August 5th is the Feast of Our Lady of the Snows, it's also the Feast of Blessed Frederick Jansoone up here in Canada, but I don't know enough about him yet to talk about him. The Feast commemorates a Marian Miracle that occurred during the Pontificate of Pope Liberius; a Roman Patrician named John was without heir and so decided along with his wife, that they would donate their wealth in a way that would honour Our Lady. The two prayed to Our Lady, that She may show them how She would like the money to be used. On the night of August 5th, Our Lady appeared to the couple in a dream and told them that She wanted them to use their riches to build a basilica in Her honour, on the Esquiline Hill. The next day, the couple headed to summit of the Esquiline Hill, when they reached summit they beheld a field of unmelting snow, in the August heat, forming the floor plan of the basilica. The couple then went and told Pope Liberius, and he and the Church officials went and observed the miraculous snow, and started outlining it in preparations for the building of the basilica. Today the basilica is known as the Basilica of Saint Mary Major.
Pope Liberius would later go on to have a controversial legacy, he was swept-up in the Arian Crisis and allegedly sign a Semi-Arian document under duress, from the Arian Emperor Constantius II. (It is very important for me to emphasize, that what I've just typed above is much more complex than what was just stated. This is a very complicated and controversial topic, especially in this day and age with a lot of intense controversies going on inside the Church right now on related topics.) The Arian Crisis was one of the worst periods in Church History, and yet in some ways, this is one of my favourite periods in Church History. Well, more specifically, it's the time frame from the Edict of Milan, to probably the Council of Ephesus; some people say that we Catholics can relate more the Church Fathers than the later medieval Saints and Theologians, as the things that the Church Fathers had to deal with in their day and age, were quite similar to the stuff we have to deal with in our own time. But there are many other reasons why I really like this timeframe, I think the biggest one for me -this is probably inaccurate but- is because I tend to associate this timeframe with a sense of triumph. The Edict of Milan marked the end of Pagan persecution in the Roman Empire, (except for Julian the Apostate; also, just as a quick side note, Constantine did not make Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire, Theodosius did; Constantine merely legalized the Faith.) albeit there was Arian Emperors, I'll get to that in a bit, but the Church could now come out of the catacombs and truly be out in the public square, the Pope and Patriarchs were recognized and soon great cathedrals and basilicas would be established; it was the summertime of the Faith, and that sparkling snow on the Esquiline Hill brilliantly represents that triumph. Yet, as was mentioned above, that time included one of the worst crisises in Church History, as St. Jerome put it, "The whole world groaned, and was astonished to find itself Arian." And it wasn't just the Arian Crisis, several heresies and disputes and ravaged the Church during that timeframe.
The Church has almost always had crisises, surviving one or sometimes resurrecting from one, only to have the next one pop-up. I heard that there was only one Papacy where there was a brief time of peace between crisises, (I believe it was one of the Benedict Popes but I forget which one specifically) before the next crisis emerged. I guess when I look at this timeframe, things seem to be going upwards instead of downwards, and I like to imagine that I would've been more grateful if i lived in that timeframe. (Not that I wanted to live in that timeframe mind you, or any other timeframe or period than the one I'm in, which sort of brings me to the following sentence.) But that's the key thing, gratitude, that's the thing that I have been constantly reminded of these past few months; that I need to be more grateful for the things in my life, and focus more on the simple things I can do. There's plenty of things that I have right now that the people in those days didn't, including hindsight of all the crisises that the Church faced in the past and survived. But most importantly of all, I have the same thing that my spiritual ancestors had that helped them survive those crises, Hope and prayer; like the snow sparkling in the August sun, so to does Our Lady shine with the Almighty Graces of Her Son. Our Lady is the Mirror of Justice, She shines Her Son's graces down on us, and leads us up to Her shining Son.
Apologizes for any awkward wording or grammar in this first post. I only had time to do one proof-read before submitting it to be published and thus, couldn't make sure everything was written or worded right; it's incredibly late here as I finish this and schedule it for publishing.
Glory to God
Our Lady of the Snows, pray for us!
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