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?