“From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.” John 6:66

Judgment Day

The number “666” is overwhelmingly popular in our culture run amok. Ever since it’s use in the Book of Revelation some 2,000 years ago, people have been trying to discern it’s meaning.

Some things never change.

Wikipedia gives it a go, writing:

In modern popular culture, 666 has become one of the most widely recognized symbols for the Antichrist or, alternatively, the Devil. The number 666 is reportedly used to invoke Lucifer (Satan) the dark spirit of seething rage. Earnest references to the number occur both among apocalypticist Christian groups and in explicitly anti-Christian subcultures. References in contemporary Western art or literature are, more likely than not, intentional references to the Beast symbolism. Such popular references are therefore too numerous to list.

The Urban Dictonary, never to be left out of a trend, offers us some tidbits:

The Mark of the beast, and the men who follow the beast of the earth will bear this mark to display their allegiance to the beast. It has been disputed by some scholars that certain numeric ciphers would translate it over to certain words, names, etc… For example, one of the more popular translations was Nero Caesar, and before that, Lateinos, etc…

“…And that number is 666.”

Widely implied that it was 666 because it was an imperfect number to represent the impurities of man and their evildoings and sinful ways.

Read the book of revelations, at the end of the New Testament; it tells all about that, the seven seals, the apocalypse, Armageddon, Megiddo, etc…

And Wikipedia, which I do like for it’s usually self-correcting nature, also offers us some choice morsels on the Number of the Beast, the Beast, Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia (which is Fear of the Number 666); and well, too many others to really note here.

The point is, 666 is all over the place.

A Simpler Point of View

St. John is said to have written the Book of Revelation, where we find the reference to 666. So, to simpletons like myself, I naturally look to see what he’s writing in his own Gospel at Chapter 6, Verse 66.

And we find something very telling.

Rejection of the Eucharist

In John’s lengthy discourse on the Bread of Life, gone are the simple parables of Jesus’ early ministry. Jesus is explaining the Bread of Life, the Eucharist.

People are mumbling and grumbling to themselves and others about eating his body and blood. Discontent is setting in that the new messiah is somehow a loon, saying things that do not make sense. And eventually we reach John Chapter 6, verse 66:

“From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.” John 6:66

Unable to accept one of Jesus’ most challenging teachings, many return to their former lives.

Former lives untouched by Jesus Christ; former lives untouched by curiosity towards a man walking through their country preaching the Kingdom of God, the fulfillment of the old Covenant, eternal life, healing, forgiveness, charity… They return to former lives where grace had not touched their hearts.

Christ the King

They reject the challenges proposed by God in the supernatural realm, because what is happening in the physical realm appears so contrary to his teaching. “How can we eat his flesh, how can we drink his blood? Let’s get out of here!”


So, the number 666 has many meanings, but in a simple way it ultimately about the rejection of Jesus Christ, his teachings — his body and blood in the Eucharist.

And so it is almost every day of our lives. Do we accept Jesus Christ and continue our walk with him? Or do we forsake him and his Church, and return to our “former lives”?

Food for though, about the food of eternal life.

A Novena to St. Jane de Chantal

St. Jane de Chantal

Earlier this morning I came across this holy card of St. Jane de Chantal. And, since it’s her feast day according to the old, 1962 Ordo, decided to post it along with the novena which is on the back page.


O Glorious saint, blessed Jane Frances, who by the fervent prayer, attention to the Divine Presence, and purity of intention in they actions attainedst on earth an intimate union with God, be now our advocate, our mother, our guide in the path of virtue and perfection.  Plead our cause near Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, to whom thou wast so tenderly devoted, and whose holy virtues thou didst so closely imitate.  Obtain for us, O amiable and compassionate saint, the virtues thou seest most necessary for us; an ardent love of Jesus in the most holy Sacrament, a tender and filial confidence in His Blessed Mother, and, like thee, a constant remembrance of His sacred Passion and death.  Obtain also, we pray thee, that our particular intention in this Novena may be fulfilled.

V. Pray for us, O holy St. Jane Frances.

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray:

O almighty and Merciful God, Who didst grant blessed St. Jane Frances, so inflamed with the love of Thee, a wonderful degree of fortitude through all the paths of life, and wast pleased through her to adorn Thy Church with a new religious Order, grant, by her merits and prayers, that we, who sensible of our weakness confide in Thy Strength, may overcome all adversities with the help of Thy heavenly Grace, through Christ our Lord.  Amen

A Eunuch meets St. Philip

Icon of St. Philip

Today’s readings find us out on the road with St. Philip where, filled with the Holy Spirit he is instructing the Eunuch in his chariot and then Baptising him.

Gone are the days where the disciples are blundering about, three stooges-like in their encounters with Jesus, gone are the days of cowering in fear after his Ascension. Filled with the Holy Spirit, the Apostles are on the go! Here the Word is spreading to Ethiopia, then Philip travels over to the Mediterranean coast, and up past the Sea of Gallilee into Ceaserea Philippi to continue the work of salvation history there. They are all over the place!

Divinely fitting too, the words we read in today’s Gospel, “They shall all be taught by God.”

The Apostles are taught by Jesus Christ, who is God; the Eunuch is taught by the Holy SPirit, who is God; Philip is filled with the Holy Spirit and following the promptings of spirit when he is led to the Eunuch’s carriage, engages him while the Scripture from Isaiah is being read, and then gets in an instructs him, and opens the Eunuch’s mind to the Truths of Scripture.

Interesting to note that all Philip really does, we read is ‘opened his mouth.’ We’re directly called back to many of the prophets, who wanted not to speak, yet God said he would ‘put the words on [their] lips’, in their mouths.

Sr. Philip baptizes the Eunuch

The Holy Spirit spoke through the prophets; and in Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist we are further strengthened through grace to be open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. We’re all prophets now.

So a thought for the day; before you open your mouth today, pray for an outpouring of the Hoy Spirit. You may not end up baptizing a eunuch, but you just may offer a prophetic word, a healing voice, or be an instrument of God’s love to someone.


St. Philip and the Eunuch

A Party with Irma

Irma Thomas

This past weekend one of my oldest friends celebrated the Feast of Christ the King with a great party, featuring New Orlean’s own, Irma Thomas. What a great time it was!

Irma Thomas

(The friend happened to be be turning 50, which was actually the reason for the party.)

Enough of that for now! Lot’s of changes going on, which is why I have not been terribly forthcoming with blogging. Interior changes, inner growth, time for reflection… all a healthy part of the spiritual life.

Which leads me to wonder what John of the Cross would have done with a weblog and a camera. Probably lots if photos with flowers, open skies and random thoughts as he pondered upon God and wrote awesome poetry.

It is great wisdom to know how to be silent and to look at neither the remarks, nor the deeds, nor the lives of others.” John of the Cross

19th Sunday In Ordinary Time

The Sea of Galilee
The Sea of Galilee

Several years ago I had the opportunity to visit the Holy Land. Looking for some of the photos from that trip I came across a PowerPoint presentation I had put together for some of our Parishioners (I was at Our Lady of the Lake at the time.)

You are welcome to download it if you like. Although, it is a large file.

Back in 2009 I wrote about the Calming of the Storm, which features prominently in today’s Scriptures. In meditating upon the readings, I was more struck by the thought of the prophet Elijah in the cave on Mount Carmel, waiting to hear God. Waiting amidst the wind, the rain, the storm, the earthquake, the fire… It reminded me of the call of Carmel, and of those who spend their lives listening for God in silence.

A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains
and crushing rocks before the LORD—
but the LORD was not in the wind.
After the wind there was an earthquake—
but the LORD was not in the earthquake.
After the earthquake there was fire—
but the LORD was not in the fire.
After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound.
When he heard this,
Elijah hid his face in his cloak
and went and stood at the entrance of the cave.

The world today is so very loud and boisterous. It’s easy to think of the stormy sea of Galilee.

So many people run around constantly with little time for reflection. And very few are willing to sit in silence, meditating on the Word of God, or thoughts of the life of Christ, or the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

The view from atop Mt. Carmel
View from Mt. Carmel

But as Christians, if we are going to truly thrive in these times of duress and unease then we simply have to carve out periods of time for prayer, and perhaps more importantly for calming our spirits and nourishing our souls.

God will always provide that, even if it is only in our heart, as was the case with St. Catherine for quite some time. Her family disapproved of her withdrawal from life, and so kept her very preoccupied. She could only find time in her heart, in her mind, until God led her into a better situation.

This is where I’m wont to start discussing the horrible state of the economy, the misery and struggle felt by so many people right now, the visceral and polemic political debates going on. But, being on a small vacation, I’m going to find something more relaxing to do.

As things worked out, after spending the week pondering upon Elijah listening for God in a cave, this morning I joined with a community of Carmelite Sisters for Mass. God is so great and so good. The pleasant, prayerful atmosphere was entirely conducive to meditating on God’s Word, and on the Eucharist. The chants led by the nuns (I had never heard them before, they were beautiful,) floated to heaven, and my spirit soared gently with them.

As simple an experience as it was, I’ll cherish it always.

Listening for God, often just a whisper in prayer before doing His will. Amen.

The Rev. Kenneth Allen