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St Theophilus of Antioch
(in Palestine) Bishop and Confessor, (entered heaven around 190)
Your “reasons” for avoiding Sunday Mass and COMPASS activities are eloquently put forth. And I am sure they seem quite convincing to you. Deep down, however, I bet you know how hollow they are, as well as I do. Maybe you just need a lesson from today’s saint to give you some courage, so you can return to the truth.
The sixth bishop of the venerable diocese of Antioch (founded by St Peter himself), Theophilus started out as a child of aristocratic but pagan parents. He received the best liberal education available, and excelled especially in philosophical studies. Gradually he became convinced of the absurdity of the pagan religion he had inherited, and began searching for a truer creed. Eventually, he discovered the Sacred Scriptures, which, much to his delight, seemed to corroborate and elucidate all that his native intelligence suspected about the nature of the universe and God. He became a Christian, was eventually made Bishop, and spent his life setting an example for his large flock and offering them the Word of life in Preaching and Sacrament. He battled respectfully but valiantly against the flourishing heresies of his day, and earned a reputation as a fearless defender of the one, true faith.
In one of his books to a good friend Autolychus (as vociferously pagan as Theophilus was vociferously Christian) he explained why it was so hard for passionate pagans to see the truth of Christianity. (Here, my dear nephew, is the lesson I believe you need to be reminded of. The truth of the faith hasn’t changed since last October; your behavior, however, has changed. I daresay it is the latter which is vitiating the former.) Read the saint’s words carefully, and may they be renewing balm for your beleaguered soul:
“All men have eyes, yet the sun is veiled from the sight of some. It, however, ceases not to emit a flood of day, though those whose eyes are blinded, see not its radiant light. But this defect is to be laid to their charge, nor can the sun be complained of on account of their blindness. Thus, my friend, it is sin that darkens your mind, and blunts the edge of your understanding. As the glass represents not the image if it be soiled, so the mind receives not the impression of God, if it lies immersed in sin. This is a humor which greatly obstructs the sight, and prevents the eye from beholding the sun. Thus, my friend, your impiety diffuses a cloud over the faculties of your soul, and renders you incapable of receiving the glorious light.”
Your loving uncle,