Icon of the Apostles Creed

Iconography is a sacred art form that is said to be “written”, not painted; icons depicting Scriptural events reveal what is “written” in the Word of God. While browsing the Web Gallery of Art, I came across an iconographic panel by an Italian artist, Giovanni da Rimini, c. 1305. As I looked at the events of the Lord’s life from left to right, row by row, I realized I was “reading” the core of the Apostles Creed…

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord: Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit…

Life of Christ, Apostles Creed

…from where He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.

Amen!

The Burning Bush on the Mountain of God

Moses and the Burning Bush
 
Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian; and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush; and he looked, and lo, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, “I will turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.” When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here am I.” (Ex. 3:1-4, RSVCE)
 
“Moses, in the Egyptian desert, was looking after the flocks of his father-in-law Jethro. Wending his way across the desert he came to Horeb, ‘the mountain of God’. And it was there that the angel of the Lord, or rather the Lord God Himself in the shape of an angel, appeared to him in the midst of flames of fire. The flames were blazing out of a bush. Yet the bush was not consumed or destroyed. Moses was overcome with amazement. He decided to turn aside, to deviate from his intended course, so as to gain a closer view of ‘this great site’ and to see ‘why the bush is not burnt’.

“Moses turned aside from his original path. He felt that the marvel of the Burning Bush warranted making a stop; he was moved with desire to contemplate it and ponder deeply on it. He accepted without question this sudden, extraordinary, divine event. And it was because he did not hesitate to change his direction towards the Burning Bush that God was able to call to him. ‘And when the Lord saw that [Moses] turned aside to see, God called to him out of the midst of the Bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.’

“All this applies just as much to us today as it did to Moses. If during the course of our lives we hurry along without stopping, without even a glance toward the Burning Bush (which nevertheless continues its blazing along the whole of our way…), we shall miss the opportunity God desires. If on the contrary, we do not hesitate to leave aside for a time the flocks of Jethro – our daily cares – the Lord will call to us from the midst of the bush. He will call to each one of us by a name that is our own.” (The Burning Bush by Archimandrite Lev Gillet. © 1976 by The Fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergius)

“This is My Beloved Son…” Feast of the Transfiguration

The Apostle St. Peter“For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father and the voice was borne to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we heard this voice borne from heaven, for we were with Him on the holy mountain. And we have the prophetic word made more sure. You will do well to pay attention to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts (2 Pet. 1:16-19 RSVCE).”

Leo the Great: “For when the Father said, ‘This is My beloved Son, in Whom, I am well pleased; listen to Him,’ was it not clearly meant, ‘This is My Son’, Who is eternally from Me and with Me? ‘This is My Son’, not adopted, but true-born, not created from another source, but begotten of Me, nor made like Me from another nature, but born equal to Me of My nature (John 1:14). ‘This is My Son’, through Whom all things were made, and without Whom was nothing made (John 1:3). All things that I do He does in like manner, and whatever I perform, He performs with Me inseparably (John 5:19) and without difference: for the Son is in the Father and the Father in the Son (John 14:11) and Our Unity is never divided. (John 10:30).

“Listen to Him, therefore, because He is the Truth and the Life (John 14:6), He is My Power and Wisdom (1 Cor. 1:24). ‘Listen to Him’, Who redeems the world by His blood (Eph. 1:7), Who binds the devil and carries off his captives (Matt. 12:28-29), Who destroys the bond of sin [and sets you free] (John 8:34-36). ‘Listen to Him’, Who opens the way to heaven, and by the… cross prepares for you the steps of ascent to the Kingdom.

“These things, dearly beloved, were said not only for those who heard them with their own ears, but in these three Apostles the whole Church has learned all that their eyes saw and their ears heard. Let all men’s faith be established according to the preaching of the most holy Gospel, and let no one be ashamed of Christ’s cross through which the world was redeemed.” (Leo the Great, 440-461 A.D., excerpts from Homily 51, On the Transfiguration – portions of a previous post)

Scriptural Proof, Irenaeus of Lyons

Today in the liturgical Life of the Catholic Church, St. Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, France (AD 177-202) is remembered. A short word from this Bishop who is now one of the “great cloud of witnesses surrounding us (Heb. 12:1)“:

St. Irenaeus: “Since, therefore, the tradition from the apostles exists in the Church, and is permanent among us, let us revert to the Scriptural proof furnished by those apostles who did also write the Gospel, in which they recorded the doctrine regarding God, pointing out that our Lord Jesus Christ is the truth, and that no lie is in Him. As also David says, prophesying His birth from a virgin, and the resurrection from the dead, “Truth has sprung out of the earth (Ps. 85:11).” The apostles, likewise, being disciples of the truth, are above all falsehood; for a lie has no fellowship with the truth, just as darkness has none with light, but the presence of the one shuts out that of the other. Our Lord, therefore, being the truth, did not speak lies…” (Irenaeus, against heresies (182-188 A.D), Book 3, Ch. 5)

Jesustoapostles2“Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them,
Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.'”
Luke 24:45-48 RSVCE

+St. Irenaeus, pray for us+

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Note: There will be no Sacred Library posts during the month of July. God willing, posts will resume in August. God Bless!

Christ Jesus and His Church

The Archbishops and Bishops of the United States in Conference assembled, to their Clergy and faithful people — Grace unto you and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Venerable Brethren of the Clergy,
Beloved Children of the Laity:

“One true reform the world has known. It was effected, not by force, agitation or theory, but by a Life in which the perfect ideal was visibly realized, becoming the light of men (John 1:4)*. That light has not grown dim with the passing of time. Men have turned their eyes away from it; even His followers have strayed from its pathway; but the truth and the life of Jesus Christ are real and clear today for all who are willing to see. There is no other name under heaven whereby the world can be saved (Acts 4:12).

“Through the Gospel of Jesus and His living example, mankind learned the meaning, and received the blessing of liberty. In His person was shown the excellence and true dignity of human nature, in which human rights have their center. In His dealings with men, justice and mercy, sympathy and courage, pity for weakness and rebuke for hollow pretence, were perfectly blended. Having fulfilled the law, He gave to His followers a new commandment (John 13:34). Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end (John 13:1). And since He came that they might have life and have it more abundantly (John 10:10), He gave it to them through His death.

“The Church which Christ established has continued His work, upholding the dignity of man, defending the rights of the people, relieving distress, consecrating sacrifice and binding all classes together in the love of their Savior. The combination of authority and reasonable freedom which is the principal element in the organization of the Church, is also indispensable in our social relations. Without it, there can be neither order nor law nor genuine freedom.

“But the Church itself would have been powerless save for the abiding presence of Christ and His Spirit. “Without Me, you can do nothing (John 15:5)“; and, “Behold, I am with you always (Matt. 28:20).” Both these sayings are as true today as when they were spoken by the Master. There may be philosophies and ideals and schemes of reform; the wise may deliberate and the powerful exert their might; but when the souls of men have to be reached and transformed to a better sense, that justice may reign and charity abound, then more than ever is it true that without Christ our efforts are vain.” (A letter from the U.S. Bishops assembled in conference, September, 1919. )

* Scripture references added from the Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSVCE), © 1966 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Church of Christ in the United States of America. Published by Thomas Nelson for Scepter, Princeton, NJ.