Tuesday, December 30, 2008
In the words following the rest of this quote from Luke (12:49), Christ tells us that division and difficulty will be effects of His Evangelion, of His "Good News." The Son of God most certainly retains the title "Prince of Peace," but He did not come to give peace to men, but "pax hominibus bonae voluntatis," peace to men of good will. Christ's coming brings peace to men of good will, but not to all men. Hence the subsequent verses from Luke, describing strife and division. Those not properly disposed, who have not made the rough ways of their souls smooth; these will hate and revile true followers of the Newborn Babe. Even within our own being, we will war with ourself, for the rough ways of our fallen nature are not easily subdued and made welcoming to Our Redeemer.
If we can but overcome the struggle within ourselves, and reject the clamor and strife that assails us from without, then suddenly our hearts may be opened up as a fire of charity, burning with a renewed love of the Saviour of mankind. This is why Christ says, "And would that it were already kindled!" He came to encourage us to give us the burning heart that ever strains to be united with Him Who made all things. Ultimately, Christ as the Word of God and Creator of the World has made all things to rest in Himself, the "Burning Furnace of Charity," and this is why He came into the world. May we feel the heat of His everlasting love, and responding, be as sparks igniting this world with the love of the Most Sublime Trinity.
Christus natus est pro nobis! Glorificate Eum!
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Friday, December 5, 2008
Saturday, November 29, 2008
The analysis indicates that the author of http://amatorrerumcatholicarum.blogspot.com/ is of the type:
INTP - The Thinkers
They enjoy working with complex things using a lot of concepts and imaginative models of reality. Since they are not very good at seeing and understanding the needs of other people, they might come across as arrogant, impatient and insensitive to people that need some time to understand what they are talking about.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
--One of the main things that I noted about the Monastery of Our Lady of the Annunciation at Clear Creek was that there existed a curious blend of tradition and technology in the life of the inhabitants. The monks had use of electricity, running water, clocks, tractors, and other equipment. However, they used that equipment; technology served them, and they were not its slave. Thus, though I rode in a tractor driven by a young monk with a huge smile and what would be cheerful insouciance in a layman, the tractor was basically a replacement for a horse and cart. Indeed, were the property not so large, the monks could do much of the management with horses and carts. However, they need tractors to keep up roads, till fields, etc. The property is huge, and they have very limited time in which to wrest food or anything else from the rocky Oklahoma hills. The monks also use a wood-mill in helping them make furniture and in building the monastery. I also witnessed a monk herding a cow with a pick-up truck, and a gang of monks in work habits riding in a back of a truck like a gang of laborers. Other technology, such as electricity is sparingly used. The lights, for example are only lightly used, mostly in the crypt, their only place to chant the hours and say mass. The rest of their life closely resembles that of their medieval predecessors, with regular observance and the dual life of "Ora et labora." Life closely relates to the day, with them rising just before dawn, and retiring soon after sunset. The hours have been moved back and forth slightly from the original times, but not in an unusual way. The day is structured to make the most use of the time, with usually a half hour of recreation a day, consisting of a walk and conversation.
The work part of the Benedictine ideal results in their making most of their furniture, their habits, their shoes; they cook food that is donated or grown on the property, and they make and sell various goods, such as rosaries, prie-dieus. (The habits, by the way, are so much better than those of any other order I have seen. Most orders of religious wear habits that resemble halloween costumes, not religious habits). They rise at 5:15 every morning (earlier on feasts and Sundays) to chant Matins and Lauds, and chant the other hours at scheduled times. All told, their chanting occupies a good four to five hours of the day, not even including daily high mass, which is another hour's worth. The meals are also traditional, perhaps a bit more substantial than in ages past, due to the more extreme climate. Breakfast, after a minimum of an hour and a half of chant (Matins, Lauds and Prime) takes on a new meaning, though it scarcely totals a meal, being perhaps cereal or toast with milk. The guests do get coffee, though, a real need after getting up so early. Lunch and dinner are community-wide occasions, with everyone sitting down. After a reading of Scripture (lunch) and the Rule of St. Benedict (dinner), the community eats, but without conversation. Instead a designated reader reads from instructive and inspirational books. So, I had the story of the Lewis and Clark expedition and the life of Padre Pio read to me as I ate the excellent and humble fare the monks put before us. They were so efficient that three monks could serve all twenty nine brothers (about half priests, with five or so postulants), two new postulants, and ten guests. In fact, since I am not a frequent diner at high-class restaurants, the service was the best I have had in a very long time.
--As a guest, I had very little to do besides pray and read. I did go to all the meals, and helped in the garden every day save Sunday. Yet all told, that only totalled six hours of labor. The breaking of the day into parts by the chanting of the office resulted in a very easy flow of work, rest, and reading, punctuated by mass, meals, and the hours. I took relatively long walks along the paths the monks had made, or along the roads they used to travel to job sites. They have their own cows, sheep, goats, and garden. Unfortunately, the climate and soil are poor, and food is hard to grow. They may have grapes in a year or two, perhaps wine, if all goes well. A small orchard is in experimental stages with special hybrids. Their milk, however, is delicious, as is their butter and cheese. Anyway, to return to my stay, it was remarkably easy after the first day of adjustment. I could recommend it for anyone, though I am not sure how women would find it, since they cannot live the life of a monk as a guest. The other guests there were of varied backgrounds, and I noticed that one tended to bond quickly. I suppose we all had a good deal in common, since we had all heard of Clear Creek and had visited. I met a TAC graduate and CUA Master of Philosophy who entered as a postulant while I was there. I met an ex-army sergeant, several seminarians, and a graduate of Notre Dame from the bad old days of the seventies. Anyway, the last thing I can think of directly pertaining to the monastery was the wide variety amongst the monks. Some were very practical (one reminded me of a mix of Han Solo and Obi Wan in a Benedictine habit), some impractical, some good singers, others not so good. They had very individual characters, but one common aim, and it showed in their movements, prayers, and life in general.
--One quick note about the chant-- it was excellent for the most part. At times, I would notice them going flat, especially after a hard work period before lunch. I did make a recording, but they were having a bad day, by my own ear and the schola master's admission. They did a very good job of reproducing the Solesmes sound, but with only a few of them having been trained at Fontgombault, the French nasal/back-of-the-throat sound was minimal. Apparently, they have doubled (or more) in size since they came to the United States. Once they reach seventy monks, they will become their own foundation, the Abbey of Clear Creek. At the rate they are going, that would happen in under ten years. They will have barely enough room even in the gigantic church they are building. Currently, it will have a huge sanctuary, a choir section as large as the congregational section, and seating for about four hundred laymen. Construction is planned for next spring, as the capital campaign hits its stride.
--Concerning water: It really does symbolize grace. It carries everything before it, everything on it, shapes all things. All this it does at its own pace. Like Providence, it sometimes interferes with our plans, but is always needed. Sit and watch a creek sometime and think about it.
--Gardening/farming provides one of the richest metaphors for the spiritual life or life of the soul. Our Lord certainly thought so! All I can say is that in reflecting on this makes me realize that the world is in trouble. It is overgrown with weeds, and does not even realize it. But the weeds are not the worst. The grass is the worst. If weeds symbolize the sins or real flaws, they are hard to get out, but grass is worst. Weeds have a tendency, like bad habits, to break off before the roots, but to grow back quickly. Grass, however, seems innocuous, like modern culture in some of its aspects. It quickly gains control of the garden, and is so prevalent, you do not know where to begin to eliminate it. Eradicating grass or weeds is very difficult without tools (virtues?), but a lot, and I mean a lot of rain will really help. If water represents grace, this too makes sense. Try gardening, and thinking about this. The Gospels make so much more sense after a while.
--My flight for Colorado leaves soon, so I must go. One last thought: everyone should read or cover the material in Josef Pieper's The Four Cardinal Virtues and Only the Lover Sings. This material is essential to knowing who we are as humans and how to live life well as such. Until next post, farewell.
Sunday, August 3, 2008
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Monday, July 21, 2008
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Friday, June 20, 2008
Individualism and Manhood
In the world today, where individual desires and needs provide the most obvious motivations for the actions of humans, an ideal of greatness and sacrifice can only be found in old books or movies based upon them. In men, especially, the call to greatness has been stifled by individualism and a consciousness centered on self-realization. Such trends, somewhat mitigated by contrary admonition of priest and scripture, plague all too many Catholic men. Despite many a good intention, too many Catholic men merely live lives with virtue, with their family, or with God, but not for virtue, families, or God. Such a life requires sacrifice and a heroism beyond ordinary. Now, why is this the case, especially in modernity? Clearly, since the time of the Fall, men have easily been persuaded from their manhood.
The primeval anthropological error into which Adam and Eve fell was an individualist and relativist theory. They thought that the individual good trumped a corporate good, that the point of reference for judgment could be an individual. Since then any individualist or relativist tendencies in dominant social or ethical theory only tend to increase selfishness and self-centeredness in fallen human nature. Yet the very nature of manhood (and indeed of all humanity) requires an outward turn. This outward turn must involve every level of that man, from his intellection to his action. Today, however, we grapple with the dominant intellectual strains from the past four-hundred years, directed man to look within himself for knowledge. From Descartes to current times, thinkers have relied on their own experiences of reality, their own perception of it. The far-fetched theories of Spinoza or Leibniz, the brutal realism of Bentham or Nietzsche; these come from a practical solipsism on the part of the knower. More recently, this became an explicit intellectual trend with existentialism.
In some ways, history since the turn to secular humanism during the renaissance has been a downward spiral of selfishness. Men thought up ways to justify the individualist turn, first in religion, then in knowledge, lastly in action. Thus, the selfishness in thought becomes selfishness in action; from justification for it, man derives it as a necessity, as becomes clear in the existentialist trap.
In the Catholic world, we can see an ongoing struggle with this throughout the latter half of the second millennium. The weapons the Church used were the sacraments, a strong tie to tradition, and a tighter communal identity. However, this battle, as St. Augustine presented it in The City of God, was destined to failure. The “long defeat,” which Tolkien mentions through Galadriel, truly parallels the war against the Evil one that the Church still wages. Despite the probable failure of our efforts, Catholics have no choice but to continue to fight the good fight. Thought he end be all too clear at times, Catholic men must step forward sacrificing their lives for their Lord who sacrificed His. The triumph of selfishness may never have seemed so close as during the middle of the last century, when the majority of Catholics abandoned much of the tried weaponry of the past. Instead, they embraced the individualism and secularism of the world around them. Much can be said of the subsequent fall-out of that choice, but manhood certainly suffered from this. The exaggerated personalism and phenomenology promoted by too many in the Church have led to the downfall of real manliness.
When one stops to think about Catholic men, there seems to be an underlying uneasiness with their position. This may not be voiced or understood, but exists nonetheless. How many Catholic men that we know are heroic? So many are “good men,” but not great men. We need great Catholic men, not just in stature or confidence, but in deeds, in virtue. We need men who are leaders, who do great things, even on a small scale. We need Catholic men as politicians, teachers, doctors, in great roles, who live their faith and their manhood every day. Such men must arise in the face of the challenges of today. Much if the Church has been defeated or wounded, we have lost contact with our basis for defense. The picture appears bleak, but hope lives on, albeit a small quiet voice, crying: “Awake! To arms!” These arms, the weapons of the past, those tools which God has seen fit to prosper in our hands: we must recover these. But they are worthless unless men of stature and worth are there to wield them. Men of value, men of courage and skill; the Church requires these to survive. Only when the Church can defend itself can She return to her Divine mission to sanctify the world, rebuilding what secular humanism and selfishness so easily destroyed.
Friday, June 13, 2008
Zenit had a great story about the monastery of Our Lady of the Annunciation at Clear Creek, Oklahoma. For such a specialized and difficult mission, the monks there have been blessed with success. And to think that it all arose through the Integrated Humanities program of John Senior. To me, this wonderful labor serves as a great reminder of true humanism and its goals. When studied for the end of wisdom and true excellence, the great thoughts of western civilization lead us to God and to human flourishing as it can only be under His care.
Many thanks to the Ironic Catholic, who excels at pointing out the idiosyncrasies and incoherence of modern man. While done in a humorous fashion, Ironic Catholic's critique called to mind the obsession modern man has with earthly perfection. I suppose when that's all you believe in, you keep finding new excuses to returning to your failures.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
I recently had a conversation with a Catholic who had not really considered that demons could be active in the world. I am sure this person would admit their existence, but the ongoing struggle did not seem pressing to them. Yet this struggle goes on every day, in every place. The devil wants to be unknown, to be a nasty surprise for all of us. Too many even study witchcraft or black magic just for the fun of it, not realizing its deadly consequences. For further study, read Fr. Gabriel Amorth's An Exorcist Tells His Story.
Monday, June 9, 2008
Saturday, June 7, 2008