Being Guarded and Preserved

A 7 Quick Takes post hosted now by the This Ain’t the Lyceum blog.

St Irenaeus


“True knowledge is the doctrine of the Apostles, and the ancient constitution of the Church throughout all the world, and the distinctive manifestation of the body of Christ according to the successions of the bishops, by which they have handed down that Church which exists in every place, and has come even unto us, being guarded and preserved, without any forging of Scriptures, by a very complete system of doctrine, and neither addition nor curtailment [in truths which she believes]; and [it consists in] reading [the Word of God] without falsification, and a lawful and diligent exposition in harmony with the Scriptures, both without danger and without blasphemy…”  St. Irenaeus


Of course, the big topic of conversation this past week has been “the call” sealing the final outcome of the Super Bowl.  Most people seemed to think it was at best a careless decision to call a pass play so close to the goal line.  I think it was in character for the Seahawks style of play, fast and loose, perhaps even over-confident.  If you think about the game they had with Green Bay and how they made that comeback seemingly at will, and how they were doing the same thing with New England until about the middle of the fourth quarter, you can see why the coaches wouldn’t have thought the play risky at all.  In any case, talk has already started about who plays in Super Bowl 50.  This too shall pass.


The hubbub over the last papal news conference has died down (I do wish he’d quit doing those things) and, at the moment, only the most conservative blogs are still hunting for Francis’ scalp.  I wish people wouldn’t get so wrapped up in the day to day goings on in Rome.  It’s good to keep reminding ourselves, over and over again, that these things just aren’t all that important.  It would be good to remember there is a rich, wonderful Tradition of true teaching in the Church that far outweighs anything Pope Francis might think or do; he is the odd man out, not Augustine or Aquinas or Teresa of Avila.  As St. Irenaeus said, the true teaching as been guarded and preserved for 2,000 years; what’s two years, or five or ten, compared to that?


There was a very interesting article on the Crisis magazine website earlier this week about the linear increase in IQ scores measured since the beginning of the year and the regular, not so linear, decrease in faith over the same period.  The gain in IQ is mostly the result of improved skill in abstract thinking. Here’s a quote:

 “The world is different for us; more abstract and theoretical, and it is becoming more so all the time as we live less amid things and more among pixelated representations of things. In the increasingly abstract anything is possible, the source of light is within and the horizon is boundless. We are becoming disembodied and therefore less receptive to a God who created the world and then entered into that world as flesh and blood. As C.S. Lewis wrote in The Discarded Image (1964), the medieval person who found himself “looking up at a world lighted, warmed, and resonant with music” becomes the modern person who perceives only emptiness and silence.”

And another:

 “The world of actual things and flesh and blood persons contained its own logic of being, where a child grew up seeing his dog which may or may not have been a good hunter, but regardless, in its particularity it was related to rabbits, which were not just representations of an abstract species, but actual fury beings and objects of primal wonder and excitement. We have lost this, and with it, our capacity for the one great relationship for which we were made.”

It is worth a read and can be found HERE.


And another from the excellent Crisis Magazine website, this one from yesterday by Dr. Regis Martin of Franciscan University of Steubenville.  It’s about silence, monastic silence.  If you’ve ever visited a monastery, even for a short time, the thing that you probably noticed first and foremost was the silence.  Most monasteries these days are like nowhere else on earth.  The noise we live in is an unrelenting, absolutely incessant, and we’re so used to it, the silence of a monastery often seems unbearable, especially to young, first time visitors.  Dr. Martin writes about this noise,

“One of the truly awful torments of modern life, from whose myriad aggressions no one is entirely safe, is noise. More and more, it fills the space that was once marked by that silence whose absence we seem increasingly not to notice.   Nor even, it seems, to mind, so accustomed have we grown to ever higher and more intrusive levels of din.   Indeed, so often are we in flight from silence, so quickly do we turn up the volume, that one might think the work of suppression part of a larger strategy to deflect the emptiness of our own lives.”

It’s sad that the opportunities to experience silence are becoming few and far between, especially with the closing of abbeys unable to attract many vocations.  You should read the entire article HERE.


Technology update:  As I’ve shared in the past, most of the writing I do for the blog, and nearly everything else, I do on my iPad.  Until November, I’d used the Apple Pages app as my word processing software but then switched to the newly free MS Word version.  I fully expected to switch back within a week or two but I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how well this free app works.  Pulling up a file originating from the iPad app in the PC version is flawless; with Pages, if you transferred a file to Word on a desktop machine, much of the formatting of the original file was lost.  Most of the features from the latest version of Word are available in the app, and it seems quite stable.  I don’t have the problem of losing file updates nearly as often as happened with the Pages app.  Sometimes, you do get more than you pay for.


The weather is Colorado has been crazy over the last week or so.  In the last 10 days we’ve had snow and extremely cold temperatures and clear skies with temperatures in the 60s, not all of it accurately predicted by the weather folks.  Their big miss on the New England blizzard has been in the news, along with the obligatory apologies has been big news.  What people forget is that seeing into the future is a uniquely difficult thing to do; how many of us have any real idea what will happen tomorrow, much less a week or 10 days from now.  Certainly not meteorologists.

It makes me wonder about all those dire “climate change” warnings and what that holds for the Earth’s future if we don’t do something now.  The very fact we’re now talking about climate change instead of global warming should tell you something about their reliability.  But regardless of the credibility of the doom and gloom crowd, it would be good to ask ourselves, in light of recent experience, how they can be so sure their predictions are accurate when weather forecasters, using the best models available, couldn’t predict what was coming even hours in advance.  I remain skeptical.  Just sayin’


One thought on “Being Guarded and Preserved

  1. Dr. Martin’s article on silence is extraordinary, and reminded me of a remark my mother once made to me several years after my father had passed away. Extremely intelligent, worldly, and well-read, she watched little television but made sure the television was on from the moment she rose each day until she went to bed. When I asked her why, since she rarely glanced at the television, her response was, “I need to have the noise in the background.” It struck me that perhaps deep in her mind she believed that if she weren’t hearing noise she must not be alive – and ironically she was still in her early 60’s and in good health.

    Most of my Catholic friends seem mildly amused when I speak of the glorious silence I enjoy when going on retreat at Trappist monasteries, and most recently my time at New Camaldoli Hermitage at Big Sur with the Camaldolese monks. At first they seem attracted to the idea of some “peace and quiet,” but when they learn there’s no television, no radio, probably not even any cell phone reception, their interest rapidly dies and they change the subject. This is how our civilization has developed: our minds and bodies are trained to survive on “noise” as surely as on oxygen. No wonder indeed that it’s hard for God to be heard.

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