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St Peter Chrysologus (30 July)

The Church’s universal calendar - followed in all the countries of the world - celebrates, quite rightly celebrates the 36 Doctors of the Church, those men and women, those saints recognized as having made a significant contribution to theology or doctrine through their research, study, or writing. Some are very famous, like Thomas Aquinas or Teresa of Avila; others are less so, such as today’s saint, Peter Chrysologus. Even when I studied theology at seminary, I don’t remember his name coming up very often!

He died in 450 AD and was bishop of Ravenna in northern Italy. The name Chrysologus means ‘golden-worded’ and he was particularly famous for his concise but profound sermons.

Sometimes we feel as if we are struck dumb when we’re asked to explain our Faith or give some account of it. It’s tempting to leave it to the professionals or just to say ‘google it’! We wish we could be more ‘golden worded’, like St Peter. But we should put our trust in the Holy Spirit. If we practise our Faith, no matter how imperfectly - if we pray and participate in Mass and live as we should, we are already learned in the ways of Christian discipleship. Throughout our lives we are invited to always dig deeper in our faith, to study and ponder it - but even if our explanations are imperfect, what’s important is the authenticity of our life. Which means that the greatest Christian teacher is not the clever theologian but that Christian who has simply been living out his or her Faith. Let us show that we are Christians by our love, our way of life - and, as St Francis of Assisi put it, when necessary use words!

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