• Closed hearts - prejudiced minds

    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
    and philosophy.

    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...

    Saint Quote:
    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
    our neighbor.
    -- Saint Teresa of Avila

    Bible Quote:
    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.

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