Tag Archives: St. Thomas

Thomas: Doubting may not be his worst mistake

April 21, 2017

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Thomas doubted.  This was a startling shift for him.  Only a short while earlier in Bethany Thomas had urged the other disciples to accompany Jesus to Jerusalem, despite the vicious threats against his life, when Thomas declared, “Let us also go to die with him” (Jn 11:16).  How is it that the apostle who was so confident earlier would say, “I will not believe” (Jn 20:25)?

Thomas got himself into serious trouble when he decided to go off by himself.  When the disciples were together in the Upper Room, he “was not with them” (Jn 20:24).  Jesus had gathered together a group of disciples, and prayed that they would be a strong collective unit when he prayed that they would be one, and he did not send them out separately but at least two-by-two, yet Thomas decided to separate himself from the group and try to make it on his own.  His decision to go off by himself was more than a foolish mistake.  It was wrong.

Thomas was guilty of individualism.  His main concern was himself and what he wanted to do, not his partners and their welfare.  He may also have been guilty of pride, arrogance, or elitism.  He may have thought:  “I do not need them”; “I am better than them”; “They drag me down and I am better off doing things my way apart from them.”  Or he may have been deeply depressed and gone off to pout by himself.  His isolation cost him dearly.

When the disciples were fearfully huddled together in the Upper Room, they supported and encouraged each other.  When Thomas distanced himself from them, he failed to receive the mutual support and encouragement that he so desperately needed.

The disciples had all sinned during Jesus’ Passion when they deserted their Master, and they were in serious need of forgiveness, and they received special pardon and mercy when Jesus said, “Peace be with you” (Jn 20:19,21).  Absent, Thomas missed the chance to be forgiven.

Jesus gave the disciples great joy and new hope when he appeared to them.  Thomas remained unaffected because he missed the opportunity to receive these gifts.  Next, Jesus gave his disciples their commission when he said, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you” (Jn 20:21b).  Thomas received no such commissioning.  Jesus gave the disciples a special blessing when he imparted the Holy Spirit upon them:  “Receive the holy Spirit” (Jn 20:22).  Thomas was not sealed or confirmed in the Spirit.  Jesus empowered his disciples to forgive the sins of others.  Thomas received no such mandate.  Thomas missed innumerable graces and blessings apart from the others.  Absence from the community is a serious blunder with major consequences.  Fortunately, Thomas’ problems were quickly resolved when he returned to the community.

Many Catholics make the same mistake as Thomas when they separate themselves from their parish community and try to make it on their own.  They go to Mass on Easter Sunday, and then only sporadically or not at all during the spring and summer.  They infrequently receive the sacraments of Eucharist and Reconciliation, and are weakly connected to ongoing faith formation or parish festivals and other community building events.  It should be no surprise that when it comes to the faith of those who are absent, there would be more doubt.  Thomas corrected his mistake when he returned.  Easter teaches us that the risen Christ is found in the community of the Church, the Body of Christ, and we need to remain closely connected.

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Latest St. Thomas-St. John’s clash not all football

September 24, 2016

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St. Thomas and St. John’s have a college football rivalry at its peak when they take the field Saturday.

Yet, neither the players nor the fans can ignore the somber tone of the St. Cloud area this weekend. Everyone will take a moment of silence before kick-off in Collegeville to remember the Crossroads Mall stabbing victims and Jacob Wetterling.

It called leadership from both Catholic universities to ask their respective fans attending the game to remain mindful of the community. A memorial service for Wetterling will take place in St. Joseph on Sunday at the College of St. Benedict.

Everyone visiting the area this weekend is asked to be respectful of the St. Joe community by keeping the campuses and streets clean, and by showing restraint and respect for a community in grief,” UST vice president for student affairs Karen Lange said in a press release.

UST athletic director Steve Fritz said that he’s seen good conduct at Tommies-Johnnies football games in the past, but the current events warranted the request. The MIAC rivals drew 17,000 last year in Collegeville when ESPN came out to cover pregame festivities.

That certainly was a fun thing for the students to get involved in,” Fritz said.

Fritz anticipates about 15,000 on Saturday in the biggest Tommies-Johnnies clash yet. Both come in ranked in the top six nationally for NCAA Division III with 3-0 records.

Game Preview

St. Thomas (3-0, 1-0), ranked No. 4, once again has a high-scoring offense with 53.7 points per game. Defense likewise looked dominant in its first three outings with 11 points and 190.3 yards allowed per contest.

St. John’s (3-0), ranked No. 6, will test both. The Johnnies allow eight points and 179.3 yards on average. Offense poses a threat both ways 200-plus yards rushing and passing in addition to 44 points per outing.

Tommies coach Glenn Caruso said his team’s main key to victory is, “first and foremost, us playing our type of game, which I think is crucial.”

Notably, both teams have Division I transfers playing quarterback. Penn State transfer Jackson Erdmann, a former Rosemount high school standout, starts for the Johnnies. St. Thomas actually has two Division I transfers at quarterback, but they back-up starter Alex Fenske.

Jaques Perra, a transfer from Minnesota and one-time Roseville star, has seen time under center with the Tommies. Southern Mississippi transfer Gabe Green has also seen snaps.

St. Thomas still has another former Division I player in the backfield with running back Jordan Roberts. Injuries have left Roberts’ status in doubt though. He didn’t play the previous game against Carleton College.

Either way, the Tommies won’t slow down in the running game. Tucker Trettel and Emitt Peisert average 5.2 and 4.3 yards per carry in 19-plus attempts.

UST again has depth across the board. Whether it’s Division I transfer under center or ample talent elsewhere, Caruso likes the depth his squad has.

We win a lot more games because people embrace the roles that they’re given,” Caruso said.

That’s what they’ll look for on Saturday. The two rivals kick-off at 1 p.m.

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How can this be God’s will?

May 9, 2012

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It's hard to see how a loving God could allow suffering and setbacks. But we don't always see the whole picture. Photo/ Ben Sutherland. Licensed under Creative Commons.

Have you ever prayed to do God’s will, really hoping that He will do your will? Then when things turn out worse than you planned, you question how a good God could will such a lousy turn of events? Or do you ever wonder why God would allow things that are both terrible and random to happen to innocent people?

The classic question is, how can an all-knowing, all powerful God allow suffering, crime, disasters and all the other evil of the world?  Throughout history the greatest minds have pondered this problem. I certainly don’t claim to have all the answers in a short blogpost but we can find some insights by looking at two facets of God’s will, which account for everything that happens.

Ordaining Will

This is the “active” will of God, who wants only what is good and holy. It’s God’s plan for all of creation and each person. God’s ordaining will is outside our free will; only He has influence over it.  Examples of God’s ordaining will are found in:

  •  Scripture,
  • The Ten Commandments as given to Moses,
  • The Precepts of the Church,
  • The duties of our state in life,
  • Obedience to lawful authority—civil, family and church, and
  • The New Commandment, as given by Jesus to love one another.

Permissive Will

We often want God’s ordaining will to line up with our own will but most of us are a little more apprehensive about what He’s going to allow. Under His permissive will, God operates in accordance with our free will, the laws of Nature that He established and the actions of angels and demons.

In his blog, Glenn Dallaire talks about how God allows but doesn’t will physical and mental illnesses, accidents, natural disasters, the bad effects of our sinful free will choices and those of the angels and demons, along with their influences and effects upon us.

It’s impossible for God to will evil because as St. Thomas Aquinas writes, God wills his own goodness. When He does allow evil He seeks to draw good from everything.   According to St. Thomas:

God therefore neither wills evil to be done, nor wills it not to be done, but wills to permit evil to be done; and this is a good.

It might seem contradictory that God wills our punishment but in itself that punishment is a good with evil attached to it. This can work the other way, too. Someone doing evil can accidentally bring about good without intending it. The good isn’t intrinsic to the action but it contributes to the beauty and perfection of the universe. One example is when a person is martyred for the faith. This evil action has at least one good result: the martyred person becomes a saint.

We may like some aspects of God’s will in our lives better than others but it doesn’t really matter if they’re the result of His ordaining or permitting will because God’s seen everything that happens to us beforehand, has pondered how we would benefit from it and has approved of it.

St. Augustine summed it up this way:

 “Nothing is done, unless the Almighty wills it to be done, either by permitting it, or by actually doing it.”

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