Friday, October 21, 2005

Friday, October 21, 2005

Must stop being a Protestant so concerned with sin. With God, even I can be saved.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Thursday, October 20, 2005

What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed?
—Romans 6:21

Thankfully, I have nothing to glory in those things whereof I am now ashamed. But, God willing, our house shall not be divided (Luke 12:52).



Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
—Romans 6:13

The world is a slave to sin. We are called to be slaves of God. The prince of this world is here and must be cast out. My master might come at any hour. I am not ignorant of his will.


Christians—at least Christians who Sunday after Sunday read the Psalms—should know the question “Why do bad things happen to good people?” is not a question Christians should ask.
—Stanley Hauerwas, On September 11 and its Aftermath: Essays and Sermons Sermons After Tuesday: A Postscript

When words are taken in the wrong sense, Christ becomes anti-Christ.

As Christians we have been lazy in our speech habits and, in particular, in our sermons just to the extent we have failed to help one another name how our lives are caught in modes of life Augustine identified with the City of Man.
—Hauerwas, ibid.

More Hauerwas:

The recent debate about stem-cell research is a mirror of the action of the terrorist understanding of life: any means can be used to keep us from dying is the flip side of the view that any means can be used to kill people. For example, consider that Strom Thurmond (who is allegedly against abortion) thinks with stem call research he’s going to live to be 168, get married, and have another kid! It’s no wonder that South Carolina is one of the centers of the United States military bases. Why? Strom Thurmond. Of course that we do not know how to comprehend death for ourselves or other people has everything to do with our being so wealthy. . . .

I think the misery of the American public and the world in which we live can be seen nowhere better than in the suggestion (in many ways quite understandable) that we must take up our responsibilities as citizens and respond to the attacks by shopping. A people who cannot think of anything better to do than shop sounds like a people who are not quite ready to kill anyone. That’s just what I’m trying to suggest is the problem. A people who know nothing better to do than to shop turn out to be the most determinative killers, because at last something interesting has dropped in their laps, and they don’t know how to think about it. May the church and the university be accordingly judged.

Hauerwas, September 11: A Pacifist Response

I would amend this by saying that shoppers are not killers but may be quite willing to pay other people to kill for them. Question: what is meant here by “determinative”?

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Didn’t sleep last night. Kept blowing my nose despite taking Benadryl and ended up downstairs so M could get some sleep. Found it hard to breathe and took Albuterol at 4 a.m. This morning did not go to work and got some sleep in between taking phone messages for M. Went to the doctor’s in the afternoon. Met Dr. Dimitra Mitsani, who heard the wheezing and prescribed “DISKUS"” twice daily.

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Why are people looking at POP ART and Crosses?

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Joe Blog

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Demas . . . having loved this present world
—2 Timothy 4:10

Knowing that the present world is sin makes it easier to love the sinner. We are in “this” together; only one was good. Our difficulty is that the world defines good. The harvest is not plenteous, because demos prefers screen to soul. How could he not, when many of your laborers also choose the world? But you give as the world does not give. If we receive and are your peace, the harvest will be plenteous.


Caryl Johnston’s Continuing Conversion. Links are on the left hand side of the page.

The best blog writing I know of is not in a blog. Begin to read now so as to take in small doses. Two excerpts:

Before the splitting of the atom in 1945, I believe that the material world lay under a kind of protection, so that the despiritualization of human thinking did not penetrate to the roots of life. But now we are in the midst of this despiritualization. The havoc lies all around us, in our culture, our landscape, our politics, our lack of loyalty to anything. There are times when I come close to a great despair in humanity. It’s not that no one cares. They care, but they cannot listen. They don’t know how. The instrument of thinking has to be attuned to the ether in order for listening to become possible—somewhere, deep within man, this instrument has to vibrate with the whole truth. This is not to say that the ‘whole truth” can be known. But somehow it must be felt, or believed, in a living core of incorruptible faith. But this living core has been squelched for modern man. Perhaps this is the real meaning of Modernity—that the core of faith should be shut up in a dank basement labelled the ‘Unconscious,’ full of unclean spirits that feed off of it in the darkness. . . .

. . . A kind of icy shudder held for a split second, while the professor appeared to wrestle with my comment as with an invisible opponent, finally throwing it down upon the ground in a gesture of spurning rejection. I don’t know if it was anything that he said, or indeed if he said anything. I attest to feeling a sense of panic, fear, or rejection emanating from him. For if what I said was true, then all the professor’s careful delimitation of Kirk’s supernaturalism could not be true. For how can a “ghostly tale” be a mere experiment, given what Kirk himself had written, and given the premise of his tales? This premise was well stated by T.S. Eliot when he wrote something to the effect that the authentication of religion lies in the fact that, for mankind, spiritual reality is a discovery, not an invention. An “experiment” is an invention; an experience is a discovery. The whole intellectual world stands or falls on this distinction, that is, whether or not the intellectual life is authentic and valid. I think that the professor knew this—“subliminally,” not consciously—and that he was profoundly chagrined that my question had “exposed” him. My question forced him for a moment to war with himself.

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The monthly pastoral advisory council meeting in the rectory. I’m not sure if the council does anything positive for the parish. The only thing agreed upon tonight was to form two committees to recommend ways to implement the “discernment process” in council meetings and in selecting new members to the council. The one memorable thing for me is that I was locked in the cathedral for 40-minutes and thus missed the opening prayer and most of the time allotted for the meal.

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One should not call oneself unworthy. Suffer others more competent to judge us to do so.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Monday, October 17, 2005

I have not laid up treasure for myself, but neither am I rich toward God. A failure upon earth with no treasure in heaven. When will my soul be required of me?


Several people at work today mentioned that it seemed that I had a cold, and indeed I am not feeling well.

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the ekklesia project

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Sunday, October 16, 2005

If we really want to be God’s image, we must be like Christ, for his is the image of God’s goodness and the perfect copy of his nature, and God foreordained that those he has chosen should take on a likeness to his son.
Lawrence of Brindisi

When we sin we deny—or do not see—that we are made in God’s image. In a secular society it is harder to perceive God’s image in life, in others, in ourselves—harder even to perceive that God’s image is missing. It does not follow that we are worse than previous peoples. It is our peculiar sin, or predicament, not to recognize images of God. In this situation, look to the man who is the perfect image of God, is God himself, Jesus Christ our Lord, the son of man, our brother. He who has seen Jesus sees God. He is the first. Follow him.

The coin bearing Caesar’s likeness and inscription must be given to Caesar, and the one stamped with the divine image and likeness must be given to God. We bear the imprint of your glorious face, O Lord.
—Lawrence of Brindisi, ibid.

When we drop our envelope into the collection basket, what are we giving to whom?


After mass WGO asked me if I would serve on the committee that will make recommendations on a new organ for the cathedral. Of course I said yes.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God: But he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God. And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven.
—Luke 12:8-10

What is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which will not be forgiven? First, it will be forgiven, if it is repented of. Second, it is disregard of truth, which if not repented, will not be forgiven. Denying Jesus will be forgiven if it is denial in reverence to truth. Conversely, confessing Jesus will not be forgiven, if it is confession without reverence to truth.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Friday, October 14, 2005

We are not baptized in the name of Paul. He is not the answer. His epistles are attempts to understand the answer and preach that understanding. They are participant knowledge. Other participants other theologies. Much remains to be heard in the ear, and preached upon the housetops.


The priest who ended last Sunday’s Mass by asking the congregation to pray for the Yankees cannot have fully retained the awareness that, just moments before, he had received God into his body.

The Mass, which makes present again, in an unbloody manner, the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, is the liturgical action in which, through the work of the Holy Spirit, the ecclesial community lives fully its conformity to Christ.
—Father Timothy Verdon, The “Disputation on the Sacrament”: A Manifesto in which the Church Tells its Own Story.

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Went to an organ recital given by Diane Meredith Belcher at Westminster Presbyterian Church. Must have left my ears at home, since I was only moved by Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in A Minor. I am certain the playing was very good.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Thursday, October 13. 2005

Borrowing a word from that great British thinker of culture and history that was Christopher Dawson, one could say that when the mystical and prophetic dimension of a culture declines, its very religion also “becomes secular, is absorbed in the cultural tradition to such a point that it identifies with it, and finally it becomes only a way of social activity and perhaps even a slave or accomplice of the powers of this world.” Much of this is also happening in the present day.
Interview With Jaime Antúnez, Editor of Humanitas

Part 2 of the interview

Out of the deep have I called unto thee, O LORD; Lord, hear my voice.

If hell is the absence of God, then our world must seem hellish because God seems absent. Where does one look for God today in life, in religion, or in one’s heart? Where does he hear our complaint? Where do we wait for him? Does he only come to us when we sin, in punishment, his mercy unseen? If God does not make his kingly presence known, is it a wonder that men make light of it, and go their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise, and the remnant take his servants, and entreat them spitefully, and slay them? You condemned your generation; our scribes and Pharisees much more build the sepulchers of the prophets and have taken away the key of knowledge. The world does not know us and does not know you. We know that God is present, because in him we have our being. But we want his kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven. I do not say Lord, Lord, but Jesus, Jesus. Maranatha. Come quickly.

The secular life says that one should go about the world’s business—that you are not calling. The universe being matter, life is meaningless, but one can do good if one has the right formulas, or at least the right contacts. Prayer says that you are the right contact, that life is meaningful, that the universe and man are your creation. When prayer is shown stronger than techne, the world will convert. Surely you will not settle for individual conversions?

Will epidemics and other “natural” disasters bring the world closer to you? Probably yes. But in your mercy, spare us.

The great works of today were great whether or not God exists. Is that how you want greatness defined?


Caryl Johnston accuses the Philadelphia Inquirer. Why does not someone organize a boycott?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

I'm a blogger myself: I think my weekly audience may run as high as two digits on occasion.
John R. Harris

There are pleasures, no doubt, to be had in crying in the wilderness, in being a man who thinks he has seen further and more keenly than others, but they grow fewer with time. The wilderness has lost its charms for me.
Theodore Dalrymple

But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good.
—Romans 2:10

. . . ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers.
—Luke 11:46

By trying to see and tell truth, we work good and touch the burdens, and help men to bear them. And—a lifetime of thinking might prepare us to do one saving act. Even if not, even if nothing on earth is better for what we do, we obey and love Jesus. Dayenu.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are as graves which appear not, and the men that walk over them are not aware of them.
—Luke 11:44

Eric Booth said that 80% of what is taught is the teacher. The Magisterium should take this to heart.

If I save another, I may be saved; and if I am not saved, at least one is saved.


According to General Instruction 43,

The faithful . . . as circumstances allow, they may sit or kneel while the period of sacred silence after Communion is observed.

It is not stated what the non-faithful should do, though likely they will sit. Nor is it clear what the period of sacred silence after Communion is, though a Prayer after Communion (89) is specified, and before that (88),

when the distribution of Communion is finished, as circumstances suggest, the priest and faithful spend some time praying privately. If desired, a psalm or other canticle or a hymn may also be sung by the entire congregation.

Whatever “circumstances allow” or “circumstances suggest,” a sitter directly in front of a kneeler makes both uncomfortable. In such a case, either the sitter leans forward or the kneeler leans back, or one or the other shifts to the left or right—none of which motions conduces to prayer. All should sit, kneel, or stand. The spirit of the rite suggests standing during the distribution of Communion and after, since we are now one body. A Protestant has felt this:

I then received, I hope, with earnestness, and while others received sat down, but thinking that posture, though usual, improper I rose, and stood.
—Samuel Johnson, Easter Day, April 4, 1779

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O complained of a sore throat before going to school this morning, and in the afternoon came home early.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Without God, man is not man, the poor are not poor in spirit, and the rich have no inward part.

Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
—Romans 1:22–25

John R. Harris:

We are all being gratified instantly these days, but we will all awake one day (if we haven’t already) to realize that we aren’t very gratified. The higher pleasures cannot be instant. Playing an instrument, or composing music for it, takes years of apprenticeship. Designing a beautiful building requires years of designing mediocre buildings, or elegant but structurally unviable buildings. Being an All-Star hitter or pitcher requires years and years of grinding practice. In contrast, any tall kid can succeed as a wide-receiver on his high school’s football team after a little coaching, and can extend his triumph to the school’s basketball team after football season winds down. I’m sure players in these sports view success with satisfaction, just as I’m sure those of my students who design Web sites are being honest when they claim that their work is an artistic outlet. As a culture, we sincerely do not suspect what deep, rich satisfactions we have given up in order to have the instant kind: collectively, we have not yet awakened.

Electronic life is severely reductive. It is usually timed, and has a window of only such-and-such proportions to communicate its message. It is also legion: there are so many shows and sites riding the air waves and pulsing through the wires that an offering must “type” itself to win a following. In the process, its component parts are also typed. White people are typed, too: the young, the old, parents, teenagers, “hotties” and “hunks”. the whole degrading and imbecilic panoply which parades before our children. Don’t think for a moment, either, that white kids abstain from trying to squeeze themselves into these stereotypes. . . . The television has played nanny now to two generations—and counting—which consider themselves obliged to “fit in” somewhere among commonly broadcast expectations.

—John R. Harris, The Black Female Coroner: Racism and Electronic Brainwashing, in The Blog of Virtues

Theodore Dalrymple:

The tattoo has a profound meaning: the superficiality of modern man’s existence.

The tattoo is . . . to the modern bourgeois what playing shepherdess was to Marie Antoinette. The woman whose tattoo was supposed to say “Fuck you” to her university did not really want to become the janitor of her faculty building, and probably would have very little to say to him. Egalitarians usually have a very strong sense of hierarchy.

—Theodore Dalrymple, Exposing shallowness, in The New Criterion

. . . the scale of a man’s evil is not entirely to be measured by its practical consequences. Men commit evil within the scope available to them. Some evil geniuses, of course, devote their lives to increasing that scope as widely as possible, but no such character has yet arisen in Britain, and most evildoers merely make the most of their opportunities. They do what they can get away with.

There is something to be said here about the word “depression,” which has almost entirely eliminated the word and even the concept of unhappiness from modern life. Of the thousands of patients I have seen, only two or three have ever claimed to be unhappy: all the rest have said that they were depressed. This semantic shift is deeply significant, for it implies that dissatisfaction with life is itself pathological, a medical condition, which it is the responsibility of the doctor to alleviate by medical means. Everyone has a right to health; depression is unhealthy; therefore everyone has a right to be happy (the opposite of being depressed). This idea in turn implies that one’s state of mind, or one’s mood, is or should be independent of the way that one lives one’s life, a belief that must deprive human existence of all meaning, radically disconnecting reward from conduct.

—Theodore Dalrymple, The Frivolity of Evil, in The City Journal.

I am always astonished by the way people always suppose that, if there were any justice in the world, they would be better rather than worse off. To the contrary, many should thank their lucky stars that there is no justice in the world: for otherwise they would die in prolonged agony.
—Theodore Dalrymple, Why equality of opportunity is impossible to achieve—but intellectual elitism can offer opportunity to all, in The Social Affairs Unit

A prison officer in the prison in which I worked, a man of Jamaican origin and therefore by no means culturally predisposed to such a conclusion, had found also that rock and baroque exerted quite different effects on the prisoners. The first agitated them to the point of violence, the latter soothed them to the point of docility. But he had difficulty in persuading the other officers of the value of his observations, for culturally they were themselves more inclined to rock than baroque. As to my proposal that the prison should echo to the sound of Gregorian chant, they thought it was merely a joke.
—Theodore Dalrymple on Why the Baroque is superior to Rock, in The Social Affairs Unit

One reason for the epidemic of self-destructiveness that has struck British, if not the whole of Western, society, is the avoidance of boredom. For people who have no transcendent purpose to their lives and cannot invent one through contributing to a cultural tradition (for example), in other words who have no religious belief and no intellectual interests to stimulate them, self-destruction and the creation of crises in their life is one way of warding off meaninglessness. I have noticed, for example, that women who frequent bad men - that is to say men who are obviously unreliable, drunken, drug-addicted, criminal, or violent, or all of them together, have often had experience of decent men who treat them well, with respect, and so forth: they are the ones with whom their relationships lasted the shortest time, because they were bored by decency. Without religion or culture (and here I mean high, or high-ish, culture) evil is very attractive. It is not boring.

I think the great disjunction between my father's expressed ideas (and ideals) and his everyday conduct affected me, and made me suspicious of people with grand schemes of universal improvement.

Political correctness is communist propaganda writ small. In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is to co-operate with evil, and in some small way to become evil oneself. One's standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to.

Childhood in large parts of modern Britain, at any rate, has been replaced by premature adulthood, or rather adolescence. Children grow up very fast but not very far. . . . They know by the age of 14 all they are ever going to know.

Theodore Dalrymple interviewed by Jamie Glasov, in


Monday, October 10, 2005

Monday, October 10, 2005

“Columbus Day.” Mass at 12:15 in the cathedral. La cena en casa con Dot y JR.


Jonas would rather be right than effective. It is an occupational hazard of prophesying, and especially hazardous today when prophecy seems ineffective.

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“I profess my faith in Jesus. I declare my resolution to obey him.”
—Samuel Johnson (1771)

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Sunday, October 9, 2005

Few today would refuse a call from a king to come to the wedding of his son—unless they considered that the call was not from a real king, not for a real prince, and not to a real wedding. Were the Jews justified in rejecting Jesus if they remained good Jews? The king was wroth, so that answer must be No, it is not sufficient to cultivate one’s garden, to be successful, to lead a good life. The king is calling, and we his servants are to go out and gather as many as we find, both bad and good, until the wedding is furnished with guests. And what will be a proper wedding garment? I think not a business suit and tie. I go further and say that no one who wears a business suit and tie is dressed for (I do not say he is unworthy of) the kingdom of heaven.

Read in The Center for Liturgy Sunday Web Site (Saint Louis University) the commentaries on today’s readings. How much do the commentators seem to be giving something, how little they seem be receiving something. Such must be the way of servants, who are not guests. But don’s miss the commentary by St. Augustine.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Saturday, October 8, 2005

I neither hear nor keep. I can only offer.

What if the Roman Empire had fallen without Christianity?

Friday, October 07, 2005

Friday, October 7, 2005

Only the damned are not improved by death.


M & I heard the Harmonic Brass München at the Westminster Presbyterian Church. A delightful evening. Entering from the back of the church, the quintet played the “Masterpiece Theatre theme” (Jean-Joseph Mouret), perhaps not a selection that distinguishes a group. In the first half, there was Vivaldi, Bach, Bizet (themes from Carmen, of course), and Ravel (Bolero, of course), but I enjoyed most André Campra’s Rigaudon from Idoménée, which the church’s organist Al Fedak joined the group in playing; and in the second, Anitra’s Dance from Peer Gynt, Solemn Entry by Richard Strauss, Romanza by Rafael Mendez, in which the second trumpet, Jürgen Gröblehner, took the lead, and a terrific encore featuring the group’s stupendous tuba player, Manfred Häberlein. The other members of Harmonic Brass are Hans Zellner, first trumpet, who also arranged most of the music, Andreas Binder, French horn, who introduced most of the pieces, and the youngest member, Thomas Lux, trombone. This was the group’s first concert in a 10-day tour of 10 cities.

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Noted on the Web:

Robert Formaini, From German Dawn to Decadence on the German economy today and the Methodenstreit of the 19th century. Thanks to Catallaxy.

Try Cacciaguida.

Don’t know why people are looking at jesus.

Caryl Johnston and John Lukacs

Edward J. Renehan Jr. on John Jay Chapman.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Thursday, October 6, 2005

If I had faith I would happily die today—yes, and happily live.

Lord, when will you make up your jewels; and discern between the righteous and the wicked? My importunity will raise you.

Don’t you see? If you delay, I shall sin more.


O’s writing teacher, Mrs. S, who is from India, pronounces “only” as one-ly. We find this charming.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Wednesday, October 5, 2005

If you have pity on Nineveh, then I shall sit and see what will become of the city, wherein, indeed, are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between you and mammon. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.

The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.
—Matthew 12:41. See also Luke 11, 30,23

The greatest technical and artistic geniuses were powerless to make any change in the utterly uncouth royal fortresses of Nineveh. The meanness of their ground plan and the slavishness of their sculptures were law for centuries.
Jacob Burckhardt

Nineveh was later destroyed, unlamented.

The gates of the rivers opened, and the palace dissolved. . . . Nineveh is laid waste: who will bemoan her? . . . There is no healing of thy bruise; thy wound is grievous: all that hear the bruit of thee shall clap the hands over thee: for upon whom hath not thy wickedness passed continually?
— Nahum 2:6, 3:7, 19

You and your Father destroy and refrain from destroying, whereas I desire you to come. Not Anathema but Maranatha.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Tuesday, October 4, 2005

A remarkable “terrorist”. From Johnny Hopper: His War against the Germans, by Robert Wernick:

A priest who had a great influence on him when he was a little boy had drilled two rules into him: Never complain. Never give up.

In the morning the guard who brought him his food [in the Fresnes prison] took one look at him, and silently gave him double rations. Some days later he spotted a ladder which had been carelessly left in a corridor, and since he could use his fingers again he figured a way to use the ladder to get over the prison wall and out into the suburban streets where he knew he could find a friendly door not too many blocks away. But to get to the ladder he would have to kill the guard, the only German who ever did a decent thing to him in all the years of the war, and somehow he could not do it, and by the time the guard had gone off duty the ladder had disappeared.

Read the whole article.


When Sunnites kill Shiites and Shiites kill Sunnites, does either side ask, Why do they hate us?

Man’s inhumanity to man, yes, and man’s ungodliness to God.

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Unless you enter and speak to me I cannot hear your word. If I hear your word I shall speak it to others.

And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.
—Luke 10:31

Did you really weep before Padre Pio and remain silent? I hope you did not; but if you did, I would weep and remain silent with you.

Le Apparizioni e le anime del Purgatorio

The Apparitions and the Souls in Purgatory

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M and I went to the Stockade Inn in Schenectady for dinner and a presentation on arts and education. The presenter was Eric Booth. We sat at the table with him, Philip Morris, CEO of Proctor’s Theater, whose Education Program sponsored the occasion, his wife, a man and a woman from Middleburgh, and a lady named Goia, who is an avid theatregoer both at Proctors and in New York City. Several educators with whom M has worked were also there. Mr. Booth distinguished between art and entertainment and said that since the gap between art and the people is wider in our culture than in any previous culture, and since art is important (several reasons given), an intermediary between the two is vitally necessary.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Monday, October 3, 2005

If I fail you, then rescue me. If I flee unto Tarshish, storm against my ship. Shall I sleep until you reveal my occupation? Or am I already cast forth into the sea? If so, where is the great fish you have prepared to swallow me up?

Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish’s belly, And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice. For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me. Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple. The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head. I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my God. When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple. They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy. But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD.

And the LORD spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.

But I am not Jonah, since the sea ceases not from her raging.

Is it right to wish evil to evil? Is it right to be angry when evil does not suffer? Should the LORD not spare Nineveh? But Nineveh has not proclaimed a fast, put on sackcloth, sat in ashes, turned every one from his evil way, and from violence. Will you yet repent of the evil you would do unto Nineveh? If Nineveh repents, shall I be like Jonah, displeased exceedingly and very angry:

I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.

or shall I rejoice, and have compassion, and not be angry even unto death, and not faint, and not wish in myself to die, and not say, It is better for me to die than to live?

Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
—Romans 12:19–21

Why should I heap coals of fire on anyone’s head? I am not Jonah. Your word has not come to me, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it. Nineveh is my neighbor, Nineveh is me.


Every individual—we too—exists not for his own sake, but for the sake of all the past and all the future. In face of this great, grave whole, the claims of peoples, times and individuals to happiness and well-being, lasting or fleeting, are of very subordinate importance, for since the life of humanity is one whole, it is only to our frail powers of perception that its fluctuations in time or place are a rise and fall, fortune and misfortune.

Imperceptibly we have passed from the question of good and evil fortune to that of the survival of the human spirit, which in the end presents itself to us as the life of one human being.

What I do man does.


I had not before heard of Henry Darger.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Sunday, October 2, 2005

Was it lonely to be the only one to know the Father, to hear no echoes?


Father P gave his homily from the lectern, so no change.

“Whatever.” How dismissive in our current usage. But:

Finally, brethren,
whatsoever things are true,
whatsoever things are honest,
whatsoever things are just,
whatsoever things are pure,
whatsoever things are lovely,
whatsoever things are of good report;
if there be any virtue,
and if there be any praise,
think on these things.
—Philippians 4:8

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Attended the Diocesan Rosary Celebration (Świętego Różanca, Celebración del Rosario) this afternoon at the Cathedral. Bishop H presided, Father John Phalen, CSC, gave the homily in English and Spanish, and there was a childrens choir. For me the most moving part was the entrance, during which Stainless the Maiden was sung, verses 1, 4, 7, and 8 in English, and 2, 3, 5, and 6 in Polish, with some around me singing all the verses. The glorious mysteries were prayed, the scripture reading, Our Father, Hail Marys, and Glory of the first mystery in Spanish, the second in English, the third in Polish, and the fourth and fifth again in English. Father Phalen’s homily was on the theme of peace. At the dismissal, Bishop H mentioned that on at least one occasion (Matthew 12:46–50, Mark 3:31–35, Luke 8:19–21) Jesus was “rather rude” to his mother. Interesting that a bishop would say that. At the reception spoke with Mrs. Wingle, who taught O at SCS. Several of her students were winners or honorable mentions in the art and essay contests. Mrs. Wingle did not introduce me to her husband, whom M and O say is a very nice man. From the program I added Polish (but perhaps it was already there) to Trinity.

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At least 21 people were killed when a tour boat capsized in Lake George this afternoon.

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Two by Caryl Johnston:

The Plastination Apocalypsis

Re: Church Scandals in Philadelphia


Saturday, October 01, 2005

Saturday, October 1, 2005

Drove down to Haverstraw, NY, where, M performed at the Rockland County Storytelling Festival. Last year the festival was in a library, this year in the middle school. I still wasn’t feeling well, so instead of blowing my nose in the auditorium during the performances, I sat in the school library and read the rest of Thomas Day’s Where Have You Gone, Michelangelo? Here are more excerpts:

The bigger their ego, the more they hate the Latin Mass (p. 82).

If you are going to devote time and energy to the cause of “good taste” in the Catholic church (for sacred art or music or anything else), be prepared for grief
(p. 102).

Centuries ago, the Catholic church realized that [most Roman Catholics don’t think like theologians]. The faithful see a beautiful procession or the position of the altar or the letters IHS and they make up their own explanations. They deal in emotional and aesthetic intuitions, not theologically correct formulas. God understands. Some of the liturgical theoreticians do not (p. 139).

Think of a place in our society where our participation can be vividly full, conscious, and active: a dentist’s chair—with the drill going and no pain-killer. Think of a church building designed so that the worshiper will never be distracted by a moment of meditation, private thought, or the “aesthetic experience.” Think of the postconciliar liturgy that uses a steady drilling of words spoken or sung into a microphone in order to silence any deep thought or emotion. This may be somebody’s idea of correct participatory “understanding,” but it is also workship as dentist’s chair (ibid.).

. . . it is not the revised rites but their implementation that is so often a mess; the liturgical life of the Catholic parish too frequently, but not always, can indeed be a depressing experience for anybody who has more than three grams of sensitivity in him or her and has seen better (p. 144).

So many of the church’s avid promoters of inculturation and multiculturalism are really tourists who want “other” Catholics to remain picturesque and contented peasants. When they get their hands on an “inculturated liturgy,” the result is sometimes a tourist’s or Hollywood producer’s idea of “local color,” but far removed form the type of music that the local population actually respects. Catholicsm’s inculturating multiculturalists come across as such lofty-minded heroes of equality, such democratic chums, but look closely at what they are saying. Behind the facade, you will find the worst form of aristocratic condescension—that patronizing attitude which sees the “others,” as limited little children who shall content themselves with the weaving of baskets, the wearing of gaudy costumes on feast days, and the singing of their own inculturated music in church, because the poor dear things are capable of so little. Multicultural inculturation is frequently a form of racism, with a smile (p. 186).

The bishops have virtually “deregulated” liturgical music, something intimately associated with everything they are trying to teach; they have allowed it to be controlled almost totally by commercial interests. Parishes and chapels are trying to express their prayer and their religious convictions in musical sounds, they seek guidance—and who provides most of it? The publishers, who are in a feeding frenzy for customers. The bishops, powerless, watch from the sidelines. Maybe this has frequently been the case throughout history. It would be so useful if one brave bishop could say out loud, “Let the buyer beware” (p. 198).

Certain Catholic individuals (in positions of power) are determined to prove that they have arrived at the moment of true spiritual perfection; they have nothing to learn from the past, from a church that had worshiped in a way that was wrong, from top to bottom (p. 210).

I love the old Bible songs and I never pass up an opportunity to sing them, but I also know that they can create confusion at a Catholic Mass. Their topic is “me” and what God does for “me.” (“I” or “me” occurs in almost every line of “In the Garden.”) At Catholic liturgy, “we” come together to be part of a tremendous event, the music is part of our job (pp. 211–212).

. . . I happened to attend Mass in a wealthy suburban Catholic parish outside Philadelphia and, instead of praying, I kept thinking: What are they trying to prove? What does it all mean?

For at least one quarter of this liturgy the congregation sang, with support from a choir of about twenty-five and a fine pipe organ. But during every single moment of singing, what you really heard was the voice of a soprano soloist (behind a microphone) floating on top of everything. The congregation, choir, and organ were her accompaniment.

For perhaps another five percent of the liturgy we heard the voice of readers (also behind a microphone). For the rest of the Mass (maybe as much as forty minutes) what we heard, heavily amplified, was the booming voice of the priest: during his prayers and the homily, of course, but also during assembly prayers, such as the Creed and Our Father. I should add that his homily was excellent and he seemed like a perfectly fine fello, but the cumulative effect of hearing one amplified voide after another—his, the lead singer’s, the reader’s—was deadening.

And then everything made sense. I saw what it all meant: . . . the constant emphasis on one amplified voice at a time. Everything made sense (p. 214).

The story of how Roman Catholicsm in the United States grew as an institution is a complicated one, but a large part of it can be simplified in one phrase: the concentration of ecclesiastical power in the hands of bishops. . . . In the new Code of Canon Law promulgated in 1983 . . . there are provisions for committees, consultors, and even a senate of priests in each diocese, but their role is strictly advisory; moreover, these advisors will be men who are dependent on the bishop for their next assignment and perhaps their next meal. To put it simply, the Canon Law of 1983 makes the American system the model for the entire church. . . . Although the American System of governing the Catholic church may be a model of corporate efficiency, it is a catastrophe as a role model. With the bishop seting the example, each Catholic priest and each member of the laity now acts like a corporation of one, a religious enterprise owned by one person, who is a genius. The past0r, parish musician, liturgist, parishioner—they are all CEOs, independent bosses, freed at last from outmoded medieval traditions that restrict one’s direct authority. Indeed the influence of the American System is so pervasive in the Catholic church today that it could be called the new “Catholic style,” which replaces the militant, defensive “style” of the recent past. . . . When we pick up the newspaper and come across yet another report on the latest Catholic sex scandal (pedophile priests, bishops having affairs), we are actually reading about the American System badly out of control. Again and again, in every one of these sordid stories, we find the same pattern: A culprit, who (1) never had to worry about anybody evaluating his ministry, (2) was allowed to work with absolutely no effective supervision (pp. 215–217).

Everything is structured so that the “spiritual experience” has to come from one person at the top: the priest. What the worshipers will “see,” normally, is not the banners or the simplified postconciliar architecture or their [own] important role, but one man talking at them for the better part of an hour. In many cases he is not “part of the scenery”—just one more “item” (albeit the most important one) in a complicated collection of human symbols of worship. He is not even a sign of Christ’s presence. No, the priest, as a corporation of one and as an individual person, becomes the principal “item” to which all the arts point—the human figure in the center of an elaborate cameo setting . . . unless, of course, there are some postconciliar musicians nearby (p. 218).

What does it mean [after a report of Protestant liturgical lunacy]? First of all it means that Roman Cathoics are not the only ones capable of liturgical nuttiness. Secondly, it means prepare for the worst. We must surely be living in a dangerous era when any religion begins to treat human beings as if they were little kitsch toys—without yearnings, without imperfections, without imagination, without the gift of a soul, without art. We would expect dictators, radical political theorists, and others who have a low opinion of people to indulge in amusing games with symbols, as a sign of their contempt for the idiots called human beings, but in religion this sort of thing is bad news. It means the end of that idea of a special, creating human “soul,” and the beginning of an age when people in churches will be manipulated as if they were stupid machines—easily turned on or off (with a gimmick) by smart machines. It means head for the hills (p. 226).