Saint Katherine of Alexandria – Patron Saint of Philosophers

As a Roman Catholic Theologian, and a student of philosophy, Saint Katherine of Alexandria is my patroness.

I have this image of her, painted by the renaissance master Raphael tattooed on my right arm.

Her legend tells us that she was born in Alexandria, Egypt around the year 287 CE, and that she died as a martyr during the reign of the Roman Emperor Maxentius c. 305.

She was broken on the wheel; she was tied to it, impaled on its spikes, and crushed beneath it as it was rolled through the streets.

Katherine was only eighteen years old but gifted with a rare intellect. She was from a wealthy family and used her fortune to hold salons where she invited pagan philosophers to debate with her and other Christian scholars on matters concerning the central tenets of the faith and the doctrines of the Church.

Katherine is always depicted in the saffron and ochre robes of the philosopher, which had been the tradition throughout the ancient Near East and Hellenistic Civilization since at least the time of Socrates (mid-fourth century BCE). It is likely that these colors, and their association with philosophy come from the Buddhist missionaries travelling west from as early as the sixth century BCE.

Given First 11.25.2020

Full title: Saint Catherine of Alexandria Artist: Raphael Date made: about 1507 Source: Contact: Copyright © The National Gallery, London

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 Justin Martyr, the Philosopher

Today is the feast of Saint Justin the Martyr, a Christian philosopher from the second century CE. He and his students were put to death at the very beginning of the Christian era, around the year 165 CE.

Few of his writings have survived, but the work we do have demonstrates how influential Saint Justin was in shaping our understanding of Jesus as the second person of the trinity, the Son of God, and the incarnation of the divine logos.

Justine established the theology that Jesus of Nazareth, Joshua bin Joseph was the embodied manifestation of God’s reason and rational aspect in the world.

Justin’s work also fixed into Christian consciousness the notion that all people carry a seed of the Word within them, insofar as all people are created in the divine image and share in being of God.

This doctrine is referred to as the Logos Spermatikos and it stands in stark distinction to the much more pessimistic theology of Saint Augustine of Hippo three hundred and fifty years later, who devised the doctrine of Original Sin.

The theology of Saint Justin the Martyr suggested that when God breathed life into Adam, God imparted to him God’s own self in the form of the divine logos, making Adam, and all humankind subsequent to him, into the creatures that Aristotle referred to as “the rational animal,” unlike every other animal on Earth.

What Justin taught was this: human beings bear the fullness of God within themselves, but Adam’s sin has corrupted us and occluded it, causing the seed lying within us to go dormant, thereby cutting us off from our inherent potential, the ability to live our lives in the fullness of God’s promise.

Our capacity to understand the truth, perceive beauty and do good, our desire for justice and mercy became more or less latent.

Saint Justin taught that waters of baptism were to the seed of the Word, what ordinary water is to a seed of any kind, actuating that potential, like the germination of a seed, and a source of nourishment for the Word dwelling within us, showering us with grace.

He taught that the sacrament of baptism provides us with grace that activates our potential and sets on the path to living a full spiritual life.Justin Martyr
Given First 06.01.2020


There is movement all about me, forms I can’t discern, floating in my dreams
There are shadows on the cavern walls, wavering in chaotic streams

Questions scrape my bones like hungry wraiths, solutions never see the light of day
Bundle up the answers, bind them like sheaves of straw, set to fire in the night

The furies rise from the ash beds, there is no phoenix, no morning sun

Bury seeds in the cold-field, bits of knowledge, pushed into the wet earth
Fragile little plantlings hungry for life, set their roots and stretch out for the light

Heedless of the storm descending, turn to face the darkened horizon, resisting
As dreams fall like stars from the sky, the harvest rots while and fields are set on fire

There is phoenix rising, only the furies fly from the ash beds, their swarm blots the sun

We heard the promise and followed its call, we stood beneath the open sky
To bask in the solar wind, blind as the troglodyte emerging from the cave

Fyodor Dostoyevsky – Author

When I was still a teenager and began to move away from reading science fiction, fantasy, and my comic books, when I got past the authors I had been introduced to in school, the so-called American Classics such as Lewis, Fitzgerald and Steinbeck, it was then that I discovered Dostoyevsky.

A whole new dimension of literature opened up to me, literature became philosophy.

Through the great Russian novelist I came to understand the power of narrative, and its effectiveness at conveying certain truths that are universal to the human condition.

For whatever reason there are no authors more adept at this function than the Russian’s, with Dostoyevsky being the foremost at the craft.

His influence on me was profound.

From Crime and Punishment and Notes from the Underground, to The Idiot and the Brothers Karamozov, which are perhaps his most famous works in English, I spent years all through my twenties and into my thirties tracking down his cannon, until I was left with translations of his notebooks to read, which I did.

I purchased the notebook for A Raw Youth, at a used bookstore in Minneapolis (Majors and Quinn). It was the first one that I discovered, In its pages I could see the way he constructed the arc of his stories, and developed his characters from ego to id, and I found an Imperial Ruble, tucked into its pages, a bookmark left behind by whoever was last to read to it.

The note was wrinkled and faded but still a treasure to me.

I considered Dostoyevsky to be the father of existentialism, and through him I learned to love Dickens, who Dostoyevsky considered to be the greatest author of all time.

It has been one hundred and thirty-nine years since he died, and his influence has not waned.
Given First – 2020.02.09


Saint Thomas Aquinas, Patron Saint of Philosophy, Angelic Doctor of the Church – A Reflection

Saint Thomas AquinasWhen I finally made it to university, I went to a place named for this man, The University of Saint Thomas, in Saint Paul, Minnesota and I studied philosophy there.

It was a grand place, it felt like a university, with its tall stately buildings made from massive blacks of light tan stone, Minnesota sandstone quarried from the hills nearby, when I passed through the arches into the quad I felt like I had arrived.

I studied philosophy, theology and the classics during my time there. Saint Thomas prepared me for advanced studies elsewhere, I continued my theological work, though not as exhaustively as he, his Summa Theologica remains a unique achievement in the history of Western thought, more important for the mode of thinking he transmitted his ideas through, than for the conclusions that he made. His work bridged the gap between the ancient philosophers: Socrates, Plato, Aristotle (and others), re-employing the tools of logic, and discursive reasoning that allowed Europeans to leave the Dark Ages, clearing the way for the Renaissance, the Enlightenment and the Age of Reason that followed.

Saint Thomas died on March 7th, 1274. In 1969 the Church moved the day we celebrate his feast to January 28th, we celebrate his sainthood today. He was Italian by birth, and a member of the Dominican order, a scholastic, and he was famous in his day. He died while making a pilgrimage on the Appian Way, death took him at the Cistercian abbey of Fossanova, and the monks there knowing that he would be famous, and a saint of great renown, coveted the relics of his body.

They boiled his carcass down and polished his bones, preserving all of the water for distribution in the relic-trade, they refused for years to turn his body over to his Dominican brothers, parceling out his bones and the water bit by bit over time, keeping his skull until the very end.

The University of Saint Thomas has a vial of that water in its collection of sacred artifacts, as silly business, really, and beneath the dignity of the intellectual giant that Aquinas was known to be.

There is a prayer that Thomas wrote, it is carved into a column of the main entrance to the school grounds, and I read it every day or recited it aloud every day that I attended classes on the campus in Saint Paul.

It is a prayer that I carry with me still, as if it were written in my heart:

Grant, O Merciful God
That I may ardently desire,
Prudently examine,
Truthfully acknowledge,
And perfectly accomplish
What is pleasing to thee
For the praise and glory
Of thy name
Given First 2020.01.28


Crawling the walls inside my head, scratching
At the barriers in my mind, feeding my anxieties, unwittingly
The beast that presses in on me
There is decay, the stink of it is everywhere
Leaves molding in the compost heap, the off gassing of self-analysis
Full of rot and decay, the trappings of entropy
Self-diminishment, pursuing the illusion to oblivion
An equation for the will, spiraling malaise, the slow poison of fear
Paralyzed by trepidation, lost in the labyrinth
There are mirrored halls and corridors, stretching
Forever, each plane is a door, locked and forbidden, I am keyless
But I have a hammer, and am crashing through the void
Digging in the earth with Leibniz
Plum the mysteries of my secret world, caught in the reflection
Of the present, like Enkidu in the wild
Adrift on a sea of confusion, as Gilgamesh drowning
Caught in time, trapped in space, always subject to flooding tides
Beneath the black skies on a starless night
I have forgotten the moon, lingering too long in limbo
At the brink of despair, the pit of uncertainty, the abyss is whispering
I am deaf to it, I was never taught to listen
There is a language to the soul, it is universal, sounding
Down the pathway of my heart, the echoes of reason beat my bones to dust
The destroyer comes with songs of praise
Cleverness is no substitute for, genius we paint our demons
In a bright colors, the infinite palate Leibniz says, and we dance
In the shadows of the ego, falsafah, the flowage of dreams
My Id crawls over me, like a worm that never dies
The compulsion to fail, as it swallows its tail, the serpent of Midgard
Kali comes riding with her pack of dogs, each one a cynic
Barking with spite

Philosopher solve thyself

A Homily – John 17:11 – 19 ©

The Gospel According to John – 2018.05.06


Names and Dualism

The readings for today are confusing and full of errors.

In the Gospel we are presented with the superstition of the early church and its fixation on names, as if a name held some sacred power, names do not, they are not magic. It is not the name of God, or the name of Jesus (a man from Nazareth whose name was not Jesus, but Joshua) that has power, or the ability to confer power.

There is no power in a name, they are accidental features of our identities and persona. A name may shape a person’s character, but it will not grant them access to them mysteries of the universe, or entrance to the heavenly spheres.

The notion that names had special-power, in and of themselves, was a popular superstition at the time the gospels were written, and it was especially important to other groups of Christians who were later prosecuted for heresy, the so-called Gnostics and their forebers, the Jewish practitioners of Kaballah.

Set all of that aside for a moment, because it is confusing and there is no good reason to carry forward any of that ancient superstition into the modern age.

Pay attention to the errors the Gospel writers but forward, the perpetuation of lies. Today’s suggests that Jesus had kept all of the disciples except one, true to their mission. This fabrication completely over looks how all of the other 11 disciples abandoned Jesus when he was arrested. It overlooks the explicit denials of Jesus made by Saint Peter, not once or twice, but three times on the night he was taken.

There were some who remained faithful, who stayed by his side, but they are not numbered among the twelve and history has largely overlooked their contribution, though it has not been able to erase it completely; Mary his mother, and Mary Magdalene who was the first to see the risen Christ.

Let us dwell for a moment on another troubling claim put forward in the Gospel, that the one disciple who betrayed Jesus, and therefore betrayed God, betrayed them for the sake of fulfilling the scriptures.
How is this possible?

Did the one who chose to be lost, choose it to fulfill the scriptures, or did he have no choice at all and was he was he compelled?

If Judas was merely fulfilling the scriptures, freely, then he had chosen to fulfil the will of God, How is this a crime?

If he was compelled, then he is not guilty at all.

The reading for the day doubles down on a kind of dualism that has dogged the Church from its beginning. It is important to note, that God is everywhere present in the world, God is the sole creator of the world, and all things that exist came to being in and through God

God sustains all things in being.

The church has rejected all forms of dualism in theory, in its philosophy, but not in its practice or practical application.

As Christians, as people who are supposed to be dedicated to the truth, we are called on to strip the errors of dualism from the liturgy, from the scripture and every other place where it persists in the tradition.

Remember this; keep the truth of it in front of you always. God never left us. God is present to us. In all times and in all places, God is with us.

We come to know God through our relationships with one another; in the quality of the love we manifest for all human beings, in how we love all of God’s children.

God, the creator of the universe resides in.

God resides in everyone, but not everyone acts as if this is true, not everyone has faith in it.

It requires faith to love, and greater faith to love the stranger, even more to love your enemy.

The faithful do not require proof of God’s presence; the faithful know that God is present.

God is living in all people, it is not creed and confessions, or ceremonies that make this real.

We manifest our love for God by the love we share with our family and friends, in whom God exists, and even more so when we demonstrate that love to those we do not know, to those we fear, or to those who had been our enemy.

Give thanks to God, the creator of the universe.

We are thankful for the peace of God’s blessing, the blessing of life, of freedom, of self-determination, for our personhood.

Give thanks to those who are loving, we are thankful for the peacemakers, and bless them as you are able.

Bless all of God’s children as God does, love them all, both the good and the bad, the helpful and the harmful, the just and the unjust.

Remember this, God is not a king, God is not a Lord. God does not favor one group over another. God does not intervene in the affairs of human beings. Remember this and keep it in front of you when you read the scriptures, this is the truth and it is the lens through which all interpretations must be made.

Consider the acts of the apostles, and the story of the early church.

The fate of the church was left to a game of chance…if you believe it.

The Book of Acts was written decades, nearly a century after Jesus was murdered, it was written by a men who never met Jesus, who were themselves, the followers of a man who never met Jesus.

It is likely that they had some contact with Peter, and the other disciples, but that contact was limited, and much of what is written in Acts is hearsay, rifled with superstition.

Let us first correct the record, David does not foretell the future, we know this is true because the future is not written. God created us in freedom, and the road in front of us is not paved with certainty.

There was no compulsion among the disciples to name a person to take the place of Judas among the disciples, this was their own invention which they engaged in for their own reason. The structure of the church is a human construction, it has been formed the way it is to suit the purposes of human beings, not God.

The drawing of lots, is a superstitious practice, one that never has and never could reveal the will of the creator, who would never have intervened in such a matter in the first place.

The story of this event must be rejected on its face, because it is full of falsehoods, fabrications and errors of reasoning. It has no place in the sacred text, other than to serve as a reminder that the early church was busy, post facto writing justifications in its narrative for both the decisions it made, and the things which developed organically that it felt it must explain.


First Reading – Acts 1:15-17,20-26 ©

‘Let someone else take his office’

One day Peter stood up to speak to the brothers – there were about a hundred and twenty persons in the congregation: ‘Brothers, the passage of scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit, speaking through David, foretells the fate of Judas, who offered himself as a guide to the men who arrested Jesus – after having been one of our number and actually sharing this ministry of ours. Now in the Book of Psalms it says:

Let someone else take his office.

‘We must therefore choose someone who has been with us the whole time that the Lord Jesus was travelling round with us, someone who was with us right from the time when John was baptising until the day when he was taken up from us – and he can act with us as a witness to his resurrection.’

Having nominated two candidates, Joseph known as Barsabbas, whose surname was Justus, and Matthias, they prayed, ‘Lord, you can read everyone’s heart; show us therefore which of these two you have chosen to take over this ministry and apostolate, which Judas abandoned to go to his proper place.’ They then drew lots for them, and as the lot fell to Matthias, he was listed as one of the twelve apostles.


Psalm 102(103):1-2,11-12,19-20 ©

My soul, give thanks to the Lord
all my being, bless his holy name.
My soul, give thanks to the Lord
and never forget all his blessings.
For as the heavens are high above the earth
so strong is his love for those who fear him.
As far as the east is from the west
so far does he remove our sins.
The Lord has set his sway in heaven
and his kingdom is ruling over all.
Give thanks to the Lord, all his angels,
mighty in power, fulfilling his word.


Second Reading 1 John 4:11-16 ©

Anyone Who Lives in Love Lives in God, and God Lives in Him

My dear people, since God has loved us so much, we too should love one another. No one has ever seen God; but as long as we love one another God will live in us and his love will be complete in us.

We can know that we are living in him and he is living in us because he lets us share his Spirit. We ourselves saw and we testify that the Father sent his Son as saviour of the world.

If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him, and he in God. We ourselves have known and put our faith in God’s love towards ourselves. God is love and anyone who lives in love lives in God, and God lives in him.

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.



Gospel John 17:11 – 19

Father, keep those you have given me true to your name

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:

‘Holy Father, keep those you have given me true to your name, so that they may be one like us. While I was with them, I kept those you had given me true to your name. I have watched over them and not one is lost except the one who chose to be lost, and this was to fulfil the scriptures. But now I am coming to you and while still in the world I say these things to share my joy with them to the full. I passed your word on to them, and the world hated them, because they belong to the world no more than I belong to the world.

I am not asking you to remove them from the world, but to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. Consecrate them in the truth; your word is truth.

As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world, and for their sake I consecrate myself so that they too may be consecrated in truth.’


Seventh Sunday of Easter