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Discover January’s Saint of the Month: St. Thomas Aquinas

Each month in 2019, Verbum will be highlighting one saint’s life, work, theology, and impact on the Church. This month’s saint, Thomas Aquinas, is one of the most influential philosophers and theologians of all time.

Lived: 1225–March 7, 1274
Feast Day: January 28
Patronage: Academics, apologists, philosophers, and theologians [Read more…]

John Henry Newman: The Church Will Not, Cannot Change

Last week, the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Congregation for the Causes of Saints confirmed Cardinal John Henry Newman’s second miracle, bringing him one step closer to canonization.

Cardinal Newman (1801–1890) demonstrated astonishing academic rigor and commitment to Christ and his Church during his ministry, as you can see in the following excerpt adapted from An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine. [Read more…]

Last Chance: Verbum’s Free Book of the Month

Free from Verbum until the end of the month: The Holy Eucharist by St. Alphonsus de Liguori.

The Holy EucharistA doctor of the Church, St. Alphonus combines spiritual insight with deep scriptural knowledge in his devotional classic The Holy Eucharist. This volume includes a variety of prayerful meditations on the sacrifice of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, the Feast of Corpus Christi, the Virgin Mary, and ways to practice the love of Jesus Christ in daily life.

In addition, Verbum is offering a companion volume by St. Alphonsus de Ligouri, The Divine Office, for 99 cents! A treasure of erudition, the Psalms and Canticles are presented  side-by-side in Latin and English, with notes on the Hebrew text as well.

If you already downloaded this month’s free book and plus one, you can pick up the complete 7-volume Alphosus de Liguori collection with a personalized discount!

Liguori

Don’t miss out—these deals are only good until June 30th! 

Deacon Kevin’s Reflections on the Feast Day of St. Joseph

This guest post is by Verbum Director Kevin Bagley, D Min.

Be sure to see our Verbum Monthly Sale for special savings on resources about St. Joseph!

Of the members of the Holy Family, we know the least about Joseph. His appearance in Scripture is brief, and not a single word in Scripture is attributed to him. He appears in three of the Gospels, and what little else we know has been handed down through tradition and the few writings about him from the early writings of the Church, including The Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew, The Gospel of James, The Gospel of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, and The Ante-Nicean Fathers.

One tradition holds that Joseph lived to be 111 years of age. As a younger man, he had served as a priest in the temple. When we meet Joseph in scripture, he is a tekton (Mt. 13:55; Mk 6:3), translated as mechanic; more specifically, a carpenter. Wood might not have been his only medium, as stone is also prevalent in the area. His wife preceded him in death and together they had six children (Judas, Justus, James, Simon, Assia and Lydia). Joseph took Mary into his home and cared for her and the child Jesus after being selected as her husband.

Mary was the daughter of the aged Joachim and Anna. When Mary was three years old, Joachim and Anna brought her from their home in Bethlehem to the temple in Jerusalem to consecrate and devote her to the service of the Lord. Early church tradition holds that Mary made a vow of virginity.

According to the prophecy of Isaiah (Is. 11:1-2), a man should be sought to whom the virgin should be entrusted and espoused. Staffs were to be collected from each of the unmarried men of the house and family of David and kept overnight in the holy of holies of God’s temple. It was believed that the man’s staff, from which a dove appeared, would be the man to care for Mary. The following morning, all the staffs except Joseph’s were brought out of the temple. When no dove appeared from any of the staffs, another attempt was made. The second attempt at finding a spouse for Mary ended as the first. The high priest realized that Joseph’s staff had not been brought forth with the others. Joseph’s staff was retrieved and handed to him. Upon receiving the staff, a dove appeared from the staff and flew toward Heaven. God’s will was clear: Mary would be entrusted and espoused to Joseph. One tradition describes Joseph asking why he was being asked to take Mary into his home, as she was younger than some of his grandsons. But wishing to do the work of the Lord, Joseph received Mary into his care.

Joseph returned to Nazareth to make things ready for his spouse. He then returned to his trade, one that took him away from home for an extended time. He may have been building homes by the shore, or perhaps he was at work on the temple. When Joseph returned home, after several months away, he found that Mary was pregnant. Joseph, deeply troubled by this information, considered sending her away secretly. As he pondered what action to take, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, informing him that it was an act of the Holy Spirit that Mary had conceived. The angel further instructed Joseph to name the child Jesus, because he would save the people from their sins (Mt. 1:18-22).

At that time, Caesar Augustus decreed that a census be taken of the entire world. This meant that Joseph and pregnant Mary had to travel to Bethlehem, his ancestral home (Lk. 2:1-5). As many people had descended upon Bethlehem for the census, there were no suitable accommodations. Joseph, doing the best he could, found a warm stable where Mary could give birth (Lk. 2:7). Just days after the birth, the family was greeted by local shepherds who came to visit the Messiah (Lk. 2:16).

According to Jewish law, Joseph and Mary took Jesus up to the temple in Jerusalem to present Jesus to the Lord (Lk. 2:22), where they were greeted by Simeon, who had been waiting all his life to see the Messiah.

Joseph had settled the family in a house in Bethlehem when the Magi came to visit (Mt 2:11). After the Magi departed, Joseph was warned in a dream that they must flee to Egypt, as King Herod intended to destroy the child (Mt. 2:13). Joseph did as he was told, remaining in Egypt until the death of King Herod (Mt. 2:14-15). An angel once again spoke to Joseph in a dream, telling him it was safe to return home. Fearing the wrath of Herod’s son Archelaus, Joseph did not return to Bethlehem but rather chose to settle the family in Nazareth (Mt. 3:19-23).

The last image we have of Joseph in scripture is when the family traveled to Jerusalem for Passover. Journeying in caravans, the men walked in one group and the women and children walked in another. At the age of twelve, Jesus was old enough to travel with the men, and yet still young enough to be with the children. Both parents thought Jesus was with the other, until they met in the evening for rest—to find Jesus missing. Frantic with anxiety, they quickly returned to Jerusalem and spent three days searching for their son. They found him on the third day, sitting in the midst of the teachers in the temple. They returned home to Nazareth to raise their son (Lk. 41-52).

As a young boy, the only human father Jesus knew was Joseph. Joseph was father, provider, teacher, mentor, and role model for his son. Pressed into service as an old man, Joseph cared for his wife and son, endured the hardship of fleeing persecution from the government with his infant child, provided a home for his family, and taught his son a noble trade.

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Celebrate St. Padre Pio’s Feast Day with a Special Offer from Verbum!

Celebrate St. Padre Pio’s feast day September 23rd with a Special offer! Get Padre Pio: A Glimpse into the Miraculous for under $10 when you ender coupon code PIO14 at checkout.

From the publisher’s description:

Referred to as a “surgeon of souls,” Saint Pio of Pietrelcina brought the Good News of Jesus to people near and far, inspiring their individual conversions, but also causing chains of transformations. Crowds flocked to him to have their confessions heard, to be at his Mass, or to simply be in his presence.

Written by Pascal Cataneo—a fellow priest and contemporary of Padre Pio—this collection contains Padre Pio’s encounters with countless people from all walks of life and the personal accounts of their spiritual transformations. From bilocation, to psychic abilities, to health cures, to an untaught multilingualism, to an unexplainable perfume scent, Padre Pio was blessed with many unique gifts that stirred peoples’ consciences, awakened their faith, and changed their lives. Stories and quotes from conversations between Padre Pio and his visitors capture these miraculous episodes.

Whether you are a fan of Padre Pio, enjoy miracle stories, want to encounter the Franciscan tradition, or are interested in supernatural phenomena, you will be intrigued by this book. In this volume, you will find rare glimpses of God working concretely in the lives of ordinary people through the words and presence of Saint Pio.

You will also be offered a window into the biographical elements of Padre Pio’s life, including the aura of mystery surrounding the stigmata on his hands and feet. But this book extends beyond biographical facts into Cataneo’s inclusion of his personal experiences with Padre Pio, offering you a more intimate reading experience. Such a unique perspective reveals the many sides of this Capuchin friar’s personality—his humility, his directness, and his humor. By connecting the ordinary with the supernatural, you are shown that the miraculous is possible in this world . . . and in your life.

The Logos Bible Software edition of Padre Pio: Glimpse into the Miraculous will give you insight into the well-known and influential saint. The biographical information contained in this resource will provide you with great spiritual and devotional content for your digital library. Just enter coupon code PIO14 at checkout and access this resource for under $10!

St. Augustine’s City of God on the sacrifice of the Mass

Today’s guest post is by Brandon Rappuhn, a Logos copywriter.

Verbum makes it easy to compare texts and perform theological and ecclesiological studies across the history of the Church. Since today is the Feast of St. Augustine, let’s take a journey through the history of our faith by way of his writings. In this journey, I’m curious to see how the “sacrifice of praise” from our Mass is echoed throughout Augustinian ideas. Let’s stick with his City of God or we could easily be here all day.

Book XVII of the City of God presents Augustine’s take on Jewish history as a prefiguration of Christianity. Augustine analyzes two orders of Old Testament priesthood (Melchisedech vs. Aaron) and draws the conclusion that Melchisedech’s priesthood was a prefiguration of the priesthood of Christ in his own sacrifice (by extension, also the sacrifice of the Mass). He goes further, exploring the priesthood of all believers, and how this priesthood offers up a sacrifice of praise:

Therefore, this short and simple and soul-saving expression of faith, ‘Put me, I beseech thee, to somewhat of thy priestly office, that I may eat a morsel of bread,’ is itself the ‘piece of silver,’ [read: praise] because it is brief and is the word of the Lord Himself dwelling in the believer’s heart. Earlier in the text He had said that He had given the house of Aaron food from the Old Testament victims: ‘I gave to thy father’s house for food of all the fiery sacrifices of the children of Israel’—that is, of the Jewish sacrifices. Accordingly, at this point, He said: ‘That I may eat a morsel of bread,’ for this is the sacrifice of Christians in the New Testament.

In the previous paragraphs, Augustine mentions that the order of Aaron has dissolved away and the order of Melchisedech has been perfected and translated into Christ’s priesthood, culminating in the consecration of himself as the Eucharist. In fact, his whole argument is to the fulfillment of the prophecy in 1 Kings 2:27-36 of the ending of the priesthood of Aaron while yet retaining a priesthood of an eternal order.

The Prophet’s concluding clause, ‘that I may eat a morsel of bread,’ (1 Kings 2:27-36) succinctly depicts the very species of the sacrifice in question, the same of which the Priest Himself said: ‘The bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.’ (John 6:51) It is this sacrifice and no other. Let the reader understand, then, the sacrifice according to the order of Melchisedech, not any sacrifice according to the order of Aaron.

Let’s be clear: the “morsel of bread” is indeed a foreshadowing of the Eucharist, but the sentiment, “Put me, I beseech thee, to … thy priestly office, that I may eat…” is the foreshadowing of our sacrifice of praise, our desire to commune with God and to join with him in his Paschal sacrifice. Did Augustine come up with this idea on his own? I wouldn’t think so. Origen echoed this sentiment barely a few centuries before Augustine.

Hear what Peter says about the faithful: You are ‘an elect race, royal, priestly, a holy nation, a chosen people.’ Therefore, you have a priesthood because you are ‘a priestly nation,’ and for this reason ‘you ought to offer an offering of praise to God,’ an offering of prayers, an offering of mercy, an offering of purity, an offering of justice, an offering of holiness. (Homilies on Leviticus 1-16, Hom. 9.1.3)

And well over a thousand years later, Vatican II brings it full-circle:

[The people] should be instructed by God’s word and be nourished at the table of the Lord’s body; they should give thanks to God; by offering the Immaculate Victim, not only through the hands of the priest, but also with him, they should learn also to offer themselves; through Christ the Mediator, they should be drawn day by day into ever more perfect union with God and with each other, so that finally God may be all in all. (Sancrosanctum Concilium 48, emphasis mine)

This is why, in the Mass, sometimes referred to as the “sacrifice of praise,” the priest prays in the Eucharistic prayers, “Remember, Lord, your servants, N. and N., and all gathered here, whose faith and devotion are known to you. For them, we offer you this sacrifice of praise or they offer it for themselves and all who are dear to them…”

For a short time, you can get a library of St. Augustine’s writings on sale with coupon code AUGUSTINE14. This offer ends September 1, so don’t miss out!

Celebrate St. Augustine!

It would be hard to imagine a more influential figure in Western Civilization than St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430 A.D.). Both towering intellect and sympathetic convert, Augustine’s thought and compelling life story have shaped Christianity through the centuries. In celebration of his feast day August 28th, we bring you an excerpt from his Memoirs, Book 8, Chapter 12. Verbum’s Fathers of the Church collection features 15 volumes of Augustine’s writings! Here, Augustine recalls the moment in which he turns to God through a mysterious constellation of events:

Baptism-Of-St.-Augustine,-1702 (1)

Baptism of St. Augustine by Louis de Boulougne (1702)

Now, when profound consideration had pulled out from the hidden depth and heaped together the whole of my wretchedness before the gaze of my heart, a mighty storm arose, bringing a mighty rain of tears. And, in order to shed the whole of it, with its accompanying groans, I stood up…I threw myself down under a fig tree, unconscious of my actions, and loosed the reins on my tears. They burst forth in rivers from my eyes, an acceptable sacrifice unto Thee. Not, indeed, in these words, but with this meaning, I said many things to Thee: ‘And Thou, O Lord, how long?96 How long, O Lord, wilt Thou be angry unto the end? Remember not our former iniquities.’ For I still felt that I was held by them and I uttered these wretched words: ‘How much longer, how much longer? “Tomorrow” and “tomorrow”? Why not right now? Why not the end of my shame at this very hour?’

I kept saying these things and weeping with the bitterest sorrow of my heart. And, behold, I heard from a nearby house the voice of someone—whether boy or girl I know not—chanting, as it were, and repeating over and over: ‘Take it, read it! Take it, read it!’ And immediately, with a transformed countenance, I started to think with greatest concentration whether it was the usual thing for children to chant words such as this in any kind of game, and it did not occcur to me that I had ever heard anything like it. Having stemmed the flow of my tears, I got up, taking it to mean that nothing else was divinely commanded me than that I should open a book and read the first passage that I should find. For I had heard about Anthony that he had been admonished from a reading of the Gospel on which he had come by chance, as if what was being read was said for him: ‘Go, sell what thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me, and by such a revelation he was at once converted to Thee.

And so I went hurriedly back …to the place where I had placed there the copy of the Apostle, when I had got up from the place. Snatching it up, I opened it and read in silence the first passage on which my eyes fell: ‘Not in revelry and drunkenness, not in debauchery and wantonness, not in strife and jealousy; but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and as for the flesh, take no thought for its lusts.’ No further did I desire to read, nor was there need. Indeed, immediately with the termination of this sentence, all the darknesses of doubt were dispersed, as if by a light of peace flooding into my heart.

 

Cyril of Alexandria—Saint & Scrapper

Today’s guest post is by Robert Klesko, Verbum’s Catholic Educational Resources Product Manager

It is zeal for your house that has consumed me – Psalm 69:9

The above quote from the Psalmist seems especially appropriate to the life and ministry of St. Cyril, Pope of Alexandria (c. 376-444). He was zealous. Zealous for the authentic Christian faith. But zeal without a bridle can lead to failures. Cyril certainly made mistakes in regard to his dealings with the city’s Jewish population and Orestes, the Roman Governor in Alexandria. He was prone to be hotheaded and unflinching in what he viewed to be unjust persecution against his flock from rival religious and political authority. However, Cyril is not honored as a saint and doctor of the Church for his political savvy. In fact, I believe it was precisely these early failures which caused him to refocus his ministry on the Christological questions of his time.

Cyril of course is known for his dispute with Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople. This dispute produced some of the most prodigious theology of the Patristic Age. His theology is available from Verbum as part of our special monthly sale. Our six-volume set of the Works of St. Cyril of Alexandria will introduce you to the zealous champion of the orthodox faith. Included in this collection are the Five Tomes against Nestorius, which set the groundwork for the Council of Ephesus (431AD) and Chalcedon (451AD). In Tome II, Cyril makes the following affirmation of the dual nature of the human and divine in Jesus:

Yet how is it not obvious to all that the Only-Begotten being God by Nature has been made man, not by connection simply […] considered as external or accidental, but by true union, ineffable and passing understanding. And thus He is conceived of as One and Only, and everything said befits Him and all will be said of One Person.

This statement, and others like it, heavily influenced the Church’s doctrine of hypostasis, the understanding that Christ is one person with two natures, human and divine. The “hypostatic union” articulated by St. Cyril would become one of the key doctrines of Christological and Trinitarian theology.

Beyond his Christological writings, this six-volume set will introduce you to St. Cyril as a Biblical scholar. Included are his two-volume commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke and the companion two-volume commentary on the Gospel of John. Composed of sermons delivered by St. Cyril on themes in the Gospels, these commentaries offer a rich exposition of the Alexandrian school of theology. Anyone interested in Patristics or Biblical theology would benefit greatly by making these resources part of their Verbum library.

Verbum’s sale on the Works of St. Cyril of Alexandria is for a limited time, so don’t let this opportunity pass by. Studying Cyril’s theology will give you a clear understanding of the development of the Church’s doctrine on the divinity and humanity of Christ. What a great opportunity to look at Christ through the eyes of one who was among the first to grapple with the classic theological question, “What do you think of the Christ?” (Mt. 22:42). Let the study of St. Cyril’s work ignite the zeal for Christ in your own life. Order today and take advantage of the savings!

What It Means to Be a Saint (Part 3)

 In the previous post, we looked deeper into the meaning of sainthood by digging into some of the Vatican II documents. We learned that we are all called to sainthood—that a major part of being a saint is loving and edifying others, and that we’re called to be saints not as detached individuals, but as a part of the body of Christ.

Today we’ll take a look at some concrete examples of saints’ lives using just a few of Verbum’s tools and resources. We’ll begin on the home screen, making sure “saints” is checked in the bottom left panel.

SaintsSelected

The easiest way to start studying a saint is to simply click their name in the Saints Database:

SaintsDatabase

The Saints Database automatically shows you the feast days and saints for any given day. It’s a great way to begin a study on a saint in conjunction with the Lectionary, or to simply get to know a saint you may have never heard of before. You can, of course, search for a specific saint by simply typing in their name in the “Go” box, but let’s take a look at the saint celebrated in today’s feast day: we’ll start by clicking “Athanasius of Alexandria.”

The Saints Database opens, giving me a brief overview of this particular saint, including a link to his feast day, plus two other resources where I can learn about Saint Athanasius. Opening these up, I get a layout like this:

SaintsLayout

Here I have the lectionary on the Layout, along with the two saints resources on the bottom-left panel. I learn that Saint Athanasius was widely known for defending the Church against the Arian heresy. We can also see to what pains he underwent to protect the Faith:

On the refusal of the Saint to restore Arius to Catholic communion, the emperor ordered the Patriarch of Constantinople to do so. The wretched heresiarch took an oath that he had always believed as the Church believes; and the patriarch, after vainly using every effort to move the emperor, had recourse to fasting and prayer, that God would avert from the Church the frightful sacrilege. The day came for the solemn entrance of Arius into the great church of Sancta Sophia. The heresiarch and his party set out glad and in triumph. But before he reached the church, death smote him swiftly and awfully, and the dreaded sacrilege was averted. St. Athanasius stood unmoved against four Roman emperors; was banished five times; was the butt of every insult, calumny, and wrong the Arians could devise, and lived in constant peril of death.[1]

We learn here of Athanasius’s persistence in the face of adversity and his zeal for truth. This courage, in conjunction with a passion for truth, is a hallmark of saints throughout history. Going back to the bottom-left panel, we can read more on Athanasius’ life or turn back to the Saints Database and learn about other saints we might be interested in.

If we wanted, we could continue to research different saints to find out more about their lives and writings. Scrolling down a bit, for example, we find Saint Augustine of Hippo:

Augustine

This entry lets us see even more information, including a media panel that allows us to see an image and references to other documents in Verbum, Wikipedia, and elsewhere.

We’ve really only scratched the surface of Verbum’s capabilities when studying the lives of the saints. Stay tuned as we walk through more features, resources, and tools!


[1] Shea, J. G. (1887). Pictorial Lives of the Saints (pp. 207–208). New York; Cincinnati; Chicago: Benziger Brothers.

What Does It Mean to Be a Saint? (Part 2)

Last time, we explored the etymology and usage of the word “saint ” throughout the centuries. Today, we’ll see what we find in the Catechism, Church documents, and other sources on the subject of sainthood. What we found last time is that a “saint” is one who is holy—one who is set apart.

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Let’s start our study today by looking at the word “saint” in the Catholic Topical Index. Since we looked at the word “saint” in the Scriptures last time, we’ll start with the “Church teaching” segment.

Saint Results

I’m interested right now in any Church documents I can find on the matter, so I’m going to start with Lumen Gentium from the Vatican II documents.

This first result is interesting. Here we see that saints share in a part of Christ’s office:

“The holy people of God shares also in Christ’s prophetic office; it spreads abroad a living witness to Him, especially by means of a life of faith and charity and by offering to God a sacrifice of praise, the tribute of lips which give praise to His name. The entire body of the faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One, cannot err in matters of belief.  . . . the people of God adheres unwaveringly to the faith given once and for all to the saints, penetrates it more deeply with right thinking, and applies it more fully in its life.”[1]

We also find that sainthood is not simply an individual phenomenon, but is fully realized in the context of the whole community of believers—it is within the context of the Church that the saint is truly realized:

“The Church, whose mystery is being set forth by this Sacred Synod, is believed to be indefectibly holy. Indeed Christ, the Son of God, who with the Father and the Spirit is praised as ‘uniquely holy,’ loved the Church as His bride, delivering Himself up for her. He did this that He might sanctify her. He united her to Himself as His own body and brought it to perfection by the gift of the Holy Spirit for God’s glory. Therefore in the Church, everyone whether belonging to the hierarchy, or being cared for by it, is called to holiness, according to the saying of the Apostle: ‘For this is the will of God, your sanctification.’ However, this holiness of the Church is unceasingly manifested, and must be manifested, in the fruits of grace which the Spirit produces in the faithful; it is expressed in many ways in individuals, who in their walk of life, tend toward the perfection of charity, thus causing the edification of others; in a very special way this (holiness) appears in the practice of the counsels, customarily called ‘evangelical.’”[2]

There’s more here, too: We learn that not only is “everyone . . . called to holiness,” but also that those who make up the Church are called to “edify others.” This edification is more than a simple “being nice” to others, but it is pointedly evangelical in nature: the saints are called to encourage each other in the faith, helping the unbelief of not just the unbelievers, but also the believers themselves (cf. Mark 9:24).

There’s one more component I’d like to highlight from this document:

“The Son, therefore, came, sent by the Father. It was in Him, before the foundation of the world, that the Father chose us and predestined us to become adopted sons, for in Him it pleased the Father to re-establish all things. . . . All men are called to this union with Christ, who is the light of the world, from whom we go forth, through whom we live, and toward whom our whole life strains.”[3]

The universal aspect here is very important. “All” people are called to be in union with Christ—and it is Christ who calls us to this holiness. Sainthood isn’t just for a select few of us, it is for all people.

As we continue our study on sainthood, let’s not forget to look at the saints who stand as icons for us here and now. John Paul II and John XXIII were both men who exhibited the forms of holiness we read about here; they stand as a model of the faith that we can look up to.

* * *

Right now, in honor of John Paul II and John XXIII’s canonizations, we’ve put together a huge collection of both of their works at a special price. Check out the John Paul II & John XXIII Canonization Bundle (92 vols.) today!

[1] Catholic Church. (2011). Dogmatic Constitution on the Church: Lumen Gentium. In Vatican II Documents. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

[2] Catholic Church. (2011). Dogmatic Constitution on the Church: Lumen Gentium. In Vatican II Documents. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

[3] Catholic Church. (2011). Dogmatic Constitution on the Church: Lumen Gentium. In Vatican II Documents. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

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