Posted by: Fr Chris | October 11, 2019

Which Seed Am I in Relation to God?

Information about icons and some of the theology of icons is in today’s bulletin. This Sunday is celebrated as the commemoration of the Seventh Ecumenical Council, held in October in 787 at Nicaea, outside Constantinople, to deal with the first wave of the destruction of icons. It is also the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima. 

The 7th council was deliberately held at Nicaea, where the Arian heresy had been defeated in 325 AD, because the whole issue of using sacred images in prayer and worship is intimately tied to the question of Who is Jesus Christ as the God-Man, along with the Christian attitude toward the created world, and the meaning of Christian redemption and the salvation of the material universe.

This Council’s decisions emphasized that Christ can be depicted simply because He “became human and took flesh.” Since the Second Person of the Trinity, the Logos, the Eternal Word of God, took a material body from the womb of Our Lady, material images of Him can be made. In so taking a material body, God proved that matter can be redeemed. God sanctified matter, bringing salvation back to the world that had been so damaged by original sin.

Because of the Incarnation, matter and human flesh are mediums for the action of the Holy Spirit. Therefore we can use wood, paint, ceramic, metal – anything physical – in making images of Our Lord, His Mother and the Saints.

Christianity is routinely hit by heretics and leaders of cults who deny the holiness of the created world and treat the human body as a prison for the soul. So smashing icons and refusing to put up sacred images in churches is a sign of a serious falsehood, one that the Calvinists used to destroy so much of Christian heritage in Europe.

God saw His creation and it was good, and even after original sin He provides for Adam and Eve because they are still made in His image; with groups like the Gnostics, Cathars and Paulicians, and even among Protestant Reformers the opposite position is taken: Luther famously said that people are corrupted by sin and that every action is unavoidably bad.

All created matter, from the physical universe to the human person, is worthy of God’s love and redemption, and therefore is, as God says in Genesis of His creation, “good.”

Quick Facts About the 7 Ecumenical Councils - The Catalog of Good Deeds

The Catholic Church teaches, and does so clearly in this council, that created matter, including people, are good and holy and capable of redemption. St Paul says in Romans chapter 8 that the universe groaned for its redemption through Christ, and in Second Corinthians chapter 3 that we are to be transformed  by theosis, deification, to God-likeness. The Fathers of this Council unanimously proclaimed that icons should be “bowed to, saluted with kisses, attended with lights and the offering of incense”. The members of the Council made the distinction between veneration and worship. We venerate or show honor not to the icon itself but to the prototype depicted on the icon if it is a saint of the Church. We give worship only to God. In neither case do we venerate or worship the paint, wood or canvas the icon is depicted on.
It is important for us to remember that icons portray people who have been transformed by God’s grace and their cooperation with grace. The icon shows that holiness is possible, that we can be filled by the Holy Spirit. You and I are here to become saints.  Icons point the way to heaven, and that way is composed of allowing ourselves to love Christ, be loved by Christ, and be transformed by the Holy Spirit through our actions so that we will be able to see the glory of God the Father after our deaths.

In the letter to the Hebrews today we heard these verses: For here we have no lasting city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. 15 Through him, then, let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name.

What is on my lips? What words come across my lips? Do I have a tongue that rejoices in God my savior, as the Blessed Virgin says in her Magnificat?

A sower went out to sow… | friarmusings

In the parable of the sower of seed in the open fields, Jesus points out some seed lands in a road, on thorns, in shallow ground, most on good ground. It was a wasteful way to plant, but that’s how it was done and what people knew.

The hardened pathway represents the closed mind which shuts out God’s instruction. The shallow, rocky ground represents those who accept the word but who never reflect on it, who, therefore,  wither away when challenged.The thorny ground stands for those whose lives are so busy that the things of God are crowded out by responsibilities, selfish pleasures and so lose God’s call to them.

The seed on the good ground grows up and is harvested to feed the farmer. Icons invite us to listen to God’s Word, to sit and ponder the teachings of the Church, to be drawn into the life of the saint or sacred event through silent prayer, and then to take an action. We are not here to be empty vessels, or consumed with daily life, or to just show up in church and then walk out unchanged by the worship or sermon. We are here to grow up – not just grow older but grow up, and grow in depth in our connection to Almighty God and His Church.

We must be sowers of the seed also, who take the message of Christ and our Church into the world where too many people are consumed by pleasure, projects, or whose hearts really have never heard the accurate fullness of Christ’s teaching, the fullness of revelation in the teachings of the Catholic Faith. We have to water and nurture ourselves with good internet sites, good books, good  classes, and above all we have to stop, be silent in front of a sacred image, and hear what God wants to say to each and every one of us, of all ages.

Icon of Our Lady Of Fatima - The Byzantine Forum

On this day in 1917, the Blessed Virgin, the Holy Mother of God, spoke for the last time at Fatima. She promised to take the children to heaven, and Jacinta and Francisco died the next  year in the great flu pandemic. When Lucia asked, “Will I be here alone?” she promised that she would remain with Lucia until her death.  At noon, after hours of rain, The Miracle of the Sun then took place so that people up to twenty-five miles away saw the sun dance, change colors, or spin and hurtle to the earth. This went on for twelve long minutes. Seventy thousand people whose clothes had been soaked by pouring rain found that the mud they were standing on was now dry, their clothes and bodies completely dry as well, and sick people were healed.The state-run atheist newspaper ran a front page headline the next day: Miracle at Fatima. Before her death, Sister Lucia said that the entire purpose of the apparitions and miracle was that people would grow in faith, hope, and love.

73 Best Byzantine Oil Lamps images in 2018 | Oil Lamps, Byzantine, Burning candle

When He wants to, God can do something spectacular. More frequently, He works quietly, like the time when Elijah the prophet covered his face in respect when a gentle breeze brought about a thin, small sound of silence which he realized was the presence of God. Or like today and as at every Catholic altar in the world, when through the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ descends into the tiniest particle of bread and the smallest drop of wine, filling it with His Divine Presence and Personhood. Or in the silence of prayer in front of an icon – when we look upon the figure of a person fully transformed by grace, by God’s own divine energy, and we pray fervently that our hearts be equally open to that grace.

Who am I? The heart filled with projects or pleasure, the heart that hears the word of God but does not act upon it, the closed heart which locks itself against God’s Word, or the heart willing to be consumed by God’s love and so bring His mercy to a world that has lost its way in a most spectacular fashion. In whom does my spirit rejoice: God my savior, or other things? We are invited to stand, sit, kneel, or prostrate before a sacred icon and ponder this and act upon it, just as we should sit, stand, kneel or prostrate before the Living God in the tabernacles of the world. God wishes to speak to each heart here, and on this entire planet. It is up to us to hear Him.

Russian Silver Gilt Icon of Christ Pantocrator - Antique Jewelry | Vintage Rings | Faberge Eggs


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