July 22, 2008


Coleridge famously divided human beings between Aristolelians and Platonists - that is, between inductive and deductive thinkers, between those who move easily into abstractions and those who prefer dealing with particulars....The creative verbal imagination - most of us agree - is torn between polarities: the polemical and the Dionysian. There is that eximious infatuation with language, the sheer, lush love of the sound for the sound of it, sense be damned. - Reid Buckley, William F. Buckley's brother

My definition of an expert in any field is a person who knows enough about what's really going on to be scared. - PJ Plauger

I vacillate between optimistic neo-conservative and throw-in-the-towel 13th-century reactionary, depending largely upon my mood. The only thing clear, the only reliable “tradition”, the only institution left standing is the Catholic Church. The Church isn’t enough to make one feel at home in this world … but maybe that is exactly the point. - Jeff of Stoney Creek Digest

They die as they lived: imperfect, at times startlingly petty, and seemingly so ill-prepared. Yet the Master works all the while to master them; sometimes we perceive it, most of the time we do not.- Bishop Daniel Flores on "Inside Catholic" concerning the Ron Hansen novel "Exiles"

There is nothing poetic about the circumstance of Norberta’s or anyone’s death (the Tower of Siloam comes to mind). There is grace, though, in the surrender to the One who comes in it: “And here the faithful waver, the faithless fable and miss.”Hopkins wrote to his mother that “it is our pride to be ready for instant dispatch”(172), and though speaking of the Jesuit vocation, and his own frequent transferrals, he doubtless intended also the transitus toward which all changes of address tend, and which they all foreshadow. We can hope that Norberta knew this as well, and could silently offer it to the “Father and fondler of heart thou has wrung.“ If hope is not enough for us in reading this end — I speak for myself, at any rate — then we are like those whom Hopkins describes as “trenched with tears, carved with cares.”And we are thus shown to be in further need of the Master’s particular touch, coming as of “an anvil-ding.“ - Bishop Flores again on "Inside Catholic"

I really, deeply don't believe that ethics are the sum and summit of the Christian life. If I had to pick something, I think I'd pick the Eucharist: the consummation of God's love affair with us. And I think this rejection of ethics-uber-alles is relevant in two ways: 1) Shame is community property--the domain of ethics, the domain of humans negotiating life with humans rather than the domain of humans pouring themselves out in the humiliating, confusing, transcendent love of God; and yet 2) Deus Caritas Est is right that love of others is sturdiest when it's based on the Eucharist. I can't count the times I've finally surrendered and confessed because I had to counsel at the pregnancy center that night. Love beyond ethics strengthens ethics..."Charity" gets a bad rep for condescension. I think for the people for whom it is genuinely the Wedding Feast--the people who can live at all hours within the Mass--there's no condescension. I would rather think about how to live that way than think about how to properly shame one another.... - Eve Tushnet

I’ve no faith in the power of my prayer.
Grant me the grace to phrase
a psalm of thanks and praise
from one who lists among his sins despair.
     -"First Things" poem "In David’s Line" by Timothy Murphy

When you’re drawn into the lives of others, you enter their problems, their hopes, their dreams, their families. They whisk you down unimagined corridors, toward possibilities that had been hidden to you before. So resolve to do little things for others. You don’t know where they’re going to lead but then again, you don’t have any idea where your life is going to lead. When I was your age, I had long hair, a beard and thought of myself as a socialist. You are going to pinball all over the place, from experience to experience, job to job. And I want you to remember that you’ve got company. - the late Tony Snow

When I look at how this issue emerges in the lives of Hopkins and the sisters, it seems that the struggles of every Christian are reflected there. They may be religious -- and further, 19th-century religious, where formation was marked by a suspicion of individuality and an emphasis on obedience -- but we contemporary laity are no more exempt from this paradox if we are trying to follow Christ seriously and totally, in obedience, willing to leave all behind. But neither are we dull, homogenous automatons. God created each of us with various gifts and capabilities . . . but how to use them? I am called to give my best to the Lord, but how can I keep pride at bay? How can I discern when this stops being about God and starts being about me? I may be tempted to pity these religious for that old-fashioned oppressive obedience culture in which they lived, but should I? Do my strivings actually put me under obedience to forces even more oppressive than Mother Superiors and Father Generals? Most importantly, in sorting all of this out, how can I avoid falling into the trap of cheerily and vapidly celebrating my "gifts and talents" as the goal of my spiritual life? And inscribing it all on felt banners? (Or on my blog?) - Amy Welborn

Thank you so much to all of you who have been praying for me, my family and my beautiful mother. I know that I have done so well so far only because of the enormous grace I have received from the prayers of my friends. I know that there are many hard days to come, but I must say that the day that your mom's obituary appears in the paper must be one of the hardest. It certainly is for me...I cannot see to type through my tears. And I want you all to realize what a precious jewel my Summa compatriot is. Smock came and prayed over my mama when I was too heartbroken to think of anything to say. Ya'll should be so lucky. - Terry of "Summa Mamas"

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