Sunday reading

Reading for pleasure, but if I learn something along the way, that's gravy...

99 Years Ago Today: Assassination Of Archduke Ferdinand And His Wife

On June 28th, 1914, the heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian empire, fifty-year old Archduke Franz Ferdinand, was assassinated in Sarajevo by a 19-year-old Bosnian-Serb nationalist.

The assassination began a "at first slow-moving" diplomatic crisis which would result a month later, July 28th, in Austria-Hungary declaring war on Serbia.

The assassination plot itself was so badly botched that its success is one of the surprising events of history. Read more »

Church Honours Saint Cyril of Alexandria – Bishop And Doctor Of The Church

Born in 370 AD, Cyril was a native of Alexandria in Egypt, that great city on the Nile.

He was trained in the ascetical life through spending his early years with monks in the Egyptian desert.

When the patriarch of Alexandria, his uncle Theophilus died, it was Cyril, then a young priest of 36, who was named to succeed him. Read more »

Church Celebrates The Nativity Of John The Baptist

Pointing to the great role of this prophet as the herald of the Lord, Jesus himself said of John, “of all the children born to women, there is no one greater than John himself.”

John was born to aged parents, Zachary a temple priest, and Elizabeth his wife. Were they in some way related to the family of Mary and Joseph? It would seem so, but we’re not absolutely sure. Certainly, Mary visits Elizabeth when she comes to know of John’s conception, and thereby sanctifies the child within Elizabeth’s womb. Read more »

Church Honours Saint Thomas More – Lawyer, Author, Statesman and Martyr

Thomas More was born into a legal family in London on 7 February 1478 and received a first class education in Oxford and the law schools of London from 1492 to 1502.

The European Renaissance had already spread its “new learning” to England, and More was torn between the old and the new.

For a time he considered becoming a monk but instead, he became a kind of lay ascetic: though elected to parliament in 1504 and married to Jane in 1505, he continued to observe the penances common to monks in those days. Read more »

We Do Not Pray To A Remote ‘Cosmic God’, Says Pope At Morning Mass

Christians do not pray to a remote “cosmic god” but to the God who is our Father, Pope Francis said at Mass this morning.

Commenting on today’s Gospel reading, in which Jesus teaches his disciples to pray the Our Father, the Pope said: “To whom do I pray?

To the Almighty God? He is too far off. Ah, I can’t hear Him. Neither did Jesus. To whom do I pray? To a cosmic god? That’s quite normal these days, is it not?… praying to the cosmic god, right? Read more »

Christ The Teacher: Eye For An Eye, Tooth For A Tooth

In Jesus’s time, the Law had a sacredness and a saving value and for most Jews, it was the definitive revelation of God.

Those who swore by this were the Scribes and Pharisees.

Matthew’s Gospel, and particularly the ‘Sermon on the Mount’, attempts to present Jesus’s attitude to the Law in the context of the early Jewish community. Read more »

Protectors Of The Holy Land

Knighthood is alive and well.

The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, the oldest chivalric order in the world — founded 914 years ago — is stronger than ever. Its members live worldwide, with many in the United States.

The order was formed in 1099 by Godfrey de Bouillon, a zealous Christian and leader of the First Crusade that returned Jerusalem to the Christians. Read more »

Gospel Story: The Woman Who Washed Jesus’s Feet

The episode of the woman who washes Jesus’s feet is one of the most complicated stories in the Gospels.

It is complicated because, although the four evangelists each have such a story, there are similarities and differences which give rise to many questions about who the woman was, where the event took place, how was it really enacted, and what its purpose might be. Read more »

Church Honours Saint Anthony Of Padua – Priest, Preacher And Miracle Worker

“Everybody’s St Anthony”, as he is popularly called, is one of the most astonishing saints in the Catholic calendar.

He is invoked and prayed to in all kinds of circumstances – generally to recover lost articles; but also by those in danger of shipwreck, by pregnant women, travelers, and always by the poor, for whom St Anthony’s bread is a common offering. Read more »

Christ The Teacher: The Beatitudes And The Woes

Often, Jesus’s teachings presented a truth that is quite the opposite to the conventional wisdom, a truth based in paradox.

A paradox is something different from what it appears to be.

The beatitudes and the woes — or as we’d say today, the blessings and the curses — are some of these truths which challenge our normal ways of seeing. Read more »

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