Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Why More Are Not Involved With Contemplation

It is all about choice and this is why more are not involved with contemplation.
Theological reflection (contemplation) on the word without the accompanying readiness for repentance is bound to lead to a heightening of the existenial contradiction; many Christians are aware of this and consequently, if they have decided that they are not going to make any decisive changes for the better in their lives, they are honest (in a way) in leaving contemplation alone.
 - Hans Urs von Balthasar from his book Prayer

Making Room In Ourselves, and the World, For Its Energies To Work

We do not build the kingdom of God on earth by our own efforts (however assisted by grace); the most we can do, through genuine prayer, is to make as much room as possible, in ourselves and in the world, for the kingdom of God, so that its energies can go to work. All that we can show our contemporaries of the reality of God springs from contemplation: Jesus Christ, the Church, our own selves. But it is impossible to put forward the contemplation of Jesus Christ and the Church in a convincing manner unless we ourselves participate in it.
 - Hans Urs von Balthasar from his book Prayer

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Knox - At the Altar and Tabernacle, Pt. 1

THE CHRISTIAN ALTAR, like the temple at Jerusalem, is the rallying-point of God's people. Here, as there, heaven touches earth, yet remains uncontaminated by its contact. Christ is not moved when the sacrament is moved, is not broken when the sacrament is broken; so close does he come to our experience of daily life, so remote does he remain from it. And one of the chief influences he exerts, one of the chief ends he attains, by that nearness of his, is to draw us, his children, closer together. It is the sacrament of peace, as Jerusalem was the city of peace; through it we are one in fellowship. We speak of Christians as united in a single communion, of one Christian body as being in communion with, or out of communion with, another; that is no accident, no abuse of language. The whole notion of Christian solidarity grows out of, and is centred in, the common participation of a common table. As the many grains of wheat are ground together into one loaf, as the many grapes are pressed together into one cup, so we, being many, are one in Christ. How could we be one with Christ, without becoming one in Christ?

That supernatural unity is still laid up for us, if we would only realize it, in the tabernacle. Christian people, however much separated by long distances of land or sea, meet together in full force, by a mystical reunion, whenever and wherever the break is broken, and the cup blessed. We do well to remember that notion in times like these ...

The Blessed Sacrament, the Jerusalem of our souls, stands apart from and above all the ebb and flow of world-politics, its citizenship a common fellowship between us and those who are estranged from us, those who at the moment are our enemies. Our friends yesterday, our friends tomorrow -- in the timeless existence to which that altar introduces us, they are our friends today.

- Ronald A. Knox

We're Tracking You ... Redux

Feeel the vapidity and give thanks those days are over for you (I hope):

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Seeing the Tragic Divorce Between Doctrine And Practice

On the feast day of St Augustine it seems what von Balthasar felt about a "divorce" within the church continues to separate many of us.

From Christology from Within: Spirituality and the Incarnation in Hans Urs von Balthasar by Mark McIntosh

As von Balthasar worked his way through the classics of Christian thought, the uneasy sensation settled over him that a tragic divorce had occurred between doctirne and practice, between theorlogy and spirituality... He struggled to understand what he saw as the fatal consequences of this separation - the desiccation of dogmatics and the self-absorption of spirituality... The separation has in von Balthasar's mind a more grievously concrete cause: an absence of men and women with the grace to unify theology and spirituality in their own lives.

(Can it be better explained than that?)

Von Balthasar sees the first real impetus for this separation in the church's need to challenge false teaching and schismatic tendencies, and therefore to demarcate the limits of authentic Christian faith.

"... he argues that philosophical ideas, norms, and methods became a rigid structure imposed upon the content of faith.  The result was an increasing isolation of dogmatic and mystical theology from one another, each becoming more inaccessible and unattractive to the practitioners of the other."

He is clearly far from assigning blame only to the scientific theologians.  The saints are more and more called to offer descriptions of their inner states and experiences; they are "required to describe the way in which they experienced God, and the accent is always on experience rather than on God.: for the nature of God is a subject for the theological specialist."  It is as if the taste of spiritually inclined persons becomes so subjective and rarified that the objective mysteries of Christianity only manage to obstruct their view.  The saints, therefore, "are not taken seriously in theology because they themselves did not venture to be theologically minded."

Von Balthasar sees this (the role of the saints) gift of openness and availability to the Word as first a gift of the church, but it often becomes manifest in a saint, whose soul has gazed so long and deeply on the light of God that it has come to hold within itself an almost inexhaustible store of light and love, and so can offer lasting force and sustenance.

In other words, mysticism which is not in some way in the service of the whole church's ever deeper appropriation and understanding of life in Christ is not an appropriate theological matrix.
...it is not experience of a union with God which represents the yardstick of perfection or the highest stage of ascent, but rather obedience, which can be quite as tightly bound to the experience of abandonment by God as to the experience of union with God.
Authentic Christianity spirituality is already communally oriented, for it is a spirituality ordered primarily to obedience, which always involves community.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Scapegoating the Roma (Gypsies)

ZENIT covers an important story of scapegoating in France here. One may recall that the protagonist of the book, The Dionysus Mandate, Aly, goes and hides among the Roma when being hunted down by the Consortium for World Peace ...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

René Girard talk in 2002 - truth coming from the Cross.

The fear of the Christians to the mimetic theory was the greatest surprise to me. To tell you the truth, I didn't expect it. But curiously, as to the mimetic theory, the attitude of many Christians is exactly the same as the attitude of many atheists, because fundamentally they are humanists, which are rooted in the Greek philosophical tradition, so that Christianity is a minor addition to that. The thing that is fundamental is that humanistic line which fears the knowledge of violence.

One might say that our world, our academic world, everything that comes out of the Enlightenment, is in that line - it's dangerous to talk about the knowledge of violence, we should not talk about this - the only way to save humanity from its own violence is not to talk about it. The Judaic Christian line, however is the very reverse.
I find this statement to be so 'right-on' as to most Christians being humanists rooted in the Greek philosophical tradition, tacking on Christianity as a minor addition to their way of being.  Many have simply not been able to embrace the knowledge of the Cross and of our own violence and therefore they default to the humanists line - it is better we do not talk about this.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Epic - Redux

I hope our readers will forgive this re-posting. But Catholicscomehome.org handiwork says so much so well:

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Catholic Radio comes to DC

Two part announcement and request;

1)Yes, Washington DC,and the surrounding areas, have just been blessed with a Catholic Radio Station - AM1160/The Guadalupe Network. Tune in, and tell yer friends . . .and tellyer friends to tell their friends.

2)Asking all fellow bloggers to please also post/or repost, about the station, as a Catholic Radio station in Washington DC, is a blessing we should all be shoutin' about! (IMHO)

thanks and God Bless,

St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe

“Courage, my sons. Don’t you see that we are leaving on a mission? They pay our fare in the bargain. What a piece of good luck! The thing to do now is to pray well in order to win as many souls as possible. Let us, then, tell the Blessed Virgin that we are content, and that she can do with us anything she wishes.”

- St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe, when first arrested

Friday, August 13, 2010

Offer of Eden - Good Read

Perhaps other current events have kept you from a brouhaha over Pope John Paul's Theology of the Body. But if time allows you may want to take advantage of this: aspiring doctoral candidate, intrepid latter-day dragon-slayer, and great gal about town Dawn Eden has made available a free copy of her recent Masters degree thesis on the Theology of the Body and critique of a popular speaker's approach to the same.

For the short of attention or short of time, Eden may be said to take speaker Christopher West to task for misplacing less-than worthwhile priorities of our spirit of the age for more eternal and less evanescent goals of true transcendence. You go, Lady Dawn, from your admirers at the 4M's!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Wonder of Wonder

I love what Peter John Cameron, O.P. writes in this month's (August 2010) Magnificat concerning the Transfiguration.
WHEN PETER, JAMES, AND JOHN beheld the shining vision of Jesus Christ in the Transfiguration (a feast we celebrate this month), they were struck with wonder. And that is really the point of the Transfiguration. For nothing gets us to look at life with new hope like the wonder of beauty. In 1752, an envoy was sent from the archbishop of Mexico to Pope Benedict XIV to petition the Pontiff for the commissioning of a special Mass in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe. When the envoy unrolled a canvas bearing a painted likeness of the Virgin’s miraculous portrait, the Holy Father fell to his knees, weeping. The request was granted.

The wonder of wonder

Beauty undoes us. The theologian Father Hans Urs von Balthasar wrote, “In the experience of extraordinary beauty, we are able to grasp a phenomenon that otherwise remains veiled. What we encounter in such an experience is as overwhelming as a miracle, something we will never get over.” And what is the “phenomenon” that the Lord wants to unveil in our life through the beauty of the Transfiguration? The fact that we can change.

One of the greatest sources of sadness in our life is the presumption that we will always remain “just the way we are” – that we will never get over our character flaws or our depressing weakness, that we will never progress in holiness, that the sins we keep on habitually committing will keep a permanent hold on us. The problems we face in life seem more arduous than the disciples’ steep trek up Mount Tabor. What moves us beyond our fatalism is wonder. The disciples were overcome by the glorious brilliance of the transfigured Christ. They wanted what they witnessed never to end. That was the Lord’s intention in the event. Saint Thomas Aquinas says that, through his Transfiguration, Christ wished “to enkindle all the faithful with the desire for that glory.” In other words, the Transfiguration was meant to be a kind of mystic mirror. The sight of the resplendent Son moves us to cry, “I want to be like that too!” And the promise is that “Christ will configure those who belong to him” (Saint Thomas Aquinas).

The Transfiguration in our daily life

Chances are that our experience of the Transfiguration in daily life will be far less dramatic. And yet, the miracle assures us that wonder will remain the means by which God draws us into the mystery of himself. For, as Saint Gregory of Nyssa observed, “Ideas lead to idols; only wonder leads to knowing.” And, “Devoid of wonder we remain deaf to the sublime” (Abraham Heschel).

Where, then, does wonder break through in our lives? It may well be through the wound that makes us so negative about our chances for happiness. A character in Paul Claudel’s play The Satin Slipper prays:

Lord, it is not so easy to escape you, and, if [one] goes not to you by what he has of light, may he go to you by what he has of darkness; and if not by what he has of straight, may he go to you by what he has of indirection; and if not by what he has of simple, let him go by what in him is manifold and laborious and entangled, and if he desire evil let it be such evil as is compatible only with good. And if he desire disorder, may it be that disorder which shall mean the rending and overthrow of those walls about him which bar him from salvation.

Even if we do not go to God “by what we have of light,” the dazzling light of the Transfiguration will shatter our darkness and make us take notice of the One who stands ready to give us exactly what our heart is yearning for.

Mounting above our limitations by way of Mount Tabor

The mystery of the Transfiguration testifies to the fact that “God radiates love, which kindles the light of love in the heart of the human being, and it is precisely this light that allows us to perceive this absolute Love” (von Balthasar). Once embraced by this Love, “we must progress and grow, we must mount above our own limitations. It can be done; human nature is fundamentally designed for this expansion” (Father Alfred Delp). As the heroic missionary to the lepers of Moloka’i, Saint Damien de Veuster, declared with an authority few can match, “We shall be transfigured, happy, and beautiful in proportion to our patience in bearing our trials here below.”

Rev. Peter John Cameron, O.P.
Copyright Magnificat

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

St Clare of Assisi - August 11

Go forth in peace, for you have followed the good road. Go forth without fear, for he who created you has made you holy, has always protected you, and loves you as a mother. Blessed be you, my God, for having created me. - Saint Clare of Assisi

A power packed prayer to be sure.  Every phrase and every line is full of wonder, reverence and obedience. 

For more info link HERE.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Why Evangelicals (Should) Convert

For the record: a concise and compelling look at the reasons Evangelicals are converting to the Catholic Church by Matthew Warner here.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Amazing Grace- Tim Eriksen

Knox - Catholicism vs. Provincialism

(I)t is a good thing to belong to a Catholic Church. It keeps you from getting too provincial in your outlook ... to be a member of a Church which is as wide as mankind, and therefore to be able to remind yourself that not everybody thinks as you do; other people have their own national way of looking at things, just as you have yours. It helps you, I mean, not to be provincial-minded, if you belong to a Catholic Church.

Just in the same way, of course -- though that is really rather outside our subject this afternoon -- it is a good thing to belong to a Church which can look back on nineteen centuries of existence; it helps you not to be too much impressed by the latest craze, the latest catchword. Just as many people around us are too English in their outlook, so many people around us are too twentieth-century in their outlook; it's only a different kind of provincialism really.
- Ronald A. Knox

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Postscript to an Atheist Friend

Having spent a delightful week in the string of barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina known as the Outer Banks, I am pleased to offer up beginning tomorrow an experience known as "chemotherapy". Probably the best online resource on the latter can be found here.

I spent some time with an old acquaintance there, a self-designated atheist. Interestingly, he went to the bother of "becoming ordained" so that he could perform weddings (which he has), yet he has abandoned, seemingly, the institution in his personal life.

Like so many such atheists, he sees a major issue to be one of authority. Where does a mainline Christian pastor get his or her authority? Where does the Pope? He asked these questions, clearly brandishing his "ordination" as carrying as much authority as either of these (being a relativist as well as atheist). Of course, we Catholics can guide any such questioner to the sixteenth chapter of St. Matthew when Our Lord proclaimed Simon to be kephas / Πέτρος ("Rocky") and "on this rock," said He, "I will build my Church" (18-19). Catholicism is historical; Benedict XVI stands as our 265th pontiff since St. Peter.

Now, my atheist friend has several presuppositions that keep him from acknowledging such biblical authority, most of which were laid to rest as unsubstantial in epistemology by the great British Catholic thinker - some say the greatest mind to come through Eton and Oxford - Monsignor Ronald Knox (and others). But he still gives credence to "higher criticism" of liberal schools of thought, like, for example, the so-called "Jesus Seminar." Let us just say that authority for them comes from whomever thinks and sees things their way; i.e., the scriptures they see as "authentic" prove that Jesus, as it turns out, was a Jesus Seminarian!

Let me say, in the hope that my old friend will possibly read this post: authority is posited from a much higher and substantive source than one's individual opinions and life experience. We are created, finite, and mortal. We will answer to the One from whom we have our lives on-loan, ontologically speaking. And the Catholic Church has and provides the greatest and most coherent explanation of our lives, our purpose here on earth, and, please God, our ultimate telos.

For further information, Philip, please pick up a copy of A Little Guide for Your Last Days, here or here. Or, if you have no desire to shell out twenty bucks, perhaps you will find something of edification in my favorite post, here (pardon the title, if you will). Best, old friend.

St. John Vianney