May 25, 2012

How the Apostles Died

(9/9/2015: This list includes the non-apostle Evangelists & Paul of Tarsus. See also "How the Apostles Where Martyred")

Matthew
Suffered martyrdom in Ethiopia - Killed by a sword wound

Mark
Died in Alexandria, Egypt, after being dragged by horses through the streets until he was dead

Luke
Was hanged in Greece as a result of his tremendous preaching to the lost.

John
Faced martyrdom when he was boiled in huge basin of boiling oil during a wave of persecution in Rome. However, he was miraculously delivered from death. John was then sentenced to the mines on the prison island of Patmos . He wrote his prophetic Book of Revelation on Patmos. The apostle John was later freed and returned to serve as Bishop of Edessa in modern Turkey. He died as an old man, the only apostle to die peacefully.

Peter
He was crucified upside down on an x-shaped cross. According to church tradition it was because he told his tormentors that he felt unworthy to die in the same way that Jesus Christ had died.

James
The leader of the church in Jerusalem, he was thrown over a hundred feet down from the southeast pinnacle* of the Temple when he refused to deny his faith in Christ. When they discovered that he survived the fall, his enemies beat James to death with a fuller's club. * This was the same pinnacle where Satan had taken Jesus during the Temptation.

James the Greater
The son of Zebedee, was a fisherman by trade when Jesus called him to a lifetime of ministry. As a strong leader of the church, James was ultimately beheaded at Jerusalem. The Roman officer who guarded James watched amazed as James defended his faith at his trial. Later, the officer walked beside James to the place of execution. Overcome by conviction, he declared his new faith to the judge and knelt beside James to accept beheading as a Christian.

 Bartholomew
Also known as Nathaniel, he was a missionary to Asia. He witnessed for our Lord in present day Turkey. Bartholomew was martyred for his preaching in Armenia where he was flayed to death by a whip.

Andrew
He was crucified on an x-shaped cross in Patras, Greece. After being whipped severely by seven soldiers they tied his body to the cross with cords to prolong his agony. His followers reported that, when he was led toward the cross, Andrew saluted it in these words: 'I have long desired and expected this happy hour. The cross has been consecrated by the body of Christ hanging on it.' He continued to preach to his tormentors For two days until he expired.

Thomas
Was stabbed with a spear in India during one of his missionary trips to establish the church in the Sub-continent

Jude
He was killed with arrows when he refused to deny his faith in Christ.

Matthias
The apostle chosen to replace the traitor Judas Iscariot was stoned and then beheaded.

Paul
Was tortured and then beheaded by the evil Emperor Nero at Rome in A.D. 67. Paul endured a lengthy imprisonment, which allowed him to write his many epistles to the churches he had formed throughout the Roman Empire. These letters, which taught many of the foundational doctrines of Christianity, form a large portion of the New Testament.


Perhaps this is a reminder to us
that our sufferings here
are indeed minor compared
to the intense persecution
and cold cruelty faced by the apostles
and disciples during their times
for the sake of the faith.

May 16, 2012

Homily for the Seventh Sunday in Easter


Father Michael J. Woolley

Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense, my reward with me.

Jesus, who this past Thursday Ascended into Heaven, is coming soon back to us. On Pentecost Sunday He will come into the hearts of the disciples in the Upper Room, bringing them “His reward”, the Holy Spirit, with Him.

(St. Paul, incidentally, calls the Holy Spirit the “down payment” of that reward given to all who follow Jesus in this life. On judgment day, Jesus will “pay in full” each person according to his or her deeds.)

This time between Ascension Thursday and Pentecost Sunday is kind of a mini-Advent for the Church, it is a time of waiting for God to come to us in a more powerful way.

On Ascension Thursday Jesus told the disciples Go and make disciples of all nations . . . .but first, wait. Wait in the Upper Room and pray for the coming of my Holy Spirit.

And this “mini-Advent” period of waiting for the coming of God the Holy Spirit into the world was much shorter and much different than that other more well known Advent period of waiting for the coming of God the Son into the world.

According to Biblical History, which may or may not be literal, God’s People had to wait and pray about 9000 years before Jesus the promised Messiah was finally born for them in Bethlehem.

In contrast, the Disciples had to wait only 9 days for the promised Holy Spirit to come to them.

And furthermore, the Israelites had to wait all those years in darkness, with only the dim, obscure light of the Old Testament to guide them (which is why we wear dark colored, purple vestments the 4 weeks of Advent leading up to Xmas).

In contrast, the Disciples of Jesus waited those 9 days for the Holy Spirit with the blazing light of the Gospel to see by – while they waited in the Upper Room they reflected and prayed on the teachings and mighty deeds of Jesus, on His Passion and Death, on His Resurrection and Ascension, all of which enlightened their hearts and flooded the Old Testament Scriptures with light, revealing the hidden meaning of the Old Testament. (This is why during this “little advent” we’re now in, we don’t wear dark Purple but bright White Vestments.)

At the end of that 9000 year Advent, Christ was Born in Bethlehem. At the end of that 9 day Advent, Christ was Born again in the hearts of all believers.

And so my brothers and sisters, this mini-Advent time we are in between Ascension and Pentecost is for the Church and for us a time of intense prayer and waiting for the Holy Spirit to be born in a deeper way in our hearts...

For more homilies by Father Woolley go here

May 4, 2012

Why is May the Month of Mary?


In early non-Christian cultures goddesses of fertility were honoured in May, the first month of summer in the Northern Hemisphere.

As part of its evangelising practice the new religion of Christianity substituted Christian feasts for pagan ones e.g. St Brigid for the first day of Spring.

Later, a connection developed between the blossoms of May and the custom of offering flowers to Mary. By the Middle Ages, particularly in Spain, Mary was honoured on individual days in May, but it is due to the Italians that the whole month of Mary was given over to Marian devotion from the 18th Century onwards

The Ascension is celebrated on the first Sunday of May. According to the account in the Acts of the Apostles (1: 6-14), Mary did not witness the Ascension of Jesus. She was present in Jerusalem with the other women when the Apostles returned, and surely drank in every word they said.

The following Sunday is Pentecost Sunday We commemorate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the traditional "birthday of the Church". Mary was still present in Jerusalem: she who from the earliest days was known as Mother of the Church.

[ ... ]

The Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ is celebrated on the last Sunday of May. In the Year of the Eucharist it is fitting to recall what Pope John Paul II said about Mary and the Eucharist: "Mary is present with the Church, and as the Mother of the Church, at each of our celebrations of the Eucharist. If the Church and the Eucharist are inseparably united, the same ought to be said of Mary and the Eucharist" (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 57).

The Visitation rounds off the Marian month. We remember the young, pregnant Virgin Mary, hastening to visit her cousin, also pregnant but of more advanced age. We are reminded of the importance of visiting as an act of charity, not "virtual visiting" but connecting in a way that touches the human spirit, particularly with ageing relatives and friends.

Above all, the Visitation gives us the great lesson of joy in the Lord as Mary sings: My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour (Lk 1:46, 47).

May you all, joined in joy with the blessed Mother, do the same during her month.

- Bishop Kevin Manning.