Friday, September 30, 2005

Friday, September 30, 2005

This morning on the Thruway near Kingston, a tractor trailer hit and instantly killed a moose. Some EnCon workers from the area had been scheduled to have blood tests at the Civil Service employee health service; bringing the moose with them, they stopped here before going to the Five Rivers Environmental Center in Delmar, where Ward Stone, the State wildlife pathologist, has a lab. They parked in front of our building, and I among others went down to look at the moose. According to the EnCon workers it was a young male, about 2½ years old and about 700 pounds in weight; its antlers were about 30 inches across. Lying on the flatbed, it did not seem as large as I expected, though no doubt it would have been impressive enough if it had been alive and standing. One of the EnCon workers moved an antler to show that the skull had been cracked; a large bone stuck out about six inches near the left hind foot; the belly was bloated from the internal injuries; a very little blood was drying underneath the mouth and the anus. Several people, mainly women, from our agency and the Department of Corrections across from us, touched the moose, but no, not I. I had been feeling better in the morning, but seeing the dead moose brought me back down a bit.


They said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And you said, It is enough. And even the work of Peter’s sword you undid. Would you rather I put up my words into the sheath? If I found life satisfactory, I would be content to write privately. You did not find life satisfactory, and condemned Chorazin, Bethsaida, Capernaum. Are you satisfied with Albany, B—, C—?

+ +

I feel better about some people when I remember that you died for them also.

+ + +

I do like my writing. It would be a pity if nobody did.

+ + + +

Have I never quoted this?

“. . . as Bernanos once said, ‘le bonheur, c’est un risque.’”

Yes, happiness is a risk (and happiness is a task).

“Well, if you succeed, you will have done it.”

And if I don’t succeed, it will just be another . . . .

—John Lukacs, A Thread of Years, Yale, 1998, 9.

+ + + + +

O shopping for a dress for a dance. She already has two or three others she might wear. To me, this is not proper. He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none (Luke 3:11). Neither two coats (Matthew:10:10, Mark 6:9, Luke 9:3). Of course, a dance is not mission; but is it an occasion when one should forget about you?

But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented.
—Matthew 11:16–17, Luke 7:31–32

Oh, why did you have to die for us?

+ + + + + +

From Thomas Day, Where Have You Gone, Michelangelo? The Loss of Soul in Catholic Culture, Crossroad , 1993:

“Groaning,” Latin or English, can be powerful stuff. (Oddly enough, this power decreases as the volume is increased through amplification.) (p. 69).

. . . that damnable irritation called amplification (p. 70).

Today, in some convent chapel somewhere, the sisters go to Mass. There they encounter a priest who faces them constantly. . . . He smiles, sincerely. He turns on his rapport, his warmth, his postconciliar desires to include them. . . . He speaks into a microphone that transforms him into the biggest thing in the room. He has good intentions, but all of his nice personal touches only seem to glorify his “power and privilege.” The man is not a presider; he is a provocaiton. In this skirmish in the “battle of the sexes,” he has all the weapons (p. 78).

Stage I: . . .

Te igitur, clementissime Pater, . . .

Stage II: . . .

Most merciful Father, we therefore . . . .

Stage III: . . . The congregation listens as the priest, his voice hugely magnified through electronic amplification, reads the official English language version of the same Canon, as prepared by the InternationalCommittee on English in the Liturgy (ICEL):

We come to you, Father, . . .

(pp. 80).

. . . with microphones, there is a new and drastically simplified flow chart. The ceremony is structured in a way that forces everything—prayers, pieties, thoughts—to flow through the priest to God or from the priest to the congregation. The celebrant’s amplified words take over completely (except for those moments when a reader or song leader controls the sound system). The flow chart demands that the worshiper’s first duty is absolute and undivided attention to the few individuals at the top of it. This arrangement can provide opportunities for structured participation (such as the movement of vocal cords in song) but not necessarily for that supreme form of participation called involvement. A sincerely committed, prayerful involvement in worship—something that always begins as a personal and private matter—is deliberately suppressed in an environment dominated by people behind microphones; the flow chart seems to suggest that the worshiper’s involvement must flow in one and only one direction: to the person controlling the sound system at a particular moment. The secret source of power behind the structures of the “old” Latin Mass and even the “new” [vernacular] one (without heavy amplificaiton) is that they both welcome involvement, because the flow chart is much more confused. The worshiper can, as it were, go “around” the priest and musicians (pp. 81–82).

Monsignor: a-MAY . . . THE LORD . . . BE . . . a-WITH a-YOU.

Congregation: Andalsowithyou.

(p. 84).


Thursday, September 29, 2005

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Caryl Johnston, The Sprouting of My Catholic Eye.


Feeling poorly. Picked up from the library Where Have You Gone, Michelangelo? The Loss of Soul in Catholic Culture (Crossroad, 1993), by Thomas Day. From the first chapter:

[By the time of Vatican II] Catholic self-esteem was in great shape, but only as long as the church could pretend that the outside world and its culture really did not exist. . . . [After Vatican II] the angry separatism was over; the rush to become assimilated had begun.


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Today’s readings seem a sad prophecy of things to come: sorrow of heart, the city lying in waste, its gates consumed with fire, we sitting down and weeping, unable to sing the LORD’s song in a strange land, our harps hanging upon the willows, nowhere to lay one’s head, the dead burying their dead. Yet look forward: No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. And build the city: If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; yea, if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.


I read that Marshall McLuhan was against the use of microphones at Mass. Bravo!

. . . the celebrant stands before a bare altar, saying his prayers and addressing the faithful through a microphone. [We have now] simply eliminated an essential part of the liturgy: that of worshipping God. . . . This is diametrically opposed to the concept of liturgy as our home. To abolish almost completely time-honored customs and traditions is synonymous with robbing a person of his religious home and thus shaking the foundations of his faith.
—Monsignor Klaus Gamber, from The Reform of the Roman Liturgy: Its Problems and Background

+ +

I turned away from the door a person whom over the years I may have given hundreds of dollars to. Some time ago, she had promised me—swear to God—that she would never again ask me for money, and I am holding her to it, even though I read yesterday in The Albany Catholic Worker:

Peter Maurin, who started the Catholic Worker with Dorothy Day, said, “The poor are the ambassadors of God.”
—Fred Boehrer, “When Sunday is (not) a day of rest”

I have discussed S and other beggars with M. The fact is I want nothing to do with them, and give them money to dismiss them. I would never think of asking their name (well, I did with S), walking a mile with them, inviting them into my home. What a difference between me and Catholic Workers!

+ + +

T not feeling well, so we’ll miss the potluck dinner at Emmaus House, but I may still take him (not R, who will be babysitting while J&I go to parents night at S’s school) to the discussion. An excuse not to ask questions about S and me and about Father P and FB.

+ + + +

Went with T to Emmaus House. Was good to see and hear FH and CFH after many years. Also present were WC, who “facilitated,” AB, CR, and other friends of Emmaus House, and some students from FB’s Siena College course. Several of the latter knew soldiers who are serving or had served in Iraq, and one of the students who is in ROTC spoke, if not explicitly in support of the war, in support of some of the things the military and soldiers are doing in Iraq. So it wasn’t entirely an exercise in group-think, though the discussion was never interior enough for anybody to came away with a changed mind or heart. Or perhaps something was said that will light a fire in someone later.

+ + + + +

Received a parcel from Spain containing a fat book named Del Amanecer de la Decadencia.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.
—Zechariah 8:23

Once a person asks to be treated as a man there is nothing to else to do but to treat him as a brother. When that happens God had better be with us. May God be with us always.

The great national confusion that bore down upon African Americans with special weight was once well described by David Brion Davis: “In the United States . . . the problem of slavery . . . had become fatally intertwined with the problem of race.” Quite apart from its devastating impact on economics and politics, the confusion spotlighted by Davis between race and slavery profoundly affected Christian interpretations of Scripture during the first decades of nationhood. From the early 1830s onwards a great flood of authors labored intensively to interpret the many scriptural passages that seemed simply to take slavery for granted as a natural part of society. By contrast, far less attention was devoted to what the Bible affirmed, also in many passages, about the equality of all races and peoples before God.

For African American Bible believers, the result was doubly unfortunate. On the one hand, they could see more clearly than any of their peers that studying what the Bible had to say about slavery could never illuminate the American dilemma unless the Bible was also studied for what it had to say about race. On the other hand, because of the racist character of American public life, including prejudices about which publications had to be noticed and which could safely be ignored, the considerable writing that African Americans produced on the Bible and slavery received almost no general attention.

—Mark Noll, “The Bible in American Public Life, 1860-2005: Dilemmas at the center, insights from the margins”,


The Albany Catholic Worker (Vol X, No. 1, Fall 2005) arrived in the mail today. May take T&R tomorrow evening to an Emmaus House “happening” on “Support the Troops—But not the War: a Mom and Dad Reflect.” F&C H’s son M, whom I had met some 25 years ago when he was a teenager, was a mercenary in Iraq and severly injured there. His father, a former Air Force pilot, and his stepmother have for years been active pacifists—I believe they are pacifists, and not just opposed to our actions in Afghanistan and Iraq; if I go tomorrow and have a chance to ask, I shall. I may also ask FB, who with his wife DC publish ACW and live in Emmaus House of Hospitality, about the “problem”—or was it “issue”?— Father P told me he with him when I asked Father P if he had heard that Emmaus house would be moving next year to 44 Trinity Place, not far from the Cathedral. Back in 1980, CH, then CF, gave me my first job in Albany: she made me a CETA-funded administrative assistant at Historic Cherry Hill, of which she was the director. It was there that I met FH, whom CF would soon marry, and his son M.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Monday, September 26, 2005

Dom Armand Veilleux on not going to Mass on Sunday and other nonobservances:

When we study the history of Christian monastic life, we immediately realize that every time there was an important new foundation or a significant reform, it was at a time of profound social and cultural changes and as an answer to those changes. I know that a lot of people like to say that monastic life is or should be counter-cultural. I know what they mean; that is, that monastic life runs counter to the negative aspects of our or of any culture. That is true, but that way of speaking, which goes back to 1968, is ambiguous. In reality every time there was a significant monastic movement, it was when a group of monks were particularly sensitive to the culture of their time, and found in their own way of living an answer to the challenges and aspirations of their contemporaries—an answer that was valid not only for them, but for every other person. . . .

We have to be aware that monks have often been called to fulfil roles that do not necessarily belong to them, at a time when nobody else was available to fulfil those roles. . . . During a large part of the Middle Ages, and even before, when most of the nations and the various feudal lords were constantly at war, monasteries were often the only place where there was enough stability to preserve the culture of the past, to copy manuscripts for the future generation and to offer education, hospitality and various forms of social and medical care. When Saint Augustine of Canterbury was sent here by Pope Gregory, or when Saint Boniface and his monks went to the continent to evangelize the “Barbarians”, they were doing something that nobody was available to do at the time. When Cistercians developed new forms of agriculture and revolutionary forms of land management, they were making possible a quick transformation of the feudal system and new forms of relationship between the various classes of society, and provoking a cultural evolution. There was none of those ecclesiastical of social involvements that were incompatible with monastic life, just as there was nothing in the nature of monastic life that required such an involvement. For each community the question is: is the form of social, cultural and ecclesiastic or pastoral involvement that we have know in the past still necessary or simply opportune nowadays. The answer to that question, in each case, involves a careful analysis of the situation—past and present—and can never be solved by a simplistic approach like: “This is monastic and that is not monastic”. . . .

We constantly have to make choices. In making those choices in these various areas [of monastic life], we have to be aware that most of our monastic practices and observances have essentially a symbolic value and that a great cultural shift has occurred in the last half-century or so; a type of shift as they happen only rarely in human history and has deeply affected that symbolic value. Monastic life as all of us have known it, developed in a long phase of history that was called “Christendom” (in French “Chrétienté”). Whether we like it or not, whether we are nostalgic or not, that phase of history is finished and every effort to restore it is bound to be a pathetic failure.

. . . a symbol is really a symbol only when its meaning is spontaneously perceived. . . . Very few of the traditional Christian symbols, including the liturgical ones, are perceived as symbols by most men and women of today , including the good Christian. In most cases, those rites and gestures have lost their symbolic value. My personal conviction is that we should not try to invent new symbols with the hope that they will speak to today’s men and women. We should rather try to recognize the symbolic value of everything we do in our daily life and of everything around us. And this is linked with something still much deeper, culturally as well as theologically. I mean the place of the “religious” dimension in human life. This is probably the most important cultural change of our time, touching not only Christianity but all the great religious traditions of the world; and that change is, to my mind, a fruit of the Gospel, at the end of a long evolution of humankind. . . .

All cultures of the past, including Judaism and early Christianity, lived in a sacral world. For that sacral world, the language of religious rituals was more important than the language of life. The centre of gravity was the sacral and ritual activity, by which human beings could enter in relationship with God. The teaching of Jesus on that point was so revolutionary that it has taken two thousand years for its meaning to be gradually grasped. For Jesus, the centre of gravity was not the ritual activity, but the quality of daily life.

In the Western world, since the time of Jesus, and certainly as a consequence of its teaching and influence, the centre of gravity has constantly moved from the area of the religious and ritual expression to the area of daily life. The new awareness of human freedom has led people to a deeper sense of personal responsibility. The temple of stones has become less and less important and the living temples have acquired more and more importance. . . .

The difficulties met nowadays by the Church in our old Christian countries of Western Europe (and rapidly so of Eastern Europe too), as well as of North America come most probably from the fact that its heavy institutional structure often reposed on foundations that have crumbled. Besides the phenomenon of the loss of Christian attitude or Christian sense, which is real in our time, we must be aware of another phenomenon that is quite different although apparently similar. And that other phenomenon is precisely this gradual shift from the ritual to life—a move that was started with Jesus himself. Many authentic Christians nowadays are very attentive to practice the Gospel values in their daily life—in their family life as well as in their professional life—but are not interested any longer in what we call “religious practice”, like going to Mass on Sunday. . . .

. . . I think that we should not spend too much energy and time trying to find new monastic observances more adapted to today’s culture. Let us rather put all our energy in trying to deepen in our own life as well as in the life of each one of our communities the communion—with God, with our brethren, with the Church, the World and the whole cosmos. Then let us be somewhat detached in relationship with our traditional observances, and new observances, more adapted to today’s culture will most probably appear of themselves. Good practices are not created or invented. They are born from life.

—Armand Veilleux, “Exploring the Essential”, Meeting of the UMS (Union of Monastic Superiors), Worth Abbey, Great Britain, June 1, 2005

Read also the sequel, from which comes:

The original meaning of the word monachos and of the Syriac equivalent ihidaya, is not so much the person who is alone as the person who has only one goal, one love, one preoccupation in his/her life. Maybe the challenge of any “reshaping” of our monastic life, or of any reform or renewal is to return to that simplicity. . . .

The only thing that can maintain the unity of our life through all the activities of our days is constant, unceasing prayer—unceasing contemplative prayer. Contemplative union with God is the goal of our life. Now “contemplation”, in its biblical and patristic meaning, is not something that happens once in a while, in the form of peak experiences. It is an attitude of the heart, a way of being. You are a contemplative twenty-four hours a day or you are not a contemplative. If I am not a contemplative at work and when I meet people, or when I attend a meeting, I will not be more of a contemplative when I will sing the office in choir or when I will sit in the lotus position in front of the Blessed Sacrament. . . .

Our identity does not reside in the services that we have fulfilled or are still fulfilling in the Church, but in what we are, spiritually.

One of the poverties that we experience is that we do not even have a renewed theology of religious life. In the whole contemporary theological reflection, there has not been any profound renewal of the theology of religious life. But, has there been, really, a real renewal of the theology of marriage, of priesthood, of the ministry of the bishop? Has there been, in Europe, since the Council a real renewal of theology? We are still waiting for a liberation of theology (please, pay attention to the order of my words). . . .

I mentioned yesterday the shift that has happened in the place of the “religious” dimension in human life. And I would like to stress again that such an evolution is a fruit of the Christian message. Jesus put an end to the sacrificial economy of the Old Testament and of all the ancient religions; likewise he replaced the religious rituals by his own life and his own death, inviting us to glorify his Father not through rituals but through the quality of our love. He taught us to recognize and to give a symbolic value to all the elements of our life and not to find a magic symbolic value in esoteric gestures.

Another important shift has been happening. Our forms of monastic and religious life developed in a period of history when, in the Roman culture an in that of all the new nations, there was an enormous importance given to the ranks and classes society. Ranks and classes had the same importance in the Church. Clear distinctions and separations existed between clergy and people, between monks, canons, mendicants and other religious. Those distinctions are gradually loosing much of their importance. . . .

We know that monastic life was not born in one local Church and then spread to the rest of the world. It rather appeared more or less at the same time in all the local Churches of the East as much as of the West, and—most important of all—it was born out of the vitality of the local Churches (and not in reaction to a lukewarm Church, as it is often erroneously said). . . .

It might sound contradictory, but I think that the fact that we belong to a tradition that has come through several centuries of communion with the universal Church, and the fact that most of our Congregations and Orders are spread all over the world, while being always implanted in a local Church, may give us a particular capacity to help each diocesan community in which we live to become more and more alive, with its own specific identity and its own specific religious “culture”.

It is a secret for nobody that the beloved pope John Paul II placed most of his confidence and hopes in the ecclesial “movements”, like Opus Dei, the Legionaries of Christ, the Neo-Catechumenate, etc. which often have an action and interventions parallel to or even above the authority of the local bishop. We also know how someone like Cardinal Martini, for purely and profoundly ecclesiological reasons, had problems with such an evolution and never made a secret of it. We have to wait and see how Benedict XVI will deal with that issue.

In any case, whatever may be the attitude of the Pope and of the Roman Curia, in this regard, as people totally dedicated to a life of communion, we have the mission to do everything we can to foster the communion with our local Church, and then between the local Churches. . . .

—Armand Veilleux, “Reshaping Monastic Life”

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Sunday, September 25, 2005

A coincidence. This morning I drove O to a “walk” to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. She was to walk with a team sponsored by AHN (don’t they know that Sunday is Mass day?). As O registered at the AHN table, I was invited to walk too. I said ok, thanks, and was given a T-shirt. There was still an hour before the start of the walk, so I was on my own while O went off with her friends. I had with me a little volume, Le Nouveau Testament et Les Psaumes (Alliance Biblique Universelle, 1994), which I had bought at a library book sale when M and I visited Lenox some weeks ago. I opened the book at random. Under my left thumb were the words “La parabole des deux fils”—today’s Gospel reading.

While O and I were at the “walk,” M was at the Cathedral where she had the 2nd reading. This afternoon is LS’s wake. This evening J&IH are giving a dinner party in honor of M’s birthday. I may miss Mass today.


The wake proved unexpectedly interesting, as I ran into and had a long conversation with AL, whom I had previously known as President (now called Chairman) of the Cathedral’s pastoral advisory council. He told me he resigned in frustration at the second year of his three-year term as member of the council. Seems that change will be hard to come by.

+ +

Another very enjoyable evening at J&I’s. S and V, 4- and 2-years old, made people magically disappear and reappear by first holding a green cloth in front of them and then whisking it away. T talked to me about what he called his delusions. For example, at the theater he sometimes sees the stage floor rise until it looks vertical. He knows it is a delusion because otherwise the actors would fall off. On returning to Albany by bus, he will look at buildings and see that they are all being destroyed. R has to tell him, no, they're not. On a recent subway ride in New York City, he felt he was sliding or floating on his stomach toward the end of the subway car until he reached the end of the car and stopped himself by stretching his arms forward and pressing his hands against the rear door. R told him, no, it didn’t happen, and look, your clothes aren’t dusty and you have no bruises on your hands. T seems quite cheerful about his delusions. I told him he should record them as they may come in handy should he ever be proposed as the first atheist saint. I was never alone with R and so did not ask her what she thought of them. Not knowing that, I didn’t want to bring up the topic at the dinner table. No, I did not go to Mass today, and that is not a delusion.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Thank you, Jesus. Will keep on praying as we go up to NP’s house in the hills above Berne for apple picking and cider pressing.

BW and MW’s birthday.

If the purpose of a college education is “enable us to know a good man when we see him,” then it may be said that in our day a college education fails at least half the time.

In the distant future when English is no one’s native language, the speech that contains the phrase I quote will be studied as an example of our best thought and best expression. Would that it were more often read today.


There were more people at NP’s than usual, including her sister’s family from North Carolina, who had flown up earlier in the week to celebrate N’s 60th birthday. So there was lots of help gathering apples, slicing them, and pressing several gallons of cider, but each family took home only a little more than a quart, in addition to pumpkins and other squash from N’s garden. It was a beautiful cloudless fall afternoon, cool in the shade and warm in the sun. Several chickadees landed on a young girl’s fingers to take sunflower seed from her hand, and the very large beaver that resides in N’s pond surfaced on its own good time often enough for everybody to see it (N told us that beavers are the only mammal that continue growing throughout their life). The tomato soup and the bread and cheese were, as always, delicious. A friend of N’s was there who said that she knew of my labyrinths and that they had helped her at a point in her life. There wasn’t time to ask her who at N’s had told her that it was I whose web site she had visited, or even how the topic of labyrinths had come up.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Friday, September 23, 2005

Lord Jesus Christ, who rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still, have mercy on us sinners.

See My Favorite Picture of You.

Gesù, Maria, Padre Pio!

The Son of man must suffer many things. Luke 9:22

ZIZIOULAS: If we wait until Biblical scholars come to an agreement on the relationship between the role of Peter in the New Testament and the primacy exercised by the See of Rome, we may have to postpone the unity of the Church for another millennium, if not infinitely.
“Interview of Ioannis Zizioulas, Metropolitan of Pergamum”, by Gianni Valente

What has happened today that I should remember and shall forget?

I said to myself, “I shall forget this, we shall all forget it; but it will be there. What I have seen is not an illusion. It is the truth”. . . . For one moment I knew that I had seen our true need; and I was afraid that I should forget it and that I should go about framing arguments and agitations and starting schemes of education, when the need was deeper than education. And I became filled with one idea, that I must not forget what I had seen, and that I must do something to remember it.
—John Jay Chapman, “Coatesville”

We are so little able to remember small events that only big events will do.

The Bible, from “In the beginning” to “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all” occurs daily. Amen.


Greeley here for the weekend as SMAN and her music students have their Fall concert at Pyramid Lake. Two years ago we accompanied SMAN. The first night we three shivered as we snuggled together under six or seven layers of wool blankets. Other blankets covered the windows. A small space heater probably did but seemed to do no good in the drafty cabin. The next morning we drove to the Fort Ticonderoga Walmart and bought an electric blanket. The students seemed to suffer (or complain) less, though even in the afternoon their cold fingers made instruments harder to play.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The time is come, the time that the LORD’s house should be built.

If it is not, history will not be kind for us, for we shall be shown to be willfully blind in every way.

Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways: Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes. . . . Ye looked for much, and, lo it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the LORD of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house.
—Haggai 1:5–6, 9

New Orleans shall not rise again as it once was, and the areas to be devastated this weekend shall not be rebuilt as they are today; they were built for man. Lord, dwell in us, and we shall be your tabernacle.

Herod was perplexed (Luke 7:9). “Know one knows; know one could know.” Except we see signs and wonders we shall not believe. But with signs and wonders come false prophets.

SCHÖNBORN: This is the most important thing for the catechist, and also for the preacher, who always knows that he must explain the truth with the greatest clarity possible, but that it is not he who completes the work of its reception. In the Acts of the Apostles it is always the Holy Spirit who opens the door to the word. If He does not open, the preached truth cannot enter.
“Interview with Cardinal Christoph Schönborn on the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, by Gianni Valente. Thanks to la nouvelle théologie.

“If it’s startling to hear a real Christian speaking of Christianity, how far have we fallen?”
—Abbot Joseph of Holy Transfiguration Monastery: The Monks of Mt. Tabor, in his blog post “All This and Heaven Too”. Abbot Joseph’s blog is called Word Incarnate. Thanks again to la nouvelle théologie.

Sin brings sufferings. It is not usually the sinner who suffers.


Larry S, a brother of PG, mother of O’s best friend MG, the husband of Pat S, one of O’s first teachers at HC, and the father of, among others, Ellen S, one of O’s schoolmates at AHN, died today at New England Medical Center, where his family had hoped he would receive a transplant. God bless him and his family.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

M’s birthday.

Sick and sinner enough for you to call me, and eat with me, according to the measure of your gift, I am signing up to be a eucharistic minister at the Cathedral.


John Harris: “Abortion Never Kills Just One Person”.

+ +

See also Rising Crosses and Crosses.

+ + +

. . . simul adsunt et uno lumine micant tot speciossima tabernacula Dei, tot membra excellentissima corporis Christi.
—Pope Leo the Great

A word (several words) about a word. A body may consist of several bodies; my dictionary gives as examples: a body of soldiers, an advisory body. We Christians are the body of Christ. This is so even when we fight each other, even when we sin. For in the first place a body lives in tensions and oppositions, and in the second the body of Christ suffers in a suffering world. For the sins of Christian bishops, priests and laity are the old sins, not new ones; in sinners the body of Christ is sin, until by endeavoring in the Spirit we are made, after many deaths, a perfect man and the fullness of Christ.

Huston Smith quotes a poem by Czeslaw Milosz:

The Emperor Constantine

I could have lived in the time of Constantine.
Three hundred years after the death of the Savior,
Of whom no more was known than that he had risen
Like a sunny Mithra among Roman legionnaires.
I would have witnessed the quarrel between homoousios and homoiousios
About whether the Christ nature is divine or only resembles divinity.
Probably I would have cast my vote against Trinitarians,
For who could ever guess the Creator’s nature?
Constantine, Emperor of the World, coxcomb and murderer,
Tipped the scale at the Council of Nicea,
So that we, generation after generation, meditate on the Holy Trinity,
Mystery of mysteries, without which
The blood of man would have been alien to the blood of the universe
And the spilling of His own blood by a suffering God, who offered Himself
As a sacrifice even as He was creating the world, would have been in vain.
Thus Constantine was merely an undeserving tool,
Unaware of what he was doing for people of distant times.

And us, do we know what we are destined for?


Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

It was a suffering of Jesus that those closest to him did not understand them:

And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business? And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them.(Luke 2:48–50).

But Jesus, said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house (Mark 6:4. See also Matthew 13:57, Luke 4:24, John 4:44).

While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. v>Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother. (Matthew 12:46–50. See also Mark 3:31–35 and Luke 8:19-21).

His brethren therefore said unto him, Depart hence, and go into Judaea, that thy disciples also may see the works that thou doest. For there is no man that doeth any thing in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly. If thou do these things, shew thyself to the world. For neither did his brethren believe in him (John 7:3–5).

It was not only his family that rejected him. Many sought him out after the feeding of the five thousand. When he told them his Father’s will for them they were offended:

many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
—John 6:66

Jesus, who died for all, did not come to convert all:

I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
—Matthew 15:24

The Canaanite woman got her wish but was not preached to.

We are ourselves should not try to convert everyone:

Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls befor swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.
—Matthew 7:6

We are to teach all nations, but not everyone every nation. Do good to all, teach them who listen to you (many may listen to others).

Do your best for God”s glory. Perhaps one or two will be saved through you. If not, then:

rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
—1 Peter 4:13

If I’m asked when I gave up writing applets, I shall say, “The year Jerry Rice gave up playing professional football.”

When you died on the cross, you had only a local audience, and not much a one at that. When I try to obey you, I shall also do it in secret.

Then Hetty’s sharp, sarcastic sayings were repeated; the justice of them made them sting. People did not want a tongue like that in their homes.
—Mary E. Wilkins (Freeman), “A Church Mouse,” in A New England Nun and Other Stories


And is it true? and is it true,
This most tremendous tale of all,
That God was Man in Palestine
And lives today in Bread and Wine?
—John Betjeman, “On Christmas”, the first two and the last two lines, quoted in Huston Smith, The Soul of Christianity, 2005,68.

Smith’s book calculates the dates of Ascension and Pentecost oddly:

Forty days after he died, Jesus brought his earthly career to a solemn close by ascending into heaven. And forty days after that, God sent the disciples the Comforter Jesus had promised them in an event we now know as Pentecost.
—Ibid., 74.

These sentences could not have appeared in a book before the 21st century.

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How many mercenaries are there in Iraq? Who is mourning their dead?

Monday, September 19, 2005

Monday, September 19, 2005

This blog is a candlestick. Where is the light?

With light,

Etiam capillus unus habet umbram suam.
Publius Syrus


4E 0B 02 30 35 57 44 7E 01 3F 3C 1B 5F 62 0E 67
31 5F 70 42 0D 44 58 25 71 06 71 27 32 2D 5B 6D
33 3E 03 32 59 7D 5B 2C 23 2A 09 4A 59 22 7E 65
58 4F 5B 18 73 5A 13 41 21 6E 29 7F 36 61 4B 1E
5B 20 2C 5A 28 0E 08 53 20 03 4F 4F 6E 21 77 69
49 0E 0C 55 45 5C 1D 21 6E 1F 20 76 4B 35 2E 00
27 17 5F 04 7E 72 11 2C 0A 34 15 0A 47 15 17 00
02 77 14 65 25 5D 11 43 13 55 3A 7B 70 5A 5C 6F
43 77 14 03 59 20 22 72 7C 64 5F 60 4B 27 6D 3D
26 7B 4D 26 0B 2A 7A 64 68 45 6B 1B 27 52 27 77
72 63 74 08 19 4E 33 6A 1B 4F 50 70 0C 7E 26 0D
30 50 7F 66 5E 10 17 1F 4C 6F 4A 08 56 3A 49 01
76 53 41 29 67 5A 67 12 69 62 2A 32 1C 60 2E 5D
3D 03 18 2B 71 2F 5D 00 4D 6C 01 68 23 48 0B 5C
15 4E 75 4E 0D 67 1C 76 3D 05 64 0D 77 12 6D 6D
55 30 23 40 10 2A 1F 71 0F 29 19 2C 03 4B 7B 1A
3C 15 1F 5B 10 24 06 25 0B 50 7E 13 30 2E 3E 66
47 1C 39 27 05 5E 4B 33 0C 73 6D 3A 40 05 13 01
67 3C 42 6D 03 57 4A 17 1D 5E 30 4E 00 16 2D 3F
6D 62 26 3D 42 7C 4B 6A 52 25 0B 40 50 42 6B 16
62 6E 34 22 3F 0D 7B 1A 3A 25 7E 37 6A 42 53 6F
4C 43 18 33 3D 24 5C 16 36 38 6A 7C 68 15 23 56
17 78 00 1A 19 0C 3F 04 76 76 30 0B 7F 79 01 2B
5A 1C 5C 1B 3D 22 68 66 30 58 62 2C 05 18 0B 11
4E 03 7E 6D 13 1D 69 57 78 2C 6B 4D 72 46 75 6A
2A 26 6C 74 25 39 33 66 79 73 07 6F 72 19 65 25
6B 50 57 78 16 09 4D 6A 00 79 00 78 70 6A 5C 5E
3C 4F 5D 53 5D 35 05

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Hegel said of the art of his time: yes, people still write poetry and paint but “however splendid the gods look in these modern works of art, and whatever dignity and perfection we might find in their images of God the Father and the Virgin Mary, it is of no use. We no longer bend our knees.” That was two centuries ago.
—Huston Smith, The Soul of Christianity, 2005, xxiii.

In Greece, theoria referred to the kind of knowledge that one derived from watching the great Greek dramas. Our word “theater,” which derives from it, is closer to its meaning than our word “theory,” which has degenerated from theoria in much the way “belief” has degenerated from more than knowledge (“conviction and the determination to act on it”) to something less than knowledge: “He believed that the world was flat” (The Oxford English Dictionary’s example).
—Ibid., 27.

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Caryl Johnston, “Peak Oil and Prayer”

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Sunday, September 18, 2005

I am quite certain that I have not been hired, since I have not been found worthy of my hire.


Picnic at Thacher Park with Dot, SMAN, and J. Found a spot at Glen Doone as usual but not in the escarpment area near the second parking lot, the road to which was blocked off, and from which, as we saw when we walked to it, most of the picnic tables had been removed. We parked in the first lot and went to a place where there was a view. Aside from our having our usual picnic fare, J cooked sliced potatoes wrapped in foil and brought a caramel apple pie from the Shaker Shed, and SMAN treated us to a delicious chocolate cake (chocolate frosting, a layer of crushed Heath bars on top) that she made for M because she had baked a cake for a friend and was still “in a baking mood.” Although the park closes at sundown, the restrooms seem to have been locked well before then, resulting in one of our company experiencing quite a bit of discomfort. After failing to find an open restroom in several of the picnic areas, we rushed down Rte. 85 to an ice cream place we knew. Fortunately, the ladies room was not occupied.

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Au moment où nous rencontrerons, chacun de nous, notre Créateur, lors de notre débarquement sur l'autre Rive, le fait que nous l'ayons servi fidèlement dans la vie monastique durant cinquante ans ou 10 ans ou 10 jours ne fera en soi aucune différence. Tout ce qui comptera alors sera l'intensité de notre amour à ce moment-là. Peu importeront également les erreurs et même les bêtises que nous aurons pu faire tout au long de cette vie, aussi bien que les services humbles ou illustres que nous aurons pu rendre à notre communauté, à l’Église ou à l'Ordre. Pour chacun de nous, l'invitation à entrer dans la Joie de notre Père sera pure gratuité. Cela ne nous invite pas à l'insouciance et à la nonchalance, mais bien à tout faire avec une totale gratuité, par amour, et non pas dans le but d'acquérir des mérites et encore moins dans le simple but d'éviter les châtiments.
—Armand Veilleux, “Question de mérites. . .”


Saturday, September 17, 2005

Saturday, September 17, 2005

This morning in the Cathedral rectory attended our parish’s Festival of Faith event on Mary and the Saints. It was very moving to hear particulars of Mary’s love for God and (especially) the poor and saints’ and (will-be saints’) devotion to Mary. I now know that I can be very quiet in the face of such devotion. Met for the first time PL, a writer who is working on a movie about Kateri Tekakwitha.


This afternoon our Cathedral director of music and organist WGO married KD, who writes for the diocesan paper The Evangelist. The bishop presided, and Father P concelebrated. Mrs. Kim Harris was the cantor.

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Today is also LARKfest. O is babysitting, so I agreed to be at home when J, who wanted to hear a band, dropped off S and V for a little while. V is 2½. Seeing a picture of O taken when she was three or four, he said, “That’s O—.” Did someone tell him or did he recognize O? S, who is 4½, explained to me, “That’s O— when she was young.” “Does it look like her?” “Yes, but she was young.” J reminds me that the Rolling Stones are in town. Wonder how parking will be tonight.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Friday, September 16, 2005

Women supporting Jesus and the Twelve (Luke 8:3) reminds me of wives and girlfriends supporting their men through graduate and professional school. All of Jesus’ difficulties with his followers seem to have been with men. Even when the mother of Zebedee’s sons asked Jesus about places for them at his side, it seems to have been at James and John’s urging, since Jesus answered, and the ten were indignant with, the two brothers, and not their mother.

The Church has treated women as a “help meet” for men. Perhaps in this millennium she will teach that male and female are created in God’s image, and that women, too, are other Christs.

4. Although the teaching that priestly ordination is to be reserved to men alone has been preserved by the constant and universal Tradition of the Church and firmly taught by the Magisterium in its more recent documents, at the present time in some places it is nonetheless considered still open to debate, or the Church’s judgment that women are not to be admitted to ordination is considered to have a merely disciplinary force.

Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsover to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.
—Pope John Paul II, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, May 22, the Solemnity of Pentecost, 1994

Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
—Matthew 18:18 (cf. Matthew 16:19)

The Church is faithful in not ordaining women, and the Church will be faithful in ordaining women.

There are no priests in Heaven, or perhaps just one.

See also Last and First Supper.


Went to J&S’s after work for a dinner to celebrate A’s 6th birthday. S’s mother E and her second husband, LF, were there. I have known E for 35 years; we met LF for the first time (J's parents P and N arrive tomorrow, when the parents and grandparents will go to dinner while O babysits). Had a long chat with LF, who, though a Jew, graduated from St. Peter’s, a Jesuit college in New Jersey, just before the start of World War II. He had good things to say about science at St. Peter’s but about nothing else there. After graduating he was twice quickly hired—and then not hired when the employers found out he was a Jew. He was then hired as a “Lutheran” and was shocked at the anti-Semitic talk of his colleagues (there had been none at St. Peter’s). The war gave him a chance to go to dental school at government expense, since the armed forces were in need of medics and such. The war ended before he finished his dental education, so he took up to five jobs while completing his studies at Temple (never a Jewish institution, Temple was founded by a Baptist and was completely nonreligious by LF’s time). He told of a little-known draft of doctors during the Korean Conflict: sign up or be drafted as a private. So he entered as a First Lieutenant in the Air Force, but ended up working for the Army at the Presidio Hospital in San Franciso. L was attracted to Redwood City, but at the insistance of his parents he returned to New Jersey to go into private practice. He and E now live on Marco Island in Florida. They have been in the Catskills for a month to escape the Florida heat. I was surprised to hear that they had stayed in a resort called Friar Tuck, where E said they were they only Jews there (“all Italians and Poles”); the great Jewish resorts are apparently all gone (I interrupted to mention to L and E our recent “sighting”—O was afraid even to go up the driveway—at the Hotel Adler in Sharon Springs). On Marco Island, L drives a Cadillac, E a Chrysler. In the Catskills they rented a Toyota; lifelong buyers of their respective brands, they both say their next cars will be Toyotas. L is a big fan of biographies, recommended Denis Brian’s life of Einstein and is now reading Ben Franklin by Walter Isaacson.

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When nuns gave up habits for bought clothes, they gave up a great opportunity to contribute to the culture of the new age. Even now, young nuns might think about how religious should dress in our time. Nuns should be seen as belonging to an order. The notion of every nun her own wardrobe is unsatisfactory.

What punishment would Dante have conceived for publishers of heavy textbooks and teachers and school administrators who daily observe and allow schoolchildren to carry backpacks that injure their shoulders and backs? Every year one sees warnings, and every year the backpacks get heavier. If schools were serious about preventing injury there would be scales at the exits for children to weigh their backpacks. If the backpack weighs more than 10% of the child’s weight it would be lightened. If this happens to many of the children, the teachers and administrators would meet to determine ways to lighten the load. Otherwise, their insouciance is a sin.

The difference between God’s tugging at Moses’s collar and my floundering for meaning. There is not doubt that God plays favorites and that I am not one of his favorites. When I die he will ask me why didn’t I see and show me the myriad ways I should have known. I will answer, I wanted you to tell me: I desired to hear your voice.

If I were to record my sins in this blog, I would stop writing for shame. If I read my blog as others might read it, I would stop writing for embarrassment.

Don’t dote about questions and strifes of words; fight to lay hold on eternal life; attempt truth.

A painter puts white and black on his palette.

When I was asked to make this address I wondered what I had to say to you boys who are graduating. And I think I have one thing to say. If you wish to be useful, never take a course that will silence you. Refuse to learn anything that implies collusion, whether it be a clerkship or a curacy, a legal fee or a post in a university. Retain the power of speech no matter what other power you may lose. If you can take this course, and in so far as you take it, you will bless this country. In so far as you depart from this course you become dampers, mutes, and hooded executioners.

As a practical matter a mere failure to speak out upon occasions where no opinion is asked or expected of you, and when the utterance of uncalled-for suspicion is odious, will often hold you to a concurrence in palpable iniquity. Try to raise a voice that will be heard from here to Albany and watch what comes forward to shut off the sound. It is not a German sergeant, nor a Russian officer of the precinct. It is a note from a friend of your father's offering you a place in his office. This is your warning from the secret police. Why, if any of you young gentleman have a mind to make himself heard a mile off, you must make a bonfire of your reputations and a close enemy of most men who would wish you well.

I have seen ten years of young men who rush out into the world with their messages, and when they find how deaf the world is, they think they must save their strength and wait. They believe that after a while they will be able to get up on some little eminence from which they can make themselves heard. “In a few years,” reasons one of them, “I shall have gained a standing, and then I will use my powers for good.” Next year comes and with it a strange discovery. The man has lost his horizon of thought. His ambition has evaporated; he has nothing to say. I give you this one rule of conduct. Do what you will, but speak out always. Be shunned, be hated, be ridiculed, be scared, be in doubt, but don't be gagged. The time of trial is always. Now is the appointed time.

—John Jay Chapman, “Commencement address to the graduating class of Hobart College, 1900” These words are often quoted; I don’t know if anything came before or after.

Whatever life itself is, that thing must be replenished in us. The opposite of hate is love, the opposite of cold is heat; what we need is the love of God and reverence for human nature. For one moment I knew that I had seen our true need; and I was afraid that I should forget it and that I should go about framing arguments and agitations and starting schemes of education, when the need was deeper than education.
—Chapman, “Coatesville”

What I lack most is love.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Thursday, September 15, 2005

I do not know if to forgive is difficult. I know that I fail to forgive.

Jesus, Mary, Job: sinless and suffering.

Many blog posts called “great” are soon forgotten. A good post is like good seed: it germinates, roots, grows up, flowers, and brings forth fruit—on good ground. And some good seeds have long dormancy.

Appreciation appreciates the appreciator.

Overrating myself prevents me from being vain.


Father M chose to read John 19:25–27 on this feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. There was also a choice for the first reading: we heard Hebrews 5:7–9.

The three Marys at the cross are more than are recorded in the entire Old Testament.

On the Holy Family

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“My keys are in the other purse.” Women must have their purses, but having only one is best.

“I didn’t sound that way.” How one sounds is for others to say. Same, perhaps, for writing. But find a good critic.

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Preferential Love for the Poor

A Church that raises money prefers the rich. I least I felt so when we were invited to a “Tour of the Cathedral”, in which we were greeted and escorted by diocesan officials, shown places and things most people don’t see, treated to an excellent repast that included shrimp and sushi, and finally given a book and a souvenir. How would I have felt if we were indeed rich? Entirely pleased, I think, and it was an enjoyable evening.

“Ye have the poor with you always.” If they are always with us in church, how are they taking it when the priest preaches to the congregation about the Church’s preferential love for them? Are they told that God also prefers them? Ah, but the priest is not talking to them.

Wyschogrod notes that it is common to distinguish between two kinds of love, agape and eros. Agape is charity in the purest sense, without superiority or condescension, while eros is sensual love, in which desire and jealousy are possible. The distinction corresponds to some degree to that between soul and body Agape is disinterested and impartial, without regard to persons, while eros is interested love, concerned with this person rather than that and desirous of the body of the other. Wyschogrod notes that God's love for the human creature is usually said to resemble agape rather than eros. As agape, God's love cannot exclude.

For Wyschogrod, this account of agape is doubly suspect. It is untrue to the human condition because it overlooks the fact that genuine human charity can be truly directed to particular persons only when it concerns itself with their particular identities.

What is more, this account of love is untrue to the character of God's love as depicted by the Bible. It fails to see that the glory and dignity of the biblical God consists in God's freedom to engage humanity in a human way. That is to say, God has chosen in favor of genuine encounter with the human creature in his or her individuality. For this reason, God's love is not undifferentiated, having the same quality toward all God's children. Precisely because God is so deeply concerned with human creation, God loves it with a differentiated love, and it comes about that there are those whom God loves especially, with whom, one can only say, God has fallen in love.

This is what has happened in God's election of Abraham and his seed. God's love for Abraham is more than an impartial, disinterested love, but includes an element of eros. God loves the descendants of Abraham above all the nations of the earth, and desires their response in return. That is why God reacts with wounded fury when rejected by Israel.
—Kendall Soulen, “Michael Wyschogrod and God's First Love”

See also John Lukacs, A New Republic and search for “Samuel Butler”.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Holy Cross Church has an evening Mass and reception on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. Only a few of us were present at noon.

Pick up the cross daily, and raise it, that our brothers will behold it, and believe, and have life.


Now that her quest [finding the cross] was at last accomplished all sentiment was dead and she was as practial about arrangements as though some new furniture had been delivered at her house. . . . No one who watched that day, while the Empress calmly divided her treasure, could have discerned her joy.
—Evelyn Waugh, Helena

Liturgy should be such that it need only be done correctly for it to be done joyfully. With a proper liturgy, going outside the parish in search of a Mass to like would be seen as a sign of incompetence in the priest or misplaced values in the wanderers. A gifted celebrant should be given a larger church, or even brought to the Cathedral (not necessarily as an administrator), where he may bring in a greater number of souls.

Liturgy should be neither vulgar nor “exciting”. The Jews in the first reading loathed the light bread made from manna, preferring the food of Egypt; the taste for liturgy must be developed, but it must be true manna (what is it?). The motions and their meanings must be taught to all.

Louisa tied a green apron round her waist, and got out a flat straw hat with a green ribbon. then she went into the garden with a little blue crockery bowl, to pick some currents for her tea. After the currants were picked she sat on the back doorstep and stemmed them, collecting the stems carefully in her apron, and afterwards throwing them into the hen-coop. She looked sharply at the grass beside the step to see if any had fallen there.
—Mary E. Wilkins (Freeman), “A New England Nun”

See also A Letter from Romano Guardini on the Essence of the Liturgical Act—1964

We don’t hear much about the Old Testament passages in which God kills people. Has God changed or our perception of him? Was complaining about monotonous meals ever punishable by death? God must have noticed that killing gets people’s attention immediately but not for long. It is not the educational value of killing that comes through, but the God’s hatred of sin. We should not grasp equality with God and pronounce death to evildoers; but, first, righteousness and rationality require that evil be answered by either judgment or mercy; and secondly, mercy implies judgment.

Paul perhaps could not bring himself write to the Philippians: “Christ Jesus, God, became a slave.” One wants to say, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.

“Being in the form of God”—does this later become homoousios?

It must be regarded as certain that the council which condemned Paul [of Samosata, fl. 260-72] rejected the term homoousios; but naturally only in a false sense used by Paul; not, it seems because he meant by it an unity of Hypostasis in the Trinity (so St. Hilary), but because he intended by it a common substance out of which both Father and Son proceeded, or which it divided between them,—so St. Basil and St. Athanasius; but the question is not clear. The objectors to the Nicene doctrine in the fourth century made copious use of this disapproval of the Nicene word by a famous council.
—Catholic Encyclopedia, “Paul of Samosata”

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In what sense do politicians use the term responsible?

re·spon·si·ble adj. [MFr. < L. responsus: see RESPONSE] 1. expected or obliged to account (for something, to someone); answerable; accountable 2. involving accountability, obligation or duties [a responsible position] 3. that can be charge with being the cause, agent, or source of something [the moisture that is responsible for the rust] 4. able to distinguish between right and wrong and to think and act rationally, and hence accountable for one’s behavior 5. a) readily assuming obligations, duties, etc.; dependable; reliable b) able to pay debts or meet business obligations
SYN.—responsible applies to one who has been delegated some duty or responsibility by one in authority and who is subject to penalty in case of default [he is responsible for making out the reports]; answerable implies a legal or moral obligation for which one must answer to someone sitting in judgment [he is not answerable for the crimes of his parents]; accountable implies liability for which one may be called to account [ he will be held accountable for anything he may say]
Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language, Second College Edition

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At the Cathedral picnic on Sunday, a discussion arose about differences between the Cathedral and St. Mary’s. During it I was challenged to say what I meant by “conservative Catholic”. Or was it “traditional Catholic”—I don’t remember. In either case, I meant no harm. I mentioned several signs, perhaps more than were hoped for; today I wonder if only one diagnostic would suffice: taking the host on one’s tongue instead of in one’s hand. Must observe the Cathedral congregation. At St. Mary’s, the cup is not offered to the congregation, though I believe the priest still says in Jesus’ name:

Take this, all of you, and drink from it: this is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven. Do this in memory of me.

One rule of liturgy should be: the people do what they are told to do.

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I suppose it is good to be reminded that bishops are like other clerics.

[Mr. Hersey, the minister] could expound on the intricacies of every character study in the Scriptures, he was competent to grasp the Pilgrim Fathers and all historical innovators, but Sarah Penn was beyond him. He could deal with primal cases, but parallel ones worsted him.
—Mary E. Wilkins (Freeman), “The Revolt of ‘Mother’”, in The New England Nun and Other Stories

But why are they also so much like politicians and bureaucrats?

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Oh, how I would thank the Muses if I heard a new voice in a blog!

The sound is forced, the notes are few.

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People are still coming to Crosses and Lonely Catholics.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Today’s first reading (1 Timothy 3:1-13), which discusses married bishops and women deacons, will be much quoted in the coming years. A priest told me that the Vatican has ancient documents (not Romans 16:1) proving the existence of women deacons (or more?). These documents would have come in handy had Armand Veilleux been elected pope.

No doubt these questions will be answered in obedience to Canon Law 1752.

“I NEVER heard of a woman’s bein’ saxton.”
“I dun’ know what difference that makes; I don’t see why they shouldn’t have women saxtons as well as men saxtons, for my part, nor nobody else neither. They’d keep dusted ’nough sight cleaner. I’ve seen the dust layin’ on my pew thick enough to write my name in a good many times, an’ ain’t said nothin’ about it. An’ I ain’t goin’ to say nothin’ now again Joe Sowen, now he’s dead an’ gone. He did just as well as most men do. Men git in a good many places where they don’t belong, an’ where they set as awkward as a cow on a hen-roost, jest because they push in ahead of women. I ain’t blamin’ ’em; I s’pose if I could push in I should, jest the same way. But there ain’t no reason that I can see, nor nobody else neither, why a woman shouldn’t be saxton.”
—Mary E. Wilkins (Freeman), “A Church Mouse,” in A New England Nun and Other Stories, New York, 1891.


Took part in the “Campus Run” at the State Office Building campus. MK and I walked the 2¼ mile course.

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Spengler on the Decline of the Roman Empire

Monday, September 12, 2005

Monday, September 12, 2005

Sept 12, 1864 Paris

Dear Parents,

Hector Berlioz is my teacher now! My longstanding wish has been fulfilled, he has accepted me of his own accord, I come to him regularly now, almost like a son. This man, who nobody has ever understood, who has had to fight until his hair turned white, lives like a hermit in Paris, he considers himself to be dead, when I ask him the other day what he was working on, all he said was:

Je n’écris rien
Je ne compose rien
Je suis mort, c’est fini!

This man has adopted me, I work at his house, he sends me home with major scores to study after going through them with me in meticulous detail; in short, he is my teacher, I am his pupil, but don’t go thinking that he charges me for this, to offer him payment would be the surest way of falling out with him, he would feel hurt. I once thought that the privilege of just standing on the staircase in the house where he lives would make me great, now I visit him on a daily basis, whenever I want, he is always at home for me!

—Asger Hamerik (1843–1923), quoted in Christopher Follett, “Danish Composer Asger Hamerik—Berlioz’s Last Pupil,” The Berlioz Society Bulletin, 170 (Summer 2005).

O’s first day of classes at AHN. Her friend MG is down with a strange ailment and will miss school at least today. I hope that O becomes someone’s student. Was it in my freshman year of high school that I first read The House of Intellect? Did it change the course of my life? Would I wish something similar on O? Many of the educated seem discontented. Is it better to be a mass man? Is it better to be not worthy, to say, Don’t come—just command that I have a comfortable and trouble-free life? Is it better not to be man? For mass man is not man, but the avoidance of man, his annulment or, as C. S. Lewis said, his abolition. There is hope: the masses are also complaining. The poor and the rich lived in the Big Easy.

Are children aware that they can embarrass their parents and that all their notions are most likely boring to an adult?

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Sunday, September 11, 2005


If September 11 is Patriot Day, what will August 28 be? American Pie Day?

Today should be forgiveness day. It appears that the king forgave the wicked servant only once, but since the servant owed ten thousand talents, he was actually forgiven beyond measure, much more than he could pay even if he, his wife, his children, and all that he had were sold. His king’s patience would have been long suffering. His fellow servant owed him much less—as indeed sins against us are small change compared with sins against God. His fellow servant was willing to pay him; what was begged was a little patience. Casting his fellowservant into prison must have increased the time needed to pay the debt, given the likely prison wages (how did this actually work?). This is vindictive. The punishment doesn’t fit the crime. How long do I nurse a grudge for an inadvertent slight! Patience means compassion—suffering together; not the same suffering, but suffering together. Yes, it is hard, especially as our fellow servants do not always pay us. But think of how much we have been forgiven, and how much we are tormented when we do not forgive our brother.

The principal emotion of our time is anger; the principal need is forgiveness.

Everytime I forgive, I am forgiven much more.

When I forgive, I die unto the Lord; when I love, I live unto the Lord.

+ +

At Mass after Communion the choir sang a beautiful setting of Psalm 130 by Mikhail Ippolitof-Ivanof. Father’s homily was again delivered from in front of the altar.

+ + +

We drove JR’s car to the parish picnic at Thatcher park. A good gathering of many people, quite a few of whom I didn”t know. Mentioned Armand Veilleux to KO, talked with JS about his visit with Gianna Talone Sullivan and his suggestion that the Cathedral Conference of the St. Vincent de Paul Society take part in a ministry to the homebound, and concluded with AB that we were largely in agreement about truth.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Saturday, September 10, 2005

If “terrorist” is in my vocabulary, how can I believe myself the worst of sinners? If I cannot believe myself the worst of sinners, how can I believe that God offers mercy to all sinners?

Being the worst of sinners does not mean I have any special talent for sinning. It means that I know that as I am I am damnable, and that I do not know that of anybody else.

Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.
—Luke 6:47–49

No speaker on Evangelization being available, the Pastoral Advisory Council retreat had as its topic Canon Law. J. Michael Ritty, of Canon Law Professionals, spoke about what is canon law, how canon law differs from common law in aim and method as well as in subject matter, what canon law says about pastoral councils, the new Canon 220 regarding a person’s reputation and privacy, the most important (and therefore last) law Canon 1752, which says “. . . the salvation of souls, which must always be the supreme law in the Church, is to be kept before one’s eyes,” rights and obligations, and due process. The presentation was in two parts, morning and afternoon, and many questions were asked and answered in both. In between were Mass and lunch, after the retreat we held the first Pastoral Advisory Council meeting of the 2005–2006 season. It is a very enjoyable day, the best part of which was Mass, offered by Father Pape in the Kenwood Convent Chapel, with the council members all near each other, and no amplified sound. Somewhat off topic, had a rather prolonged discussion with AB, who insisted truth doesn’t change and is true whether anyone believes it or not. Don’t understand what this notion of truth really means to the many Catholics who hold it. Must try to find out.

Lord, let the Pastoral Advisory Council bring forth good fruit.

Returned home in time to attend our neighborhood block party, There KW told me that she and her husband WW hope to spend another year in the neighborhood before moving to a retirement home.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Friday, September 9, 2005

Mr. Brown is returning to Washington. Why should we expect that top officials will perform well in unprecedented conditions? Lincoln had to fire generals who were trained for war.

I read the materials mailed to Parish Advisory Council members prior to tomorrow’s retreat and meeting at Kenwood Convent of the Sacred Heart (the nuns haven’t yet left). I remember that at the last, my first, meeting, I mentioned my objection to the words “seek to” in the parish’s mission statement:

We, the worshipping community of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, rooted in the Gospel and the celebration of the Eucharist, seek to make known God’s love in the world through serving one another, sharing our faith, and welcoming all.

The brief discussion that followed showed that I see differently from others.

On September 2, the diocese put out a press release saying that “The Albany Roman Catholic Diocese has found no reasonable cause to believe allegations of sexual misconduct against the Rev. Daniel Maher, pastor of Holy Cross Church” where I attend noon Mass. Copies are available in the church, and after today’s Mass I read the press release. The investigator working for the diocese certainly took more trouble than the “allegators” to try to learn the truth. The Greek Furies were more discriminating than Mr. Aretakis. His hurt must be blinding.

A person who is always justifying himself will remain blind to himself and to others. Woe to politicians and celebrities, whose whole apparatus of life exists to convince themselves and others that they are true, good, beautiful. If they succeed they lead the many along the broad way that ends in destruction, damning both themselves and their brothers and sisters. A eulogy is no ticket to heaven. St. Peter Claver was praised by God more than two hundred years before his canonization.

A mote in my brother’s eye is just a mote; a mote in my eye feels like beam—it is a matter of ”perspective.&rdquo To a holy person, his own sins must loom large. Tomorrow, Paul calls himself chief of sinners; he does not rank others who might claim that title. Everybody’s case is unique.

A small disk held close to one’s eye can block out the sun. My own blindness prevents me from helping my brothers and sisters. I think I see, which gives me many opportunities to ask forgiveness for my misjudgments. I must learn to forgive and ask forgiveness quickly. Let the beam in my eye turn into a beam of light.


Staying up late tonight as O is at a football game.

Discussing with M the other day what made Paul often hard for a lector, I wondered what literary critics thought of Paul as a writer. Here’s something I came across in C. S. Lewis:

I cannot be the only reader who has wondered why God, having given [St. Paul] so many gifts, withheld from him (what would to us seem so necessary for the first Christian theologian) that of lucidity and orderly exposition. . . .

It may be that what we should have liked would have been fatal to us if granted. It may be indispensable that Our Lord’s teaching, by that elusiveness (to our systematising intellect), should demand a response from the whole man, should make it so clear that there is no quesiton of learning a subject but of steeping ourselves in a Personality, acquiring a new outlook and temper, breathing a new atmosphere, suffering Him, in His own way, to rebuild in us the defaced image of Himself. So in St. Paul. Perhaps the sort of works I would wish him to have written would have been useless. The crabbedness, the appearance of inconsequence and even of sophistry, the turbulent mixture of petty detail, personal complaint, practical advice, and lyrical rapture, finally let through what matters more than ideas—a whole Christian life in operation—better say, Christ Himself operating in a man’s life. And in the same way, the value of the Old Testament may be dependent on what seems its imperfection. It may repel one use in order that we may be forced to use it in another way—to find the Word in it, not without repeated and leisurely reading nor without discriminations made by our conscience and our critical facilities, to re-live, while we read, the whole Jewish experience of God’s gradual and graded self-revelation, to feel the very material through which it works. For here again, it is our total response that has to be elicited.
—C. S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms, “Scripture”


Thursday, September 08, 2005

Thursday, September 8, 2005

O’s “orientation day” at AHN. The surprise was the small size of the freshman class: 55 students.

Today is the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Mass readings say nothing about it, since nothing in the Bible tells of the birth of Mary to St. Anne (Hannah, grace, related to Joan, John) and St. Joachim (God prepares). No doubt Mary was born, but what details of the happy event does the Magisterium require us to believe? Perhaps none (the immaculate conception happened earlier).

It was interesting to see in the Catholic Encylopedia entry for St. Anne a reference to “the renowned Father John of Eck of Ingolstadt” (Johann Eck or Eckius, 1486–1543), “the most distinguished theologian of his time in Germany,” who defeated Luther in public debate and thus prevented the Reformation, and who apparently knew that St. Anne’s parents were Stollanus and Emerentia and knew of her second and third husbands, Cleophas and Salomas.

St. Anne seems to be in the Biblical tradition of women who cannot conceive for many years, and then become pregnant. This at least fits today’s Psalm 13:5–6:

But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.
I will sing unto the LORD, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.

whose previous verses are:

How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me?
How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and hear me, O LORD my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death;
Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him; and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved.

Smiling commentaries do not speak to the heart of this psalm, since according to it the prayer has not yet been not answered.

One sometimes or frequently has feelings that one feels that one should not feel, or at least encourage, but are magnificently present in the Psalms. Should one reject these feelings, or purge them by reading the Psalms, or accept them as (sometimes) right, or what? Next Sunday’s readings give the answer: the debt must be acknowledged, and then forgiven.

If I could be with you, I would be satisfied.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Wednesday, September 7, 2005

Last week I asked PC if she would read at today’s noon Mass, since I had a meeting work. She did read, but I skipped the meeting and attended Mass. We frequently hear about the Beatitudes, rarely about the Anathemas:

But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation.

Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger.

Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep.

Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.

—Luke 6:24–26

The curses apply to us.

Till they draw their clear and reasonable distinctions between the first and the nineteenth century, the denunciation hangs over the world. . . .
— Newman, Parochial & Plain Sermons “28. The Danger of Riches”

Giving to the poor does not mean giving them a greater share of what keeps us from God.

Before daring to speak of social justice, oh you fools, begin to remake society!
The Last Essays of Georges Bernanos, p. 155

To do this, follow Paul’s advice:

. . . seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. . . . put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.
—Colossians 3:1-3, 10

In this Simone Weil may have been mistaken. The kingdom of heaven comes in everyone’s lifetime.


“Phil” is posting again in Shades of Gray (Umbrae Canarum).

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Tuesday, September 6, 2005

Yesterday I posted to St. Blog’s Parish Hall a note on “Responses to the Hurricane”:

We have accusations right and left, but no Miltons, no Lincolns, no Chapmans. Even bloggers I respect do not look at themselves.

I quoted and wrote yesterday:

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
—2 Corinthians 5:21

Among Christians, few accept to be sin for others; for many, sin is still The Other.

See also Labor Day, September 5, 2005.

Mary Herboth is closing St. Blog’s Parish Hall, or perhaps giving it to another caretaker; she has closed her blog Ever New, whose URL was promptly taken over for unseemly purposes. Her reason for closing the Parish Hall, aside from lack of time, was: “I don't think it’s worth keeping open. We just don’t have a very good flow here.” Conversation in life is rare enough; it was non-existent in St. Blog’s Parish Hall, despite MaryH’s best efforts. I remember that John Taylor Gatto wrote that a network is not a community. Nevertheless, some people think they have more fellowship with like-minded bloggers than in their own parishes. They would do well to read Wendell Berry on Intentional Communities.

“Generations of Faith” is now “Festival of Faith”—why is not told. The next festival will be about Mary; I e-mailed MEW some URLs relating to several saints who had a particular devotion to Mary. There aren’t as many as I would have thought. Perhaps Jesus more than Mary demands heroic virtue.

The Pastoral Advisory Council retreat is on Saturday, and the Parish picnic is on Sunday, so next weekend I shall have a taste of the Cathedral community, and, to adapt Cole Porter’s song about the oyster, “the Cathedral community will have a taste of me.”

Monday, September 05, 2005

Labor Day, September 5, 2005

And there was no man to till the ground.
—Genesis 2:5

. . . cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
—Genesis 3:17

Work before the Fall, toil after.

There is a general tendency to preach that work is noble, leisure useless and on the whole degrading. The practice of the world contradicts this statement.
—Jan Gordon, Modern French Painters

Scholarly writing: many citations, no convictions.

Immaturity, immaturity everywhere, and not a hint of innocence.

Spoke with MES after Mass (Father back at lectern for the homily) about the inadequate responses—“altar, sword, and pen”—to the recent hurricane. But the responses are emblematic of years of bad faith.

We are the dupes, but to use again the terrible words of Collot d’Herbois, whose favor was implored on behalf of the little seventeen-year-old Marquise de Levis: “There are no innocents among the aristocrats.” I say that there are no innocents among the deceived, that it wouldn’t be possible to find a dupe totally unresponsible for a deception of which he is nearly always both perpetrator and victim, that there is a certain principle of deception common to deceiver and deceived, that, in short, anyone who is deceived is capable in his turn of deceiving. Yes, the deceived is usually the parasite of the one who tricks him—that’s worth knowing. But we must go much farther still. . . .

Men deceive each other it’s true, but they cannot do so very long without deceiving themselves. This self-deception is, after all, the secret motivation of their lies. Thus diminishes every day the number of men still capable of good faith, those who can still recognize bad faith in themselves, or at least look for it, even though they fear to find it.
The Last Essays of Georges Bernanos, pp. 153–154.

Milton! thou shouldst be living at this hour;
England hath need of thee; she is a fen
Of stagnant waters: altar, sword, and pen,
Fireside, the heroic wealth of hall and bower,
Have forfeited their ancient English dower
Of inward happiness. We are selfish men;
Oh! raise us up, return to us again;
And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power.
Thy soul was like a Star, and dwelt apart:
Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea:
Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free,
So didst thou travel on life’s common way,
In cheerful godliness; and yet thy heart
The lowliest duties on herself did lay.
—Wordsworth, “London, 1802”

Lincoln! thou shouldst be living at this hour, to teach us to hallow and to dedicate.

Chapman! thou shouldst be living at this hour, to pray with us and remember.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Sunday, September 4, 2005

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
— 2 Corinthians 5:21

Among Christians, few accept to be sin for others; for many, sin is still The Other.


I wrote this as a comment on Dr. Ben Witherington III’s blog post, "But the Lord was not in the wind.....":

Georges Bernanos said in his Last Essays,

The scandal of the universe isn’t suffering but freedom. God made His Creation free—that’s the scandal of scandals, for all others proceed from it.

This may relate to some of what Dr. Witherington wrote; but I don't want to join the debate about whether or not a good God can cause evil. Rather I point to Bernanos' use of the word "scandal," and ask, Do tragedies like the Lisbon earthquake, the Holocaust, the recent tsunami, and Sunday's hurricane and aftermath prevent belief in God? I say no, at least for the persons most immediately affected (I should like to know more about the Jewish violinist). A believer would be more like Job, not denying but wanting to be even more acutely aware of God. A non-believer might think his non-belief reinforced, but should he ever approach belief, he would not find tragedies a stumbling block.

Are you Ben Witherington III, who wrote a book I enjoyed, The Jesus Quest?

+ +

In his homily, Father P did two things for the first time that I remember. First, he asked the congregation to stand up and look around (afterwards connecting this to “where two or three are gathered, etc.”—fortunately there were more than two or three of us); he had never ask for “audience participation” before, except when instructing the congregation in how to fill out their pledges for the Bishop’s Appeal. Second, he spoke standing in front of the altar, rather than from the lectern or the high pulpit (depending on the Church calendar). If this continues, I may ask him why the changes. Another thing, Father P quoted a sentence from Karl Marx (something about the Church having had its chance for so many centuries, and so on) that I had seen quoted a few days before on the Internet. Coincidence, or does Father surf?

Picnicked on our deck with our neighbors the Hs and D and SMAN. JR has pinkeyes and could not be with us. I asked JH, who during summer vacation had been attending daily Mass, whether he continues to do so. Apparently not, and the last two Sundays he has spent at the Albany Friends Meeting House. I think the silence attracts him, certainly not the political announcements at the end, liberal though he is like most of our friends. As we said goodnight, I lent him one of my copies of Thomas R. Kelly, A Testament of Devotion. I again recommended Dom Armand Veilleux to J, who had not heard of him during his days of visiting St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Mass.

Had a polite e-mail exchange with the author of the blog post, “Katrina’s aftermath is as much a local as a national disgrace.” What did we talk about? Read Agnes Repplier.