Sunday, September 30, 2007
Saturday, September 29, 2007
In Arab Muslim history, a Hiraba (unauthorized warring) was when a group of warriors launched itself against the enemy without orders from the real commander. Obviously, this implies that a "genuine" war against a real enemy does exist and that these hotheaded soldiers have simply acted without orders. Hence this cunning explanation puts "spin" on Jihad but leaves the core idea of Jihadism completely intact. The "spoilers" depart from the plan, attack prematurely, and cause damage to the caliphate's long-terms plans. These Mufsidoon "fail" their commanders by unleashing a war of their own, instead of waiting for orders.
This scenario fits the relations of the global Jihadists, who are the regimes and international groups slowly planning to gain power against the infidels and the "hotheaded" Osama bin Laden. Thus the promoters of this theory of Hiraba and Mufsidoon are representing the views of classical Wahhabis and the Muslim Brotherhood in their criticism of the "great leap forward" made by bin Laden. But by convincing Westerners that al Qaeda and its allies are not the real Jihadists but some renegades, the advocates of this school would be causing the vision of Western defense to become blurred again so that more time could be gained by a larger, more powerful wave of Jihadism that is biding its time to strike when it chooses, under a coherent international leadership
(The following is found in the Magnificat and Doctors of the Catholic Church.)
This mission of the angels to the nations is concerned first of all with protection and temporal assistance. Origen, following the Jewish tradition, attributes to them a part in the origin of the various languages. But their mission is primarily spiritual. In that respect, according to certain authors, they play a role in the natural revelation of God. As Pseudo-Dionysius puts it, “The angels entrust with the sacred care of each nation lifted up all those who wanted to follow them toward the one single universal principle.” It is their mission to lead the pagan peoples to God. This is a very fertile doctrine from the missionary point of view. The heathens are not entirely deprived of aid: the angels of God assist them, trying to lead them to the true God, preparing the way of the Lord.
Origen sees one of these angels in Macedonian who appeared to Saint Paul to get aid of him. This is also important for judging the pagan religions. No matter how perverted they are, they retain some vestige of the natural revelation, and that vestige is due to the angels who have passed it on to them and who strive to keep it alive among them.
Clement, whose favorable attitude regarding the values of the pagan authors is well known, does not hesitate to compare the role of the angels in the communication of the Law to the Jews to their role in delivering philosophy to the Greeks. “The divine power procures all manner of visible goods for us through the angels. This method of operation is manifest in the covenants of the Jews, the legislation of the Greeks, and the teaching of philosophy.” And he connects this directly with the doctrine of the angels of the nations: “God gave philosophy to the Greeks by means of the lower angels. In fact, in accordance with a divine and ancient order, the nations have been the angels.”
Cardinal Jean Danielou (+ 1974) was a French Jesuit, a theologian, and a peritus at Vatican II.
You should be aware that the word "angel" denotes a function rather than a nature. Those holy spirits of heaven have indeed always been spirits. They can only be called angels when they deliver some message. Moreover, those who deliver messages of lesser importance are called angels; and those who proclaim messages of supreme importance are called archangels.
And so it was that not merely an angel but the archangel Gabriel was sent to the Virgin Mary. It was only fitting that the highest angel should come to announce the greatest of all messages.
Some angels are given proper names to denote the service they are empowered to perform. In that holy city, where perfect knowledge flows from the vision of almighty God, those who have no names may easily be known. But personal names are assigned to some, not because they could not be known without them, but rather to denote their ministry when they come among us. Thus, Michael means "Who is like God?"; Gabriel is "The Strength of God"; and Raphael is "God's Remedy."
Whenever some act of wondrous power must be performed, Michael is sent, so that his action and his name may make it clear that no one can do what God does by his superior power. So also our ancient foe desired ins his pride to be like God, saying: I will ascend into heaven; I will exalt my throne above the stars of heaven; I will be like the Most High. He will be allowed to remain in power until the end of the world when he will be destroyed in the final punishment. Then, he will fight with the archangel Michael, as we are told by John: A battle was fought with Michael the archangel.
So too Gabriel, who is called God's strength, was sent to Mary. He came to announce the One who appeared as a humble man to quell the cosmic powers. Thus God's strength announced the coming of the Lord of the heavenly powers, mighty in battle.
Raphael means, as I have said, God's remedy, for when he touched Tobit's eyes in order to cure him, he banished the darkness of his blindness. Thus, since he is to heal, he is rightly called God's remedy."
Pullman and paganism -- a good "two-fur" deal!
Friday, September 28, 2007
Worthy are you to receive the scroll
for you are slain and with your blood
you purchased for God
those from every tribe and tongue,
people and nation.
You made them a kingdom
and priests for our God,
and they will reign on earth."
-- Revelation 5,9-10
Thursday, September 27, 2007
At Suicide of the West, Mark Gordon echoes Robert Spencer's inference that Islam itself is no religion of "peace," but only on its own terms as it subjugates others in its "Pax Islamica," so to speak. In response to a comment I made, Mark stated, "Harkening back to the Pinkerton piece, we need an aggressive Shire Strategy that recaptures the civilizational momentum of the West. But this requires a rediscovery of our identity as a Christian people, and that may never happen."
Here in Virginia, Governor Tim Kaine saw the light and accepted the resignation of a Muslim whom he appointed earlier to the Virginia Commission on Immigration. As LGF reported and provided Youtube footage, one Dr. Esam Omeish, leader of the Muslim Brotherhood front group calling itself the Muslim American Society, has stated, “...you have learned the way, that you have known that the jihad way is the way to liberate your land." Well, says you.
The Holy Father, in my estimation, will give us both the grounding and a model for how the faithful are to work toward a renewed and healthy Christian West. Personally, Pinkerton's "Shire Strategy" (cf. above) holds the best hope to my way of thinking. But it would be naive and simplistic to think it will happen without conflict or confrontations. Advocates of Jihad, like my neighbor Dr. Omeish, know that the borders of "Pax Islamica" have always been bloody. Unless the necessity of chivalric legitimate defense [Catechism Nos. 263-2267] is totally abdicated, there will need to be an honorable practice of the cardinal and theological virtues among Christian men. Not in doubling rivalry with a foe; but in a sad but necessary defense of all that is still good in the world. Chivalry will become a fierce yet gentle practice once again.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
At one climactic turning point, Guenevere sees the King's sword stuck in the ground near where she and Lancelot had lain asleep in one anothers' adulterous embrace. She cries, "The king without a sword! The land without a king!" And the kingdom of Camelot plunges into chaos, degeneracy, and despair.
Her first sentence is of little consequence, in my opinion. But her second -- "The land without a king!" -- rings with a horribly rightness in our dark and forlorn times. How shall the land thrive once more if its people have forsaken their King, their Master, their Eucharistic Lord?
The husband of the mother is not a father, he is a regular guy, a playmate for the boys, engaged in the same foibles and subject to similar impulses. Since he neither represents the legacy of the past nor is capable of keeping pace with the boys in the pursuit of the future, his status is rather precarious.
Unless a fellowship of spiritual experience is reestablished, the parent will remain an outsider to the child's soul...
Excerpted from 'I Asked for Wonder'
by Abraham Heschel.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Gil was in Wheaton, IL last night and I was fortunate enough to have been able to attend his ERI presentation at St. Michael Catholic Church. In this introductory session he mapped out the journey for the next few months of the series, giving the audience a taste for what is in store.
Where do you start to inspire a wholehearted faith in this half-hearted age? Gil gives us the answer right off the bat: You start with the liturgy - you begin with the food of truth. Here is a link for understanding this and hopefully it will provide confidence in each of us to take ownership in the spreading of the faith and bringing it to maturity.
The Church's great liturgical tradition teaches us that fruitful participation in the liturgy requires that one be personally conformed to the mystery being celebrated, offering one's life to God in unity with the sacrifice of Christ for the salvation of the whole world. For this reason, the Synod of Bishops asked that the faithful be helped to make their interior dispositions correspond to their gestures and words...
The mature fruit of mystagogy is an awareness that one's life is being progressively transformed by the holy mysteries being celebrated. The aim of all Christian education, moreover, is to train the believer in an adult faith that can make him a "new creation", capable of bearing witness in his surroundings to the Christian hope that inspires him.
If we are to succeed in carrying out this work of education in our ecclesial communities, those responsible for formation must be adequately prepared. Indeed, the whole people of God should feel involved in this formation. Each Christian community is called to be a place where people can be taught about the mysteries celebrated in faith. In this regard, the Synod Fathers called for greater involvement by communities of consecrated life, movements and groups which, by their specific charisms, can give new impetus to Christian formation. In our time, too, the Holy Spirit freely bestows his gifts to sustain the apostolic mission of the Church, which is charged with spreading the faith and bringing it to maturity.
The Emmaus Road Initiative inevitably starts here at Christian formation to help us grow and deepen our faith so to be the light of Christ to the world. So do yourself, and the world, a favor - become a regular attendee of the Emmaus Road Initiative.
Monday, September 24, 2007
I beg my brother Mass'keteers' pardon. I fully intended not to post again until one of them posted, but Gen at Real, Clear Religion had this essay -- The Death of Reason -- by Alisa Craddock that is so fine, I beg the indulgence of all who are tired of seeing "Athos" at the bottom of postings.
And Aramis reminded me some time back of this fine compendium of Belloc's works by Matthew Anger, ” A Reader's Guide to Hilaire Belloc.” It is well worth a visit.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Ken Burns' new documentary, The War, premiers tonight. Is this good news, or bad? The Washington Post says today that near the end, "the camera lingers for a full 40 seconds on the image of a dead U. S. Marine on Iwo Jima. Face up, arms splayed, teeth bared, he is as grotesque as a man forever young can be."
One effect of such truth telling (the deconstructing of the mythology of war's "glory") to a generation that lacks true transcendence is to heighten the dread -- the religious awe -- the human heart feels toward death. Hit the pause button: "What is true transcendence?" one must ask. (1) First, it is a certitude that every single human being is eternal (for good or ill), and that biological cessation of life is not our terminus, our end point, our telos. (2) Secondly, it is a faith-filled hope that such knowledge is based on our peculiar nature; namely, that we are created imago dei -- in the image and likeness of God -- and that peculiar nature is not affected by death. And (3) thirdly, by virtue of that nature and relationship to God (for Christians, by God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ) our sufferings and deaths have meaning and purpose in the "economy" of God's Kingdom. "O Death, where is your sting?" we can say with Saint Paul.
But, you see, here lies the problem. Staring at the realities of life and death from the point of view of one whose "operating system" includes the above is one thing. Staring at them without the benefit of such faith produces and reduces humans to a far different level of being. It, in fact, brings the most stout-hearted atheist (literally, one without God) to the level of a modern primitive who has to function without the benefits of the revealed biblical faith that had been at the heart and soul of the Christian West until the first fissures appeared during the so-called "Enlightenment".
One might say that the endless project of Hollywood to create images of ever more violent scenarios, the "reality TV" efforts to throw people (down to "Kids Nation") into rivalries and bloody death-dealing mayhem has the effect of demoralizing a West made weak by its cowering awareness of the power of death. Death has become the 'new sex,' so fascinated have we become by it, awed by it, stunned by it, with demonstrable effects: enervation, low birth-rates, nihilism. The West's new motto: "What's the use?" So, I ask again, "Is the premier of Ken Burns' The War good news or bad?"
As the stars would have it, the West has a self-appointed rival and enemy that is decidedly not so enervated by the power of death. Indeed, it seems to thrive on such power, because its O/S leaves room for a parody of the Bible's Heaven -- however laughable its 72-virgins version may seem to us. Indeed, the West's enemy thrives on the West's a-theistic fears of death. Time was, the West knew that there were worse things one could do to a person than kill him, and ,conversely, there were worse things that could happen to one than to be killed. But now, such documentaries, no less than Hollywood's unholy fascination with death and other elements of the primitive Sacred, help create paralyzed, cowering, and rather spineless masses who believe nothing (defining "nothing" here is simply a laundry-list of priorities and values of modernist vapidity).
To such masses in the West, perhaps a scimitar-wielding overlord is what will be necessary. "Necessary for WHAT?" you may ask. Necessary, as Israel discovered during the Babylonian Exile, to repent and return to its precious, revealed faith in the steadfastly-loving, covenant-keeping God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Necessary today for us to repent and return to the God in Three Persons, the Most Blessed Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Teach the apostolic faith full on…no compromises on basic doctrine or dogma. This generation of college students can smell an intellectual/spiritual weasel a hundred miles away. They would rather hear the bald-faced Truth and struggle with it than listen to a priest/minister try to sugar-coat a difficult teaching in the vain search for popularity or “hipness.”
Fr Powell's full article here.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Gil Bailie says in his tape series on The Gospel of John, "…For us moderns, we will become acquainted with the power and uniqueness and singularity of the Christian gospels the more so that we see them in anthropological terms. And seeing them thus will not in any way diminish their spiritual implications for each of us. As a matter of fact, quite the contrary, I feel. But to shift from a kind of theological to an anthropological entrée to the gospels, I think, is called for in our time …" [12A]
A sad truth is that when a "sacrificial preparation" reaches a certain level of social and psychological turmoil, both individuals and groups will bifurcate, like cells dividing, into mimetic rivals or "doubles". This is a distinguishing feature of the "Sacred", anthropologically speaking. With no prior knowledge of mimetic theory, one can see this on the personal level when a colleague, co-worker, family member seems not able to "come alive" except when there is agitation, rancour, or hurt feelings in the air. The Sacred has a vast power over fallen human consciousness and behavior.
Witness your own feelings when you view these pictures – not obscene, but troubling. One can easily see and feel how strong are the mimetic forces at work in our world today. And, I hope and pray, one can feel the utter need for the vastly more powerful sacramental power of love (hesed, agape, charity) made possible through the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ.
The time is coming, I fear, when it will take every ounce of sacramental grace, acting through the theological and cardinal virtues to fight against the doubling rivalry such persons -- the true "slaves of Allah" (or the primitive Sacred) -- in respect and honor and love.
Apparently the Holy Father does not mind being the lightning rod for those who like to throw a pagan deity's lightning bolts. Speaking the truth carries a price. Thank God for him!
Friday, September 21, 2007
Opening to Yahoo this morning, I see my buddy Bill Gates' mug above the article of the wealthiest of the wealthy, and was shocked that neither Porthos, Aramis, Athos, or myself, made the list. Everyday I get to receive the Savior of the world in the Eucharist, and I must ask, what is of more value than that?
If I were allowed my own list of the richest people I know, many don't have two penny's to rub together, and if they did, they'd be the first to give'em away to someone in greater need (and there is always someone in greater need!).
It is oddly fitting that this article comes out on Saint Matthew's feast day, as he is a great example of the rich getting richer . . .God's way!
Thursday, September 20, 2007
When we are at the foot of the cross, we are standing at the very place where the old anthropology came into being. All of our social and psychological reflexes are programmed to have us emote toward that event in such a way as to reconstitute the old anthropology. So if we simply show up at the scene and the (Holy) Spirit is not there (or we have our ears plugged so the Word cannot penetrate) to inform us on how to respond to it we will simply put our fists in the air and say, "right on" as we do away with one more heretic or one more blasphemer or one more insurrectionist. It (the cross) is so close to the scene at the source of the old anthropology that it is very easily turned into precisely that again. So the Spirit has to be there. Gil Bailie
Aramis here: The key to becoming fully human, and thus not falling into the soap opera of mimetic entanglements that lead inevitably to the sacrificial killing, is grounding ourselves in Christ. For those who choose to turn away or rebel against Christ - as they will find themselves in the midst of another killing event, they will have no model to follow to instruct how to finally turn this long page of history. This is all linked to what it means to be a person.
Personality is essential to man. This truth becomes clear, however, and can be affirmed only under the guidance of Revelation, which related man to a living, personal God, which makes him a son of God, which teaches the ordering of His Providence. When man fails to ground his personal perfection in Divine Revelation, he still retains an awareness of the individual as a rounded, dignified and creative human being. He can have no consciousness, however, of the real person who is the absolute ground of each man, an absolute ground superior to every psychological or cultural advantage or achievement. The knowledge of what it means to be a person is inextricably bound up with the Faith of Christianity. An affirmation and a cultivation of the personal can endure for a time perhaps after Faith has been extinguished, but gradually they too will be lost. Romano Guardini
Aramis here: Christians themselves, must come to understand that Christianity is not just another religion in the list of world religions. God has blessed each of us with His Son so that we may give our lives back to him in praise, worship, and obedience - not only choosing, but also being a witness to Life. (BTW: To me, in response to Athos' post on Shangri-la I have come to see it not as a place, but a state of being - being a person. In my bouts with stroke, divorce and cancer I have had the blessing to experience, if only in small glimpes - I have come to witness to Life and I think it beats out any Shangri-la imaginable.)
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Regardless, when one considers the loss of sub-creations, in Tolkien's parlance, whatever the source, at the hands of those caught in the fearful symmetry of the primitive Sacred, one wonders and dreams of such a place as Shangri-la. Is it a merely a playful fantasy, a parody of being, finally and eternally, in the presence of our greatest desire, the Beatific Vision? Or, is it a valid goal amid the terrors and destruction of conventional culture? Even Tolkien's Rivendell was not a place in Middle Earth of final security for the elves, let alone mortals in his Lord of the Rings.
What grieves my heart, teaching the young through out the school year as I do, is how, seemingly, the young have given up any vision of truth, goodness, and beauty for a compromise: the quick and funny for Truth; the fascinating for the Beautiful; the immediate satisfaction for Goodness. How can they develop a taste for anything other than these poor parodies when their "taste buds," so to speak, are burnt out by the mere spicy and sensory overload of image and "music" (?) of pop culture? And that is among the western young whose greatest influences are neo-pagan. What of those whose models more emphatically laud blood sacrifice and destruction as a "good" worthy of paradise?
Shangri-La looks more appealing to me these days, even as it recedes farther into the realm of mirages. But our hope is that every person who pledges fealty to the one Lord, Jesus Christ, will, by loving the LORD our God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength -- and our neighbor as ourself -- by doing so, will be a witness, and indeed an outpost of truth, goodness, and beauty. Only by remaining at-one with the True Vine [Jn 15] do we have a prayer of helping others into God's civility and sanity.
The pope continues his teaching on the Fathers of the Church, from Asia News Italy:
“Well prepared married couples close the door to divorce”: this urges the necessity of a Christian formation from early childhood. It is also the “most current” lesson of “the authentic presence of Christian lay faithful in families and in society” which comes from St John Chrysostom and which Benedict XVI indicated to the 20 thousand people present at the general audience.
And from the family it follows on that each one of us “is in some way responsible for the salvation of the other, this is the principal of our social life: not being only self-interested”.Mimetic theory teaches that the more we are self-centered and only interested in ourself the less ontological density we have and the more prone we are to falling into the mimetic entanglements of rivalry and violence. So not only from the moral and social levels does Church teaching make sense, but also from a psychological level as well.
Then I move on to honesty, not only because this is a fundamental component to the life of a Christian, but because my experience with teens tells me casual, pragmatic dishonesty without a shred of guilt is a huge problem.Is this, "pragmatic dishonesty without a shred of guilt" not also a huge problem with us adults as well? Where do the youth pick up this dishonesty without guilt but from their models?
I looked and tried to focus. Hmm. A shadowy outline, short – am I seeing the outline of the headrest, or that of the driver’s head? Two young ladies walked by our vehicles on the sidewalk, talking to one another pleasantly, dressed appropriately, I thought, for perhaps one of the last warm evenings before autumn lowers the evening temperatures: short jean skirt for one, sleeveless blouse for the other.
There was head motion in the driver’s seat of the minivan behind me. Ah, that driver is noticing the pedestrians too, I thought. The head turned a full 45 degrees to look at the women strolling by our cars.
Wait. Yes. Ah, now I see. The driver behind me is wearing a burqa – dark in color, no more than an inch of opening (allowing for full range of vision – necessary for northern Virginia driving). Now I understand why I couldn’t see more than I usually can make out of the person driving behind me (not that I am a rear view mirror “starer”). I continued scanning around, waiting for the light to change. It all took, perhaps at most, fifteen seconds. I went my way to – all right, I admit it – Starbucks. And she turned right and went her merry way.
How do you tell a billion people with a kind of collective chip on their shoulder that you don't care for their taste in women’s fashion? Understanding of the deity? Knack for producing cradle and convert whackos who seem to thrive on the bloody deaths of their – and their deity’s -- perceived enemies?
Some people call them names, like Theodore Dalrymple, who calls them the ”Marxists of our time.” But that metaphor just won’t wash, really. It won’t do to try to conflate atheists with raving monotheists with a penchant for literalistic bibliophilia. Some roll over, play dead, and acquiesce to their taste in women’s fashion, for example. But that won’t do either, and it won’t placate in the long run.
I used to laugh at a joke when I was very young: “Where does a 600-pound gorilla sit? Anywhere he wants.” Folks, we have a billion-pound gorilla to learn to deal with, and he is very opinionated.
By the way, I wonder what the driver behind me was thinking of that short skirt and that sleeveless blouse walking by our cars?
The author is Rev. Jean C. J. d'Elbeé, a French retreat master who has been profoundly affected by Saint Therese of the Child Jesus’ “little doctrine” He made it the subject of ten spiritual conferences contained in his book I Believe in Love. In the form of a personal retreat, he explains St. Therese’s teaching about confident love, leading readers to a profound personal encounter with Jesus Christ. Through his reflections on Therese’s life and teaching, Fr. d’Elbee unfolds for the reader the inner meaning of the psalmist’s cry, “Lord, You have opened my heart, and I run in the way of Your commandments.”
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
First, I am more than a little humbled to stand next to these three men of God, especially in that they are all men of even a greater humility.
Fighting back instincts to try to overly impress on my first post, I thought I would link to our mutual friend Dawn Eden's recent article on the 10 1/2 Reasons to be Chaste, as the 1/2 is a reference to a comment of mine she quotes in the article (it was to be called 10 Reasons .. .,originally).
A friend of mine offers another sobering thought: If you have sex outside of marriage, what you're really saying to your sex partner is, "I wish you hell."
I came up with that statement after a lot of thought and prayer dealing with a young man I was counseling about his upcoming engagement. The two kids involved are both Christians, but in this "try it before you buy it" oversexed society of ours, my friend was worried that things might happen between engagement and the actual wedding.
After we talked about his job as husband being that to help his beloved get to heaven, I reminded him that taking her through hell first (a sexual act being a mortal sin) most likely wasn't the best route.
Dawn's article, as usual, is full of good advice from one (like myself) being restored to purity by the love of our Father, and the Truth of His word.
Classical man only lived before that crisis which was the coming of Christ. With the advent of Christ man confronted a decision which placed him on a new level of existence... With the coming of Christ man's existence took on an earnestness which classical antiquity never knew simply because it had no way of knowing it. This earnestness did not spring from a human maturity; it sprang from the call which each person received from God through Christ. With this call the person opened his eyes, he was awakened for the first time in his life. -- Romano Guardini, The Persistence of Christian Signs in a Secularized Society
... man confronted a decision ...
Decision: to decide - from O.Fr. decider, from L. decidere "to decide," lit. "to cut off," from de- "off" + cædere "to cut" -- Meaning that we can't go back; we, that is humanity, have cut ourselves off from our pre-Christ existence; we were called out, we were awaken through Christ to a new being.
The magnetic pull ("negative" mimesis) to fall back to an instinctual self-preservation existence has been unveiled to us by the cross; it is our attraction to the cathartic. Our new being, directed by the Church where grace perfects nature, is instead a total surrender and faith in God coming to life through Christ ("positive" mimesis).
The Church provides daily access to this total surrender -- the Mass. And it is by way of our response to God calling us out to participate through our vocation as He has set before us, in our time and place. There is hardly a more significant act we, the human, participate in then the listening for and responding to our call. (Have you done your listening and responding for today?)
So we must defend, nurture and protect this call (to vocation) for ourselves, for others and for generations to come. How do we do that? SURRENDER! Surrender, putting on the armor of Christ, and become warriors for God during this time of turmoil. If we think we could get around this choice we are wrong for the only alternative is surrendering to the pagan vestiges and the cathartic, re-generating violence of conventional culture and religion, and since the Cross of Christ this works less and less effective, requiring more and more violence.
So the word for today is surrender - and getting your anthropology right is crucial for it is a choice -- we either give ourselves over to Dionysus or surrender to Christ.
Today's meditation of the day featured in the Magnificat seems appropriate.
Meditation of the Day
Why Jesus Tells the Woman Not to Weep
Over and over again we are faced with our inability, incapacity: we struggle to reach God, but in vain. But then, when we are exhausted – precisely in the midst of this exhaustion, this failure – we experience that it is he who has come to us. Exhaustion as the “rustling sound” in which God is to be found (Elijah!)
How could weakness be an obstacle? Weak armies are easily defeated, weak fortresses easily overrun, provided they are smart enough to capitulate. Otherwise they are also stormed, but not before they have been shot to pieces, much to their own detriment. In conclusion: learn how to surrender!
Father Hans Urs Von Balthasar (+ 1988) was an eminent Swiss Catholic theologian who wrote prodigiously.
Monday, September 17, 2007
But I'm not writing about Zorkot. That ad hoc "priests" find themselves "called" to sacrifice others (recall what Old Testament priests did to blood offerings at altars, not the announcement of "self-sacrifice" by priests on Stewardship Sunday) should not come as a surprise to anyone. Rather, I'm writing about the knee-jerk doubling mimesis that is tempting to Westerners still under the influence of the Gospel and, more especially, to those who are not. A blog I will not name has this quotation/slogan in its masthead:
to spit upon his hands, hoist the black flag,
and begin slitting throats"
-- H. L. Mencken
And here is where, for men of good faith, we must rely on the power of grace -- in prayer and sacrament -- to keep our focus not on those who would engage us in a mimetic rivalry of a global scale, but on the Lord of life. Our Holy Father will guide us, for our vocations are empowered from within the Catholic Church, and from nowhere else. And we will, as the old gospel chorus says so truly:
Look full in his wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
“Humanity is in need of a vigorous witness and proclamation of God’s mercy” even “in the wake of the tragic events of September 11th 2001, which overshadowed the dawning of the third millennium”: was the affirmation of Benedict XVI today before the recitation of the Angelus prayer in the presence of thousands of pilgrims gathered in the courtyard of the apostolic palace of Castel Gandolfo. Continue reading ...
We have all read things like this many times, but how many actually live into the vocation God has blessed you with? How many have gone through a discernment process?
What the Archbishop actually said was this: "When culture is disconnected from divine reverence, the cult descends into ritualism and culture degenerates. It loses its centre." He later expressed regret for any misunderstanding. Well, if the shoe fits.
His words bear a striking similarity to an observation made by Gil Bailie regarding the symptomology of the recrudescence of the pagan in terms of sexuality, and with good reason:
Once (sexuality) is awakened the path one takes can lead either into a pagan carnival which turns later into a hellish nightmare, or it can lead on the road that Dante took to the mystery of true transcendence. So, what we have to do when we critique the modern sexual hysteria is we have to be careful. It’s not a question of “sex” at all. It’s a question of something more profound than that. It’s a question of a mimetic problem in the first instance, and at a deeper level it’s a question of an ontological problem: the lack of ontological moorings [Gabriel Marcel], and its effects on our lives and other realms.
On the other hand, we have to say that in the Judeo-Christian tradition, the expression of sexual love is a sacrament. It’s highly regarded. It is considered part and parcel of a religious life, so we have to clarify this. . .In a certain way, we have to become the defenders of sexuality in our world. We have to say, “It’s more important than that!” because we so easily trigger this cliche’ which is: “O well, there are those people who want to shut down the operation and those people who want to turn it loose. . .” Sexuality has tremendous power. . .because it has to do with bringing life into the world. It has to do with the great mystery of creation. It’s a very powerful thing . . . the human level that’s beyond just its natural, instinctual power. At the level of human psycho-genesis it is a very powerful phenomenon. And it will be religious one way or another.
If (sexuality) has no true transcendent context, it will eventually squirm and worm its way into a kind of pagan revival, which starts out in a carnivalesque atmosphere and ends in a hellish nightmare. . . That’s what is happening in some places in our world. OR, we have Dante’s example for what might happen otherwise.
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Iconoclasm is not the sole domain of non-Christians. An extraordinary amount of it took place during the Protestant Reformation. If one values art, say, like that at the Vatican Museums, one might ask if the temporal expressions of truth, goodness, and beauty have any intrinsic goodness worth passing on to future generations. If it doesn't, in your mind, you have nothing to lose. If it does have value, one might ask how can such expressions of sub-creation be preserved, again, say, in light of certain developments (cf. above photos).
By the way, the second photo is slated for removal from Wikipedia after 17 September (two days from now -- get a good look, while you can).
We understand but little of the sorrows of Mary, for little grieves us except what wounds our bodies, our self-love, our vanity, or our pride. We suffer too from men’s ingratitude, from the afflictions of our family or our native land. But sin grieves us but little…
Our superficiality and our inconstancy prevent us from seeing what an evil sin is; precisely because it strikes so deep it cannot be known by those who look only at the surface. In its manner of ravaging souls and society, sin is like one of those diseases which affect vital but hidden organs, and which the sufferer is ignorant of even while they near a crises.
To experience salutary grief, grief for sin, it is necessary truly to love God whom sin offends and sinner whom it destroys…
But to know just how far grief of sin can go, one must turn to the heart of Mary. Her grief sprang from an unequalled love for God, for Jesus crucified, and for souls – a love which surpassed that of the greatest saints, and even of all the saints united, a love which had never ceased to grow, a love which had never been restrained by the slightest fault or imperfection. Isfsuch was Mary’s love, what must her grief have been!
Unlike us who are so superficial, she saw with piercing clarity what it was that caused the losses of so many souls: the concupiscence of the flesh, the concupiscence of the eyes, the pride of life. All sins combined to add to her grief; all revolts against God, all out burst of sacrilegious rage…
Mary’s grief was deep as was her love, both natural and supernatural, of her Son. She love him with a virginal love, most pure and tender; loved him as her only Son, miraculously conceived, and as her God. To understand Mary’s dolors, one would need to have received, as did the stigmatics, the impression of the wounds of the Savior…
On the hill of Calvary, grace and charity overflowed from the heart of Jesus to the heart of his Mother. He it was who sustained her, just as it was she who sustained Saint John. Jesus offered up her martyrdom as well as his own, and she offered herself with her Son, who was more dear to her than her own life. If the least of the acts of Nazareth increased Mary’s charity, what must have been the effect of her participation in the cross of Jesus!
Father Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P. (+ 1964) was a great Dominican theologian who produced over five hundred books and articles.
Albrecht Dürer was born on 21 May, 1471 in Nuremberg, south Germany, son of a prosperous goldsmith Albrecht Dürer the Elder (1427-1502), and Barbara Holper. His early training was in drawing, woodcutting and printing, which were to remain his main and favorite media throughout his artistic career. 1486 through 1489 he was apprenticed in the workshop of Nuremberg artist Michael Wolgemut.
He traveled much. In 1490 he left his native city for four year, probably initially visiting Cologne and possibly the Netherlands. He traveled to Italy twice in 1494-95 and 1505-07, visited Venice and Bologna, perhaps Florence and Rome. His fame was broadcasted through his engravings, and artists in Italy were soon drawing on them for ideas... The Seven Sorrows of the Virgin is the earliest known altarpiece by Dürer. It was originally very large, about 2x3 m. The right half, representing the Seven Joys of the Virgin, is now missing and only the left part with sorrows survived. The central part depicts the grieving Virgin after the Crucifixion. Around the Virgin are seven smaller panels with detailed scenes from the life of the Christ (from top left): the Circumcision, the Flight into Egypt, the 12 year old Christ among the Doctors, the bearing of the Cross, the Nailing to the Cross, the Crucifixion and the Lamentation. The altarpiece was bought in mid-sixteenth century by the artist Lucas Cranach the Younger (1515-86), it was probably him who sawed the work into separate panels.
24th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Exodus 32:7-11, 13-14; 1 Timothy 1:12-17; Luke 15:1-32
In this Sunday's liturgy the entire 15th chapter of Luke's Gospel is read. The chapter contains the three "mercy parables": the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son.
"A man had two sons": Anyone who has even the most minimal familiarity with the Gospel on hearing these five words will immediately exclaim, "the parable of the prodigal son!"
On other occasions I have focused on the spiritual significance of the parable; this time I would like to consider an aspect that has received little attention, but which is very relevant at this moment and close to life. At the bottom of the parable is simply the story of a reconciliation between father and son, and we all know that such a reconciliation is essential to the happiness of fathers and children. Continue reading …
Friday, September 14, 2007
Collinson was a devout Christian who was attracted to the devotional and high church aspects of Pre-Raphaelitism. A convert to Catholicism, Collinson reverted to high Anglicanism in order to marry Christina Rossetti, but his conscience forced his return to Catholicism and the break-up of the engagement. When Millais' painting Christ in the House of his Parents was accused of blasphemy, Collinson resigned from the Brotherhood in the belief that it was bringing the Christian religion into disrepute.
During his period as a Pre-Raphaelite, Collinson contributed a long devotional poem to The Germ and produced a number of religious works, most importantly The Renunciation of St. Elizabeth of Hungary (1850) and The Holy Family (1878). After his resignation Collinson trained for the priesthood at a Jesuit college, but did not complete his studies.
In 1858 he married Eliza Wheeler, the sister in law of the painter John Rogers Herbert, one of the early influences on the Pre-Raphaelites. Returning to his artistic career he painted a number of secular genre paintings, the best-known of which are To Let and For Sale, both of which lightheartedly depict pretty women in situations that suggest moral temptation.
He was secretary of the Society of British Artists from 1861 to 1870. -- Wikipedia
Every individual nature that has not experienced God in prayer remains cut off from itself. Every human love that omits prayer losses what is finest and most distinctive in the presence of the Beloved. All reconciliation that is brought about without prayer remains extrinsic to those reconciled. -- Maurice NedoncelleThough this quote is not part of That Catholic Show video, I feel that they have done a pretty good job of setting the stage for how one should prepare to enter into the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Prayer is truly instrumental.
Exaltation of the Cross
If you wish to have the light of finding grace, and a heart free from all care, if you wish to curb all harmful temptations, and to be made perfect in the ways of God, do not tarry in running to the cross of Christ. Truly there is no other way for the sons of Christ to manage to find God, and having found him, to hold on to him, but in the life and the way of suffering God and man which…is the Book of Life, the reading of which no one can have access to except through continual prayer. Continued prayer elevates, illumines, and transforms the soul. Illumined by the light perceived in prayer, the soul see clearly the way of Christ prepared and trodden by the feet of the Crucified; running along this way with an expanded heart, it not only distances itself from the weighty cares of the world but rises above itself to taste divine sweetness. ‘then it is set ablaze by divine fire. Thus illumined, elevated, and set ablaze, it is transformed into the God-man. All this is achieved by gazing on the cross in continual prayer.
Hence, my dearest son, fling yourself upon this cross, ask him who died on it for you to enlighten you to know yourself fully, so that plunged deep in the knowledge of your own defects, you can be uplifted to know fully the sweetness of divine goodness which seemed incomprehensible to you when, so full of defects as you were, God lifted you up to divine sonship, and promised to be your Father.
Do not, therefore, be ungrateful toward him, but strive to accomplish in everything the will of so great and so lovable a Father. For if legitimate sons cannot accomplish what pleases the Father, how will the adulterous ones be able to do so? Adulterous sons are the ones who stray from the discipline of the cross through concupiscence of the flesh. Legitimate sons, on the other hand, are the ones who strive to conform themselves in every way to their teacher and Father who suffered for them. They do so by following him in poverty, suffering, and contempt. For certainly, my dear son, these three things are the basis and the fulfillment of all perfection. For in these three, the soul is truly enlightened, perfected and purged and most fittingly prepared for divine transformation.
Blessed Angela of Foligno (+ 1309) was a wife and mother who later became a Franciscan tertiary and an esteemed mystical writer.
tip to Doctors of the Catholic Church and Magnificat
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
From death of the West—to knights of the West
by James P. Pinkerton
The Call of Duty—and Destiny
In one of the great epics of Western literature, the hero, confronted by numerous and powerful enemies, temporarily gives in to weakness and self-pity. “I wish,” he sighs, “none of this had happened.” The hero’s wise adviser responds, “So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide.” The old man continues, “There are other forces at work in this world … besides the will of evil.” Some events, he adds, are “meant” to be, “And that is an encouraging thought.”
Read entire article. Mark Gordon summarizes it well here.
And look at Michelle Malkin's tribute, ”Remembrance and Resistance,”, but only if you promise not to fall into a doubling rivalry with terrorists. Promise?
Monday, September 10, 2007
No. None of the petty actors in this play could see the outcome of the Reformation. It was merely a time of vast social and psychological upheaval. This isn't to say that the "leaders" of it were not pleased by what was happening, but none could see what has happened to present-day Europe, and -- I hope -- none would be pleased by it.
Likewise, many hope today for a "reformation" of Islam led by "moderate Muslims." I fear they are not looking closely enough at the facts of our present-day turmoil. The "reformation of Islam" is taking place now. And the "Luther" of it is Osama bin Laden. We do not see this as the Islamic Reformation, because it does not meet our paradigm for what we expect from it in terms of results. Like the people of 15th-16th century Europe (and England, though that was a false dichotomy at the time), we do not understand the ramifications of what this Muslim "Luther" is doing. We see the same kind of violence taking place, and do not understand what it will do to the structures of sanity and civility we take so much for granted.
Pity. The Catholic Church salvaged what it could of Europe with the Council of Trent, the heroic work of Saint Ignatius of Loyola and his Jesuits, and the martyrs like Saint Edmund Campion. Time and time only will tell what will happen as the outcome of this "Reformation".
Sunday, September 09, 2007
Her multitude of books bolstered my younger adult years through pastoral ministry (an arid affair), assuring me of a wider, bolder, less parochial world of reality than ducking into the office, seeing to next Sunday's bulletin and the monthly newsletter, attending the local ministerial association meetings, and talking with a high-maintenance member about the incredible importance of their rather meaningless life.
I am the first to admit that my description of the (Protestant) pastoral ministry tells more about me than about the importance of the vocation, but L'Engle's assurance of the vitality of a sacramental faith (she was a life-long Episcopalian) as well as my enduring yearning for a deeper experience of Transcendence drove me inextricably into the arms of the Catholic Church and the fullness of the faith. If any are looking for someone to blame for my conversion, Ms. L'Engle is a co-conspirator, albeit completely unbeknownst to her.
An interview (2006) with mentions of Harry Potter. The NYT obituary.
My dear Ms. L'Engle, Requiescat in Pace +
Saturday, September 08, 2007
Athos offered a very nice post on Mother Teresa's dark night here. I wanted to follow up with a few thoughts sparked by a selection in my Therese devotional reader:
"God is admirable, but above all he is lovable, so let us love Him . . . let us love Him enough to suffer for Him whatever He chooses, even griefs of soul, aridities, anguish, seeming frigidities. Ah! that is indeed a great love, to love Jesus without feeling the sweetness of that love, there you have martyrdom. . . .All right! Let us die martyrs!
Martydom unrealized by men, known to God alone, undiscoverable by the eye of any creature, martyrdom without honor, without triumph. . . .There you will have love pushed even to heroism. But one day a grateful God will cry out: 'My turn now.' Oh! What shall we see then? What is that life, to which there shall be no end?"
Letter to Celine, July 14, 1889
from The Little Way of Therese of Liseux: Into the Arms of Love, John Nelson, Liguori, 1997
Well, anyone who has dipped into Therese's spirituality will recognize this as essential Therese. I remember from an EWTN series that when Therese was invited to a Lourdes retreat, she refused, saying, "I prefer the monotony of suffering to ecstasy." In the Theresian universe, the dark night seems to be not, as with St. John of the Cross, a passage on the way to a higher road, but itself the highest kind of earthly spirituality there is--the kind of private "martyrdom" described above. So, I am struck by the strong Theresian element in Mother Teresa's long, dark night, which shows her to be a true disciple of The Little Way (possibly more than she knew).
I seem to remember (though I can't track down the source for that right now) that Mother Teresa chose the name Teresa after Therese of Lisieux (rather than Teresa of Avila), and it is certainly clear that much of her mission and sprituality drew on The Little Way. Some connections are noted, for instance, here. Another connection, between the dark night of Teresa and the suffering in the last years of Therese's life, is briefly noted in by Andrew Greeley here.
So, Mother Teresa, even in her long, dark night, is very Theresian. I should add that this is not the kind of spirituality I "aspire" to, because I doubt I could handle it, but maybe I can at least aspire to aspire, and certainly recognize it as wayyyyy superior to anything I could ever actually aspire to . . .
Mr. Bailie wove a deep personalism -- our "mutual ensemble of sadness" -- with his usual prophetic hermeneutic of the challenges and perils facing an ever-growing de-Christianized west. Mentioning the similarity between the two disciples on the road to Emmaus and present-day followers of Christ, he noted how tempting it is to stay in a slough of reminiscing. "They were reminiscing 'all that had happened' -- and this is on the Day of the Resurrection! But once the 'nickel drops,' (at the breaking of the Bread), Pentecost, say, and after, there is no reminiscing. It is all forward."
One can see that Mr. Bailie wants Christians to face the perils of a demoralizing post-modern nihilism within the Christianized west, and Islamic fascism without (at least spiritually), with a faith in the power of the living Christ to use what has been given us: the Answer -- Scripture, Tradition, the Creeds, the Magisterium. Use these, by going deeper into them and their meaning for the historical Now, in order to be the right persons at the right places to love and serve the Lord, and one another.
The upcoming nation-wide Emmaus Road Initiative meeting times and places are to be found here.