June 19, 2007

         

In the ordinary use of the word, a gift is something (usually a material thing) that, once given to us, becomes entirely ours. We can use it, shelve it, waste it, throw it away, but whatever we do with it, it is our property and our choice. The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit aren't exactly like that. They do become ours to use or not, but in a sense they also remain the Holy Spirit's. It's sort of like someone giving you a present of a pager whose number only they know, or a two-way wrist radio that only communicates with the one they have...Can these conclusions help us to love God and neighbor better? Yes, by making us more conscious of the closeness of God, both in being (the Trinity dwells with those who are sanctified) and in doing (the Gifts tell us that God intends to act through us as a matter of course). In this way, we love God the more for better understanding His great love for us; no distant uncle mailing us a $20 bill He. We also love neighbor the more for being quicker to think of and to depend on the Gifts of the Holy Spirit rather than our own imperfect virtues. - Tom of Disputations

As I was planning my trip, I contacted the head of a Catholic nonprofit in hope of making an appointment with him. He said that he would see me, but he added that he would try to talk me out of leaving the New York City newspaper world. "We need to have someone in the belly of the beast," he said. I have heard that line, or variations on it, many times since my Post days. The truth is that the longest anyone on record has survived in the belly of a beast is three days. And Jonah wasn't there to be a positive influence on the whale. The entire purpose of his presence there was to catch a ride to where he was supposed to be. I am now where I am supposed to be. - Dawn Eden of "The Dawn Patrol" on her new job

I loved that fact that they made the comparison between people going to Whole Foods to buy pristine and purer organic foods and at the same time pumping their bodies full of hormones through birth control. - Jeff Miller of "Curt Jester" on the book "The Bad Catholic's Guide To Wine, Whiskey, And Song"

Although I incline toward Father Schall’s favorable view of recreation, Mencken and Pascal weren’t entirely wrong. Far from it. I especially agree with Pascal: Recreational pursuits can numb us to our approaching death and the final judgment we must all prepare for. Excessive and frenzied recreational activity contains a strong dose of existential idiocy. But I don’t think recreation and piety are opposed. In fact, I’ve noticed an odd phenomenon in my life. After attending confession and saying the post-confession prayers and doing my penance, I want to drink beer. Granted, confession at my church is at 1 p.m. on Saturday afternoons and few things go together as well as Saturday afternoons and beer. But there is more to it. After confession, I feel happy, joyful, grateful. I don’t want to work in the yard or toil at the office. I want to have fun. Having just prepared myself for death, I want to celebrate life. It’s a paradox, but no coincidence...Prayer is the reverential part. Recreation is the celebration. They’re both proper and necessary reactions to this existential plight we call life. - Eric Scheske of "The Daily Eudemon"

St. Augustine thought that whenever a conflict arose between the enjoyable and the useful, the useful had to give way as being, in the ultimate sense, inferior. Many of the soberer thinkers of the past, including those who had by vow denied themselves most earthly pleasures, did not scruple to elevate what they called recreation to a dizzying position in the hierarchy of the worthwhile. - Walter Kerr

On the day that I found all my crannies and nooks
Were completely and hopelessly stuffed full of books,
My solution, I flatter myself, was most canny:
I bought nine brand-new nooks and a slightly used cranny. - Bob of Trousered Ape

"In His lifetime, Jesus didn't cure all of the sick, feed all of the hungry or liberate all of the captives. But He did come up with a way to do it through His followers. Juan Segundo, a Latin American theologian, said that Jesus had to leave humanity in the form in which we knew Him so as to send His Spirit into humans to find ways to feed all the hungry, cure all the sick, free all those held in bondage and build ships to ride out the storms." -- Sister Carol Gaeke, O.P., "The Catholic Moment," The Catholic Telegraph, 1 June 2007... "By freeing some individuals from the earthly evils of hunger, injustice, illness and death, Jesus performed messianic signs. Nevertheless he did not come to abolish all evils here below, but to free men from the gravest slavery, sin, which thwarts them in their vocation as God's sons and causes all forms of human bondage."-- Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 549...In his terrific catechism Catholic Christianity, Peter Kreeft says of paragraph 549, "[t]he sharpest distinction between traditional, orthodox Catholicism and Modernist, 'liberal,' revisionist Catholicism is probably right here." - Rich of "Ten Reasons"

Catholic priests advocating optional celibacy sometimes seem to have the idea that if they were married, they'd be coming home to someone who'd want to hear all about their day. Some have wondered where they'd find such a person, but the answer might be on the "Weddings/Celebrations" page of last Sunday's New York Times: "The Rev. Mark Alan Lewis and the Rev. K. Dennis Winslow, Episcopal priests, were joined in civil union on Tuesday." - Terrence Berres of "The Provincial Emails"

How about the concept that without order there is no freedom? How about his insights into the dangers of ideology and change for change's sake? His skepticism about the possible exportation of "democratic capitalism" around the world might be worth re-reading. This is to say nothing of his insights into the role of literature and culture - the "moral imagination" - in building a conservative polity. I will admit that Kirk is venerated a great deal more than he is read these days, but this ignorance should be remedied by reading him more not by venerating him less. - a NR Cornerite on Russell Kirk's offerings to the conservative movement

She was a math whiz, and it all came very naturally to her, but she simply wasn't a very good teacher. My son had her for algebra, and it turned out that I could explain things better to him than she could because, I figured out, I was definitely not a math whiz, had had to really claw my way to that A I got in Algebra in 8th grade. For that reason, I, a person who'd had to work to understand the concepts, was better at explaining things to another person who was having to work to understand the concepts than a person who just intuited it all could...The short version of this is that familiarity not only breeds contempt, it breeds a barrier to explaining that with which you are familiar to others. Approach things as a stranger, and explain things as if you are trying to help other strangers understand...What brings you close to Christ might be perceived by an outsider as being an obstacle...We can't just expect that the way our particular intuitions have been met in and fed by our faith will immediately resonate with someone looking at it all cold. - Amy Welborn

[C]an they say much beyond the stock, "I give God all the glory"? And doesn't that always imply (as countless columnists have suggested) that the guy they beat should give God all the blame? With these and similar thoughts, I wasn't all that enthusiastic when I first heard about Champions of Faith, a movie in which "baseball's biggest stars reveal how their faith guides and sustains their spectacular Major League careers."...Well, as Rich Donnelly says in the movie, "There are two kinds of people in this world: those who are humble, and those who are about to be." As I started the DVD, I was about to be humbled by the humble, honest, and forthright expressions of faith it contained...The point isn't that an active faith makes one ballplayer better than another. It's that it makes him better than he would be otherwise. - Tom of Disputations

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