I lay on my back, staring at the sky with my feet above me on the hill. My bike flew overhead - that much I knew - but where it landed was a mystery. The ditch crept up on me, as tends to happen on unfamiliar roads, while I was trying my best to keep up with my friend Michael. He knew the curve like the back of his hand, but I approached it way too fast and hit the embankment, flipped over my handlebars, and landed with a considerable thud.
Zach Sherman posted in the Atrium discussion forum this apologia by St. Athenagorus. He was defending the Christians to Marcus Aurelius.
Rain poured from the densely clouded sky for what seemed like the fortieth straight day. It had already been the rainiest season in recorded history and there appeared to be little break in sight. The clouds darkened everything, making it feel much earlier than it was.
I rose, mumbling my complaints at the weather, and dressed to exercise in hopes it would make me feel a bit better. The kids were just stirring, following my bad example of griping at rain, while my wife tried her best to motivate them to complete chores.
I have believed since the 80's that we are heading toward a time of troubles and the last year has not lessened my growing conviction. Part of the reason I've believed that comes down to a pertinent Biblical question: When the foundations are destroyed, what shall the righteous do?
This morning's reading led me to a not-surprising and yet surprising answer to that question. It was the world famous story of Noah's ark, after the flood has ceased but Noah is still in the ark.
On Sunday, the Church celebrates Palm Sunday, the commemoration of Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, and the beginning of Holy Week – the final days of Christ on earth before His crucifixion. The event is recorded in all four Gospels – Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-10, Luke 19:29-38, and John 12:12-15 – and the event shares connections and echoes with several other passages as well.
Here is the Triumphal Entry as recorded in Matthew’s Gospel:
Patrick was kidnapped, and sold into slavery on the pagan island of Ireland. Later, when he managed to return to Rome, he was converted to Christianity and God called him to return to Ireland as a missionary. To the dismay of his friends and family, Patrick went, eventually being named bishop of Ireland.
“Friendship is a necessity.”
So opens Book VIII of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. Friendship, he says, “is a kind of virtue, or implies virtue, and it is also most necessary for living. Nobody would choose to live without friends even if he had all the other good things.”
In his short book Crazy Busy, Kevin DeYoung writes:
For those of us on the “Western” calendar, the Lenten season begins today. Many will solemnly observe Ash Wednesday, gathering for a service of contrition and repentance, including the “imposition of ashes” – the application of ashes in the sign of the cross on the forehead. The Scriptures frequently refer to ashes as a sign of repentance for sin or mourning (Esther 4:3, Job 42:5-6, Jonah 3:4-6, Ezekiel 9:4, etc.), and while the Lenten ashes are ashes of mourning over sin, they are also “hopeful ashes,” made in the sign of the Christ’s cross, our only hope.
Christian history is a beautiful tapestry, interwoven with legends and stories, some made bigger or different with time. Stories of some of the early martyrs, for example, handed down orally, were likely embellished and romanticized, but not without reason or benefit. Such is the story of St. Valentine - a priest in Rome during the reign of Emperor Claudius II. According to tradition, Valentine, having been imprisoned and beaten, was beheaded on February 14, about 270, along the Flaminian Way.