Today is the feast of St. Irenaeus, a 2nd-century theologian who fought against heresies in the early Church. He studied under St. Polycarp (love that name!) who was one of the Apostle John’s students. St. Irenaeus especially fought against Christian Gnostics who were spreading a false teaching that Jesus was not truly human, did not actually suffer and was not capable of dying. The gnostics held that the flesh was evil and only through secret spiritual knowledge one could escape into the light. St. Irenaeus preached the true humanity of Christ, reinforcing the inherent dignity of humanity through our creation by the Father and the Incarnation of the Son, Jesus.
St. Irenaeus is credited with the phrase “The glory of God is man fully alive.” What does this mean exactly, to be fully alive? Our culture today might equate this with happiness, or having everything one wants. “Once I have x, y, and z, then I will be completely, then I can live my life to the fullest.” But we know this isn’t true. The cleanest home won’t give us lasting joy. The perfect balance between staying at home and working will not eliminate all stress for the rest of our life. Perfectly-spaced children, with iron-pressed and starched clothes who both love nature and never get a speck of dirt on them while speaking with politeness and rationality will not bring us true fulfillment (oh but some days it seems like it could!).
Yes, these things would lovely, and I do mean LOVELY. But, they cannot and never will replace a soul resting in God’s loving embrace.
“The glory of God is man fully alive, and the life of man is the vision of God. If the revelation of God through creation already brings life to all living beings on the earth, how much more will the manifestation of the Father by the Word bring life to those who see God” (AH IV, 20, 7).
This is the full quote by St. Irenaeus. Basically, he is saying that a man (or woman) is only fully alive when they know and are known by God. We are fully alive, fully joyful, fully peaceful, when we are seeking after the will of God in active relationship with Him.
A Mother Fully Alive is:
- Willing to see the mundane as opportunities of grace
- Participating in her God-given ability to be a positive, creative force in the world
- Working to ensure peace, justice, truth and beauty in her home, her workplace and each environment she encounters
- In relationship with God through prayer, sacrifice, and her ability to recognize God’s presence in a smile, a scribbled drawing, a stack of untidy books, and even a messy closet.
Each day presents new opportunities to draw closer to God. The above list is clearly not exhaustive. The closer we draw, the more deeply we seek, the more fully alive we become.
Copyright Kate Taliaferro 2017