A Language of Ineffable Words

Just a few short musings on Thanksgiving Friday

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An Athonite elder said: “A monk does not just study dogmas; he lives by them. When he reads the Holy Scripture or the patristic writings, he is not doing it to gain knowledge but to learn a language of ineffable words with which God speaks through one’s prayer. — Sayings of the Desert Fathers

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Sometimes I think there needs to be much more reading of Holy Scripture and the Fathers and much less of theology and philosophy. Even some Shakespeare now and then wouldn’t hurt at all.

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After I became Catholic, there were many writers that I loved to read that simply fell off my radar screen, C. S. Lewis being one of them. Just this week, I asked myself, why should that be? I couldn’t come up with an answer other than that he isn’t Catholic. This year, I’ve been studying Church history, mostly from the late Roman era through the Middle Ages. As part of that, I read C. S. Lewis’ last book, The Discarded Image, a very interesting introduction to the medieval world view. Other than that, I’ve read little or nothing of Lewis since I came into the Church. I regret this and hope to broaden my horizons in 2015.

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I saw an interesting column this week by Fr. Mark Pilon on The Catholic Thing site about the benefits of having a less visible papacy. He makes one interesting point arising from Pope Francis style that I think is easy to overlook, it harms ecumenical relations between east and west. Here is one quote:

“Let me explain . . ., beginning with the ecumenical. The eastern hierarchies have always had a grave concern – indeed, real fear – about papal dominance of the episcopal order. This fear only increased in the age of mass media and with a pope constantly taking to the airwaves and other media to express not only Church teaching, but his personal opinions on just about any subject.”

The problem is that Pope Francis is all too willing to give voice to his opinion on just about anything at any time. Such a public pope, as Fr. Pilon points out, distorts the true understanding of the relationship within the Church amongst all bishops. I can’t help but wonder if it’s not time to rethink the idea of Pope as celebrity. Here is the full article and it’s worth a read.