Saint Athanasius, Bishop, Doctor

Acts 11:19-26; Psalm 86; John 10:22-30

St. Athanasius is often shown as a bishop arguing with a pagan, a bishop holding an open book or a bishop standing over a defeated heretic. He is a patron saint of theologians, and faithful Orthodox and Roman Catholic Christians and hailed to this day as a great Defender of the Faith. Over the course of his life, Athanasius was banished five times and spent 17 years of his life in exile for the defence of the doctrine of Christ's divinity. However, the last years of his life were peaceful and he died on May 2, 373 in Alexandria. His body was transferred, first to Constantinople, then to Venice.

Saint Joseph the Worker

Acts 11:1-18; Psalm 41(42):2-3,42:3-4; John 10:11-18

Dom Aelred, formerly of Prinknash Abbey and now resident at Nazareth House, told us (the confirmation group that met on retreat yesterday) about his observations in the holy land. When we think of a Shepherd we might normally imagine a man with a mini tractor, a dog or two, pushing a flock of sheep around into pens, etc. Fr Aelred saw shepherds who lead their sheep - just walking along, perhaps with an injured or tired youngster on his shoulders, and the sheep following him. A relationship of trust, rather than fear.

So - every time that we hear about a shepherd in the Bible, we should consider in the light of what a palestinian shepherd is like, and this may alter our perception when we hear about Christ, the good shepherd, as we do in todays' Gospel.

Today is also the day we remember St Joseph the Worker. This neatly matches the secular celebration of labour day - I wonder which came first? Because she must combat the anti-humanist Communist heresy that can be the focus of today for many the Church is sometimes thought to be on the side of capital. Reading the successive Papal encyclicals on labour and society, from Rerum Novarum (1891) onwards, will soon dispel that illusion. The enemies of the Church have no reason to read them; all too often we feel too comfortable in our present economic state and refrain from reading them also.