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Have you ever had questions about your faith or feared that what you’ve always been told is true might not be? I have, and let me tell you – that can feel very scary!
Look, don’t beat yourself up about it. Remember the Apostle, Thomas. He lived and worked and broke bread with our Jesus and 11… er… 10 of his closest friends, and even HE had doubts when they excitedly told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
So don’t worry about it.
The Catholic Church encourages us to seek answers! You don’t have to believe for the sake of believing. I mean, you can if you want – but it’s so much fun to learn about the rich history of the Christian faith.
And let me tell you, Slackers, you do not have to go far to find yourself knee-deep in INCREDIBLE history-backed facts! The only thing you need is childlike trust and confidence that the Holy Spirit, who dwells inside of you, will be your guide!
If you love history like I do, a great place to start is with the early Church Fathers. The amount of trust and confidence they had in our Lord, the Apostles, and each other is nothing less than miraculous.
So today, our saint comes all the way from the first century! Pope St. Clement I is believed to have been born in Rome in 35 AD. Though not much about his life is known, early writings indicate that he was a disciple of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. In fact, some believe that he is the Clement mentioned by St. Paul in Philippians 4:3 as one of the laborers working to promote the gospel and whose name is in the Book of Life.
There is a bit of confusion regarding when he took office as the Bishop of Rome. In some early Church writings, St. Clement is named the 3rd successor of St. Peter, while some listed him as the 1st successor. But whatever confusion there was, has since been resolved, and the Vatican website has him listed as our 4th Pope. His papacy began in 92AD and ended with his martyrdom 99AD.
St. Clement is also one of 3 chief Apostolic Fathers, along with St. Polycarp and St. Ignatius of Antioch. His Letter to the church in Corinth is often called the First Epistle of Clement or 1 Clement. In it, he writes:
“We should be obedient unto God, rather than follow those who in arrogance and unruliness have set themselves up as leaders in abominable jealousy…. For Christ is with them that are lowly of mind, not with them that exalt themselves over the flock.”
St. Clement is said to have lived, worked, and ministered to those souls considered “lowly of mind.” As the tale goes, an uprising occurred and Clement was sent to the emperor, who ordered his banishment to Pontus, where he was condemned to work in the rock quarries.
Did he just give up? No, he did the ordinary work required of him in the quarries while also doing the extraordinary work of sharing the love and light of Christ with those around him. He had confidence in the Gospel handed down to him from Saints Peter and Paul and wanted to share it! Clement found many Christians among his fellow convicts and always made time to comfort and encourage them.
As you might imagine, work in the quarries was hot and dirty. To make matters worse, the only spring of drinking water was six miles off, so it was a great hardship to fetch it from such a distance. Then one day Clement saw a lamb scraping at the soil with one of its forefeet. He took it as a sign that water was there, and with trust and confidence in the goodness of God, he dug and found a spring.
Because Clement succeeded in converting many pagans, he was sent to the prefect, who ordered him to be drowned in the sea with an old anchor attached to his neck. This is why in the artwork of St. Clement often includes an anchor at his side while he is dressed in papal vestments.
Even though Pope St. Clement I lived centuries before the Little Flower, St. Therese, I can’t help thinking that when he was working and praying in the quarries he would have identified deeply with her when she wrote:
“My strength lies in prayer and sacrifice; they are invincible weapons, and touch hearts more surely than words can do, as I have learned by experience.”
Christie Walker is a joy-filled Catholic wife, mom, podcaster, speaker, and The Catholic Sobriety Coach. As a trained life coach through the Professional Christian Coaching Institute and with over 26 years of sobriety, Christie specializes in coaching Catholic women who are ready to unravel the mystery surrounding their drinking habits to discover a sense of peace and clarity they never imagined possible. She also coaches women in recovery who want to learn how to invite the Holy Spirit in to clear up the “mental mess” that can stick around long after the last drink.
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