I have been reading, with both profit and delight, Thomas Joseph White’s latest book, “The Incarnate Lord: A Thomistic Study in Christology.” Father White, one of the brightest of a new generation of Thomas interpreters, explores a range of topics in this text — the relationship between Jesus’ human and divine natures, whether the Lord experienced the beatific vision, the theological significance of Christ’s cry of anguish on the cross, his descent into hell, etc. — but for the purposes of this article, I want to focus on a theme of particular significance in the theological and catechetical context today.
Anyone even vaguely acquainted with my work knows that I advocate vigorous argument on behalf of religious truth. I have long called for a revival in what is classically known as apologetics, the defense of the claims of faith against skeptical opponents. And I have repeatedly weighed in against a dumbed-down Catholicism.
The old farmers used to say you should leave a field better than you found it. Sometimes that called for heavy lifting. Other times it just meant picking up a rock as you crossed and placing it at the field’s edge.
Up here in the northern half of the planet, where Lent coincides with the end of winter and the onset of spring, the imagery of rebirth and rejuvenation accompanying these natural events carries a powerful message: Shake off spiritual lethargy and be renewed in grace.
For Catholics and other Christians who observe meatless Fridays, fish figure prominently, and this makes me (pardon the pun) happy as a clam. But I understand that some people are not as enthusiastic as I am about fish. The smell might be off-putting, the texture "slimy."
In the Hebrew Scriptures, that part of the bible we call the Old Testament, we find a strong religious challenge to always welcome the stranger, the foreigner. This was emphasized for two reasons: First, because the Jewish people themselves had once been foreigners and immigrants. Their Scriptures kept reminding them not to forget that. Second, they believed that God’s revelation most often comes to us through the stranger, in what’s foreign to us. That belief was integral to their faith.
This Lent, no matter how long it’s been, receive God’s peace in the sacrament of penance