Sunday, December 30, 2007

Acceptance

And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian.

Any many innoncents were in Bethlehem in the time of Herod the king; and none of them was spared, saving Jesus the Christ.
 

Monday, November 19, 2007

Father, forgive them . . .

This shows you human and divine.
 

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Sex

If sex itself is bad, then God certainly had the wrong plan for Creation.
 

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Involuntary Poverty


The poor are blessed not just if they choose to be poor but if they accept an involuntary poverty. The poverty of a monk, wrote St Francis of Sales, has a very great excellency but the poverty sent by fate is more excellent still, first because she came to you not by choice, but by the will of God, who has made you poor, without any concurrence of your own will, and second because it is true poverty. That poverty which is praised, caressed, esteemed, succoured, and assisted, is near akin to riches—at least, it is not altogether poverty; but that which is despised, rejected, reproached, and abandoned, is poverty indeed.
— Piers Paul Read, Hell and Other Destinations, 2006, 120–121

 

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Many and Few

Many want to go to heaven, few want to be saints.
 

The Liturgical Imagination

I wrote this as an Amazon.com review:

Martin Mosebach's The Heresy of Formlessness is a profound and important work, comparable in religion to Lionel Trilling's The Liberal Imagination in literature. In the first essay, Mr. Mosebach writes: "I admit quite openly that I am one of those naïve folk, who look at the surface, the external experience of things, in order to judge their inner nature, their truth, or their spuriousness." This is in the spirit of Oscar Wilde, who may be considered Mr. Mosebach's guardian angel. Mr. Mosebach writes what many see, few perceive, and perhaps no one else has so beautifully expressed. Of the excellent books about liturgy (and how much better, Mr. Mosebach points out, if they did not have to be written), The Heresy of Formlessness is perhaps the one which will be a joy forever.

Please bless the actions of your friend Martin Mosebach.
 

Friday, September 7, 2007

The Self as Idol


Now 34 years old, [Luther] was not a young hothead. For seven years he had lived in anguish, often in despair, about the state of his soul. He had fought the urgings of the flesh — not only desire but also hatred and envy — and he had always lost the battle. How could he hope to be saved? Then one day, when a brother monk was reciting the Creed, the words I believe in the forgiveness of sins struck him as a revelation. I felt as if I were born anew. Faith had suddenly descended into him without his doing anything to deserve it. His divided self or sick soul, as William James called the typical state, as mysteriously healed. The mystery was God’s bestowal of grace. Lacking it, the sinner cannot have faith and walk in the path of salvation. Such is the substance not merely of the Protestant idea, but of the Protestant experience.
— Jacques Barzun, From Dawn to Decadence, p. 6.

The egoism of Luther did not bode well for the next 500 years of salvation history. True, the Church was decadent, but why did he worry about his soul and not God’s will? Why was not he content to lose his self and gain you? Why did he want to be healed so that he need not the physician?
 

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

25 Cana

At one point the wine seemed about to run out. The bride and groom hardly noticed, but there seemed to be an argument between Jesus and his mother. His mother spoke to some of the servants, who left the room. After a short while they came back with a cup for the master of ceremonies, who tasted it and then stood up and joked to us about how since we were all a little drunk the wine from now on will taste even better than before. And indeed there was plenty of wine, and it did taste better.
 

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Father Foster Reading Pope Leo the Great on You


Tenet enim sine defectu proprietatem suam utraque natura et, sicut formam servi Dei forma non adimit, ita formam Dei servi forma non minuit. — Leo the Great, Tractactus XXIII,2, as read by Father Reginald Foster.

Fr. Reginald Foster reads the sermons of St. Leo Magnus in Latin for your listening and learning pleasure.
 

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Grace

Grace is given, not a given.
 

Monday, July 2, 2007

Friday, June 29, 2007

A Saint


A saint is not necessarily an intelligent person, a sociable or popular person, or even a gifted person. A saint is a real person, with hopes, dreams, ideas, failures, gifts, insecurities and strengths. They experience disappointments at times with life and with other people. They must face temptations of despair, doubt and uncertainty about their own life and the direction it may appear to be taking.

Beyond all of this, though, they are people wholly devoted to God. When they fall, they get up again and are not intimidated by their own weaknesses and sins. Rather, with their eyes and hearts turned towards God and away from themselves, they throw themselves at the mercy of God. In a sense, they “force” God to act upon His word that those who are poor in spirit are blessed, “for theirs is the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 5:3)

Such poverty, such devotion could only come from a saint, that is, one completely devoted to God because they have forgotten about themselves and have learned that often difficult lesson of trusting in God alone.

Br. Jeremiah Myriam Shryock CFR
St. Joseph Friary, New York, NY
From the Friars, June 29, 2007

 

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Flag of Crosses 2




See Flag of Crosses
 

One Sacrifice for Sins For Ever


But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God. From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.
— Hebrews 10:12–14

But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.
— Matthew 26:29; read also Mark 14:25

And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.
— Luke 22:19

And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, this cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.
— 1 Corinthians 11:24–25

The Traditional Rite is not a ceremony that, by historical accident, the Church adopted for four centuries. It is the Mass, and therefore timeless. Likewise, the New Rite is not a product of the 1960s. It is the Mass, and also timeless.
The bishops should welcome the Pope’s motu proprio, The Catholic Herald, June 22, 2007

The priest as Christ offers the one sacrifice to the Father.
 

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Making the Sacred Common


Every century . . . tries to make the sacred common, the difficult easy, and the serious amusing — to which there really could be no objection if it were not that in the process seriousness and amusement are destroyed together.
— Goethe, quoted in Josef Pieper, Faith, Hope, Love, p. 266

Hatred for the Latin language is inborn in the hearts of all the enemies of Rome.
— Dom Prosper Guéranger, quoted in What is the basic difficulty?, Rorate Caeli, June 19, 2007

There will be no surge in priestly vocations without an appeal to young men and boys. That stands to reason. And there will be no appeal to young men and boys so long as women appear to be in complete charge of the liturgy and religious education.
— Anthony Esolen, Redeeming the Black Avenger, Crisis, June 2007

 

Fear


. . . Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?
— Mark 4:40

 

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Appreciation


Unless you are a convert to the faith, many of us do not remember the day of our baptism.
— Fr. Glenn Sudano, CFR, From the Friars, June 19, 2007

Many great things in our lives are unobserved — and unappreciated — by us.
 

Sunday, June 17, 2007

C’est moi cet homme !


Who is this that forgiveth sins also?
— Luke 7:49

« Cet homme mérite la mort » — Cette réaction devant ce que font les autres est souvent la nôtre. Lorsqu’on regarde ce qui se passe sur la scène internationale, avec tous ces crimes contre l’humanité qui se commettent un peu partout (en Irak, en Palestine, au Liban, en Afghanistan, à Guantanamo, par exemple). On est naturellement scandalisés et l’on se dit spontanément que tous les auteurs de ces crimes doivent être punis. Et puis, sans aller aussi loin, autour ne nous, parmi nos frères, nous voyons constamment des personnes faire des choses qui nous semblent inacceptables et nous sommes facilement portés à les juger dans nos coeurs.

Alors, il nous faut entendre le prophète Nathan qui nous dit : « C’est toi cet homme ». La violence est aussi au fond de chacun de nos coeurs. Nous sommes tous pécheurs et le premier pas dans la voie du salut et de la vie consiste à le reconnaître. La vue du mal devant nos yeux ou présent un peu partout dans le monde doit nous ramener à notre propre péché. Cela doit nous amener à dire constamment : « J’ai péché contre le Seigneur ».

Alors, et alors seulement nous pouvons faire l’expérience vive de l’amour miséricordieux du Seigneur sur nous et nous entendre dire : « Le Seigneur a pardonné ton péché ». Et selon la vision de toute l’École spirituelle cistercienne, c’est cette conscience d’être l’objet de l’amour miséricordieux de Dieu qui nous permet d’aimer les autres. On ne saurait aimer si l’on n’a pas fait l’expérience d’être aimé.

— Armand Veilleux. C’est toi cet homme !

 

Friday, June 15, 2007

Prayer

Prayer makes something happen.

Credo adiuva incredulitatem meam.

Foederatio Internationalis Una Voce, FIUV Meetings in Rome - 2007: 11th/13th June 2007 short preliminary report
 

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Why Man Cannot Believe in Man





Wherever, in the relationships of men to men, belief in the strict sense [that someone should accept something unreservedly as true without any other supporting evidence, for the sole reason that someone says so] is demanded or practiced, something essentially inhuman is taking place, something that is contrary to the nature of the human mind, something that is equally incompatible with its limitations and its dignity. The ancients expressed the same idea in their more temperate manner: The cognition of one man is not by nature so correlated with the cognition of another man that the former may be governed by the later. That is to say: no mature man is by nature so spiritually inferior or superior to another that the one can serve the other as an absolutely valid authority.
— Josef Pieper, Faith, Hope, Love, p. 33

 

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Jesus of Nazareth : Faith, Hope, Love

M and I ate last night at Jeff and Sandy’s. Ariella very polite and mature. Elena up from Marco Island on her way to a Casa Italiana week at Nazareth College in Rochester. Sandy’s Hebrew teacher Nurit and her husband Ephy were also there, as well as Jeff’s parents Phil and Norma, who have moved into the Towers of Colonie after living many years in Long Island. Elena recommended to me Walter Isaacson’s biography of Einstein and Mark Steyn’s America Alone, but of course I have other things to read. Most of the discussion at the dinner table was about the Muslim’s taking over of Europe — Nurit and Ephy had just come back from Italy. Steyn apparently has a lot to say about this. I don’t know if he adds anything to Spengler. In the library the other day I noticed that Tom Bethell also likes the Isaacson book.


[The prophet does not] report on the events of tomorrow or the next day in order to satisfy human curiosity or the human need for security. He shows us the face of God, and in so doing he shows us the path that we have to take. . . .

[Moses] does not behold God’s face, even though he is permitted to enter into the cloud of God’s presence and to speak with God as a friend. The promise of a prophet like me thus implicitly contains an even greater expectation: that the last prophet, the new Moses, will be granted what was refused to the first one — a real immediate vision of the face of God. . . . This is the context in which we need to read the conclusion of the prologue to John’s Gospel: No one has ever seen God: it is the only Son, who is nearest to the Father’s heart, who has made him known (Jn 1:18). It is in Jesus that the promise of the new prophet is fulfilled. What was true of Moses only in fragmentary form has now been fully realized in the person of Jesus.

— Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, pp. 4–6


The believer, in the proper [strict and full] sense of the word, has — first — to do not only with a given matter . . . but also with a given person: with the witness who affirms the matter and on whom the believer relies. Secondly (and this is the question we have been examining), belief in the proper sense really means unqualified assent and unconditional acceptance of the truth of something. . . .

To say, I believe you but I am not quite certain, is either to use the word believe in the improper sense or to be talking nonsense. . . .

The question then arises all the more pointedly: How is it meaningfully possible for someone to say unconditionally: It is thus and not different? How can this be justified when the believer admittedly does not know the subject to which he thus assents — does not know it either directly, by this own perceptions, or indirectly, on the basis of conclusive arguments [though he must understand what he is assenting to]?

— Josef Pieper, Faith, Hope, Love, pp. 27–28.

I hope that I am reading what you want me to read. M has just told me that O wants to go out to eat a burger. I quickly agreed and recommended a place near Mohawk Commons, where there is a Barnes and Noble — perhaps they have a copy of John Lukacs’ George Kennan that I’ll be able to peak into.
 

Friday, June 8, 2007

Passim


. . . disjointedness was not alone a private matter, hidden in the individual, but . . . also a whole objective world of disjointedness was extant outside the individual. . . . The Germans failed to see the danger of this phenomenon; they did not separate themselves from it; they did not destroy it; on the contrary, they identified themselves with it, and they lived with it as if they belonged together, as if disjointedness were natural to man.

. . . [But] neither man nor the world can have lasting existence on the basis of disjointedness.

. . . the Germans ought to have been horrified when they become aware of the towering evil — for it transgressed far beyond human proportions; they should have taken warning; they should have bethought themselves of what those forces were which contributed to the superhuman measure of the evil; they should have halted. But they did not halt; instead they accepted the superhuman measure of the evil as their own measure; they grew into it; they identified themselves with it. The fact, alone, that the tower of evil was built without halting and without resistence arising against it should have warned and should have frightened the Germans. But to the contrary, it was as if that tower were building itself, as if everything moved toward its construction automatically, in an uncanny manner completely different from human work, with its rhythmic changes of growth and decline, of success and failure. As it was, the Germans took warning only as their evils miscarried, and they became frightened only as their tower collapsed.

. . . In the historical periods of decline, there had always been at least some empty space alongside the fields of corruption; there had been room. Near the end of the antique, for example, the gods had waned, had vanished. But there still was an emptiness where once the gods had been, a distinct emptiness clearly circumscribed, so that the new star which just then was about to rise found room to shine into this emptiness. The new God in His will to reach mankind was almost drawn to the place where the old gods had been, so great was that emptiness.

In the decline of today, however, the people were not even aware that God had been driven out or had left; there was not feeling of emptiness, because the emptiness had been stuffed with the rubbish produced by the discontinuity machine, overstuffed with disjointed fragments of all kinds, so that man failed to sense the emptiness and saw no need to have it filled.

. . . the German people cannot be reformed through instruction, because it is incapable of insight into its guilt. The German of today (and there is no difference in this respect between Nazi and non-Nazi) has no inner continuity. There are, of course, individual Germans who have inner continuity, but they are isolated individuals, and no influence emanates from them on the whole; the nation, as a whole, lives in total inner discontinuity.

Since the German has no inner continuity, he has lost memory of his evil deeds. Everything immediately goes into oblivion; that is why he cannot bethink himself of his guilt; he lacks the material about which to think. Whatever he has committed of evil deeds is wiped off his memory; therefore he cannot search his soul, cannot hold judgment over himself, and cannot reform. It characterizes the German of today that he has no memory of his past deeds, that he is forever engrossed in his doings of the moment and what meets his eyes at the moment. That is what makes it so hard to change the Germans. They forget instruction as rapidly as they forgot the crimes.

. . . Christianity, which is the world of permanence and continuity, cannot be understood by the world of disjointedness. This being so, one cannot speak of the hostility of this world toward Christianity; the tension is not there for any sincerely hostile attitude to arise against Christianity. Christianity simply is being swept out of this world like something which does not belong, like something which irritates because it does not fit into the world of disjointedness.

This world of disjointedness is not necessarily consciously antagonistic to Christ’s doctrine; it needs not even know that doctrine in order to be hostile to it; its hostility is structural; a priori it stands in opposition to Christ’s doctrine. With Christianity there is the structure of continuity and permanence; with the world of discontinuity the structure is disjointedness and the momentary.

Hence, in this world man suffers not from the split personality based upon original sin, because no continuity exists which could reach back to original sin; modern man is split and is broken up by the structure of disjointedness, and with every moment the breach widens, because every motion in this world, be it mental or physical, already partakes of the mechanics of disintegration and not of God. Likewise, this man is incapable of sacrificing himself, because in the world of the momentary there is no object for which to sacrifice one’s self. Instead of sacrificing it, one throws life away in a moment. Finally, far from dying by the schism in himself, modern man, on the contrary, uses it as a stimulant to a hectic life; he manipulates with his own fragments. Disintegration thus becomes a way of life; one lives by one’s fragmentation rather than dying from it. For in this world death is not real, as one perpetually jumps from the nothingness of one moment to the nothingness of the next.

One greatly fears in this world of disjointedness that God will appear in its midst and end it all. That is why this world of disjointedness is forever on the move, stays forever in the race from moment to moment with the idea that if only this perpetual motion were kept going at full speed, even God could not stop the automatic juggernaut of disjointedness.

Nothing but the instant is left, the last remnant of the vanished permanence of time, the moment as a fragmentary shred of time, not the moment of eternity. Only as at the end, at the very last moment, Christ returns, only that moment will again be of eternity. Faith in Christ’s second coming thus means that the last moment to come will be the catastrophe which ends this world.

. . . Hitler’s destruction came to pass against all human expectation. . . . Let nobody say that Hitler was defeated because the war potential of America, of Russia, and of Britain was greater than that of the Axis. While it is true that in June, 1940, the potential of those three powers was greater than Germany’s and its allies, it still was only a potential. It was not translated into reality, and it seemed as if it would never become reality. At that time, the very real superiority of Hitler confronted the very real inferiority of Hitler’s opponents.

Hitler for years stood on the brink of victory — yet he never quite reached it. . . .

. . . the state of the German people and the state of multitudes in other nations were such that Hitler as a ruler would have befitted that state. As a person, Hitler was so null and void that he did only what others wanted him to do; his structure, as was shown, was the same as that of most of the others; it corresponded to the structure of the age, its disjointedness, its dissolution. The world would have deserved the fate of a Hitler victory; this would have been befitting to the state of Germany, and not of Germany alone. But the world was spared that fate. There was a divine love toward this universe and toward mankind which would not suffer the world and its peoples to be swallowed into the whirl of chaos. An intercession did come to pass, although mankind was not deserving of it.

— Max Picard, Hitler in Our Selves, pp. 247–248, 251–254, 259, 267–268, 269–270, 272.

 

Thursday, June 7, 2007

In the City of X


In the city of X there used to live with her husband a woman, beautiful in body but even more beautiful in the serene quietude of her character. It was in herself that she lived and by herself that she was carried, not by the external world, so that over the years her beauty seemed to grow, as did the serenity which went out from her. Now it so happened that this woman was taken away from her husband by a man who measured his worth by the number of women he could estrange from their husbands in a given time. In this situation, two friends of the family discussed the matter. The first expressed his deep regret that this woman should have been uprooted from her proper place, and abused by the seducer, to boot. You are wrong, said the other, a violent anti-Nazi: This woman was too quiet, too sedated, too vegetative; it was necessary that this clever seducer should come along and make her more active, more dynamic, more vital; the woman needed that. Whereupon the first retorted: Ah, but is not that exactly as with the Germans? They, too, were so sedate, so sleepy, so slow and dormant; they, too, needed a shock, the awakening by the dynamic Hitler, in order to get more active themselves. Politically you are violently anti-Nazi, and you denounce the Germans because they are dynamic — but privately you say yes to Nazi manner and Nazi methods.

The addressee, in other words, was in his heart of hearts as violently Nazi as politically he believed himself to be violently anti-Nazi. Nazism had penetrated even deeper into his being, into his soul, into his spirit than his anti-attitude; only he did not know it.

— Max Picard, Hitler in Our Selves, p. 234–235

 

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The Juxtaposition of Murder and Music

Our conversion will be very difficult.

It is not to be wondered that Himmler was a good interpreter of Bach and that Heydrich was liable to weep in concert halls over Mozart’s music. . . . Mozart before or after the gassing of human beings, Hoelderlin in the knapsack of an SS man, Goethe in the library of the guards in a concentration camp — all these are possible . . . in a world wherein things no longer exist in their essence but solely in piecemeal. . . . Where the juxtaposition of murder and music is not against the structure of the world but characterizes it, there is never reform or change of heart. . . . Never could a Saulus become a Paulus in this realm, because in it there is nothing but the basic evil, which can only become greater, but which can never change. There never could be a parallel to Attila’s change of heart under the persuasion of a Pope, as was effected by Leo the Great, so that he desisted from his plundering raids into Italy and turned away from Rome. Neither could there be a parallel to a maligner’s and calumniator’s listening to exhortations, weeping over them, and desisting from his defamations, as happened with Goldschmidt, a Copenhagen journalist, under the influence of Kierkegaard.
— Max Picard, The Man of the Atrocities, in Hitler in Our Selves, pp. 74, 77–78.

Things do not endure.

In the world of discontinuity some particle, some idea, some object, or some person is perpetually being absoluted. All thought, all desire, all doings then briefly concentrate upon this absoluted thing until the little fragment is discarded, and another becomes the hub of every motion — and so it goes on; but invariably every new fragment is hailed as the absolute. Each stands singled out by itself; there is nothing to compare it with, and so it might well be declared for great. . . . What is being absoluted does not matter; what counts is solely the process of absoluting something. It can happen even that something priceless and perfect is absoluted, as in the case of Hoelderlin and Stifter. Those, however, are acclaimed not so much because they are perfect as because they offer fuel for the machinery which absolutes. It is not their true character that is recognized, but the labeling of the absolute, and therefore they are actually degraded and not elevated by this seal. . . .
—Max Picard, The Mediocre and the Futile as Absolutes, in Hitler in Our Selves, pp. 105, 107–108.

 

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Lacking

Here is a lesson I have not yet learned:

Paul VI expresses his hope for a world in which the parable of Dives and Lazarus is corrected so that liberty is not an empty word, and Lazarus, the poor man, may sit at the same table as the rich. But this is to reverse the meaning of the parable. In the Gospel the rich man accepit bona in vita sua and for that reason he ends up being punished; Lazarus, on the other hand, recepit mala et nunc consolatur. To want Lazarus to enjoy life in the same way as the rich man would mean saying he is better off with worldly goods than with heavenly consolation; or else would imply that the enjoyment of earthly goods is tied to the enjoyment of God, and necessarily brings a man to Him.
— Roman Amerio, Iota Unum, paragraph 328.

Cuius est imago haec et inscriptio?

The Outsiders and the Insiders came together to test you, to see if you could tell the way of God from the way of man. Who owns me? In whose image am I made? Whose name is written on me?
 

Monday, June 4, 2007

The Center of Existence


[Belloc] held that the center of existence was the tabernacle of the altar. Those close to him have witnessed to his deepening devotion to the Eucharist as the years bent him down. Indeed, Belloc insisted, it was the hatred for and attack on transubstantiation that formed the center of the bitterness moving the English reformers in the sixteenth century. Read Belloc on Cranmer. They turned all the altars around and made of them tables and thus first obscured and finally denied what it is that gave life to Catholic churches and left all others temples reminiscent of tombs.
— Frederick D. Wilhelmsen, Hilaire Belloc: Defender of the Faith


The head of the corner has been reject by the builders.

We say at Mass: When we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim Your death, Lord Jesus, until You come in glory.

We should say: When we eat your body and drink your blood.

Here are two statements on one subject:

The Barbarian within is the man who laughs at the fixed convictions of our inheritance. He is the man with a perpetual sneer on his lips. He is above it all: he judges the poor believer in the street or in the church, some old woman huddled before a shrine of the Virgin mumbling her beads, and he judges her harshly. It is hard enough to come by belief and to live in it, but to throw it away for a cheap joke is despicable. Such are the Barbarians.

The Barbarian hopes — and that is the mark of him, that he can have his cake and eat it too. He will consume what civilization has slowly produced after generations of selection and effort, but he will not be at pains to replace such goods, nor indeed has he a comprehension of the virtue that has brought them into being. Discipline seems to him irrational, on which account he is ever marvelling that civilization, should have offended him with priests and soldiers. . . . In a word, the Barbarian is discoverable everywhere in this, that he cannot make: that he can befog and destroy but that he cannot sustain; and of every Barbarian in the decline or peril of every civilization exactly that has been true.

Belloc is describing just about everyone you met at your last cocktail party or faculty meeting. Barbarians are everywhere.

— Frederick D. Wilhelmsen, Hilaire Belloc: Defender of the Faith

We have pushed to the limits of material frontiers. But we do not see the spiritual frontiers nor appreciate pioneers of a moral life. We have lost the cosmic viewpoint; we do not see man any more sub specie aeternitatis. We live for the moment, of the moment, and by the moment. Our newspapers blare trivialities which are sensational today and forgotten tomorrow. Our films create their own stars, little gods and goddesses, whom millions of our people adore and worship. In this cult the bathing suit has become a sacramental costume, and the length of female thighs substitutes for the narrowness of thought. Baby Voorhis and Mrs. Brooklyn, in tempting exposures, are asked the question of the age: Will the atomic bomb hasten or postpone the next war? We pair the trivial with the sublime. Our radio brings us chanted ditties about baby food in the middle of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony or assures us that Only the poor in spirit know how to make soup. We have no feeling for connection, continuity, or significance. We string the good and the evil, the high and the low, the large and the small, pointlessly together. We do not yet perform the monstrous confusions of life and death, men and things, which the Nazis performed in the concentration camps; but unless we change our ways, we may well do so one day, and our crimes may well become the biggest in the world.
— Robert S. Hartman, Introduction to Max Picard, Hitler in Our Selves (1947).

We did not change our ways. What have our crimes become?
 

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Trinity Sunday





In a conversation that occurred in 1942, Max Picard, the writer who made so much of objectivity and of things appreciated in themselves, propounded to me the absolute objectivity of the sacred; he rightly pointed out that when celebrating, a priest has to lose himself in the objective reality of the rite and thus efface his own personality. He added picturesquely that the Mass could almost celebrate itself, the bells could ring themselves and the host could elevate itself of its own accord.
— Romano Amerio, Iota Unum, Paragraph 287.

Soon.
 

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Participation

Please don’t depend on men to do your Father’s will. At least send a Jonah. Will we have to wait for the men of Nineveh to rise in judgment?


It is customary to object that in the Latin liturgy the people are detached from the act of worship and that there is none of that personal and vital participation which the reforms are aimed to produce. But as against that, there is the fact that for centuries the popular mind was full of the liturgy, with the speech of ordinary people being full of words, metaphors and solecisms drawn from Latin. Anyone who reads Giordano Bruno’s Candelaio, with its vivid portrayal of the life of the masses, will be amazed at the knowledge people of the lowest classes had of the formulas and ceremonies of the liturgy, not always of course properly used, and often bearing a twisted meaning, but attesting nonetheless the influence the Church rites had on the popular mind. Today such influence has entirely vanished, and popular speech takes its style from anything rather than the liturgy, especially from sport. The reform is an important linguistic phenomenon that has changed the ritual language of half a billion people, and has removed the last traces of liturgical influence upon ordinary speech.
— Romano Amerio, Iota Unum, Paragraph 277.


The most striking and obvious effect of the reform was that people stopped going to Mass.
— Romano Amerio, Iota Unum, Paragraph 283, Footnote 41.


Surely you do not want another Luther to rise.
 

Friday, June 1, 2007

Frederick Wilhelmsen

I came across these today:

The empty womb stripped of its child by an abortionist is analogous to the empty altar stripped of its God by the theological abortionist — the man who either denies, or, what is more frequent, ignores or plays down the Real Presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Sacrifice of the Mass and in the Blessed sacrament of the Altar.
— Frederick Wilhelmsen, quoted in Ignacio Barreiro, Affirming the Truth

In one supreme, ineffable thing, the Eucharist, the world is God.
— Frederick Wilhelmsen, quoted in Donald J. D’Elia, Citizen of Rome

But shouldn’t I read Jesus of Nazareth before going on to other writers?

I am happy to see that you still have some friends in Europe:

Italian intellectuals sign Tridentine Manifesto

French intellectuals sign a Tridentine Manifesto

Will it happen tomorrow?

In this video from The Cafeteria Is Closed, Cardinal Schönborn mentions Father Stanley L. Jaki.
 

Thursday, May 31, 2007

New Friends

I put up for hearing and reading Mary’s story New Friends.

Have I noticed another smile from Romano Amerio?

Since . . . the modernizing school of thought often admits in words what it denies in practice, and since it is an historical and psychological fact that the more some good is undermined in practice the more lip service there is paid to it, it is not surprising that the centenary of Aeterni Patris in 1979 was marked by statements praising and honoring the encyclical; empty praise indeed, for words cannot summon to existence things that are not. The conference on St. Thomas held in Rome in the centenary year of Aeterni Patris admitted the change that had occurred: With Vatican II, despite its reference to St. Thomas, the period of theological pluralism in which we are now living opened. . . . In short, the centenary celebration of Aeterni Patris was little more than a ceremonial, or even theatrical performance,25 gone through partly for form’s sake in order to demonstrate continuity, and partly the product of that dulling of logical thought, which stems from losing a sense of the difference between the natures of things, and which leads to a confusing of one thing with another.

25 Reading the Acts of the congress reminds one of books published in times past, under religious or political censorship. A book with a titlepage bearing the words Life of the Blessed Virgin would contain a collection of anti-religious prints, and Description of the Journey of Sir John Chasterly in China would turn out to contain the ideas of the Young Italy movement.

— Romano Amerio, Iota Unum, Paragraphs 240 and 242.

 

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Signs and Wonders


Give new signs and work new wonders; show forth the splendor of your right hand and arm.
— Sirach 36:5

I want this during the day. But at night I thank you it did not happen. How little ready I am for heaven.
 

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Leaving All

Am reading Guardini again. Will I then leave all and follow you?

But perhaps Romano Amerio should be my companion on your way:

The height of perfection lies not in the conquest of the universe, nor in Bacon’s prolatio ad omne possibile, nor in any thing which can be put to either good or evil use by technology, but in moral heroism and in that alone, because through it alone man conforms to the divine image in which he is created, and express the life of the Incarnation and of the Holy Trinity.
— Romano Amerio, Iota Unum, Paragraph 212

In Paragraphs 202–203, Romano Amerio writes about the importance of every present moment:

The respect man owes to the law is owed and payable at every moment in time independently of every other. Past and future moments in life are absent here and now, but man’s relation to his ultimate end, namely God, is always present, and it dominates what the whole of man is, and leaves no part of himself that he can give to finite things as subtracted from God. This is what gives moral life its seriousness. Not one instant of a man’s life is free for him to devote to sin; this is a truth that has been preached in every age of Christian history. Every moment of wasted time has to be redeemed, that is, put into relation with the transcendent, apart from which there is nothing but non-being, whether metaphysical or moral. . . . A present intention to do evil is incompatible with an intention to repent and make reparation.

I die to myself when I make every act my last act.

The Christian religion teaches that a man should deny himself, not realize himself. This renunciation, it should be noted, is brought about by conforming oneself to the law, that is, to the will of God, and is not a self-annihilation, but the cutting off of egoism and self-love.
— Romano Amerio, Iota Unum, Paragraph 215

In one of the few, perhaps the only, humorous moments of Iota Unum, Romano Amerio quotes Lech Walesa: As I worker I would like to work as little as possible. Paragraph 211, Footnote 4.

This footnote I hope is true, even if it contradicts both Jacques Barzun and James Agate:

Mediaeval artists, who were often anonymous, would create beautiful objects not for the service of man, but so that they could proclaim the glory of God. Thus it was that they often placed their statues in the vaults of cathedrals, away from the light, though they were thus invisible to men, for whose benefit they had not been made.
— Roman Amerio, Iota Unum, Paragraph 216, Footnote 33.

Amerio comes back to this later:

An over-emphasis on the merely functional aspects of a church building diminishes one’s sense of the sacred. A church is indeed a place where the faithful meet to pray and to take part in the liturgy, but it has a sacred character even when such functions are not being exercised within it; a sacred building like every other artistic creation of a religious sort, exists in itself as distinct from the use which may subsequently be made of it. Si hi tacuerint, lapides clamabunt [Luke, 19:40 If these (people kept silent, the stones would cry out.] is a saying applicable to sacred architecture; or as Rouault said, churches ought to be maisons priantes [Houses that pray], not merely places that people use for prayer, but places which themselves pray. This is true of those mediaeval churches in which an artist has hidden some beautiful carving or painting high up in a remote corner, away from the light where nobody sees it, but where all by itself it still sings the glory of God for whom it was made; made by an artist content that his own name too should be similarly forgotten, that the name of God alone might be glorified.
— Roman Amerio, Iota Unum, Paragraph 292.

This, too, has to do with leaving.
 

Monday, May 28, 2007

You

You are the Word before creation. You are the Son before Jesus. You said, Before Abraham was, I am.

Your servant Romano Amerio wrote in Iota Unum:

The denial of the primacy of knowledge over life has penetrated the Church. . . . The supernatural virtues of hope and charity are thus deprived of their foundation and become mere manisfestations of vitality. . . . It is characteristic of modernism to base beliefs on a feeling and an experience of the divine. . . . This is the mentality that Lessing expressed so well in the parable in Eine Duplik. “If the infinite and omnipotent God were to give me the option between the gift in his right hand, which is the possessing of the truth, and the gift in his left, which is searching for the truth, I would humbly pray: O Lord, grant that I may search for the truth, for possessing it belongs only to you.”

The mistake in this position lies in regarding as humble an attitude that is really an intense form of pride. What is someone really preferring when he prefers searching for the truth to truth itself? He is preferring his own subjective movement and the activity of the Ego more than the good that his powers of acting are given him to attain. In short the Object is being valued less than the subject and an anthropocentric view is being adopted that is irreconcilable to religion, which seeks the creature’s subjection to the Creator and teaches that in being thus subjected the creature finds its own satisfaction and perfection. . . . “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after justice, for they shall be satisfied (with justice).” The subjective quest for beatitude must take second place to the triumph of God, its Object. . . .

Faith is  . . . the thing that substantiates hope, not something substantiated by hope. [Faith is the definition of things hoped for, the testimony of things not seen. —Hebrews 1:1]. One hopes for heaven because one believes it is there; one does not believe it is there because one hopes for it . . .

In conclusion, the priority of faith over hope belongs to the basis of Catholic religion, which is rationality. All the theological virtues have a motive, and what is a motive if not a reason? Their character as motivated acts was clear in the now disused formulas of acts of faith, hope and charity, and in the act of sorrow, all of which were taught in catechisms and used daily in Christian life. You believe in revelation because God exists and is truthful. You hope for eternal salvation and the forgiveness of sins because Jesus Christ merited them and strengthens our wills. You love God because he is infinite Good and infinitely lovable, and you love your neighbor, who is not infinitely lovable, because you love God who has made him. Lastly, you are sorry for and repent of your sins because you have offended God and because you have lost him as your happiness. Reasonableness or rationality thus dominated all the doings of the Catholic religion, which never takes the dependent creature man as its foundation, but the all sufficient God. . . .

 

Sunday, May 27, 2007

You and Me

I have closed Memorare, so now it is you and me.
 

Monday, May 21, 2007

You

You have overcome the world.

But the world does not know you. Come, Lord Jesus!
 

Friday, May 18, 2007

You

You want to live in me.
 

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

You

You are the one who doesn’t want me to get on with my life.
 

Monday, May 14, 2007

You

You are the One who commanded us: Love one another.
 

Thursday, May 10, 2007

You in Others

We think we are dealing with men, but we are dealing with God.
 

You Rose from the Dead


12 Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?

13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:

14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.

15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.

16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:

17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.

18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.

19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.

— 1 Corinthians 15: 12–20

So: you have risen from the dead, and we shall rise from the dead. Our end is not this life.
 

Monday, May 7, 2007

Praying to You

What I must always remember when I pray to you or the Father is that you and He are already listening.

The action of God who comes to meet us . . . precedes our decisions and our ideas.
— Pope Benedict XVI, quoted in Sandro Magister, The Fathers of the Church in Installments, Every Wednesday from the Vatican

 

Sunday, May 6, 2007

By Joseph Ratzinger / Benedict XVI


Intimate friendship with Jesus, on which everything depends, threatens to become a groping around in the void.
— Joseph Ratzinger / Benedict XVI, quoted in Sandro Magister, The Next Battle For and Against Jesus Will Be Fought by the Book

Read also Sandro Magister, And He Appeared in Their Midst: “Jesus of Nazareth” at the Bookstore.

Shall I recognize you in the Pope’s book?
 

Thursday, May 3, 2007

A Great Man?

In your lifetime I might have said you were a great man, but not now, not after Easter.