The Patron Saint of Doubters, Mother Theresa of Calcutta

Sometimes I get ahead of myself, I think we all do at times, we project what we want to see, over and against the reality of what is, as in the title of this piece.

Mother Theresa of Calcutta; the patron saint of doubters.

In truth, the Church has named Mother Theresa the Patron Saint of World Catholic Youth Day, and that is fair: in her time the good mother inspired many young people, providing that inspiration through her life of austerity and selflessness; she inspired many of us to good things, to want to be good people, to emulate her in that way.

She was a tiny woman, but she was strong. She inspires through her strength and her commitment to her ideals, despite the painful realities that she experienced and despite her understanding that the suffering she sought to ease would never cease, and her knowledge that the suffering of the world has no end.

We must be like the wise mother and pray for strength, pray for wisdom, for understanding and perseverance. Mother Theresa did not expect that by praying for these things God would transform her, or that God would give her supernatural powers, but that the act of praying would fortify her, that it would give her the strength she needed to get through the day, her day, each and every day.

Mother Theresa was sainted for her life-long commitment to the good, to serving the poor, for setting an example of patience and endurance; for setting such a strong example that if each of the rest of us were able to approximate a small degree of her fundamental stance toward justice and compassion, to give a small part of ourselves over to the healing of the world, the world might stop spinning in its spiral of violence and in that moment we might see something of the true glory that belongs the God of peace and mercy and grace.

It is right and good to praise God, the creator of the universe, because creation is miraculous and mysterious, and beyond the scope of human comprehension.

And while it is right and good to praise God, to doubt God’s purpose in the world is not a sin. Mother Theresa taught us this, she taught that doubt it is a natural movement the heart, beating within the breast of a person who loves, of someone who confronts the pain and suffering in the world and subsequently falls into despair.

It is not sinful to doubt God or God’s purpose in the world, neither is it sinful to doubt the traditions of the Church, its doctrines and decrees and decretals.

The Good Mother taught us this, and so let us be clear about a few things:

God is not a giver of victories. God has no enemies. In God, within whom all things exist and have their being…there is no conflict.

It is not God’s justice that is shown in the work of human beings, it is human justice, and when human justice approximates the justice of God, it is expressed in mercy and compassion and that is good, The Good Mother taught us to aspire to things even in the midst of human misery and despair.

Pope Francis, canonized Mother Theresa on September the 4th, 2016, on the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, her feast was celebrated for the first time and from that day forward, on the 5th of September, which is today.

Christians of every stripe, and non-Christian alike, remember Saint Theresa for her desire to embrace all people, no matter how flawed or marginalized they might be, and all people will remember this brilliant woman, servant and sister, this theologian; they will remember her for her brilliance which grows even greater in her afterlife.

God chose her, as God chooses all of; God chose her from the beginning, to receive the sanctifying spirit, he created her in the divine image, placing within her a seed of the eternal Word to enliven her. God made her this way, in the same way that God makes everyone, but what made the sainted mother different from most of the rest of us was that she saw the truth of it clearly, and in seeing it she understood her purpose in the world. The Good Mother saw the divine image in the people she bent down to serve, she saw the face of God in the poor and the sick, in the blind and the leper, she saw God suffering in them and she responded with the love God had instructed her in.

Mother Theresa is famous for her service and her impressive life, and the inspiration she gave to millions of people, and when I reflect on the life of Saint Theresa of Calcutta, it is her memoirs, which were published after her death, which had the greatest impact on me.

Saint Theresa struggled, like all of us do, with the sense that God had abandoned her, She felt at times as if God had abandoned the world. She managed to do the good works she did, to serve the Church and all of its members, to fulfill her commitment to her order, to lead them; to make of her life a daily sacrifice even in the midst of her own profound doubt and great personal suffering, as she experienced the suffering of other’s (which she shared).

In consideration of her experience she lived with a deep-felt sense of alienation from God.

Saint Theresa persevered in goodness even in the face of her doubts, she admitted to the pain that she brought to others, even as she tried to serve them, she confess and ask forgiveness and they allowed her to lead them. She bore witness to the suffering of the world, she held God accountable for it in her heart, and yet she still followed the calling of the Spirit despite her indictment of the divine, and that is why she will be known as the Patron Saint of Doubters.

Mother Theresa was different from the disciples who followed Jesus and witnessed his miraculous life. Her example of how to fulfill the Christian life in the face of the deepest doubts is what makes her life exemplary, a life that will continue to shine on us long after the sun has collapsed and human beings are scattered throughout the galaxy.

We will carry the memory of Saint Theresa of Calcutta with us, as a light shining in the darkness.

There is something historically significant about her relationship to her doubts that we would all do well to be mindful of. We see it reflected in the history of Christianity in India, which has always been connected to the missionary work of the Apostle Thomas, who is in fact the patron saint of doubters, who struggled to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead, and did not accept it until he placed his own fingers into the wounds Christ bore, the wounds which still marred his body even after he was reborn.

09.05.2020

Saint Augustine of Hippo, Angelic Doctor of the Church

Augustine of Hippo is arguably the most influential Christian writer of all time, with the possible exception of Saint Paul whose epistles are the earliest Christian writings, and which delineated for the nascent church its primary creeds and basic beliefs concerning who Jesus was and why his life and death were meaningful to us.

 

It is possible that Augustine is more influential than Paul because Augustine’s interpretation of Paul’s letters have dominated Christian thought since his time.

 

Augustine’s life spanned the mid-fourth century to the mid-fifth century CE. He entered the Church just at the Christianity was completing its transformation into the official religion of the Empire, and the indispensable administrative apparatus of the same. Saint Augustine’s fixed that transformative process into the structures that we recognize today.

 

Augustine was midway through his career as a public servant before he converted to Christianity, entered the priesthood and was made a bishop.

 

All of which happened in rapid succession. It only took him four years to go from priest to bishop.

 

His mother was a Christian, but his father was not, and his father had wanted him to have a regular career in the traditional Roman mode of life. Augustine adhered to his father’s wishes for a time, but at the beginning of the fifth Century the Empire was in a process of conversion and all of the good jobs were going to Christians. Eventually he converted, only after becoming convinced that he would have a good career in the Church, and would only encounter dead ends outside of it.

 

His gambit paid off, they put him on the fast track to Bishop.

 

Augustine was a prolific writer, in the modern day he is most famous for his Confessions, and his magnum opus, The City of God.

 

He worked tirelessly against heretical groups like the Manicheans, the Pelagians and the Donatists.

 

He penned the controversial doctrine of creation ex nihillo, as apart of his seminal teaching on original sin. In addition to this, he gave the Church its teaching on sacramental theology, and he argued for the authority of the Church in all matters private and public.

 

His theology would dominate Christian thinking up until the scholastic period, but Saint Thomas Aquinas, the most influential of the scholastic theologians leans heavily on Augustine for nearly all of his views, which is to say that Augustine continued to exercise an indirect influence on the church as the preeminent standard of orthodoxy.

 

Scholastic theologians often deviated from the logic of Augustine, but on the occasion that they might draw a different conclusion from Augustine, they often ran afoul of the hierarchy.

 

By the time of the protestant reformation, both Martin Luther and John Calvin believed that their work represented a realignment of the church with Saint Augustine, and Saint Augustine’s theology continued to dominate protestant thinking.

 

In my own work, Saint Augustine stands as my principle opponent.

 

His doctrine of original sin, his doctrine of double predestination, his teaching that torture can be considered a form of charity if it brings someone to the point of conversion are anathema to the way, and represent a stark contradistinction to the life and ministry of Jesus.

 

Saint Augustine of Hippo has the title of Angelic Doctor of the Church, but he was a villain, he was brutal and cruel, and a hypocrite of the highest order. He should be read in that light.

 

Augustine

 

 

Given 2020.08.28

The Feast of Saint Benedict

I attended graduate school at a Benedictine university, Saint John’s in Collegeville, Minnesota. It is located on the grounds of the largest Benedictine congregation in the world; I studied theology there: Church History and Systematics.

 

The monastery at Saint John’s was home to Godfrey Dieckmann, whose liturgical reform movement in the early to mid-twentieth century had significant influence on the Second Vatican Council and changed the way worship is conducted, and the celebration of the mass throughout the world.

 

His reforms represented a return to the practices of the early Christians and the ante-nicene era.

 

While I was at Saint John’s I taught world religions at the preparatory school, I wrote my master’s thesis on the topic of universal salvation, which elicited a great deal of interest from my teachers and classmates, and my work was well regarded.

 

I took courses on medieval monastic history, monastic spirituality and one course specifically related to the Rule of Saint Benedict, from which I have taken one of the phrases that I use most often in my ongoing theological work.

 

Obsculta!

 

Which means listen!

 

It is a phrase which I use interchangeably with: Be mindful!

 

Today we celebrate the feast of Saint Benedict, who purportedly lived between the late fifth-century and the mid sixth-century CE.

 

 

Be mindful.

 

What we know of the life of Saint Benedict comes mostly from the writing of Saint Pope Gregory the first, or Gregory the Great. It is not exactly a biography but rather a reflection on the idealized life of an abbot, most of which is a fiction written c. 593 CE.

 

Nevertheless, Benedict, real or imagined, produced a Rule (a guide for community living) that became the basis of western monasticism.

 

Benedicts Rule, enjoins the monk to a life of poverty, chastity and obedience, a commitment to work, and a studious, meditative reflection on the psalms.

 

The life of Benedict, and the writing attributed to him has influenced the lives of thousands upon millions of people.

 

I am one of them, and I am thankful for Gregory who had the temerity to invent such a person who was noble in his humility.

 

Benedict

 

Given First 07.11.2020

The Feast of Saint’s Peter and Paul, Founders of the Church

Not all Christians celebrate the lives of the Saints, but many do, and today is the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, who after Jesus were the principle founders of the Church.

We celebrate their feast on the day of their ascension, which is most often the day of their death, in the case of Peter and Paul it is the date they were martyred, the day they were killed as enemies of the Roman State.

Their influence on Christian doctrine was greater than Jesus’, more enduring. Paul, through his letters wrote the core pieces of Christian Doctrine, and Peter was the first pope, the Bishop of Rome, and Patriarch of the Latin Church.

Peter and Paul did not always see eye to eye, though Peter bore the title of chief among the disciples, Paul was the greater teacher and more closely approximated the way of Christ.

As I mentioned, Peter is given credit for founding the church of Rome, the lore of the Church tells us that he was its first bishop, this is a myth however, that title was not even in use during Peter’s day.

It is accepted as true that both men were put to death in Rome, martyred there on account of their commitment to the Church and its mission, they were mot put to death so much for the content of their beliefs, but for leading the kind of secretive society that was feared by the emperors of Rome. Christians were perceived as a threat that has to be curtailed.

Paul was a Roman citizen, he travelled broadly throughout the empire and for from his home of Tarsus. He founded many churches in the eastern Mediterranean and Asia Minor, his letters are the earliest known Christian writings, and though not all of those ascribed to him were written by him, Paul’s actual influence is imeasureable.

A casual observer of history may find this odd because Paul he never met Jesus, and prior to his conversion he was the type of man who would punish other members of his community if they were not properly observing the traditions of his synagogue, Christians were his chief target.

After Paul’s conversion to Christianity he led the mission to the gentiles, opening the teachings of the church to the masses, he made it so that a person did not need to become Jewish first in order to become a Christian.

Peter initially opposed him in this but once their dispute was settled at a meeting in Jerusalem officiated by Jesus’ own brother Saint James, the matter was settled and the gentiles were allowed the full franchise of membership in the community of the blessed.

Peter and Paul

Given First 06.29.2020

The Feast of Saint Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons

Irenaeus served as the bishop of Lugdum (now Lyons), in France. He was born c. 130 CE and died c. 202 CE, serving during the Apostolic era, and he is listed in the ranks of the martyrs of the Church, though the details of martyrdom are unknown.

Irenaeus was a prolific writer. He was connected to the Bishop Polycarp who was himself connected to the Apostle John, making him only three steps removed from the ministry of Jesus.

Irenaeus’ surviving works show how he was deeply committed to the unity of Christian doctrine. He ardently opposed the heretical sects of groups like the loosely affiliated Gnostics, as well as the Montanists, and he was among the first to argue for the doctrine of apostolic succession, positing that a bishop of the church should stand in an unbroken line of succession that goes back to the first apostles.

What is most important about Irenaeus’ work is something referred to as the Irenaean theodicy, this is why I lift him up and write about him.

Theodicy is the specific field of theological work devoted to understanding the problem of evil, and its ultimate resolution by God.

The Irenaean theodicy was the leading doctrine in the church up until the time that it was supplanted by Augustine’s teaching on original sin, three centuries later, after which Saint Augustine’s teaching became normative throughout the Christian world.

St. Augustine suggests that creation was made perfect and without blemish, and then there was a fall into sin, which came from nowhere and nothing resulting in a degree of chaos and disorder which completely separates creation from God. Whereas Irenaeus posited that the though the world is fallen it is not wholly fallen, making it so that the breach is not irreparable, putting forward that God’s plan for the resolution of evil is to slowly draw all things to the divine.

For saint Irenaeus the perfection of the created order happens as a process of assimilation, which he calls recapitulation, imagining that each individual-being is on a journey, coming ever closer to God; as we draw near our imperfections fall away.

Irenaeus’ theology, which was never condemned, provides a strong theological grounding for the theology of universal salvation which has persisted as a teaching among Christians from the very beginning of the Church, though only among a stark minority.

Irenaeus

The Feast of Saint John, the Baptist

A Homily

John came, and john bore witness to the light
John, born in darkness as all of us are
John saw the light, shing in the deep night
Comforted by its warmth, John felt it first
Feeling it while he was still in the womb
Kicking in the waters, as the light dawned

John was not a man prone to vanity
You would not have seen him chasing the wind
Like a servant, John harvested honey
Faithful to the way, not puffed up with pride
John was a friend and brother to Jesus
The elder cousin of the messiah

Herald and prophet, man of the desert
John turned to us, saying reflect, repent
He came like an angel, with a pure heart
A divine messenger, pointing the way
The way is not in stillness or silence
The way is a path of service and love

He took on the burden and paid the price
John showed us how to stand against power
He came into the world ahead of Christ
Drawing breath while he listened in the womb
The breath he drew was ruha, the spirit
Holy Sophia filled John with wisdom
.
John lived and breathed, washed in the divine flame
Dipping his cup in the fountain of life
Walking with him, by whom all things were made
John’s path was the way of humility
Obedient, unphased by paradox
Born first, and the first to be sacrificed

He lived by the Jordan, serving the light
Not perplexed, or tempted to turn away
He saw in his cousin the end of night
He made a place for him in the desert
He prepared the way as God’s own herald
Ministering to the sick and grieving

Jesus and John. the Son and the herald
Working together in the name of God
Baptizing all into the way of peace
Bathing their flock in the way, in the light
Keeping to their mission even to death
John showed us the way, turn and be blessed!

John the Baptist

 
From the Gospel According to Mark – 2018.06.22

Saint Romuald of Ravenna

Today we celebrate the life Saint Romuald, I lift up his memory for one reason in particular, and that is this:

The man was a realist and he encouraged a sense of realism among his followers.

He was an outspoken critic of the way the lives of the saints were written about and disseminated, he could not tolerate the popular tradition of the hagiography, replete with their embellishments, miracle stories which he flatly called out for the lies that they were.

His criticism of the tradition merits our respect.

Romuald was a member of an aristocratic family, he lived between the mid tenth and early eleventh century CE. He was the founder of the Camaldolese order, in the Benedictine tradition.

He had a wild youth and was said to have given himself over to the sins of the flesh, but later he became credited for breathing new life into eremitical and aesthetic monasticism.

He became a hermit.

He is said to have founded and or reformed many monastic institutions, though not all of his work was successful.

Through the promulgation of his rule he encouraged monks under his care to lead solitary lives, engaged in mediation and the interior reflection on the self. He was interested in the process of a person’s inner thoughts. He encouraged his followers to watch and be mindful of their thoughts as if they were watching fish in a stream.

In this way he was like a Zen master.

Romuald was heavily influenced by the Orthodox practice of hesychasm, which has also been associated with quietism, both of which highlight the long standing practice of deep mediation in the Christian tradition, which puts it his teaching on par with the practices of Buddhist monks in the Himalayas and Japan.

Tell no lies about him, he was an ordinary man.

Romuald

Saint Columba, Colmcile – The Patron Saint of Poets

Saint Columba, Saint Columban, Saint Columbanus; by whatever name you would like to refer to him, he was an Irishman and as such it is fitting that he is the patron saint of poets, because poetry flows through the Irish blood, and the Irish call him Colmcile.

What we know of the life of Colmcile has been magnified by myth, taken on a supernatural bearing through the typical aggrandizements that characterize the hagiographies of the saints, but Columba was famous for his non-supernatural work above all, for his missionary work and building monasteries in Scotland among the Picts.

The timeline of Colmcile’s life crosses over with that of another famous Irish Saint named Columbanus (the Latinized version of Columba, Columban) , Columbanus was also famous for his missionary work, and building monasteries on the continent, in Frankia and Burgundia, and as far South as Lombardy.

Colmcile’s is said to have lived in the mid 6th century CE, while Columbanus’ time lime extends to the early 7th century.

Both men are believed to have set out from Ireland to do their missionary work in in the company of twelve companions, like Jesus with his disciples. Colmcile’s work is said to have been concentrated in Scotland, and Columbanus work is said to have begun in Scotland but then it was quickly transported to the European Mainland.

There is a listing of the names of Colmcile’s companions, on this list are the names are those of Columbanus the Younger and a man known as Cummain.

Two things have been suggested by modern historians: one suggestion is that Columbanus the younger is actually the Columbanus who continued the missionary work on the continent in the name of Columbanus the elder, who was actually Colmcile or Saint Columba, the other suggestion is that all of the deeds committed by Columbanus (the elder and the younger), Columban, Columba, Colmcile and Cummain are the deeds of one person, a person who was a prolific writer.

Two of Colmcile’s poems have survived and it is for this reason that he is the Patron Saint of Poetry. He is also considered to be the founder of the abbey at Iona which preserved so much of the historical deposit of ancient writing through the dark ages.

Columbanus - Patron Saint of Poetry
Given First 06.09.2020

A Homily – The Seventh Sunday of Easter (Year A) The Ascension

First Reading – Acts 1:12-14 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 26(27):1,4, 7-8 ©
Second Reading – 1 Peter 4:13-16 ©
Gospel Acclamation – John 14:18
The Gospel According to John 17:1-11 ©

(NJB)

The Seventh Sunday of Easter (Year A) The Ascension
Be mindful!

Prayer is good, though it is nothing without charity.

Go out and do good, love one another as Jesus did.

That is what we are meant to take away from the reading from the Book of Acts.

God is good.

Open your eyes and you will see God’s goodness, you will see the goodness of God even in the faces of your adversaries.

See them.

God is good.

Open your ears and you will hear God’s goodness, even in the voices of your opponents.

Listen to them.

God is good.

God loves you, and God loves all people.
Open your heart to the people, even your enemies, invite them to your table

Share with them.

Be mindful!

If you share in the sufferings of Christ, know that you are on the side of justice and mercy.

And know this, if you are suffering and it is not because of the love you bear to all people, then your suffering is not the suffering of Christ

One way or another, do not boast of your suffering, it is unseemly and arrogant.

Be humble!

You will get nothing extra for your service to God, your share in God’s blessing will be the same as that of anyone and everyone else.

Remember the laborers in the vineyard.

We may have faith in this, because God loves all people equally, and the spirit of God, of God who created the universe; that spirit rests on all people without distinction, we share in it the same.

Good and bad, we are the same.

God, the creator of the universe, God abandon’s no-one.

God will leave no orphans, no-one shall be left apart, stranded in the throws of sin.

Not one of us will be lost.

Consider the Gospel for today.

Consider how the apostles get it wrong…again

Be mindful of how the writers of John’s Gospel reveal their fundamental misunderstanding of Jesus and mission.

Strive to be more patient than they were.
Listen!

The ministry of Jesus was centered on real people, actual people living real lives, facing real hardship in the real world.

His gaze was focused toward us on Earth with him, not on the heavens, or some imagined and ephemeral glory.

Jesus was not here to seek glory, or power, or dominion over mankind.

Jesus was selfless and meek; he gave everything away, including his life.

There is a kind of power in this, but it is not power in the sense of force or energy, or miltant might. Our word power, comes from the Latin potens, potare, meaning ability.

Jesus possessed power insofar as he possessed the ability to love.

Jesus was not a Gnostic, but the writers of John would make him out to be one.

He did not teach a secret doctrine.

He himself wrote nothing down.

Jesus taught by the word of his mouth, and more significantly through his actions.

He proclaimed justice and promoted love; through healing and sharing, and community work.

Jesus prayed, but he only gave us one prayer, in that prayer he prayed for bread to feed the people, he asked for mercy, and the strength to be merciful.

Know this

If or when the Church is finally able to emulate the life and teaching of Jesus, then and only then will Christ have risen within it.
First Reading – Acts 1:12-14 ©

The Apostles All Joined in Continuous Prayer

After Jesus was taken up into heaven the apostles went back from the Mount of Olives, as it is called, to Jerusalem, a short distance away, no more than a sabbath walk; and when they reached the city they went to the upper room where they were staying; there were Peter and John, James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Jude son of James. All these joined in continuous prayer, together with several women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 26(27):1,4, 7-8 ©

I am sure I shall see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living.

Alleluia!

The Lord is my light and my help;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
before whom shall I shrink?

I am sure I shall see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living.

There is one thing I ask of the Lord,
for this I long,
to live in the house of the Lord,
all the days of my life,
to savour the sweetness of the Lord,
to behold his temple.

I am sure I shall see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living.

O Lord, hear my voice when I call;
have mercy and answer.
Of you my heart has spoken:
‘Seek his face.’

I am sure I shall see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living.

Alleluia!
Second Reading – 1 Peter 4:13-16 ©

It is a Blessing for You When They Insult You for Bearing the Name of Christ

If you can have some share in the sufferings of Christ, be glad, because you will enjoy a much greater gladness when his glory is revealed. It is a blessing for you when they insult you for bearing the name of Christ, because it means that you have the Spirit of glory, the Spirit of God resting on you. None of you should ever deserve to suffer for being a murderer, a thief, a criminal or an informer; but if anyone of you should suffer for being a Christian, then he is not to be ashamed of it; he should thank God that he has been called one.
Gospel Acclamation – John 14:18

Alleluia, alleluia!

I will not leave you orphans, says the Lord;
I will come back to you,
and your hearts will be full of joy.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to John 17:1-11 ©

Father, It is Time for You to Glorify Me

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:

‘Father, the hour has come: glorify your Son so that your Son may glorify you; and, through the power over all mankind that you have given him, let him give eternal life to all those you have entrusted to him.

And eternal life is this: to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I have glorified you on earth and finished the work that you gave me to do. Now, Father, it is time for you to glorify me with that glory I had with you before ever the world was. I have made your name known to the men you took from the world to give me.

They were yours and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now at last they know that all you have given me comes indeed from you; for I have given them the teaching you gave to me, and they have truly accepted this, that I came from you, and have believed that it was you who sent me.

I pray for them; I am not praying for the world but for those you have given me, because they belong to you: all I have is yours and all you have is mine, and in them I am glorified. I am not in the world any longer, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you.’
The Seventh Sunday of Easter (Year A) The Ascension

The Feast of Saint Leonidas, the Father of Origen – A Reflection

Little is known about this martyr from the early 3rd century except that he was beheaded by the Egyptian prefect Lactus in 202 CE, during the reign of the Roman Emperor Septimius Severus.

He would not be worthy of mention except for the fact that he was the father of the great philosopher and theologian, Origen.

Origen is considered a father of the church, but he is a controversial figure. His writings were condemned during the reign of the Emperor Justinian, though he himself was not officially anathematized, all of his work was, at the Second Council of Constantinople in 553 CE.

Nevertheless, Origen’s work remained influential, guiding the thinking of the Church for centuries, and continuing to influence us into the twenty-first century.

But he is not a Saint of the Church and therefore we cannot celebrate his feast day, so I have chosen to celebrate him through his father.

Origen’s doctrine of apocatastasis is likely the particular teaching which caused him to fall out of favor with the hierarchy of the Church. Though it did not happen in his own day, but three hundred years later, after Christianity had become the official religion of the Roman Empire, this doctrine began to be seen as dangerous, and heretical.

The Doctrine of apocatastasis instructs the believer in the understanding that all things emanate from God, and will return to God in the end, even the devil and his angels.

For Origen this understanding was merely the logical conclusion of the basic faith commitments that were held by all Christians in his time. We should note that these basic faith commitments are also held by most Christians today, and throughout the history of the Church, as they are succinctly set forward in the prolog to John’s Gospel.

Origen was not attempting to teach something radical or new, he was expostulating on the faith as he had received from his teacher Clement of Alexandria.

The doctrine of apocatastasis implies a theology of universal salvation and ultimately it was seen as a challenge to the authority of priests and bishops, to the Christian Emperor to the logic of the sacramental system, as delineated by Saint Augustine in the fifth century and subsequently accepted in its entirety by the Church and the whole magisterium.

Origen’s work was condemned, and he was marginalized because of the way the threat the hierarchy perceived as being axiomatic to his teaching.

It was pure unadulterated hubris on the part of the Church.

Origen followed in his father’s footsteps to a martyr’s death c. 252 – 254 CE, during the persecutions of the Roman Emperor Decius. He was imprisoned and tortured and died after being released at the age of sixty-nine.

He was a philosopher and a theologian unparalleled in his day.
Given First 04.22.2020