Saturday, April 28, 2007

Religare - 'To Bind Back'

Mexico City decides to return to "that old time religion."

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us. +


Athos said...

It wouldn't do to opt out of calling the Christian faith a religion altogether. The Sacrifice of the Mass is and ever shall be present. However, the Church has ever taught that the grace that saves originates with and is initiated by God rather than coming by means of something that humans do; this is a crucial difference. In this sense, Christianity is a faith that receives salvation from the God revealed in Jesus Christ rather than a religion that attempts to propitiate a god or gods who are no friends to humanity. This is not only a spiritual or theological distinction, but an anthropological distinction of the first magnitude.

For entree into the anthropological ramifications of this difference, and indeed the enormously important insights of René Girard surrounding this differentiation, please check out the following:

* Violence Unveiled, by Gil Bailie

* René Girard and Myth, by Richard Golson

* Discovring Girard, by Fr. Michael Kirwan, S.J.

David Nybakke said...

Sad, very sad… Athos, I really don't believe the legislature gives any weight to your concept of sacrifice (in the above comment) when they voted on whether to legalize abortion or not (and this is terrible). And it is obvious that they feel that there is no place in legislature for the notion of salvation.

In the article is the following quote: Among the supporters of the law gathered on Juárez Avenue near the assembly building a carnival atmosphere reigned. The demonstrators waved signs saying, “My body is mine,” and “It is my right to decide.”

The interesting image for me is that of a carnival atmosphere that the reporter used and it reminded me of today’s Meditation of the Day from the Magnificat by Saint Louis De Montfort:

Those who follow the world, on the contrary, urge each other to continue in their evil ways without scruple, calling to one another day after day, "Let us eat and drink, sing and dance, and enjoy ourselves. God id good; he has not made us to damn us. He does not forbid us to amuse ourselves. We shall not be damned for so little. We are not to be scrupulous. 'No, you will not die'."

Dear brothers and sisters, remember that our loving Saviour has his eyes on you at this moment, and he says to each one of you individually, "See how almost everyone deserts me on the royal road of the Cross. Pagans in their blindness ridicule my Cross as foolishness; obstinate Jews are repelled by it as by an object of horror; heretics pull it down and break it to pieces as something contemptible.

"Even my own people - and I say this with tears in my eyes and grief in my heart - my own children whom I have brought up and instructed in my ways, my members whom I have quickened with my own Spirit, have turned their backs on me and forsaken me by becoming enemies of my Cross. 'Will you also go away?' Will you also desert me by running away from my Cross like the worldlings, who thus become so many antichrists? Will you also follow the world; despise the poverty of my Cross in order to seek after wealth; shun the sufferings of my Cross to look for enjoyment; avoid the humiliations of my Cross in order to chase after the honours of the world? 'There are many who pretend they are friends of mine and protest that they love me, but in their hearts they hate me. I have many friends of my table, but very few of my Cross.' (Imit. II, 11, 1)."

At this loving appeal of Jesus, let us rise above our human nature; let us not be seduced by our senses, as Eve was; but keep our eyes fixed on Jesus crucified, who leads us in our faith and brings it to perfection (Heb 12.2). Let us keep ourselves apart from the evil practices of the world; let us show our love for Jesus in the best way, that is, through all kinds of crosses. Reflect well on these remarkable words of our Saviour, "If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself, and take up his cross and follow me" (Mt 16.24; Lk 9.23).

Letter to the Friends of the Cross

I do think that this slide away from a truly Christian anthropological outlook is partly a deterioration of Catholic teaching and instructing. The average 1-hour-a-week Catholic (in general) has relativized and/or allowed culture to trivialize the faith to the point where they can no longer defend the faith in cultural and secular battlegrounds. Though we have pressing issues with secular politicians right now and all around us, our real plight is within our own – Catholic ranks. This is another example of why ERI (the Emmaus Road Initiative of the Cornerstone-Forum) is so vitally important. We need to equip ourselves, the Catholics everywhere, with the intellectual understanding of the faith so that they can stand into the winds of evil and continue to pass on the faith.

The books Athos linked to in his previous comment are good starting points -- Girard 101 if you will. Once you have grounded yourself in the basics you may venture into Father Schwager:

Banished from Eden: Original Sin and Evolutionary Theory in the Drama of Salvation

Jesus in the Drama Salvation

Jesus of Nazareth: How He Understood His Life

Must There Be Scapegoats?

This is where I may differ with my friends, Athos and Porthos, because I find the defending-of-faith to be a quite pressing matter, so much so that I cannot or do not have the luxury of spending my time with the writings of the likes of anti-Catholic/Christians authors such as Camille Paglia (talked about in a previous post). If it only was that she weren't so gifted, but she can and does pull many away from the faith because she is so talented. I have dear friends who have basically left their faith behind and lost all interest in exploring folks like Girard and Schwager because of getting caught up in her gift of rhetoric (or whatever you call it). Though one may be fully grounded in the faith and therefore able to enjoy the risqué pleasure of reading Paglia (and not be pulled away from the faith), they must know that there are many others who are on the edge or without any strong root system of the faith and consequently are thrown into the abyss by following such authors (and/or the characters in their novels). In my hedonistic days I loved Anne Rice and the evil characters glorified in her writings. At some point though I had to have a total and complete withdraw from her books (as I had no strong footing in the faith). It is great that she has found the light and is now writing wonderful Catholic fiction, but we must also acknowledge the tremendous number of seekers who imitated the lives of her evil characters. I know I shouldn't compare authors like this, especially since their writing style is so different, but I do think we could put them together in that they are very creative and talented writers.

Sorry about my soapbox drivel. I just wanted to make the point that sooner or later we must take stock of our time and energies with respect to our influence on others. MT tells us that how we spend our money, how we spend our time, and where we allow our thoughts to go, not only tells a lot about ourselves, but it influences many many others around us.


Athos said...

Aramis wrote: This is where I may differ with my friends, Athos and Porthos, because I find the defending-of-faith to be a quite pressing matter, so much so that I cannot or do not have the luxury of spending my time with the writings of the likes of anti-Catholic/Christians authors such as Camille Paglia (talked about in a previous post).

My dear chap, you accuse us of not taking part in defending-of-faith? Really?

I spend zero time watching commercial television (except during college basketball season), and read quite extensively in order to find evidence of social malady and signs of the Gospel at work in history. I recall Bailie saying words to the effect that one must diagnose the illness in order to treat it. Fiction like news headlines often contains just such helpfulness: think Girard and nauseating fiction and philosophy.

Let's not suggest "luxury", if you will. It may be more a matter of taste or where the Holy Spirit has us at work, it seems to me.

David Nybakke said...

I had a feeling I should have deleted my ramblings about Paglia and the like authors from that last comment.

Athos, I must say that I like how you said, "Fiction like news headlines..."

I don't disagree with you here, but ...

I am an alcoholic and do not drink. You are not and have no problem consuming and it is not a problem. As an alcoholic I recognize my “cross” and stay away from consuming what would be unhealthy for me (and society). What I suggest is that one who is not grounded in the faith (those susceptible to drunkenness consuming “fiction”) needs those around them who are grounded in the truth so to try keep them from falling into the abyss. Neither our numbers nor our strength today seem up to the task of ‘being there’ for many who are weak in faith. Whether this is a picture of Cho Seung-Hui or Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris or many of the residents I visited in the correctional facility last weekend, we must realize how deadly “fiction” can be to those who are weak.


Athos said...

This offering by Fr. Stephanos relates to the work of evangelization, and is, I believe, related to this discussion and others we've had.

Athos said...

Yet, we have something to be joyous about, for the Light shines in the darkness.

And we really must give thanks once every so often, lest we fall into the temptation of despair, sinning against the theological virtue of hope:

Hope, O my soul, hope. You know neither the day nor the hour. Watch carefully, for everything passes quickly, even though your impatience makes doubtful what is certain, and turns a very short time into a long one. Dream that the more you struggle, the more you prove the love that you bear your God, and the more you will rejoice one day with your Beloved, in a happiness and rapture that can never end. (#1817-1821)

Anonymous said...

Your illustration and comment are witty - and perfect.
This is a sad development. I believe Ireland is also going through something of the same thing.

Athos said...

Thank you, Caryl. Nice of you to leave a note when you stopped by. Let's keep fighting the good fight. //Deus gratias. +