Uncle Eddy's E-mails -- March 11
Saint Sophronius, Patriarch of Jersualem and Confessor (entered heaven this day in 649)
I am glad your Catholic Union is making progress on campus. I always knew that it would, it was just a matter of time. You have been given many talents, and you are just now beginning to learn how to put them at the service of God and neighbor. Keep up the good work!
But at the same time, I detected some worrisome asides in your last note. If I am not mistaken, your own prayer life has suffered a bit (if not in quantity, at least in quality, though I daresay in both) since you took over the presidency of the Chapter. It’s understandable; you have to learn how to juggle more responsibilities and activities. But even so, it’s worrisome. If your spiritual life isn’t a living, growing, deepening friendship with Christ, and if your activity (ALL your activity, not just your “official” activity) doesn’t flow from that friendship and receive it’s inspiration from it, you can be sure you are starting to distance yourself from the true path. In a way, this is one of the most important lessons today’s saint teaches us.
He was born in Syria, and lived most of his youth in Jerusalem, where he dedicated himself to learning and to growing in holiness under the guidance of exemplary spiritual directors. He traveled to Egypt to visit the desert fathers and the monasteries there. About that time the Monothelite heresy began to spread. On the one hand, the monothelites acknowledged the dual nature of Christ (true God and true man), but on the other hand they claimed that Christ only possessed one will (“mono” means “one” and “telos” can mean “will”). With this second affirmation they contradicted the first, because the will (as the capacity of a rational being to make free, intelligent choices) belongs to the nature (human nature is endowed with intelligence and willpower, and so is the divine nature, but in a different mode) and not to the person (the one who possesses the nature – as in, “I have a human nature”). So to claim that Christ had only one, divine will is tantamount to claiming that was not truly human; he just appeared to be human.
This is a dangerous heresy. First of all, because it is not true, and falsehood can never bring us closer to Christ. But more importantly, because it guts the Incarnation, it empties the central tenant of Christianity! The whole POINT of Christianity is that God has become man in order to accompany us, to win us back into communion with God, to walk with us, to engage us in a real (though utterly unique) friendship that will elevate us to eternal life.
So Sophronius got involved in the debate (on the right side), but a lot of powerful people in Egypt were against him. He went up to the capital, Constantinople, but the Emperor there was playing fast and loose in favor of the heretics. Sophronius returned to Syria, somewhat disconcerted. As soon as he got home, he was made Patriarch of Jerusalem, a post he resisted, but to no avail. As Patriarch, he used all his moral and ecclesiastical authority to defend the truth, and eventually outplayed the subtle diplomacies of Constantinople in order to have the Pope condemn the insidious error.
He was a defender of Christ’s true humanity – one of the points the Devil most likes to obscure. Don’t let him obscure it in your life, my talented young niece; always give your friendship with Christ TOP priority. If you don’t, you may fall victim to burn-out and cynicism; if you do, all the rest will, sooner or later, fall into place.
Your hopeful uncle, Eddy
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