May 31, 2006


Sic transit Site Meter. - Terrence Berres of "The Provincial Emails"

As with most infants, growth was rapid, indeed prodigious, and resulted in a few growing pains--commonly known as heresies. Through the post-apostolic period, up through the Reformation, we can see the development of faith in the stages of childhood--a rocky toddler, learning to stand and walk, gradually coming into his or her own and exercising a kind of power. But all through this time, a dead-level certainty in the wisdom, power, and deep love of our Father. Never any doubt as to His love for us, but rather some questions about what form that takes and what exactly obedience to that might entail. With the Reformation, we begin the outright rebellion correlative to the teen years. There is a questioning and a refutation of all power figures, because indeed the flaws in the figures are exposed for all to see. Simony, the selling of indulgences, and other figures of a Church gone awry in parts, are all too present blemishes on the facade. So rather than rejecting the blemishes, humankind rejects the entire authority figure, and with it, the idea of God that was implicit in the figure. With the Reformation, doubt about God's abiding love surfaces. First it makes its appearance in the puritan's fear of the world, then with Quietism, Jansenism, and Deism... Present day, it seems we're in the height of the teen rebellion years...There is a saying regarding the fact that at 15 I couldn't believe how stupid my parents were, by the time I was twenty-one it was amazing to me how intelligent they became. So one can hope with respect to the maturation of society. - Steven Riddle, positing that society has "undergone an ontogeny in faith similar to the development of the individual with respect to his or her relationship with a parent"

Almost as if on cue, as Benedict's voyage to Auschwitz drew toward its close early Sunday evening, the wind picked up and a cool rain began to fall. The final ceremony began with the Pope pausing to pray at memorials in the different languages of the 1.5 million killed. But by the time he reached the final plaque, the rain had stopped, the umbrellas were tucked away, and the pack of reporters noticed that across the broad field of half-standing brick barracks of Birkenau, a vivid rainbow had appeared. The editors of TIME, like those who A. M. Rosenthal worked for back in the 1950s, would surely not normally consider this news. But on a day that the German Pope came to Auschwitz to ponder God’s silence, that surprising explosion of colors seemed well worth reporting. - TIME magazine article

Evelyn Waugh died on Easter Sunday 1966. So, this being the Easter season, we can still commemorate the fortieth anniversary of his hoped-for entry into the Church Triumphant. There are a handful of influences that brought me to a deeper appreciation of the faith I was privileged to be born into, but foremost among them is Waugh. His biography of Edmund Campion forced me to examine -- confront is closer to the mark -- my conscience for perhaps the first time in my adult life. What, really, could make a man destined for esteem and comfort in Elizabeth's Settlement choose a path that led to certain death? The answer, I later found, wasn't a "what" but a Who. Peter Kreeft likes to say that God prefers the honest atheist to the indifferent Christian, and I felt that for too long I had been in the latter camp. It was time to either pick up an oar or leave the boat. Waugh's "seditious Jesuit" helped me do that. After Campion, I dove into the Sword of Honour trilogy and Brideshead Revisited. What struck me about Waugh was his realism. The Faith wasn't an abstraction or a mere set of ethical guidelines. He wrote, "Conversion is like stepping across the chimney piece out of a Looking-Glass world, where everything is an absurd caricature, into the real world God made; and then begins the delicious process of exploring it limitlessly." Sword of Honour's Guy Crouchback describes this Catholic optic in an exchange with a befuddled Anglican minister:
"... Do you agree," [Guy] asked earnestly, "that the Supernatural Order is not something added to the Natural Order, like music or painting, to make everday life more tolerable? It is everyday life. The supernatural is real; what we call 'real' is a mere shadow, a passing fancy. Don't you agree, Padre?"

"Up to a point."
The story of the modern age is man's attempt to move the "point," to impose a tight, artificial boundary around the supernatural. Waugh understood this to be a form of insanity, an active negation of reality, and that the consequences would be catastrophic. - Rich Leonardi of "Ten Reasons"

First, I think we all need to be ready spiritually and we have to keep it in our minds that we know not the day nor the hour. I have been thinking a lot about death personally and I want to teach people more about it. - priest/blogger Fr. Todd Reitmeyer in January of this year, who died this past week in a jet ski accident

studying psalm 84, two things strike me in this passage about ezekiel's valley of dry bones, also interpreted as the valley of tears. the first is that we are called to pass through it (verse 5 [pilgrimage] and 6). and the second is that it takes great humilty and trust in God. so far, i've yet to meet anyone who hasn't been called to pass through their own valley of dry bones (it wasn't until i became a catholic that i heard the term referred to as a sort of dark night or night of the soul). call it what you like, i've learned that if i talk about it, even in very vague terms, everyone i know has gone through this valley in one form or another. what's eerie is that the experiences are so very personal for what seems like such a universal experience. but isn't that the beauty of catholicism? we know that even in the midst of excruciatingly lonely experiences, we are never alone. for the first time ever in my own personal spiritual struggle, i have been experiencing the truly dry portion of the experience; and it wasn't until i found out yesterday that the word "baca" [in the psalm] is also interpreted as "tears" that everything started to make sense. of course, this may mean nothing to you since it is so personal, but for me this was a huge epiphany! and, i'm sharing just in case someone else stumbles across this site. just remember, "His anger is but for a moment,His favor is for life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning". (psalm 30) - Smockmomma

When a faith-life enters the doldrums, or even when it is humming along on an even if unenthusiastic keel, one thing which can be very helpful in ratcheting it up a notch is gratitude. Too often I am so self-centered that I forget to give thanks for the myriad of small things that make every day so wonderful and beautiful. Caught up in the tide of what needs to be done next and how do we manage this, that, and the other thing, and where is my next hour of entertainment coming from, and such like petty desires and thoughts, I forget the importance of being thankful and thus lose a certain graciousness, a connectedness that might otherwise blossom and grow more perfect...Thankfulness helps reignite a tepid faith life. Gratitude moves us from the central, fibrous core of self into the realm of God who grants all of these good things. Gratitude. Thankfulness. Two indispensable words for one essential reality--recognition that everything I have comes to me as a gift from the fullness of the love of God. Even the words I read and write come to me from Another--One whose love completes me by helping to eradicate me and replace me, still myself, and yet now more Him. - Steven Riddle

How to become grateful? There's no formula, but I know it's more than an assent in a certain cirumstance. It's a way of life, a posture for living. And I know what helps me become open to it. Slow down. Pay attention. Breathe. Listen. Receive. - blogger at "Emergent Self"

I think use of the word 'sanctity' by politicians ought to be outlawed. - Bill Luse

To find yourself praying for the grace to know and love God's law, edicts, commands, precepts, words, utterances, ways, decrees, and teachings is a remarkable experience. It is to recognize, insist upon, and celebrate your creatureliness, your dependency on God. It is to say, "Lord, You have something I need to be happy, and You will give it to me, and I will use it, and I will be happy, and You will be happy with me." Then the repetitions aren't so repetitive. They're variations, riffs on this most basic realization that God is He Who Is and this most astonishing revelation that He loves you who are not. - Tom of Disputations

How old is the Didache? Most scholars place its composition between A.D. 60 and 110. However, one of the top scholars alive, Enrico Mazza, argues very persuasively that the liturgical portions of the document were composed no later than 48 A.D. If he’s correct, that means that our oldest liturgical texts pre-date most of the books of the New Testament. The Didache, which was rediscovered at the end of the 19th century, reads like a time capsule from the apostolic generation...Amid this [first century] confusion came order and orthodoxy in the Didache. It is, perhaps, the earliest ancestor of today’s Catechism of the Catholic Church. - Mike Aquilina, at the "Fathers of the Church" blog

We understand Divine agape as the, if you will, ordinary "descending love" of unearned benevolence God has for His creatures. Divine eros, on the other hand, is, in Scriptural terms, God's jealous desire for us, whole and entire, spirit, soul, and body. So how can these two loves, expressed in terms that suggest they operate in opposite directions, be "totally" the same?...The Holy Spirit is also the "breath" of God. So we can think of breathing out as sending the Holy Spirit forth as agape, and of breathing in as the Holy Spirit returning to the Godhead as eros. Out, in: it's all breathing...What remains to be explained is how an unchanging, perfect, and simple God can love His creatures in this way. The short answer (if you'll pardon the presumption) is that, having received the Son and the Holy Spirit, we share in their lovableness. The Trinity doesn't say from eternity, "We love Each Other... ooh, and hey, We also love these creatures here!" It's all the same love. (It has to be. Otherwise, it's not the same Spirit, and that's a Bad Thing.) - Tom of Disputations

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