I had to laugh on Sunday as I celebrated Mass at the student center of Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches, a neighboring town to where I live in Lufkin, Texas.
After Mass, a young man who is a graduate student there and is preparing to be received into the Church came to talk to me. He was raised in one of the Protestant denominations, but has always had an interest in history, and decided to major in it in college. And he told me, with much enthusiasm, how his study of history opened his eyes to the beauty and truth of the Catholic Church. He said, “It was like I had been fed Spam all my life, and now I was introduced to lobster!” That’s quite a comparison and it tickled me!
Cardinal Newman who had been a very brilliant and prominent Anglican clergyman in England in the early 19th century, began to study history; it led him into the Church. He remarked later, from the Catholic point of view, “History is on our side.”
And speaking of history, today we commemorate Saint Agatha, one of the early Roman martyrs — a young Christian woman who allowed her persecutors to kill her rather than renounce her faith in Christ or her virginity. She lived in Catania, a city on the east coast of the Italian island of Sicily, near the volcano Mount Etna. Her name has been included in the first Canon or Eucharistic Prayer of the Mass for many centuries. Just around the corner from our Dominican university in Rome there is an interesting church called “Saint Agatha of the Goths.” The Goths were one of the tribes of barbarians who invaded and sacked Rome in the days of the empire’s dissolution. Some of them had become Arian Christians — that is, Christians who denied the divinity of Jesus. Thus, they were heretics rather than authentic Christians. They built themselves a church in Rome, and when Arianism was suppressed, it became a Catholic church and is still there, still bearing the name “Saint Agatha of the Goths” even though there are no more Goths around and those who now attend Mass there certainly recognize the divinity of Our Lord.
Read some history now and then. You’ll enjoy it and will learn a great deal by it. You can find lots of it on the internet. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.
Note: This message was composed some years ago.