Friday, October 28, 2016

Our Parish Saints

Today we celebrate the closing of the 60th jubilee of our parish dedicated to Saints Simon and Jude in 1955.  Somewhere along the way the name of the church and school was changed to Saint Simon, but we celebrate both apostles as our patrons on October 28.

SAINT SIMON was from Galilee and is believed by some to have been a member of the political faction called the zealots who strove to maintain the purity of the Jewish faith under Roman occupation.  The zealots were brutal assassins and killed off many of the nobility.  However, most scholars believe that although Simon was zealous, he could not have been a member of this Jewish sect because it did not come into existence until after the death of Jesus.  Simon was zealous about about honoring Jesus Christ and following the teaching of the Gospel and he scorned any follower of Jesus Christ who failed to live up to his teachings.  Simon preached throughout Mesopotamia and brought the Gospel to Egypt, Cyrene, Ethiopia and Mauritania.  Later he joined Jude evangelizing Armenia, Lebanon, and Persia where both were martyred in 65 AD.  Some claim that Simon was martyred by being sawed in half and others that he was crucified. He is generally depicted holding a saw, the instrument of his martyrdom.  In addition to being our patron, he is the patron saint of curriers, tanners, sawyers and woodcutters.

SAINT JUDE, aka Thaddeus, was the brother of Saint James the Less and the son of Cleophas and Mary.  As such he was the nephew of the Blessed Virgin Mary and cousin to Jesus Christ.  Like Simon he was filled with zeal for proclaiming the Gospel.  In the list of the apostles he is sometimes called Jude and sometimes Thaddeus, but he is not Judas Iscariot.  After Pentecost Jude immediately set out for Judaea, Samaria, Syria and Libya where he preached the Gospel. After his brother James was thrown from the roof of the temple in Jerusalem and beaten to death, Jude returned to Jerusalem where he wrote the letter to the churches now included in the Bible.  In this letter Jude expressed bitter disappointed about the Jewish converts who were falling away from the teachings of Jesus Christ likening them to meteors that blaze brightly for a short time only to end in eternal darkness.  A few years later Jude returned to Persia where he was martyred along with Simon in 65 AD.  He is generally depicted with an axe or a club presumed to be the instruments of his martyrdom.  In addition to being our patron, he is the patron saint of hospitals, hospital workers and impossible causes.  Relics of both Saint Simon and Saint Jude are interred in Saint Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Feminine Qualities of Mercy

            Image result for Goddess of Mercy and Our Lady of MercyImage result for Mother of Mercy

What does it mean to be merciful?  To study this I compared Asian legends about the Goddess of Mercy, Guanyin and European legends about Mary, Our Lady and Mother of Mercy.  I discovered that many qualities of mercy are present in both the Asian and the European model.   

Interestingly, each of these female images of mercy was preceded by a male image with the same characteristics.  Although these are frequently presented as feminine characteristics, men also may have or develop them  Both Guanyin and Mary are typically dressed in long robes reminiscent of royalty.  Both are portrayed  as beautiful young women as these two contemporary depictions show. 

Both models of mercy are depicted as loving, responsive, compassionate, nurturing, tender, perceptive, supportive, forgiving, encouraging, empathetic, self-aware, joyful, pure, transcendent, immortal, beautiful, promising, blessed, liberating, helping, giving, saving, interceding, protecting and delivering. 

While images of Guanyin are most notable for their enormous size, images of Mary are notable for their diversity.  The Goddess of Mercy is almost always depicted as an Asian woman standing alone, while the Mother of Mercy is generally depicted as a European woman surrounded by a community of people.  The preceding posts illustrate these points.

Altarpiece of the Rosary Society