April 29, 2008


I personally find it very difficult to instruct the ignorant without at the same time entertaining myself at their expense. I mean, lighting a lamp in darkness is all well and good, but a real zinger shot into tender parts adds some real zest to life, especially when others are watching appreciatively. And I suspect the reason I feel that way is because I love my self -- or not even my self, but my self-image -- more than I love God and neighbor. To make the extrication that much harder, I'm pleased that I actually do [usually] [try to] love my neighbors enough to rarely weigh in with "you're an idiot"-type comments, even though an "oh isn't that charming" is just as certain to shut down conversation. Now, before anyone tells me it's entirely possible to tell someone in charity that they're an idiot: It's entirely possible to tell someone in charity that they're an idiot. But it has to be done in charity, which is to say in friendship, not merely done without ill will. - Tom of Disputations

Modernism is by necessity obsessed with form, much like a craftsman obsessed with his tools and materials. In my climbing days we used to call people like that "equipment weenies." These days you can see it in fly-fishing, where not a few people go out once a year with $5,000-worth of equipment to catch (maybe) $5-worth of fish. What should have been the story of the man, the stream, and the fish becomes instead a romance between the man and his tools. In this century the same thing happened in art. Just as they who would deny the existence of the soul will perforce worship the body, those who do not immediately know the difference between art and design are those who would confuse and equate a sailfish levitated above windblown waves with a reconstruction of its stiff and motionless skeleton in a natural history museum. - from "Field & Stream" magazine via Bill of "Summa Minutiae"

The Pope...warned that the country’s secular culture too often leads Catholics to profess faith in Christ in church on Sunday, but to leave their faith behind the rest of the week, as they go about their secular lives...What’s interesting is that the Pope doesn’t recommend remedying this situation through sheer willpower, as if having “the courage to be Catholic” would be enough. He calls for more creativity and imagination in how the faith is lived and presented, and opening up to God through prayer, service, and communion with others. In other words, rather than more willpower, which only encourages our tendency towads self-sufficiency and autonomy, he’s calling us to be more receptive to the living God who is the source of our being. This is the spiritual method of the lay movements, not the political method used by Catholic pressure groups. It’s the approach he highlighted in his two encyclicals, God is Love, and Saved By Hope, each of which were appeals to our common “religious sense,” the restlessness for God and the yearning for true happiness we all share. - Angelo Matera in "Godspy"

The more a soul trusts, the more it will receive. - St. Faustina's Diary

Back in the late 80’s, when catechesists and pastoral ministers started noticing that the intentional practice of faith they thought was going to flower once the evils of rote memorization and rules had been dispensed with was just not happening, “Catholic Identity” became the new buzz word and textbooks tossed saints back into the mix and started including at least one “Fun Catholic Fact” into each chapter. That didn’t work either. And what I started noticing was that my students saw no connection - none - between faith in Christ and the Church, first of all and secondly, between any of it and the rest of their lives. A good deal of that was undoubtedly due to the “I can be spiritual without being religious” gestalt, but the other part of it was that through all the changes, in tossing things out and trying to rethink things…there just wasn’t enough left ot make connections and most in charge were so negative about anything that whispered “pre-Vatican II” that they just couldn’t even begin to do it. Maybe they didn’t want to. And this is what Benedict’s program is - it’s not really, in its essence, about anything else - all the other concerns - liturgy, Biblical scholarship, theology - flow from this point...the one simple...answer to all of those restless, searching, hearts: "….Christianity proposes Jesus of Nazareth." - Amy Welborn

It is quite foreign to everyone bearing the name of a Christian to trust his own mental powers with such pride as to agree only with those things which he can examine from their inner nature, and to imagine that the Church, sent by God to teach and guide all nations, is not conversant with present affairs and circumstances; or even that they must obey only in those matters which she has decreed by solemn definition as though her other decisions might be presumed to be false or putting forward insufficient motive for truth and honesty. Quite to the contrary, a characteristic of all true followers of Christ, lettered or unlettered, is to suffer themselves to be guided and led in all things that touch upon faith or morals by the Holy Church of God through its Supreme Pastor the Roman Pontiff, who is himself guided by Jesus Christ Our Lord. - Pope Pius XI, via Steven Riddle

The [makeover] show ends with everyone celebrating the amazing changes in the woman's appearance. You have scenes where everyone claps and cheers and the makeover target twirls around in her new clothes — which look ugly to me — and professes to be transformed. We're assured — typical woman's TV pap — that the young woman was always a wonderful person and now her exterior matches her wonderful interior. Blah! I'd rather see a show where philosophers descend on a woman with a perfect exterior and rip into her for her intellectual and spiritual failings, put her on some kind of internally transformative regime, and turn her into a human being of substance. Can we get that? - Althouse, via Bill of "Summa Minutiae"

All the frisking, beeping and patting down is demoralizing to our society. It breeds resentment, encourages a sense that the normal are not in control, that common sense is yesterday. Another thing: It reduces the status of that ancestral arbiter and leader of society, the middle-aged woman. In the new fairness, she is treated like everyone, without respect, like the loud ruffian and the vulgar girl on the phone. The middle-aged woman is the one spread-eagled over there in the delicate shell beneath the removed jacket, praying nothing on her body goes beep and makes people look. - Peggy Noonan, on airport security, via John at the Inn at the End of the World

As prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, part of Cardinal Ratzinger's responsibility, especially in the latter years of John Paul's pontificate, was to handle the cases of priests accused of sexual abuse. He referred to his Friday mornings reading these dossiers as his "Friday penance." In an article published after his election, Laurie Goodstein of the New York Times wrote of this troubling part of Ratzinger's job and also of the meetings some members of the U.S. bishops' National Review Board had with him in 2003. Former board chair Anne Burke reported they found a concerned and engaged listener in the Cardinal. This reluctant immersion in these cases led to a strong and poignant moment in 2005, just days before the death of John Paul II, when the traditional Good Friday Stations of the Cross at the Coliseum, written that year by Cardinal Ratzinger, read, during the meditation on the Ninth Station:
Should we not also think of how much Christ suffers in his own Church? How often is the holy sacrament of his Presence abused, how often must he enter empty and evil hearts! How often do we celebrate only ourselves, without even realizing that he is there! How often is his Word twisted and misused! What little faith is present behind so many theories, so many empty words! How much filth there is in the Church, and even among those who, in the priesthood, ought to belong entirely to him!   - via "Open Book"

[My husband] and I were woefully ignorant of our Catholic faith when we married and we had absorbed a lot of the feminist, secular humanistic ideas that passed for religious education from our Catholic High School. I myself was very self-centered and focused on what marriage could do to make ME happy! Our home was a nice little newlywed apartment, but nobody would have ever accused us of being overly religious or spiritual. The one thing we did have going for us were models of two wonderful Catholic couples who lived out their faith at home...When I reconverted to my Catholic Faith I was enthusiastic and energetic and something about my delight in the Lord started that seed growing in Mr. Pete. When I would learn something about the faith and share it with him, we talked for hours. We listened to tapes together, we watched EWTN, we read. I have to say that it was one of the most exciting times in our marriage. If Mr. Pete had NOT shared my passion, I don't think I could have been successful in creating the type of family environment I envisioned... After our sixth child was stillborn, I felt a tremendous need to surround myself with religious objects, books, and particularly pictures of the Blessed Mother and Baby Jesus..Mr. Pete told me that at first he was kind of embarrassed by all the religious stuff in the house, afraid that we had become real religious fanatics! But he never said anything to me, and he personally framed and matted many of the prints that I bought. He said that there was something soothing about their presence and after a while he couldn't imagine NOT having these reminders of our faith surrounding us. That was an example of his spiritual leadership in a very subtle but effective way. - Elena of "My Domestic Church"

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