Sunday, October 18, 2015


Saint Luke
Feast day: October 18

Typically, I write a blog about an obscure saint of the day, but Luke overshadows the calendar.  I couldn't find much about the other saints that share this feast day with him. Much is already written about Luke by great theologians and writers far more gifted than me, and I decided not to bring coals to Newcastle, as they say, but to make a comment about something that is happening in our "modern" Catholic Church.

It has come to my attention that certain priests and lay persons are publishing dissent against the faith and criticism of Pope Francis. Rather than humbly consenting to be led by the pontiff, these persons have, instead, decided to broadcast their disapproval of his approach in blogs, on television, in newspapers, and wherever else their opinion can find a foothold.

No one ever became a saint by publishing complaints about the Pope and The Holy Catholic Church. They became protestant. Remember Martin Luther. He published his condemnation by hammering it onto the door of the church. His role in separating thousands of people from the church that Jesus founded was not rewarded in heaven, I can assure you. I am not presuming to know whether or not Luther is in heaven. He may be in heaven despite his break with the faith, but certainly not because of it.

Like most of you, I absolutely love Holy Mother Church. There are some things that bug me about the modern church in America, but it isn't helpful for me to air my grievances. I will not become a saint by doing that.

Our whole mission in life is to become saints so that we can spend eternity in heaven, gazing upon the Lord, being with Him, experiencing Him. It isn't a question of "earning" it, because no one can deserve union with God. We have to prepare ourselves to be with God by becoming more like God, so that we can be in harmony with Him.

As I study the saints throughout the years, I have yet to find one that became a saint because they publicly dissented with the Pope and the church and tried to get others involved in their dissatisfaction.

Prayer, fasting, alms giving, performing spiritual and corporeal works of mercy, forgiving our enemies and doing good toward those who harm us, loving our neighbor as much as ourselves. We know these things. They involve an emptying of ourselves and our petty egos and opinions so that we can be filled with and led by God.

If the Pope was having a mistress or stealing from the coffers or committing mortal sins, we would have to admonish the sinner, at least someone would have to be doing that, but this is not the case in the current instance. Some people, apparently, do not like his style of leadership and they are fomenting fear among the laity that Pope Francis will destroy the church by his mode of leadership.

Jesus promised us that His Church would last until the end of time and that He would be with us until the end of time. Even the "gates of hell" can not withstand the Holy Catholic Church. We have assurances from Christ Himself that no one can destroy His Church.

All of this controversy about the Pope, the current Synod, and the various factions that are trying to change the unchangeable...all of a distraction and a detour away from what we have been told to do by Christ Himself.

Please join me in praying for The Church and everyone in it. Pray for Pope Francis, as he has many times asked us to do, and refrain from engaging in or encouraging this useless chatter that is exploding all around us. Continue your devotions and increase your prayers if you can. This is what Jesus was talking about when He said to remove the beam from our own eye before we try to remove the speck from our neighbor's!

Have confidence in the promises of Jesus. He will not fail.

Silver Rose Parnell
(c) copyright 2015
All rights reserved.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


Saint Theophilus of Antioch
d. circa 181
Feast day - October 13

Saint Theophilus of Antioch was an early apologist for the Christian faith, who died in about the year 181.  Born in what is now Turkey, he originally began to address the faith with an eye to destroying it, and, with this in mind, began a study of the Holy Scriptures, particularly the prophetic works. Instead of arming him with the tools he needed to dismantle the Christian religion, he became convinced of its truth and was converted from paganism. Some of his writing remains, with other texts alluded to by Eusebius and others.  He is the first philosopher on record to use the word "triad" (trinity) to describe Father, Son and Holy Spirit, which he named "God, His Word (Logos), and His wisdom (Sophia.)  He was the Patriarch of Antioch after Eros and was succeeded by Maximus in about 181-183.

The Holy Trinity

Theophilus became a vigorous defender of the faith and speaks of his zealous condemnation of the heretic Marcion, who believed that Jesus was the savior sent by God, but he rejected the Hebrew God and the Old Testament. Marcion's beliefs were similar to the Gnostics in their dualistic nature. Marcion's writings are not extant but his philosophy can be deduced from Tertulian's Adversus Marcionum, written in about 202 A.D.

During the time of Theophilus, there were a great number of books about Christianity that were in circulation, both spurious and those that would later be recognized in the official canon, and he would have had access to these. The final canon of the Bible was not established during his lifetime, although an interim Bible, the Muratorian Canon, was compiled in 170 A.D., about 10 years before Theophilus died. This canon wasn't complete, however, lacking Hebrews, James and 3 John, around which there was much discussion. The Hebrew scriptures (the "Old Testament") were already established, with very little controversy, if any, on their legitimacy and place in the Canon.

It wasn't until 363 at the Council of Laodicea, that the Canon of scripture was firmly established as the Old Testament (with Apocrypha), and the 27 New Testament books. This collection was affirmed at the Council of Hippo in 393 A.D., and again in the Council of Carthage in 397.

Ecumenical Council

Meditating on the life of Theophilus brings home the fact that Christ's church was not dependent upon the written scriptures alone, as it lived and thrived and grew for 330 years before "the Bible" was established. Yes, there were many books in circulation and certain of these books were permitted to be read in the churches, but "the Holy Bible," as such, did not exist. Our tradition grew out of the instructions and teaching that Jesus had left with the apostles,who, at Jesus' command, then went out and spread the good news, and the traditions that we keep today. This combination of tradition and sacred scripture is known as the "deposit of the faith,"

The Bible is only one part of what was passed down to us, therefore to rely upon the Bible alone is to sit on a stool with one leg, and I marvel at those who broke away from Christ's church to start something else.  Christ said that His church would stand forever and that even the gates of hell could not withstand it.

"I will be with you until the end of time."
Matthew 28: 18-20

With regard to the writings and the selections that were accepted into the Bible, it may appear to some that these were the workings of human beings, but Jesus promised that his disciples would be prompted, informed, and led by the Holy Spirit. Jesus breathed upon them, and the Holy Spirit also descended on them at Pentacost. When I remember that Jesus is Lord, I have no problem accepting the divine inspiration of our scriptures, our tradition, and our faith and that the Truth of our faith never grows cold, as Jesus promised He would be with us until the end of time.

Theophilus "got in on the ground floor" of the Christian movement and, like many others, was initially a skeptic that sought to discredit our Lord and his Church, but the weight of the evidence of Truth was too great. Once one becomes convinced that Jesus is God, one must naturally accept his commandments, His promises and His church. To do otherwise is to deny that He is God.

Silver Rose Parnell
(c) 2015
All rights reserved.