Over at Church Life Journal, Alex Fogleman, one of our Brazos Fellows tutors, writes on what St. Cyprian can teach us about Easter joy during pandemic. St. Cyprian presided as bishop during a brutally deadly plague in the early 250s. He exhorted Christians to devote themselves to love of neighbor, reminding them that their otherworldly faith should, paradoxically, push them into greater solidarity with their fellow humans:
In fact, Cyprian asks would-be world fleers to contemplate what they hold in common with their non-Christian neighbors. Some Christians, it seemed, thought that Christian baptism rendered them immune from the disease, when in fact the plague claimed both Christian and non-Christian alike. “It troubles some that we have this mortality in common with others” (§8). One does not become Christian, though, because faith is a magic bullet that inoculates from suffering.
As long as we are here in the world, we are united with the human race in equality of the flesh, [though] we are separated in spirit. And so, until this corruptible element puts on incorruptibility and this mortal element receives immortality and the spirit conducts us to God the Father, the disadvantages of the flesh, whatever they are, we have in common with the human race (§8).
Christians share with all humankind the simple, irrefutable fact of death. While Christianity provides a “difference in spirit,” it does not extract us from the common humanity and the “disadvantages of the flesh.”
Read the whole thing here.
Editor’s note: please enjoy this guest post by Alex Fogleman, one of the Brazos Fellows tutors and director of the Institute for the Renewal of Christian Catechesis. If you’re unfamiliar with the crucial work of IRCC, be sure to peruse its website and blog.
It’s been a delight for me to join the Brazos Fellows on a number of occasions in the Course of Study as an instructor, as well as to get to know the fellows and pray with them on a regular basis. This is an extraordinary group of people.
I have often had the experience, however, of not knowing quite how to describe what makes the Brazos Fellows so special. Yes, the directors, Paul and Paige Gutacker, are exceptional people, wise beyond their years. Yes, the integrated approach to learning is truly inspiring—a rigorous course of study, life together in community and common worship, a rule of life and spiritual disciplines, and spiritual direction and vocational coaching. These are all amazing facets of the program.
But even still, when trying to put words to the unique practice of education that is Brazos Fellows, I’m often left with few examples to compare it to. At least not in this century.
However, as a student of early Christianity, and particularly the history of catechesis, I am struck by the parallels of the Brazos Fellows with the early Christian “catechetical schools”—particularly those associated with one of the greatest theologians and biblical scholars of the early church, Origen of Alexandria (ca. 185–251).
Continue reading “Rational Wonder: The Brazos Fellows and the Early Christian Catechetical Schools”