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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.

Special Canonization Bundle: John Paul II and John XXIII

Get the new John Paul II and John XXIII Canonization Bundle today for just $169.95 with coupon code CANONIZATION at checkout.

In honor of John Paul II and John XXIII’s canonizations this Sunday, we’re putting together a huge collection of both of their works at a special price. The canonization bundle includes:

john-paul-ii-and-john-xxiii-canonization-bundle

Not only can you get an ownership discount on these books, but you can also get an extra 15% off on this bundle with coupon code CANONIZATION at checkout.

Both of these popes have affected the world in great ways. This bundle provides a fantastic way to study the writings and speeches of these two world-changing saints.

Get the John Paul II and John XXIII Canonization Bundle today!

What Does It Mean To Be A Saint? (Part 1)

On April 27, two popes will be canonized as saints: Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII. Both men lived extraordinary lives, reflecting Christ’s love and standing as models of Christian faith for everyone to see.

As we approach this season of Easter joy and celebration, it’s the perfect opportunity to ask ourselves how we too can be saints. What does it mean to be a saint, and how can we become one?

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Let’s start our investigation in Verbum by simply typing the word “Saint” in the Go box.

Type in Saint[Click to Enlarge]

Doing so opens up an entire layout, complete with a Topic Guide to begin my study. Immediately I see (in the HarperCollins Bible Dictionary) that the word “saint” occurs in Ps. 31:23—“Love the Lord, all you his saints!” (NRSV)—and comes from the Hebrew term khasid, which is expressive of covenant faithfulness. It goes on to say that “saints” in the New Testament is always translated from the Greek hagioi, the term for “holy ones”: “Thus in Rom 1:6-7, the phrases “called to belong to Jesus Christ,” “God’s beloved,” and “called to be saints” are virtually synonymous.”

This is helpful, but I wonder if a plain dictionary can help us out a bit more regarding more recent etymology. Right-clicking “saint” and opening it up in Marriam-Webster’s, we read that the word comes from the late Latin sanctus (sacred), specifically from the past-participle form sancire“to make sacred” (or to “set apart for God.”)

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We know at this point that the older understanding of saint is one who is “called to belong to Christ” or one who is set apart for God. The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines a saint as:

“The ‘holy one’ who leads a life in union with God through the grace of Christ and receives the reward of eternal life.”

We see two important elements here in addition to what we’ve learned so far:

1)    A saint lives a life in union with God through the grace of Christ

2)    A saint is one who has “received the reward of eternal life”

This second point is an important distinction for understanding the modern usage of the word. When referring to a saint, we usually mean those who are living with Christ in heaven, whereas the earlier Greek and Hebrew words didn’t necessarily refer to those who have died. But we also know that the Catechism says:

“The Church . . . is held, as a matter of faith, to be unfailingly holy. This is because Christ, the Son of God, who with the Father and the Spirit is hailed as ‘alone holy,’ loved the Church as his Bride, giving himself up for her so as to sanctify her; he joined her to himself as his body and endowed her with the gift of the Holy Spirit for the glory of God.” The Church, then, is “the holy People of God,” and her members are called saints.

 This is a good starting point for understanding sainthood. Next time, we’ll use Verbum to take a closer look at saints in Scripture and throughout the history of the Church.

Pope John XXIII: 4 Things to Know

On April 27, Pope John XXIII will be canonized as a saint, along with Pope John Paul II. Pope John XXIII was a pope of peace, proclaiming God is at the center of all right conduct—in the opening line of his encyclical Pacem in Terris, he wrote, “Peace on earth . . . which man throughout the ages has so longed for and sought after . . . can never be established, never guaranteed, except by the diligent observance of the divinely established order.” Affectionately known as “Good Pope John,” John XXIII worked tirelessly to establish peace and good will, especially in the aftermath of World War II.

Here are four things to know and share about this great Pope:

JohnXXIII

1)    Pope John XXIII called the Second Vatican Council

In 1962, John XXIII called the historic Second Vatican Council. Though he didn’t live to see its completion in 1963, he began a process that would produce four Constitutions, three Declarations, and nine Decrees—all creating major changes for Catholic life and worship worldwide.

2)    Pope John XXIII wrote the first papal encyclical addressed not only to the Catholic faithful, but to “All men of goodwill”

In his landmark encyclical Pacem in Terris (Peace on Earth), John XXIII addresses all who are willing to work toward peace, laying out the requirements for basic human rights by saying, “Man has the right to live. He has the right to bodily integrity and to the means necessary for the proper development of life . . .” This encyclical, perhaps more than any other pre–Vatican II papal writing, has provided the foundation for modern Catholic teaching on human rights, freedoms, and responsibilities.

3)    Pope John XXIII gave the famous “Speech of the Moon”

On the night following the conclusion of the first Vatican II session, the crowds in Saint Peter’s Square chanted and yelled to get John XXIII to appear at the window and address them. It worked, and when he came to them he delivered an impromptu speech, finishing with the admonition to return home and hug their children, telling them that it came from the pope. This was especially endearing at the time, given the total formality of most—if not all—papal addresses.

4)    Pope John XXIII worked as nuncio to save refugees from the Nazis in World War II

Before he was pope, John XXIII made many efforts to save refugees, including Jewish refugees who arrived to Istanbul, Slovakian children, Jews held at the Jasenovac concentration camp, Bulgarian, Romanian, Italian, and Hungarian Jews all across the globe, and many more. His efforts for peace were tireless, and his compassion for the disenfranchised saved lives and inspired love in the hearts of many.

Now is the perfect time to read and study the writings of this great soon-to-be saint.

Get them for 33% off today on Pre-Pub.

The Process of Conversion in Real-Time

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

Franz_von_SalesAccording to Catholic teaching, the process of sanctification is an ongoing quest. Humility doesn’t permit us to often talk about our process of sanctification, but seeing that I’m not yet perfect, I’ve taken the time to reflect on how I’ve been growing in imitation of Christ. It wasn’t until recently that I had discovered that it was St. Francis de Sales who was helping me along this process. A year ago, I began studying my way through St. Francis de Sales with his famous Introduction to the Devout Life. He taught me to speak well and highly of God and of others with the careful and clear words of a mentor:

But speak always of God, as of God; that is, reverently and devoutly; not with ostentation or affectation, but with a spirit of meekness, charity, and humility, distilling, as much as you can, as is said of the Spouse in the Canticle (Cant. 4:11), of the delicious honey of devotion, and of the things of God, drop by drop, into the ears sometimes of one and sometimes of another, praying to God in secret, that it may please Him to make this holy dew sink deep into the hearts of those that hear you.[1]

This is much as our Lord taught us in St. Matthew 6:6–7, and I began praying that way. I then discovered, through the writings of both St. Louis de Montfort and St. Jane Frances de Chantal, that de Sales was a devoted Mariologist. De Chantal writes,

While [Francis de Sales] was still a student, he made a vow to say the rosary every day of his life, in honour of God and of the Blessed Virgin, to obtain deliverance from a grievous temptation which molested him, and from which he was delivered. He always carried it in his belt as a sign that he was the servant of Our Lady, he persevered until death in saying it, and always said it with great devotion, spending an hour in so doing, for he meditated while saying it.[2]

I was so inspired that I’ve since carried my rosary under my belt everywhere I go, praying my friends, family, colleagues, and priests.

Now, St. Francis de Sales, the patron for writers and the conversion of Protestants, is appearing throughout my studies in Catholic apologetics. He wrote hundreds of theological treatises and disseminated them throughout the region of Le Chablais, calling into question the motives of the leaders of the Reformation in the region while defending the Rule of Faith (Tradition and Sacred Scripture), the doctrines of the Sacraments and Purgatory, and the authority of the Catholic Church. But his writing provides a spiritual approach to apologetics that I’ve been missing this whole time. In a letter to a woman involved in a legal dispute, St. Francis has this to say:

Remember that our Lord never spoke one word against those that condemned him. He did not judge them. Instead, even though he was unjustly condemned, he was gentle as a lamb and his only revenge was prayer for his enemies. We, on the other hand, judge everyone, our antagonists and our judges. We bristle with complaints and reproaches. Believe me, dear daughter, we must be steadfast in loving our neighbor.[3]

Here is a man who endured the toughest of hardships in bringing Catholic apologetics to the Protestant-dominated region of Le Chablais. He endured threats and violence, suffered under extreme weather conditions that threatened his mission, and never lost the peace and love he exhibited every day.

The apologetics of de Sales are not without the practical element of religious practice: love. Doctrine, theology, philosophy—we can study these things all day long, but without love, we are nothing (1 Cor. 13:2).

I pray that we could all have that Christ-like strength of spirit and longsuffering as we study the life and teachings of St. Francis de Sales.


[1] An Introduction to the Devout Life (p. 174).

[2] The Depositions of St. Jane Frances de Chantal in the Cause of the Canonisation of St. Francis de Sales (p. 61)

[3] Courage in Chaos: Wisdom from Francis de Sales (p. 47)

Get a New Verbum Plus Library for 10% off!

The brand-new Verbum Plus libraries are here! Through Advent and Christmas, don’t miss out—use coupon code ADVENT13 to get 10% off an upgrade or a new Verbum Plus library.

 
These new Verbum libraries make your already-powerful Verbum library even better with hundreds of new resources, brand-new features, and streamlined functionality. Check out the video below to see a quick overview of what’s new:

With the Verbum Plus libraries, you get:

The new Catholic Topical Index

  • Gives you a huge reference index, hand-compiled by scholars here at Verbum
  • Opens up in a passage guide or topic guide straight from the Go Box
  • Is doctrinal in nature
  • Is filled with themes especially relevant to Catholic doctrine
  • Lets you study topics like absolution, Eucharist, etc., and then see relevant Scripture verses, Catechism references, and Ecclesiastical writings elsewhere in your library
  • Works best with more resources / bigger libraries

The new Saints Database

  • An all-new database of over 500 saints and their feast days
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The Rule of Saint Benedict

benedictine-studies-collectionThe Benedictine Studies Collection is 33% off on Pre-Pub for just for a little while longer, so make sure you get it before the price goes up. In light of this great collection, I wanted to take some time to simply examine and meditate on a bit of Saint Benedict’s Rule. Here’s an excerpt from the prologue:

To you, therefore, my words are now addressed, whoever you may be, who are renouncing your own will to do battle under the Lord Christ, the true King, and are taking up the strong, bright weapons of obedience.

And first of all, whatever good work you begin to do, beg of Him with most earnest prayer to perfect it . . . For we must always so serve Him with the good things He has given us, that He will never as an angry Father disinherit His children . . .

There’s so much here to unpack, but there are two central themes here I’d like to focus on: Benedict’s focus on warfare and his focus on perfection. There are biblical precedents for both. For the first—warfare—we might look to Ephesians 6:10–17:

Warfare:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the comic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.

Benedict understands life as a spiritual battleground on which we are called to fight. But he precedes this call with the call to “renounce our own will.” This implies that being a soldier for Christ requires a deep self-sacrifice. Our “enlistment” requirement, as it were, is a rejection of our worldly desire. This is at the foundation of all Benedictine thought.

Perfection:

In Matthew 5:48, Jesus says,

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly father is perfect.

Saint Benedict’s Rule declares not only that we are in the midst of spiritual warfare, but that God has called us to be skilled warriors. It asserts that we always have something to give, something to strive toward, no matter the burdens we bear.

Benedict is also forward about the consequences of laxity; we risk not using our gifts (like the man who hid his talent, cf. Matthew 25:14–30) at the threat of being cut off from God himself. The Christian life is one of continual striving, and Benedict’s Rule makes this striving explicit.

These are only a few lines from Saint Benedict, already revealing deep truths about the Christian faith. This collection, including original texts and commentary, has much more to offer.

Get it today for 33% off.

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