I love balloons as much as the next guy. And I very much appreciate the little bouquet of balloons tethered at my parking place when I arrived at church this morning.
But I really think we ought to celebrate St. Irenaeus’ birthday today.
1,811 years ago today, this catechetical and evangelical genius gave his life for Christ, preferring to die, rather than offer pagan sacrifice at the compulsion of the Roman authorities. Irenaeus died alongside a great number of fellow martyrs in the city of Lyons, on the day before the 135th anniversary of the martyrdom of St. Peter.
Let’s celebrate their birthday today. Their birthday into eternal life. The birthday of a saint is the day he or she leaves this earth, headed to the kingdom of God.
The labor pains of such a birth do not come by conjugal union of man and woman, but by persevering faith in the eternally fruitful Word of God. When we believe—when we believe in Christ, no matter what—He gives us a birth into a life that never ages and never ends.
My dear, magnanimous mother had never set foot in a Catholic parish church.
Nonetheless, she kindly gave birth to me in a Catholic university hospital, underneath a crucifix, on the 1,768th anniversary of the martyrdom of St. Irenaeus.
The beginning of the first Coach-John-Thompson era at the university was still two years away, and none of the hospital employees involved in my birth received artificial contraceptives or abortifacients as part of their health-care plan.
…The Roman emperor killed Irenaeus and thousands of other Christians in the city of Lyon in AD 202, on the day before the anniversary of the martyrdoms of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul—who had also been killed by the emperor, a century and a half earlier.
When Pope John XXIII convoked the Second Vatican Council fifty years ago, he recalled the words of St. Irenaeus. The martyr spoke to his friends on the occasion of his move from Asia Minor to France:
All Christians everywhere must be united with the Church of Rome. It is through communion with the Church of Rome that all the faithful have preserved the Apostolic Tradition.
We want to build our spiritual houses on rock, not sand. Birthdays come and go. Political situations come and go. Facebook posts come and go. The rock we need is Peter and his successors. The rock we need is the Church of Rome, founded on the blood of the Apostles Peter and Paul.
Pope’s 83rd birthday! May he live to be 100!!
…As I lit the Easter candle this morning for the fourteenth time this Easter season, I thought to myself:
What if the Lord had given His Church only one ceremony to manifest Her faith?
What if that were the entire Sacred Liturgy, and there was nothing else–just a gathering of the faithful once a year on Holy Saturday night to light the candle and hear the Exultet?
Would that be enough to get us through life? Would it be enough to keep us hoping for heaven, doing good and avoiding evil?
Yes. Yes, it would be. All the rest is beautiful, wonderful gravy.
A lot of people are lamenting the self-destruction of Gilbert Arenas.
Today is his birthday. May God bless him.
Just in case you don’t know, the birthday boy is in trouble. He brought guns into the locker room of the NBA team formerly known as the “Bullets.”
“He’s crazy. He’s a goofball. He doesn’t realize what he has done to himself” (i.e., risked his entire career).
But he does know. He knows what he is doing.
The $111-million-dollar man knows a secret, and he is desperately looking for any possible way to keep the secret from becoming public knowledge.
The secret is this: He isn’t THAT good.
He had two excellent seasons. Since then, he hasn’t done anything for two and a-half seasons.
If there ever were live coals in the Hibachi, they have burnt out.
He knows this.
My father is buried in a venerable Washington cemetery.
The place is run by a very strange individual. I know this because I negotiated with him about having my dad buried with our forebears.
Anyway, I thought I would pay my dad a visit on the occasion of our Lady’s birthday today.
As I entered the cemetery, I was confronted with the sight of a small, wooden Washington Monument, with a dragon on the top of it.
I would have been stunned. But I knew the handiwork of my old friend.
Three years ago, as he and I drove across the cemetery to see if there was room to put my dad next to his grandmother, the custodian asked the man in a Roman collar sitting next to him: “So…what religion do you follow?”
Not a good idea. Sculptures of Revelation 20 are not recommended, even under the best circumstances. A “chainsaw sculpture” of Satan being released from hell, carved into the dead trunk of an oak tree? Well, it’s a prescription for hideousness.
My dad is buried fifty yards from Constantino Brumidi, an illustrious nineteenth-century artist who painted the “Apotheosis of Washington” in the Capitol dome. Brumidi’s august presence makes “Unleashed!” (the new sculpture’s title) all the more incongruous.
Thankfully, my father’s grave is not in the same section as “Unleashed!” You can still see both the Basilica to the north and the National Cathedral to the west while you are standing at my dad’s grave. It is still a beautiful, peaceful place. And when the Last Day comes, and my dad stands up again, the fire of God’s glory will have burnt the ugly sculpture to ashes.
…If you didn’t have the chance to read it a year ago, perhaps you would like to read last year’s post for the Blessed Virgin’s birthday.
“Who is this that comes forth like the dawn, as beautiful as the moon, as resplendent as the sun, as awe-inspiring as bannered troops?” Song of Songs 6:10
Today we rejoice in the birth of the Mother of God. She was conceived immaculate in her mother Ann’s womb, and nine months later, she was born.
When she came of age to bear a child, the Archangel come to propose God’s plan to her, and she gave her consent. With her Son, she walked down the path of humility and suffering. After our salvation was won, God exalted her, like her Son, to the highest heaven.
Obviously, the Blessed Virgin Mary is not God; she is not divine. God made her. He did not, on the other hand, make Himself. He made the humanity which He took to Himself, but God the Son always was and always will be. Christ is a divine Person, not a creature. We cannot worship the Blessed Mother the way we worship God. Only God is God. Our goal is to give glory to God, just like the Blessed Virgin does. No one worships God better than our Lady worships Him; she worships God in Christ perfectly.
From God’s point-of-view, our Lady is splendidly beautiful, but of course she is infinitely less than He is Himself. He keeps her in existence at every instant. If He did not, she would disappear without a trace.
From our point-of-view, though, the Blessed Virgin might as well be God. Our Lady is in charge of all the angels; they serve and adore her. All the graces God gives to us come through her. She is our life, our sweetness, and our hope. She is the everlasting Garden of Eden.
Let’s not fret and fuss about falling into “Mariolatry.” Damn the torpedoes, when it comes to Protestants trying to criticize us on this. We cannot venerate and love our Lady too much. Why get technical about the difference between worshipping God and throwing ourselves at our Lady’s feet? The experts who make sure that the prayers we use are orthodox can worry about things like that.
Here’s a weak analogy: An expert land surveyor might be able to tell the difference in height between Mt. Everest and K-2, just by looking. I am sure, though, that if I laid eyes on Mt. Everest and then Mt. McKinley, I couldn’t tell the difference in height. In both cases, I would say, “Wow, that is an awesome mountain.” When I think of God, I say to myself, “Awesome.” When I think of our Lady, I say to myself, “Awesome.”
From where I am standing, the Blessed Virgin Mary is infinitely powerful. She is immeasurably more powerful, holier, more excellent and glorious than me. I rely on her for my life’s breath. If by “infinite” I mean simply that I cannot measure what I am talking about, I have to confess that our Lady is infinitely wonderful. I beg her to take care of me.