Friday, February 29, 2008
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
In today’s post-modern world, the notion that truth leads to freedom is regarded as narrowly Catholic and intolerant of other religious views. The new blueprint in the post-modern world is that tolerance, not truth, leads to freedom. This is a crossroad and a crisis to which Pope Benedict XVI has given considerable thought and verbal expression.
When he was known to the world as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he produced a book, Truth and Tolerance that confronts this very issue of the place of truth in the post-modern world. He recognizes that so much importance is now attached to tolerance, that it has been separated from truth, which, in turn, has been relegated to the sphere of mere opinion.
To state the matter quite simply: Tolerance has been absolutized, while truth has been relativized. Keep reading ...
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Saturday, February 23, 2008
"And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me." John xii. 32.
Friday, February 22, 2008
"May God grant my continued understanding of one thing: attachment to the Church’s tradition, far from being a stumbling block, is the principle of all effective audacity." - Henri de Lubac
"Contrary to what our nihilists and relativists tell us, there is a human nature, and its resiliency is such that it often manages to adjust to the weirdest cultural insanities." - René Girard
"The chief purpose of life, for any one of us, is to increase according to our capacity our knowledge of God by all the means we have, and to be moved by it to praise and thanks." - J.R.R. Tolkien
In this History we have been blessed with a rock of stability, The Chair of Peter - a home, a guidepost for which the trajectory of History can be measured in and through faith, hope and love. It is only in the surrendering of our will of "self" and power, choosing instead, to Take Up our Cross, and living as a member of The Church that we can gain our life - a Life in Christ.
Today's Meditation of the Day from the Magnificat by way of Doctors of the Catholic Church speaks well of this blessing - The Grace of the Chair of Saint Peter.
Turn, then, once more to the Catholic Church and see how in the Life which she offers, as in none other, there is presented to us a means of fulfilling our end. For it is she alone who even demands in the spiritual sphere a complete and entire abnegation of self.
From every other Christian body comes the cry, Save your soul, assert your individuality, follow your conscience, form your opinions; while she, and she alone, demands from her children the sacrifice by hers, and the obedience of their will to her lightest command. For she, and she alone, is conscious of possessing that divinity, in complete submission to which lies the salvation of humanity. For she, as the coherent and organic mystical Body of Christ, calls upon those who look to her to become, not merely her children, but her very members; not to obey her as soldiers obey a leader or citizens a government, but as the hands and eyes and feet obey a brain.
Once, therefore, I understand this, I understand too how it is that by being lost in her I save myself; that I lose only that which hinders my activity, not that which fosters it. For when is my hand not itself? When separated from the body, by paralysis or amputation? Or when, in vital union with the brain, with every fiber alert and every nerve alive, it obeys in every gesture and receives in every sensations a life infinitely vaster and higher than any which it might, temporarily, enjoy in independence?
It is true that its capacity for pain is the greater when it is so united, and that I would cease to suffer if once its separation were accomplished; yet simultaneously, I would lose all that for which God made it and, saving itself, would be lost indeed…In losing my individualism I have won my individuality, for I have found my true place at last. I have lost the whole world? Yes, so far as that world is separate from or antagonistic to God’s will; but I have gained my own soul and attained immortality. For it is not I that live, but Christ that lives in me.
- Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson (+ 1914) was a British convert to Catholicism who is best known for his novels about the faith.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Monday, February 18, 2008
Sunday, February 17, 2008
... things change for us too, as they changed for the three disciples on Tabor; something needs to happen in our lives similar to what happens when a young man and woman fall in love. In falling in love with someone, the beloved, who before was one of many, or perhaps unknown, suddenly becomes the only one, the sole person in the world who interests us. Everything else is left behind and becomes a kind of neutral background. One is not able to think of anything else. A very real transfiguration takes place. The person loved comes to be seen as a luminous aura. Everything about her is beautiful, even the defects. One feels unworthy of her. True love generates humility.
Something concrete also changes in one's own habits. I have known young people whose parents could not get them out of bed in the morning to go to school; or they neglected their studies and did no graduate. Then, once they fall in love with someone and enter a serious relationship, they jump out of bed in the morning, they are impatient to finish school, if they have a job, they hold onto it. What has happened? Nothing, it is just that what they were forced to do before they now do because of an attraction. And attraction allows one to do things that force cannot make one do; it puts wings on one's feet. "Everyone," the poet Ovid said, "is attracted by the object of his pleasure."
Something of the kind must happen once in our lives for us to be true, convinced Christians, and overjoyed to be so. Some say, "But the young man or young woman is seen and touched!"
I answer: We see and touch Jesus too, but with different eyes and different hands -- those of the heart, of faith. He is risen and is alive. He is a concrete being, not an abstraction, for those who experience and know him. Read all …
Friday, February 15, 2008
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Prayer and the Narrow Gate
When man encounters God in faith, he meets him with his entire existence, with everything that makes up his life. He cannot open himself to God, he cannot yield a space where God can work within him, without also trying to interest and involve God in what concerns him and what constitutes his life. There is a reciprocal invitation: Man invites God into his life, and God invites him to join in his world and to seek, as a believer, the cooperation of God.
If man’s faith is weak he will see in God primarily a support and will go to him with his little personal troubles. He will perhaps find it difficult to give way to God in everything and to trust that God understands things better than he. The more he believes, though, and the more firmly he is anchored in confidence and love, the more impersonal his petition becomes, not because he has lost interest in his own life but because he has to live it out in the service of God, and hence all his needs are dependent on God’s will.
In some way or other, all his petitions will be concerned with the will of God. He will use all his power of prayer to beseech God to carry out his divine will, to have mercy on the world and the church so they will be conformed to his will more and more and serve his purposes. His petition will become more and more a means of returning to God all things that have ever been his or that ought to belong to him. It will be like an attempt to involve God afresh in his creation, his church, his people, his faithful. But in this asking he will not forget thanks and worship. He will recall that he is only showing God one side of the relationship, and that world, church, and mankind must not cause him to forget the sublimity of God, his goodness to all beings, and his desire, and his desire to be worshiped by them.
- Adrienne von Speyr (+ 1967) was a Swiss medical doctor, mystical writer, and stigmatist.
From the mission of Demographic Winter:
Of all of the causes we have in the world today, many of which particularly capture the time and space of the media and academia, it is singularly peculiar that the disintegration of an institution as important as the human family should want for attention. Perhaps it is because the family is made up of individual people, and we have become a society obsessed with a focus on the self...From CNA (Catholic News Agency) is the following article.
Washington DC, Feb 13, 2008 / 01:25 am (CNA).- Filmmakers announced at a National Press Club press conference on Tuesday a “groundbreaking” documentary that addresses the problems of population decline and predicts a coming “demographic winter” that will result from weakened families.
The documentary, titled "Demographic Winter: the decline of the human family,” was written and directed by Rick Stout to examine developed countries that are below population replacement rates. The film brings together demographers, economists, sociologists, and civic and religious leaders to explore problems present generations will soon face due to shrinking and aging populations.
According to a press release for the film, the global birthrate has declined by 50 percent over the past half-century. Fifty nine nations, containing 44 percent of the world’s population, have birthrates below the replacement level of 2.1 children per woman.
The filmmakers report that the European birthrate is 1.3 children per woman. This dearth of children is expected to cause Europe to have a shortfall of 20 million workers by 2030, while Russia could lose one-third of its population by 2050. The chilling effect this decline is projected to have on economics and culture has led some to dub the phenomenon a “demographic winter,” a phrase from which the documentary takes its title.
Speakers at the press conference included Dr. Allan Carlson, the International Secretary of the World Council of Families; Maria Sophia Aguirre, a professor of economics at Catholic University; Patrick Fagan, a Senior Fellow at the Family Research Council; and Phillip Longman, author of “The Empty Cradle: How Falling Birthrates Threaten World Prosperity And What To Do About It.”
To see a trailer and information regarding this project link on to Demographic Winter.
Here is a little more on the creators of this documentary:
Family First Foundation
The Howard Center
World Congress of Families
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
By proposing to concede a permanent role to extralegal violence in the political life of England, the Archbishop of Canterbury pushed his phlegmatic countrymen over the edge. No one is better than the British at pretending that problems really aren't there, but once their spiritual leader admits to an alien source of coercion and proposes to legitimize it, they understand that a limit has been reached.
Williams' exercise in what might be termed the Higher Hypocrisy shows how deeply Europe has descended into the Dar al-Harb, or the "House of War" in the Muslim terms for all that lies outside the "house of submission", or Dar al-Islam. Europe's governments refuse to rule, that is, refuse to enforce their own laws because they fear violence on the part of Muslim immigrant communities who refuse to accept these laws. "No-go" zones proliferate that non-Muslims dare not enter. In the United Kingdom, according to evidence presented by respected journalists and public-interest organizations, Muslim community organizations, Muslim police officers and medical personnel collaborate to stop women from escaping domestic violence. Read all …
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Monday, February 11, 2008
Take the red pill and watch the critically-acclaimed, award-winning first episode of The Meatrix Trilogy. See our heroes Moopheus, Leo, and Chickity return in The Meatrix II: Revolting to expose the dark side of the dairy industry. See more at http://www.themeatrix.com/
Sunday, February 10, 2008
Saturday, February 09, 2008
The world of God as He is in Himself is not a world naturally open or accessible to man. But the infused virtues of faith, hope, and charity open up this world to God to man. It is as if a poor man were admitted to the palace of his king. He can roam the corridors almost at will, inspect almost all the rooms. And if he stays long enough and learns to behave as one should in the palace of the king, one day he will be admitted into the very presence of the king himself.
Faith, hope, and charity set man free in God's palace. By living a life of faith, in hope and charity he is preparing himself to be admitted into God's presence. If he dies with these virtues he will be admitted into God's presence. He will have achieved the purpose of his existence -- the attainment of the vision of God. 
Friday, February 08, 2008
Would that we could all do what The Yeoman Farmer has going up in Michigan, eh?
Monday, February 04, 2008
Father Z quotes extensively from this article in The Catholic Herald, which is quite lauding of Fr Nichols. I am too; his Shape of Catholic Theology (1991) was the text for my first serious graduate level course in the Catholic realm. I'm ashamed I have not yet cracked Nichols' Christendom Awake! (1999) that I bought some time ago. Have a go with this excerpt from the Herald:
Fr Aidan Nichols, the English theologian most closely associated with the thinking of Benedict XVI, has appealed for England to be “re-made” as a Catholic country.
He set out his radical and comprehensive programme for Catholic renewal in a new book entitled The Realm: An Unfashionable Essay on the Conversion of England, published by Family Publications.
In his preface he says that Catholic Christianity should be put forward “not as an occupation for individuals in their solitude but as a form for the public life of society in its overall integrity”.
He admits that the conversion of England is “an absolutely colossal agenda”, adding: “It can only be brought into being, so far as it depends on us to do so, by a coordinated strategy for recreating a full-blooded catholicity with the power to... transform a culture in all its principal dimensions.
“That is what ‘the mission to convert’ and ‘the conversion of England’ mean to me.”
His comments will be seen as an implicit criticism of the direction of the Church in England and Wales. He points to “flagship” Catholic institutions which have “suffered shipwreck through secularisation”.
As you know, The Raven Foundation was formed as a vehicle for carrying out the mission of Midwest COV&R to bring mimetic theory to the general public. The Foundation invites you to two upcoming events at the Raven Foundation offices, 2624 Patriot Blvd., Glenview, IL 60026:
Saturday, March 8
10:30am to 1:00pm: Midwest COV&R meeting with lunch
1:30pm to 3:30pm: A New Look at Envy in Othello with Dr. Ebrahimian
Please join us at 10:30am to see the new Raven Foundation offices, review the website and brain storm ways to carry out our mission statement. Lunch will be provided by the Foundation. At 1:30 we will be joined by a wider audience to hear Dr. Babak Ebrahimian of Queens College, NY. Dr. Ebrahimian, studied with Rene Girard at Stanford and will present a Girardian reading of Shakespeare’s tragedy. Othello is currently playing at Navy Pier and Dr. Ebrahimian will be using clips from Orson Welles’ 1952 movie version in his presentation.
We will soon be sending you a pdf flyer for the Othello lecture.
Friday evening, April 11, 7:30pm to 9:00pm
Saturday, April 12 (9:00am to 2:30pm)
Religion and Violence: Untangling the Roots of Envy
We will be presenting keynote addresses from Trinity Church’s January 2008 conference on violence and religion held in New York City. The speakers we will hear from are Tariq Ramadan, Susannah Heschel, and James Carroll. Both Heschel and Carroll refer to Girard in their talks, and Andrew McKenna and Sandy Goodhart will present responses. We hope you’ll join this conversation. More detailed information will follow.
[If anyone reading this blog wishes to attend please leave your name and email address in a comment to this post and I will forward you Suzanne's contact information. She will need to know who plans on attending so that they can order lunch. Or if you would like more information about the Midwest COV&R group and/or The Raven Foundation leave your name and email address in a comment to this post and I will make sure to pass the information on. The website does have a contact link as well.]
I the image of the Unimaginable
In the place where the Image and the Unimagined
The Act of the Will, the Word of the Thought,
In whom the Father's selfhood is known to Himself,
Speak to Man in the place of the Images.
You that We made for Ourself in Our own image,
Free like Us to experience good by choice,
Not of necessity, laying your will in Ours
For love's sake creaturely, to enjoy your peace,
What did you do? What did you do for Us
By what you did for yourselves in the moment
O Eve My daughter, and O My dear son Adam,
Try to understand that when you chose your will
Rather than Mine, and when you chose
to know evil
In your way and not in Mine, you chose for Me.
It is My will you should know Me as I am -
But how? for you chose to know your good as evil,
Therefore the face of God is evil to you,
And you know My love as terror, My mercy
My innocence as a sword; My naked life
Would slay you. How can you ever know Me then?
Yet know you must, since you were made for that;
Thus either way you perish. Nay, but the hands
That made you, hold you still; and since you
Submit to God, God shall submit to you,
Not of necessity, but free to choose
For your love's sake what you refused to Mine.
God shall endure, and what man chose to know
God shall know too - the experience of evil
In the flesh of man; and certainly He shall feel
Terror and judgment and the point of the sword;
And God shall see God's face set like a flint
Against Him; and man shall see the Image of God
In the image of man; and man shall show
Truly I will bear your sin and carry your sorrow,
And, if you will, bring you to the tree of life,
Where you may eat, and know your evil as good,
Redeeming that first knowledge. But all this
Still at your choice, and only as you choose,
Save as you choose to let Me choose in you.
Who then will choose to be the chosen of God,
And will to bear Me that I may bear you?
Dorothy L. Sayers (+ 1957) was a renowned British dramatist, novelist, poet, and Christian essayist.
As daughters and sons of those very first humans, "O Eve My daughter, and O My dear son Adam," we continue, in this generation, to feel the weight of "what you did for yourselves in the moment of choice?" Read Banished from Eden to grasp the mimetic weight of choice.
PEORIA -- Father Andrew Apostoli wryly mentioned an old saying in his homily Sunday that if your are going to be canonized you should not write too much. He was speaking during a Mass of thanksgiving for Archbishop Fulton Sheen, a native of El Paso who became famous as a television and radio personality and writer...
In his homily, Apostoli told of Fulton’s sense of humor, as expressed in his acceptance speech after winning the Emmy for outstanding television personality in 1952. Sheen thanked his script writers: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Apostoli also praised Sheen for having spoken against contraception, abortion and euthanasia. He said that Sheen is “still very much the voice of the church.”
Please visit the official website for the Canonization Cause of the Servant of God
Sunday, February 03, 2008
Hope and the Beatitudes
The Christian is entrusted with something valuable: Christian hope. This hope is to be clearly distinguished from purely human hope, since it cannot be described in terms of uncertainty or calculations of probability, but like faith participates in the unconditionally and universality of love (“love believes all things and hopes all things” [1 Cor 13:7] and therefore leaps over its own shadow (“hoping against all hope’ [Rom 4: 18].
As a spiritual and not merely instinctive act of the human being, it remains a paradox that reason cannot resolve and becomes understandable only when we take it seriously as a modality of love, at least as the beginnings of a love modeled on God (a “supernatural” love). Doing so, we come to see it as the only attitude that can be justified and therefore the only attitude that can be permitted for the one living by the sign of the Son of Man, which well “appear in the clouds” (Mt 24: 30; rev 1:7) and will be God‘s final “Word” to the world, after heaven and earth have passed away (Mt 24: 35)…
And thus whoever simply refuse to shut his eyes to the abyss of hatred, despair, and depravity that can be seen in the life of men on earth, and thus who refuses to close himself off from reality, will find it difficult to contrive his own escape from this damnation through a purely individualistic conception of salvation, and to abandon everyone else to the grinding wheels of hell. Just as God so loved the world that he completely handed over his son for its sake, so too the one whom God has loved will want to save himself only in conjunction with those who have been created with him, and he will not reject the share of penitential suffering that has been given him for the sake of the whole. He will do in Christ hope, the hope for the salvation of all men, which is permitted to Christians alone.
Father Hans Urs von Balthazar (+ 1988) was an eminent Swiss Catholic theologian who wrote prodigiously.
"How long is it?" has replaced "Will I like it?" The students' finicky inclinations, as well as my own recent hasty approach to reading, bothered me enough to try to trace the root cause. I suspect that the tipping point in information overload has tipped. Students' aversion to reading does not necessarily signal a weakness, much less a dislike of reading. For them, and now maybe for me, moving on to something else is an adaptive tactic for negotiating the jungle that is our information-besotted culture of verbiage.Read all … yeah, right.
These kids manage to survive by bushwhacking through the muddle -- while seamlessly dealing with an e-mail, a Word document or a 50-page PDF from the scholarly database JSTOR. It's taken them just a few years to arrive at the same conclusion that I've reached after a lifetime of sustained reading: The pursuit of knowledge in the age of information overload is less about a process of acquisition than about proficiency in tossing stuff out. By necessity, we spend more time quickly scanning manuals, king-size novels, the blogosphere and poems in the New Yorker than we do scrutinizing their contents for deeper meaning.
This is the price we pay for the changed demands in reading. Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Stacy Schiff defines this new reading terrain as "the paradox of our age." We've grown into a culture of searchers, not readers. "Surely, we have never read, or written, so many words a day," Schiff writes. "Yet increasingly we deal in atomized bits of information, the hors d'oeuvres of education."
Meanwhile, our gal around town and author of Thrill of the Chaste, Dawn Eden, continues to recover from a thyroidectomy. Dawn gives us her brave brush with the big C in Gland All Over.