Meditation: Day One of PilgrimageWritten by Michael J. Matt | Editor
‘Did you have a son before having given birth?’ the Arian propagandists asked the Fulani women. ‘No, you did not. Well, in the same way, the Son of God did not exist until he was conceived.’ False reasoning, but it does touch the heart of the Christian faith, the very person of the Lord Jesus, the Son of God; and it calls into question both the Incarnation and the Redemption. The Arian crisis broke out in the 4th Century, but we find similar arguments throughout the history of the Church. Didn’t a book come out, just a few years ago, with the revealing title of ‘Jesus: the man who became God’? So it is very educational for us today, to study Arius’ teachings, and above all to see how Providence raised up two great bishops, St Athanasius in the East and St Hilary in the West, to defend the Faith received from the Apostles. Despite the interference of the political powers, their courageous and persistent action allowed the truth to triumph.
The principal points of Arian teaching
With the Edict of Milan, promulgated in 313 by the emperor Constantine, the violent persecution of Christians came to an end. One could have hoped that the Church was going to grow in peace, gradually Christianising society. But opposition to the Faith came to light; denying not Christ’s humanity, as the earliest heresies had done, but His divinity. A rationalist tendency, which challenged the mystery of the Trinitarian God, found its mouth-piece in a priest from Alexandria, Arius.
Around 320, he started to teach openly that the Son was not uncreated, but that He started to exist ‘before all time and centuries’ and that He was made out of nothing. Alexander, the bishop of Alexandria, removed him from his post, along with his followers. Arius retreated to be near Eusebius, the bishop of Nicomedia, one of his early supporters, and got his teaching approved by a synod.
It was during this period of exile that he expressed his ideas in The Thalia (literally, The Feast), a partly versified work; he also composed popular songs which workers and sailors crooned.
For Arius, the Logos (Word) of which St John’s Gospel speaks, is not God by nature, but was created out of nothing, and there was a time when He did not exist. The Son, therefore, is a creature, still distinct from the rest of the created world, an ‘intermediary between God and man – which would mean that the true God was always inaccessible to us’ as Pope Benedict XVI stressed. As the argument quoted in the introduction to this meditation made clear, it was a matter of explaining the mystery of God with human logic and ways of thinking. Notice, too, that it is the same logic which is at work in Islam, when Moslems reproach Christians with associating Christ with God.
The Church’s Response: the ‘consubstantial’ of Nicea
Confronted by these errors, which were dividing Christendom, the emperor Constantine convened an Ecumenical Council in 325, the first in the history of the Church, in the town of Nicea. Reuniting more than three hundred priests, above all from the East, with a few from the West, the Council reaffirmed the Faith of the Church against Arius, and declared Anathema anyone who held with Arius that the Son of God was born of nothing, that there was a time when He did not exist, or that He is a creature, that is a created being. In a solemn profession of faith, the Fathers reiterated an ancient formula of baptismal faith, adding to it that the Son of God, begotten, not created, is of the same substance as the Father, ‘consubstantial’ with the Father. Alexander of Alexandria attended the Council, to see his efforts through, and was attended by a young deacon, Athanasius, who was to continue the fight after him.
Athanasius of Alexandria
Born in Alexandria at the very end of the third century, Athanasius benefited from an excellent education, and became the secretary to his bishop. When the bishop died, in 328, he was chosen to succeed to the bishopric, at the age of thirty. From the very start, he was a defender of the doctrine of the Council of Nicea. He was very aware that Arius’ error would affect the salvation of mankind, writing: ‘If the Son were a creature, man would remain purely mortal, without being united to God.’ Meanwhile, despite the clarity of the dogmatic definition of 325, Arianism reared its head again. The emperor Constantine was trying to unite the empire and wanted to impose, under the influence of Eusebius of Nicomedia, an Arian version of the Faith which he thought would be acceptable to all his subjects. Using a classic technique, his opponents tried to discredit the doctrine defended by the bishop of Alexandria by contesting his election, and by falsely accusing him of having used violence to govern his diocese. Pope Benedict XVI observed that ‘the intransigence of Athanasius, tenacious and even at times very tough against the opponents of the Nicene Creed, whilst necessary, earned him the implacable hostility of the Arians.’ At the Synod of Tyre in July 335, Athanasius was deposed by his adversaries, allegedly for disciplinary reasons, and exiled by the Emperor to Trier; in September the Synod of Jerusalem rehabilitated Arius, who had managed to sign an ambiguous Profession of Faith. But in fact, the Nicene faith, which Athanasius championed, was rejected. The Arians having claimed that Saint Anthony, the father of the Egyptian monks, was favouring their views, Anthony left his desert to come to Alexandria, to make clear his submission to the Nicene faith, and to Athanasius.
The Second Exile
After the death of the Emperor, in May 337, Athanasius was pardoned by his young son Constantine the Second, who lived at Trier, and was able to return to Alexandria, where he was given a triumphal welcome in November of that year. He lived there for a little over a year, writing his treatises ‘Against the Pagans’ and ‘On the Incarnation of the Word.’ But soon he had to go into hiding, and finally travelled to Rome in March 339, where he was welcomed by Pope Julius, and supported by the Synod of Rome which met in the winter of 340-341; however the Synod of Antioch of 339 had renewed his condemnation, and provided for his replacement as bishop. Amidst much turmoil, he then entered a long period of exile, which lasted for seven years, during which he composed his Treatises against the Arians. In these, he not only refuted the heresy, but also explained the truths of the Faith, and gave the authentic interpretation of those passages of Scripture which the Arians had quoted to lend weight to their theories. Finally, in October 346, Athanasius was able to return to Alexandria.
The Neo-Arian Reaction
In the meantime, several synods had promulgated various professions of faith; whilst these avoided the word ‘consubstantial’ on the basis that it was not found in Sacred Scripture, they reaffirmed the anathemas of the Council of Nicea against the Arian doctrines. Soon, with the victory of Constantius over his enemies in 351, which made him the sole emperor of Rome, the political climate changed. The emperor, favouring the heresy, convoked a Council at Sirmium, on the Danube, with a view to imposing religious unity on the whole empire. In 351, once again they tried to take the middle way, which had already been followed. Advised by two Arian bishops, Ursacius and Valens, Constantius wanted to impose a disciplinary unity on the bishops of the West, that is to say, agreement with the condemnation of Athanasius, and by means of that, implicit agreement with the faith of his adversaries. At the Councils of Arles (353) and Milan (355) the few recalcitrant bishops were exiled, including the legates of Pope Liberius. Between 356 and 362, which were the most perilous years of all, Athanasius had to hide himself: sometimes in his own Episcopal city, sometimes out in the desert with the monks, but always continuing the fight by means of his writing. In particular, he published a dossier that contained the texts of the different synods. It was also at this time that he wrote the Life of Anthony, his friend, who had died in 356.
Hilary of Poitiers
But in the midst of all these difficulties, he was to find support in the person of the bishop of Poitiers, Hilary. We don’t know a great deal about the early part of his life. He was born in Poitiers, probably to a pagan family, and had a good education, based on the great classical writers. He was baptised as an adult, around the year 345, and was elected bishop of Poitiers about five years later, possibly as the first bishop of that city.
Around that time, he composed a eulogy of Athanasius, even though Gaul was keeping aloof from the doctrinal quarrels. Hilary himself tells us that he knew nothing about the Nicene Creed until just before his exile. But he rightly adds that he had the Gospel and the apostles to guide his Faith… At the end of 355, he separated himself from communion with the Arian bishops, Saturninus, Ursacius, and Valens. But then he was condemned to exile at the Synod of Béziers, without being able to make himself understood there, and that exile was confirmed by an imperial decree. Therefore he left for Phrygia, in Asia Minor, in the summer of 345, although we don’t know in what city he ended up. He doesn’t seem to have been subject to the vexations on the part of his enemies that many of his fellows suffered. In this enforced solitude, Hilary continued his theological studies, and wrote his most important works: ‘On the Trinity’ and ‘On the Synods’, a book which tells the story of the controversy against the Arians. As well as that, he gathered the documents he needed to write a further book on the same subject, but only a few fragments of that have reached us.
He kept up a correspondence with the bishops of Gaul, and warned them about the profession of Faith emerging from a new synod , held in 357 in Sirmium, Constantius’ capital, which he called ‘the blasphemy of Sirmium.’ The bishops of Gaul wrote back to say that they had kept the faith, that they had broken with Saturninus, and almost unanimously rejected the profession of Sirmium, as it omitted the ‘consubstantial’ of Nicea. He tried to act as a peace-maker, by giving an acceptable meaning to a formula which he found inadequate, but which could have helped towards unity (the affirmation that the Son was similar to the Father in substance). But immediately, the Emperor’s advisors composed a new formula at Sirmium, in May 359, which was happy to say that the Son was similar to the Father in all things; it was to be imposed on all bishops in the West as well as the East, with the Western bishops meeting at Rimini, and those of the East at Silifke the following summer.
Hilary attended the second of these synods, where the suggested formula was agreed, but was in fact understood by some as a simple agreement of good will. One bishop even explained himself: “Christ isn’t similar to God, but is similar to the Father,’ which ends up making the Son a creature again, ‘the Son of the Will of the Father more than of His Divinity.’ Hilary then went to Constantinople with the delegates to the Synod, and tried to meet the Emperor, but could not get an audience with him. After January 1st 360, Constantius had the Rimini formula proclaimed as official doctrine. That simply affirmed that the Son was similar to the Father. The bishop of Poitiers considered this definition to be ‘a shipwreck of Orthodoxy’ and did not hesitate to say so; as his continued presence proved embarrassing, he was ordered to return to Gaul. He then set about writing a very vigorous work: “Against Constantius” whose doctrine inspired the Synod of Paris, which was loyal to the Nicene Creed (at the end of 360, or early the following year). Against Constantius was published after the death of Constantius on 3rd November 361.
The Pacification of the Gauls
Power then passed to Julian, who has already had his troops proclaim him to be Augustus in the spring of 360, and who recalled from exile all those who had been condemned by his predecessor. Hilary was already back in his own diocese, and dedicated himself to pastoral work and his works of exegesis, in particular a commentary on the Psalms and composing hymns for the liturgy. But although Gaul had rejected heresy, a pocket remained at Milan, which had had the Arian Auxenius as Bishop since 353.
After the death of Julian in 363, Hilary and Eusebius of Verceil tried to get close to the new Emperor, Valentinian 1st, who lived in Milan, in order to get Auxentius deposed. But the Emperor was happy to obtain an ambiguous profession of faith signed by Auxentius, and allowed him to stay in his post. Even before his exile, Hilary had drawn Martin, the converted Roman soldier, to his side; around 361 he installed him in the hermitage at Ligugé, close to Poitiers, to found the first monastery in Gaul. He had in mind the evangelisation of the country districts, which were still, too frequently, pagan. Hilary finally gave up his soul to God in 367, by which time Gaul was pacified and united in the Nicean Faith.
The Synod of Alexandria in 362
But what was happening to Athanasius during all this time? Thanks to the Emperor Julian’s general amnesty, in February 362, he returned to Alexandria, where he organised a Synod of Reconciliation, as certain pro-Arian bishops were noticing that the tide was turning. He showed his greatness of soul by refusing to allow the condemnation of a formula used by the Arians, but also by others, that of the three hypostases; on condition that it was thoroughly understood that it did not imply any inequality between the Father and the Son. For himself, he held that it was best to hold fast to the Faith of Nicea, but he could not impose a single formula. Equally, he set himself to make people recognise the Divinity of the Holy Spirit. And on this point he was to be supported by the Cappadocian Fathers, and especially by Saint Basil the bishop of Caesarea.
Meanwhile, Julian forced Athanasius to go into exile once again, but only for a short time as the Emperor died in 363. Soon afterwards, Athanasius, in Antioch, met the philanthropic Emperor Jovian, in Antioch. Unfortunately he was soon replaced by the Arian, Valens, who vigorously reinstated the condemnations of Constantius. But the bishop of Alexandria did not obey this fifth command to go into exile, hiding himself in the suburbs of his city. For some unknown reason, the Emperor Valens allowed him to return and a crowd made a procession to seek him out in his hiding place. His final years were peaceful, and he too dedicated them to commenting on the psalms and doctrinal writing.
A Cantata for Two Voices
With Pope Benedict XVI, we can emphasise St Hilary’s firmness of faith, coupled with a gentleness in his interpersonal relationships. By his interpretation of certain doctrines proclaimed by the eastern synods, he was able to give an orthodox meaning to ambiguous formulas, which Athanasius had no hesitation in describing as semi-Arian, in order to lead others to a fuller Faith. Nonetheless he was quite capable of using severe language, especially when he was denouncing the fraudulent manoeuvres of the Emperor Constantius, whom he characterised as a false sheep, a rapacious wolf, and the Anti-Christ.
By contrast, many see in Saint Athanasius an intransigence which they think to be misplaced. Nonetheless we have seen how in 362 he was shown to be understanding of formulas which he did not like. In this way, we could say that in defence of the divinity of the Son of God, we have a cantata for two voices, in which each has its part to play. The bishop of Poitiers was able to attempt to bring people together in ways impossible to the Archbishop of Alexandria. In his eulogy for Saint Athanasius, before he went into exile, Saint Hilary called him ‘veri tenax’ This concise Latin phrase captures the soul of the man for whom it was more important to witness to the truth of Christ the Saviour, consubstantial with the Father, as had been defined by the Fathers at Nicea, than to worry about all the exiles and indignities heaped upon him. We can see why Bernini has placed St Athanasius as one of the four Doctors of the Church, who support St Peter’s reliquary in the Vatican… Once again, much later, St Hilary would be called on to uphold the true Faith: on the eve of the Battle of Vouillé, at the gates of Poitiers, a bright ray of light shone forth from the basilica where St Hilary’s body reposed, as an omen for the army of Clovis, who had just embraced the Catholic Faith, assuring victory the next day over the Visigoths of Alaric, who was a follower of Arianism. Every time we affirm, in the Creed, that the Son is Consubstantial with the Father, let us remember these two great champions of the true Faith, St Hilary and St Athanasius, who did so much for the sake of that truth.
dAnd the Word was made Flesh
This verse from St John’s Prologue sums up the essence of the Christian Faith: The eternal Son of the Father, He who is ‘God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God,’ assumed our human nature in the womb of the virgin Mary. He remained what He was from all eternity (the well-beloved Son of the Father) and also He became what He had not been previously (the Son of Man, our brother.) We contemplate this great mystery every Christmastide and every time we meditate on the Last Gospel at the end of the Mass. The light of Christmas enlightens our whole life, and calls us to the joy of forgiveness and salvation.
In the story of the Annunciation, we find in a microcosm the whole Gospel: all that Jesus did and suffered for our salvation. It is also the time of the fulfilment of the long preparation of Sacred History and the Old Testament, from the promise of a redeemer made in a veiled manner to our first parents after their Original Sin, from the calling of Abraham and of Moses, from the magnificent and tragic history of the people of Israel. God had promised his people a Saviour, a Messiah, and He fulfilled that promise on the day of the Annunciation.
The Angel Gabriel greets the Virgin Mary, and recognises her as the one who is full of Divine Grace, of God’s favour. That is why Mary is the Blessed One. God had prepared her so that she could accomplish that greatest of all vocations, to become the mother of the Son of God. It was wholly appropriate that she should be preserved from all stain of Original Sin, and that she should appear before men ‘decorated with all the favours of the Divine Spirit’ as Blessed Pius IX put it.
In that way, she anticipates by her Immaculate Conception, the grace of salvation, which will be won for all mankind by the Sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross. Her Immaculate Conception does not place her outside the work of the Redemption. Mary appears before us, the first of the saved, who benefited in anticipation from the grace of Salvation that her Son was to win for all of us. The Just of the Old Testament were sanctified by the work of Christ (because their teaching and the example of their life prepared the hearts of the people for the coming of the Messiah); in just the same way, the perfect holiness of the Blessed Virgin Mary is the result of the divine grandeur of her vocation: to give the world its Saviour.
The Biblical account reveals to us the nature of the Son who was to be born of the Blessed Virgin. It truly is the Son of the Most High, the Son of God, conceived by the Holy Spirit, to whom Mary gives her human nature. This conception is a virginal conception. The glory of Mary’s virginity remains for ever, a sign of her total gift of herself to God, a gift made from the dawning of her conscience. The Magnificat which she proclaims in front of her cousin Elizabeth, shows the degree to which she understands the great work which is being realised in her and by her. It is the most beautiful example of a song of the workings of Grace, marvelling at the work of God that is being accomplished for our sake. That is why the Annunciation is the first of the Joyful Mysteries.
If the Mystery of the Annunciation is first and foremost the mystery of the Incarnation (God made man, becoming one of us) it is also the mystery of the human vocation; that is to say, the mystery of the creature cooperating with his own salvation. The salvation of mankind depended on the Blessed Virgin’s Fiat. The whole of humanity hung upon Mary’s response. Listen to St Bernard of Clairvaux: ‘We too, we are waiting, O Our Lady. Condemned to a miserable sentence of damnation, we are waiting for a word of pity. So, at this moment, you are offered the ransom that will win our salvation. Agree: and we shall be free. We were all of us created in the eternal Word of God; but alas, Death has had his way with us. One short word from you is enough to make us anew, so that we may be called once more to life. O sweet Virgin, Adam implores your answer in tears, exiled as he is, with all his descendants, from Paradise. Abraham also implores your answer, as does David, and indeed all the Patriarchs, your forebears, who are also living in the shadow of death. The whole world awaits your answer, prostrate at your feet. And they are right to do so, because on your word hangs the relief of the wretched, the ransom of captives, the deliverance of the condemned, and in fact the salvation of all the sons of Adam, the whole human race. Do not delay, O Blessed Virgin Mary… Quick! Answer the angel, or rather through the angel, answer God; say but one word and welcome the Word; proclaim your own word, and receive the Word of God; pronounce one fleeting word, and conceive the eternal Word.’ (In Praise of the Virgin Mary)
But before acquiescing to the Angel’s request, before giving her Fiat, the Blessed Virgin asked about the conditions of her mission: ‘How shall this come about?’
We can be quite sure that, unlike Zachary, she did not doubt the word of God; but she wanted to commit fully to her mission: with all her intelligence, with all her will, with all her freedom, in the fullest and most complete way, so as to give herself fully to the Divine Will. Not seeing how God’s work will be brought about, she asks the angel, and is rewarded with a further revelation: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow.” Two ways of expressing the same reality. The child who is to be born comes from God.
The breath of God is creative. It hovered over the waters from the beginning. It intervenes in the creation of Adam. It gives the heroes of the Old Covenant the power to achieve marvellous and supernatural works. It inspired the prophets and gives wisdom and discernment to the judges and kings. But none of these possessed it in its fullness. It is given to support a particular mission. Nonetheless, the coming of the Messiah is marked by an unprecedented outpouring of the Spirit of God (as prophesied by Joel, 3, 1-5, and fulfilled in Acts, 2, 17 – 21), and the Messianic king was to possess it in its fullness (Isaiah, 11, 1-2). Here, that same breath of God is the active principle in the conception of the child. No man has any part to play in this. It is a truly virgin birth. The expression ‘cover you with its shadow’ is reminiscent of the Ark of the Covenant, in which the tablets of the Law were kept: the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting and ‘the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.’ (Exodus 40, 34-35) Now you know why the Litanies call Our Lady the Ark of the Covenant.
The Blessed Virgin Mary is given us as a model of vocation and a model of faith. She sets no limits to the work of God in her. By the mystery of the Annunciation, may we ask for the grace that we never reduce to our own size the truths of the faith and the doctrine of salvation; that we never limit it to our own feeble capacities, or to our petty interests. Instead, let us implore the Holy Spirit to raise our hearts and our souls so that we may welcome in its fullness the message of the Faith. Let us also pray for the grace always to respond more generously to our own vocation; let us develop our intelligence and our will so that we may welcome our vocation as it is revealed to us day by day, and that we may devote all our strength, and all our abilities to respond to it as best we possibly can. Let us also believe that God wants our happiness (although the Devil is always seeking to make us believe the opposite!) and that each of us has a place in His plan of love and salvation. Our joy from this day forward, and our eternal salvation, depend on the way in which we respond to our mission.
If we are already engaged in a way of life, in our family, professionally and socially, let us pray for the grace of perseverance, of fervour and of renewal. If we are searching for our vocation, let us pray to Our Lady of Wisdom to enlighten us and to show us the surest path (which is never the easiest!). If we are worried about our future, or the future of those dear to us, (as Charles Péguy was when he set out for Chartres) ask the Blessed Virgin Mary for the grace of detachment and confidence. She is our admirable and eternal model of a vocation lived out fully in faith, a mission perfectly accomplished. As St Thomas Aquinas wrote, in giving her assent, she represented the whole human race.
The birth of Our Lord, and all the accounts of His childhood, reveal the great mystery of the Incarnation to mankind. Each incident is an opportunity for the Holy Spirit to reveal who this Child, born in the poverty of a stable in Bethlehem, really is. We can reflect on what the Angel announced to the shepherds, what we are told about the adoration of the Magi, who came from the East and representing all the pagan nations, signifying the universality of salvation, what Simeon told the Blessed Virgin Mary on the occasion of the presentation of the Child Jesus at the temple, and so on.
Joy is, of course, the dominant note of this mystery of the Nativity, just as it is for the liturgical season of Christmas. But to experience this joy of salvation, we need a humble and believing heart, totally accepting of the message of salvation. “In contemplating these mysteries, the Faithful will not forget that if God has condescended to clothe Himself in the lowliness and infirmity of our nature, it is in order to elevate the human race to the highest degree of glory. In fact, in order fully to understand the eminent dignity, even the superiority, which God, in His goodness, wishes to bestow upon mankind, is it not enough to remember that Jesus Christ, who is truly God, is also truly man?” (Roman Catechism, §2).
The Word assumed a complete human nature. It is in His humanity that He reveals God who is, in His nature, invisible. We see the infant lying in His manger and we adore our Lord and our God. ‘In His fullness, we have received everything,’ as St John reminds us in his prologue. In taking to Himself a body, in becoming flesh, God sanctifies our state. On the day of our baptism, and of our confirmation, we received the Holy Sprit from Christ, who transforms the whole of our being (body and soul) into a temple of the Divine Presence.
Christian asceticism consists of letting sanctifying grace invade our whole being. But that is a real struggle for us, as we are damaged both by the consequences of Original Sin and by our own personal sins. The struggle for purity, for example, by mastering our sensibility, our affectivity and our sexuality, makes us grow and mature, to become capable of an authentic liberty, that of giving ourselves to, and accepting, our vocation. It is a struggle, but it is also a grace to pray for, with perseverance and without being discouraged by any falls or setbacks. It is precisely to free us from our idolatory of, and our enslavement to, evil desires that Christ took on a human nature, like us in all things but sin.
The Hidden Life in Nazareth
We know practically nothing of the first thirty years of Our Lord’s life, in Bethlehem, in Egypt, and then in Nazareth. The Gospel account simply tells us that Jesus grew in wisdom, in stature and in grace, in the sight of God and men; and that He was subject to Mary, His Mother, and to Joseph, His adoptive father.
Charles Péguy spent a long time contemplating this mysterious hidden life. He contrasted the thirty hidden years with the three years of our Saviour’s public life, and the three days of His Passion. He sees a profound unity expressed by these facts; as he is always meditating on the Saviour and His Work. From the first moment of His conception in the womb of His Mother, Jesus is the Redeemer. His hidden life therefore communicates this grace of salvation won for us men. It reveals the grandeur of the every-day, of the accomplishment of simple virtues and of the humble daily realities of our life; the necessity of work to obtain what we need for ourselves and for those in our care, the importance of family life and of social live, sanctified by prayer and our liturgical life; the importance of fidelity to the Gospel’s demands in whatever state of life we are called to… Everything is an occasion for sanctification, and for evangelisation by our example as well as by our spoken words.
The world increasingly ignores these Gospel demands, that reality. That is why, for Charles Péguy, the greatest adventurer there is, is the father of a family, since he is responsible not just for his own life, but for that of his family; he risks more than anybody else, since his choices affect his whole family. He suffers for others: for those for whom he is responsible. He has no claim on anybody, although everyone has a claim on him. In that way, he is like Christ Himself. By His Incarnation, Christ assumed responsibility for all men. Péguy’s own experience led him to be particularly sensitive to the significance of the Hidden Life as it related to the salvation of the world: “It is, paradoxically, the father of the family, the family man, who is the adventurer, who does not just undertake some adventures, but only one, one great, one immense, one all-encompassing adventure; the most terrible and the most consistently tragic adventure; whose whole life is an adventure, the very fabric of life, that ordinary fabric, the daily bread…. Such is the adventurer, the true, the real adventurer.”
Christ knew the adventure of daily bread. The head of a family is never sure about the next day. But in that way of life, he imitates Christ; ‘It is in fact noteworthy, it is momentous, that it is this family life, so decried, so despised, (and Christians should pay more heed to this fact), it is momentous that it should be this family life, so attacked from all sides in our own day, that Jesus should have chosen; that He chose this life from all other possibilities, really, historically, to live for the first thirty years of His earthly existence.’
So, instead of fantasising about other states of life, let us welcome the reality of our current situation, sure that God will give us the grace to accomplish our vocation day by day, despite our weariness, our laziness, our discouragement… It is in that way that we will establish Christendom: first in our own life and then in the world. It is in that way that we will become saints.
Michael J. Matt has been an editor of The Remnant since 1990. Since 1994, he has been the newspaper's editor. A graduate of Christendom College, Michael Matt has written hundreds of articles on the state of the Church and the modern world. He is the host of The Remnant Underground and Remnant TV's The Remnant Forum. He's been U.S. Coordinator for Notre Dame de Chrétienté in Paris--the organization responsible for the Pentecost Pilgrimage to Chartres, France--since 2000. Mr. Matt has led the U.S. contingent on the Pilgrimage to Chartres for the last 24 years. He is a lecturer for the Roman Forum's Summer Symposium in Gardone Riviera, Italy. He is the author of Christian Fables, Legends of Christmas and Gods of Wasteland (Fifty Years of Rock ‘n’ Roll) and regularly delivers addresses and conferences to Catholic groups about the Mass, home-schooling, and the culture question. Together with his wife, Carol Lynn and their seven children, Mr. Matt currently resides in St. Paul, Minnesota.