Sunday, February 24, 2019

Preparation for Death

Desiderius Erasmus (by Albrecht Dürer, 1526)

We are assured of victory over death, victory over the flesh, victory over the world and Satan. Christ promises us remission of sins, fruits in this life, a hundred-fold, and thereafter life eternal. And for what reason? For the sake of our merit? No indeed, but through the grace of faith which is in Christ Jesus. We are the more secure because he is first our doctor. He first overcame the lapse of Adam, nailed our sins to the cross, sealed our redemption with his blood, which has been confirmed by the testimonies of the prophets, apostles, martyrs, and virgins and by the universal Church of the saints. He added the seal of the Spirit lest we should waver in our confidence… What could we little worms do of ourselves? Christ is our justification. Christ is our victory, Christ is our hope and security. “Unto us a child is born.” Unto us, born for us, given for us. He it is who teaches us, cures our diseases, casts out demons, for us suffers hunger and thirst, is afflicted, endures the agonies of death, sweats bloods, for us is conquered, wounded, dead and resurrected, and sits at the right hand of God the Father. As we approach death the sacraments are not to be despised, but of greater importance are faith and charity without which all else is vain… Christ said “Come unto me all ye that labor.” Take refuge then is his cave in the rocks. Flee to his wounds and you will be safe. The way to enter paradise is the way of the penitent thief. Say simply, “Thy will be done. The world to me is crucified and I to the world.”

Desiderius Erasmus, A Treatise on Preparation for Death (Praeparatio ad mortem (1534)

Friday, February 15, 2019

Cultivate the fruits of the Spirit

The ancients philosophized very little about divine things… The curious subtlety of the Arians drove the orthodox to greater necessity… Let the ancients be pardoned… but what excuse is there for us, who raise so many curious, not to say impious, questions about matters far removed from our nature? We define so many things which may be left to ignorance or in doubt without loss of salvation. Is it not possible to have fellowship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit without being able to explain philosophically the distinction between them and between the nativity of the Son and the procession of the Holy Ghost? If I believe the tradition that there are three of one nature, what is the use of labored disputation? If I do not believe, I shall not be persuaded by any human reasons… You will not be damned if you do not know whether the Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son has one or two beginnings, but you will not escape damnation, if you do not cultivate the fruits of the Spirit which are love, joy, peace, patience, modesty, continence, and chastity.

Desiderius Erasmus, Preface to his edition of the works of St. Hilary of Poitiers (1523)

Monday, February 11, 2019

Memento mori (‘remember you will die’)

"Memento mori (‘remember you will die’) is the ancient Christian practice of contemplating death and especially our own. Rather than to give into the hopelessness of decay, we know that flesh and bone will rise in the Resurrection. But to get to the joy of Easter Sunday, we must also endure the pain of Good Friday.

"This week, Michael is joined by Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble to answer the question, 'How does reflecting on death bring us closer to understanding Christ’s death and Resurrection?' As a former atheist who has studied and practiced memento mori in her own spiritual life, Sr. Theresa offers some fascinating insights on how the contemplation of death can lead to a more fruitful Lent and a more joyful Easter..."

Read more and listen to the podcast here: The Lenten Practice of Memento Mori | feat. Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble