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Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Good Wine First in this Generation

In past generations, the virtue of Patience was extolled: good things come to those who wait, time heals all wounds, save the best for last, delayed gratification. Not now, perhaps. We are steeped in instant gratification, of quick results. Good wine first. Today we eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. Patience is a hard sell these days. Even when the impatient know enough to apply it to other things like baking, cooking, crafts, sports, business, or even the environment. Not in other things that count, though, like health, studies, family life, or relationships. The patient know it to be proper virtue but the impatient won't understand until much later, sometimes not until it is too late.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Jesus Christ prays for us and in us and is the object of our prayers

From a commentary on the psalms by Saint Augustine, bishop

Jesus Christ prays for us and in us and is the object of our prayers God could give no greater gift to men than to make his Word, through whom he created all things, their head and to join them to him as his members, so that the Word might be both Son of God and son of man, one God with the Father, and one man with all men. The result is that when we speak with God in prayer we do not separate the Son from him, and when the body of the Son prays it does not separate its head from itself: it is the one Saviour of his body, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who prays for us and in us and is himself the object of our prayers. He prays for us as our priest, he prays in us as our head, he is the object of our prayers as our God. Let us then recognise both our voice in his, and his voice in ours. When something is said, especially in prophecy, about the Lord Jesus Christ that seems to belong to a condition of lowliness unworthy of God, we must not hesitate to ascribe this condition to one who did not hesitate to unite himself with us. Every creature is his servant, for it was through him that every creature came to be.

From universalis.com, Office of Readings

Thursday, March 09, 2017

How does God Wish to Destroy His Enemies?

Then Christ came himself, and with his own lips cried out: Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. How did he receive those who listened to his call? He readily forgave them their sins; he freed them instantly from all that troubled them. The Word made them holy; the Spirit set his seal on them. The old Adam was buried in the waters of baptism; the new man was reborn to the vigour of grace. What was the result? Those who had been God’s enemies became his friends, those estranged from him became his sons, those who did not know him came to worship and love him.

From a homily by Saint Asterius of Amasea, bishop

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Diadochus of Photiké "On Spiritual Perfection"

Whoever is in love with himself is unable to love God. The man who loves God is the one who abandons his self-love for the sake of the immeasurable blessings of divine love. Such a man never seeks his own glory but only the glory of God. If a person loves himself he seeks his own glory, but the man who loves God loves the glory of his Creator. Anyone alive to the love of God can be recognised from the way he constantly strives to glorify him by fulfilling all his commandments and by delighting in his own submission. It is fitting that God should receive glory, because of his great majesty; but it is fitting for us as human beings to submit ourselves to God and thereby become his friends. Then we too will rejoice in his glory as Saint John the Baptist did, and we shall never stop repeating: His fame must increase, but mine must diminish. I knew someone who was sad that he could not love God as he would have wanted, but who nevertheless loved God so much that his soul was always in the grip of desire for God, for God’s glory to manifest itself in him, for himself to be as nothing in comparison. Such a person cannot be touched by verbal praise or convinced of his being, since his overwhelming humility means that he simply does not think about his own dignity or status. He celebrates the liturgy as, according to the law, priests should; but his love of God blinds him to all awareness of his own dignity. He buries any glory that might come his way in the depth of his love of God, so that he never sees himself as anything more than a useless servant: he is estranged, as it were, from a sense of his own dignity by his desire for lowliness. This is the sort of thing we ought to do, to flee from any honour or glory that is offered us, for the sake of the immense riches of our love of God who has so loved us. Anyone who loves God in the depths of his heart has already been loved by God. In fact, the measure of a man’s love for God depends upon how deeply aware he is of God’s love for him. When this awareness is keen it makes whoever possesses it long to be enlightened by the divine light, and this longing is so intense that it seems to penetrate his very bones. He loses all consciousness of himself and is entirely transformed by the love of God. Such a man lives in this life and at the same time does not live in it, for although he still inhabits his body, he is constantly leaving it in spirit because of the love that draws him toward God. Once the love of God has released him from self-love, the flame of divine love never ceases to burn in his heart and he remains united to God by an irresistible longing. As St Paul says: If we are taken out of ourselves it is for the love of God; if we are brought back to our senses it is for your sake.

(From universalis.com, Office of Readings today)

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Crux commentary on abortion and children with Down Syndrome

Must-read from Charles C. Camosy. It is tragic and ironic for France, known as a bastion of liberty, to censor a documentary movie in order to avoid offense to some. Perhaps it is a mere blip, some individuals in whichever agency makes these decisions made such a call. In any case, it is contrary to the free marketplace of ideas where we are open to challenge and due consideration of other perspectives in search of the truth, which is what truly sets free.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Interesting insights on why good people do bad things

This is an interesting quick take from Business Insider on why good people do bad things, Two jumped out at me: The notion of self-image (labelled under the Galatea effect), which I think is repeated in two other points, is a powerful notion. How do people see themselves such that there isn't a strong resistance to the impulse to do evil? The other is on euphemisms to label an evil thing with a neutral new name (labelled under the Power of Words). While we can appreciate how words are just words, a new label will add a new dimension to an act, which in the case of a deliberately bland or generic euphemism renders it above judgement.

Something else that struck me is (of course) the Christian response. What is the right self-image for anyone to embrace? It is simply that of the image of God. Each human being who accepts this deliberately will never be the same. Far from being defined by one's actions at any moment in time, it is far more correct to view one's entire nature, which does not change and is therefore a firm foundation on which to ground one's decisions. It gives us a clear template, and even a non-believer can appreciate the importance of standards of behavior, hopefully well-considered ones that do not change on whim.

As for the words we attach to acts, there's this time-honored saying: the Truth will set you free. Pretending that an evil was not committed does not make it so. The problem is that it is necessary to look carefully at the two facets of evil: the morality of the act itself and the culpability of the actor. We can't get to the bottom of the act without distinguishing the two. Both are crucially important. You can't do good medicine by pretending that the patient isn't sick. You have to identify the condition after a thorough investigation if there is to be a proper cure. At the end of the day, evil demands a healing response, not condemnation. Because it must be thorough, and because it can be acted out from deliberate reasoning, it is necessary to trace that reasoning and root out why someone chose evil, assuming they did. Ascribing culpability is ultimately about prescribing the cure, because while there's time, amendment requires great deliberation. Conflating the two can result in a disgust with judging what one person did as evil or not, particularly if there's the fear of being condemned irrevocably or "sentenced" unjustly in some way.

A final thought on that article was to find it amusing, considering that we already know about them, particularly the ones I comment on above, but at the same time, it's good to find recent findings in psychology pointing to unchanging truths.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Mind and Heart

Had a good conversation with a friend of mine who invites me to turn to atheism as a progressive step. His view is that religion was useful once but holds us back now (and by some 600 years or so) from true progress. He's got a lot of truth-seeking energy and I think he could become an evangelical Catholic given the chance. One of his recommendations is to look at Sam Harris and his study of the emotional experiences that he thinks are what keep Christians devoted. He probably hasn't been exposed to Catholics for whom emotional aspects, while important, are not the one thing that matters. This bit from this article on Thomism and the new evangelization hits the mark for me:

How does the intellect provide for our deepest happiness? By giving us ultimate perspective. If you know where your true good lies, you can love that good, and in loving that good, you can remain at peace, even in the midst of the storms of life.

Amen.