Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve - Knox

Bl Philip Howard - Earl of Arundel

On the brink of the New Year, some can look on our human cultural scene with optimism (they call it 'hope' - it seems a bit shallow to go that far), some with a sense of gloom. I will, instead offer the words of my newest mentor, Monsignor Ronald Knox (1888-1957), that come from his reflections on one of the English martyrs, Blessed Philip Howard.

THE PRISONER'S LOT, AFTER all, is a type, especially, of human life as it has to be lived by us Christians in a fallen world which is not our true home, only a place of detention. Every man born into this world lives in a condemned cell; the warrant for his death will be issued not at an hour of his own choosing. Meanwhile, the environment of his life, his social ties, his limited opportunities, interfere with his liberty of action; when all is said and done, he has little of real freedom. And we Christians, whose faith forbids us to think of this world except as the ante-chamber of the next, can think of death as the warrant for our release; there is a window high up in our cell which gives us tantalizing glimpses of a wider world beyond, and we long to taste its more generous air. We must look, then, to the prison life of Philip Howard as a sacrament of human life in general; we must learn from him to face the ten years, twenty years, whatever it may be of life that remains to us, in the same spirit in which he faced those ten years which saw him a prisoner in the Tower of London ...

Let us ask Philip Howard, a prisoner no longer, but a courtier of the Queen of Peace, to remember the days of his low estate, and pray for all that multitude of human beings who lie, justly or unjustly, necessarily or needlessly, in prison. May the slow years that pass over them, and pass them by, bring them nearer to God, instead of making them disappointed in themselves, embittered against their fellow men. May he win freedom for the souls that are crushed by captivity; and for us, who go free, may he do more; may he bring every thought of ours into the captivity of our Master, Jesus Christ.

- Ronald A. Knox

The last Kodachrome processing facility closes

Kansas. Yesterday was the last day and in all places Kansas was the last place in the entire world to get your Kodachrome film processed. If you waited until today it is too late. Progress?

Stanley Nutting Christmas

Kevin O'Brien of Theater of the Word brings us the whole Nutting Clan for Christmas ...

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Prayer Before a Manger Scene

Prayer Before a Manger Scene
-Father Peter John Cameron, O.P.

Lord Jesus, as I kneel before your manger in adoration, let my first Christmas word be: thank you. Thank you, Gift of the Father, for coming to save me from my sins.

Without you I do not know even how to be human. The characteristics of your human body express the divine person of God’s Son. And in that wondrous expression, Lord you reveal me to myself. Thank you for that saving revelation in your sacred humanity. As the Christmas liturgy proclaims, “in Christ man restores to man the gift of everlasting life.” Thank you for coming as one like myself to save me from myself.

You come as a baby because babies are irresistible and adorable. You come as a baby because you want our first impression of God incarnate to be that of one who does not judge. How I long to be united with you in every way. May I never be attracted to the allurements and charms of the world. May I love you always, at every moment, with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. May the tenderness, the dependency, and the mercy that you reveal in your infancy become the hallmarks of my life.

Newborn Savior, the very silence of your incarnation proclaims that the answer to the misery, the strife, and the meaninglessness of life cannot be found within us. You alone are the Answer. As I kneel before you, eternal King, I surrender to you all my selfishness, self-absorption, self-indulgence, self-righteousness, self-assertion, and self-exaltation. Even as I adore you on this night of your birth, rid me of the nagging desire to be adored.

Word become flesh, you make your dwelling among us. Yet you do not live your life for yourself, but for us. And you enable us to live in you all that you yourself lived. Help me to embrace this truth with all my mind and heart. Come and live your life in me. Empty me of my willfulness, my petulance, my hardness, my cynicism, my contemptuousness. Fill me with your truth, your strength, your fortitude, your purity, your gentleness, your generosity, your wisdom, your heart and your grace.

O Emmanuel, may the assurance of your unfailing Presence be for me the source of unending peace. May I never fear my weakness, my inadequacy, or my imperfection. Rather, as I gaze with faith, hope and love upon your incarnate littleness, may I love my own littleness, for God is with us. Endow my life with a holy wonder that leads me ever more deeply into the Mystery of Redemption and the meaning of my vocation and destiny.

Longed-for Messiah, your servant St Leo the Great well wrote that in the very act of reverencing the birth of our Savior, we are also celebrating our own new birth. From this night on may my life be a dedicated life of faith marked by holy reliance, receptivity, and resoluteness. May I make my life a total gift of self. May my humble worship of the nativity manifest how much I seek the father’s kingdom and his way of holiness. The beauty of your holy face bears the promise that your Father will provide for us in all things This Christmas I renew my trust in God’s goodness, compassion, and providence. I long for the day when you will teach us to pray “Our Father.”

May your Presence, Prince of Peace, bless the world with peace, the poor with care and prosperity, the despairing with hope and confidence, the grieving with comfort and gladness, the oppressed with freedom and deliverance, the suffering with solace and relief. Loving Jesus, you are the only real joy of every human heart. I place my trust in you.

Oh divine Fruit of Mary’s womb, may I love you in union with the holy Mother of God. May my life be filled with the obedience of St Joseph and the missionary fervor of the shepherds so that the witness of my life may shine like the start that leads the Magi to your manger. I ask all this with great confidence in your holy name. Amen.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

It Came Upon the Midnight Clear

Every Christmas there is revealed (at least for me) something new from something old and this song - the words - is one I really heard for the very first time last night.  Thank you St. Mary's of Bloomington choir!

It Came Upon the Midnight Clear

It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth,
To touch their harps of gold:
"Peace on the earth, goodwill to men,
From heaven's all-gracious King."
The world in solemn stillness lay,
To hear the angels sing.

Still through the cloven skies they come,
With peaceful wings unfurled,
And still their heavenly music floats
O'er all the weary world;
Above its sad and lowly plains,
They bend on hovering wing,
And ever o'er its Babel sounds
The blessèd angels sing.

Yet with the woes of sin and strife
The world has suffered long;
Beneath the angel-strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
The love-song which they bring;
O hush the noise, ye men of strife,
And hear the angels sing.

And ye, beneath life's crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours
come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road,
And hear the angels sing!

For lo!, the days are hastening on,
By prophet bards foretold,
When with the ever-circling years
Comes round the age of gold
When peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendors fling,
And the whole world give back the song
Which now the angels sing.

– Original five-stanza hymn

Merry Christmas

All joy and heart's ease be to you and yours!
and pray for our brothers and sisters in places of danger

Friday, December 24, 2010

Identified Flying Elf

Juuust in case you have a pint-sized youngster who wants to know the progress of the jolly old elf, NORAD provides you with the SANTA TRACKER. Let's, er, hope they don't let loose the B-1s on him ...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Catholicism Series Highlights

To be apart of THIS is what Christmas is all about.

Advent Reality Check

Conrad Black opines upon the slings and arrows shot at the prime target of the arbiters of progressivist relativism, the Catholic Church here.

They, of course, do not mind people being Catholic as long as it is fully admitted that the Catholic Church is merely one human institution among the many (it isn't), and that they are and ever shall be the true setters of the terms of public discourse and value (they aren't).

May all the accusers and other lost sheep be given the grace to wind their way this Advent and Christmas to the loving arms of Mother Church.

Or, better yet, become part of the growing number of Catholic engaged in prayer for the renewal, unity, and spread of Christendom, the restoration of all families, and support of our Holy Father in Marian chivalry.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Ho Ho René

Romanus (Randy Coleman-Riese) over at Reflections on Faith and Culture has posted a Girardian Christmas Card. Enjoy.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Cantalamessa - Rationalism

Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the Pontifical Household, continued his series of homilies given in the presence of the Holy Father this Advent. He began with scientism, secularism, and, now, rationalism. Full text of his talk can be viewed here.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Gives a Current Perspective of Christmas 2010

Living Faith with Judy Zarick

 Can you believe that's it's been almost a year since the Haiti earthquake?!! I interviewed Gerry Straub about his trips to Haiti and his new book and film on the subject. It will give you a lot to think about and be grateful for this Advent season.
Go HERE for the radio interview of my good friend Gerry Straub.

Click on the title of the book to see info on it and other Gerry Straub books:

Monday, December 13, 2010

Born on a New Day

And because I cannot keep to that Christmas carols only after December 25th thing, enjoy this from the Cambridge Singers:

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Coming Up for Air

To my mind, Ronald Knox puts his finger on the primary problem of western culture, the demand for novelty. This is the motive for the rejection of Christianity in general and Catholic faith and morals in particular. This is the motive for the overweening coddling of the Scimitar into the heart of the west ("Hey, it's not threadbare 'Me 'n Jesus'. Let'em have their prayer service breaks at work and build their special toilets. Stop being intolerant, ya moron. HEY! You Christians! Stop foisting your stupid faith on the rest of us with your 'Merry Christmas' and caroling!").

Deeper still, Knox in his Broadcast Minds delves into the dangers of scientism and shrill atheism that he began to notice in the mid-twentieth century. These sniping and brattish anti-God types he saw would lead to what we now see today as the "new atheists." As opposed to the civil, urbane, and even friendly arguments between, say, Chesterton and Shaw, Wells, Russell, and Darrow, the so-called "new atheists" sound like Dan Quayle debating with their cat-calling and boorish behavior.

Perhaps it is the Sesame Street mentality all grown up, but what passes for consideration of the meaning of things today is a rat-a-tat-tat of sound bytes rather than quiet contemplation, an unconscious giving-in to disordered passions (Gr: epithumeia ( ἐπιθυμίᾳ ) rather than what we see supremely in, for example, the Holy Father, Benedict XVI and his works.

I see it more and more - sadly - in the classroom; even in the classroom of a Catholic school. It seems an espousal of a mere group of carnal sensations, a giving-over of value delineation to the most outrageous expressions of pop culture, and a surly yet absolute assurance that all-things-young define the terms of public discourse.

Of course, Girard would see - and does, no doubt see - all this as the furtherance of the cultural meltdown ("sacrificial preparation" - Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World) going on apace.

I say, on this Gaudate Sunday, that I am humbled by being given the grace to find my way into the sole place of solace in said cultural meltdown, the Catholic Church. May more and more and more stumble, half-frozen, tormented, and bereft of hope into Her gracious arms. Pray that Our Lady of Guadalupe will bring more conversions to the sad old, sinful old, West.

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Saturday, December 11, 2010

ZENIT and Cantalamessa

If you are not aware of ZENIT, you really should be. As opposed to the phalanx of "news services" that invariably raise your blood pressure with absurdities of the day (read: scandalizing and titillating check-out counter headlines), ZENIT leads with matters pertaining to Catholic faith and truth, the Holy Father, and matters deep and from the heart.

For example, a favorite author, speaker, and priest of the Mass'keteers, Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the Pontifical Household, is offered by ZENIT here.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Virgin of the Lilies

Beautiful image by Carlos Schwabe.  Read about this in the Magnificat by clicking HERE.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

WaPo - Satanic Verses

Once again, the Washington Post, that organ of humanist progressivism, launches into the breech of teutonic battle with its arch foe, the Catholic Church. Today, the WaPo features this. The usual dredging of past sins of priests, dating usually to thirty or more years ago, offers the clinching quotation by a victim during an interview:

(He) frequently took a breath and choked back tears as he described the way Petrella had destroyed his life and his faith.

As a child, "I realized all that stuff about God living in the church, priests being God's representative, that your parents can protect you - I realized all those things weren't true," he said. Years later, he developed post-traumatic stress disorder, which he thinks helped kill his marriage.

Let's be clear and say that abusive priests, like any sexual predators, need to face the consequences of their actions.

But the Washington Post, at once crying to its godless heaven for the sake of speaking up for victims (and seeking verifiable victims to victimize, like Catholic priests), will turn right around and offer its sanction for the sexual behavior of such organizations as NAMBLA.

What is wrong with this picture? Extolling inter-generational "love" between men and boys, on the one hand; terrorizing Catholic priests on the other. Hmmm.

Now, you try to square the circle with that contradiction. The WaPo won't even try. Its soul is hollowed out with its luciferian logic.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Lev - Review

I, too, am grateful to the New York Times and other secular disseminators of what passes for "news" for urging Elizabeth Lev to read the Holy Father's new book, Light of the World, sooner than she planned. I always look forward with eagerness to see what Ms. Lev writes. See her review here.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Advent Vigil

This depiction of a knight kneeling before an altar has always symbolized the season of Advent in my mind. There is nothing ornate about the surroundings; nothing to spur on one's faith or hope or charity. In fact, it seems rather dark and cold and lonely.

And that, perhaps, is the deceiving thing about this vigil of Advent. The Catholic faith says in the midst of the world's bustle of buying and selling that He Whose second Advent we await in wintry silence and gloom is already with us as humbly as He first came to us at Bethlehem. The humility of the Word made flesh (Jn 1,14) is fully with us in the Real Presence of the Holy Eucharist.

And so we wait in vigil and longing for His second Advent in glory - we age, we grow ill, we make merry with friends and loved ones, we perish, and another generation begins the vigil. But we are not alone and all manner of things shall be most well. Thanks be to God.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Knox - How to Serve, to Live

"... you serve grace now, not the law" ((Rom 6,14) - that means, evidently and most importantly, a better chance in the struggle; the law does but set before us a high standard, which we despair of achieving, grace enables us. But something else, I think, is implied. When you serve the law, you serve it, inevitably, in a legal spirit, unwillingly, grudgingly, according to the letter. When you serve free grace, you serve it in a spirit of freedom; you enter (as we say) into the spirit of it, co-operate , gladly and generously, with its designs for you. That contrast between doing God's will because you want to is more explicitly set forth elsewhere ... "The spirit you have now received is not, as of old, a spirit of slavery, to govern you by fear; it is the spirit of adoption, which makes us cry out Abba, Father!" (Rom 8,15) It is the same principle which our Lord himself had taught, though with a slightly different emphasis, when he told his disciples, "I do not speak of you now as my servants; a servant is one who does not understand what his master is about, whereas I have made known to you all that my Father has told me, and so I have called you my friends" (Jn 15,5). If the practice of the Christian religion seems to you and me something uncommonly like drudgery, that is our fault; it was not meant to be. The only really Christian attitude is to obey God with the dutifulness of loving sons, is to follow Christ with the loyalty of devoted friends.

- Ronald A. Knox

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Given the brouhaha over the comments of Benedict XVI regarding condoms, I find the commentary of my publisher here to be the most measured, historically-oriented, and balanced. With the Holy Father, one must always remember that he takes the long view, speaks with the Fathers of the Church, and, in this case, is not speaking definitively ex cathedra. See what you think.

Akin - Fathers Know Best

Jimmy Akin on the question, "Did Constantine found the Catholic Church?" (Of course not.)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Trinity - Part 5

From Gil Bailie - click on this link to listen to part 5 of The Trinity.

Patriarchal Structures of Oppression: The Father

John W. Dixon: “Christians stubbornly clung to their language even when it could be said they didn't really understand it. Now when we are about to acquire the intellectual means for understanding the terminology, a failure of nerve has set in and we are abandoning the terminology." (e.g. Hell, judgment, the Trinity, the Father...)

Part II: Trajectory of Our Knowledge & Why the Atonement - Girard

A continuation of the trajectory of our knowledge steeped in our violence and the excellent post of Athos, which I have cut 'n pasted here to help with the flow of this reflection:

René Girard unveils humanity's deep, dark secret which he explicates in his "mimetic theory." This secret is that human culture is built squarely upon a "single victim mechanism" and it is the unique work of the Gospel in history to bring an end this secret's satanic reign.
But this foundation of human violence was so vital to the construction and maintenance of human culture - re-enacted each time victims were arbitrarily selected and expelled and/or murdered - that for aeons there was no alternative. The "lamb slain since the foundation of the world" (Rev 13,8) was the default way to manufacture human cultural cohesion; the "lowest common denominator" of human society.
Without gainsaying any teaching of the Catholic Church regarding atonement, Girard showed not so much how our Lord's death brought about salvation, but why it needed to happen. It happened because human sin always - always - takes us back to the same place: the place of expelling the victim and scapegoating violence. The way that God chose to reveal and break the inner workings of our satanic (literally: Satan - Σατάν - "the accuser") method of convening had to be to go to the place our sin always took us - the place of sacrificial violence - and undo Satan's power once and for all.
[The following couple excerpts are from James Alison's The Joy of Being Wrong: Original Sin Through Easter Eyes (New York: Crossroad, 1998) and though I differ with James on a few things I feel he does bring some solid Girardian perspectives to the table.]

"Further consequences flow from the model under examination, owing to the way in which desire is shown to be anterior to language (and thus reason), to will (and thus freedom), and to memory (and thus history). In the first place, language is shown to be part of a distorted construction of a worldview. The key binary opposites (good/evil, life/death) are shown to flow from the lynchers' perspective on the victim. Thus the whole human system of signification, rather than being in any sense independent of the sense world and not deceived by it, is already utterly shot through with a certain betrayal of truth. Human reason is a tradition-borne phenomenon, but that human tradition, which is utterly constitutive of the possibility of human culture, is already a form of treason of the truth and can reach truth only with very great difficulty after a long time. In this sense Girard demonstrates that it was not, as is often suggested, that reasonable people proposed scientific theories of causality, and thus showed up the silly superstition of burning witches for the offense against reason that it was. Rather, it was the gradual collapse of belief in the real guilt of such mythical victims which led to the possibility of the proposal of scientific theories of causality..."

"It becomes possible thus to recover the sense in which memory is a cover-up, a certain sort of forgetting that other things may be remembered. This ties in with the very ancient perception that truth, far from having to do in the first place with simple objective facts, as we are inclined to think, needs a certain sort of un-forgetting. That is what aletheia means. Something of the same is contained in our words "discovery" and revelation." Rather than things being clear, and our just meeting them, the truth is covered and must be dis-covered, or veiled and must be re-vealed."  An Excerpt for James Alison's The Joy of Being Wrong: Original Sin Through Easter Eyes (New York: Crossroad, 1998), pages 40-42.
Mass readings today, Saturday November 20, 2010: Rv 11:4-12 and the Gospel Lk 20:27-40 where "those deemed worthy to attain to the coming age and to the resurrection of the dead can no longer die." Even though people from every nation "gloat over" the corpses of the dead prophets, death is not the final power in the world. "After three and a half days, a breath of life entered them." A "loud voice from heaven" said to them, "Come up here."  (Magnificat p 281.)

"If God can raise someone from the dead in the middle of human history, the very fact reveals that death, which up till this point had marked human history as simply something inevitable, part of what it is to be a human being, is not inevitable. That is, that death is itself not a simply biological reality, but a human cultural reality marking all perception, and a human cultural reality that is capable of being altered. This it seems to me is the decisive point at which any pre-Christian notion of sin and the Christian understanding must differ. The drastic nature of sin is revealed as something which has so inflected human culture that death is a human, and not simply a biological reality, one which decisively marks all human culture. This nature of sin as related to death is simultaneously revealed as something which need not be. It is not that God can, of course, forgive all our sins, but then there is also death which is just there. It becomes clear that God is not only capable of forgiving us for such things as we might have done, but the shape of his forgiveness stretches further than that, into what we are: we are humans tied into the human reality of death. We need no longer be.

"This it seems to me is an anthropological discovery of unimaginable proportions..." An Excerpt for James Alison's The Joy of Being Wrong: Original Sin Through Easter Eyes (New York: Crossroad, 1998), pages 118-119. 

Liturgy is Something Given

Liturgy is essentially something given, and in this it expresses a fundamental feature of all prayer. Its sublime lack of concern for our personal moods is a forcible reminder that when we come to God, it is not to force our moods or our interests on to him, but to receive his interests and to let him, in a sense, share his moods with us...

It is far more central to prayer that we should let ourselves become involved in God, in his great enterprise of giving himself, and all the various interests and concerns that form part of this.

It is therefore a positive advantage that the liturgy does not just reflect our own concerns and interests, but confronts us with definite with definite moods of its own...
The liturgy, faithfully celebrated, should be a longterm course in heart-expansion, making us more and more capable of the totality of love that there is in the heart of Christ.

It is not the immediate feeling that is important; that may or may not come.  What matters is that we should be, slowly and quietly, molded by this rehearsal for and anticipation of the worship of heaven.  It is a schooling for paradise.
SIMON TUGWELL O.P., Prayer, Vol 2, p 62

Friday, November 19, 2010

Trajectory of Our Knowledge

The Day After Trinity is a 1980 documentary about Dr. J Robert Oppenheimer and his role in the Manhattan Project.
"The glitter of nuclear weapons. It is irresistible if you come to them as a scientist. To feel it’s there in your hands, to release this energy that fuels the stars, to let it do your bidding. To perform these miracles, to lift a million tons of rock into the sky. It is something that gives people an illusion of illimitable power, and it is, in some ways, responsible for all our troubles - this, what you might call technical arrogance, that overcomes people when they see what they can do with their minds."
I am going to ask a couple leading questions and link to 2 great posts by Athos. 

What is the trajectory of our knowledge?  What are the MIRACLES that come from our knowledge (referred in the quote above) and what are the miracles that Knox and Lewis refer to in the post below?

If we are worried about the path on which our knowledge flies and about its ultimate destination we had better go back to its launching pad and deal with the passions - the desires - that fuel and guide its course.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

TSA - At Work for YOU

Miracles - Knox and Lewis

I cannot recommend highly enough Father Milton Walsh's book about C. S. Lewis and Ronald Knox, Second Friends. For example, on the topic of what it takes philosophically in order to believe in the miraculous ("something that traverses the law of uniformity in nature and does so in such a way that it gives evidence of divine power directly at work"), Walsh quotes Lewis:

If the end of the world appeared in all the literal trappings of the Apocalypse, if the modern materialist saw with his own eyes the heavens rolled up and the great white throne appearing, if he had the sensation of being himself hurled into the Lake of Fire, he would continue forever, in that lake itself, to regard his experience as an illusion and to find the explanation of it in psycho-analysis, or cerebral pathology ('Miracles', God in the Dock, 25)

Walsh states that for both Knox and Lewis, post-enlightenment persons have certain prejudicial philosophical presuppositions that preclude acceptance of and belief in miracles. Note: philosophical rather than scientific presuppositions. Science, by definition, can only study the regularly recurring laws of the universe and other phenomena available to the scientific method; science, therefore, cannot even hold an opinion about the existence or non-existence of miracles. What are those 'certain prejudicial philosophical presuppositions?' The following:

- that the only reality is the spatiotemporal world in which we live

- that the laws of nature exclude the possibility of the miraculous

- that God would not 'stoop' to do miracles

It is not easy to put these presuppositions aside, because many intellectuals since the Enlightenment have claimed insistently the contrary: there is no world beyond what we can experience with our senses; miracles are impossible; God does not enter into the workings of our world. It is also challenging to put these presuppositions aside because a living, personal God makes demands on us that the Enlightenment "Watchmaker" or pantheist "Absolute" do not:

(Lewis:) Here lies the deepest tap-root of Pantheism and of the objection to traditional [biblical] imagery. It was hated, at bottom, not because it pictured Him as man but because it pictured Him as king, or even as warrior. The Pantheists' God does nothing, demands nothing. He is there if you wish for Him, like a book on a shelf. He will not pursue you. There is no danger that at any time heaven and earth should flee away at His glance.

If any of this strikes you as being seen, heard, or felt by today's so-called New Atheism proponents, your Pantheist friends, or ignoring-of-God neighbors, once again I highly recommend Fr Walsh's book, Second Friends.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Why the Atonement - Girard

René Girard

In his book on C. S. Lewis and Ronald Knox, Fr Milton Walsh relates Lewis's skepticism prior to his conversion. Walsh writes:

(Lewis) could not see how the life and death of "Someone Else" two thousand years ago could help us here and now, except as an example: "And the example business, tho' true and important, is not Christianity: right in the centre of Christianity, in the Gospels and Saint Paul, you keep on getting something quite different and very mysterious expressed in those phrases I have so often ridiculed ('propitiation' - 'sacrifice - 'the blood of the Lamb') - expressions which I could only interpret in senses that seemed to me either silly or shocking" ...

How can the suffering of one person atone for the sins of another? Knox admits that many people consider such an arrangement immoral, and Lewis comments that there have been many theological explanations for this core conviction of Christianity, some more valuable than others. (85, 87)

René Girard unveils humanity's deep, dark secret which he explicates in his "mimetic theory." This secret is that human culture is built squarely upon a "single victim mechanism" and it is the unique work of the Gospel in history to bring an end this secret's satanic reign.

But this foundation of human violence was so vital to the construction and maintenance of human culture - re-enacted each time victims were arbitrarily selected and expelled and/or murdered - that for aeons there was no alternative. The "lamb slain since the foundation of the world" (Rev 13,8) was the default way to manufacture human cultural cohesion; the "lowest common denominator" of human society.

Without gainsaying any teaching of the Catholic Church regarding atonement, Girard showed not so much how our Lord's death brought about salvation, but why it needed to happen. It happened because human sin always - always - takes us back to the same place: the place of expelling the victim and scapegoating violence. The way that God chose to reveal and break the inner workings of our satanic (literally: Satan - Σατάν - "the accuser") method of convening had to be to go to the place our sin always took us - the place of sacrificial violence - and undo Satan's power once and for all.

Excellent Move

Bravo and congratulations, Archbishop Timothy Dolan

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of The Dawn Treader

I was recollecting this story A Dragon's Tale by Marjorie Thompson today and I discovered that the movie of CS Lewis' book, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader will be coming out next month.  Awesome.  Before you get swept away by the movie check out this little piece called, A Dragon's Tale.  And for you Radio Theatre Drama buffs link to my post above and get a taste of this very segment of the book describing Eustace stripping off the scales from the dragon that he had become.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Pax Christi in regno Christi - Knox

CHRISTENDOM HAS BEFORE NOW taken up arms in its own defence ... Christian princes, before now, have tried to spread the faith at the point of the sword, always, or nearly always, with disastrous results for religion. But the substantial victories of the Church have lain, always, in the sphere of the human conscience. Christ has reigned, not in the councils of nations, but in men's hearts. If every country in the world professed the Catholic religion, set up religious emblems in its market places and voted special honours, special privileges, special revenues to the clergy -- that would not be the reign of Christ on earth. It would not be the reign of Christ on earth if the homage which men paid to religion was merely external, merely political; if they treated the emblems of Christianity merely as an ancestral tradition they were proud of; and a convenient rallying-point for civic sentiment, no more. Christ will reign in the world only where, only in so far as, he rules in human hearts.

- Ronald A. Knox

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Every Great Actor

Me and Orson Welles

Welles: "You really are a God created actor Richard. These aren’t just words for I recognize the look."

Richard: "The look?"

Welles: “The bone-deep understanding that your life is so utterly without meaning that simply to survive you have to reinvent yourself. Because if people can’t find you, they can’t dislike you. You see, if I can be Brutus tonight – I mean, really be him from the inside out – then for ninety minutes I get this miraculous reprieve from being myself. That’s what you see in every great actor’s eyes, you know.”

This short scene jumped out at me. We really are like actors (of course in denial) desiring to play the role of someone else. Think about it... Read this great paper from our friend and mentor Gil Bailie, THE SUBJECT OF GAUDIUM ET SPES RECLAIMING A CHRISTOCENTRIC ANTHROPOLOGY OF THE HUMAN PERSON

Is it not time to surrender and let Christ be your life? Col 3:4

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Realities of Holy War

In light of recent events, far away (and yet not so very) and close to home, it becomes necessary to examine why the Scimitar lends itself in our present-day to extreme violence.

Father James V. Schall, S. J. writes on what is slow to dawn on the non-Scimitar mentality in
A Jihadist Conquest.

From a mimetic theory vantage point, it must be noted that the Scimitar carries all the attributes of what René Girard calls "the primitive sacred" - a deity who "on the record" has no problem with the slaughter of the unfaithful, such values that cannot be reformed by anything resembling progressive revelation or newer prophets who speak for a loving, universal Providence like that of the Judeo-Christian God, and promises of paradise to those who do the sacrificing of the unfaithful.

These are the realities of the Scimitar's notion of holy war. As opposed, say, to those of Christian notions of legitimate defense and chivalry.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Schismatic No Longer

The Last Judgment, a fresco in theSistine Chapel by Michelangelo (1534-41)

As we approach what for Protestants is called "Reformation Sunday," Francis J. Beckwith sums up the reasons he could no longer remain in schism with the holy Catholic Church here.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

“Tauler” by John Greenleaf Whittier

TAULER, the preacher, walked, one autumn day,
Without the walls of Strasburg, by the Rhine,
Pondering the solemn Miracle of Life;
As one who, wandering in a starless night,
Feels, momently, the jar of unseen waves,
And hears the thunder of an unknown sea,
Breaking along an unimagined shore.
And as he walked he prayed. Even the same
Old prayer with which, for half-a-score of years,
Morning, and noon, and evening, lip and heart
Had groaned: “Have pity upon me, Lord!
Thou seest, while teaching others, I am blind.
Send me a man who can direct my steps!”

Then, as he mused, he heard along his path
A sound as of an old man’s staff among
The dry, dead linden-leaves; and, looking up,
He saw a stranger, weak, and poor, and old.

“Peace be unto thee, father!” Tauler said,
“God give thee a good day!” The old man raised
Slowly his calm blue eyes.” I thank thee, son;
But all my days are good, and none are ill.”

Wondering thereat, the preacher spake again,
“God give thee happy life.” The old man smiled,
“I never am unhappy.”

Tauler laid
His hand upon the stranger’s coarse grey sleeve:
“Tell me, O father, what thy strange words mean.
Surely man’s days are evil, and his life
Sad as the grave it leads to.” “Nay, my son,
Our times are in God’s hands, and all our days
Are as our needs: for shadow as for sun,
For cold as heat, for want as wealth, alike
Our thanks are due, since that is best which is;
And that which is not, sharing not his life,
Is evil only as devoid of good.
And for the happiness of which I spake,
I find it in submission to His will,
And calm trust in the Holy Trinity
Of Knowledge, Goodness, and Almighty Power.”

Silently wondering, for a little space,
Stood the great preacher; then he spoke as one
Who suddenly grappling with a haunting thought
Which long has followed, whispering through the dark
Strange terrors, drags it, shrieking, into light:
“What if God’s will consign thee hence to Hell?”
Then,” said the stranger cheerily, “be it so.
What Hell may be I know not; this I know—
I cannot lose the presence of the Lord:
One arm, Humility, takes hold upon His dear
Humanity; the other, Love,
Clasps His Divinity. So where I go,
He goes; and better fire-walled Hell with Him
Than golden-gated Paradise without.”

Tears sprang in Tauler’s eyes; a sudden light,
Like the first ray which fell on chaos, clove
Apart the shadow wherein he had walked
Darkly at noon. And, as the strange old man
Went his slow way, until his silver hair
Set like the white moon where the hills of vine
Slope to the Rhine, he bowed his head and said—
“My prayer is answered. God hath sent the man
Long sought, to teach me, by his simple trust,
Wisdom the weary schoolmen never knew.”

So, entering with a changed and cheerful step
The city gates, he saw, far down the street,
A mighty shadow break the light of noon,
Which tracing backward till its airy lines
Hardened to stony plinths, he raised his eyes
O’er broad façade and lofty pediment,
O’er architrave, and frieze, and sainted niche,
Up the stone lace-work chiselled by the wise
Erwin of Steinbach, dizzily up to where
In the noon-brightness the great Minster’s tower,
Jewelled with sunbeams on its mural crown,
Rose like a visible prayer. “Behold!” he said,
“The stranger’s faith made plain before mine eyes.
As yonder tower outstretches to the earth
The dark triangle of its shade alone
When the clear day is shining on its top,
So darkness in the pathway of Man’s life
Is but the shadow of God’s providence,
By the great Sun of Wisdom cast thereon;
And what is dark below is light in Heaven.”

Monday, October 25, 2010

Purgatory - Foothills of Heaven

Rapidly approaching the Month of Holy Souls, here is your review sheet on Purgatory, compliments of Rev. John A. Hardon, S.J.

Monsignor Ronald Knox, remember, had thoughts on the subject too. Like this: " ... death strips us; puts away the toys we cherished. Shrouds have no pockets; a cheque signed by a dead man is no longer honoured."

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Maybe we should rethink love

I read these meditations from the Magnificat and often find words or thoughts that leap out from the pages at me.  The idea that I am not love but rather God is Love - I am only free to choose to be either IN love or get caught up in some pseudo-love.

Is not love at the same time a gift that has been bestowed on us? This is perhaps the token of its transcendence, in origin and end.  It seems that love does not depend on us, either in its birth or its fulfillment; and that it breaks down all the barriers that might have seemed to limit our actions. So long as we are lacking in love we are immured (entomb) within the solitude of individual existence, and love alone can set us free.
Love plunges us into a world without limits where we are at the same time within and yet outside ourselves. And by a strange paradox we only seem to reach the heart of our being through a movement which takes us beyond ourselves. In other words all love comes from God and returns to him.
There is indeed no love but the love of God: that is the indissoluble union of his unfailing love for us, and the love we have for him in which we almost always fall short. Such love alone is able to justify our existence and the entire work of creation, and for one who has experience of it problems cease to exist. But no one experiences it at all times, or with equal ardor. It is inevitable that the self should fail sometimes; and there is nothing that may not become an object of scandal, even the whole universe, if we fail to look on it with love.
The mystery of love is that it changes nothing in the world, which continues to exhibit the same abominations and sufferings; yet it has the power to suffuse these things with an invisible and supernatural light. When love reigns, suffering is invested with new meaning, and is relieved and slowly transformed into a joy of another order.
- Louis Lavelle († 1951) was a professor at the Sorbonne, Paris, France, and was a prominent Christian philosopher.

The Curse

As Notre Dame got stomped by Navy (again), one sees with how much intensity Navy plays.

Notre Dame used to play with a chip on its shoulder; as though something set it apart from everybody else.

You don't suppose that as Notre Dame has whittled off the edges of its Catholic faith and morals, the intensity it once possessed - what made Notre Dame distinct, different, set apart - has dwindled on the playing field, do you?

They LOOK big, strong, well-fed, and well-funded. Too bad looks don't translate into wins.