Why Do We Call Simon Peter?

And I tell you that you are Peter,[b] and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades[c] will not overcome it.

-Matthew 16:18

Not too long ago, I was asked the nature of Simon being named Peter. 

It was a question that forced me to pause, not because I thought the answer too obvious. The question itself, I detected, had a great deal of curiosity behind it, a mining of meaning in this very formative moment in Peter’s journey as a disciple.

So why was Jesus’ disciple Simon renamed Peter?

It’s important for us to examine how the disciples show up in the New Testament.

When we look at the four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, we see Peter really taking center stage out of the twelve. Just behind him is John, though Peter tends to be far more memorable to us for all that he said and did whereas John tends to be depicted as more passive yet nontheless close to Christ.

It is Peter who declares boldly that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and the same disciple that falls on his face in repentance seeing Christ bring the miracle of the haul of fish. Peter is the one who acknowledges Christ’s power and asks to be allowed to walk on water, but also is the disciple who’s doubt is manifest to the other eleven and to the rest of history. Peter boldly swears to die with Christ and draws his own blade to fight for Him in the garden, and he is also the one who denies Christ three times. While Thomas does go on record once in his boldness of saying, “let us go to die with Him” (John 11:16), Peter’s boldness is a reoccurring theme in the Gospel and Acts accounts.

Besides John, Thomas, and Judas, the rest of the disciples fade in the narrative. We get to know Judas’ deception and love for money. We get to see John’s closeness with Jesus. We get to see Thomas’ zeal before he begins to doubt. The rest of the disciples personality and works unfortunately are not well covered in canonical scripture. Peter is the star, and in just about every film adaptation of the New Testament it is Peter that is often given special spotlight.

And for good reason.

As mentioned already, Peter is the consistently bold disciple, but with his imperfections. Peter enjoys so many peaks in the Gospel accounts, but he has so many human moments of weakness. We sometimes, unfortunately, categorize Peter as a bad example of faithfulness while failing to give credence to his triumphs and later works—similar to how Thomas is ONLY remembered for doubting. Peter doubts, Peter calls himself sinful, Peter promises to kill and does even maim in Christ’s name, and Peter denies Christ three times. And yet Peter is restored at the end, and his ministry is powerful in Acts. But most of all, Simon is called Peter, the Rock, the rock on which Christ builds His Church.

This goes to Simon Peter, not to anyone else, not even John.

Consider the disciple and evangelist John for a moment. He is continually called the beloved disciple, a disciple close to Jesus. He is the author of John—or at least its narrator—and most commonly attributed as well to the Book of Revelation. John doesn’t have a negative account in the narrative. In fact, when the other eleven disciples failed to show up at the foot of the Cross, John was there. It’s often interpreted that John’s showing up at the Cross was reason for his escape from martyrdom, that he already risked his life being a witness to the crucifixion. John is not called Peter, not given this incredible new identity and responsibility from Christ. And it’s nothing against John. That being said, there’s something powerful about Christ’s appointment of Simon Peter.

Simon Peter represents both the potentiality of the Church as well as its flaws. Simon Peter is the rock the Church is founded on because he shows up in his walk with Christ and in his ministry with zeal, despite how brash it sometimes can come across. And Peter has his moments of weakness. Christ blesses Peter with this role, blessing the zeal the Church is to embody while also recognizing our human error.

Often the Church—Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant, whether it be a parish or a synod–comes under scrutiny for its ability to err. “The institution of the Church” is a too common scapegoat for the modern Christian, spiritualist, and secularist. We find ourselves allergic to the association of the church because of what we think we know about history. Yes, there have been abuses of power, from the lay level to the episcopal level. But Christ appointed Simon Peter as the rock for His Church. Peter nearly murdered in Christ’s name and had acted “un-Christian” in his denial. But just as we ought not focus solely on Peter’s shortcomings and instead consider his zeal and goodness, so too the Church should be afforded some similar credence. While members of the Church have not always been faithful and sometimes overzealous as Peter, the Church also is an agent of truth and healing like Peter. As much as we like to point fingers and shout out “but what about the scandals and crusades” we need to pause and evaluate the institutions of healing they’ve also provided, the refuge it has been in war for the ostracized, the supporter of the sick, orphaned, and widowed through its instituted agencies. 

Simon Peter reminds us of Christ’s trust to us despite our shortcomings. He didn’t call the qualified to this task, he qualified the called. 

If you think you’re unworthy to serve Christ, think on Simon Peter’s shortcomings as well as his triumphs and realize that Christ can and will teach us how to direct our zeal. If you think your priest, pastor, church cannot be trusted because of its humanness, remember you are just as human as Peter and that the institution is what Christ trusted and ordained. 

Afterall, Christ did not come for the healthy, but for the sick.

The Attack on Beauty: Halloween And Humanity’s Inner Dissonace

This particular year, my daughter has been rather vocal about the impact of Halloween decoration she sees all around us.

She’s young and understandably narrates most of her day, what she’s seen, what she’s done. But the manner in which she carries on about witches, glowing red eyes, and all the particularly dark ornamentation comes across as being grossly perturbed. Even at a fall festival kids costume party my family saw a child, not even a teenager, dressed in a some pop culture killer costume that neither of us could identify but nonetheless unmistakably knew belonged to the slasher genre. My wife and I reassure her that the decoration is just that and not real, that these things cannot harm her. Nonetheless, it’s given me pause this year to wonder about American fascination for everything gruesome and evil.

Why the devils? Why the witches? Why the serial killers?

The temptation to call all these figures and manifestations as meaningless is unsatisfactory. These fascinations are remarkable and noteworthy, and beg for some analysis much as a dream or pathological behavior would require analysis from psychotherapy.

Another temptation would write off our celebration of Halloween as humanity’s outlet for death. Still, I think this is inadequate. While the Latin American celebration of Day of the Dead, as far as I can see, provides some cultural merit and de-sterilizes a culture on the stigma of death while reminding families to pray for their loved ones. It may be in part true that America attempts to get over its hang up on the uncomfortable idea of death through our morbid scenes and costumes–such cases have been made why the zombie genre was so popular in our country for so long. Still, it doesn’t account for the aforementioned costumes and figures of Halloween that are deeply satanic.

We don’t seem to be portraying monsters and demons in a cautionary or benign manner. We seem to be glorifying them, out terrifying one another by conceiving of more horrific figures. Halloween is not some lived out ritual wherein a repulsive krampus is brought out to scare the population just before St. Nicholas comes in to defeat the evil. No. Rather, it is a procession of evil without good, a long minor chord without any resolve. It’s the terrible horror movie where all the main characters die, the monster wins, and somehow we are ok with this.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have dark taste. I see value in books and movies that capture humanity’s capacity for evil. I listen to music that speaks about pain and sorrow. I am not one to sterilize all media and myth to be only bright and happy fairy tales. Ancient cultures, including those from our own Western myths, have not relented to speak about abusive gods and horrific monsters. Even Holy Scripture does not withhold painful details of humanity’s dark heart and the gore that we can conceive of. Dark media–just like all media–has its place so long as it is purposeful.

But glorifying the dark or the evil just for the sake of it isn’t purposeful. That’s just patronage.

What I have gathered about this glorification of evil is an unaligned attempt to convey one’s own inner dissonance. We prop up these figures beyond the margin of society, perhaps, because some of us feel ourselves on the margin of society. Perhaps we have a personal disconnection from our own family. Perhaps we couldn’t find our healthy niche in school. An inner exile occurs while still living within our communities. With that, we convey our own inner dissonance through an acting out, through the portrayal of the figures cast off into he margins: expelled demons, witches left to live in the wilderness, etc.

I believe most of this to be attention seeking behavior, an acting out as an attempt to address the unacknowledged pain of disenfranchisement and loneliness.

It is perhaps equally true–or even more true–that none of us have been shown or conveyed true beauty by our closest confidants and therefore we reach for the low-hanging fruit of shock, ugliness, and darkness. Let’s be honest, walking through America’s oldest and greatest cities is nothing like walking through the oldest and greatest cities of Europe. Our architecture is bland and sterile, and our iconoclastic roots of puritanism meant that America’s inception came without a great deal of beauty or art. While our country did have the foundations of Scripture as its rudder and moral compass, I believe we are seeing centuries later the consequence of the sterility that comes from a solo-Scriptura tradition that endeavors little to create, to convey beauty in new and wholesome ways. As a side note, perhaps it is only too ironic that the celebrated Reformation Day should fall on a day that has ached for art and beauty.

This is not a call to action to stop dressing up for Halloween, and stopping all together–even sheltering–I don’t think addresses our country’s real need.

Instead, I believe the answer to this malady comes from noticing those of us who are on the margins and showing them something beautiful. This could be literal in sharing with them a truly beautiful composition of music or piece of art or story. But the beauty could be just as simple as one’s own kindness and curiosity of their life. Perhaps the easiest answer of this is–in borrowing from Fr Josiah Trenham–the adopting of the beautiful life, the transformed life of truly lived and imitated Christianity that is unmistakably beautiful and bright. And within that Christianity, we ourselves have to understand what is beautiful, what we can adore and share. Yes Scripture is beautiful, and God gives us more than Scripture to rejoice about, to celebrate as beautiful: iconography, architecture, hymnography, the lies of saints, and so much more.

Let us take a moment this Halloween to recognize the catalysts of this mania, to analyze this sick hunger for the darkness. Let us stare in the face of our own sterility and mediocrity, and let us be intentional in both prayer and compassion for those around us who are on the margins that they do not adopt monsters on the margins as their heroes to celebrate.

Let us behold beauty. Let us adopt beauty. Let us be changed by it. Let us infuse it in all we do and recreate it in our works and in our living.

Happy Eve of All Saints.

The Attack On Beauty: Aristotle vs Gen Z

Perhaps the greatest contribution Aristotle left behind for Western Civilization was the idea and hierarchy of the three trancedentals: beauty, goodness, and truth.

These three transcendental ALL have to do with ethics and how an individual and society ought to conduct themselves even though it may seem only one of the transcendental (goodness) has anything to do with ethics. We often overemphasize goodness over the other two, when goodness is only the 2nd-step in these three principles and exists poorly in isolation from the other two transcendentals.

Our very legally based and now justice-oriented Western Society concerns itself almost solely on the transcendental of goodness. Worse yet, post modern thinking has diminished the value and even existence of the other transcendental, claiming everything is subjective to the observer. No longer is it widely accepted that there are objective standards of beauty or truth, but rather the proper standard is defined by the perspective and narrative of the individual.

But for now, let us focus on goodness and beauty and the need their necessary relationship to one another.

But seriously. Why soup?

Recently, two climate change activists vandalized Van Gogh’s painting.

The motivation for their actions was clearly out of their own perception of the transcendental of goodness, perceiving this act of iconoclasm as a step towards justice, specifically, to raise awareness of the injustice upon the environment. The act runs along the same vein as the tearing down of statues of unseemly historical figures, the vandalism of corrupt institutional buildings, etc.

Lenin, we are coming for you next!

Idol smashing and iconoclasm are close cousins of which even Christianity is quite familiar with when it considers the hundreds of accounts of saints destroying pagan monuments and totems which today we might even call “art”. The destruction of “art” has been used for centuries as an act of justice, of obliterating a perceived evil item, all its affiliations, and the proving of that item’s powerlessness before good.

But Van Gogh wasn’t a petrol mogul, wasn’t a climate change denier. His sunflowers painting wasn’t at all a threat to the health of the earth…in fact it only brought out the earth’s beauty.

Was the act of these Gen Z activists meant to serve an ironic point? Did they vandalize an oil painting to make a commentary on our oil production today? Was their vandalizing of the image of the sunflower a reenactment of humanity’s assault on nature? I don’t care to know the reason, and neither should you.

At the root of this act is not true goodness, but human neuroticism. The activists’ vandalism of an innocuous painter’s harmless painting to an unrelated cause is no more sophisticated than my toddler throwing her toy up against the wall because she wants attention and is struggling to find an appropriate means of addressing such a need. The message screaming in my face at this is not of injustice or peril of a dying world, but of attention-starved youths who are living out unmet needs of their past by gaining their 5-minutes of fame on every news site. (They’ll be forgotten in no time, trust me. The rest of you have probably already moved on.)

But to the activist who sees some value in this iconoclasm (or any iconoclasm), I believe there is more work to be done. You see, one does not earn disciples in one’s own cause by raging against what must be destroyed. You all have been working out of a void, unable to tell yourselves or each other what’s actually beautiful. These actions, therefore, reflect to the rest of the world more of childhood unmet needs rather than any actually communicated utopia or transcendental to work towards.

The movement will die because it’s unmarried to truth and unconcerned with beauty.

St Blaise smashing idols in an icon

Take it from a disciple of idol smashing. Christianity has been breaking stone, wood, and even written word for centuries and has not stopped. It’s unabashed in its dismantling of pagan religion and the way that that religion has informed babylonian-esque societies. Even during times of persecution, the saints and martyrs destroyed pagan art but not out of petulance or even a social cause. It did so knowing it had a beautiful image that stood triumphant to all other art, a wisdom to shame all other wisdoms. Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word/Logos of God.

Activists, where is your beauty? Perhaps you assault art because you have nothing beautiful to celebrate, because you deep down know you’ve espoused yourselves to a subjective one. Therefore, there is nothing eternal, nothing deeply moving that you can carry in your pocket, to display on the wall of your home, to close your eyes and reflect on in your heart. You attack beauty because, like Cain, you feel insecure not having it.

There is more work to be done, activists, and I don’t mean that by more iconoclasm. You can try all you want, you can even try to attack the beauty of the most proactive idol smashers in history (the Church) but one glimpse of history will see that such unsuccessful attempts of iconoclasm will leave your movement buried in history while the Church continually elevates our beautiful images.

There’s more work to be done, specifically that each and every one of you reconciles that you are on a boat without a rudder, nothing to hold your own course. Each one of you is your own arbiter of beauty and truth, and therefore, surely, your movement will run ashore or sink suddenly. Admit the subconscious religion that you elevate, the invisible gods that you pay tribute to and kneel before. You’d have a fighting chance to look more sophisticated than a child in tantrum and leave an imprint upon the world if you actually had some aim, an image ready to replace the things you burn and vandalize.

Activists, none of you are martyrs, none of you are saints, not even in your own religion that you find it impossible to define. Your actions are not lasting, because you have no beauty to leave behind, no real truth to tell. You are amiss to both.

Go back to the drawing board, and before you have your next fuss, stop yourself and ask what you actually believe in, what you actually believe to be beautiful or true.

I’ll be waiting once you’ve come back from the drawing board, eager to hear what you come up with.

Who Are the Unmercenaries?

Visit OCA.org for more Lives of Saints

On November 1, the West & Catholic Church celebrates “All Saints” while in the Eastern Orthodox Church we celebrate Kosmas & Damian, the Holy Unmercenaries.

“Unmercenary” is both a strange-sounding and heavy metal sounding name for a rank of our saints–one of the reasons why I named my novel’s crimefighters after this rank of saint.

In the original Greek, “Unmercenary” is “Anagyroi” which literally means those not of silver, implying those who could not be paid for their service. In English, we dressed up the title using the stem “mercenary” which carries a connotation of paid-soldiers.

However, the rank of Unmerceny saints really have no military implication. Instead, this rank is a medical one, referring to Christian physicians who used both their knowledge of medicine and the fervor of their faith to heal others. However, this rank of saint specifically relates to a Christian tradition of providing medical care without accepting any payment. Just as it is today, doctor appointments weren’t cheap back in the day.

On November 1, we celebrate just two of the many Unmercenaries in the Church: Kosmas & Damian. These two brothers were raised by a single mom who dedicated her life to seeing to the Christian upbringing of her children as well as equipping them to enter into a profession of public service. We owe their mother, St. Theodota, credit for giving the Church two brothers who were extreme in their faith and in their selflesness.

The story goes that these two brothers were so adamant about not receiving payment that it actually led the two to an unfortunate quarrel. Kosmas had gone off to heal a widow who’d been seen by multiple pagan doctors to no avail. Kosmas was able to heal this woman through his prayers, and the woman being so grateful insisted he take three eggs from her as a gift. Kosmas explained his commitment to keeping nothing of his profit for this work, but the woman insisted saying Kosmas couldn’t deny a gift that was made honoring the Trinity (three eggs, three persons of the Trinity).

When Damian found out, he was grievously upset with his brother, and this caused a huge rift because it seemed Kosmas didn’t uphold his end of their fraternal promise to “freely give” to others just as Christ “freely gave” to them the gifts of healing and the gift of salvation. Sad as their rift is, their story serves for us today a kind of testimony to the importance of open dialog and to not allow the letter of rules to get in the way of holy fellowship.

Visit OCA.org for more Lives of Saints

There are another set of Unmercenary saints who confusingly enough also share the names Kosmas and Damian. They too were Christian physicians who took no pay for their work. They were quite popular in Rome not merely because their service was free, but because it was overwhelmingly successful. This led to a manhunt for the two saints, wherein Roman officers began arresting any Christian they could in the hopes they’d find the two saints who had gone into hiding.

Both Kosmas & Damian eventually make themselves known to spare the local Christians from the collateral arrests, but when they show the power of the gift of healing they received from Christ they are set free–the two saints had healed a man with paralysis in the Roman court and were set free afterwards.

While they were temporarily spared by the state, their teacher who had instructed them in medicine had become jealous of their success and evasion from prosecution. After the trial, Kosmas and Damian’s teacher invites them to join him on an exhibition to collect medical herbs from a nearby mountain. The two oblige–perhaps to resupply for themselves or perhaps to convert their pagan teacher–but are thrown from the mountain by the teacher, killed in envy just as Cain had slain his brother Abel.

Promo art for book, featuring Father, Sheepshead, Red, and Morgenstern

As mentioned before, I use the title of these saints in part because the English translation for this rank has a rather edgy and powerful sound to it. When we think of mercenaries, we think of antihero ronins and black sheep soldiers constrained by no obligation or uniform. “Unmercenary” had always struck me as a kind of soldier that might combat or stand against these lawless sellswords, a kind of anti-antihero, a paladin standing against the rogues.

The Unmercenaries in my fiction series “Masks” are a band of vigilantes who take no pay for their service to their city. But instead of infirmities they are curing, they are surgeons removing cancers of illicit business, antibodies fighting against infections of criminality. They freely give from their own time and well-being to heal their city.

Among Orthodox monasticism and writings of desert fathers, we also see an emphasis on attentiveness or “watchfulness.” It was these holy ascetics–such as the “sleepless ones” and stylites–who kept watch over their soul as though it were a city in need of defense, forcing their bodies to remain strong to stave away from sleep so as to be proactive in spiritual warfare through prayer. The masked crime fighters, the Unmercenaries, subtly fuse these elements of Orthodox “heroism” if we can call it that, of these superhuman qualities achieved by saints who dedicated their lives to Christ, to His Church, to their work for humanity.

That’s who the Unmercenaries of “Masks” attempt to convey. They are not a perfect analogy of any particular or group of saint, but a modern and hopefully palpable allegory of saints, ever vigilant, self-giving “healers”, and usually unseen (much like the intercessions of the saints interceding in our lives today, assisting us without much gratitude or acknowledgment).

With that, I hope we all can set sometime to give some gratitude to God for equipping these saints who pray for us. I also hope that my book–imperfect and sometimes crude–is a refreshing story that encourages each of us to examine our personal calling to become great, to become saints.

God bless you all, and Happy Harrowing!

Buy “Masks: The Unmercenaries” now!

In Honor of Emperor Constantine

A History of the Saint

Today marks the feast of St. Constantine. Yes you heard correctly: “Saint”.

Even my Catholic friends flinch when they hear Saint or Great included into the Emperor’s name. To be fair, I’m aware of the religious and historical scandals that cause these sort of reactions. Being baptized on his death bed by Arian clergy after the council he founded–that fought against Arianism–comes across as jarring, and the accounts of the execution of his son and wife are also head-scratching matters to say the least–though ancient and modern history can’t seem to agree on why the execution was ordered.

And yet, for a man steeped in brutal Roman politics and culture, his life in such a context is still remarkable and his acts of generosity were brave and counter-cultural. 

The tale of Constantine’s life is a rather heroic one, a story of a littleman ascending to leadership, a story of chaste virtue blossoming into reform of a misled empire.

The makings of a hero

Constantine was born in the humble parts of the Balkans, in modern-day serbia. His father was a well-to-do Roman officer who ended up becoming an imperial guard for the emperor before finally ascending to tetrarch; Rome had become so large that the single ruler of Rome divided the responsibility of rulership to four leaders instead of one. Constantine’s mother was a Greek of low-estate, seemingly utilized as his interpreter for a short period of time before Constantine’s father moved for his promotion. Though the father and son would be reunited once Constantine himself embarked on his military career, Constantine and his blessed mother Helen were left to fend mostly for their own in these formative years.

Constantine was fortunate to have a father of high-esteem in the eyes of room, and because of this received a rich education in Nicomedia. The Christian formation he received from his mother was built upon as Constantine received education not only from Greek/Roman pagans but also from Christians philosophers living in that area. What may have also factored into Constantine’s inclination towards Christianity was his knowledge of the Diocletian persecution of Christians during his military career under Diocletian.

Constantine came to power upon his father’s death, ruling as tetrarch to the North Western quadrant of the empire. This was not an easy governance as the far reaches of Rome here were constantly being tested by Picts and Franks among other developing tribes and groups in northwest europe. In this time of defending his post from these constant threats, Constantine endeavored to repair roads and began ambitious building projects in this Roman frontier. It’s incredible to imagine how a leader constantly under threat can still set his eyes on a vision of building and connecting, embodying both bravery and creativity.

en touto nika

Constantine’s rise to tetrarch happened to be one more tumultuous wave into the political strife already brewing in the Roman tetrarchy. Rome become a six ring circus of disputed leadership, a divided empire, in need of vision and order.

Constantine’s greatest enemy, Maxentius, felt threatened by Constantine’s position in power and had preemptively declared war on Constantine. Constantine carved a war path in response and after his first few victories into Italy was received well by the Italian-Roman population.

Constantine arrived to meet Maxentius and his army at the Tiber River outnumbered 2:1. What rallied Constnatine and his men was a vision, a dream he had before the battle of a sign in the sky. There are different reports if the sign in the sky was that of a Cross or the letters “Chi” and “Rho” (the first two letters of Christ’s name), but the message in this dream was simple: in this, conquer. It was Constantine’s blessing from heaven, a defining moment in Christian history that would allow for the Church and her faithful to regroup, rebuild, and be sent out.

Constnatine won the battle and won the heart of Rome. Henceforth, Constantine not only put an end to Roman persecution of Christianity, but became a patron to it. Constantine personally funded building projects for Christian churches, funded his mother’s venture to seek out the True Cross of Christ, and funded the Church’s First Eccumenical Council, allowing all bishops of the Christian world to convene and sort out the canon of Scripture and seal the tenants of the faith and who Christ is: God and Man, eternally begotten, Son of God.

an imperfect saint

Where we get uncomfortable hearing Constantine’s name is when we hear stories of the execution of his son and wife. The testimonies conflict as to what exactly happened here, and there doesn’t seem to be one clear narrative of motive or even culprit. We also tend to put Constantine under a lens for his death-bed baptism at the hands of an Arian bishop–a bishop that the 1st Eccumenical Council had deemed heretical in the professed belief that Christ was created and not Son of God. 

Perhaps Constantine’s life does not quite stack up to the great contemporary saints of his time: St. Nicholas, St. Spyridon, St Athanasius, etc. That being said, the Christians we think of at that time were ordained hierarchs not set on a track of public servitude and a military career. Though we might point to the lives of St. George and St. Dimitrios as being chaste military saints that have perhaps a cleaner record than Constantine, perhaps we could keep in perspective the temptations that came with leadership at the time. As we consider King David and King Solomon, both elect by God who fell into their own temptations, perhaps too we can consider how human Constantine was, and the humility of his desire to be baptized at the end of his life knowing what hard decisions he might end up regretting to make.

a patron we need today

St Constantine, dedicating Constantinople to Christ and the Theotokos

But why mention all this? Merely because his memory is kept today? Merely because I bear his name?

The highlights and honorable parts of Constantine’s life I think are fairly topical to the needs of today. 

I see a young man who is educated not merely by one side of the aisle, but knowledgeable of both (in his case, pagan and Christian). 

I see a man who in spite of having a distant parent still honors him and seeks training and admonishment (he had a distant father). 

I see a man who in the face of hostility meets adversity with courage and more importantly with faith, bowing before not his own resources or understanding, but on God’s authority (the battle at the bridge). 

I see a man who supports the pilgrimage, the journeys of faith, of others, endorsing their ventures to finding salvation (His mother and the Cross).

I see a man humble and willing to accept he is likely to sin grievously, and nonetheless seeks out a path of salvation for himself, not considering it hypocrisy to devote himself to Christ at the end, but to crave salvation after lamenting a lifetime of sin (his baptism).

I see a man who puts forth the resources to foster dialog and unity, to foster a setting of discussion to make us one, to allow for our ideas to contest in the coliseum of the world coming together (the first council).

I see a man who values the patronage of arts, of wholesome art, that can reshape society and further lead others to God. Above all, I see Constantine’s philanthropy to Christian architecture and art as needed today: we need patrons of beauty that direct our eyes not on our egos and idols, but towards the heavens that humble us, to the God that created us and saved us.

May we find more Constantine’s that will lead us in an example of courage, of dialog, and of beauty, helping reorient our eyes to the sign waiting for us in the heavens that ultimately shows us the salvific power of God.

By the intercessions of he and his mother, may our art and our speech be sharpened by the Lord Almighty.