Walking on History

"Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid" (Matt 14:28).

Matthew's account of the storm at sea and Peter walking on water was addressed to an early church launched on the rough seas of history. The barque of Peter would face many squalls, and those in leadership would have to keep the ship focused on the risen Jesus, even when it meant stepping beyond the institutional structures into an uncertain future.

An honest look at church history shows how often the institution seemed off course, rudderless and in danger of faltering because of corruption and the quest for power. The 13th century witnessed a major shift from feudalism to new social structures based in on the rise of a mercantile class and the universities in large cities. Popes and a hierarchy weighted down by land and the lifestyles of princes were slow to respond to the cultural changes and faced turbulent movements of reform and new ideas.

The Mendicant orders founded by St. Francis and St. Dominic provided a major course correction for a church sinking from corruption and greed. The poverty of Christ and the intellectual power of faith combined with reason helped reinvigorated the faithful and reform the church from within. Today we celebrate the life of St. Dominic (1170-1221), who founded the Order of Preachers. The Dominicans gave the church St. Thomas Aquinas, whose writings renewed sacramental theology, and St. Catherine of Siena, who, a century later, brought her passion to church unity and spirituality. 

We rejoice in these water walking saints who helped guide the church though difficult transitions in history, and for Jesus, who keeps his promise to be with us in every storm.