Friday, December 4th, 2009
Click below to hear this week’s edition of “Word to Life.”
Joining me on the program today to discuss the reading for the Second Sunday of Advent was Fr. Pius Pietrzyk, O.P., the parochial vicar of St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Zanesville, OH.
“Word to Life” airs live every Friday at 1:00 PM EST on The Catholic Channel, Sirius 159 and XM 117.
The man who not only teaches but does what is right
will be counted great in the Kingdom of God.
Today the Church celebrates the feast of St. John Damascene, who in the early eighth century brought the Patristic Age of the Church to a close and set the stage—theologically speaking, at least—for the Middle Ages.
From the Crossroads Initiative:
The life of St. John Damascene (also known as Saint John of Damascus) began around 675 AD, already a generation after the area had been conquered by Muslim armies. Saint John Damascene was born into a rich family and spent the early years of his adult life serving as the official representative of the Christian community to the Muslim Caliph. He later abandoned this political task to join the monastery of St. Sabas near Jerusalem where he became a priest and ultimately bishop.
St. John Damascene is known as one of the last of the Fathers of the Church. He was a strong defender of the use of images (icons) in Christian worship against the iconoclasts and wrote a book “On the Orthodox Faith” that sums up the doctrinal heritage of the earlier Greek Fathers. In this great synthesis we find a systematic treatment of the central Christian doctrines, especially the Trinity, Creation, and the Incarnation. St. John Damascene’s treatment of the Sacraments is also extensive, and his emphasis on the real bodily presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is very strong. Notable too in his teaching is a fully developed doctrine of the Blessed Virgin Mary including her perpetual virginity, her freedom from sin throughout the whole of her life, and her bodily assumption into heaven.
St. John Damascene’s influence on later theology was considerable indeed. In the Latin Middle Ages, he was known to Peter Lombard and St. Thomas Aquinas. All throughout the Middle Ages his works were known and widely used by Eastern Christian Theologians, especially the Slavs. He died around the year 749 AD and was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Leo XIII in 1890.
Click here for access to St. John Damascene’s famous text, On the Orthodox Faith. (In St. John’s time, the word “orthodox” simply meant “true” and did not yet designate churches in the East separated from Rome.)
may the prayers of Saint John Damascene help us,
and may the true faith he taught so well
always be our light and our strength.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever. Amen.