29 December 2009
The prophets Elijah and Elisha are a bit of an embarrassment. Not only are the names similar but some of their miracles resemble one another so closely that some scholars have argued that Elijah and Elisha are the same person, with narratives from two different sources of the prophet’s life having been accidentally included one after the other.
Today’s feast reminds us of another historical coincidence:
A learned and worldly man called Thomas, a close and trusted friend of King Henry, is appointed by the king to a high office where he is expected to be loyal and take the king’s part against all others, even the Church. Conscious of his unworthiness for the office he has been given, Thomas suffers an interior conversion and resolves to follow his conscience, God’s voice within him. His upholding of truth and the Church’s rights leads to a conflict with the king, who feels betrayed by his trusted friend. Eventually Thomas is killed; subsequently he is canonised.
Are we talking about Henry II of England and Thomas à Becket? Or Henry VIII of England and Thomas More? The same description applies equally to both.
We can imagine a wise scholar of the 30th century arguing that there was only one Henry and only one Thomas, and that early sources accidentally split them into two. But the wise scholar would be wrong. Whatever doubts we hold about the history and transmission of Scripture, we should never quite forget that what we read about may be what really happened.
04 December 2009
Longing to see God
Little man, rise up! Flee your preoccupations for a little while. Hide yourself for a time from your turbulent thoughts. Cast aside, now, your heavy responsibilities and put off your burdensome business. Make a little space free for God; and rest for a little time in him.
Enter the inner chamber of your mind; shut out all thoughts. Keep only thought of God, and thoughts that can aid you in seeking him. Close your door and seek him. Speak now, my whole heart! Speak now to God, saying, I seek your face; your face, Lord, will I seek.
And come you now, O Lord my God, teach my heart where and how it may seek you, where and how it may find you.
Lord, if you are not here, where shall I seek you when you are absent? But if you are everywhere, why do I not see you present? Truly you dwell in unapproachable light. But where is unapproachable light, or how shall I come to it? Or who shall lead me to that light and into it, that I may see you in it? Again, by what signs, under what form, shall I seek you? I have never seen you, O Lord, my God; I do not know your face.
What, O most high Lord, shall this man do, an exile far from you? What shall your servant do, anxious in his love of you, and cast out far from your presence? He is breathless with desire to see you, and your face is too far from him. He longs to come to you, and your dwelling-place is inaccessible. He is eager to find you, but does not know where. He desires to seek you, and does not know your face.
Lord, you are my God, and you are my Lord, and never have I seen you. You have made me and renewed me, you have given me all the good things that I have, and I have not yet met you. I was created to see you, and I have not yet done the thing for which I was made.
And as for you, Lord, how long? How long, O Lord, do you forget us; how long do you turn your face from us? When will you look upon us, and hear us? When will you enlighten our eyes, and show us your face? When will you restore yourself to us?
Look upon us, Lord; hear us, enlighten us, reveal yourself to us. Restore yourself to us, that it may be well with us, yourself, without whom it is so ill with us. Pity our toilings and strivings toward you since we can do nothing without you.
Teach me to seek you, and reveal yourself to me when I seek you, for I cannot seek you unless you teach me, nor find you unless you reveal yourself. Let me seek you in longing, let me long for you in seeking; let me find you by loving you and love you in the act of finding you.
26 November 2009
As long as we are sheep, we overcome and, though surrounded by countless wolves, we emerge victorious; but if we turn into wolves, we are overcome, for we lose the shepherd’s help. He, after all, feeds the sheep not wolves, and will abandon you if you do not let him show his power in you... (more)
14 November 2009
04 November 2009
This explains the mechanism that will perpetually increase our confidence in Jesus' authority and superiority.
Compare this with a sermon given by St. Charles Borromeo, "Be sure that you first preach by the way you live. If you do not, people will notice that you say one thing, but live otherwise, and your words will bring only cynical laughter and a derisive shake of the head."
02 November 2009
Why should our praise and glorification, or even the celebration of this feast day mean anything to the saints? What do they care about earthly honours when their heavenly Father honours them by fulfilling the faithful promise of the Son? What does our commendation mean to them? The saints have no need of honour from us; neither does our devotion add the slightest thing to what is theirs. Clearly, if we venerate their memory, it serves us, not them. But I tell you, when I think of them, I feel myself inflamed by a tremendous yearning.
Calling the saints to mind inspires, or rather arouses in us, above all else, a longing to enjoy their company, so desirable in itself. We long to share in the citizenship of heaven, to dwell with the spirits of the blessed, to join the assembly of patriarchs, the ranks of the prophets, the council of apostles, the great host of martyrs, the noble company of confessors and the choir of virgins. In short, we long to be united in happiness with all the saints. But our dispositions change. The Church of all the first followers of Christ awaits us, but we do nothing about it. The saints want us to be with them, and we are indifferent. The souls of the just await us, and we ignore them. (more)
29 October 2009
21 October 2009
Anger, or lust, I would think, also do the same thing; any intense feeling: it narrows another person to a single perspective.
17 October 2009
15 October 2009
From today's Universalis. http://www.universalis.com/-700/today.htm
08 October 2009
07 October 2009
Is that true? If we live in the past, will time seem to move faster?
06 October 2009
05 October 2009
"Above all, you must pray for the whole people: that is, for the whole body, for every part of your mother the Church, whose distinguishing feature is mutual love. If you ask for something for yourself then you will be praying for yourself only – and you must remember that more grace comes to one who prays for others than to any ordinary sinner. If each person prays for all people, then all people are effectively praying for each.
This ties in with the rational behind reciting the liturgy: we, in effect, begin to learn to sympathetically voice the concerns of others, taking their very words into our mouths. We become them; we escape the narrowness of me.
03 October 2009
This is from the submissions page to the Chaffey Review. I think it would make an equally good criteria for preaching, especially the last two marks.
02 October 2009
From St. Bernard's homily on our angels:
... And so, that nothing in heaven should be wanting in your concern for us, you send those blessed spirits to serve us, assigning them as our guardians and our teachers.
30 September 2009
1 St Ambrose, 340-397 (Pastoral Doctor)
2 St Jerome, 345-420 (Doctor of Biblical Science)
3 St Augustine, 354-430 (Doctor of Grace)
4 St Gregory the Great, 540-604 (Doctor of Hymnology)
EASTERN CHURCH DOCTORS
5 St Athanasius, 295-373 (Doctor of Orthodoxy)
6 St Basil the Great, 330-379 (Doctor of Monasticism)
7 St Gregory Nazianzus, 330-390 (Doctor of Theologians)
8 St John Chrysostom, 345-407 (Doctor of Preachers)
EARLY CHURCH DOCTORS
9 St Ephraem, 306-373 (Doctor of Deacons and Poets)
10 St Hilary, 315-368 (Doctor of Christ's Divinity)
11 St Cyril of Jerusalem, 315-387 (Doctor of Faith and against Heresy)
12 St Cyril of Alexandria, 376-444 (Doctor of the Incarnation)
13 St Leo the Great, 390-461 (Doctor of Doctrine)
14 St Peter Chrysologus, 400-450 (Doctor of Homilies)
15 St Isidore, 560-636 (Doctor of Education)
16 St Bede, the Venerable, 673-735 (Doctor of English History)
17 St John Damascene, 676-749 (The Icon or Image Doctor)
18 St Peter Damian, 1007-1072 (Doctor of Reform and Renewal)
MIDDLE AGE CHURCH DOCTORS
19 St Anselm, 1033-1109 (Doctor of Scholasticism)
20 St Bernard of Clairvaux, 1090-1153 (Devotional and Eloquent Doctor)
21 St Anthony of Padua, 1195-1231 (Evangelical Doctor)
22 St Albert the Great, 1200-1280 (Doctor of Science)
23 St Bonaventure, 1217-1274 (Seraphic Doctor)
24 St Thomas Aquinas, 1225-1274 (Angelic Doctor)
25 St Catherine of Siena, 1347-1379 (Doctor of Unity)
COUNTER REFORMATION CHURCH DOCTORS
26 St Teresa of Avila 1515-1582 (Doctor of Prayer)
27 St Peter Canisius, 1521-1597 (Doctor of Catechetical Studies)
28 St John of the Cross, 1542-1591 (Mystical Doctor)
29 St Robert Bellarmine, 1542-1621 (Doctor of Church State Relations)
30 St Lawrence of Brindisi, 1559-1622 (Doctor of Conversions and Missions)
31 St Francis de Sales, 1567-1622 (Doctor of Authors and the Press)
MODERN ERA CHURCH DOCTORS
32 St Alphonsus Liguori, 1696-1787 (Morality and Marian Doctor)
33 St Therese of Lisieux, 1873-1897 (Doctor of Confidence and Missionaries)
28 September 2009
We were pure energy without wisdom.
We were the embarrassment of short pants
and short hair. We were dust
creased in the neck, fingers around a baseball bat.
We were the lovers of lost time,
and we spent much of it ourselves.
We were smokers in hiding,
stalled cars miles from home.
We were white socks with a brown suit.
We were all sweat in our coats,
always a nickel short,
ten steps ahead.
We could have swum in clear rivers.
We could have swum in deep lakes.
We could have sung songs to the trees.
We had green knees forever.
We sulked ten steps behind.
We ran our dogs to the bone.
27 September 2009
Maggie Gallagher has almost single handedly changed the pro-marriage movement and in the process has given it perhaps its best and only chance of saving marriage from being permanently remade in America – and therefore the world.
Christian conservatives – as in the story above – have traditionally spoken about homosexuality in language that could be construed as judgmental. But this approach does not resonate in a culture where homosexuals have been mainstreamed in television, in movies, and around your neighborhood.
What is harder to argue with, in this scientific age, is science. And the social science data is voluminously on the side of man-woman marriage. The great divorce experiment proves it. Whole libraries have been written about the profound harm done to children because of divorce. A great primal scream has emerged in popular culture from the children of divorce. Maggie says children need both mothers and fathers in the home. Why go through with this experiment on children one more time? We already know the result.
This single insight, the connection between one failed experiment and the new proposition of homosexual marriage, has changed the marriage debate. No longer are pro-marriage proponents simply troglodytes. They are not judging and condemning homosexual couples. They are on the side of social science and the children. Brilliant.The next point has knocked the very powerful homosexual establishment back on its heels a bit...
26 September 2009
For money, poison, and treason -- as some
A common practice, used night and day.
But here I am in Kent and Christendom,
Among the Muses, where I read and rhyme;
Where if thou list, my Poins, for to come,
Thou shalt be judge how I do spend my time."
Sir Thomas Wyatt the Elder, Mine own John Poins
25 September 2009
"They paid me back evil for the good I did,
24 September 2009
What is today's date?
Who is the President?
How great a danger do you pose, on a scale of one to ten?
What does "people who live in glass houses" mean?
Every symphony is a suicide postponed, true or false?
Should each individual snowflake be held accountable for the
Name five rivers.
What do you see yourself doing in ten minutes?
How about some lovely soft Thorazine music?
If you could have half an hour with your father, what would you
say to him?
What should you do if I fall asleep?
Are you still following in his mastodon footsteps?
What is the moral of "Mary Had a Little Lamb"?
What about his Everest shadow?
Would you compare your education to a disease so rare no one
else has ever had it, or the deliberate extermination
of indigenous populations?
Which is more puzzling, the existence of suffering or its frequent
Should an odd number be sacrificed to the gods of the sky, and an
even to those of the underworld, or vice versa?
Would you visit a country where nobody talks?
What would you have done differently?
Why are you here?
Alfred A. Knopf