Life’s Curriculum of Faith

Memorial of Saints Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen,
Bishops and Doctors of the Church
January 2, 2023

Today’s Readings:

1Jn2_24 beginning

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we continue to relish John’s eloquent first letter in which he heartily instructs us in the life of Christian love and fidelity.

Let what you heard from the beginning remain in you. 
If what you heard from the beginning remains in you,
then you will remain in the Son and in the Father. 
And this is the promise that he made us: eternal life. 

1 John 2:24-26

John has written this letter out of concern about false teachings that are cropping up in the early Church. Misguided “prophets” are placing distorted interpretations on the pure, original message of the Gospel.

Human beings have never stopped doing that, have we? Down through the centuries, how many heresies and misinterpretations have tried to weave their confusion into the Gospel’s central, inviolable thread? How many charlatans, purposefully or ignorantly, have confused people with their bogus religious interpretations.

Has it happened to our own faith? Have we lost the crisp, clear power of our foundational belief? Have we been hijacked into a “faith” or religious practice that ultimately contradicts the Gospel?

It can happen easily in a society where truth is manipulated for purposes of politics, power, and economics. How can we work to avoid it?

John tells us to hold fast to the core teaching of the Gospel.

As for you,
the anointing that you received from him remains in you,
so that you do not need anyone to teach you. 
But his anointing teaches you about everything and is true and not false; 
just as it taught you, remain in him.

1 John 2: 27

This is the faith that many of us learned as children from devout parents and teachers. It is a faith that continues to evolve through scriptural prayer and meditation, through openness to theological wisdom, through the holy dialogue of the beloved community.

It is a living faith, stretched and tested by our daily choices for true Christian love for all people, especially the poor, sick and marginalized.

Ultimately, it is a faith rooted in the Cross and transformed by the Resurrection.

Over these next few weeks, let us listen carefully to John as he guides us to the depth of this faith.

Poetry: A Thanksgiving – St. John Henry Newman

The faith-journey of John Henry Newman has always inspired me. Born in 1801, he was an English theologian, academic, intellectual, philosopher, polymath, historian, writer, scholar and poet, first as an Anglican priest and later as a Catholic priest and cardinal. He was an important and controversial figure in the religious history of England in the 19th century. St. John Henry Newman was canonized as a saint in the Catholic Church in 2019.

As a young nun, when I thought faith was largely an intellectual pursuit, I was caught up in his Apologia Pro Vita Sua (Latin: A defense of one’s own life). The essay is a defense of his religious opinions, published in 1864 in response to Charles Kingsley of the Church of England after Newman quit his position as the Anglican vicar of St. Mary’s, Oxford.

Newman also wrote poetry. “A Thanksgiving” traces the unfolding gift and struggle of Newman’s faith journey.

Lord, in this dust Thy sovereign voice
First quicken’d love divine;
I am all Thine, Thy care and choice,
My very praise is Thine.

I praise Thee, while Thy providence
In childhood frail I trace,
For blessings given, ere dawning sense
Could seek or scan Thy grace;

Blessings in boyhood’s marvelling hour,
Bright dreams, and fancyings strange;
Blessings, when reason’s awful power
Gave thought a bolder range;

Blessings of friends, which to my door
Unask’d, unhoped, have come;
And, choicer still, a countless store
Of eager smiles at home.

Yet, Lord, in memory’s fondest place
I shrine those seasons sad,
When, looking up, I saw Thy face
In kind austereness clad.

I would not miss one sigh or tear,
Heart-pang, or throbbing brow;
Sweet was the chastisement severe,
And sweet its memory now.

Yes! let the fragrant scars abide,
Love-tokens in Thy stead,
Faint shadows of the spear-pierced side
And thorn-encompass’d head.

And such Thy tender force be still,
When self would swerve or stray,
Shaping to truth the froward will
Along Thy narrow way.

Deny me wealth; far, far remove
The lure of power or name;
Hope thrives in straits, in weakness love,
And faith in this world’s shame.

Music: some gentle meditation music for your prayer with John:

Herb Ernst – Song of the Inner Child

2 thoughts on “Life’s Curriculum of Faith

    1. Dear Paul, I am so sorry! We have tried to connect with Joanne for months and have been so concerned. God bless JoAnne, a beautiful friend and beloved of God. And God bless you, Paul, and comfort you in your sorrow.


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