From the Pastor
12th Sunday in
Ordinary Time – A
June 25, 2017
On June 28,
we honor Saint Irenaeus, Bishop and Martyr; we have no proof he was martyred, but he surely suffered for the Faith. We know little of his early life except that he was born in the first half of the 2nd Century, but we do know he knew and heard a disciple of Saint John the Apostle: Saint Polycarp, who died in 155, which makes Saint Irenaeus
a 3rd generation Christian and one of the last who knew those who knew the Apostles. In 177 his Bishop sent him as his envoy to Rome, during which his home diocese of Lyons, France, was decimated by violent persecutors. His orations attest that he simply served the Lord by helping the Church overcome internal strife and potential schisms.
Ironically, Saint Irenaeus
has no symbol, but he was the first to use the Old Testament prophecy of the Four Living Creatures
[Ezekiel 1:4-10] to represent the four Evangelists. He saw the ‘Man’
as Matthew, who highlights Christ’s incarnation and humanity; the ‘Lion’
as Mark, who shows Christ the King as the Lion of Judah; the ‘Ox’
who often references the priestly sacrifices of old; and the ‘Eagle’
as John, whose Gospel soars to the heights and enables us to peer into divine light without going blind, just as eagles can look at the sun without going blind. Here are the orations for Saint Irenaeus, whose Latinized Greek name means ‘peaceful’
and from which we get the more common feminine name ‘Irene.’
Saint Irenaeus, Bishop & Martyr – Collect
O God, who called the Bishop Saint Irenaeus to confirm true doctrine and the peace of the Church, grant, we pray, through his intercession, that, being renewed
in faith and charity, we may always
be intent on fostering unity and concord.
Through our Lord Jesus … ever and ever. Amen.
DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF. By Saint Irenaeus’ time [130-202] the Church was already struggling with many issues: was Jesus just a man, just God, or both? [You’d better know the answer is both!] Church order was also a hot topic; a dispute over whether all must celebrate Easter on the same day even led Pope Victor to excommunicate Eastern Churches that set Holy Thursday on the night of the full moon, as Jews still set the date of Passover, which put Easter on any day of the week! Saint Irenaeus
got the Pope to lift the ban, restoring Church unity. Do you know what’s ‘optional’ or ‘non-negotiable?’
Saint Irenaeus – Prayer over the Offerings
May the sacrifice we offer you with joy
on the heavenly birthday of Saint Irenaeus
bring you glory, O Lord, and instill in us
a love of the truth, so that we may keep the Church’s faith inviolate and her unity secure.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
INVIOLATE FAITH AND SECURE UNITY.
Saint Irenaeus also contended with the heretical Gnostics, who said they had ‘special knowledge’ about Jesus from ‘secret sources’ unknown to the Apostles. The ‘Da Vinci Code’ and other silly, supposedly ‘true stories,’ are rooted in Gnosticism. But as Saint Irenaeus
taught, orthodox Catholic dogma is passed on by those who can trace their ordination ‘lineage’ and dogma back to the Apostles. This ‘apostolic succession’ is still required of valid Bishops.
Saint Irenaeus – Prayer after Communion
Through these sacred mysteries, we pray,
O Lord, give us in your compassion an increase of that faith which brought glory to the
Bishop Saint Irenaeus as he maintained it even until death, and may the same faith bring to us, who truly follow it, justification in your sight.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
ONE AND THE SAME GOD IS IN THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENTS.
Another ‘hot heresy’ Saint Irenaeus
discredited was Marcionism which taught that the Old and New Testaments are about two different Gods! So in his teachings, Saint Irenaeus
stressed how Jesus fulfills Old Testament prophecy. He was also the first to ‘document’ the New Testament by quoting from all
Gospels and nearly
Epistle or Letter. So the Scriptures we proclaim and study today have been in ‘print’ [or on ‘parchment!’] for more than 1,800 years! Saint Irenaeus, pray for us!
In His holy Name,
Rev. Thomas J. Serafin, KHS