Monday, December 31, 2007

viewing the present from the past's future

In the final section of Msgr George Kelly's "The Battle for the American Church", he looks to the future of the Church in the US, and offers this interesting observation:

Catholic Church leaders at present are trying to use consensus techniques that are working no more successfully for bishops than they are for politicians - if unity or community is the desired end result. Consensus of the people never results from these procedures. What results is agreement only among the leaders of veto groups who accept, tolerate, or defy a particular decision. Whatever other role consensus plays in the management of the institutional Church, it does not create or maintain people's adherence to Catholicism. Only faith does that. Rarely has hierarchy dialogued so much with unsatisfactory compliance. Until the Church works out an enforceable policy for dealing with dissidence, internal turbulence is sure to continue.

Msgr Kelly suggests that the "Church of Elites" may undermine the "Church of the Masses"; he identifies the "latter-day Church of Elites" as "self-created coteries of Catholics who have little intention of following Magisterium except selectively and on their own terms."

Kelly observes that "More than any other form of government, people's rule needs virtue and strength at all levels of its citizenry, notably in its public officials."

He closes with a summation from Ex Hoc Apostolicae, the papal brief of Pius VI, which, within 190 days of the inauguration of George Washington, established the Church in America:

-To promote their own and their neighbors' spiritual salvation.
-To adhere to the heavenly doctrine delivered by Christ to the Catholic Church.
-Not to be carried away by every wind of doctrine.
-To reject the new and varying doctrines of men, which endanger the tranquility of government.
-To rest in the unchangeable faith of the Catholic Church.
-To learn from the Church's voice not only the objects of faith but the rule of conduct.
-Not only to obtain eternal salvation, but also to regulate this life and to maintain concord in this earthly city.
-To learn from the apostles, and especially from St. Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, on whom alone the Church is built.
-To be assured that neither the depravity of morals nor the fluctuation of novel opinions will ever cause the episcopal succession to fail or the bark of Peter to be sunk.

Kelly closes with a quote from John Henry Newman's 1852 essay on the new springtime, observing that the Church in England was at that time a "corpse" while (in 1979) the church in America was vibrant, if "bruised," and is concerned for hemorage and the "lost generation." I am intrigued to see what his 1995 "Battle for the American Church Revisited" sees as the state now, compared to his optimism of 1979.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Not a bad show for a buck

Fr Z at What does the prayer really say reports on an article in NCR, Liturgy Reform: No going back. In this article is found the following:

the recent book by Archbishop Piero Marini [...] gives a glimpse into the tensions within the inmost circle of church leadership over liturgy as an expression of church identity on the world stage.
intersting that the metaphor of stage would be chosen; one wonders if our author, like his hero, P. Marini, sees liturgy as entertainment? For real analysis, see Fr. Z's work.


These quotes are from "The Battle for the American Church" (1979), Msgr George Kelly. They are from the chapter on the Code of Canon Law, then the subject of five years of reworking that would not be finished for another five at the time this book was written.

For almost two decades the general political trend in the United States has been antilaw in matters of private morals, and strict regulation of citizen's behavior that conflicts with governmental social policy.
Why is "obedience" given so little attention? Is it because the community "superior," according to the draft, is no longer superior but "moderator"? A moderator, however is not a person of authority. He or she is at best a facilitator or chief counselor with no power to command obedience. what does the institutional shift of terminology mean for the office of pastor, bishop, or pope? A major thrust of modernity has been the flattening of Church authority.
The test of the new code will be its penal section. Law without teeth is advice, not law.

Love that last one. I wonder what the author had to say after the Code of Canon Law was issued in 1984. Maybe it will say in the author's 1995 book, Battle for the American Church Revisited, althought his 1993 Keeping the Church Catholic With John Paul II sounds like another good read. oh my...

Open House tonight

Just a reminder about the Open House tonight with the opportunity to see and talk with Mike and Deb Lee via an Internet phone.

Thursday, December 27th
7:00 to 9:00 pm
At the home of Chris and Juliet Jones --
715 E. Lava Falls St. in Meridian

Directions: Get yourself to McMillan Rd. between Locust Grove and Meridian Roads. Turn south onto Red Horse Dr. into the Copper Basin subdivision. Turn right on the second street, Lava Falls, and look for the 2nd house on the left. If you have questions or need directions, please call: 888-9628

Ginger Mortensen, the Director of Development for the International Theological Institute (Mike's school) will be there to answer questions about the school, the curriculum and her experiences with the Lees!
Hope you can make it!

The Friends of the Mike Lee Family

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Calling the question

The very question that the "Boise Chapter" has placed on the table at the Lay Provincial Council was addressed by Pope Benedict XVI on Dec 21 in his address to the Roman Curia. Sandro Magister has a translation of a good portion of the text in the article Surprise: The Pope Takes the Curia to Brazil


And, finally, Aparecida. [...]It was so good for us to gather there and create the document on the theme "Disciples and missionaries of Jesus Christ, so that they may have life in Him." Of course, someone might ask immediately: Was this really the right theme, at this moment of history in which we are living? Was this not, perhaps, excessively directed toward interiority, at a time when the great challenges of history, the urgent matters of justice, peace, and freedom require the full engagement of all men of good will, and in a particular way of the Christian world and the Church? Shouldn't these problems have been confronted instead, rather than retreating into the interior world of the faith?

We will put off this objection for the moment. Before responding to this, in fact, it is necessary to understand well the theme itself in its true significance; once this is done, the response to the objection takes shape on its own.

Two years ago, in his Christmas address to the curia, the pope spoke of the false hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture and the true hermeneutic of reform. That he this year would speak of something that is directly related to the consequence of how one lives out the true faith, does not surprise me. That there is resistance from those who have embraced what is false; well, no surprise there either.

Last year, in his address to the Curia, he stressed that the path to peace, the way, is Jesus; Deus Caritas Est. Do you see a pattern here?

Here, Sandro Magister comments on the Doctrinal Note on Evangelization

Overturned: the Church can and must Evangelize

ROMA, December 17, 2007 – "It is an exact order from the Lord, and it does not allow for any sort of exemption. He did not tell us: Preach the Gospel to every creature, except for the Muslims, the Jews, and the Dalai Lama."

This is the preaching of Cardinal Giacomo Biffi, archbishop of Bologna, in a celebrated address he gave nine days after September 11, 2001.

And this is also the message – in less explosive words, but essentially the same – of the "Doctrinal note on some aspects of evangelization" released by the congregation for the doctrine of the faith last Friday, December 14.

The note had been in reserve for a number of years, from when Joseph Ratzinger was still prefect of the congregation. What made it "necessary" – as the introduction states – was the "growing confusion" over the Church's duty to proclaim Jesus to the world.

"This confusion has even penetrated within the missionary institutes," the congregation's secretary, Angelo Amato, lamented in an interview on Vatican Radio. "No more proclaiming Christ, no invitation to conversion, no baptism, no Church. Only social activism."

At the origin of this chilling of the Church's missionary spirit, to the point of its extinction, the note indicates various causes.

Above all, there is the idea that every religion is a way of salvation as valid as all the rest. [...]

The link, again:


Monday, December 24, 2007

Silent night

There are physical laws of nature that are fixed, unchanging; immutable laws that govern, for example, how an airplane flies through the sky. I don’t think there is a reasonable person who would disagree with this. We accept and believe that these laws are true, not because we see them, but because the men who invented flight told us they were so, and we see and travel by air, confirming to us what they have said. If one were to claim that there were no such laws governing flight, and offer as “proof” the observable fact that airplanes crash, any reasonable person would counter with the fact that individual failures may be attributable to human error, malice, mechanical failure or suchlike. These failures, far from being a convincing refutation of natural laws and a demonstration of their inconstancy, server rather to clarify the relationship between the immutable laws and man’s actions; we can obey these laws and fly, or ignore them and crash.

Now our imaginary skeptic of the laws of nature governing flight is in some ways like the man without (or with weak) faith, who cites for proof of his rejection of certain revealed truth, the evidence of the evil doings of churchmen. The man who says: “Look at the crusades, the inquisition, Galileo; how can this be the work of a divine institution?” is in some sense, saying the same thing as the man who says “Look at the Challenger explosion, TWA Flt. 800, Lockerbie; how can you claim that flight is possible?”

I believe that nearly all men would reject the second thesis, except perhaps if you could go back in time and confront pre-flight man with only the three examples given; he might be inclined to doubt the possibility of flight based on such a dishonest representation and a natural skepticism of that which is unknown. We have no difficulty seeing that this second opinion does not hold water, yet many of the same folks are quick to accept the first thesis as though it did hold water; many otherwise reasonable people when confronted with truth claims are quick to abandon reason.

I have no difficulty accepting that air travel is made possible by immutable laws of nature, and that this reality is also accompanied by the risk that man’s very nature, which is inclined to error and even to malice, will result in people dying in air disasters of one sort or another. I suspect that many unreasonably reject the claims of the Church because of an error of reason, the error of believing that all men when faced with, and claiming acceptance of the Truth, would in actual fact, not err or do acts of malice in the moral order. Thus the existence of such failure is taken as proof that the church’s divine institution under immutable divine law is false.

Such an expectation is really an expected conclusion when on is confronted with a person who states they have been “born again,” “made a new creation in God,” who will “love their neighbor as themselves,” being “the body of Christ.” The measure of expectation is not the merely human, but Divine. Reality quickly demonstrates that not some of the planes fall, but, well, apparently all of them!

This seems to be a reasonable expectation and an easy way to dismiss the claims which would bind one to build a life different to the one currently being lived, it is an error. I think we all can admit that we accuse others of clinging to comfortable “lies” (especially in an election year), but fundamentally, we cling to what we believe is true; no one clings to what they believe is a lie (even if you believe it is). We believe planes can fly, or we would not enter them. We know some jerk might have put a bomb on it, but we board anyway. The error I speak of is believing that the evidence of the truth of the claims of the church would be the external and visible “holiness” – the Divine-like perfection of churchmen, something disproved by the obvious contradictions of the evil acts of churchmen.

Lets look at this; why the expectation of Divine-like perfection is an error. Consider the planes falling out of the sky; such a small portion of the millions of air miles safely traveled. Now if these planes, falling fro the sky, were all you ever saw or were aware of, I would understand a hesitancy to fly; for this is the initial state of many who have never flown (and some who never will); their entire focus is on the air travel failures at the expense of ignoring the great overall success. Most of us do not consider this rational, but irrational fear.

Likewise, the person who stands outside the church, is focused on the glaring failures he sees, and considers himself wise and intelligent to remain outside and apart. But do you not see how this is like the man who refuses to board the plane because it might crash? The errors and malice which produce a crash are exceptions, not the rule. Air travel judged by the acts of Osama bin Laden would be considered by most to be quite irrational. Likewise, judging the church by the acts of churchmen who have rejected and remained essentially immune to church teachings – the “immutable laws,” rather than considering the effects produced in the lives of those who have ordered and built their lives on what the church teaches as immutable laws, is the basis of the charge of error which I lay at the feet of those who adopt such a position.

I do well understand that a vast body of men cling to such a position. It comforts them in their rejection of submission to a law greater than themselves, a law administered by men, preferring instead to be a law unto themselves.

Let us look deeper at the thesis that churchmen would be perfect according to a divine measure; something observably not so, but a flawed thesis, hence a straw-man proving nothing. It is flawed on three counts; because God who became man and established the church, never promised it, and the church herself never claimed it, and the life of grace doesn’t work that way either.

With respect to the first, some of the more educated might object that “the bible says….,” offering for a counter argument the contents of scripture and/or creed. However, one who rejects the authoritative interpretation of scripture is hitting at wind when attempting to use it against itself. Only those pre-inclined to reject are deceived by this. To know what God has promised, we need to listen to those who he has authorized to speak for him. Until willing to do so, on will wander, tossed by every wind of false doctrine that can be imagined by the mind of man.

As for the second, the church, authorized to speak and teach in God’s very name, never promised a magical transformation either, rather, that grace requires participation according to our free will. Think of it like a checking account that pays cash-back; the initial deposit in this “charity” account is made at baptism, and but when charity is spent, the cash-back payment exceeds what we spent! The newly baptized scrooge who never spends the charity he is given looses even what he has due to account fees, and once negative, cannot even spend anything unless he appear before the judge and have his account wiped clean in confession. It is easy to see and judge great sinners, but they are completely immune to the life of grace offered by the church, content to write large bad checks instead. What comes as an unexpected surprise is the obscurity of the holiness we didn’t see – an obscurity that this time of year is meant to remind us of – that those who are docile and submissive to the life of grace, responding to it and living in accord with it, are remarkable by their lack of remarkableness. The obscurity of the Holy Family, to the outside completely unremarkable, yet this family of Joseph, holiest of men, and a young virgin named Mary, the absolute crowning jewel of human holiness, who gives birth to Jesus, the God who takes a human body and unites it to His divinity.

What our bible says is that you do not recognized the Christian for the very same reason that in his day, his contemporaries did not recognized HIM – you are looking for the wrong thing.

The birth of Jesus is bringing the “light” of understanding of God into the world – the light which overcomes the darkness of ignorance like a candle in a cave; this is the silent night of which we sing – soon Jesus’ mother will be looking for him- will she find him in the temple which you are meant to be; instructing you, silencing the night of darkness?

The sun sweeps across the timezones as the earth turns (I've already received Christmas morning blessings from Kampala); turn then, and let the Son sweep you into his embrace; he is closer to you than your are to yourself.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The antidote to...

Adeste Fideles, Adeste Fideles, Adeste Fideles...

find some other pieces for me.

When I posted this I forgot to link the source of the image above; it's from Carolina Canonball's "The Crescat" blog, in particular, the "Ugliest vestment" contest.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Because it never hurts to remember:

From Divine Intimacy, by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D.


2. The love which will lead us to God does not consist in sentiment; it is an act of th will. To love is to "will the good"; to love God, is to "will good to God." The good which we can desire for God is that which Jesus Himself taught us to ask of our heavenly Father: "Hallowed be Thy name; Thy will be done." Since God is the infinite good upon which everything depends, the good that He desires and that by which He is pleased is none other than His own glory and the acomplishment of His holy will.

Years ago I used to listen (a lot) to the Tina Turner album which came out after the last Mel Gibson Mad Max movie; she sang

What's love got to do with it?
What's love, but a second hand emotion?

Does this not sum up the world's error, and why it is plunged into despair? The world does not know what love is; or shall I say, Who. I think it not a coincidence that the Church of the post Vatican II era, choosing to focus on love rather then obedience, was opposed by a world which redefined love in a way was opposed to Truth, and all but sank in the mire of what was once called "carnal."

Wednesday, December 19, 2007




The Christian spirit has always been animated by a passion to lead all humanity to Christ in the Church [self-check time; is this the passion that animates me?]. The incorporation of new members into the Church is not the expansion of a power-group, but rather entrance into the network of friendship with Christ which connects heaven and earth, different continents and ages. It is entrance into the gift of communion with Christ, which is “new life” enlivened by charity and the commitment to justice. The Church is the instrument, “the seed and the beginning”[27] of the Kingdom of God; she is not a political utopia. She is already the presence of God in history and she carries in herself the true future, the definitive future in which God will be “all in all” (1 Cor 15:28); she is a necessary presence, because only God can bring authentic peace and justice to the world. The Kingdom of God is not – as some maintain today – a generic reality above all religious experiences and traditions, to which they tend as a universal and indistinct communion of all those who seek God, but it is, before all else, a person with a name and a face: Jesus of Nazareth, the image of the unseen God.[28] Therefore, every free movement of the human heart towards God and towards his kingdom cannot but by its very nature lead to Christ and be oriented towards entrance into his Church, the efficacious sign of that Kingdom. The Church, therefore, is the bearer of the presence of God and thus the instrument of the true humanization of man and the world. The growth of the Church in history, which results from missionary activity, is at the service of the presence of God through his Kingdom: one cannot in fact “detach the Kingdom from the Church”.[29]

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

News from Austria, Catechesis, freedom

There is a new Mike Lee newsletter.

I read a reference to the 1979 National Directory for Catechesis in the book I'm reading. Apparently after four years of development by a committee under the guidance of the bishops, it received extensive reworking in open session by the body of bishops before it was released. Such errors as the loyal dissent of the lay faithful were removed, and the silence on memorizing the basics of the faith ( creed, mass responses, prayers, devotions) was broken by adding sections requiring what was already proving to be an extreme deficiency. Such changes prompted committee members to make such comments as the bishops "ravaged" the document, and apparently Bp. McManus, head of the project, asked for a single bishop to move to strike the memorization amendment; no one stepped forward. Four years to develop a document that had to be re-written on the spot. fascinating. If they get their way (Art and Architecture, All our Children) they use the document as a weapon, brooking no dissent; but if it goes the other way, the document effectively disappears?

National Directory for Catechesis
Where Are We in Catechesis? Situating the National Directory for Catechesis

An interesting observation, made almost in passing, by the author of "The Battle for the American Church" is that the full frontal attack on all aspects of the Church (led by church men), was founded on a notion of a personal moral autonomy while at the same time rigidly promoting (and accepted by their adherents) a statist approach to dealing with all social issues. The illusion of personal freedom therefore masks the surrender of actual freedom. Such a contrast from the prior notion that the man who is not a slave to his passions, is the one who is free.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Fr. Powell posted on a site called "Wittenburgdoor" which Father warns is not for the faint of heart...he says:
Fair warning: if you don't have a sense of humor about religion. . .avoid this site at all costs. You will NOT be amused.

...but I couldn't help looking, especially after I had so much difficulty remembering a book that made me laugh..

so it turns out that if you have been posessed by the Christmas Spirit, you can have him exorcised! That would be this guy, uh huh!

Santa is an acronym for Satan? take'm down, oh yeah!

OK, had my laugh.

Bp. Vasa reflection on Hope

Bishop Vasa's Dec 7 reflection on Spe Salvi; In hope we are saved, contains the following:

Precisely because, in our confused world, there is a tendency to put our hope in a whole variety of things which are not God, those things hoped for, even if achieved, are quite incapable of filling the true yearning within us. This repeated seeking and failing to find fulfillment, because we seek blindly or at least shortsightedly, leads to a crisis. Pope Benedict calls this a "crisis of Christian hope." He illustrates this in relation to youth: "Young people can have the hope of a great and fully satisfying love; the hope of a certain position in their profession, or of some success that will prove decisive for the rest of their lives. When these hopes are fulfilled, however, it becomes clear that they were not, in reality, the whole. It becomes evident that man has need of a hope that goes further. It becomes clear that only something infinite will suffice for him, something that will always be more than he can ever attain."

Young people are told that they won't find their "fulfillment" in traditinal values; to be critical of the past, and to put their hope in the new. Yet, are they taught critical reason, or unreasonable criticism? I think the latter. Are they taught that they will not find their hope fulfilled in the things of the world? no, only that they won't in the virtues of the past, they still are plunged uncritically into the present. What is the traditional way of bringing the young through this period? is there one? Or for all times, has it been necessary to cross the red sea and wander in the wilderness before finding the promised land? Is it to direct the hope to a goal and ideal that is worthy of the dignity of man, as have done numerous saints like Martin de Porres and Theresa of Calcutta, even though it is known that the intermediate hope will not be fulfilled and the greater hope will need kick in, as it finally did for Dorothy Day? I do not know the answers; I'm a relative newcomer to this car-wreck; and while there is much forensic evidence, one needs to know where to look; what questions to even ask.

Book meme

I’ve been tagged for a book Meme by Therese at AUSSIE COFFEE SHOP

this one looks like fun.

1. One book that changed your life: “Confessions” of St. Augustine.

2. One book that you’ve read more than once: “Divine Intimacy” (3x, starting 4) and “This Tremendous Lover” (4x).

3. One book you’d want on a desert island: Ouch... that’s a hard one. How about an HP Notebook computer with a satellite internet connection so I can read all of them?

4. One book that made you laugh: OCP Music Issue.

5. One book that made you cry: “John Paul II” by Ray Flynn

6. One book that you wish had been written: The story of (Anglican) Bishop Festo of Uganda and his confrontations with Idi Amin during the dark time that lovely country suffered under his reign of terror.

7. One book that you wish had never been written: The one written prior to the French Revolution by the Jesuit on the Illuminati (I don’t remember the title or the author; Anita has the book with the reference), which has been the basis for the methodology of successful attacks on the Church for centuries.

8. One book you’re currently reading: “The Battle for the American Church”

9. One book you’ve been meaning to read: There is a book I started that I’ve been meaning to finish; Etienne Gilson’s “The Philosophy of Thomas Aquinas” – no easy read by still fascinating.

That done, I'd like to tag Anita at V-For Victory and Bill at Is My Phylactery Showing?.

Since the Pope referenced a book by title in Spe Salvi, and the author's works in English are titled different, I ordered two books by Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan:

Testimony of Hope: The Spiritual Exercises of Pope John Paul II
The Road of Hope: A Gospel from Prison

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Spe Salvi

and how many Sundays has it been sung, "Let us build, the city of God"
hence it is helpful to read a reasonable voice; let us sing the old song in full harmony:

Certainly we cannot “build” the Kingdom of God by our own efforts—what we build will always be the kingdom of man with all the limitations proper to our human nature. Spe Salvi, 35.

what is our pope saying here. I found a clue in an old post from Fr. Z

His Eminence Josef Card. Ratzinger, in his wonderful book A New Song For The Lord: Faith in Christ and Liturgy Today (Crossroad Publishing Company, 1996) presents a reflection on the imagery of “living stones” which, though applied in his book mainly to seminary formation and priesthood, nevertheless is applicable to every Catholic in every walk of life, particularly today. His Eminence writes:
The goal is the house; what precedes it are the stones – living stones in the case of a living house. The fact that our verse talks about building in the passive voice is part of this: Like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house. Our thirst for action requires that we translate such words without exception into the active voice: Let us build the kingdom of God, the Church, new society, and so forth. The New Testament sees our role differently. The construction manager is God or the Holy Spirit. We are the stones – for us building means being built. An old liturgical hymn for the construction of a church describes this graphically; it speaks of the blows of the curative chisel, the thorough treatment with the master’s hammer, and the right assembly of the pieces through which the blocks of stone finally grow together into the great building of Jerusalem. This touches on something very important: building means to be built. If we want to become a house, we – each and every one of us – must accept the fate of being cut and carved. (pp. 163-164)

So to participate in the building up of the body of Christ, one must be prepared for the hammer and chisel; not to land the blows on the body, but to be the recipient from the Master Carver.

The atheism of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries is—in its origins and aims—a type of moralism: a protest against the injustices of the world and of world history. A world marked by so much injustice, innocent suffering, and cynicism of power cannot be the work of a good God. A God with responsibility for such a world would not be a just God, much less a good God. It is for the sake of morality that this God has to be contested. Since there is no God to create justice, it seems man himself is now called to establish justice. If in the face of this world's suffering, protest against God is understandable, the claim that humanity can and must do what no God actually does or is able to do is both presumptuous and intrinsically false. It is no accident that this idea has led to the greatest forms of cruelty and violations of justice; rather, it is grounded in the intrinsic falsity of the claim. A world which has to create its own justice is a world without hope. No one and nothing can answer for centuries of suffering. No one and nothing can guarantee that the cynicism of power—whatever beguiling ideological mask it adopts—will cease to dominate the world.
spe Salvi, #42.

Dominican bookstore is online!

Brought to you by the Laity of the Eastern Province:

Did I say my favorite car was my first one?

I knew I had a picture somewhere...

It's amazing what one can find on the net. I found my 4th grade class picture!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


From Zenit: Clergy Congregation Takes Bible Online

This is an amazing resource!

Putting on the armor of God

[]the stole that the Holy Father wore yesterday when he went to venerate the statue of the Immaculate Conception at the Spanish Steps. It belonged to Pope St Pius X:

From The hermeneutic of continuity

Bone-heads at work

CNS may have pulled their review of "Golden Compass" at the request of the bishops, but they include now a review from the LA Archdiocese web site that is just as bad. That fixes things, like, how?

here's a snip that zips it for me; stay away from this poison...

'Compass': Challenging believers to articulate faith, values
By Sr. Rose Pacatte, FSP

Others, such as Donna Frietas and Jason King, admit to Pullman's atheism in their book "Killing the Imposter God," but think he employs feminist and liberation critical theology in his writings, and that using these lenses reveals truth rather than denies it.

Yeah, spelling words right reveals truth... Sr. Rose ends with:

To "just say no" is not a valid option in today's media world.

I beg to differ. I say no to pornography and a host of other aberations with which there is little reason to subject myself to, and every reason not to. Sister seems to have forgotten that our Lord to whom she is vowed taught the "custody of the eyes." - for it is by them that the filth enters the heart. time for some sweeping.

Getting my busted-up Toyota 4Runner fixed

it's got just over 176,000 miles, been hit in the front and rear, is burning oil and the synchros are about shot for first and second gear. I see three options; I can send it to the scrap heap, or take it to the bandit repairman who doesn't have factory parts and doesn't have the equipment to fix it properly, or even a body shop; or I can take it to my dealer, which has all the parts and a complete body shop. Scrapping it will cost me nothing, but it will be striped of all useful parts and crushed for scrap metal and thrown in the fire. If I go to the bandit repairman, he'll fix some of it, mess up some of it like he did last time (using the wrong tool when a special one is required, well, been there, done that), and I'll stay on the road after spending a moderate amount. If I go to the dealer, who has all the tools, parts, knowledge, they can make it as good as new; it will cost quite a lot, but it will be back on the road and will serve me faithfully till the time I won't be driving any more.

That's about essentially what I rambled off Sunday after mass, I think the discussion was about why anybody would go somewhere else beside the Catholic Church; she has all the sacramental tools to keep us on the road to heaven, the other guys have some of her tools, but doesn't really know how they are supposed to be used; the scrap yard & melt down? stay away from the junk-yard dog!

Anita looked at me incredulously and said "where do you come up with this stuff?" - Not sure, but today I remembered that Scripture says "[The Lord's Wisdom] ordereth all things sweetly. "

Isn't it interesting, thought, when you think about it, that we're pretty much all willing to go to the unaurhorized guy because we think we'll be robbed by the authorized dealer? and mainly because he charges more? what is it we love?

Monday, December 10, 2007

The narrow door

There is a very interesting homily here, from Fr. Speekman's blog Homilies and Reflections from Australia. The reflection ends with:

This thought echoed a recurring suspicion of mine. Perhaps the popular, easy going, crisis-free, uncontroversial ministry of so many priests in the contemporary 'liberal' Catholic Church is less a sign of effectiveness than of an unacknowledged scandal.

He speaks of the difficulty preaching the truth. It's a worthy read; in fact the blog is rather nice!

"If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man . . . Going back is the quickest way on." - C.S.Lewis

hat tip to Lair of the Catholic Caveman


but only if you have a strong stomach!
check it out here

Sunday, December 09, 2007

sighted and blind guides

I've started reading a book which I saw referenced in a work by Pope Benedict XVI. It's "The Battle for the American Church," by Msgr. George A. Kelly, (1976) - The pope certainly pegged this one as prescient! Here are a few excerpts from the section on the Humanae Vitae controversy.

The Ford-Grisez Thesis

From 1963 on, theologians seeking to justify contraception, after observing (correctly) that the teaching had not been formally defined, proceeded to infer (erroneously) that the doctrine had not been infallibly taught. [] The conditions under which the ordinary Magisterium of the bishops dispersed throughout the world can proclaim the teaching of Christ infallibly have been articulated by the Second Vatican Council. Ford-Grisez argue that Humanae Vitae meets those criteria, thus making the Church doctrine a divinely guaranteed teaching.

They make an important point. Frequently, dissenters start with the assumption that teachings not formally defined are not infallible. This is not true. Many Catholic teachings are de facto infallibly taught, even though not formally defined. Lumen Gentium (No. 25) reads:

Although the bishops individually do not enjoy the prerogatives of infallibility, they nevertheless proclaim the teaching of Christ infallibly, even when they are dispersed throughout the world, provided that they remain in communion with each other and with the successor of Peter and that in authoritative teaching on a matter of faith and morals they agree in one judgment as that to be held definitively.

The declaration, as Council debates indicated, extends ordinary infallibility in the Church not only to matters formally revealed (for example, the divinity of Christ) but also to things virtually revealed (for example, Mary’s Immaculate Conception), to what is necessarily connected with revelation (for example, the existence of a natural moral law), to things that are to be believed, and to things that are to be done.


Christ did not win all his public debates over what he was revealing. The Church has also learned that the validity or certainty of a teaching does not depend for acceptance on its perusability or on the solemnity of the preaching. Faith in the given teacher usually settles the argument for the believer.


What they are saying is either that human judgment stands above the law of God or that the Catholic Church is lying when it claims divine authority for its moral teaching (Cardinal O’Boyle, NC News, Sept 5, 1968).

Responding to Charles Curran et al’s Dissent in the Catholic Church, Joseph Constanzo S.J. responded with:

The insistence [of dissenters] that theologians are intrinsic to the ecclesial Magisterium is the most rootless of all protestations. There is no warrant for it in the mandate of Christ, neither explicitly, implicitly []. There is no evidence of such a role for theologians in the writings of the Fathers of the Church nor in any of the official documents of the Church, papal or conciliar. And for all the dissidents’ facile rhetorical references to Vatican II, the Council Fathers never graced them with a distinct classification or separate consideration as they did with the Roman Pontiff, the Bishops, the Religious, laity and priests. Indeed, the word itself “theologians” appears only once among the 103,014 words of the sixteen official texts promulgated by the Ecumenical Council. Considering the centrality of the dissidents’ concept of the role of theologians as “an intrinsic element in the total magisterial function of the Church” to their ecclesiology, it sees that they have been slighted by a Council celebrated for its formulation of the collegiality of bishops and by those very bishops who were accompanied by periti” (Thomist, October 1970).

[Paul VI himself wrote:]

Unfortunately among us some theologians are not on the right path. []

Some have recourse to ambiguous doctrinal expression and others arrogate to themselves the permission to proclaim their own personal opinions on which they confer that authority which they more or less covertly question him who by divine right possesses such a protected and awesome charism. And they even consent that each one in the church may think and believe what he wants. (Pope Paul VI, Bogata, NC News, August 24, 1968)

There are still those today, echoing the discredited words of the 60s era self proclaimed alternate Magisterium, who hold that the church should be ruled by a democratic principal; that majority should rule. To those who hold such a position, contrary to the faith of their baptism and the creed that they profess, I would remind them that the Church has already had a brief experience with majority rule; ecce homo (behold the man). Such votes carried the day then…

Jesus of Nazareth - The People Decide

Friday, December 07, 2007

YAM (Yet Another Meme)

Athanasius contra mundum of the 50 Days After blog has tagged me for a Meme in which I am supposed to say 8 random things about myself, and tag 8 more.

1. my favorite car was my first one, about 1958. It was something like this ('cept green):

2. I have baited mousetraps in my office.

3. I hate weeds, I like fire. Did I say I hate weeds? Fire is tool. Stuck my hand in the fire when I was wee little; grandma said not to, but the marble was a favorite...

4. I am extremely skeptical of simple minded solutions to what are put forth as immense and complex issues, but that somehow fit on a bumper sticker. I have no difficulty with hating sin and loving sinners; (mom says, please come home).

5. I have a visceral, irrational dislike for shopping and new clothes.

6. I remember traffic signals on Bayshore.

7. I meditate on the odd reality that supernatural faith is a virtue infused at baptism, and yet it is sinned against so freely. I don't get that.

8. I don't ever wear sandals because me feet crack and bleed. Guess I would never have made a good discalced Carmelite.

if 8 people read this, you are free to consider yourself tagged!

Good things

Good morning! I just heard from Dr. Zieba, Sophia's pediatrician, the report says "NO EVIDENCE OF RESIDUAL OR RECURRENT TUMOR" PRAISE THE LORD!! Knowing how big and messy the tumor was, how high the chances of leaving behind a little tumor cell somewhere, I think each time we get a clear MRI is just a miracle. We can breath again! It is still not the report from the neurosurgeon, it's from the radiologist, but we choose to trust him! We'll know more about it on Thursday when we talk to Dr Cherny, the neurosurgeon. All the blood tests look good, sodium good, thyroid good, etc... They found an inflamed sinus and asked me if she has been sick or not feeling well. Dr. Zieba said not to worry about it if Sophia is feeling fine. Thank you so much for all your prayers and support!



Saint Ambrose

Baptized St. Augustine;
St. Ambrose, pray for the conversion of great minds in our time.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Self-critical examination

Earlier this year this blog has hammered on the free-falling political activists of our Order; and that we have need to examine if such positions are consonant with 1) Catholic Faith & 2) the mission of the Order. It seemed to this author that a look at what Vatican II called for, and if that is or is not what has been done, is called for.

Now I read a far more articulate writer's words on the subject, with much the same direction. He calls us to the same examination, for the same reason. That would be Pope Benedict XVI, in SPES SALVI

21. Together with the victory of the revolution, though, Marx's fundamental error also became evident. He showed precisely how to overthrow the existing order, but he did not say how matters should proceed thereafter. He simply presumed that with the expropriation of the ruling class, with the fall of political power and the socialization of means of production, the new Jerusalem would be realized. Then, indeed, all contradictions would be resolved, man and the world would finally sort themselves out. Then everything would be able to proceed by itself along the right path, because everything would belong to everyone and all would desire the best for one another. Thus, having accomplished the revolution, Lenin must have realized that the writings of the master gave no indication as to how to proceed. True, Marx had spoken of the interim phase of the dictatorship of the proletariat as a necessity which in time would automatically become redundant. This “intermediate phase” we know all too well, and we also know how it then developed, not ushering in a perfect world, but leaving behind a trail of appalling destruction. Marx not only omitted to work out how this new world would be organized—which should, of course, have been unnecessary. His silence on this matter follows logically from his chosen approach. His error lay deeper. He forgot that man always remains man. He forgot man and he forgot man's freedom. He forgot that freedom always remains also freedom for evil. He thought that once the economy had been put right, everything would automatically be put right. His real error is materialism: man, in fact, is not merely the product of economic conditions, and it is not possible to redeem him purely from the outside by creating a favourable economic environment.

22. Again, we find ourselves facing the question: what may we hope? A self-critique of modernity is needed in dialogue with Christianity and its concept of hope. In this dialogue Christians too, in the context of their knowledge and experience, must learn anew in what their hope truly consists, what they have to offer to the world and what they cannot offer. Flowing into this self-critique of the modern age there also has to be a self-critique of modern Christianity, which must constantly renew its self-understanding setting out from its roots. On this subject, all we can attempt here are a few brief observations. First we must ask ourselves: what does “progress” really mean; what does it promise and what does it not promise? In the nineteenth century, faith in progress was already subject to critique. In the twentieth century, Theodor W. Adorno formulated the problem of faith in progress quite drastically: he said that progress, seen accurately, is progress from the sling to the atom bomb. Now this is certainly an aspect of progress that must not be concealed. To put it another way: the ambiguity of progress becomes evident. Without doubt, it offers new possibilities for good, but it also opens up appalling possibilities for evil—possibilities that formerly did not exist. We have all witnessed the way in which progress, in the wrong hands, can become and has indeed become a terrifying progress in evil. If technical progress is not matched by corresponding progress in man's ethical formation, in man's inner growth (cf. Eph 3:16; 2 Cor 4:16), then it is not progress at all, but a threat for man and for the world.

and in case it needed more emphasis, Archbishop Vlazny makes it clear in the previously posted article, Let's not Confuse Ethics with Religion:

All issues are not equal. They do have different moral weight and urgency. But it is important to ask our candidates how they intend to help our nation pursue these goals:
1) the pre-eminent requirement to protect the weakest in our midst, namely, innocent unborn children;
2) how to keep our nation from turning to violence to address fundamental problems, including the violence of abortion, euthanasia and assisted-suicide;
3) defining the central institution of marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman and providing better support for family life;
4) achieving comprehensive immigration reform that secures our borders and treats all people with respect and dignity;
5) helping families and children overcome poverty, particularly with respect to ensuring access to and choice in education as well as decent work and decent wages;
6) providing health care coverage for the growing number of our fellow citizens;
7) opposing policies that reflect prejudice, hostility toward immigrants, religious bigotry and all forms of discrimination;
8) working together to overcome poverty, pursue the common good and care for creation;
9) establishing and complying with moral limits on the use of military force; and
10) joining with others around the world to pursue peace, protect human rights and religious liberty and advance economic justice in care of creation.

To this I would add that if you find the list upside down by your judgement, you might get off your head and stand on your feet instead. If that is too antogonistic for you, then consider that "God is Love" (deus caritas est) and you are drawn to a good, which is good, but to be drawn to a good at the expense of a greater good is the nature of disorder and sin. What I mean is that if #1 above is not your number one, you have placed a lesser good above a greater good, and willingness to sacrifice the greater for the lesser is the disorder which blindness has given.

And the prophecy of Isaias is fulfilled in them, who
saith: By hearing you shall hear, and shall not understand:
and seeing you shall see, and shall not perceive.

For the heart of this people is grown gross, and
with their ears they have been dull of hearing, and their
eyes they have shut: lest at any time they should see with
their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with
their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.
Mt 13:14-5.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Let's not confuse ethics with religion

The following is the column of Archbishop John Vlazny of Portland. It is very well articulated.

Let's not confuse ethics with religion

Ready or not, several weeks from now we Americans will begin to make some decisions about those whom we want to see as candidates for public office in the elections of November, 2008. Recent national elections have been quite contentious, to say the least. Unfortunately, the efforts of American bishops to offer some reflections on Catholic teaching and political life seem to have made matters worse, in the eyes of many. This will occur, of course, when folks confuse ethics with religion.

One public servant was recently discussing one of the most controversial of all issues in the last election, namely, legal abortion. It was his contention that someone could have a deeply held belief that all life, including that of unborn infants, is sacred. But at the same time he or she could rightly accept the fact that in a pluralistic society making all abortions illegal would constitute an unfair imposition of those beliefs on others. The problem with that statement is that the wrongness of abortion is not a matter of belief. It is a matter of ethics in a civilized society.

Killing another person is not wrong simply because it’s prohibited in the Ten Commandments. It’s wrong because it is unethical. It goes against the reasonable and well-founded standards of society from time immemorial. Even if everyone were to accept abortion, it would remain unethical. Americans accepted slavery for a long time. But it wasn’t ethical. Being ethical is much more than simply doing whatever society accepts.

In making a decision about how to vote in the coming elections, we citizens have a serious responsibility to examine the issues of the day and the positions which the candidates take vis-à-vis those issues. Catholics certainly should try to understand what the church teaches about issues that affect public policy. But not everything the church says about issues stems from belief. Many are positions ethically-based, reinforced by the moral values we share as disciples of Jesus Christ.

At the recent meeting of the American bishops in Baltimore, we discussed a statement entitled “Faithful Citizenship,” which is intended to help our people form their consciences about matters of public policy. Similar statements have been used widely in the past in our parishes and dioceses. Outsiders, and even some Catholic insiders, see this as an intrusion upon their freedom of conscience. Catholics, of course, have the obligation to form a right conscience, one in keeping with church teachings. But other folks also need to make their decisions based on ethical standards. Feelings, laws and social norms do not determine what is ethical. Sound reasoning does.

Because of the consistent confusion between ethics and religion, it is important for Catholic teachers like bishops to clarify positions they take. Are these moral convictions based on church teaching? Or are these ethical convictions, based on human reason, illuminated by Scripture and the teaching of the church? Yes, the church teaches it is wrong to kill, to steal, to perjure oneself, to defame a neighbor, to marry one’s own parent or child. These are not matters of religious belief. They are ethical concerns. By that same token, the observance of Sunday as a holyday, liturgical directives, the personal consequences of sinful behavior, penitential practices, all these are religious in nature, pure and simple.

In the coming elections, there are some policy goals that we bishops would like our people to keep in mind in the light of ethical principles. Our purpose in sharing these is to help parishioners form their consciences and reflect on the moral dimensions of their public choices. All issues are not equal. They do have different moral weight and urgency. But it is important to ask our candidates how they intend to help our nation pursue these goals:
1) the pre-eminent requirement to protect the weakest in our midst, namely, innocent unborn children;
2) how to keep our nation from turning to violence to address fundamental problems, including the violence of abortion, euthanasia and assisted-suicide;
3) defining the central institution of marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman and providing better support for family life;
4) achieving comprehensive immigration reform that secures our borders and treats all people with respect and dignity;
5) helping families and children overcome poverty, particularly with respect to ensuring access to and choice in education as well as decent work and decent wages;
6) providing health care coverage for the growing number of our fellow citizens;
7) opposing policies that reflect prejudice, hostility toward immigrants, religious bigotry and all forms of discrimination;
8) working together to overcome poverty, pursue the common good and care for creation;
9) establishing and complying with moral limits on the use of military force; and
10) joining with others around the world to pursue peace, protect human rights and religious liberty and advance economic justice in care of creation.

While these issues are being debated, over the next six weeks we Catholics will be pondering with Mary, the Mother of the Church, the great mystery of the Incarnation. God became man, thrusting himself into our midst, and changing the human family forever. This is a religious truth, not an ethical conviction. But it is the greatest truth we can tell. In response to the Lord’s coming, which we shall be celebrating during the weeks of Advent and Christmas, we want to ground ourselves more surely in his teachings about all human life and to do our part as a community with a rich heritage of ethical convictions to confront the many challenges in public life and thereby promote peace on earth and good will to all people.

Saturday, December 01, 2007


The new encyclical from Benedict XVI SPE SALVI contains something fascinating I've not seen before; he speaks of the official German Bishop's translation of Hebrews 11:1 (Now, faith is the substance of things to be hoped for, the evidence of things that appear not.) as being in error. I find this bluntness fascinating and refreshing. But when I read the paragraph where he quotes St. Augustine's Letter to Proba where Paul is quoted "We do not know what is right to pray for," I'll admit I got goose-bumpy; for this was the very reading which sent me to the Catholic Church for the first time. This is a wonderful encyclical, he is bringing together and tying up many threads here.

Friday, November 30, 2007


To those in the diocese operating under the erroneous belief that a Crucifix cannot be on the altar...

2007 Mass of Christ the King at St. Peter's
Note - this is NOT the extraordinary form, but the ordinary form of the mass.

Against the trivialization of error

There is a school of thought, not confined just to protestantism, which holds that it if faith in Jesus that is important and dogmatic adherance to a creed is not. Setting aside for a moment the contradiction between being saved by a faith in which the contents of said faith don't matter, what has Scripture to say?

And consider the patience of our Lord as salvation, as our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, also wrote to you, speaking of these things as he does in all his letters. In them there are some things hard to understand that the ignorant and unstable distort to their own destruction, just as they do the other scriptures. Therefore, beloved, since you are forewarned, be on your guard not to be led into the error of the unprincipled and to fall from your own stability. 2 Pt 15-17 (Friday, OOR, 34th week in Ordinary Time)

It seems clear that as faith is necessary for salvation, one can follow error into destruction. Hence the necessity for the Church's infallibility; for we are judged in adherance to Truth, and thus we must know with certainty what that Truth is. A restatement of;

I call heaven and earth to witness this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. Choose therefore life, that both thou and thy seed may live: And that thou mayst love the Lord thy God, and obey his voice, and adhere to him (for he is thy life, and the length of thy days,) that thou mayst dwell in the land, for which the Lord swore to thy fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that he would give it them. Dt 30:19-20

Hear his voice, for faith comes by hearing. Rm 10:17

He that heareth you heareth me: and he that despiseth you despiseth me: and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me. Lk 10:16

What can I say? see what he says: SPE SALVI

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Situation in Pakistan

This just received from:

Dominican Sisters International

November 25th 2007

Feast of Christ the King

Dear Members of the Worldwide Dominican Family,

Dominicans live and minister in 101 of the world’s countries. Many members of our Family are present in countries plagued by economic poverty and conflict. During recent weeks, we are especially aware of the people of Pakistan and our Dominican Family members among them. We stand in prayer and solidarity with them during this time of crisis.

The crisis in Pakistan exists because the President of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf, declared a State of Emergency on the 3rd of November. As a result, the Constitution of Pakistan is suspended, the citizens of Pakistan are deprived of their basic human rights, dozens of Supreme Court and High Courts Judges and Chief Justices are under house arrest, and people do not have access to local independent television channels or to international news channels. Hundreds of journalists, lawyers, and key political leaders are either under house arrest or in jail. The Christian community feels very insecure and threatened. The bishops and major superiors of religious in Pakistan are extremely alarmed about the deteriorating situation in the country.

We urge the government of Pakistan to lift the State of Emergency, restore the suspended Constitution, guarantee full civil rights for all, free from jails all political leaders, journalists, lawyers and also all judges and their families who are under house arrest. Give the people of Pakistan free access to the national and international media. A return to constitutional democracy will improve the image and position of Pakistan around the world.

We urge all Dominicans throughout the world, to continue to pray for the people of Pakistan. Dominicans, in countries whose governments may be able to influence the government of Pakistan, we ask you to urge your governments to directly contact General Pervez Musharraf, President of Pakistan, insisting on a return to constitutional democracy in Pakistan, that basic human rights are assured, that the judiciary is restored, and that people are not deprived of access to media whether local or international. As people of faith, we find the consequences of the current State of Emergency and the suspension of the Constitution unacceptable.

Mindful of our Father Dominic, who wept for the suffering, and our sister Catherine, who influenced the civil leaders of her day, we are your brother and sister:

Carlos Azpiroz Costa OP

Master of the Order


Marie Fabiola Valesquez Maya OP

International Coordinator of DSI

Convento Santa Sabina (Aventino) – Piazza Pietro d’Illiria, 1 – 00153 ROMA
+39 06 579401 - FAX +39 06 5750675

Going around (the) Bend

Back this morning after a few days in Bend, Oregon; daughter back to school at Central Oregon Community College, stayed with in-laws, and was delighted to be able to attend daily mass with Most Reverend Thomas Connelly, Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Baker. Bishop Vasa treated me to a tour of the Powell Butte property which he is hoping to turn into a retreat center and move the diocesan business office there. The location is breathtaking, and from the property a rare view was afforded of the sunlit peaks of Mt. Hood, Sisters, Broken Top, and Mt. Bachelor. Of course I forgot to bring the camera. So, here is one of his pictures of the "barn" and an aerial shot of the property.

There are more pictures here

On this trip I also managed to finish "A Concise History of the Crusades" by Professor Thomas Madden, and read "Many Religions, One Covenant" By Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. The first was a recent recommend by "The Curt Jester" which I'll second, and the second, well, speaks for itself. Specially delightful; an explanation of the meaning of Exodus 15, sweet desert to a great trip.

15:8. But he said: Lord God, whereby may I know that I
shall possess it?

15:9. And the Lord answered, and said: Take me a cow of
three years old, and a she goat of three years. and a ram
of three years, a turtle also, and a pigeon.

15:10. And he took all these, and divided them in the
midst, and laid the two pieces of each one against the
other: but the birds he divided not.

15:11. And the fowls came down upon the carcasses, and
Abram drove them away.

15:12. And when the sun was setting, a deep sleep fell upon
Abram, and a great and darksome horror seized upon him.

15:13. And it was said unto him: Know thou beforehand that
thy seed shall be a stranger in a land not their own, and
they shall bring them under bondage, and afflict them four
hundred years.

15:14. But I will judge the nation which they shall serve,
and after this they shall come out with great substance.

15:15. And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace, and be
buried in a good old age.

15:16. But in the fourth generation they shall return
hither: for as yet the iniquities of the Amorrhites are not
at the full until this present time.

15:17. And when the sun was set, there arose a dark mist,
and there appeared a smoking furnace, and a lamp of fire
passing between those divisions.

15:18. That day God made a covenant with Abram, saying: To
thy seed will I give this land, from the river to Egypt
even to the great river Euphrates.

Both parties in an Oriental covenant passed between the divided sacrifice, invoking both promise and curse; that if either party did not fulfill their part, the fate of the sacrificed animals would befall them. The Greek philosophers believed it impossible for God to enter covenant with man, because God was immutable, man mutable, there being therefore no grounds for equality, hence "Testament" and "Law" from master to vassel. Yet, here we have a theophany where God binds himself to the faith of man, and the oath is fulfilled in Christ.

I also have many thanks to offer Anita (V-For Victory) for her perserverance in shepherding the power installation to completion!

Never thought one of those green boxes would be such a delight to lay eyes on!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

On the eve of Christ the King

Today’s Office of Readings ends with the Responsory (from 1 Cor 13:12):

My knowledge now is imperfect;
Then it shall be as perfect as God’s knowledge of me.

The above, in the fuller context, taken from the Douay translation:

We see now through a glass in a dark manner; but then face to face. Now I know in part; but then I shall know even as I am known.

Here we have the summation of the famous First Corinthians 13; as well as the summation of St. Francis de Sales’ Treatise on Divine Love, and going back further, St. Augustine’s De Trinitae (On the Trinity).

We are made in the image of the invisible God, but Jesus IS the image of the invisible God. In the analogy which St. Paul has used, we look at this image in a dirty mirror and receive a very distorted view; the mirror being none other than us. In Jesus, the image is clear, because He IS the image. Now, the all-knowing God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, know us fully. Psychology and psychoanalysis ask us to enter into ourselves to know ourselves, but this is a doomed exercise (for all but the purpose for which it was created; see E. Michael Jones’ “Libido Dominandi”), which will not produce the object of the search; rather, it ends in the nothing. It makes more sense, that in order to “know thyself” one would look where the knowledge resides, which is Jesus Christ, the Wisdom and Knowledge of God. We will know ourselves fully in the life to come, but not fully in this life, unless the Lord so grant us to, through Himself. Meditate on the above, it will become clear.

also, Mike Turner O.P.L. writes:

Today is the memorial of the Martyrs of Vietnam. The second reading of the OOR is in the Supplement, a letter written by St. Paul Le Bao Tinh in 1843. If you have Father George's book about the martyrs, St. Paul Le Bao Tinh has a short bio on page 71. He was a diocesan priest.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

the Triumph of Love

Tom at Disputation recently had a brief post with the exhortation to "Love the Church"

Three little words

I was recently reminded of the following bit of advice:
Love the Church.
It seems to me that it's particularly good advice for people who are discerning a religious or clerical vocation. A priest or religious who doesn't love the Church will bring grief upon everyone, themselves most of all.

And by "the Church," I mean the Church as she is, holy and without blemish and filled to the gills with sinners.

Today's reading from D.I. ties into that and expands on it.

DIVINE INTIMACY by Fr Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen O.C.D.
#368 The Triumph of Love

The love of a soul completely surrendered to God is truly pure love, because it has been purged of the least affection for creatures and of all return on self; it is pure love because it goes straight and swiftly to God through all the circumstances of life, without stopping at anything created. The soul makes use of every happening, all its duties, all its actions to love God, which simply means that it gives itself to Him by serving Him in the way most pleasing to Him. It no longer needs to apply itself, as formerly, to the practice of this or that virtue, since it has acquired all of them in a perfect manner, and "whether its commerce be with temporal things or whether its exercise be concerning spiritual things, a soul in this case can ever say that its exercise is now in loving alone" (John of the Cross, Spiritual Canticle, 28,9). The soul no longer has need of the spur and stimulus of an exterior law to guide it, because its law is now the great love it bears within itself, which impels it in all things to seek and to will the divine good pleasure. "Love and do what you will," said St. Augustine; "For the just man there is not law," wrote St. John of the Cross at the summit of the Mount of Perfection. Far from implying that love dispenses from the observance of the law, from duties and obedience, these words signify rather, tat love, when it is truly perfect, replaces and completes all law, having in itself the power to draw the soul to the highest perfection.

Of this perfect and most pure love, which concentrates upon God all the powers of the soul without anything being able to draw them away; of this love which wounds the heart of God directly, passing beyond all that is of earth, St. John of the Cross writes: "A very little of this pure love is more precious, in the sight of God and the soul, and of greater profit to the Church ... than are all these [other] works together" (Spiritual Canticle, 29.2).

"O Jesus, I do not ask for riches or glory, not even for the glory of heaven. ... I ask only for love. One thought is mine, henceforth, dear Jesus, it is to love Thee! ... I love Thee, I love my Mother the Church, and I bear in mind that 'the least act of pure love is of more value to her than all other works together.' But does this pure love really exist in my heart? ...(Teresa of the Child Jesus).

So often we hear disobedience justified as the placing of love above mere rule. Yet, such is a deception, as the spiritual writers point out, that love united to the Lord our God will make anything but the perfect fulfillment of the rule unthinkable, for do oppose rule would be to oppose God. But what I primarily have keyed on is the connection of love, the summit of the contemplative life, and the Dominican charism of preaching. That a drop of this pure love would be of more value than all the preaching done by Dominicans of all time, it places the work of St. Dominic in a perspective I've not thought of before. The two saints, Dominic and Francis, we think of as having done so much for the restoration of the faith; yet, based on the above, it was their prayer life that accomplished and made this possible; their union being of greater value than their works. Perhaps this stands to reason, and is obvious to most and I am a little slow to perceive this, but in the analogy of knowledge of the mother, father, and child, this knowledge has moved from the "known by him because she said so" side to the "known by her because she did so" side.

Those "least acts of pure love" overflowed in Ss. Dominic, Aquinas, Ferrer, Hyacinth, Catherine, little Margaret, and so many others. Ours is an Order which asks that we "share the fruits of contemplation," let us renew our efforts to enter into the Divine Life, for without Him, we can do nothing; or worse.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Why what is represented in art matters

I'm reproducing whole an article from Sandro Magister. I do so for the reason, that in the post yesterday, which compares heretical art with a photo, there is a profound reason for rejecting the former in favor of the latter. Even the heretics seem to know this quite well.

How to Paint a Homily, with the Brush of Luke, Evangelist and Painter

A book by Timothy Verdon comments on the readings for the Mass with the masterpieces of Christian art. It is a "preaching through images" that blossomed for centuries in the Church. And the current pontificate wants to revive it

by Sandro Magister

ROMA, November 20, 2007 – Next Sunday, the feast of Christ the King, brings the liturgical year to its conclusion. And the following Sunday, the first Sunday of Advent according to the Roman Rite, begins the new year: the first in the three-year cycle of readings from the Old and New Testament, with pride of place given to the Gospel of Matthew.

The widespread practice among parish priests is to prepare the homilies with the help of books of commentary on the readings of that day's Mass. There are many of these manuals for sale. But that's not how it was long ago.

From the sixth century on, the lectionaries that collected the Gospel and Epistle readings for the Mass did not need any separate commentaries. They were, in themselves, an illustration of the pages of the Sacred Scriptures, a visual guide to understanding them.

These lectionaries explained the Scriptures with images that were placed alongside the texts – for example, the splendid miniatures of the medieval codices. These images served as guides and commentaries for a clergy and a people already accustomed to seeing the events and personalities of the Sacred Scriptures depicted upon the walls of their churches.

And now, just before the first Sunday of Advent, a book has been published in Italy that gives new life to this tradition. It is a commentary on the lectionary of the Sunday and feast day Masses of year A – the volumes for years B and C will follow – made up of images from great Christian art. Images more eloquent than many words.

The author is Timothy Verdon, a priest and art historian, professor at Stanford University and the director of Florence's diocesan office for catechesis through art. He is also the author of important books on Christian art and on the role of art in the Church's life.

The idea of this book came to Verdon from the synod of bishops on the Eucharist in 2005, at which he participated as an expert consultant, at the invitation of Benedict XVI.

In the post-synodal exhortation "Sacramentum Caritatis," pope Joseph Ratzinger dedicated one paragraph, number 41, to religious iconography, which, he writes, "should be directed to sacramental mystagogy," toward initiation into the Christian mystery through the liturgy.

The book is a direct response to this summons. For every Sunday and feast day of the liturgical year, Verdon selects a masterpiece of Christian art related to the Gospel of the day. It is art as the guide to entry within the mystery that is proclaimed and celebrated.

To present this book to the public in Florence just a few days ago, Verdon enlisted a priest who is in complete agreement with this approach: theologian Massimo Naro, the rector of the seminary of the diocese of Caltanissetta and the younger brother of Cataldo Naro, bishop of Monreale until his untimely death one year ago.

The cathedral of Monreale, in Sicily, with its interior completely covered with twelfth century mosaics, is an absolute masterpiece of Christian art. The Christ Pantokrator reproduced above dominates the apse.

But Christian art lives within the liturgy, and for the liturgy. And its language is visual inspection, contemplation. This is what the Italian-German theologian Romano Guardini, one of the current pope's great mentors, understood in visiting the cathedral of Monreale during Holy Week of 1929.

Guardini wrote an account of this visit. Observing the men and women crowding the cathedral of Monreale and participating in the Easter liturgy, he wrote:

"All were living in the gaze [original German: Alle lebten im Blick], all were rapt in contemplation."

Bishop Cataldo Naro reproduced the entire page of Guardini's account in his last pastoral letter to the faithful, to guide them to contemplate and love the Church.

And his brother Massimo cited it again while presenting Verdon's book to the public, in this section of his remarks:

"One must not only believe, confess, profess; one must also 'look upon' the faith. Jesus is the one who has 'seen and heard' his Father. In him is the union of word and image; he is Logos and Eikon (cf. Colossians 1:15). It is no accident that, since the fourth or fifth century, the legend grew in the ancient Church that the evangelist Luke had also been a painter. To this legend may be added the anathema of the second council of Nicaea, according to which 'If anyone does not accept the artistic representation of scenes from the Gospel, let him be excommunicated.' Painting the face of Christ, of Mary, of the saints is another way of writing the Gospel, and thus also of passing it on, proclaiming it, permitting it to be read, meditated upon, and understood by the faithful. In Nicaea, in 787, Church teaching incorporated the legend and gave it the dignity of doctrine, including within the deposit of tradition not only written and oral tradition, but artistic tradition as well; not only the writings of the Old and New Testament and the books of the Church Fathers, but also the images that translate into full color the black ink of the sacred writers."

The works of art selected by Verdon to illustrate the Mass readings of year A are found in churches and museums all over the world. Many of them are in Italy, and a few in Florence, so Florentine priests have a special incentive to make use of this commentary.

But the important thing is the method, which is valid for everyone. Verdon's book teaches an "artistic" interpretation of the biblical texts used in the liturgy. It restores to priests and faithful the fruits of a "preaching through images" developed in the Church over a millennium and a half, and today in danger of withering away.

Because there is an unbreakable bond among Christian art, theology, and liturgy. Just as the cross and the resurrection are the foundation for the composition of the Gospels and the New Testament, and just as Easter is the keystone of the entire liturgical year, so also the Crucified and Risen Jesus is at the genesis of Christian art.

In presenting Verdon's book, Massimo Naro said that he had come to understand "the centrality of the resurrection in Christian art" precisely by examining the mosaics of the cathedral of Monreale, where his brother was the bishop. And here's how he explained this:

"I became convinced of this when I saw, at the top of the arch across from the vault of the main apse where Christ Pantokrator is depicted, the mosaic design of the Mandylion, placed in symmetrical correspondence with the face of the Pantokrator, as if to say that the splendid and glorious Pantokrator is the development of a 'negative' of the face of the Crucified Christ.

"The Mandylion, according to ancient legends going back to the eighth and ninth centuries, was a cloth imprinted with an image of the face of Jesus, bloodied by the blows inflicted upon him during his passion.

"According to some, the Mandylion was the napkin that Veronica used to wipe his face along the road to Calvary (cf. Luke 23:27-28).

"According to others, it was the sudarium that Peter spotted inside the empty tomb on the morning of Easter (cf. John 20:7).

"In that case, this image of Jesus would be one 'not made by human hands,' but rather through divine intervention: the imprinting upon the sudarium of the face of Christ, who in the light of Easter stands again as the Risen One.

"This image of light is, therefore, according to the legend of the Mandylion, the true icon of Christ, the archetype of every image and every work of Christian art.

"In this perspective, it is the light of the resurrection that makes it possible to depict the Crucified Christ of Golgotha, and, in Him, God himself. Only in the light of the resurrection does He who was violently deprived of all human resemblance remain forever as the true and unique image of God.

"It is in this sense that the resurrection stands at the beginning of iconography and Christian art. No distinctively Christian work of art can, therefore, ignore the essential event that transformed creation and redeemed history."


You will find the complete account of Romano Guardini's visit to Monreale, at Easter of 1929, in this article from www.chiesa:

> “Holy Week at Monreale,” the Author: Romano Guardini (12.4.2006)


The book presented on this page, which is planned for translation into other languages:

Timothy Verdon, "La bellezza nella parola. L'arte a commento delle letture festive. Anno A", Edizioni San Paolo, Cinisello Balsamo, 2007, pp. 378, euro 43,00.


Almost at the very same time, a book of art was published in Italy as commentary, not on the readings of the Mass, but on the articles of the Creed. The volume has a preface by Timothy Verdon and an afterword by Ryszard Knapinski. The author teaches at the "Veritatis Splendor" theological institute in Bologna, and is the secretary of cardinal Giacomo Biffi:

Roberto Mastacchi, "Il Credo nell'arte cristiana italiana", Cantagalli, Siena, 2007, pp. 208, euro 23,00.