Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

When we say “It’s the culture,” to excuse our or another’s acts or attitudes, we are saying that we are made in Caesar’s image; and certainly our social security, driver’s license, credit card numbers, and other forms of “identity” are Caesar’s superscriptions on ourselves.

Genesis says that God made man in his image, after his likeness—that is, after his kind. Later, Adam begat a son in his own likeness, and after his image. May we not then say that man made by God in His own likeness, and after His image, is God’s son by choice (adoption)? At least man, male and female, if not individual men and women. But man, male and female, disobeyed God and gave up sonship to live in the knowledge of good and evil, like the so-called prodigal son who by asking for his portion of goods in effect wished his father dead and went to live in a far country which may be called Caesar’s (man cut down or killed, by a curious etymology). And we, Adam’s, man’s, descendents, corporately man himself, individually man in spirit, we eat the husks that the swine did eat, for we still live in the far country, Caesar’s, among Caesar’s citizens, on whose fields we are most of us dependent for survival. Or maybe we are Caesar’s citizens and own fields of swine.

We therefore ask ourselves, Is man made in God’s image, or God in man’s image? If in man’s image we have at best mythology, at worst (if it is the worst, for there is worse, the image of the beast) idols. If in God’s, then we must learn what God is. We learn from Jesus, God’s begotten (not made, not adoptive) son.

Genesis 1:26
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

Genesis 1:27
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

Genesis 5:3
And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, and after his image; and called his name Seth:

Genesis 9:6
Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.

Hosea 3:4
For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim:

Hosea 10:1
Israel is an empty vine, he bringeth forth fruit unto himself: according to the multitude of his fruit he hath increased the altars; according to the goodness of his land they have made goodly images.

Matthew 22:20
And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?

Mark 12:16
And they brought it. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? And they said unto him, Caesar’s.

Luke 20:24
Shew me a penny. Whose image and superscription hath it? They answered and said, Caesar’s.

Romans 8:29
For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

1 Corinthians 11:7
For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.

1 Corinthians 15:49
And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.

2 Corinthians 3:18
But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

2 Corinthians 4:4
In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

Colossians 1:15
Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: Colossians 3:10–11
And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.

Hebrews 1:3
Who being the brightness of [God’s] glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.


Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Much of what I read in Catholic blogs is intelligent and fervent, but also callow and vulgar. Some words by the Cistercian monk Dom Armand Veilleux may shed light on why this is so.

I had been asked to speak on the "spirituality" of the religious life, a very vast subject. During the preparatory meetings it was decided that each conference could follow a different pattern, and that mine would be more of a "meditation". It seemed important to me that this meditation should be substantial in content, and above all that it should give a consistent overall-vision of all aspects of the vocation and spirituality of the religious life. I must say the young people listened very attentively, with patience and charity, but I do not believe—and I say it without false humility and without any other complex—I do not believe that what I said left much impression on them, except among the older ones. Which makes me realize that perhaps I no longer speak the language of the young.
—Armand Veilleux, “What We Learned from and about the Young People at the Congress [of Young Women and Men Religious in Rome on October 1, 1997]”. See the text of Dom Armand’s “meditation”: “Guided by the Spirit Meditation on the Spirituality of the Consecrated Life”.

Dom Armand continues:

It must be said that my meditation was followed by four testimonies, which were all of a very high standard, and which certainly impressed the young people much more than my profound meditations! Independently of what my ego could have felt or not felt about it, this led me to reflect—precisely—on testimonies and reflection. Young people show a great sensibility, a great capacity to let themselves be moved, roused to enthusiasm; but much less to make a deep reflection, either on what is said to them or on life itself.

This is my impression of blogs, which are deficient by the following test:

To listen to these descriptions is captivating and encouraging, this is obvious and a very good thing. But, except in rare cases, will it have a lasting influence on the lives of the young people, without some effort of reflection? And, obviously, the reflection cannot focus on the experience itself that one has just heard described and which one can only know partially—the testimony of those who live with the witnesses has not been heard—but on the basic questions posed by these witnesses.

Now, I did not perceive in these young people at the Congress—and this is probably characteristic of young (and not so young) people in general today—a great capacity for reflection, for analysis of situations and aspects of their religious life. It seems to me that we have here an important concern for formators. The support and encouragement that comes from examples and testimonies is important, but it is no longer enough in times of great difficulty. It is necessary to habituate young people to analyze situations and constantly reflect on the meaning of what they are experiencing, so that they can continue to experience it when perhaps they no longer feel anything.

We must know that only in and through Jesus are we sons of the Father, and that we have no right to say “Our Father” unless Jesus is Our Lord. (See Matthew 5:44-45).

Monday, August 29, 2005

Monday, August 29, 2005

In most cases when a definition is contemplated, the laity will have a testimony to give; but if ever there be an instance when they ought to be consulted, it is in the case of doctrines which bear directly upon devotional sentiments.
—John Henry Newman, On Consulting the Faithful in Matters of Doctrine, edited with an introduction by John Coulson (Kansas City, MO, Sheed & Ward, 1961).


Sunday, August 28, 2005

Sunday, August 28, 2005

. . . there does not exist one Christian culture, parallel to all the profane cultures, but many local cultures that have been christianized—and these in differing degrees. . . .
—Armand Veilleux, “Lectio Divina as school of prayer among the Fathers of the Desert”

Must find out if Dom Armand is a “most dangerous man”, like J. H. Newman, author of “On Consulting the Faithful in Matters of Doctrine”.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Saturday, August 27, 2005

It wasn’t knowledge that he was after. He just wanted the experience of being in the vicinity of awe, and it seemed to be necessary for him to come to the museum and actually be there in order to have this feeling.
—Caryl Johnston, After the Crash: An Essay-Novel of the Post-hydrocarbon Age

One ought to be able to say something analogous about church and Mass.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Mine is a parish like all the rest.
—Bernanos, Diary of a Country Priest

The answer to the riddle of the world is in us—why not? Isn’t it the ordinary fate of people to search far and wide, and often at the risk of their lives, for what they have, without realizing it, within the reach of their hands?
—Bernanos, Last Essays

This is not a novel.

See also Wendell Berry on Intentional Communities.