Monday, November 30, 2009
The primary motivation for God’s incarnation is God’s goodness, not human sinfulness. The Incarnation is a dynamic expression of God’s overflowing love and mercy, as well as a revelation of God’s poverty and humility. Through the Incarnation we find redemption and completion, making it the heart of all reality.
Christmas is a time for us to see more clearly our own poverty and weakness in order to better receive the gift of God’s transforming love. Christmas is a time for us to emulate, as best we can, God’s love and goodness by sharing the mercy and compassion we have experienced through our lived experience of Christ’s birth in the stable of our humble hearts. - Gerald Straub, SFO
Sunday, November 29, 2009
- Come, thou Redeemer of the earth,
- Come testify thy virgin birth:
- All lands admire, all times applaud:
- Such is the birth that fits our God.
- Forth from his chamber goeth he,
- That royal home of purity,
- A giant in twofold substance one,
- Rejoicing now his course to run.
- The Virgin’s womb that glory gained,
- Its virgin honor is still unstained.
- The banners there of virtue glow;
- God in his temple dwells below.
- From God the Father he proceeds,
- To God the Father back he speeds;
- Runs out his course to death and hell,
- Returns on God’s high throne to dwell.
- O Equal to thy Father, thou!
- Gird on thy fleshly mantle now;
- The weakness of our mortal state
- With deathless might invigorate.
- Thy cradle here shall glitter bright,
- And darkness breathe a newer light,
- Where endless faith shall shine serene,
- And twilight never intervene.
- All laud, eternal Son, to thee
- Whose advent sets thy people free,
- Whom with the Father we adore,
- And Holy Ghost, for evermore.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
It is timely and apt that he share the following as the month now rapidly draws to a close. Namely, Ars Moriendi - The Art of Dying. From Emile Mâle:
The Ars moriendi is the work of a monk or priest who had seen many people die. In this little book we have the somber experience of a man who had collected together many last words, barely spoken... The text was often striking, but it was the astonishing woodcuts above all that spread its fame throughout Europe. Here it is indeed a question of Christian hopes and fears: death appears not as a farcical dance, but as a serious drama played around the bed of the dying man; angel and devil stand at his side, contending for the soul that will soon depart. Formidable moment! The Christian needed to know in advance the temptations and anguish of the terrible dark hours to come in order to learn how to triumph over them... The dying man is exposed to five principal temptations. God, however, does not abandon the Christian, and five times sends His angel to comfort him.For all of Mitsui's post, see here. For a contemporary effort for modern denizens who are in need of a guide to dying a holy death, see here.
Friday, November 27, 2009
The Muppet's sing this song in such a way as it seems a match for Black Friday... from Animal morning Mama and Dada as they have left him alone so they can shop big box store... to Miss Piggy summing up our passion, "nothing really matters, nothing really matters, but ... anyway the wind blows..."
Happy day AFTER turkey day (or another way of describing the day - thank goodness Thanksgiving day 1s over and we can get on with what we love).
Thursday, November 26, 2009
While the above photos from George Washington's Mount Vernon have nothing to do with our Thanksgiving holiday per se, in another significant way they do. I defy anyone to visit the General's estate on the banks of the Potomac River in northern Virginia and not feel a near inexpressible and profound sense of gratitude for the vision of the Founding Fathers.
Whereas both England and France fell into regicide and, the latter, into genocide in their march toward democracy, Washington and his notable contemporaries led the fledgling United States to something nearly unique in world history.
By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor-- and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.
Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be-- That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks--for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation--for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war--for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed--for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted--for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.
And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions-- to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually--to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed--to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord--To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us--and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.
Geo. Washington, President
Give thanks. Enjoy: A History of Celebrating Thanksgiving in America.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him.
She had a sister named Mary
who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak.
Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said,
“Lord, do you not care
that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving?
Tell her to help me.”
The Lord said to her in reply,
“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.
There is need of only one thing.
Mary has chosen the better part
and it will not be taken from her.”
- Lk 10:38-42
Monday, November 23, 2009
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
The naïveté of everyone educated in the sacred halls of multiculturalism "knows" that humans are not stained with Original Sin. I heard a PhD in Education bemoan not long ago the way that textbooks betray our ethnic and cultural bias in the way they refer, for example, to Native Americans as "savages". Of course, the sentiment not to victimize is admirable, but to ignore the fact that Native Americans were members of the fallen human race and, therefore, ipso facto, as savage as, say the Meso-American Aztecs and Mayans and Clockwork Orange urban youth of today's Paris and London, is as dangerous as a branch of the military ignoring the warning signs of a Army psychiatrist who emailed jihadists overseas to say he was looking forward to seeing them in Paradise and - by the way - when is it permissible to slaughter innocents?
The time is rapidly approaching when two things will become manifestly apparent: first, that those who become "filled with rage" are the problem. And, secondly, we cannot "pussy-foot" around them in feeble, limp-wristed attempts "not to offend" them, but rather call them accountable for their uncontrolled lack of impulse control and immature bent to violent and inappropriate tantrums.
True political correctness is recognizing where the true problem lies. René Girard's mimetic theory and the wisdom to "think with the Church" - sentire cum ecclesia - in discerning truth, goodness, and beauty, as well as disordered passions, fruits of the flesh, and egregious evil is the pathway to survival for humanity.
Anything less, including and inescapably a soufflé of multiculturalism and elitist naïveté, bode only doom.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
After all, it won't be too long before our bones will, if the Father wills it, end up in a place like the above ossuary. If, that is, we are so blessed.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
VATICAN CITY, NOV. 16, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is cautioning evangelizers to be on guard against relativism, saying it infiltrates society and manipulates consciences...In my experience, relativism took a nasty turn during my college years. It merely took a sneer, a curl of the lip, a veiled threat to reject if I stood up for the Christian faith to cast me into the netherworld of relativism.
The relativistic culture "enters the sanctuary of the family, infiltrates the realm of education and other realms of society and contaminates them, manipulating consciences, especially those of the young," he said.
"At the same time, however, despite these snares, the Church knows that the Holy Spirit is always acting," the Pope affirmed. "New doors, in fact, are opened to the Gospel, and spreading in the world is the longing for authentic spiritual and apostolic renewal. As in other periods of change, the pastoral priority is to show the true face of Christ, lord of history and sole redeemer of man..MORE>>
From a Girardian viewpoint, I feared becoming a victim and so accepted the herd's position rather than chance becoming an outcast.
The Holy Father is right. And there are huge numbers of "trip-wires" set by relativism today.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Daniel Mitsui does a great service to anyone who is paying attention this month, November, the month of the holy souls. He is staring straight at the realities that so many spend so much time and money trying to avoid. Case in point, a phrase that was common in medieval poetry, timor mortis conturbat me, "the fear of death disturbs me."
Unlike that jingle we all learned from our college English professors, "carpe diem," this phrase was much more on the tongues and in the hearts and minds of the medieval person. Birth, aging, and death were daily and unavoidable realities, unlike today in which all three are dutifully (and profitably) hidden from normal sight.
Let us remember the One Who gives us - on loan - being, our ontology, as philosophers call it, and begin the arduous work of living into our mortality. I am, if you will permit, an ersatz apostle to those who say with honesty, "the fear of death disturbs me." Those who have the fortitude not to fear death, God bless thee.
But for those who do, and for those who will but do not yet, be comforted. And pick up a copy of A Little Guide for Your Last Days. It is not a sin to feel fear (think about Our Lord in Gethsemane, after all).
UPDATE: My brother-in-arms, Aramis, wrote those words above my book's image in the right sidebar ("Soon to be on the Best Seller Book List"). Timor mortis conturbat me is why it never will be.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
How well do I remember: this is called passive-aggresivity. Taunting. Provoking. YOU feel what I refuse to feel in myself, but I will see it in you and feel "fulfilled".
You have to get up very early in the morning with a passive-aggressive. Psychodramas prevail in their lives. Enjoy the next few years, America. You voted for him.
The Root Cause is always a regurgitation of the violence from our fallen human state that the Middle East mirrors back at us in its ever-so-terrorizing reality. 2 powerful fuels that compound the Root Cause is our adaptation to the very powerful myth that denies our participation in the Root Cause violence breeding "the anti-Western, antimodern, antisecularist movement" and its double, a sentiment that is "anti-Western, but modern and secular, and is thus often at war with Islamic fundamentalism."
René Girard sums up the situation in this quote:
“What is frightening is the conjunction of massive technical power and the spiritual surrender to nihilism. A panic-stricken refusal to glance, even furtively, in the only direction where meaning could still be found dominates our intellectual life.”I guess I am one who feels that trying to get at this Root Cause without intentional evangelizing and conversion to the Triune God will get deflected by harden hearts and deepen the Root Cause Fallacy. In efforts to shed light by a knowledge not steeped in the Christian Faith, a knowledge that is today our default knowledge due to our culture's embrace of the anti-Christian 'dumbing down' relativism, will inevitably lead one further into the spinning vortex of mass confusion, distraction and violence.
René Girard can be instrumental in helping to grasp Root Cause and therefore help one stand firm and not get thrown into the Root Cause Fallacy.
As Athos put it so wisely in a previous post: Girard's mimetic theory is the hermeneutic for understanding human violence par excellence. It is a shame that it is cast into the "blanket of silence" of Western rationalism where men walk on it and do not know what treasure they unwittingly reject.
Friday, November 13, 2009
Gerry is known as a superb cinema photographer who works benefit the poor. I believe that my friend's gift of weaving a story around and through our hearts is his greatest gift though. Check out Gerry Here to see a few more excerpts of San Damiano films on Youtube.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Father Mark reminds us of helpful ways to pray for the souls of the dead all of this month.
And do keep in mind that all of us will be in similar need eventually.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Tom Coburn is a Southern Baptist deacon, a family man married to a former Miss Oklahoma, a white-coated physician back in Muskogee who has delivered more than 4,000 babies and sees patients free of charge every Monday.
But there's a darker side of the story, something that Coburn, a Marcus Welby type in ostrich-skin boots, confesses is his less honorable side.
He's a member of the United States Senate.
"I would fire us all," Coburn says, blasting Congress, as he does every chance he gets, as a place populated by people who don't do a whole lot to make the country a better place.
"I don't get my identity from being a senator," said Coburn, 61, a Republican. "I may get some of it from being a doctor . . . a real honorable profession...
"The ground is shaking," Coburn said on a speech on the Senate floor Wednesday, warning that America was at a "rendezvous" moment, sagging under trillions in debt.
It is Congress, he said, that is steering the American ship toward the disastrous shoals ...
"The country would be much better off if they kept us at home and not let us vote on anything."
Read it all ...
Monday, November 09, 2009
"Neo-pagan?" you may ask. "Is it not rather radical secularism in word and deed?"
No, it isn't. Only if one listens to its themes and self-justifying slogans. Observed through a cool, forensic lens of René Girard's mimetic theory, the structural behavior betrays its pagan pomp and ritual, right down to its Molech-like abortuarial cultus.
The other "pincer" attacking the remnants of the Christian West is, of course, the Scimitar. Again, it betrays its claims of "monotheism", let alone being a religion of "peace", by its necessary dependency upon victims for its sacrificial pyres of regeneration.
The two "pincers" are unlikely bedfellows, but both writhe and roil before the revealed faith, morals, and truths of the Church. Both hate (and secretly admire and desire in rivalry's side-long glances) what they can only reject, revile, and seek to destroy. Both are enslaved to this mission of destruction, for both house a collective mind trapped in mimetic rivalry to Catholic truth. As Robert Hamerton-Kelly describes this trapped mind:
“It is a mind enslaved. It desires not only to possess the other, but to consume or destroy. It wishes not only to imitate the other, nor merely to possess itself in the other, but to destroy the other as the place where the self is alien to the self.”
Sunday, November 08, 2009
Saturday, November 07, 2009
Simply the best and quite nearly only interpretive voice to bring coherence to the carnage at Fort Hood spoke several months prior to it occurring:
We are witnessing a new stage in the escalation to extremes. Terrorists have conveyed the message that they are ready to wait, that their notion of time is not ours. This is a clear sign of the return to the archaic, a return to the seventh, eighth, and ninth centuries, which is significant in itself. But who is paying attention to this significance? Who is taking its measure? Is that the job of the ministry of foreign affairs? We have to expect a lot of unexpected things in the future. We are going to witness things that will certainly be worse. Yet people will remain deaf.
On September 11, people were shaken, but they quickly calmed down. There was a flash of awareness, which lasted a few fractions of a second. People could feel that something was happening. Then a blanket of silence covered up the crack in our certainty of safety. Western rationalism operates like a myth: We always work harder to avoid seeing the catastrophe. (emphasis added) We neither can nor want to see violence as it is. The only way we will be able to meet the terrorist challenge is by radically changing the way we think. Yet, the clearer it is what is happening, the stronger our refusal to acknowledge it. This historical configuration is so new that we do not know how to deal with it. It is precisely a modality of what Pascal saw: the war between violence and truth. Think about the inadequacy of our recent avant-gardes who preached the nonexistence of the real...
The work to be done is immense. Personally, I have the impression that this religion has used the Bible as a support to rebuild an archaic religion that is more powerful than all the others. It threatens to become an apocalyptic tool, the new face of the escalation to extremes. Even though there are no longer any archaic religions, it is as if a new one had arisen built on the back of the Bible, a slightly transformed Bible. It would be an archaic religion strengthened by aspects of the Bible and Christianity. Archaic religion collapsed in the face of Judeo-Christian revelation, but Islam resists. While Christianity eliminates sacrifice wherever it gains a foothold, Islam seems in many respects to situate itself prior to that rejection (emphases added)..MORE>>
And while there are few - a very few - who seem to comprehend Girard's work without straying into using mimetic theory to bolster their own agendas, it sure makes living in these troubled, sinful times more tolerable for me.
Which in turn makes it easier to engage in the vital work of Marian chivalry.
Thursday, November 05, 2009
It is like a Vietnam vet friend of mine who told me once that bravery isn't being fearless in the face of live rounds. (He had buddies die, literally, on the left and on the right of him.) The guy who doesn't feel fear doesn't have the right circuitry. Bravery is feeling the fear and doing the right thing, anyway.
Anyone who denies this is a liar and the truth is not in him.
Allow me to say that it is several existential levels away from having your internal organs removed and having the joys of chemotherapy. This isn't resentment. It is merely saying that because one has a favorable reputation for writing in some areas of Catholic truth, one shouldn't assume that one's prowess and wisdom extends into all other areas; particularly when our old friend Mort comes calling up close and personal.
Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace be with you’” (Jn 20: 19). What is this peace?
Christ’s Easter gift of peace is the restoration of whatever was lacking in our relationship with God because of sin. The breach we wrought because of our disobedience has been repaired by Christ’s peace. When Jesus speaks this peace he reveals that we possess a new way of looking at reality that goes beyond our natural abilities, preconceptions, and weaknesses. All that is required to live in friendship and harmony with God is bestowed upon us in Jesus’ Easter gift. This peace reconciles us, rehabilitates us, refashions us. It defuses what divides us and pacifies passions. This peace dispels impediments in our life. It imbues us with a new way of seeing and thinking. It graces us with supernatural power, strength, newness, life. It blesses us with wholeness, tranquility, unity. “(His) Peace is the answer to those primordial longings which make up the desire for happiness in every human soul” (Servais-Théodore Pinckaers). - Peter John Cameron, OP
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
The more we come to know God, the more the difference between joy and suffering becomes tenuous; not only do both things become engulfed in the One Will of the Father, but love itself becomes painful, and this pain becomes an irreplaceable bliss.In some way this reminds me of St Francis and his teaching of perfect joy.
Purgatory: perhaps the deepest but also the most blissful kind of suffering. The terrible torture of having to settle now all the things we have dreaded a whole life long. The doors we have frantically held shut are now torn open. But all the while this knowledge: now for the first time I will be able to do it - that ultimate thing in me, that total thing. Now I can feel my wings growing; now I am fully becoming myself...
Monday, November 02, 2009
Catholic Convert, Cancer Patient, Pens Little Guide for the Dying
by Dawn Eden
News stories about health issues often note fluctuations in “mortality rates,” but, as writer James Taranto often observes, except for one notable exception, the mortality rate in fact remains stable at 100 percent.
That all of us must die is modern society’s most inconvenient truth. One of the few bulwarks of the culture that acknowledges it is the Catholic Church, but, even so, when was the last time you heard a homily on mortality?
My friend Jeffry Hendrix, who was a Methodist pastor before being received into the Church in 2001, was reluctant to think about the “last things” – until the day he learned he had bladder cancer. The shock of the news caused the 55-year-old husband and father to explore the meaning of Catholic teachings on suffering and death. Now, a year and a half later, he is the author of the first self-help manual for terminally-ill pewsitters since St. Alphonsus Liguori’s Preparation for Death. A Little Guide for Your Last Days (Bridegroom Press) has earned praise from the likes of Mark Shea, Joseph Pearce and Father Dwight Longenecker..MORE>>