Athanasian Creed

St. Athanasius
St. Athanasius
The hero of the Arian controversy died 1640 years ago today.

Click HERE if you want to read his best Easter letter ever.

Here we present his Creed, one of the official symbols of the Catholic faith.

The Catholic Faith is this, that we worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity. Neither confounding the Persons nor dividing the Substance.

For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is all One, the Glory equal, the Majesty co-eternal.

Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost.

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Easter Interview

Geraldo Rivera

Let’s imagine that a journalist came to interview us at church this evening or tomorrow morning.

Okay. So…good evening/morning! For the information of our viewers, let me ask you a few questions:

Are you saying that you are here in church this evening/morning because you believe that Jesus rose from the dead?

resurrectionAnd is it true that you hold that Jesus is God made flesh, the divine Son of the divine Father?

So there is an Almighty God Who made heaven and earth?

And He guides all things with infinite wisdom and love?

And He pours out the Spirit of holiness?

And heaven awaits?

Listen, I was doing some background research, and I learned that Catholics believe that Jesus Christ, true God and true man, risen and reigning in heaven, becomes present in the flesh when the priest consecrates the Host and the Chalice on the altar. Is that true?

And you hold that baptism washes away sins, and if someone sins after baptism, a priest can absolve them in the name of God after a thorough confession?

I understand that you read the Bible constantly as a group, and also individually, because you believe that God Himself has given it to you to read?

And I get the impression that you Catholics believe that Jesus walks the earth in the person of the poor or sick or imprisoned or troubled individual?

I read somewhere that you respect the Pope as the Chief Shepherd of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church that Jesus Christ founded, and all the bishops around the world as the successors of the Apostles.

I heard that you hold that life begins at conception, that abortion is never an option, that marriage is a fruitful lifelong bond between a man and a woman, and that everyone needs to fight against self-indulgence and bad habits, and seek to be holy like Jesus Christ.

stfrancisYou say that you love your country, but you love your Church more, that you like to enjoy life, but that none of it is worth a darn compared to heaven, that you feel guilty if you let a day go by without praying, or a week go by without going the church?

That you know your priests and bishops are weak men, like anyone else, but you love them anyway because they stand in the place of Christ? That you kneel before the Blessed Sacrament, and sing to the Lord whenever you can?

That you sacrifice time and money for the Church, because everything really belongs to God anyway, that you pray to the Blessed Virgin Mary and the saints, and try to tell the truth all the time, and treat others with respect and love, and follow the rules?

You wish that everyone could know the peace and joy of being Catholic, and join the Church—because your attitude is, ‘The more, the merrier?’

Okay! Well, it seems like either you Catholics are really quite crazy. Or maybe you are on to something…

We love the Lord Jesus, risen from the dead. We love God the Father. We are Catholic and proud.

If you mess with us, we will love you. We will love you until you love us back, or at least until you love God. Or we’ll die trying.

Monticello Monastery

Sometimes, the world-famous internet maddens you with its lacunae. One cannot read St. Augustine’s second sermon on the Apostles’ Creed in its entirety on-line. That said, it is well worth reading the parts of the sermon that Google Books offers, to prepare spiritually for Trinity Sunday…

…Upon entering the reception hall in Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello home, the visitor espies a familiar map on the wall. Perhaps, gentle reader, you will recall the joy with which we considered the Fry-Jefferson map of Virginia a few months ago.

What made Thomas Jefferson? Can we say that, above all, he was the son of the man who had made Virginia colony’s most excellent map?

…My peregrinations have taken me to Monticello, to George Washington’s Mount Vernon, and to the Cistercian Abbey of New Melleray in Peosta, Iowa, among other places.

Monticello reminds me more of New Melleray than it does of Mount Vernon. Jefferson conceived and built a hilltop cloister to house his quiet life of study and meditation.

Everything about the clever, simple, orderly way in which the necessaries of Monticello are arranged recalls the refreshing straightforwardness of the architecture of a monastery.

And, of course, the quadrangle of the University of Virginia, which Jefferson designed, feels like a brick neoclassical cloister.

Perhaps Sally Hemmings could report that Jefferson did not live his 43 widower years as a perfect monk. But there is no question that he built an edifice designed for reading, working the land, hospitality, and contemplation. This is precisely what St. Benedict directed.

It is ironic, since Jefferson despised monks. Like repels like.

Someday, perhaps, the Lord will afford me the leisure to write the book I have always wanted to write: The Untold History of the Contemplative Life in the United States.

Chapter 1 will consider Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.

Caesarea-Philippi

Mt. Hermon

Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi and he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.  For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.  And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.  I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.  Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

 

The Lord Jesus lived almost all of His pilgrim life near the Sea of Galilee, which is 75 miles north of Jerusalem.  From the shore of the sea, if you look further to the north, in the distance you can see the snow-capped peak of Mt. Hermon, which is in Syria.  The northern boundary of the Holy Land is about 20 miles north of Galilee, at the foot of the mountain.  Water from the melting snow flows out of caves there.  Further south, this stream becomes the Jordan River.

 

Alexander the Great conquered the Holy Land three centuries before the coming of Christ.  The Greeks were convinced that the foot of Mt. Hermon was a holy place.  They thought that their god Pan lived in one of the caves, so they made it a temple and worshiped there.  It would not be surprising if faithful Jews at the time of Christ referred to these caves as the “gates of hell,” because the pagans worshipped evil spirits in them.

 

When the Romans conquered the Greek Empire, they eventually partitioned the Holy Land into three territories.  They gave one to each of the three sons of King Herod the Great.  To his son Philip, the Romans granted the northern territory, including the caves at the foot of Mt. Hermon.  Philip wanted to ingratiate himself with the Romans, so he built a city in honor of the emperor at the site.  He named the city after the emperor and after himself, Ceasarea-Philippi.

 

Very few people practiced the Jewish religion in Philip’s kingdom; it was mainly pagan territory.  There were no Pharisees there.  So when the Lord Jesus led His chosen disciples up into Philip’s territory, he was taking them on a vacation, away from the tension and controversy in Galilee.

 

The Lord brought His disciples up to Caesarea-Philippi to help them prepare for what was to come.  This vacation in the north was the decisive turning point in all of their lives.  Up to this time, the Lord had been revealing His true identity little by little, with flashes of power and wisdom here and there.  He had become very well-known, but no one understood Who He truly is.  He was an object of curiosity to the crowds.  His enemies were determined to destroy Him.  His destiny was about to unfold.

 

So the Lord led His chosen ones up close to the ancient pagan temple at the foot of the great northern peak.  It may be that Christ led Peter, James, and John up the mountain here and was transfigured before them, showing them a glimpse of His divine glory.  The Transfiguration probably happened on Mt. Thabor, south of Galilee, but it may have happened on Mt. Hermon.  Regardless, Christ had led His chosen disciples to a place and to a moment where they could contemplate with clear minds the truth about Who their Master truly is.

 

The drama was heightened by the fact that they stood at the ‘gates of hell,’ in front of the creepy cave where the pagans worshiped their demon.  Here the Lord declared that the gates of hell would not prevail against the Church He was founding.  All the evil, confusion, malice, worldliness, and pettiness which His disciples would inevitably face was not going to overcome them.  By going to His death and rising again, Christ was to bring about the victory of goodness, mercy, and truth.  He was going to go down to Jerusalem and suffer and die in order to open the gates of heaven.  The long, dark night of sin which the world had lived through up to that point—the night of paganism and confusion about God—that night was going to come to an end.

 

The city of Casarea-Philippi no longer stands.  The area is inhabited by only a few villagers now, and they say that the cave where the pagans worshiped is haunted.  Below the cave there is a beautiful park where the freshwater streams from the snow-capped mountaintop come gushing out and begin to form the Jordan River.  The ruins of the pagan shrines are still in the cliff above, broken statues and columns.  I can tell you from firsthand experience that the haunted cave is seriously creepy.

 

When I was there in February, the Archbishop who led our pilgrimage had us recite the Nicene Creed together there.  We declared the truth about Jesus of Nazareth together at the very place where St. Peter first proclaimed our faith:  “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

 

If we are armed with this faith of the Catholic Church, then the gates of hell cannot withstand us.  We will break them down.  We will rescue souls ensnared by the devil by our works of love and our witness to the truth.