October 31, 2006


[St. Thomas Aquinas says] do not spend time on things beyond your grasp.How do you know if it is beyond your grasp until you've tried to grasp it, and by then you've already spent so much time on it that it seems a shame to give it up. - Steven Riddle

If we’re talking about passing the faith on to children, good textbooks and even good Catholic schools are just the tiniest piece in the puzzle. The faith was passed on for centuries - centuries during which most Catholics didn’t go to Catholic schools, heck - didn’t even read. It was passed on because of what happened in communities - the structures and traditions that grew over time, that embodied the faith. So that new generations didn’t know about a saint because they read a story about her - they knew about her because the community celebrated her feast, her image was fashioned into the church buildings, little girls were named after her, pilgrimages were made to her shrine, the priest told the story of her life, and novenas were prayed to her. - Amy Welborn

[Author Frank] McCourt has some problems with the Church-which I gather I would get more detail about if I read his previous books. Yet the Church seems to still be reflected in his thought and lighten his path whether he realizes it or not. - Jim Curley of "Bethune Catholic"

I suggest a prayer or two to the ever-playful Child Jesus, and some reflection on the fact that the greatest of all created human beings is a woman. Be forewarned, though, that when playing with the Child Jesus it is possible to acquire a sudden and mysterious wedgie. - Zippy Catholic

Orwell optimistically thought that the decay is reversible, but “to think clearly is a necessary first step toward political regeneration.” By definition, however, regeneration is not the desire of the degenerate. The clarity of thought urged, for instance, by Pope Benedict is considered scandalous. The historian Toynbee said that civilizations die, not by invasion, but by suicide. Under the guise of sophistication, the moral lights of culture begin to dim when wordplay is considered an amusing game and not a sinister plot. - George Rutler in "First Things"

I don't find pain to be much of a problem. Maybe it's my education: in mathematics, a lot of effort is spent proving that a solution to a problem exists without going to the trouble of actually finding the solution. Similarly, I know that a solution to the problems of theodicy exist -- in the mercy and justice of God -- so I don't get too worked up over what the actual solution is. - Tom of Disputations

This quote from St. Benedict’s Rule sums up my life and aspirations: “Do not be daunted immediately by fear and run away from the road that leads to salvation. It is bound to be narrow at the outset. But as we progress in the monastic life and in faith, we shall run on the path of God’s commandments, our hearts overflowing with the inexpressible delight of love. Never swerving from his teaching in the monastery until death, we shall through patience share in the sufferings of Christ that we may deserve also to share in his kingdom. Amen.” (Prologue, vv 48-50) - Bro. Aaron Schulte of the monastery at Gethsemane

I don't think many people realize that the Council of Trent discarded half the musical repertory of the Church. And like many other decisions of Trent that I dislike, it was essentially a concession to Protestantism - the sequences are not scripture, so they were removed. And frankly, I think it a truth so universal and self-evident that it could be formulated as a creed of the Church: Worrying about what Protestants will think sucks all the fun out of being Catholic. - commenter on "Open Book"

The Faith is, after all, a matter of faith....[it] is not a multi-step rational argument...Christianity does not equal Christian apologetics, and the sooner Catholics realize this the better. As Daniel Mitsui put it in a comment at Open Book in a different context, "Worrying about what Protestants will think sucks all the fun out of being Catholic." It's pretty silly to understand yourself in contrast to a movement that understands itself in contrast to you. - Tom of Disputations

For many Catholics here, the Church is America is like a ne'er-do-well brother who insists on going to a second-rate junior college and hanging out with his high school buddies when he's been offered a full-ride to the Ivy League and a shot at greatness. We love him all the same, but just wish he'd made better decisions. - Rich of "Ten Reasons"

The question that has bugged me for ages is different from that I hear asked by others. Others try to rebuild, to recreate that old sense of Catholic culture - which is admirable, but is it possible? No, what I wonder about is how do we reconstruct Catholic life in the catacombs? By that I don’t mean the extremes of persecution, but as Christians living in a culture that is really inimical to the Gospel, at every point, to the celebration of materialism, consumerism, economic success, personal appearance, to the rank hostility to life and the commoditization of sex. Christianity was born and flourished in the Roman Empire, in conditions hostile to it. There was no “Catholic culture” as we associate it with Christendom on. I’m thinking it is more useful and to the point to imagine myself, as a Christian, living in the time of Domitian, than thinking that the answer is to try to recreated 13th century Italy. - Amy of "Open Book"

St. Thomas Aquinas tells us ..., we need a lot of images for God. In particular, we need conflicting, incompatible and grotesque ones. The more images we have, says Thomas, the less likely we are to identify them with God and the more likely we are to realize that God is the incomprehensible mystery behind all images. So there is nothing wrong with thinking of God as angry about our sin. Yet it would be wrong to think that this is the end of the matter. We have to set images of God's anger beside images of God as constantly tolerant and compassionate. We have to set them beside images of God as forgetting our offenses and so on. If we work simply with idols and images, we are liable to tell a story like this: first I sin and God is angry; then I repent and beg for forgiveness; and, after a while, God relents and forgives me and is pleased with me again. And this is perfectly in order considered as a story. But it is not the literal truth. The literal truth is that when God forgives us he doesn't change his mind about us. Out of his unconditional, unchanging, eternal love for us he changes our minds about him. It is God's loving gift that we begin to think of repenting for our sin and of asking for his mercy. And that repentance does not earn his forgiveness. It is his forgiveness under another name. The gift, the grace, of contrition just is God's forgiveness. The gift of contrition is, for example, the grace we celebrate in the sacrament of penance. If we go to confession, it is not to plead for forgiveness from God. It is to thank him for it. The gift of contrition is the gift of recognizing God's unswerving love for us. It is the gift of having the confidence to confess our sins, to admit the truth. And if we do that, then, as Jesus told us, the truth will set us free (cf. John 8:32) (God, Christ and Us). - Fr. Herbert McCabe

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