March 30, 2012

Found on Other Blogs

via National Geographic

Msgr. on Sloth:
Sloth tends to dismiss the power of grace since it focuses on the “trouble” or effort attached to walking in the Christian way, rather than to understand it as a work of God...

On account of sloth, the idea of right living, and the gift of a transformed humanity inspires, not joy, but aversion or even disgust, because it is seen as laborious, or as involving the setting aside currently enjoyed or sinful pleasures.

In effect we are hyper-stimulated in the modern world. Our frantic pace, endless interruptions, and the rich abundance of entertainment, fast-paced movies, video games, all are a feast for the eyes but they hyper-stimulate...The “still, small voice of God,” the quiet of prayer, the simple reading of Scripture and pondering its message, the unfolding of spiritual meaning through reflection, the slower joys of normal human conversation in communal prayer and fellowship…none of this appeals to many who are hyper-stimulated, and used to a breakneck pace.
Kindness v. Love:
Many false expectations are centered in the exaltation of kindness over love. Generally this is manifest in the fact that suffering of any kind is seen as obnoxious, and even the cause for legal action. It has also led to our demands for comfort to become immoderate...A final and very terrible effect often flows from mistaking mere kindness for love is that it disposes many towards atheism. Here I simply want to quote Peter Kreeft because he says it so well:
It is painfully obvious that God is not mere kindness, for He does not remove all suffering, though He has the power to do so. Indeed, this very fact — that the God who is omnipotent and can, at any instant, miraculously erase all suffering from the world, deliberately chooses not to do so — is the commonest argument that unbelievers use against him. The number one argument for atheism stems from the confusion between love and kindness. [Peter Kreeft, Envoy Magazine, Vol 9.3, p. 20]

Poem found on Heather King's blog:

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.


March 29, 2012

Seven Quick Takes Shaken, Not Stirred

I'm really liking this author alerts website that sends you an email/RSS when a favorite author publishes something.


Of the new Mass translation the only line I trip over is the one that ends in "holy Church" instead of just Church. I always miss that, lulled into the familiar by the opening sentences being the same.

Excerpt from a Mark Doty poem:

Do we love more
what we can’t say?

As if what we wanted
were to be brought
that much closer

to words’ failure,
where desire begins?

What I love about language
is what I love about fog:
what comes between us and things
grants them their shine. Take,

for instance, this estuary,
raised to a higher power
by airy sun-struck voile:
gunmetal cove and glittered bar

hung on the rim of the sky
like palaces in Tibet—
white buildings unreachable,
dreamed and held

at just that perfect distance:
the world’s lustered by the veil.


Slightly disappointed in myself for getting semi-educated on the Trayvon Martin case. Would prefer invincible ignorance (which, by the way, is the state of most media types). The proper response to over-hype is to ignore it, I think. Rather than to get all angry about the racial double-standards, media malpractice, Zimmerman, the Black Panthers, or whatnot, it would be more conducive to calm and peacefulness to engage in Heather King-ish detachment and not follow these "stories" (where "story" is defined remarkably free of details - there is nothing the media likes better than a story free of details because then they can speculate and rush to judgment more quickly, since facts tend to impede analysis.) I assiduously avoided the Duke lacrosse case, which redounded to my benefit. It's as easy as using the fast-forward button on the television remote or skipping the Drudge links.


Good Scott Hahn talk the other morning on suffering on Catholic radio. He says he thinks the one thing, the only thing, that all modern people can agree on as evil is suffering. This dovetails nicely with a chapter on suffering in "Consoling the Heart of Jesus" book. The Lord doesn't seem nearly as hypoallergenic to suffering as we are, given that he allowed his Son to die on a cross and his mother to witness it. Our suffering must be somehow be united to Christ's suffering in order for it to be redemptive and used by Him. I know it's Christianity 101 but still it seems something of a mystery.


Haven't read it yet but when I saw a National Geographic cover story on the Apostles, I thought it looks interesting. And, of course, with some good pics.


Woke up pleasingly early this morning, early enough to imbibe a little more of Charles Murray's "Coming Apart". One can see how and why the rich are getting richer, the poor poorer, and how we're becoming two separate cultures. College seems to be the big actor here; elite colleges much more elite now than in 1960, and intelligence was more dispersed not just across different colleges but also across different jobs/careers. Smart people marrying smart people much more frequently now and living in the same zipcodes. It has a feel of inevitability about it, this bifurcation, but it doesn't feel compatible with Christianity. Perhaps it's one of the unfortunate if inevitable results of capitalism.


Was drinking some Brian Boru beer the other day. I still feel a wistful nostalgia at how during the mid-1990s I read about the Boru in preparation for a trip to Ireland. Ach but was I not thorough in my trip preparations, reading Irish myth in case I might come upon Brian Boru in the flesh? I did half-think I'd meet some sort of supernatural phenomenon in the olde land of Eire during that trip, such as a leprechaun or two.

For Your Amusement...Found on Another Blog

March 28, 2012

For the Love of Diversity!

Oh yeah - we are all gung-ho on diversity until it hits us in the wallet. Received this note:
Hi! In the last two days straight I have received a Rupee in the snack shop containers. Though they are very pretty, they are only worth a little less than two cents. Minus the fee to exchange them I would owe the bank about five dollars. Please do not use Rupees and if you are the one who has done so, please drop fifty cents in the snack shop containers. You can get the Rupee's back at my desk :-)

March 23, 2012

7.5 Medium Length Takes

Well I feel inspired to post again after reading Betty Duffy's latest*. Nothing is more charismatic than another's discouragment, solidarity being what it is. And yet she ends on a hopeful note, as well she might given the Christian message. Big butt'd (figuratively speaking) folks need not despair.


On the walk into work listened to blogger Msgr. Pope being interviewed by another blogger. Pope said that he is amazed at how many Catholics expect more from a Tylenol tablet than they do the Eucharist. He says his parish is convinced, at every Mass, that the Holy Spirit is going to do something that day. Nice corrective lens.


I was reading some ancient Irish poetry recently and came across a few lines that reminded me of the Mick, particularly the picture that graced the 1961 Mickey Mantle Topps card gifted to us by my best friend's uncle:
No wonder though their strength be great: 
Sons of queens and kings are one and all; 
On their heads are 
Beautiful golden-yellow manes.
With smooth comely bodies, 
With bright blue-starred eyes, 
With pure crystal teeth, 
With thin red lips. 
Good they are at man-slaying, 
Melodious in the ale-house, 
Masterly at making songs, 
Skilled at playing fidchell.   


Le' sun has re-arrived and bright buoys my hopes with each refreshing draught from the lake of beer, even while time tick-tocks with a stubborn, if admirable, steadfastness. I dream of those days at Hilton Head, biking in the Hildegarden sun, baking in the heedless sun, rushing to the onrushes of those ocean surges.  Freedom breathes so lithely in those climes, the sun proof against all enemies foreign and domestic.  And yet even Hawaiians are not free from reality, as stated baldly in the latest George Clooney movie. 

I tend to be disdainful of New Year's resolutions for the fact that they are so often so quickly flouted.  People work outt in January and early February, making the gym too crowded, and then quit by March. But self-improvement is not to be mocked, nor are the Lenten projects that many bloggers engage in. Whatever the lack of longterm effects, it seems like a good thing that so many give up something or do something extra. It seems like no prayer or good work or fast (the latter two being prayer in a different guise) are wasted. 


Morning at the zoo. Not bad at all. The weather held out; no real rain until after we got home around 4, and I enjoyed the "artworks of God", from the 15,000 lb elephant "Hank the Tank" to the sleeping lions to the pacing tigers. Saw a python, astonishingly large, and a small colony of the world's largest bats. They were mesmerizing, hanging there sometimes with just one claw, some with their gigantic, veined wings extended, others creating their own micro-environment by closing their wings around themselves. Self-shelter. A baby elephant humorously hosed himself off via spouting water from his trunk, and later made a trumpet call when comically going after the Canadian geese who took residence in the elephant domain. The bears always startle simply for their size. (A Grizzly slept on a log, which didn't seem too comfortable but then I'm no Grizzly.) The ever active wolverine was entertaining, and I could've watched the otter swim for quite some time. The Mexican wolf and Timber wolf also made an impression. I think grandson Sam, 2 years old, had a good time - he seemed to know where we were going before we got there. He rode in the wagon for a short while before he walked to walk freely, and walk freely he did, constantly on the verge of walking off.


Reading from Wisdom chapter 2 today seems Christ writ large. Even the New American Bible notes - written by near-heathens apparently deathly afraid of being seen as "homers" - say it was "seen as prophetic of Christ". (Of course they're not willing to confess to seeing it as such.) Regardless, I feel sad for my Protestant brothers and sisters not to believe such Scripture as Wisdom is inspired, since they've lost one of my favorite books of the Old Testament. Speaking of Old Testament books, Scott Hahn has a new one out about First and Second Chronicles. Now there's a brave author and publisher!


* - or it could be the beer.

March 19, 2012

Compassion and Courage

Interesting post about zeal by Edward Oakes:
I recently read a review of a book about Margaret Thatcher which argued that: “Thatcher. . . . wanted to restore the balance of virtues in Britain away from current sentimentalities such as compassion and toward the ‘vigorous virtues’ of courage and enterprise.” What struck me about the remark is that virtues can become their own enemies unless they are counterbalanced with other virtues. Thus if a society fosters only compassion at the expense of courage and enterprise, it risks becoming decadent and incapable of defending itself because it no longer fosters the virtue of courage.

March 15, 2012

The Portable Prize

A McSweeney write-up:
I know what you’re thinking, so don’t even say it. Buying that thing won’t make you happy, is what you’re thinking. Buying things never makes you happy, so why would you buy this thing? It won’t make you happy.

But you haven’t seen this thing.

It’s really cool. They just started making it and not many people have one yet. It does all sorts of stuff and can fit in my pocket, but it can also get bigger than that if I want it to.

It comes in both black and white, but I can also buy an affordable cover for it in a different color if I want. For example, if I buy it in black but decide I want it to be red today, I just buy the red cover and slide it on. Now it’s red—until I want it to be black again, that is. (I can do that for any other color too, not just red.)


Another way this thing will make me happy is that it comes with a durable carrying case.

March 14, 2012

This & That Thursday

Got my own "Florida room" today and tomorrow only, at least until June. Yes it's pert near 70 degrees and sunny and I'm out on the back patio with the whisperin' breeze. I just can't even believe I didn't plan ahead and ask off for a day this week, which could've been a mini-Florida, sans beach but cum beer. Two scheduled meetings would appear to thwart any ideas of playing hooky -- which really isn't playing hooky nowadays given that all our vacation and sick days are lump together like a tasty stew. I feel no guilt over calling in sick when I'm not really sick seeing how the company's not losing anything by it. Providing I don't have meetings.

And oh yes did I run like a zephyr down High, and it does feel like forever since my last vacation, that lil' 4-day'r back in January. I ran in shorts and a t-shirt as if I were in Florida again. Decidedly un-Lenten weather is a bad influence on me. Hard to be a saint in the sun, with the beers & laziness calling.


Am "lit-hungry" even though I read a goodly amount of "Slumberland" while sitting out on the patio. It's now dealing with the Berlin Wall falling and I've suddenly became ravenously hungry for web articles about how German reunification really went. Not so great, it would seem - something like 50% of Eastern Germans don't feel a part of Germany, referring to reunification as an "Anschluss", an annexation by West Germany -- despite the fact that West Germans have paid and continue to pay tons of deutsche marks towards the East German pensions/retirements/welfare safety nets. Money can't buy you love. One East German politician suggested that West Germany was not careful about giving East Germany a few symbolic gestures at the time of reunification, not enough respect. I wonder sometimes if symbolic gestures and respect are a bottomless pit, but perhaps not.


Also been reading "Coming Apart" by Charles Murray, who forecasts a coming class-based, rich-poor society in the U.S.. Interestingly, he doesn't predict American decline, militarily or economically, but a loss of what makes America America, the sense of togetherness in the nation.


My tendency is to write off all spiritual malaise, including my own, as caused by insufficient discipline. (Although certainly not true of the dark nighter's like Mother Teresa.) Certainly a great modern problem is the seeing of discipline as a negative thing, not as evidence of God loving us. But if it all comes down to discipline then it all comes down to us, which can't be given that we can make progress only through grace. (Though if grace is abundant, then the only thing stopping it is us, but then I'm touching on mysteries beyond me.) This view of things isn't too far afield from the conservative mindset on matters financial - I see a lot of financial angst and malaise most of it is simply failure to live within a budget, or actually a deliberate flouting thereof and fiscal insanity (like buying a $1,000 couch while on the verge of bankruptcy, as was recently witnessed by yours truly). We are our own worst enemies, no doubt, as Whitney Houston intuited.

Momentarily flux'd by having the garage door come down on my not-fully-in-the-garage car, taking a jot of paint off the back end. Rather surprised since I thought the garage door wouldn't come down if any part of the car was blocking its path. Apparently I found that sweet spot where it's not sticking out enough to trip the sensor but far enough out to physically stop the garage door from coming down. Ah well it's got 40K miles on it and I'm not in the "must keep it pristine" mode anymore. It's funny how if this happened in week two of my ownership I'd be wringing my hands and moaning a river. The things we find important are so unimportant!


The second reading at Mass the other day was about how Paul said that Jews want signs and Gentiles want wisdom and that Christ thwarted both. In the next sentence or two St. Paul mentions the Jews wanting to see power, and so I take it that a lust for signs is a lust for God's power. Certainly that's what many Jews wanted - a God who would whip ass and take Roman names. And the Gentiles seemed interested in the pursuit of wisdom for wisdom's sake. And Christ crucified, as Paul says, is neither strength nor wisdom of a human kind.


A friend laments his lost love. Perhaps it may be of some relief to recall that someday all that which thwarts us, all that prevents us from unions with others, will be thwarted itself, i.e. that in Heaven we'll not only see our dogs, but will be with (though not carnally, of course, but in a way seven times more powerfully) all those who eluded our grasp*, so to speak, on earth. To borrow from the Irish band Barleyjuice:
My love's been drinkin'
She does not know me
We courted years ago
She bore my child
Tonight she's telling me
I'm not the man she cares for
My love's been drinkin'
She's in denial

But we'll all lay together
Beneath the bloomin' heather
For worse or for better, friend or foe,
So then while the sun's still shinin'
Let's raise a cup o' kindness
And sing our songs for sinners here below
* - "grasp" is perhaps the wrong word, suggestive as it is of eros rather than agape. To quote Fr. Charles, "God wants to give us every good thing. Not for the grasping of sin, but so that we might share his joy in giving away."

March 13, 2012

Another Link...

How India became America.

From Ross Douthat....

Given their options, Republican voters have acquitted themselves about as sensibly, responsibly and even patriotically as anyone could reasonably expect.

March 09, 2012

Twitter & the Ear Worm

Twitter: What is it good for? Good points all. I initially thought Twitter the harbinger of the Apocalypse but now I know better.

'Cept I can't get that song War out of my head: "War, what is it good for?"

From an old National Review

Mother Teresa at Harvard.

Various & Sundry

Collected a couple of ever-familiar yet ever-new corporatisms yesterday: "task" used as a verb, as in "She tasked me with...". This gets away from the more harsh, "She made me do," the too soft, "she asked me to...." the too banal, "she had me do...". Task is one of those crisp and authoritative English words that people like to say; they like the way it trips off the tongue.

The other instance was the odd use of "space", as in "I was in the brokerage space last year..". In other words, you don't say, "I worked in Brokerage," for that would broker your future away. No, you say that you worked in some space, because it adds an extra syllable and extra syllables are always helpful when giving talks.


What's fascinating to me about some of the anti-Romney attitude is what one expects of a president. Franklin Roosevelt was so beloved, according to John Updike, because people thought he cared. Many economists say FDR made the depression worse and longer, but people loved him because they related to him (despite his wealth!). Updike basically said people would prefer a leader from whom they feel compassion rather than one who can make things actually on-the-ground better.

I tend to figure what does it benefit me if someone in D.C. feels my pain since the president can't get me a job? I guess, for good or ill, I tend to look less at the person than his policies. Should we expect love from our leader? “Love to be true has to hurt," said Mother Teresa. And, in the liturgy of the hours, we hear from the Leader of leaders: "Christ the Lord was tempted and suffered for us."


Yesterday was a dray, a gray mare of a day, a windblown tide of steady rain with a zinc-like dusk that comes early in these parts, as early as two, three in the afternoon. It seems a fitting postscript to Wednesday's irrational sun-zuberance, telling the tale that everything that goes up must come down.

The concrete face of a nearby building is half taupe, half white, with a jagged stock-market line showing where the rain soaked in. A pink banner urges, "PARK, PARK, PARK" and seems forlorn on the gloom-struck day, like a dandelion in December. Parking garages like these seem to make no attempt at beauty or elegance, they are pure functionaries, the architects having drawn them up early and played golf in the afternoon. Ugliness in search of function is no virtue.


I find it oddly entertaining to watch the policeman out in the street directing traffic. Basically all he does is force people to make a right when coming out of the parking garage. Facing the cars, his left arm will go up, perfectly parallel to the ground. Sometimes he'll wave drives to hurry a bit, by waving his right hand. Some very few drivers will wave and he'll wave back.


One of the things I like about evangelical Christianity is their love of the Bible, often shown by copious margin notes. There are "moleskin" bibles with especially generous margins that encourage this sort of extensive note-taking/defacing. I've never been much of a note-taker, in the Bible or in any other books. I once started to take notes in an NRSV I had but I switch Bibles too frequently which defeats the purpose since you want all your notes in one place. I'm at a loss as to how to write anything meaningful in the typically tiny spaces most bibles allow for note-taking. It seems you can hardly jot down more than a phrase. I'd like to see what people are writing and whether they can read it later.

Many folks praise Logos, but I like using the OliveTree Bible Reader software on my iPad. It has the NRSV, Douay and NABre available, though not the New Jerusalem. And one of its supposedly neat features is this ability to type notes. And sure enough, it helpfully adds a little note icon to the verse which when later touched will bring up said note. My first note was on today's reading of Jeremiah and all I could write was basically a rephrase of the Scripture. Which is what some bible commentaries do - they just tell you the obvious, like, "Jesus here is demonstrating how we are to behave as Christians." Duh. But now that I'm a note-writer too, I see it's not so easy.

March 08, 2012

Not Even Token?

I found this an interesting take:
In my second post above I ventured with trepidation to lament that the Latin Church’s current discipline on fasting and abstinence seems mere token ascesis. I was gratified by the confirming comment of canon law professor Ed Peters, who opined that the current law of fast “does not even get to the level of token: it is purely legalistic. And I think THAT breeds contempt for law.”

March 06, 2012

On Converts

Interesting post from Friar Minor:
It's funny being a con­vert. Some say con­verts make the best Catholics. Oth­ers say that con­verts tend to by annoy­ing and given to rigid­i­ty. For bet­ter or for worse, I share some of the typ­i­cal traits of Catholic con­verts and reverts of my gen­er­a­tion, such as a delight in doc­trine and a cer­tain sort of attach­ment to the prac­tices and behav­iors of the faith, what the older gen­er­a­tion likes to call 'structure.' Like other con­verts and reverts, I have found in this a blessed deliv­er­ance from the ver­ti­go of this world's rel­a­tivism and a refresh­ment from the bore­dom of its hedo­nism. I want to say that I don't make any apolo­gies for this, though that would be a lie. I have made apolo­gies over the years, in my sin and to my shame.

March 05, 2012

Diaristic Wanderings

We almost had a possum in the house, which certainly would've been a first. Our dog Buddy took off like a shot put after something, presumably a squirrel, but it turned out to be an eminently catchable possum. He's caught it so many times the poor fellow probably has teethmarks permanently embedded. Buddy whirled towards the door, apparently wanting it as a trophy for the living room, but I got there first and blocked him and made him drop it. The possum played dead as possums will, and we photographed it for posterity. Not the handsomest animal on God's earth, nor the swiftest, but arguably the best actor. Hollywood take note.


All's well that reads well, or rather all's well when I'm reading. Preternaturally hungry for text (over image or sound), I made my way through the beginning of "Slumberland" by Paul Beatty, the next novel up in the grand parade. Lyrical, humorous, politically incorrect, it's a sort of a live wire (i.e. the first 30 pages). Then onto it's opposite - a biography of Prussian political genie Otto von Bismarck.

Finished the sometimes very satisfying "Leaving Atocha Station" by Ben Lerner. I really can't believe how consciousness-changing it is to be in that sublime, supine position on the recliner reading a lyrical novel. And the sun shone for it's obligatory 25 seconds in Central Ohio such that it was bliss itself. How refreshing a little snippet was, just a half-hour of reading was an improvement over that awful non-fiction in the form of National Review. Nothing against NR of course, but the fatigue of reading about how things are falling apart wearies. The cover story is about how education costs have soared despite massive increases in government spending in education. On Friday Aaron configured the salt and pepper shakers in close proximity, the pepper indicating the "reset" button, and asked me where he thought we are on the decline declination. I told him we've been declining for 500 years according to French intellectual Jacques Barzun. He's concerned the guvmint will means-test his savings away.


Been playing, addictedly, "Words With Friends", an online Scrabble game. Sometimes democracy is right, given its popularity. Not only is it extremely satisfying to occasionally find the gigantic hit (today I managed "Heather" for a whopping 61 points!) but it's good for sharpening the middle-aged brain and thus hopefully staving off the inevitable mental decay and/or dementia. Just as physical exercise is a requirement as one ages, so too mental exercise. Too often I balk at the latter.

Read last night a bit of the richly photographed bookish accompaniment to "Downton Abbey". I got it "free" on amazon with points from my credit card. It's the sort of book that would be terribly disappointing in Kindle form. Also reserved "Kill the Irishman", both the book and movie, at library. It fills that need to try to figure out "what went wrong" with this mafiaosa Catholic who was raised by loving religious sisters. I'm so predictable in this drive to try to figure out the inexplicable, beginning with Judas, the "ur-type" (or maybe, actually Lucifer) with all the advantages and yet who chooses wrongly.


All day Saturday was the big 2,000+ man annual men's conference of the diocese of Columbus called "Answer the Call". I always feel a tad guilty for not answering that call. Went once to Cincy's version back a decade ago with my dad and his brother. These events seem like pure reaction to the Promisekeepers, not that there's anything wrong with that. Evangelicals often fill a need before we Catholics do. And there seems to be a need for these conferences, else there wouldn't be such a large attendance. Similarly the small group phenomenon - the men conference always plugs small groups even though, for me, they seem to be anathema. My inner introvert rebels and/or my laziness.

The conference was covered live on the local Catholic radio station, and I tuned in for the tail end of one glorified pep talk which reminded me why I'm so turned off by it all. Lots of emotional sports analogies that always tend to be too... self-consciously chest-thumping. But the next talk was Scott Hahn and his talk centered on the liturgy, basically saying that the original of the "New Testament", as stated in the New Testament itself, is the act of the Eucharist - not the Bible. In other words, when Christ instituted the Eucharist he spoke of the "new covenant" or "new testament", and he said "Do this in memory of me..." not "Read this in memory of me". The Scriptures that came to later be called the New Testament, about 150 or so years after the death of Christ, were called that because of their connection to the New Testament or Eucharist - these were the sacred writings that were read at early liturgies. So it's a "sacred by association" type deal.


Wednesday is hell day, i.e. hazing day, an 8am-5pm meeting in a corporate re-education camp. Everyone was cordially invited and then compelled when not enough were promptly accepting the meeting notice. So that means I need this bleary, beery time of printoxication. I'm ready for long dollops of music, beer. The table next to me is full of rich appointments: Porrello's handsome "To Kill an Irishman" book, as well as the even handsomer "Downton Abbey" post-Victoriana. And above both sits that quietly dedicated servant, the Kindle. (Got a new cover for it. I'm becoming a bit womanly when it comes to liking these sorts of accessory frills. Next thing I'll be admiring a pair of shoes.)

"Kill the Irishman", the film, held me transfixed from the opening scene of a car bomb going off in the 1970s-era Boston-like setting. A period piece nicely photographed, it depicts a hard neighborhood with tough characters, centered on one figure's rise from Irish laborer to union president and then to his eventual corruption. I seem to have a real soft spot for movies involving the lower class Irish, like "The Fighter" starring Mark Wahlberg, "The Gangs of New York" or Clooney's "The Perfect Storm" to name but three. Fascinated and repulsed, simultaneously, by that hard East coast cutthroat world.


At mass Sunday a psalm is quoted: "I trusted, even when I said: ‘I am sorely afflicted.’" How does one have such faith!? During morning prayer the other day I meditated on those three OT brothers in the furnace praising God, giving proof to the psalm. They weren't being burned, that is true, but they certainly trusted God to even go in there to begin with. And Jesus does have the power to heal so sore afflictions need not be permanent. It's possible to be healed, like the paralytic in the gospel, the one where he's lowered through the roof. Jesus, so cool and nonchalant, first heals him of his sins as if that's the more pressing matter (which, of course, it is in reality). Amazingly, that was the very gospel that was read some thirty minutes later during the Byzantine liturgy on Sunday. Then I thought about Pope John Paul II with his Parkinson's, and St. Therese with her tuberculosis. In both cases it occurred to me that perhaps God is reiterating, by the afflictions of saints, illness is not a sign of God not loving us -- because who could He love more than Pope John Paul II and St. Therese? God's love for them is unimpeachable, and so therefore we don't equate lack of healing with lack of faith on our part or a lack of love on God's. So all of this was a salutary reminder of what should already be obvious!

My appreciation of Cardinal Dolan continues to increase. On his XM radio show I heard him say, frankly, that he doesn't much like Lent (how many prelates say that?). Amen brother, good to hear it from someone far holier than me. He said he's more of an Easter person but did add that he takes Lent very seriously and that on Holy Saturday he's always thankful for the grace he received over the season.

Politicians Are So (not) Subtle

One wouldn't think that food stamp application has anything to do with voter registration, but one would be wrong. Ohio's food stamp application doubles as voter registration card.


While we're at it, if contributions to campaigns supporting a school levy should get a tax credit, how about campaigns in opposition?

March 01, 2012


Barbara Nicolosi on Engaging the Culture:
Serious Christians need to experience the cultural arena not as fans but as apostles. We should be brooding over today’s art and stories as signs of the times, not simply absorbing them like sponges. We have to fortify ourselves spiritually, philosophically, and ethically, so that we can enter into the cultural climate the way a doctor enters into a hospital. If we shun the hospital because there is some sickness there, it means that some of the souls entrusted to us will die.

But here’s the real rub: If we avoid the hospital, we will also die, because we aren’t just doctors to the times, we are also patients. We need the divinely inspired prophecy that all the modern popes have assured us comes through the arts. Just as much as our pagan neighbors, we need stories to lead us to wonder, hope, and compunction. If, in an effort to be safe from the corruption of modernity, we cut today’s stories out of our lives, we cut out the normal channel in which God helps human beings grow in psychological, emotional, moral, and intellectual depth and sensitivity.