October 25, 2005

Spanning the Globe

One of my favorite quotes is from the journals of Father Alexander Schmemann: "God, when creating the world, did not solve problems or pose them. He created what He would call 'very good.' God created the world, but the devil transformed the world and man and life into a 'problem.'" If we want to adore God with praise and thanksgiving we are going to have to learn to stop seeing everything as a "problem" or "interruption" and begin to be open to seeing God's goodness and interventions even in the most unlikely of places. Many of the most horrific sins ever committed by human beings happen because people see problems where they should see blessings. If we do not adore God above all, we risk doing horrible things as we serve whatever else we put in God's place.

- from Michael Dubruiel's "How to Get the Most Out of the Eucharist" via Julie of "Happy Catholic"

The Mennonites’ Zwinglian heritage always bothered me, because what I know of Zwingli’s method of determining church practice was pretty weird: if it’s not mentioned in the New Testament, don’t do it. Moreover, when it comes to communion in particular, what modern arguments I’ve heard against the Real Presence either come from anti-Catholic nuttery of the Jack Chick variety, or from a modern version of the Greek attitude I described above: “spiritual” things don’t really happen in the physical world. And to be honest, I think I always hoped that the Real Presence was waiting for me after baptism. The idea that if I’m baptized in this church, a mere symbolic feast was waiting for me, I found unbearably depressing.

- Camassia

One is compelled to wonder, when navigating the aisles of the juniors' department of your friendly neighborhood local department store -- is there an urgent national fabric shortage, shielded from the eyes of the public by a vast right-wing conspiracy? And if so, what can we do to help clothe these poor American teenagers? Clearly, the predicament is a portentous one. Flaunting belly button rings and blubber alike, teen girls cavort in public wearing transparent lacy garments which, two hundred years ago, would have made Hester Prynne blush. One is tempted to mass-produce iron-on scarlet "A"'s to accompany these so-called "shirts", but it is highly doubtful whether they even boast material enough to accomodate such an accessory. Skirts, too, have become as superfluous as Queen Elizabeth II...it seems that teen girls today must either have mastered the art of never bending, stretching, kneeling, crossing their legs, or sitting, or must have an inexplicable fascination with exhibitionism.

- blogger at "Idylls of the Princess"

Suburban housewives across the country are picking up guitars and drumsticks as part of new musical movement dubbed "Mom rock." Bands such as Housewives on Prozac, Placenta in California, and Frump in Texas began rehearsing in basements and garages, thrashing out punk-style songs about breastfeeding, washing dirty clothes, and burning the dinner. "Eat Your Damn Spaghetti," "Dishwashing Blues," and "Pee Alone" are some of the tunes that have given these mom rockers recognition.

- Michael S. Rose via Dr. Phillip of "Musings of a Pertinacious Papist"

After this post on a recent hurricane of recrimination Harumphalism among Catholic bloggers, David L. Alexander himself posts a Comment concluding, "Maybe sometimes there is no middle ground." Or there is but it's between the opposing trenches.

- Terrence Berres of "The Provincial Emails", concerning the recent dust-up over Diogenes

The attitude that "I know my faith, and could never fall" seems very presumptuous. Did Tertullian not know his faith? I have seen Catholics lose their faith, because they started out to "convert" someone, or just learn from other teachers. I have also seen many more Catholics that have had their faith weakened to the point that they are Catholic in name only. Unfortunately today in our "enlightened" era, so dominated by intellectual pride, we seem to think that we can read anything and listen to anyone, and we will be able to separate the wheat from the chaff. Well my experience is that most Catholics can not. Unfortunately, this attitude is even encouraged by many Bishops and orthodox Catholics. How many times have Catholics been encouraged to read anti-Catholic literature in order to become better apologists? Yet who inquires if these people have the stability and grace not to be adversely effected by it? How many Catholics have you seen reading their Bibles and coming away with conclusions that go against the faith, because they do not approach the word of God recognizing the warnings of Peter? (2 Pet. 1:20; 3:16) The Bishops would do well to look to the wisdom of their predecessors, remembering that all men suffer the effects of original sin.

- commenter on Amy Welborn's blog

His head was slumped down, his legs akimbo, and it was this latter posture that drew one's eyes inexorably to his crotch where his fly was open and his genitals hanging out. Must have passed out before he could get the buttons refastened, or the zipper up. If he had buttons, or a zipper. "Don't look now, girls," I said, but all three had already seen where I was looking. "Oh my God," said one. And I thought: There but for the Grace of God go a lot of people I have known at one time or another, but not me. And we got in the car and went home where I cooked a big ole pancake and sausage breakfast.

- Bill of "Apologia", on seeing a street person outside church; I'm hoping the word sausage was accidental here

I’ve been pretty much addicted to St. Blog’s for more years than I care to recount. I don’t think anything I’ve read compares with that post –meaning no disregard for anyone. This just resonates! It amplifies a subject I’ve been considering lately: how it is so easy to run off the rails and substitute human causes, sometimes even well-intentioned for those of Christ – and hoping I don’t do the same. It’s because humans want to discover the truth through our own abilities. We can do that to only a small degree. Now we see dimly, as through a glass. If we act on the images we see of our own power, we can only err as we also want to see what we want to see. We don’t want to see where we’re at fault. The only area where I’d take issue at all is the statement “While the teachings of Christ are spread out throughout the different books of the New Testament, the same teachings are packed in the Psalms in a superior manner, in that it is presented, already, in the form of prayer (and made by the Holy Spirit at that.)” I’d add “and Canticles” after “Psalms”. The Magnificat has taught me more than any catechism or treatise. Still, though, I know so very little.

- Gregg the Obscure

In Psalm 129, the Pope said, the sinner recognizes God's immense mercy, as "the supplication of De Profundis, from the dark abyss of sin, reaches up to God's luminous horizon." It is God's mercy, rather than the fear of punishment, that should rouse awe in the believer, he said.

- CWNews.com, via Amy

"The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams told worshippers to compare praying to sunbathing, except that it is soaking in the light of God. Williams, the spiritual leader of the 77-million-strong worldwide Anglican Communion, said on a BBC radio programme that many people had trouble praying and thought it was a matter of "generally getting your act together".He said worshippers struggling to pray would be better off comparing praying to lying on a beach. They should stop trying too hard and just be where the light can reach them -- in this case the light of God."

- via Jeff of "Curt Jester"

The same complaint was made back in the early 20th century heydey of literary conversions: almost all the good writers were converts.  Why so?  Frank Sheed actually organized a debate between a famous convert and a cradle Catholic on the subject and to be gracious, each argued for the other group’s contributions to the faith.  Alas, it was acknowledged that the case for the converts won, hands down. There’s no absolutely reason, of course, why this should be so.  “New” Catholics aren’t any smarter or more devout or more gifted or eloquent.  But we do possess one advantage - bringing non-Catholic questions and life-experience to the Tradition just tends to make things wake up.  And we were raised to *talk* about our faith (some would say incessantly), to seek out opportunities to give witness to the world. When the evangelical imagination is presented with the fullness of the apostolic faith - watch out!

- Sherry Weddell commenting Dom's blog

I find it embarrassing to pray for something that is totally within my power to achieve. I'm not saying I don't sometimes do so, but isn't it rather embarrassing to ask for divine intervention to, say, eat less and exercise more, or to watch less TV and get more sleep, or to stop focusing so much on the negative news and start focusing on a positive life? Perhaps I shouldn't be embarrassed at such prayers. Our priest prays for the Holy Spirit to give us focus and open our hearts before Bible study, doesn't he, and that is under our control. In fact, many of the prayers of our church focus on what is, in fact, under our control. So why do I feel like a fat, untidy pigeon God is tossing up and telling to fly? Why do I "drop down and run back expecting to be fed" at God's hand when I know, full well, how to fly? And really, our priest has been telling us in homily after homily, in Bible study after Bible study, that the fear of God is lacking in our parish. Fear of God... our minds just cannot conceive that the God of Love is a being to fear...How many people are just like me, believing in, even seeking God's endless patience and totally unaware of the damage ignoring His guidance does to our bodies and souls. How many times can we fall from God's grace before damage and death finally follow.

- Rock of "Lofted Nest"

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