnly.

This way of prayer was the beginning of his devotion: bowing deeply.

2. Falling Prostrate

Sometimes, wanting to teach the brethren with what reve¬rence they ought to pray, he would say to them, ‘The Magi, those devout kings, entered the house and found the child with Mary, his mother (Matthew 2:11). Now it is certain that we have found him too. God and man, with Mary his handmaid, so come, let us fall down and worship before God, let us weep before the Lord who made us’ (Psalms 94:6).

He exhorted the young men too, saying to them, ‘If you cannot weep for your own sins, because you have none, still there are many sinners to be directed towards mercy and love, for whose sake the prophets and apostles groaned in distress, and for their sake too Jesus wept bitterly when he saw them (Luke 19:41), and similarly the holy David wept and said, “I saw the half-hearted and I pined away”’ (Psalms 118:158).

3. Penance

For this reason, rising up from the ground, he used to take the discipline with an iron chain saying, ‘Your discipline has set me straight towards my goal’ (Psalms 17:36). This is why the whole order determined that all the brethren, out of respect for the memory of St. Dominic’s example, should take the discipline on their bare backs with sticks of wood every ferial day after Compline, saying the Miserere or the De profundis. They were to do this either for their own sins or for those of others whose gifts support them. So no one, however innocent, should withdraw himself from following this holy example.

4. Genuflection

After this, St. Dominic, standing before the altar or in the chapter room, would fix his gaze on the crucifix, looking intently at Christ on the cross and kneeling down over and over again, a hundred times perhaps; sometimes he would even spend the whole time from after Compline until midnight getting up and kneeling down again, like the apostle James, and like the leper in the gospel who knelt down and said, ‘Lord, if you will you can make me clean’ (Mark 1:40), and like Stephen who knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them’ (Acts 7:59). 

He was so accustomed to genuflecting that, when he was on a journey, whether in a hostel after the toils of the road or on the road itself, while the others were sleeping or resting, he would return to his genuflections as to his own special art and his own personal service. This way of prayer he taught more by the example of his practice than by what he said.

5. Contemplation

Sometimes, when he was in a priory, our holy father Dominic would stand upright before the altar, not leaning on anything or supported by anything, but with his whole body standing erect on his feet. Sometimes he would hold his hands out, open, before his breast, like an open book, and then he would stand with great reverence and devotion, as if he were reading in the presence of God. 

At other times he joined his hands and held them tightly fastened together in front of his eyes, hunching himself up. At other times he raised his hands to his shoulders, in the manner of a priest saying Mass, as if he wanted to fix his ears more attentively on something that was being said to him by someone else. 

6. Earnest Intercession

Sometimes, as I was told personally by someone who had seen it, our holy father Dominic was also seen praying with his hands and arms spread out like a cross, stretching himself to the limit and standing as upright as he possibly could. This was how he prayed when God restored the boy Napoleon to life at his prayer at San Sisto in Rome, both in the sacristy and in the church during the Mass in which he rose from the ground, as we were told by that devout and holy sister, Cecilia, who was present with a great crowd of others and saw it all. Like Elijah when he raised the widow’s son, he stretched himself out over the boy’s body (1 Kings 17:21).

This was how the Lord prayed when he hung on the cross, his hands and arms stretched out, when, with great cries and weeping, his prayer was heard because of his reverence (Hebrews 5:7). The holy man of God, Dominic, did not use this kind of prayer regularly, but only when, by God’s inspiration, he knew that some great wonder was going to occur by virtue of his prayer. He neither forbade the brethren to pray like this nor did he encourage it. 

7. Supplication

He was also often found stretching his whole body up towards heaven in prayer, like a choice arrow shot straight up from a bow (Isaiah 49:2). He had his hands stretched right up above his head, joined together or slightly open as if to catch something from heaven. And it is believed that at such times he received an increase of grace and was caught up in rapture, and that his prayer won from God, for the order he had founded, the gifts of the Holy Spirit and, for himself and for his brethren, such delight and enjoyment in putting the Beatitudes into practice that each one would consider himself blessed in the most profound poverty, in bitter grief, in severe persecution, in great hunger and thirst for righteousness, in all the cares and worries of mercy (Matthew 5:3-10), and that they would all consider it a pleasure to observe the commandments with devotion and to follow the evangelical counsels. At such times the holy father seemed suddenly to enter the Holy of Holies and the third heaven (2 Corinthians 12:2). And so, after this kind of prayer, he bore himself like a prophet, as is related in his miracles, whether he was rebuking or dispensing or preaching. Just one example must be given here, briefly, for edification’s sake.

So the holy father did not remain long in this kind of prayer, but returned to himself as if he were coming from far away, and at such times he seemed to be a stranger in the world, as could easily be seen from his appearance and his behavior. While he was praying he was sometimes clearly heard by the brethren saying, as the prophet did, ‘Hear the voice of my supplication while I pray to you and while I lift up my hands to your holy temple’ (Psalms 27:2).  And the holy master taught the brethren to pray like this, both by his words and by his example. He quoted from Psalm 133:2, ‘At night lift up your hands to the holy place,’ and Psalm 140:2, ‘The raising of my hands like an evening sacrifice.’

8. Thoughtful Reading

The holy father Dominic also had another beautiful way of praying, full of devotion and grace. After the canonical hours and the grace which is said in common after meals the father would go off quickly to some place where he could be alone, in a cell or somewhere. Sober and alert and anointed with a spirit of devotion which he had drawn from the words of God which had been sung in choir or during the meal, he would settle himself down to read or pray, recollecting himself in himself and fixing himself in the presence of God. Sitting there quietly, he would open some book before him, arming himself first with the sign of the cross, and then he would read. And he would be moved in his mind as delightfully as if he heard the Lord speaking to him. As the Psalm says, ‘I will hear what the Lord God is saying in me, because he will speak peace to his people and upon his saints, and to those who turn to him with all their heart’ (Psalms 84:9). 

9. Praying on a Journey

He also used to observe this way of prayer when he was going from one country to another, especially when he was in a lonely place. He disported himself with his meditations in his contemplation. And sometimes he would say to his travelling companions, ‘It is written in Hosea, “I will lead her to a lonely place and speak to her heart”’ (Hosea 2:14). So sometimes he went aside from his companion or went on ahead or, more likely, lingered far behind; going on his own he would pray as he walked, and a fire was kindled in his meditation (Psalms 38:4).

A curious thing about this kind of prayer was that he seemed to be brushing away ashes or flies from his face, and because of this he often defended himself with the sign of the cross. The brethren thought that in this kind of prayer the saint acquired the fullness of sacred scripture and the very heart of the understanding of God’s words, and also a power and boldness to preach fervently and a hidden intimacy with the Holy Spirit to know hidden things.

In Summary:

Smart Use of QR Codes

Have you ever seen one of these?

This 2D barcode is called a "QR code". It encrypts information.

Have you ever seen one of these?

The coloured 2D code is called a "tag". It encrypts more information than a QR code, but achieves the same result. We will refer to the two code types interchangeably.

You see them everywhere, but people use them wrong. Here is some food for thought when deciding to market yourself through QR codes and tags:

1. THINK: What type of information will a person get on their phone when they scan your QR code?

2. THINK: Whatever QR code another person scans, they should want to save the coded information in their phone.

3. The information received or the URL given by these codes should be accessible by all mobile phones, that is it shouldn't require copious amounts of data and time to load.

4. The information should be useful to have on a phone and not just on a laptop. If your tag leads to a website, then you can't really access it quickly on the go and it's too much to read. You could just wait until home to look it up on your personal computer. Useless in terms of marketing, yet it happens too often.

5. Information suitable to a mobile phone would include
        a. Resumes
        b. Curriculum Vitae
        c. Academic references
        d. Policies and other legal documents
        e. Notices, memos, important dates
        f. Lists

The graphics above are just two examples of the various types of 2D codes, also called QR codes, available. Microsoft Tag provides a one-stop shop for creating these.

6. You can use QR codes to offer your credentials at conferences. Tape a QR code onto your name tag and have it link to a simple webpage with your credentials, CV, or publications.

7. You can use QR codes to provide reference material in presentations. The audience can scan the code and have the reference materials in their phones.

8. Be careful using these! If you ruin your "first virtual impression", people will not want to use QR codes for anything because they are not useful enough. Provide pertinent, straightforward information that is not too verbose and it will prove successful.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Abstract: Without God, man loses his grandeur; without God, there is no true humanism. Let us listen to his voice and seek his face! - St. Gregory Nazianzus

St. Gregory Nazianzus

Without God, man loses his grandeur; without God, there is no true humanism. Let us listen to his voice and seek his face!

He himself wrote: "Nothing seems to me greater than this: to silence one's senses, to emerge from the flesh of the world, to withdraw into oneself, no longer to be concerned with human things other than what is strictly necessary; to converse with oneself and with God, to lead a life that transcends the visible; to bear in one's soul divine images, ever pure, not mingled with earthly or erroneous forms; truly to be a perfect mirror of God and of divine things, and to become so more and more, taking light from light...; to enjoy, in the present hope, the future good, and to converse with angels; to have already left the earth even while continuing to dwell on it, borne aloft by the spirit" (Orationes 2: 7; SC 247: 96).

In about 379, Gregory was called to Constantinople, the capital, to head the small Catholic community faithful to the Council of Nicea and to belief in the Trinity. The majority adhered instead to Arianism, which was "politically correct" and viewed by emperors as politically useful.
Thus, he found himself in a condition of minority, surrounded by hostility. He delivered five Theological Orations (Orationes 27-31; SC 250: 70-343) in the little Church of the Anastasis precisely in order to defend the Trinitarian faith and to make it intelligible. These discourses became famous because of the soundness of his doctrine and his ability to reason, which truly made clear that this was the divine logic. And the splendour of their form also makes them fascinating today. It was because of these orations that Gregory acquired the nickname: "The Theologian".

This is what he is called in the Orthodox Church: the "Theologian". And this is because to his way of thinking theology was not merely human reflection or even less, only a fruit of complicated speculation, but rather sprang from a life of prayer and holiness, from a persevering dialogue with God. And in this very way he causes the reality of God, the mystery of the Trinity, to appear to our reason.
In the silence of contemplation, interspersed with wonder at the marvels of the mystery revealed, his soul was engrossed in beauty and divine glory.

Compiled by Pope Benedict XVI

Abstract: Mystagogical Catechesis - St. Cyril of Jerusalem

St. Cyril of Jerusalem

Mystagogical Catechesis 

Taken as a whole, Cyril's homilies form a systematic catechesis on the Christian's rebirth through Baptism.
He tells the catechumen: "You have been caught in the nets of the Church (cf. Mt 13: 47). Be taken alive, therefore; do not escape for it is Jesus who is fishing for you, not in order to kill you but to resurrect you after death. Indeed, you must die and rise again (cf. Rom 6: 11, 14).... Die to your sins and live to righteousness from this very day" (Procatechesis, 5). From the doctrinal viewpoint, Cyril commented on the Jerusalem Creed with recourse to the typology of the Scriptures in a "symphonic" relationship between the two Testaments, arriving at Christ, the centre of the universe. The typology was to be described decisively by Augustine of Hippo: "In the Old Testament there is a veiling of the New, and in the New Testament there is a revealing of the Old" (De catechizandis rudibus 4, 8). As for the moral catechesis, it is anchored in deep unity to the doctrinal catechesis: the dogma progressively descends in souls who are thus urged to transform their pagan behaviour on the basis of new life in Christ, a gift of Baptism. The "mystagogical" catechesis, lastly, marked the summit of the instruction that Cyril imparted, no longer to catechumens but to the newly baptized or neophytes during Easter week. He led them to discover the mysteries still hidden in the baptismal rites of the Easter Vigil.

Compiled by Pope Paul VI

Abstract: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit - St. Hilary of Poitiers

St. Hilary of Poitiers
"The Hammer of the Arians"

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit

To sum up the essentials of his doctrine, I would like to say that Hilary found the starting point for his theological reflection in baptismal faith. In De Trinitate, Hilary writes: Jesus "has commanded us to baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (cf. Mt 28: 19), that is, in the confession of the Author, of the Only-Begotten One and of the Gift. The Author of all things is one alone, for one alone is God the Father, from whom all things proceed. And one alone is Our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom all things exist (cf. I Cor 8: 6), and one alone is the Spirit (cf. Eph 4: 4), a gift in all.... In nothing can be found to be lacking so great a fullness, in which the immensity in the Eternal One, the revelation in the Image, joy in the Gift, converge in the Father, in the Son and in the Holy Spirit" (De Trinitate 2, 1). God the Father, being wholly love, is able to communicate his divinity to his Son in its fullness. I find particularly beautiful the following formula of St Hilary: "God knows not how to be anything other than love, he knows not how to be anyone other than the Father. Those who love are not envious and the one who is the Father is so in his totality. This name admits no compromise, as if God were father in some aspects and not in others" (ibid., 9, 61).

For this reason the Son is fully God without any gaps or diminishment. "The One who comes from the perfect is perfect because he has all, he has given all" (ibid., 2, 8). Humanity finds salvation in Christ alone, Son of God and Son of man. In assuming our human nature, he has united himself with every man, "he has become the flesh of us all" (Tractatus super Psalmos 54, 9); "he took on himself the nature of all flesh and through it became true life, he has in himself the root of every vine shoot" (ibid., 51, 16). For this very reason the way to Christ is open to all - because he has drawn all into his being as a man -, even if personal conversion is always required: "Through the relationship with his flesh, access to Christ is open to all, on condition that they divest themselves of their former self (cf. Eph 4: 22), nailing it to the Cross (cf. Col 2: 14); provided we give up our former way of life and convert in order to be buried with him in his baptism, in view of life (cf. Col1: 12; Rom 6: 4)" (ibid., 91, 9).

Fidelity to God is a gift of his grace. Therefore, St Hilary asks, at the end of his Treatise on the Trinity, to be able to remain ever faithful to the baptismal faith. It is a feature of this book: reflection is transformed into prayer and prayer returns to reflection. The whole book is a dialogue with God.
I would like to end today's Catechesis with one of these prayers, which thus becomes our prayer:
"Obtain, O Lord", St Hilary recites with inspiration, "that I may keep ever faithful to what I have professed in the symbol of my regeneration, when I was baptized in the Father, in the Son and in the Holy Spirit. That I may worship you, our Father, and with you, your Son; that I may deserve your Holy Spirit, who proceeds from you through your Only Begotten Son... Amen" (De Trinitate 12, 57).

Compiled by Pope Benedict XVI

Abstract: Be an example! Sing to the Lord! - St. Ephrem the Syrian

St. Ephraem the Syrian
Harp of the Holy Spirit

Be an example; Sing of the Lord!

Ephrem never left his solitude in Edessa except on fixed days to preach. In his preaching, he defended the dogmas of faith from swelling heresies. If, conscious of his lowliness, he did not dare to rise to the priesthood, he nevertheless showed himself a most perfect imitator of St. Stephen in the lower rank of the diaconate. He devoted all of his time to teaching Scripture, to preaching, and to instructing the nuns in sacred psalmody. Daily he wrote commentaries on the Bible to illustrate the orthodox faith; he came to the aid of his fellow citizens, especially the poor and the stricken. What he sought to teach others, he first did absolutely and perfectly. In this way, he could serve as the example which Ignatius Theophorus proposes to the deacons when he calls them "charges of Christ"[1] and asserts that they express "the mystery of faith in a pure conscience."[2]

Ephrem lived among people whose nature was attracted by the sweetness of poetry and music. The heretics of the second century after Christ used these same allurements to skillfully disseminate their errors. Therefore Ephrem, like youthful David killing the giant Goliath with his own sword, opposed art with art and clothed Catholic doctrine in melody and rhythm. These he diligently taught to boys and girls, so that eventually all the people learned them. In this fashion he not only renewed the education of the faithful in Christian doctrine and supported their piety with the spirit of the sacred liturgy, but also happily kept creeping heresy at bay.

Ephrem also teaches that the sources of spiritual life are in the sacraments, in the observance of the Evangelical precepts, and in the manifold exercises of piety which the liturgy supplies and the authority of the Church proposes. On this subject, note what our saint has to say about the sacrifice of the Altar: "With his hands the priest places Christ on the altar to become food. He addresses the Father as a member of the family saying, "Give me your Spirit, that in his coming he may descend upon the altar and sanctify the bread placed there to become the Body of your only begotten Son. He tells him of Christ's passion and death and exposes His blows; nor is His divinity ashamed of those blows. He says to the invisible Father: behold, your Son is nailed to the cross, his garments are sprinkled with blood, his side pierced with a lance. He recalls for him the passion and death of his Beloved, as though he had forgotten them, and the Father, hearing, favors his request."[3] He also remarks on the state of the just after death. In a singular manner, these remarks augment the constant doctrine of the Church, later defined in the council of Florence. "The deceased has been taken away by the Lord and has already been introduced to the kingdom of heaven. The soul of the deceased is received in heaven and inserted as a pearl in the crown of Christ. The deceased even now resides with God and his saints."[4]


1. St. Ignatius, epistle to Thrall., n. 3.

2. 1 Tm 3.9.

Compiled by Pope Benedict XV

Abstract: Jesus is the Incarnation of the Word of God - St. Athanasius

St. Athanasius
"Doctor Universalis", "Doctor Expertus"

Jesus is the Incarnation of the Word of God

Athanasius was undoubtedly one of the most important and revered early Church Fathers. But this great Saint was above all the impassioned theologian of the Incarnation of the Logos, the Word of God who - as the Prologue of the fourth Gospel says - "became flesh and dwelt among us" (Jn 1: 14). For this very reason Athanasius was also the most important and tenacious adversary of the Arian heresy, which at that time threatened faith in Christ, reduced to a creature "halfway" between God and man, according to a recurring tendency in history which we also see manifested today in various forms.

The most famous doctrinal work of the holy Alexandrian Bishop is his treatise: De Incarnatione, On the Incarnation of the Word, the divine Logos who was made flesh, becoming like one of us for our salvation. In this work Athanasius says with an affirmation that has rightly become famous that the Word of God "was made man so that we might be made God; and he manifested himself through a body so that we might receive the idea of the unseen Father; and he endured the insolence of men that we might inherit immortality" (54, 3). With his Resurrection, in fact, the Lord banished death from us like "straw from the fire" (8, 4).

The fundamental idea of Athanasius' entire theological battle was precisely that God is accessible. He is not a secondary God, he is the true God and it is through our communion with Christ that we can truly be united to God. He has really become "God-with-us".

Compiled by Pope Benedict XVI

Saturday, 6 October 2012

The Ascent of Mount Carmel - Visual

Introduction - Discipline

Welcome to the topic of Discipline. I know it is a scary topic, but the right discipline is necessary discipline.

Here, we attempt to compile useful lists of important doctrines, dogma, spiritualities, and all other spiritual food in a way that you could print them off onto a business card and keep in your wallet or purse.

That's not a bad idea.
Go make yourself felt (not the fabric...)!

Thank you for being interested in the narrow way,

Matthew S. MacLennan
Catholic Self-Help

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Visual

steven covey, seven habits

Introduction - Book Summaries

Welcome to the Book Summaries section of Catholic Self-Help!

Here, we do what we say: Summarize the key lessons from what we deem as important books that will guide you in your life in Christ.

We are all busy people. Catholics, because of our various responsibilities, duties, and our moral obligation to uphold them and be excellent in them, we should be particularly busy. Don't just say you are busy... you should be genuinely BUSY! Therefore, my hope is that by summarizing important books, I can save you some time in reading an entire book, in case you are not planning on reading the entire work.

If you are planning to read an entire book, you can use the Book Summaries posts as "the gist" of the book you want to read. I hopefully won't give it away!

I also attach a cover photo and the link to purchasing it on Amazon.

Don't just read, DO!

Thank you,

Matthew S. MacLennan
Catholic Self-Help

Introduction to Visuals

In this section of Catholic Self-Help, we introduce Visuals. A convenient way to express interconnecting ideas, sequential actions, and networks, visuals provide a streamlined way to learn things which may be difficult to visualize through text alone.

We will present visuals which will help explain Papal documents, visuals which present the overall structure of an important work, visuals which are already in print, and visuals created right here on Catholic Self-Help!

We hope that the visuals presented here will be useful for educational purposes. More sincerely, we hope that through increased understanding, you may come to know the love God has for you, the love His Church has for you, and the magnificent quest of life He calls you to.

Thank you,

Matthew S. MacLennan
Catholic Self-Help