The question was asked, “What did Adam look like before the fall?” The short answer is he looked a god, like the Virgin Mary is today and like we called to become again (2 P 1:4). Being full of the Holy Trinity, living completely in Them as They similarly lived in Him and with the original innocence of man, knowing no sinfulness, Adam was very beautiful and loving. So beautiful and loving, in fact, that the Father loved Him beyond all measure and gave him everything He had created. But then Adam decided, by his own free will, to listen to a lie, a deception…..
I do not normally write such posts. In fact, I have never done so on any of my sites, despite the numerous requests I keep receiving in this regard. But given the appropriateness and appeal of what I am going to speak about – the Nativity Stones Cross – and the attraction I felt towards it from the outset, even before I received and held it in my hands, I cannot help but write about it.
The Nativity Stones Cross is unique as it is not just yet another cross, millions of which abound throughout the world. It is a cross with a difference, that being the small stone which lies in the middle of the cross, as you can see in the picture to the left. What is this stone?
The Nativity Stones were excavated in 1963 from the wall adjoining Saint Jerome’s Cave and the Manger Room of the Cave of the Nativity of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem. Reportedly the only stones ever authorized to be removed from the wall between these two famous, sacred caves, the Nativity Stones are said to have been taken from the north-left, inside wall of the Cave of the Nativity as shown in the map below to the right. This particular wall was excavated to create another exit for the ceaseless stream of visitors to the two caves.
Certified as authentic by the mayor of Bethlehem on June 1, 1964, and by Fr. Economies G. Bandak, high priest of the Church of the Nativity, on September 14, 1995, each Nativity Stone which is placed in a cross is assigned a number. Mine is #219738. The cross itself is layered in 18 kt gold. The authenticity of the Nativity Stones was reconfirmed by the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of the Holy Land on November 10, 2000, despite the stones not being a relic. The Vatican Treasury granted the display of its official Jubilee 2000 emblem on the Nativity Stones Collection. A plaque in relation to the Nativity Stones was also dedicated at the Vatican by Camillo, Cardinal Ruini.
I treasure the Nativity Stones Cross which was so kindly given to me. It is precious and has now been blessed. This cross, with its little stone right in the middle, means more to me than the relic of a saint ever could or would, because this little stone, in all its silence, forlornness and humility, may actually have experienced the Divine Light and witnessed the birth of Jesus Christ – the only-begotten Son of the Almighty Father and Savior of mankind.
“There comes a time in each person’s life when they have to become true worshippers of God the Father in Spirit and in truth. For indeed, these are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks to worship Him” (Fr. Francis E. Reilly, March 2014).
Deification is the transformation of man into god through the grace of God. Predominant in the theology of Eastern Christianity, but marginalized and obscured in contemporary interpretations of the theology of Western Christianity, Bartolo-Abela explores how it is deification, not just salvation, that was and remains the intent of God for mankind, with deification occurring not solely in patria, but in via and in patria. This is an understanding of deification which has been largely lost and needs to be recovered in the Western Church.
Examining the works of the Church Fathers on both sides of the East-West divide in Christianity, Bartolo-Abela shows that rather than being restricted to the East, deification featured consistently in many theological works popular in the West, with the most prominent being those of Aquinas, Augustine, Hilary of Poitiers, Irenaeus and Jerome. Bartolo-Abela argues that it was deification, not just salvation as commonly understood, that was also inherently referred to by Paul VI in the universal call to holiness found in Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church.
Deification is the process of man becoming god and attaining theoria, seeing God, after purification of the heart and illumination of the heart of the soul have ensued through baptism in the Holy Spirit, as understood throughout tradition. Deification from this life, not solely the next, is the desire of God for mankind in accord with the words of Christ and Peter, “I said you are gods” (Jn 10:34) and “partakers of the divine nature” (2 P 1:4).
The beauty of the day, the chirping of the birds, the warmth of the sun and the clear, blue sky. A small example of the tender love and goodness of the Father for his all children on earth. Ever considered that?
When God our Father is absent from the hearts and lives of the people, chaos returns to the earth because there can be no order without the Father who is order Himself.
God the Father is love and mercy in Himself. But He is also justice. We cannot have one without the other, to suit our desires, because He is perfect.
How can we hate or despise one another when we have one Father, a Father who loves each one of us with inconceivable intensity and depth? How can we love Him as He deeply desires if we keep hating one another?
Love! Even when you are being wounded without respite from every side, love! Even if it hurts like hell to love at that instant, ask for the grace of being able to love and do so. God will grant such a grace. For love, genuine love not hate, is the true answer to all the problems we have in the world.
Timelessness is beautiful: such love, order and peace. If only we all knew what God fully intended us to be and how to live.
The question was once again asked, “What is true love?” The answer is simple. True love is that which gives to another or others without counting the personal cost of giving. The epitome of true love is found in God the Father who sacrificed His only Son, so we would not suffer to the same degree and be separated from Him – Infinite Love – for eternity. Continue reading