March 27, 2007


Some folks scoff at my interest in the writings and words of Pope Benedict, but I do come by it honestly, I think. I was fairly unacquainted with him before his election, was brought up short, in a good way, by the homily he gave at his installation Mass, in which he went through the symbols with which he was being vested (the pallium, etc) and explained each one in this amazingly clear, pastoral and rich way. "There's a teacher," I thought...And for him, the answer is Christ. A recent editorial in the NCR(egister) lays it out: The Key to Benedict - which is not, as some would have you believe, nostalgia, a desire to "roll back" Vatican II, authoritarianism, control, or anything like that. - Amy Welborn

The Middle East situation also ought to be studied and judged on two levels. As a field of action to establish democracies, its resistance manifestly cannot be overcome. All effort to that end is wasted, because the United States cannot muster a force greater than the opposing forces, irresistible when joined, of history and religion — and would not if it could. But as a means of keeping at a distance the struggle with our enemy, Islam, our interference in that region may be justified. The huge immigration from the east into the west makes it plausible that if this enemy assaulted us at home, it would trigger not a united defense, but a quasi-civil war. - Jacques Barzun via Leo Wong's barzun100 blog

I'm scandalized that you'd quote Henri Nouwen.  I kid. - Gregg of "Gregg the Obscure". If I ever quote Richard McBrien or Sister Christer, please shoot me.

The Catholic Telegraph used to publish the rules for Lent in the paper every year. I have them stretching back into the mid-19th century. Sometimes they were harsh, other years they were every less intense than today. My sense is that local bishop had quite a bit of control over the Lenten experience for his flock. - commenter on "Ten Reasons"

The thermometer hit 70 yesterday. My little idiots were all over it. - Eric Scheske, who means that in the best possible sense

Dying to self is never fatal. - via MamaT of Summa Mamas

A few days after her murder commenced, I lost hope, and said so in "Goodbye, Terri". The reasons why are made plain in the article. The Law - is it dead yet? is an inconclusive rumination on the relationship between legality and morality...[There is] a tacit admission that the separation of powers is more important in principle than preventing the murder of a single individual. We musn't lower ourselves to the other side's tactics. They may lose their heads, but we must keep ours. This was the same line taken by a shorter, less legalistically precise offering in Touchstone in July of that year, the claim that judicial activism to save Terri would have been morally equivalent to the kind that gave us Roe v. Wade, to which I responded with a letter of outrage. - Bill of "Apologia" on the second anniversary of Terri Schiavo's death

There are a few books I'd run back into a burning house to rescue. Now the thoughtful folks at the University of Chicago Press have saved me from burning to death by putting online one of the best books I've ever owned: "The Founders' Constitution". It was my near-constant companion for a good part of my early 20s - I daydreamed of the day far in the future, perhaps at age 40, when I could have the entire set on a bookshelf and peruse them at my leisure. And now there they are. I love the internet. - Bill of "Summa Minutiae"

Sacramental grace often comes before the sacrament. This is the case with the Sacrament of Repentance in which our presence at the sacrament is an indication of our having received that grace. Our resistence to Confession is indicationo of the lack of repentance. The sacraments of re-entrance into the City of God, baptism and repentance both involve water; with repentance the water is provided by our tears. Tears are okay, for we are imitating the King, who wept for the sins of Jersualem -- that is our sins. Kings were responsible in ancient times for the irrigation of the city, and if our hearts are hardened against tears then ask the King to soften your soul and irrigate it until compunction arrives. - Fr. Hayes

Perhaps it's obstinacy masquerading as confusion, but I rarely hear from St. John without either massive befuddlement or a faith-killing depression. Neither advances my spiritual growth in any detectable way. Sometimes I find myself considering things like a Lay Dominican chapter, and almost immediately reject it, for fear of what I will have to reveal about myself and/or give up. This certainly tells me that I have things that I need to reveal and/or give up, but it also tells me that below the surface of my life I have things that "happen in Heaven," that need to stop happening here so they won't happen there anymore. So, it's perhaps more than a literary device. But St. John always has the effect of making me think about despair. Real, full on, desolation of the unforgivable sin kind. - JB the (revivified) Kairos Guy on Disputations

I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman, "Where's the self-help section?" She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose. - joke via email

Thomas Aquinas v. John of the Cross. Winner: Thomas Aquinas by forfeit. John of the Cross went into ecstasy and ceded the game to Thomas. Thomas honored John's better choice by leading the disappointed crowd in a solemn version of "Tantum Ergo Sacramentum". - from Ironic Catholic's "March Madness: The Elite Eight of Catholic Theologians"

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