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Tuesday 18 June 2013

Hmmm, reading between the lines...

Sorry, if this is a true assessment, this worries me. I knew many of the Jesuits in the 1970s and 1980s who compromised culture with truth. The Catholic Church is universal, which to me, means the beauty of the Latin Mass.

Because we must laugh and cry at the same time...

Horrible- a woman compares pro-lifers with Taliban

Thinking like a Catholic

1 Corinthians 2:14-16

14 But the sensual man perceiveth not these things that are of the Spirit of God; for it is foolishness to him, and he cannot understand, because it is spiritually examined.
15 But the spiritual man judgeth all things; and he himself is judged of no man.
16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that we may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

Almost 50 years ago this summer, my dad told me that to be a Catholic was to be counter-cultural. I listened and took him seriously.

I am and have been an orthodox Catholic for some time and I am countercultural.

A Catholic must always think outside the social and cultural environment which surrounds him. This has been true since the beginnings of the early Church.

For a relatively short period of time, in some countries, very few, the laws of Christendom were in place. Legal formats and decisions were based on natural law and revealed law-the Ten Commandments.

No more.

No more.

For Catholics to still think they can be accepted by a particular culture, or even one's family and be Catholic is either naive or self-delusional.

Sadly, many of us are alone, fragmented into very small groupings, and marginalized. These are, as I put on this blog ages ago, are signs of persecution.

Folks, we have turned the corner. Personal holiness is essential.

Whether we can stem the tide of evil and turn Western Civilization back to its roots is highly problematic and most unlikely.

To think like a Catholic is to see the reality of the world through the Eyes of God and not one's own eyes.

If you have lost the gift of discernment or wisdom given to you in baptism through sin and compromise, pray for such.

Otherwise, like those millions who followed the siren call of compromise in the Protestant Revolt, you will find yourself making the wrong decisions.

Think, reflect, act....think like a Catholic.

See also

and more, if you search, "thinking like a Catholic"

Today's Gospel

Remember, You must therefore be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:48

The eternal question: if there is no hope for good, how can there be a merciful, loving God? Aquinas Series..

Why evil? I am working on the Commentary on Job by Thomas Aquinas, found here.

Here are some gleanings....

1) Because all men and women are given free will and the grace necessary for eternal life, and still some make bad decisions moving away from goodness and truth;

2) Because each one of us must be converted to God, moving ever closer to God, and this process demands suffering to take us away from sin and error;

3) Because, as St. Thomas states, there is an order in the universe set up by Divine Providence and each one of us must come to cooperate in that order; many do not;

4) Original Sin.....

5) Suffering points to the Resurrection and the Redeemer, Christ;

6) Because one moves from fear to love and suffering helps us to do that; if we focus on the Son of God Who was crucified; here is Aquinas on Job directly;

Since man’s good is threefold, namely of the body, of the soul, and
of external things, they are ordered to one another in such a way
that the body is for the sake of the soul whereas external things are
for the sake of the body and soul. Therefore, just as it is wrong if
someone intentionally subordinates the goods of the soul to the
advantage of external goods, so it is wrong if someone intentionally
subordinates the goods of the soul to the health of the body. And
indeed, that Job abounded in the practice of the virtues, which are
the goods of the soul, could be sensibly manifest to all.

To be continued...

Aquinas Series.. When people suffer, we talk too much...

When people suffer, others react in less than perfect ways; some criticize, which is the most common response; some, who have not suffered enough, are glib and even rude; some talk people out of suffering; some just talk and talk and talk
Here is Aquinas on Job again...the featured series this week.

The afflictions of the sick are customarily alleviated by cures applied externally which are pleasant. But Job was not alleviated in such a way, for the text continues, “Job scraped the bloody matter with a shard.” In this the text shows that pleasant and soothing remedies are not applied to him. “And he sat in a dungheap,” in which the text shows that he did not restore himself to health in a pleasant place, or in the gentleness of straw or with some pleasant smell, but he more used their opposite. This can have happened in two ways: either because after he was struck by the Lord, he voluntarily afflicted and humiliated himself even more to more easily obtain mercy, or because he lost everything he had, and so he could not afford suitable cures for himself. This is probable enough from what the Lord said above, and it does not seem that Satan had acted except with the power given him to harm something.
In their afflictions, men customarily find solace in words of those offering consolation. But the affliction of Job was accompanied by irritating words, which were as much more provocative as the person who spoke them was more closely connected to him. The text continues, “Then his wife said to him,” for she was the only person whom the devil left untouched so that through her he who had deceived the first man through a woman might assault the mind of the just man. This woman first broke out in words of mockery, “Do you still hold fast your simplicity?” as if she said: At least after so many chastisements you should know that it was useless for you to guard simplicity. The same is said by a person like her in the prophet Malachi, “It is vain to serve God. What is the profit in keeping his commandments.” (3:14) Second, she proceeds to words of perverse suggestion saying, “Bless (i.e., Curse) God.” as if she said: From the fact that adversity came upon you when you were blessing God, curse God and you will enjoy prosperity. Lastly, she concludes in words of despair saying, “and die”, as if she said: Regard yourself as dead because nothing is left for you in remaining in simplicity except dying. Or “Bless God and die;” can be understood in another way to mean that since after so much reverence for God you have been so afflicted with adversity, if you still bless God, nothing remains, but for you to wait for death.

The holy man who had born his troubles patiently, could not bear the injury done to God, for there follows, “But he said to her: You have spoken like one of the foolish women speaks.” He rightly accuses of foolishness one speaking against the divine wisdom. He shows that she spoke foolishly when he adds, “If we received good at the hand of the Lord and shall we not tolerate evil?” In this he teaches the perfect wisdom of man, for since temporal and corporeal goods should not be loved except because of spiritual and eternal ones, when the latter are conserved as the more principal ones, man should not be dejected if he is deprived of the former nor puffed up if he has an abundance of them. Job teaches us therefore that we should have such a steadfastness of spirit that both if temporal goods are given to us by God, we should so use them that we are not puffed up in pride from them, and we would so sustain the contrary evil that our soul is not dejected from their lack. This accords with what St. Paul says in Phillipians in the last chapter, “I know how to be humbled and how to enjoy prosperity.” (4:12) and further on, “I can do all things in him who gives me comfort.” (4:13) Finally the conclusion is Job persevered in innocence when it is said, “In all these things Job did not sin with his lips.

Eyeglasses still wrong and thoughts on personhood

Never again will I go to a chain optometrist or eye glasses provider. They have done the prescription wrong a second time.

One needs glasses...if one is practically blind without them, like me.

Suffering from God sometimes takes odd shapes. How many people are there in this world who need good prescription glasses and cannot get them? Millions, I am sure.

When one suffers, one loses one's individuality and becomes a statistic, as in women with cancer, or single mums, or those who are homeless. Statistics deny personhood.

But, this is God's Plan, to stripe us of our "self-will" and "self-love" and put us in a position of humility.

If God is not sending you suffering, worry. He allows those He loves and woos to undergo much suffering.

We think we are the persons God wants us to be, but we are not, most likely.

If one accepts suffering graciously, one will cooperate with the graces to become a saint.

Christ suffered. "God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ 
died for us" (Romans 5:8).

Can we expect anything less to come to perfect love?

The Syrians are suffering, the Malians are suffering, the Nigerians are suffering and so on.

The CCC states that, in Providence and the scandal of evil:
309 If God the Father almighty, the Creator of the ordered and good world, cares for all his creatures, why does evil exist? To this question, as pressing as it is unavoidable and as painful as it is mysterious, no quick answer will suffice. Only Christian faith as a whole constitutes the answer to this question: the goodness of creation, the drama of sin and the patient love of God who comes to meet man by his covenants, the redemptive Incarnation of his Son, his gift of the Spirit, his gathering of the Church, the power of the sacraments and his call to a blessed life to which free creatures are invited to consent in advance, but from which, by a terrible mystery, they can also turn away in advance. There is not a single aspect of the Christian message that is not in part an answer to the question of evil.
310 But why did God not create a world so perfect that no evil could exist in it? With infinite power God could always create something better.174 But with infinite wisdom and goodness God freely willed to create a world "in a state of journeying" towards its ultimate perfection. In God's plan this process of becoming involves the appearance of certain beings and the disappearance of others, the existence of the more perfect alongside the less perfect, both constructive and destructive forces of nature. With physical good there exists also physical evil as long as creation has not reached perfection.175
311 Angels and men, as intelligent and free creatures, have to journey toward their ultimate destinies by their free choice and preferential love. They can therefore go astray. Indeed, they have sinned. Thus hasmoral evil, incommensurably more harmful than physical evil, entered the world. God is in no way, directly or indirectly, the cause of moral evil.176 He permits it, however, because he respects the freedom of his creatures and, mysteriously, knows how to derive good from it:

For almighty God. . ., because he is supremely good, would never allow any evil whatsoever to exist in his works if he were not so all-powerful and good as to cause good to emerge from evil itself.177

More later from Aquinas on this point....

Not a liturgical instrument...and more

A no-no

Father Z on guitars in church and a famous bloggers comment...(smile)
The Pope Emeritus had something to say about this a few years ago.

And, from Crisis Magazine, a great article with this quotation:

Today we hear conga drums, trap sets, bongos, and other drums played not in the style of Monteverdi processions, or Masses by Haydn or Mozart. Instead we hear them just as we would hear them in a bar or dance hall.
They are used just as they are in the secular world: to keep a beat, to make the music groovy, to inspired us to kind of do a bit of a dance. That’s the association of percussion we have in our culture. It is not a sacred association. The association is entirely profane. There’s a role for that. But Church is not the place and Mass is not the time.
And keep in mind: the piano is a percussion instrument. It has been traditionally banned in Church because it has non-liturgical associations. In today’s anything-goes environment, it is tolerated even by the liturgical regulations. But it is always a regrettable choice. The whole point of liturgical music is to lift our eyes and hearts to heaven, not drag us down to the dance floor.
One final point on this matter: you will notice that many of the songs in the conventional songbooks for Mass today seem to long for a drum-set backup. That’s because their style is borrowed from commercial jingles, TV show theme songs, power ballads from the 1970s, and so on. I don’t entirely blame choirs who choose drums to help out to make this style make more sense. What really needs to change is the whole approach here. Liturgical music has several critical marks: it uses the liturgical text, it grows out of the chant tradition, and sends a cultural signal that this is a sacred action in a sacred place.

The larks have arrived

From about this time yearly in England until about after the last cricket test match, the lark are in England.

Here are two different ones singing from a great website; note, there are many different types of larks:

and here is one trying to stay warm...

and one feeding babies...

and here is an entire site on these wonderful birds....

From 400 to 4 Dioceses

I usually do not use Wiki except as a backup for other, more scholarly notes, but here is a great section from one of the articles on the taking over of the Maghreb, which is Northern Africa...Folks, this can and is happening again in the Middle East, and not being covered by the main media. Here is a photo of St. Augustine's church in ruins.

The conventional historical view is that the conquest of North Africa by the Islamic Umayyad Caliphate between AD 647–709 effectively ended Catholicism in Africa for several centuries.[4] The prevailing view is that the Church at that time lacked the backbone of a monastic tradition and was still suffering from the aftermath of heresies including the so-called Donatist heresy, and that this contributed to the early obliteration of the Church in the present day Maghreb.[5] Some historians contrast this with the strong monastic tradition in Coptic Egypt, which is credited as a factor that allowed the Coptic Church to remain the majority faith in that country until around after the 14th century.
However, new scholarship has appeared that disputes this. There are reports that the Roman Catholic faith persisted in the region from Tripolitania (present-day western Libya) to present-day Morocco for several centuries after the completion of the Arab conquest by 700. A Christian community is recorded in 1114 in Qal'a in central Algeria. There is also evidence of religious pilgrimages after 850 to tombs of Catholic saints outside of the city of Carthage, and evidence of religious contacts with Christians of Arab Spain. In addition, calendrical reforms adopted in Europe at this time were disseminated amongst the indigenous Christians of Tunis, which would have not been possible had there been an absence of contact with Rome.
Local Catholicism came under pressure when the Muslim fundamentalist regimes of the Almohads and Almoravids came into power, and the record shows demands made that the local Christians of Tunis to convert to Islam. We still have reports of Christian inhabitants and a bishop in the city of Kairouan around 1150 – a significant report, since this city was founded by Arab Muslims around 680 as their administrative center after their conquest. A letter in Catholic Church archives from the 14th century shows that there were still four bishoprics left in North Africa, admittedly a sharp decline from the over four hundred bishoprics in existence at the time of the Arab conquest.[6] Berber Christians continued to live in Tunis and Nefzaoua in the south of Tunisia until the early 15th century, and "[i]n the first quarter of the fifteenth century, we even read that the native Christians of Tunis, though much assimilated, extended their church, perhaps because the last Christians from all over the Maghreb had gathered there."[7]
By 1830, when the French came as colonial conquerors to Algeria and Tunis, local Catholicism had been extinguished. The growth of Catholicism in the region after the French conquest was built on European colonizers and settlers, and these immigrants and their descendants mostly left when the countries of the region became independent.

And from today's Sext from Psalm 73 (74)
They set fire to the sanctuary,
  profaned and trampled your tabernacle.
They said to themselves, ‘Let us crush them
  once and for all.’
They burned to the ground
  every shrine of God in the land.
Our emblems have vanished,
  our prophets are gone,
  and none of us knows any more.
How long, O God, will the enemy deride?
  Will he insult your name forever?
Why do you keep your hand away?
  Why do you fold your arms?
God is our king since the beginning,
  he has given us help throughout the earth.

Aquinas on Just War

Too bad none of the leaders of the West are Thomists. The lack of classical education is now obvious in the level of knee-jerk and politically correct responses to wars, instead of a philosophical framework.

There will be more from The Second Part of the Second Part on is part of Question 40.

In order for a war to be just, three things are necessary. First, the authority of the sovereign by whose command the war is to be waged. For it is not the business of a private individual to declare war, because he can seek for redress of his rights from the tribunal of his superior. Moreover it is not the business of a private individual to summon together the people, which has to be done in wartime. And as the care of the common weal is committed to those who are in authority, it is their business to watch over the common weal of the city, kingdom or province subject to them. And just as it is lawful for them to have recourse to the sword in defending that common weal against internal disturbances, when they punish evil-doers, according to the words of the Apostle (Romans 13:4): "He beareth not the sword in vain: for he is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath upon him that doth evil"; so too, it is their business to have recourse to the sword of war in defending the common weal against external enemies. Hence it is said to those who are in authority (Psalm 81:4): "Rescue the poor: and deliver the needy out of the hand of the sinner"; and for this reason Augustine says (Contra Faust. xxii, 75): "The natural order conducive to peace among mortals demands that the power to declare and counsel war should be in the hands of those who hold the supreme authority."
Secondly, a just cause is required, namely that those who are attacked, should be attacked because they deserve it on account of some fault. Wherefore Augustine says (QQ. in Hept., qu. x, super Jos.): "A just war is wont to be described as one that avenges wrongs, when a nation or state has to be punished, for refusing to make amends for the wrongs inflicted by its subjects, or to restore what it has seized unjustly."
Thirdly, it is necessary that the belligerents should have a rightful intention, so that they intend the advancement of good, or the avoidance of evil. Hence Augustine says (De Verb. Dom. [The words quoted are to be found not in St. Augustine's works, but Can. Apud. Caus. xxiii, qu. 1): "True religion looks upon as peaceful those wars that are waged not for motives of aggrandizement, or cruelty, but with the object of securing peace, of punishing evil-doers, and of uplifting the good." For it may happen that the war is declared by the legitimate authority, and for a just cause, and yet be rendered unlawful through a wickedintention. Hence Augustine says (Contra Faust. xxii, 74): "The passion for inflicting harm, the cruel thirst for vengeance, an unpacific and relentless spirit, the fever of revolt, the lust of power, and such like things, all these are rightly condemned in war."

Pat Buchanan-reason in the face of the irrational

Three points from me--

1) Why do we keep getting involved with rebels who make things worse? Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Iraq.

2) Why do we get involved in civil wars or wars between factions, such as the Sunnis and Shiites?

3) Why are Americans and sometimes the English so stupid as to get dragged down into these conflicts, which have nothing to do with national interests?

Lighting out of here

Sometimes, I just plain envy Huckleberry Finn. When he finally did all the adventuring he wanted to do, he lit out for the Western Territories. His life was a mixture of scheming, fun, and loyalty, marked by the rebellious nature of his fight with anti-bellum society.

Huck could always get away. He could go West. In the Red Pony, Grandfather sits in California, looking out to the sea and is sad, as his life of  "westering" is gone. There is no more West. The West has been conquered.

For some of us, especially Americans, the movement west is part of the fabric of our family lives. We inherited "westering" and it is in our blood. This movement has to do with discovering new places, new people, but more than that, leaving behind the familiar and the dull.

Those who went West did so for many reasons including religious freedom, or financial prospects.

Westerning meant setting out from a comfort zone of the known and going into the unknown.

Westering meant leaving family, friends, ancestral homes for that which was new and unfamiliar.

There is no more West. All lands, except, perhaps, for some places in Alaska, have been conquered by brave men and women.

When things get tough, one cannot just pick up and move, but one must stay and fight or endure or die.

When civilization got too hard for Huck Finn to face, he could just lit out for the territories. There are no more territories except Mars and the Moon. What does this mean for men and women? What does this mean for those who are caught in lands torn apart by civil war?

There is no place for a new start-none.

Modern men and women have to face two possibilities.  Get along with each other or create war. Sadly, the latter is the choice of the day.