Divisions of Colliding Wills


A 7 Quick Takes post, kindly hosted at This Ain’t the Lyceum

 

St. Cyprian
 
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“The spouse of Christ cannot be defiled; she is uncorrupted and chaste. She knows one home . . . Does anyone believe that this unity which comes from divine strength, which is closely connected with the divine sacraments, can be broken asunder in the Church and be separated by the divisions of colliding wills? He who does not hold this unity, does not hold the law of God, does not hold the faith of the Father and the Son, does not hold life and salvation.”  St Cyprian – On the Unity of the Catholic Church

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Went to the FSSP parish in my fair city for Pentecost Sunday and, for some reason, it was just what I needed spiritually.  I had been feeling really worn down by something like three or more weeks of daily rain, in fact, one stretch of 8 days of almost solid rainfall.  All the moisture brought water seeping in to one room of our basement and the constant use of a very large Shop Vac was, along with the lack of sunshine, also a bit wearing.  Yet, somehow, one Latin Mass, something I hadn’t experienced in over a year did the trick.  I need  to do that more often.

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Attending a Latin Mass is often taken as a sign of extreme conservatism and Catholic zealotry, even among Catholics.   That’s unfortunate in the extreme.  Even worse, the idea is most often talked up by those who consider themselves the most righteous and orthodox Catholics on the block.  It’s a shame these folks do not see that they are doing far more harm than good.  

The Latin Mass is a beautiful and wonderful gift of the heritage of the Church.  It retains to this day the element of beauty and mystery, something that everyone needs to remind them of the Absolute Mystery that is being celebrated in the liturgy, a beauty and mystery that, frankly, has been under attack since the “reforms” of the liturgy after Vatican II.  It isn’t a matter of doctrine at all, it’s a recognition that human beings need constant reminders, in many forms, of Who they are worshipping and what is taking place during that time of worship.  It should be a time of beauty and awe, not self affirmation.  It also is never a sign of personal political opinion.

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Speaking of doctrine, the same extreme Catholic zealots are beginning to crank up the panic level over what they term “the coming schism” or “the coming heresy”, and other such comings.  It seems to me the operative word in all this is “coming”; not one of the apocalyptic events predicted by these folks has come about as of this writing.  The point is, those who are so actively engaged in panic mode over events over four months away are not doing themselves or their readers any good.  All they are doing is building up anger within the Church, and surely such activities, which amount to little more than gossip, are to be regretted, perhaps repented.  It is well to remember, none of these people have had a role in speaking for the Church and her Tradition.

There’s no denying there are those in the Church who are promoting ideas that are contrary to her own good.  There may be danger ahead.  But when, in her 2,000 year history has it ever not been so?  The role of faithful Catholic laity now is to pray for the Church and those within her walls, and to trust Jesus words when he told Peter:

“And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.”

If Jesus promised that the “powers of death” shall not prevail against His Church, what chance do the German bishops have?

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We have had a momentous amount of rain here in Colorado over the month of May, nearly 8″ officially in my fair city.  I think my neighborhood, some distance from the official airport rain guage, we have probably had closer to 12″, with a couple of days still left in the month.  We have had roads flooded, creeks at or over their flood stage, and many city parks and hiking trails either severely damaged or washed away entirely, even in Garden of the Gods.  As inconvenient as all this has been, I am reminded it could always be worse.  In Texas, houses have washed away, dams have failed, and the death toll has been far too high.  Please pray for the all of the victims of the Texas flooding.

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I’ve been reading a book, C. S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity, I hadn’t picked up before my crossing the Tiber.  I had forgotten how really enjoyable reading this short book is.  The odd thing is the book is much more understandable, and enjoyable, to me as a Catholic than it ever was to me as a Protestant.  It reminds me of one of the truths Lewis discusses in the book, a point I totally glossed over when I first read it.  His point is that, when he was an atheist, he could not allow himself to be open to ideas from those with other points of view but, as a Christian, he learned he could be open to truth where ever and whenever he found it.  Good thing to keep in mind.

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I may have ranted a bit too much today, I tend to do that and regret it afterwards.  In mitigation of my guilt, I offer a quote from Chesterton that will give you an idea of how things end up appearing on this site, and their relative importance in the grand scheme of things: 

“. . .crude and shapeless papers upon current or rather flying subjects; and they must be published pretty much as they stand. They were written, as a rule, at the last moment; they were handed in the moment before it was too late, and I do not think that our commonwealth would have been shaken to its foundations if they had been handed in the moment after.”

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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.

 

 

Error Dressed Elegantly


A 7 Quick Takes post, as hosted by Ms. Jennifer Fulwiler on her Conversion Diary blog

St. Irenaeus
St. Irenaeus

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“Error never shows itself in its naked reality, in order not to be discovered. On the contrary, it dresses elegantly, so that the unwary may be led to believe that it is more truthful than truth itself.” St. Irenaeus

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I always worry when I hear someone, be it the pope or a bishop or a priest, or a politician, say something that sounds good, oh so close to the truth, but somehow still managing to sound a bit off. I listened to a podcast this past week about C. S. Lewis and the speaker was pointing out that Lewis wrote about Satan being inaccurate, everything he said was close to the truth, but still a lie. It is Christ who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and when someone tries to couch what they are say in pretty words, they deviate from the Way.  Beware.

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I have to confess, I wasn’t going to do a post this week. I’ve been far to engaged in immersing myself in keeping up with events in the Church and in the nation. During the past week in the Catholic blog world, I’ve read every conceivable opinion about the goings-on in the Church, the whole gamut from, “Don’t worry, be happy” to “we’re entering the end times and the pope is the anti-Christ.” It’s enough to send oneto a depression without end. All of that coming from people who have no idea what tomorrow will bring, much less what will happen to the end of the age. I’ve decided to be much more selective in what I read.

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Speaking of C. S. Lewis, I read just a little C. S. Lewis earlier this week, it was a selection from the Year With C.S. Lewis book. It was about sex in heaven, or rather the lack thereof, the biologic motivation being no longer present in the afterlife. I hadn’t read anything by him in a long time and I was reminded of a trait of his writing I especially love; in this instance, when Lewis writes about what heaven will be like, he seems to most often describe something delightfully unexpected, not at all in line with what most people assume will be the case. He offers a rather more literal picture of the glimpses we get from Scripture. We’ll have resurrected bodies, will live in utter joy, but that joy won’t involve physical things as we know them. We think of sex and the ultimate experience of joy here on earth and can’t picture how we could have even greater joy in heaven without it.

It’s here that another characteristic of Lewis’ writing comes in in the way he illustrates his points with descriptions of how children often react to things. A boy might think a chocolate bar offers him the greatest joy he’s ever known, but when told sex is an even greater one, and having no experience of it, might think to ask if people enjoy chocolate bars along with it. When told that doesn’t usually happen, his mind can’t grasp the possibilities. He thinks the chocolate is an indispensable element of the experience of joy. As great and wonderful as our ability to draw conclusions from our experience, when it comes to the things of God, those conclusions are bound to fall short.

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A short update on my experience with the newly free MS Word app for iPad, it can’t beat Apple’s Pages offering. Having written a post for today in the Word app, only to watch it disappear in the ether, somewhere in the transition from my iPad to Dropbox, I’ve returned to using Pages. I have to admit, that loss was a contributing factor to my dropping the idea for posting anything at all today, but vanity won out.

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I also saw an article, somewhere I can no longer remember, about U.S. bishops, those who might oppose the “reforms” being bandied about in the Church these days, being cowed by the demotion and exile of Cardinal Burke. The thought crossed my mind that, if they are utterly intimidated by such moves, we are in desperate need of some new pastors. I don’t think I believe such writings.

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I should also offer a short explanation of the slight change in the title of the blog made a couple of weeks ago. One reason for the change is to get away from the guilt of stealing a title from Hillaire Belloc. Another is that, the new title is even more descriptive of my original intent for this adventure in cyberspace. That’s all there is to it. I know all you conspiracy theorists out there will be greatly disappointed.

 

Exploring Brighton Beach


From time to time, I try to use the Word Press Daily Prompt to spur my writing imagination. I hardly ever do one on a Friday, but today’s spurred my interest so I’m going to do a short response to it. The prompt reads: “Is there a word or a phrase you use (or overuse) all the time, and are seemingly unable to get rid of? If not, what’s the one that drives you crazy when others use it?”

image7.jpgIt dawned on me a couple of months ago that there are many words and phrases I use constantly, sometimes in nearly every other sentence. I asked myself, if this continuous repetition was beginning to drive me crazy, what must it be doing to my readers? In my own defense, I believe the source of this bad habit is found in doing a great deal of writing in my capacity working for a government contractor. That industry has it’s own vocabulary and that vocabulary has changed very little in the past four decades; everyone expects those familiar with the industry to use the same sort of verbiage. I’ve found it extremely difficult to shake the habit, but knew I need to try.

I began casting about for ways to spice up my vocabulary, and my pursuit of wisdom took me to many foreign climes. The truth is, however, my search ended up closely resembling Chesterton’s English explorer who set sail around the world hoping to discover new and exotic lands, only to find himself washed up on the shore at Brighton. Just like that admiral of the ocean blue, I ended up exactly where I began so many years ago in freshman English, with an old, dusty, copy of Roget’s Thesaurus, pulled from a much neglected area of my bookshelf. Opening it’s slightly discolored pages (it, sadly, hadn’t seen sunlight in many years), I saw laying before me a place where an old logophilic explorer like myself could spend countless hours just drinking in the mystery and inter-connectedness of words. The solution to a long developing problem had been found in an instant. I keep the book close at hand now whenever I write and try to refer to it often; it’s the perfect antidote to trite, dull, worn out language. In truth, it’s become something of a game; if I write a word that triggers just the slightest discomfort, deep down in my writer’s psyche, I take a break, pick up my thesaurus and see if there’s a better word to use in it’s place. It’s actually fun, and I’m learning something, new words, at the same time.

If there’s one recommendation I’d make to any writer, it’s the use of a thesaurus to spice things up. I don’t know how hard it is to find a hard copy of Roget’s indispensable resource, but a handy alternative is the web site, Thesaurus.com. Many, these days will prefer the tech based solution, and it is a well designed web site, but if you can find the book, perhaps at a good used bookstore, grab it up. You don’t have to have a computer to use it and it’s hidden delights are many; just open it randomly at look at the first word that you see, you may find your own Brighton shore.

On Prigs and Self-Righteous Bullies


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I’m going to try to do a post today, even though I’ve done little thinking about much of anything for the last 10 days. I’m just now beginning to recover from a cold cum sinus infection that progressed with alarming speed into a nasty case of bronchitis. Bronchitis at this altitude (7,000 MSL) can be quite debilitating, even if it’s not particularly severe. I made what I hope is a final trip to the doctor yesterday and got a course of killer antibiotics that I think have already begun to make a difference. I hope to be back to what passes for normal for me next week. Bear with me for any incoherences I commit with this post. I see our Holy Father has a cold, so I guess I’m in good company and can take some consolation from that.

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One especially noteworthy event of the past week, in my opinion, is the collapse of plans to hold a black mass at Harvard. I’m amazed, and quite heartened, that young Catholic students at the university were able to fend this thing off. I think this is a major triumph over the forces of ignorance and, dare I say it, evil, so pervasive in the world we live in. It could only have come from the prayers of many Catholics and, as I said, it’s quite heartening.

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Actually, it wasn’t only students at Harvard who opposed the holding of a black mass, it looks like the president of the school also opposed the thing. Here’s a quote from the Catholic Culture website:

” ‘Vigorous and open discussion and debate are essential to the pursuit of knowledge,’ Faust said in a May 12 statement. Although she denounced the plans for a enactment of the black mass as “abhorrent,” she said that the principle of free speech on campus weighed against any action to stop the event. Faust announced:

‘I plan to attend a Eucharistic Holy Hour
and Benediction at St. Paul’s Church on our campus on Monday evening in order to join others in reaffirming our respect for the Catholic faith at Harvard and to demonstrate that the most powerful response to offensive speech is not censorship, but reasoned discourse and robust dissent.’ “

I think I agree with her.

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cropped-chesterton-2.jpgStill, as might be expected, Chesterton has a better answer:

“The devil can quote Scripture for his purpose; and the text of Scripture which he now most commonly quotes is, “The Kingdom of heaven is within you.” That text has been the stay and support of more Pharisees and prigs and self-righteous spiritual bullies than all the dogmas in creation; it has served to identify self-satisfaction with the peace that passes all understanding. And the text to be quoted in answer to it is that which declares that no man can receive the kingdom except as a little child. What we are to have inside is a childlike spirit; but the childlike spirit is not entirely concerned about what is inside. It is the first mark of possessing it that one is interested in what is outside. The most childlike thing about a child is his curiosity and his appetite and his power of wonder at the world. We might almost say that the whole advantage of having the kingdom within is that we look for it somewhere else.” G. K. Chesterton

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On the other hand, I see that the administration and student government of Notre Dame (of all places) has turned down the application of a pro-marriage, pro-life organization on campus. See the story here. There is still much work to do, apparently all the more on the campuses of so-called Catholic universities. And then, there’s Cardinal Kasper. It boggles the mind.

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Part of my sinus and bronchial problems has come, I suspect, from the crazy weather we’ve had in Colorado over the past two weeks. We’ve gone from several inches of snow and freeze warnings to rain and to bright sun and warm temperatures. Ah, springtime in the Rockies.

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There are many fine blogs participating in the weekly 7 Quick Takes posts that Jennifer Fulwiler graciously hosts each week. Please stop by there to read them all.

 

Brevity


A 7 Quick Takes Post

A Quick note, please check out Jennifer Fulwiler’s new book: Something Other than God; it promises to be a good read.

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This week I’ve set one goal for doing this “Quick Takes” post – each quick take shall be no more than 50 words. The idea is to be brief; I’ve always admired brevity. They say that brevity is the soul of wit.  I agree.

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I’m giving serious consideration to, once again, taking up the clarinet. I used to be pretty good in school but haven’t played since. I am beginning to think, though, that I need a hobby and would love to pick up the ol’ licorice stick once more. Besides, it’d drive the cats crazy.

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“The act of defending any of the cardinal virtues has today all the exhilaration of a vice.” – A Defense of Humilities, The Defendant, 1901. It’s odd, I’m thinking Chesterton wrote this tongue in cheek. I wonder if he ever imagined how true this prophecy would turn out to be.

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I find it’s not easy to be brief; I’ve gotten very wordy lately. Wouldn’t it be nice, though, if more people decided to take the brevity challenge? I used to think Twitter, the worst thing that could ever have happened to the English language. I was wrong.

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cropped-chesterton-2.jpgI’ve been reading Fr Schall’s, The Mind that is Catholic and am finding it challenging. I surmise that’s a good thing, to be challenged. However, after I finish, I’m tempted to stick with Chesterton, Belloc and Newman for the rest of the year. I’ll let you know how that goes.

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I see a German priest wants Pope Francis to release him from his vows of celibacy. Seems he has an illegitimate 22 year old daughter he’s kept secret from his superiors. He posted his request on Facebook. In a way, I admire his desire to be honest, but, REALLY?

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Re: #6: Sometimes one wonders if, in certain countries, all the bishops should be removed and a new crop installed. I am beginning to wonder if that shouldn’t be something done on a regular basis around the world, say every 10 or 15 years for each country. Stir the pot.