Sunday, April 30, 2006

Here and There . . .

An irregular roundup of blogs, articles and commentary.

St. Blog's celebrates Easter

  • Lenten Joy/Easter Joy, by Steven Riddle (Flos Carmeli):
    If your joy is not the shout out and dance experience, don't worry. Treasure what God has given you in the secret recesses of your heart and determine to take the small gift and make the most of it. Move closer to the Lord with each day, with each prayer. Turn the penance of Lent to good purpose by looking on the face of the Lord. Grow in love with Him--that is part of the season of Easter. The good work begun in you at your baptism is brought each year to this fullness and transformed in His light.
  • Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia! - Al Kimel (Pontifications):
    The single great solace of this week for me has been the sacred liturgies of the Church—Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, the Great Vigil. For the first time in twenty-five years, I was privileged to simply be present at these rites. I confess that I sharply missed not being at the altar, but I was also grateful that I could simply be and allow the liturgies to carry me along. I am grateful more than I can say that the Lord has brought me to Our Lady of Sorrows Parish. The liturgies were celebrated with such care and devotion, with true dignity, solemnity, and grace. And the music was glorious, oh how glorious and sublime. . . .
  • He is risen indeed!, a citation from the Easter homily of St. John Chrysostom, posted by David @ Duc In Altum.

  • As Dawn Eden can testify, Easter is a joyous occasion where many come home to the Church. If you are thinking of "crossing the Tiber" yourself, Teresa Polk posts an extensive list of Resources for Those Who Want to Know More about the Catholic Church, compiled mostly from books recommended by her Disciples in Mission facilitators during Lent. (Welcome also to Jason and his wife of Per Christum ("I kind of run out of words other than these two: peace and home").

  • A stirring Easter Vigil Sermon from St. Blog's own Fr. Jim Tucker (Dappled Things):
    This night that sees Christ burst the bars of death and hell is at the heart of the entire Christian religion. If it weren't for this night, it would be pointless to follow Christ. Indeed, as the Exsultet says, if it weren't for this night, it would have been meaningless to have been born. . . .
  • Easter: The Defiant Feast, by Fr. James V. Schall. Ignatius Insight April 15, 2006.

And on other matters . . .

  • Last Sunday we recognized the Divine Mercy of our Lord, instituted by Pope John Paul II on the basis of the apparitions of Christ to St. Faustina Kowalska in the 1930s. Michael Liccione has an excellent post in answer to the question Why Divine Mercy Sunday?. For additional resources on this important feast day in our tradition, see

  • Tridentine Rumor Watch -- Prior to Easter rumors were flying fast and furious that something was going to be released on Holy Thursday regarding the Tridentine liturgy. Well, it hasn't happened (yet?), but Amy Welborn (Open Book) offers a good appraisal of the issue, together with a roundup of links to knowledgable sources about this very subject.

  • Mark Shea on the "Suiciding of the Church" as a consequence of its legal battles:
    . . . the pillaging of the Church will not stop until your parish is gone, all the services it provided are gone, schools are gone, orphanages, hospitals, charities, clinics, and the thousand and one other corporal works of mercy are stamped out by a system that sees the chance to make a bundle and doesn't a damn about the poor the Church serves.

    The Church itself will survive, of course. But the ruin inflicted on a society that has no clue how dependent it is on the Catholic Church as a mediating institution may mean that our country doesn't survive. The Church has a divine promise of survival. US culture is only as strong as the mortals that comprise it.

    Bottom line: Destruction is not reform. Catholics who are sitting there thinking, "Ha! The Church is getting what it deserves!" are, quite simply, candidates for discovering the principle that the measure you give will be the measure you receive. And they are wrong to boot. The Church is the People of God. And the People of God do not deserve to have their patrimony pillaged by greedy lawyers who leave them naked before the power of a persecuting state and powerless to help those members of society even more helpless than they will be once this legal pogrom really gets up its head of steam.

  • For Ourselves and Our Posterity -- Dennis, a 3rd-year seminarian for the Diocese of Memphis who blogs at Vita Mea, had the recent opportunity to hear Dr. Alan Keyes preach, and to speak with him personally:
    We asked [Dr. Keyes] where he learned to preach so well, and he explained that, while he was raised Catholic his whole life, his parents were converts. As a child, when he would go to visit releatives, he had many opportunities to hear excellent Baptist preachers. I told him he was welcome in our Homiletics classes at any time.
    See also "More on Alan Keyes' Approach to Roe v. Wade".

  • On Saturday April 1st, a banquet was held to mark the establishment of the McInerny Center for Thomistic Studies; on First Things "On the Square", Joseph Bottum composes a fitting tribute to Ralph McInerny.

    Dr. McInerney has recently published his autobiography, I Alone Have Escaped to Tell You: My Life And Pastimes (University of Notre Dame Press, 2006), a chapter of which appeared in the March 2006 issue of First Things ("The Writing Life").

  • The Devil's poisoned bumperstickers, by Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP. (). “God loves us unconditionally; God accepts us just as we are"; “I have an adult faith; I’m into spirituality, not religion.” -- Fr. Powell deconstructs two contemporary sayings that we have more likely than not encountered in our lives, revealing their misleading nature.

    Contrast the first saying with the recently-celebrated feast of Divine Mercy which, just as it celebrates Our Lord's mercy and forgiveness "for even the most hardened sinners," nevertheless calls each of us to confession and repentence in response.

    Likewise, in regards to the latter, I have never encountered a genuine spirituality -- even among non-Christians -- that did not come part and parcel with religious obligation. Consequently one encounters the Dalai Lhama, a man revered by the media and the non-Christian world for his "spirituality" if there ever was one -- or, to quote Domenico Bettinelli, "a darling of the West’s glitterati, who fancy the Lama’s religion to be a light kind of spirituality that offers no moral judgments on their lifestyles." Apparently the Dalai Lama is not who they thought he was.

  • "Opus Dei, TIME, and the McDonaldization of American sentiment", by Dr. Philip Blosser, aka The Pertinacious Papist, reviewing Time magazine's article on Opus Dei and the public's hysteria over what Time purports to be "the most controversial group in Catholicism."

  • Stephen Riddle (Flos Carmeli) on Growing with and toward the Church:
    Encountering the truth is hard. It requires that one be ready to abandon cherished illusions and ways of life that flow from them. Accepting the truth can only be done in the light of grace. Without that grace, I would have arrived nowhere. With it, I hope to arrive at God's truth before I die. If not, I hope to have latched on to enough of it to make the journey afterwards.

    But surrender to the truth requires giving up pride; one must be able to admit that one has been wrong on any given point. Abandonment to the truth can be frightening because it leads the seeker into new territory. The grounds of our illusions have been thoroughly tramped through; however, truth is always "the Undiscovered Country." Every step into is a step away from the familiar and comfortable.

  • The Religious Sense [Blog] - "This blog contains thoughts and reflections on The Religious Sense, a book by Monsignor Luigi Giussani, priest, author, and teacher. Its purpose is to be both an aid to my understanding of the work and a resource for others interested." From the newly-renovated >Communion & Liberation U.S. National website, here is a description of the text:
    The Religious Sense, the fruit of many years of dialogue with students, is an exploration of the search for meaning in life. Luigi Giussani shows that the nature of reason expresses itself in the ultimate need for truth, goodness, and beauty. These needs constitute the fabric of the religious sense, which is evident in every human being everywhere and in all times.

    So strong is this sense that it leads one to desire that the answer to life's mystery might reveal itself in some way.

    Giussani challenges us to penetrate the deepest levels of experience to discover our essential selves, breaking through the layers of opinions and judgments that have obscured our true needs. Asserting that all the tools necessary for self- discovery are inherent within us, he focuses primarily on reason, not as narrowly defined by modern philosophers but as an openness to existence, a capacity to comprehend and affirm reality in all of its dimensions.

  • Flight 93: Remembering Heroes - I imagine this is going to be a very difficult film to watch for most New Yorkers. It will undoubtedly awaken a lot of memories and emotion (perhaps necessary, for those who have become complacent). Eagle and Elephant has compiled a very good roundup of resources and commentary.

  • Kneeling Before the Bones of Mary Magdalen, or “Been There, Done That”, by John Wauck (The Da Vinci Code and Opus Dei):
    Twice in The Da Vinci Code, we hear that “the quest for the Holy Grail is the quest to kneel before the bones of Mary Magdalene.” To which, I can’t help thinking that, at least for a Christian, there can only be one natural response: “been there, done that.”
  • The Death Penalty & Creeping Infallibilism, by Jimmy Akin:
    There is no "creeping infallibilism" in the teaching of a single pontiff. If the pope wants to make an ex cathedra statement, he has to make one. One cannot point to a long series of fallible statements by a pope--even one with a twenty six year reign--and say that they add up to an infallible one. . . .
  • Thoughts on Gnosticism, by Adam Kotsko . . . breaking the news to the Gospel of Judas and Elaine Pagels fans out there:
    In this case, then, I think that the catholics were right to reject Gnosticism, unequivocally right. In fact, I think that the dismissive tone of Irenaeus is exactly right as well. Christianity would undoubtedly be a much worse and stupider religion today if something like the Gospel of Judas had been included in the canon. The established church is not maliciously trying to hide this beautiful countercultural extra-super-special populist truth from you by refusing to admit Gnostic texts into the canon of Scripture. The fact that Gnostics are opposed by the established church does not make Gnosticism automatically good, any more than the Republican party's opposition to fundamentalist Islamic terrorism makes terrorism really cool.
  • March 30 - April 2, 2006 witnessed the liturgical abomination of the Los Angeles "Religious Education Convention," held in the Diocese of Los Angeles. Gerald Augustinus of Closed Cafeteria has been blogging the event from afar, and posts a link to his entire series on MahoneyFest '06. What's with the "sieg-heiling"? -- Here's another shot of the same from American Papist, accompanied by some mixed reaction from the readership.

  • "I recommend Catholic Matters to all who are seriously interested in the Catholic Church, particularly those who now live on the Protestant side of the Tiber and who wonder what it might be like to swim to the other side . . . also believe that every Catholic bishop and priest should read this book." - Why Catholic Matters - Al Kimel (Pontifications) reviews the latest book by Fr. Richard J. Neuhaus, Catholic Matters: Confusion, Controversy, And the Splendor of Truth (Basic Books, 2006).

  • Pope John Paul II and the Koran. You've heard about it from the radtrads: JPII kissing the Koran?! -- Scandal! Heresy! Abomination! -- but what really happened? And what was the Pope's intention in doing so? Jimmy Akin provides his analysis.

  • Paul Zummo (The Cranky Conservative), on "avoiding 'radtradism'".

  • "Gospel of Judas": The St. Blogs treatment, courtesy of The American Papist, an excellent roundup of commentary and analysis -- letting the hot air out of the world's latest archeological discovery. Also, Teófilo of Vivificat has combined his three-part analysis of the "Gospel of Judas" into a single document (.pdf format).

    On a related note, Off The Record reports that "archeological researchers in Ridgewood, New Jersey, have discovered an ancient Christian document that offers a radically new account of the founding of the Catholic Church.

  • Not as Man Sees, by Anthony Esolen (Mere Comments), on the interpretation of scripture:
    . . . But now I hope I'm wise enough to be more suspicious of sayings that appeal to me, and to submit to Scripture, which often enough does not appeal, at least not at first. For as hard as I tried even back in those days, I simply could not find in the sayings of Jesus what Hans Kung argued was, perhaps, a mere "warning" that if you did not turn to God you would suffer the unquenchable flames. I'm not writing as a theologian, but as a man who has had to put up with all kinds of strained and implausible literary interpretations from academics a sinistra: that Shakespeare's Tempest is all about colonialism and racism; that the bride in Spenser's Epithalamion is terrified of getting pregnant; that Chaucer's Wife of Bath gives a thorough refutation of scholasticism. In other words, after all these years I think I know what a strained interpretation looks like. And to say that Jesus spoke about Hell with a kind of wink, or a suppressed "maybe" or "you never know," is to introduce into your exegesis a hermeneutic principle that could make anything of anything.
  • Al Kimel (Pontifications) received a letter from a reader (probably one of many) -- an Episcopalian who longs to join the Church but who at the same time disagrees with "the Church’s stance on divorce, birth control, abortion, homosexuality and women as priests.":
    I am a liberal and cannot and will not betray my conscience by accepting the teachings of the Church hierarchy that I view to be implicitly wrong. I love Christ will all my heart and long to serve him, but don’t know if I can reconcile my personal belief system with these teachings, not to mention the overall alarmingly conservative outlook of many Catholics."
    Al responds.

  • Joshua Trevino (Enchiridion Militis) has begun a series called With Both Lungs -- here's a wake-up call:
    Within living memory, the ingathering of the Jews to Israel has wiped out or fatally crippled ancient Jewish communities in places like Yemen, Baghdad, Egypt, and north Africa. Perhaps this would have happened in any case, as the Zionist dream demonstrated its success: but it was unquestionably hastened by the violence and persecution inflicted upon those communities by their Muslim neighbors. Where Christians are concerned, the process has been less abrupt, but no less certain. Lebanon, which once stood as an example of a viable Arab Christian statelet, now sees its Maronites and Orthodox communities slowly wither as the fanaticism of the Shi’a asserts its national dominance. The Assyrians and Chaldeans of Iraq and Syria find their communities under siege, and their ranks depleted by 20th-century genocides and emigration. The Copts of Egypt, deprived of any other Christian national grouping in the Nile valley, suffer occasional pogroms. In Palestine, the Christian communities are decimated as their youth flee to the West — and the very birthplace of Christ is now, for the first time in history, a Muslim city. What luck the new majority also, in its way, claims to revere Christ. Although not as such.

    The irony throughout is that those members of the Christian east who flee to the West arrive in a milieu that is broadly uncomprehending of why they do so — and why that very milieu is the logical point of flight. Israeli society, at the least, grasps the significance of the flight and arrival of their Jewish co-religionists to that land. But when another Maronite arrives in Brooklyn? Well. The immigrants identify with us orders of magnitude more than we with them. We, not they, are the ones laboring under a profound misconception.

  • The true meaning of “active participation”, by Fr. John T. Zuhlsdorf (What Does The Prayer Really Say?):
    There is nothing passive about truly listening, either to the readings, music or prayers of Mass. As a matter of fact, listening with mind and will engaged is very difficult and very active indeed. You can do stuff, sing, even try to read with your mind a million miles away. Being truly actively receptive is tough. What happens at Mass must therefore engaged us interiorly, not merely get us doing things, things which might actually be distracting us from what the true divine Actor is doing in the actions of the Mass and the texts the Church gives us. . . .
  • Prof. Scott Carson on The Examined Life:
    In other passages in other dialogues Socrates (that is, Plato, using Socrates) draws a distinction between two kinds of ignorance. One kind is the straightforward ignorance of objective facts for which no one can be held morally blameworthy unless they claim to know something that they know full well they don't know. But the other kind, which Plato appears to have regarded as a moral failing, is ignorance of the fact that one is ignorant--a kind of ignorance of one's own limitations with regard to expertise. Although Socrates always professed to be ignorant in the first sense, he admitted that he did not believe himself to be ignorant in the second sense--the sense that, for Plato, was far more important. It was precisely because Plato regarded Socrates as wise in this latter sense that he regarded Socrates as the paradigm case of a wise person.

    If it accomplishes nothing else, philosophy will teach you about your own limitations, even as it illumines the limitations of others. You come to understand very quickly that, not only is there no such thing as progess in philosophy, but there is not really any such thing as progress at all, other than the banal sort that allows us to build better bridges or manufacture better textiles, machinery, and medicines. We are more technologically advanced today than the ancient Greeks were, but morally, psychologically, philosophically--in any really important sense, we are no further than they. In some ways, I imagine, we have yet to catch up with them.

  • Happy Anniversary to Dave Armstrong and his wife Judy, who celebrated 20 years of marriage on March 14, 2006.

  • Episcopaganism, by Christopher S. Johnson (Midwest Conservative Journal):
    A curious form of Christian image is the so-called Black Madonna. This is an icon of Mary in which the skin of the Mother of Our Lord is depicted in a dark hue. The most famous of these is probably Poland's Black Madonna of Czestochowa but there are many others. Since I am not Catholic, I don't know the significance of these images or whether they have any particular significance at all. But I'm fairly certain of one thing. To paraphrase Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride, I do not think those words mean what Matthew Fox thinks they mean . . .

New Resources

  • Mother of All Peoples, a weekly Marian e-zine "to proclaim the Blessed Virgin Mary's revealed truth and glory as taught by the Church, and in reparation for offenses committed against her Most Immaculate Heart."

  • Theophenomenon - "A site dedicated to the appreciation and promotion of phenomenology and its use in contemporary theological studies. Provides resources for scholars, students and non-specialists in the form of news, articles, links and bibliographies."

  • The Jewish Enyclopedia Online contains the complete contents (15,000 articles and illustrations) of the 12-volume Jewish Encyclopedia, which was originally published between 1901-1906, and which recently became a part of the public domain.

  • Catholic Blog Directory, Currently maintained by andrea based on work created by Gen X Revert, originating with the list compiled by Gerard Serafin, RIP.

On a Ligher Note . . .

Last but not least . . .

Can't get enough? -- David Jones provides a regular roundup of interesting links at La Nouvelle Theologie, and To Jesus Through Mary hosts the latest Catholic Carnival.

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