From Weedy@21:1/5 to All on Tue Aug 10 23:41:38 2021
Closed hearts - prejudiced minds
The prophet Isaiah had warned that some would hear God's word, but not
believe, some would see God's actions and miracles, and remain
unconvinced. Ironically some of the greatest skeptics of Jesus'
teaching and miracles were the learned scribes and Pharisees who
prided themselves on their knowledge of Scripture, especially on the
law of Moses. They heard Jesus' parables and saw the great signs and
miracles which he performed, but they refused to accept both Jesus and
his message. How could they "hear and never understand" and "see but
never perceive"? They were spiritually blind and deaf because their
hearts were closed and their minds were blocked by pride and
prejudice. How could a man from Galilee, the supposed son of a
carpenter, know more about God and his word, than these experts who
devoted their lives to the study and teaching of the law of Moses?
Scripture: Matthew 13:10-17
August 11th - St. Alexander the Charcoal-Burner
In the mid-third century the Christians of Comana, in Pontus, sent representatives to St. Gregory Thaumaturgus, Bishop of Neocaesarea,
requesting a Bishop for their city. So St. Gregory went to Comana to
look for a shepherd for the new Diocese.
A city commission had sought out candidates of noble birth, great
eloquence, or other such qualities. When all these were presented to
him, St. Gregory advised the commission that they should consider
virtue first, and not despise those of more humble appearance. One of
these officials, deriding the counsel of St. Gregory, replied: ‘If you don’t want one from among our most distinguished citizens, perhaps we
should choose a Bishop from among the plebeians. In this case, I
counsel you to bring forth Alexander the charcoal-burner so that we
can all acquiesce in the matter.’
St. Gregory asked: ‘Who is this Alexander?’ Laughing, they brought Alexander to him.
Because of the charcoal dust, his face, hands, and modest clothing
were black with dirt. The assembly laughed at seeing such a figure
among the candidates for Bishop. Alexander remained self-composed, unembarrassed at his modest condition. In fact, contrary to
appearances, he was a gifted philosopher, a truly wise man. It was not
need that caused him to take up that profession, but his will to
practice a life of virtue removed from public admiration. Young and
handsome, he desired to live chastely avoiding occasions of sin. The
charcoal dust disguised his face and, like a mask, prevented his
features from being noticed. The work provided just enough for him to
live and practice small works of charity.
St. Gregory ordered Alexander to take a bath and put on his own
episcopal robes. In a short time, a completely different man appeared, attracting the attention of all who were assembled there. St. Gregory
told them: “Do not be surprised if you were fooled in your judgment,
which you only made according to what you could see. The Devil wanted
to hide this vessel of election and keep him from being a Bishop.”
He was consecrated Bishop and gave a sermon that astonished those
present by its profound thought and elegant form. Only a pompous
Athenian criticized it, saying it did not follow the Greek style. It
was only reasonable that St. Alexander’s style should not necessarily
be Greek, since he was not a Greek. At any rate, a vision from heaven reprehended the man, and that put a stop to his criticisms.
St. Alexander became famous for his preaching and governed the church
of Comana in a dignified way until the persecution under Emperor
Decius, when he was burned to death, dying a martyr for the Catholic
Comments of the late Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira: (died 1995)
It is a very beautiful life! One could say that in this life one
wonder is added to another. The handsome young man was at the same
time a skilled philosopher, a truly wise man who had decided to flee
the world. He went to the small town of Comana and became a
The profession of charcoal-burner is a very humble profession. It
consists of cutting wood, burning it until it is transformed into
charcoal, then stopping the burning process, and selling the charcoal.
Because of the dust of the charcoal, the man who works at this
profession is completely dirty, completely black.
So, St. Alexander decided to be a charcoal-burner to disguise his
features and avoid admiring eyes. Doing that, he had to work hard at a
job that kept him poor, but he lived innocent without occasion of sin.
And so he lived there in Comana in his world divided between charcoal
You can imagine what the end of a day would be like for St. Alexander.
After returning from a day of hard work, he sits outside his modest
house, situated at a point where the open field ends and the forest
where he cuts his wood begins. He sits in silence; it is hot; some
simple food is cooking on the stove. While he waits, he thinks, he
makes distinctions, he raises abstract questions, he constructs
intellectual edifices until he reaches the heights of theology.
While he thinks, he prays to Our Lady. It is time to go in and eat.
After the simple meal he goes to a church to visit the Blessed
Sacrament, to visit a special statue of Our Lady that he likes. Then
he returns and has a chaste, pious and tranquil night in his little
Comana. When one compares his life with our lives in this
revolutionary world, one has a serious inclination to leave aside
everything modern and go off to a retired place to live a life like
that of St. Alexander.
Well, there he was following a normal day’s routine when he was called
to come before an assembly. It was an extraordinary thing for him. He
arrived at the assembly and people began to laugh at him. He didn’t
mind. He was secure and content about who he was and what he was
doing. He was a man who practiced what the Imitation of Christ teaches
us to do: To be happy to be ignored and considered as nothing in the
eyes of the world.
He was there, composed and happy, probably admiring the great St.
Gregory Thaumaturgus who was present. Thaumaturgus is a Greek word
that means ‘one who works miracles.’ You can easily image the great eminence of St. Gregory, famous for his miracles – incomparably more
than any of the small celebrities of Comana who had gathered there.
What the text does not say, but what is very probable to have
happened, is that the two saints immediately discerned the sanctity
and the human value of one another. When St. Gregory first heard about
St. Alexander, he probably had a premonition telling him who he was.
So, he was checking the man. It did not take very long for St. Gregory
to confirm his presentiment. He was right. He ordered that a bath be
given to St. Alexander and his own episcopal clothing be placed on
him. A short time passed, and St. Alexander re-entered, but now he was
a svelte, distinguished and spotless man wearing episcopal robes...
How did this life end? It ended in martyrdom. He was called to shed
his blood in holocaust to Our Lord Jesus Christ and as testimony to
his adhesion to the Catholic Faith. He went from being covered with
black charcoal dust to being drenched in the red blood of martyrdom...
We cannot be sure whether we are loving God, although we may have good
reason that we are. But we can know quite well whether we are loving
-- Saint Teresa of Avila
See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who
refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we
turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: (Hebrews 12:25)
Come Holy Ghost
COME, Holy Ghost, fill the hearts of Thy faithful, and kindle in them
the fire of Thy love.
V. Send forth Thy Spirit, and they shall be created;
R. And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.
Let Us Pray
O God, Who hast instructed the hearts of the faithful by the light of
the Holy Ghost, grant that by the same Spirit we may be always truly
wise, and ever rejoice in His consolation. Through Christ our Lord.