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Lent in a New Light

The Eucharist cannot exist in isolation from life. It is the liturgical commemoration of a Work of Mercy that is designed to issue forth in works of mercy. Thus mercy is essential to the life of every member of the Church until evil and suffering are no more.

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The Spiritual Journey Is a Dynamic Adventure

Gregory of Nyssa elaborated a theory of the stages of the mystical life that had a profound impact on the future of Christian spirituality. For Gregory, the spiritual journey is a dynamic adventure of progressively deeper union with God that can never stagnate or get boring, since our created nature can never contain or comprehend the fullness of the infinite God. Since God surpasses our intellect, Gregory identifies a certain darkness that characterizes the mystical experience, a theme that would be developed by many subsequent writers over the centuries.

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Basil the Great: Care for the Poor

In A.D. 368 when Cappadocia was stricken with a dire famine, the suffering was intense. Basil distributed the entirety of his inheritance to the poor. He also used Church funds to open soup kitchens where he was often found serving food, girded with an apron. Some of the people in his social class, however, both held on to their money and enjoyed profit from the higher prices resulting from decreased supply and increased demand.

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The Catholic Church and the Fall of the Roman Empire

After Theodosius the Great died in A.D. 395, the Western Roman Empire went into a death-spiral.

The fifth century saw not a single great Roman emperor in the West. Instead, there was a succession of weak men who were emperors in name only.

The real powers behind the throne were generals and warlords, some of whom were half-Roman, half-barbarian. Huge swaths of territory were lost as various tribes marauded through the empire, meeting little or no military resistance. Generals and emperors were too busy fighting each other to protect their people.

 

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