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Saturday 11 August 2012

Brilliant Pick!

I have been a Paul Ryan fan since I lived in Wisconsin and heard him at a convention there. That he is highly intelligent, pro-life, fiscally on cue, and a great Catholic makes him a fantastic choice for vice-president. Romney is showing forward-thinking and leadership in his choice. Good one!

Saints of the Day

I have four liturgical calendars in my head. One, is the Tridentine, which celebrates the Wonder-Worker, St. Philomena today. In the Novus Ordo, it is St. Clare. In my Monastic Diurnal, it is St. Tiburtius, martyr and St. Clare is tomorrow. In the Byzantine Catholic Church, the fast leading up to the Dormition of Mary is in effect and possibly SS. Passarion, Susanna and Gaius plus companions, are celebrated. 

It is also, in the Eastern Orthodox Church, the celebration of the Miracle at Corfu against the Turks in 1716 with the intercession of St. Spyridon saving the day. Here is the history of that miracle from Wiki, of all places: 

At that time the Turkish army and naval force led by the great Sultan Achmet III appeared in Butrinto opposite Corfu.
On July 8 the Turkish fleet carrying 33,000 men sailed to Corfu from Butrinto and established a beachhead in Ipsos. The same day the Venetian fleet encountered the Turkish fleet off the channel of Corfu and defeated it in the ensuing naval battle. On July 19 the Turkish army reached the hills of the town and laid siege to the city. After repeated failed attempts and heavy fighting, the Turks were forced to raise the siege which had lasted 22 days.
There were also rumours spreading among the Turks that some of their soldiers saw St. Spyridon as a monk threatening them with a lit torch and that helped increase their panic. This victory over the Turks, therefore, was attributed not only to the leadership of Count Schulenburg who commanded the stubborn defence of the island against the Turks but also to the miraculous intervention of St. Spyridon.

After the victorious outcome of the battle, Venice honoured Schulenburg and the Corfiotes for successfully defending the island. The great composer Vivaldi was commissioned to write an operaJuditha triumphans, in celebration of the victory.
I left the links on for your enjoyment.

Pray to all of them today...why not?

 I do not know if this indicates a richness in the Church or too much diversity. Take your pick.

More Newman for reflection, against the modernist heresies

I could not resist. Here is more Newman from the Oxford Sermons against relativism and the fallacy that Catholicism has nothing to do with governments, which is the Masonic idea that religion has no place in the public sphere of politics.

And others, not being able to acquiesce in the unimportance of doctrinal truth, yet perplexed at the difficulties in the course of human affairs, which follow on the opposite view, accustom themselves gratuitously to distinguish between their public and private duties, and to judge of them by separate rules. These are often such as begin by assuming some extravagant or irrelevant test for ascertaining the existence of religious principle in others, and so are led to think it is nowhere to be found, not in the true Church more than in the sects which surround it; and thus, regarding all men (to speak generally) as equally far from the Truth, and strangers to that divine regeneration which Christ bestows on His elect few, and, on the other hand, seeing that men, as cast together in society, must cooperate on some or other principles, they drop the strict principles of Scripture in their civil relations, give no preference to those who honour the Church over those who profess opinions disrespectful towards it; perhaps take up the notion that the State, as such, has nothing to do with the subject of religion; praise and blame according to a different standard from that which Christianity reveals; and all this while cherish, perhaps, in their secret thoughts a definite creed, rigid in its decisions, stimulating in its influence, in spite of the mildness, and submissiveness, and liberality of sentiment, which their public mode of speaking and acting seems to evidence. {131}

And, he warns us against the rising neo-paganism and even New Age junk-religion.

The world really brings no new argument to its aid,—nothing beyond its own assertion. In the very outset Christians allow that its teaching is contrary to Revelation, and not to be taken as authority; nevertheless, afterwards, this mere unargumentative teaching, which, when viewed in theory, formed no objection to the truth of the Inspired Word, yet, when actually heard in the intercourse of life, converts them, more or less, to the service of the "prince of the power of the air, the spirit which now worketh in the children of disobedience." It assails their imagination. The world sweeps by in long procession;—its principalities and powers, its Babel of languages, the astrologers of Chaldæa, the horse and its rider and the chariots of Egypt, Baal and Ashtoreth and their false worship; and those who witness, feel its fascination; they flock after it; with a strange fancy, they ape its gestures, and dote upon its mummeries; and then, should they perchance fall in with the simple solemn services of Christ's Church, and hear her witnesses going the round of Gospel truths as when they left them: "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life;" "Be sober, be vigilant;" "Strait is the gate, narrow the way;" "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself;" "He is despised and rejected of men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief:"—how utterly unreal do these appear, and the preachers of them, how irrational, how puerile!—how extravagant in their opinions, how weak in their reasoning!—and if they profess to pity and {133} bear with them, how nearly does their compassion border on contempt!

Would that we would hear such sermons today! To be continued...

Newman for our times....

I have four posts today quoting Newman, a prophet for our time. One is in awe of the man's intellect, considering his young age when he gave the Oxford Sermons, from which these quotations come....The first post below is a warning on abandoning reason and obedience to the Church. The second reminds us of the need for the life and discipline of the virtues. This third quotation illuminates a problem of the world of 2012. The last one today examines more of the Modernists heresies he describes. Take a look: Newman is relating the idea that superficial, and we could add, materialistic views of life, will not sustain a person in hard times.

I shall just point out three items in this section: one, the vast majority of modern people live at the superficial level, seeking temporary or superficial peace in their daily lives and only wanting "cheerfulness". Two, most people do not believe in serious, mortal, damning sin. All is forgiven, or worse, the frameworks for judging good and evil no longer exist. Three, there are many who no longer believe that doctrines effect their daily lives. These doctrines do cause us to live in the way we choose to live. He is, of course, referring to the heresies of modernism, among them indifferentism. eirenism, and relativism in all of these quotations.  Here is Newman:

But, fairly as this superficial view of human nature answers in peaceful times; speciously as it may argue, innocently as it may experimentalize, in the rare and short-lived intervals of a nation's tranquillity; yet, let persecution or tribulation arise, and forthwith its imbecility is discovered. It is but a theory; it cannot cope with difficulties; it imparts no strength or loftiness of mind; it gains no influence over others. It is at once shattered and crushed in the stern conflict of good and evil; disowned, or rather overlooked, by the combatants on either side, and vanishing, no one knows how or whither.
7. The opinions alluded to in the foregoing remarks, when assuming a definite doctrinal basis, will be found to centre in Socinianism or Theophilanthropism, the {104} name varying according as it admits or rejects the authority of Scripture. And the spirit of this system will be found to infect great numbers of men, who are unconscious of the origin and tendency of their opinions. The essential dogmas of Socinianism are such as these; that the rule of Divine government is one of benevolence, and nothing but benevolence; that evil is but remedial and temporary; that sin is of a venial nature; that repentance is a sufficient atonement for it; that the moral sense is substantially but an instinct of benevolence; and that doctrinal opinions do not influence our character or prospects, nor deserve our serious attention. On the other hand, sentiments of this character are evidently the animating principle of the false cheerfulness, and the ill-founded hope, and the blind charitableness, which I have already assigned to the man of the world.
8. In order to illustrate the untenableness of such propositions as have just been adduced, and hence to show, by way of instance, the shallowness and feebleness of the minds which maintain them, their real feebleness in all practical matters, plausibly or loudly as they may speak during the hour of tranquillity in which they display themselves, it may be useful to make some remarks on what appears to be the real judgment of God upon human sin, as far as it is discernible by the light of nature; not as if any thing new could be said on the subject, but in order to remind ourselves of truths which are peculiarly important in these times.

Newman warned against trusting in the world. His words demonstrate a great wisdom for youth as well as older ones today. Obviously, he understood the wiles of the evil one.

The palmary device of Satan is to address himself to the pride of our nature, and, by the promise of independence, to seduce us into sin. Those who have been brought up in ignorance of the polluting fashions of the world, too often feel a rising in their minds against the discipline and constraint kindly imposed upon them; and, not understanding that their ignorance is their glory, and that they cannot really enjoy both good and evil, they murmur that they are not allowed to essay what they do not wish to practise, or to choose for themselves in {126} matters where the very knowledge seems to them to give a superiority to the children of corruption. Thus the temptation of becoming as gods works as in the beginning, pride opening a door to lust; and then, intoxicated by their experience of evil, they think they possess real wisdom, and take a larger and more impartial view of the nature and destinies of man than religion teaches; and, while the customs of society restrain their avowals within the bounds of propriety, yet in their hearts they learn to believe that sin is a matter of course, not a serious evil, a failing in which all have share, indulgently to be spoken of, or rather, in the case of each individual, to be taken for granted, and passed over in silence; and believing this, they are not unwilling to discover or to fancy weaknesses in those who have the credit of being superior to the ordinary run of men, to insinuate the possibility of human passions influencing them, this or that of a more refined nature, when the grosser cannot be imputed, and, extenuating at the same time the guilt of the vicious, to reduce in this manner all men pretty much to a level. A more apposite instance of this state of soul cannot be required than is given us in the celebrated work of an historian of the last century, who, for his great abilities, and, on the other hand, his cold heart, impure mind, and scoffing spirit, may justly be accounted as, in this country at least, one of the masters of a new school of error, which seems not yet to have accomplished its destinies, and is framed more exactly after the received type of the author of evil, than the other chief anti-Christs who have, in these last times, occupied the scene of the world.

Here he is strongly against the modernists, especially false ecumenism, eirenism. 

And some there are who, keeping their faith in the main, give up the notion of its importance. Finding that men will not agree together on points of doctrine and discipline, and imagining that union must be effected on any terms, they consent to abandon articles of faith as the basis of Christian fellowship, and try to effect what they call a union of hearts, as a bond of fellowship among those who differ in their notions of the One God, One Lord, One Spirit, One baptism, and One body; forgetful of the express condemnation pronounced by our Saviour upon those who "believe not" the preaching of His servants [Mark xvi. 16.]; and that {130} he who denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father [1 John ii. 22.].

To be continued..

Newman on habits and considering perfection: virtues against the rudeness of the world

Blessed Newman also helps us with our approach to perfection. Note this from Sermon Three at Oxford, 1831. One of his points is that is one forms habits of character early in one's life, based on Christian doctrine, one may withstand temptations of all kinds, including intellectual temptations.

We cannot keep from forming habits of one kind or another, each of our acts influences the rest, gives character to the mind, narrows its freewill {53} in the direction of good or evil, till it soon converges in all its powers and principles to some fixed point in the unbounded horizon before it. This at least is the general law of our moral nature; and such fearful expression does it give to every event which befalls us, and to every corresponding action of our will, and especially with such appalling interest does it invest the probation of our early years, that nothing but the knowledge of the Gospel announcements, and above all of the gracious words and deeds of our Redeemer, is equal to the burden of it. And these are intended to sustain the threatenings of the visible system of things, which would overwhelm us except for the promise, as the hearing of the promise on the other hand might puff us up with an unseeming presumption, had we no experience of the terrors of Natural Religion.

Thomas Aquinas writes much on the habits which are virtues. Here is Newman again:

The consistency of virtue is another gift, which gradually checks the rudeness of the world, and tames it into obedience to itself. The changes of human affairs, which first excited and interested, at length disgust the mind, which then begins to look out for something on which it can rely, for peace and rest; and what can then be found immutable and sure, but God's word and promises, illustrated and conveyed to the inquirer in the person of His faithful servants? Every day shows us how much depends on firmness for obtaining {94} influence in practical matters; and what are all kinds of firmness, as exhibited in the world, but likenesses and offshoots of that true stability of heart which is stayed in the grace and in the contemplation of Almighty God?

Contemplation of God and firmness of character help virtue to grow. Novelty interferes. Let us consider how timely Newman's ideas are for us today. The world would change if Catholics allowed themselves to grow in virtue. What a great thought.

Julian of Norwich had a cat

When I was in my twenties, Julian of Norwich was "all the rage". Her "shewings" were on sale in small paperbacks, some with drawings, and those of us inclined to spiritual reading carried her around with us in our pockets.

She brought the love of God into our existence ( and also, from T. S. Eliot's poem, of course) in a new way. God cared for all and all things and people would be well.

Coming out of the Cold War and the Vietnam War, the changes in the Church regarding Liturgy and the quick demise of real Catholic education in the late seventies, we wanted all to be well. But, it wasn't and it isn't as we see it today. But, Julian was allowed to see beyond pain and evil.

The great mystic in her years of showings from God taught us that God could break through the rough and tumble of everyday life and reveal His Love for us in a new and startling way.

Wit it well: Love was His meaning. Who sheweth it thee? Love. Wherefore sheweth He it thee? For love. Hold thee therein, thou shalt wit more in the same. But thou shalt never wit therein other without end."

Her gentleness and strength appealed to the emerging generation of women who wanted to know God in their hearts, minds and souls. Sadly, the feminists picked her up along the way, but we can ignore that.

We desired a personal relationship with Christ and Julian was one of those who had gone before with this realization of both the Love of Christ, the Father and the Holy Spirit. For those who want to meditate on love  and the mystery of salvation, Julian is a treat. And, she had a cat. I think she should make a comeback.

From Newman's Sermons at Oxford: A Warning Not to Rely on Your Imagination

Newman helps us understand why we must be hesitant concerning what we read and what we believe. His appeal to a certain disposition of holiness can stop us from following our own imaginations regarding private revelations. Some will say that we are not all called to philosophy, but by buying into certain private revelations, we are assenting to those individuals philosophies, which may be contrary to the thinking of the Church.

And, if a visionary has been condemned or excommunicated, to follow that person makes the disciple a heretic, as the Church has determined the messages to be false. Do you want to lose your immortal soul because of allegiance to another person? I think the tendency to look for and follow private revelations is part of a protestant mind-set, a mind-set of anti-intellectualism and desiring private knowledge outside that of the teaching of the Catholic Church. Here is what Newman states on the protestant mind:

The usurpations of the Reason may be dated from the Reformation. Then, together with the tyranny, the legitimate authority of the ecclesiastical power was more or less overthrown; and in some places its ultimate basis also, the moral sense. One school of men resisted the Church; another went farther, and rejected the supreme authority of the law of Conscience. Accordingly, Revealed Religion was in a great measure stripped of its proof; for the existence of the Church had been its external evidence, and its internal had been supplied by the moral sense. Reason now undertook to repair the demolition it had made, and to render the proof of Christianity independent both of the Church and of the law of nature. From that time (if we take a general view of its operations) it has been engaged first in making difficulties by the mouth of unbelievers, and then claiming power in the Church as a reward for having, by the mouth of apologists, partially removed them.

As to character building, which includes a discipline of the mind, this process can help one withstand temptations to pride and the seeking of religious ideals outside the mainstream of the Church.

Again: modesty, patience, and caution, are dispositions of mind quite as requisite in philosophical inquiries as seriousness and earnestness, though not so obviously requisite. Rashness of assertion, hastiness in drawing conclusions, unhesitating reliance on our own acuteness and powers of reasoning, are inconsistent with the {9} homage which nature exacts of those who would know her hidden wonders. She refuses to reveal her mysteries to those who come otherwise than in the humble and reverential spirit of learners and disciples. So, again, that love of paradox which would impose upon her a language different from that which she really speaks, is as unphilosophical as it is unchristian. Again, indulgence of the imagination, though a more specious fault, is equally hostile to the spirit of true philosophy, and has misled the noblest among the ancient theorists, who seemed to think they could not go wrong while following the natural impulses and suggestions of their own minds, and were conscious to themselves of no low and unworthy motive influencing them in their speculations.

I quote this today as a warning to all my dear Catholic friends who are chasing after private revelations. This is part of a flaw in the mind and not from the Spirit.