Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Mary: The Quickest Way to Jesus?

You may recall from this post that I recently emailed Dr. Mark Miravalle regarding seraphim's question about Mary being the "quickest" or "easiest" way to Jesus. Well, I'm still waiting for a response from him, but I did receive a response from one of his assistants. Here is what he wrote to me:
  • Thanks for writing. I'll ask Mark about that ladder rosary. I've never heard about that. I know what you mean about feeling awkward. I struggled with this for some time. However, this is the teaching of many of the saints, including St. Louis de Montfort, St. Maximilian Kolbe, and others.

    The reason the road "directly" to Jesus is more difficult is because it is, in reality, indirect. This indirect path to the Lord, which ultimately leads to him, involves inner resistance to his Mother, a disposition contrary to the Gospels, particularly John 19:25-27. Choosing this ladder rather than the other one causes a soul to "choose between." This is not the reality of heaven. Choosing the ladder to Mary, on the other hand, is not a rejection of the path to Jesus. Rather it is going to Mary saying, "I want your Son."

    Choosing Mary is choosing Jesus because Jesus himself has chosen Mary to be his Mother. So, you see, choosing Mary as your Mother is doing a Godly thing because this is precisely what God himself did.

    The path to Mary is a greater affirmation of the divinity of the Lord, and the greatest affirmation of the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in her. In reality, there is no distance between her and her Son, because she has poured out entirely her Immaculate Heart into his Sacred Heart. Your heart is where your treasure is.

    Mary is the perfect Christian, she is the model of the Church, but not just the model of the Church, but the Mother of the Church. The Lord saw fit to indwell her Eucharistically for 9 months, and now she indwells in him and he in her in heaven. She is the path for all peoples, because who can call Jesus brother while being estranged from Our Lady, while being estranged from the family communion that Christ himself established before breathing his last on the Cross?

    I hope this is a helpful start. I will inquire with Dr. Miravalle regarding the ladder rosary, as I myself have not heard of it yet.

    God bless you for your online ministry. I have a blog as well, The Charcoal Fire (kevinmclarke.blogspot.com).

    In the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts,

    Kevin

Kevin also recommends the following articles:Does that answer your question, seraphim? If not, please let me know.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Scripture and the Pope: Part 1

What follows is Part 1 in what I think will be a very fruitful dialogue with Amy, who owns a blog called "The Way I Say." I happened upon her blog because I was looking for a poem about redemption for a presentation on that topic and she just happened to have exactly what I needed. Since then she has made some very helpful comments on my blog and I look forward to our dialogue together.

That said, here is her first post to me:
First of all, do you like switchfoot, because that is a most important matter to clear up?
Do you give as much authority to the Pope's words as you do to scripture?
I definitely like Switchfoot! I hope that's ok :D

As for your second question, I don't want to give a simple "Yes" or "No" answer because I'm afraid it might imply things I don't intend. I will say that, when the pope speaks as the Successor of St. Peter, in his role of feeding and tending God's people, on a matter of faith and morals that is to be binding on the whole Church, then his words require our obedience. Of course, Scripture requires our obedience too. So, they are both authoritative voices in the life of a Catholic. But, they are authoritative for different reasons.

The Bible is authoritative because it is the inspired revelation of God. It is God's self-communication, inspired by the Holy Spirit. The pope is authoritative because, when he intends to speak authoritatively (which isn't always the case) his words are protected from error by a charism of the Holy Spirit given to the Successor of St. Peter. This charism is called "infallibility."

So, they're both authoritative, but no one would say that the Pope provides "new revelation" or that his words are a "new Scripture." The Bible is true because it is inspired by the Holy Spirit. The authoritative words of the pope are true because his conclusions, while formulated using his own ability to reason, are protected from error by the Holy Spirit. Does that make sense? I realize it's a nuance, but it is still an important distinction to make.

I hope that answers your question.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Friday, April 25, 2008

Did the Catholic Church Kill Jesus?

Yea, you read that right. I recently received a request to respond to the following argument:

"Correct me if I am wrong: was it not a Roman Emperor that sentenced Christ to death on Calvary? Now for the serious question: if I am correct, which I may not be, but if I am, then would that not make the Emperor an Italian? Now, why are they making such a positive thing about the head of the church, which is an offshoot of the old Roman Empire, with headquarters in Rome, being here celebrating the death of the Lord? I know that the Lord rose from the dead and is alive according to gospel, but all the same they are the ones who sentenced him to death, and now they make themselves out the lord of lords. Just seems strange to me that they can celebrate the Pope this way and still preach the very word that the man they sentenced to death preached. Did you ever think of it? Would shed a whole new light on the religion, wouldn't it?"
There's a lot going on in this argument, so let's take it one thing at a time.

The first error I see is in attributing Christ's death solely to the Roman emperor, when in fact many people had a role to play in the death of Jesus. For one, certain religious leaders of the Jews were involved:

Mt 26:3-4 Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, who was called Ca'iaphas, 4 and took counsel together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him.

Jn 11:47-50 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council, and said, "What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48 If we let him go on thus, every one will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy both our holy place and our nation." 49 But one of them, Ca'iaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, "You know nothing at all; 50 you do not understand that it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should not perish."


Pontius Pilate, the Roman procurator or governor (not the "emperor") was the one who actually declared the death sentence (cf. Mt 27:2; Lk 3:1; Mk 15:15; Lk 23:24). Of course, Judas played his part, when he betrayed Jesus with a kiss for only 30 peices of silver (cf. Mt 26:14-16,47-49). St. Peter implicates Herod and the Gentiles as well (cf. Acts 4:27-28).

But, ultimately, if we're going to point the finger at anyone, we should point it at ourselves. It is because of the sin of all mankind (not just a select few) that Jesus had to suffer and die on the Cross. I suggest that any person who attempts to place blame for the death of Jesus should first take a hard look at himself.

If that weren't enough, we also have a case of "guilt by association." Here is the logic involved:
  1. The Roman Emperor killed Jesus
  2. The Catholic Church is Roman
  3. Therefore, the Catholic Church killed Jesus
I've already shown how the first premise in the syllogism is incorrect. Let's move now to the second one.

First of all, even if the Church were "Roman" (I will show here shortly why She is not), this would not make Her guilty of the death of Christ. The Roman Emperor and the "Roman Catholic Church" are two very different things. You can't apply the guilt of one upon the other simply because both are Roman. That's like saying all of the Apostles betrayed Jesus because Judas was an Apostle and he betrayed Jesus. See what I mean?

Of course, this syllogism also breaks apart because the Catholic Church is not "Roman." Instead, it is UNIVERSAL. The Church is worldwide, and that's just the Church on earth! There's also the "Church Suffering" in Purgatory and the "Church Triumphant" in heaven. So, to say that the Church is simply "Roman" betrays an ignorance of the makeup of the Church.

Secondly, even as far as the Church on earth is concerned, there is more to Her than simply the Roman Rite. There are also several other Catholic Rites that fall under the Antiochian, Byzantine, and Alexandrian family of liturgical rites (cf. Catholic Rites and Churches). I dare say an Eastern Catholic would be offended if you said he was "Roman Catholic" because he would see that as a blindness to his own rich, liturgical traditions.

Finally, this argument is ahistorical because the "Catholic Church" did not even exist when Jesus was put to death. The Church did not form until Jesus poured his Spirit upon his disciples at Pentecost. This, of course, was long after he had been condemned to suffer the death that God had planned from the beginning.

That last point is an important one. When we attempt to assign guilt for the death of Jesus, we have to keep in mind that Jesus went willingly to the Cross, in accordance with God's divine plan. No one forced Him to do anything against His Will, especially not the Catholic Church.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Time to Play Catch-Up

Now that my two big presentations are successfully completed (praise God!), it's time to dust off some old mail and finally give you all some answers.

First, seraphim, regarding your question about the Ladder Rosary, the deeper question seems to be whether or not it is true that Mary is the easiest way to Jesus. I don't really know if I can do your question justice. I could probably spew some thoughts out, but I just don't think it would be very helpful.

So, I emailed Dr. Mark Miravalle, a professor at FUS and one of the premier Marian theologians in the country to get this thoughts on the matter. Until then, here is the information that is of concern to "seraphim" (and to me). Do you all have any thoughts on this?
  • According to popular belief, in Old Mexico the Ladder Rosary has an interesting history. Some trace the first ladder rosary to the vision of St. Dominic in which he saw souls climbing to heaven on the rosary. Others point to the vision of St. Francis De Sales who saw two ladders to heaven: a rather steep one leading directly to Jesus, and another far less steep one leading toward Mary. Jesus told St. Francis: "Tell your sons to come by the other ladder", meaning the easiest way to Jesus is through Mary!
    In other popular legends, St. Dominic, in his visions saw souls climbing the ladder to heaven, and Jacob dreamt about a ladder between heaven and earth on which angels ascended and descended. The ladder even appears in Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel ceiling painting, showing souls being pulled from Purgatory by a rosary
Please leave a comment and let me know. Hopefully I haven't lost all credibility in being unable to answer this question.

Also several months ago, Justin emailed me, wanting to know how I would respond to this argument:
"Yeah, if we all lived by ourselves without anyone, it's okay to cut yourself or kill yourself because if that's what you want and that'll make you happy, go for it! But we're social animals so we have to respect each other. So I don't want any priest coming in telling me not to have sex if I'm with my boyfriend, because we're enjoying it together."
Wow, there's a lot of very false premises informing these two sentences. It's hard to even know where to begin (which is probably why I didn't answer this question sooner, haha!). First of all, there is embedded in this the idea that if something feels pleasurable then that necessarily makes it "okay" or morally good. I'm sorry folks, but that's just not true. If our consciences are not properly formed so as to know what true happiness is, and if we do not have the will power to forsake a short-term good in exchange for a long-term good, then we can choose decisions that we think are right but are in fact very wrong.

In other words, our feelings are not always the best guide when it comes to making moral decisions. Eve saw that the fruit from the forbidden tree was "a delight to the eyes" (Gen 3:6). It probably brought her great pleasure just to behold it. As a result, she ate it and, well, we all know what a great choice that was. David probably took great pleasure in killing Bathsheba's husband and then having sex with her, but he never stopped to think that it would mean public humiliation and the death of his own son (cf. 2 Sam 12:9-14). What feels good is not always right, and the immediate gratification does not always outweigh the long-term consequences.

Another implication in this argument we are responding to is that it would be "disrespectful" for a priest to tell a girl that she shouldn't be having sex with her boyfriend. But, there's a lot of "begging the question" going on here. In order for the priest's actions to be disrespectful it must be proven both that he has no authority or place to make his statement AND that the statement he is making is wrong. This, of course, has yet to be done. And, since I don't know which kinds of arguments would be effective with this girl (is the Bible an authority? Church teaching? theology of the body? logic?), we're pretty much at an impasse. Suffice it say that I believe the priest has every right to make such spiritual counsel, and his spiritual counsel is true.

I hope that helps for now.

More recently, "No Fluff Required" left the following comment on my blog:
When evangelicals (or believers, as we call ourselves) see another one of us claiming to be a believer or a Christian living like they aren't one. We encourage that person to examine himself to see if he is truly in Christ.
This flows from our biblical doctrine of Salvation. That once someone is born again, the Holy Spirit comes to indwell them and transforms their old life in a new life demonstrating the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Gal. 5. Not that perfection is expected, only a pattern of obedience and an affection for Christ is always present when someone is saved.
Does your church offer an explanation for people who, as you put it, "don't care about their faith or their relationship with Jesus Christ."?
Well, I guess it would be helpful to state at the onset that Catholics do not believe in "Once Saved Always Saved." In other words, someone can enter into right relationship with God (through His grace), but then fall out of that life of grace or reject that grace and sever his relationship with God. When that happens, it's imperative for that person to return to communion with God again.

Now, these Catholics who "don't care about their faith or their relationship with Jesus Christ" have probably fallen out of relationship with Him. They first entered into a relationship with Him through their baptism, but for whatever reason they have fallen away. Of course, only God judges hearts, so I can never state with certainty, "Yes, this or that person is severed from God" or "this or that person is going to Hell." Even people who are outwardly doing good Christian things can be inwardly very far from Him. But, what we CAN do is to always be preaching the Gospel and living it out so that we can bring people to a deeper relationship with God, whatever the extent of that relationship may be.

I hope that answers your question.

One final question remains, in light of Pope Benedict XVI's recent visit to the United States, but it deserves a post of its own so stay tuned.

I thank you all again for your patience.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Monday, April 21, 2008

Popular Catholic Quotations

Church Documents Relevant to the Field of Catechetics and Religious Education

Quick Update

First of all, I'm going to let the current poll run for another week so more people will have an opportunity to vote. Also, I know I haven't been posting very much here recently, but I plan on changing that as soon as I can get through Thursday. My Exit Presentation is tomorrow, which basically determines whether or not I receive my Certification in Catechetics. Then, on Thursday, I have to give my 60-minute catechesis using the Ecclesial Method. Please pray for me.

If you've asked me a question or sent me an email within the past few weeks (or, in the case of seraphim, within the past few months), please know that I am sorry for not being able to help you sooner and that I haven't forgotten about you. Once Friday rolls around, I'll be able to pay more attention to my blog.

Thank you for your patience.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Monday, April 14, 2008

Poll-Release Monday #48

After another long haitus (what can I say, school is inhumane right now), here is this week's new poll question:

True or false?: It is appropriate for man to "bless" God.
Admittedly, I didn't know the answer to this question, so it will be interesting to see how people vote. See the poll in my sidebar.

As for the previous poll, here are the results:
  • True or false? It is better that the universe be destroyed than that one sin be committed.
    • False: 32 (56%)
    • True: 25 (44%)
According to the USCCB's Quiz on the Catechism, the answer is: True. It cites, as validation for this answer, Article 1488 from the Catechism:
  • 1488 To the eyes of faith no evil is graver than sin and nothing has worse consequences for sinners themselves, for the Church, and for the whole world.
Christina left a good comment regarding this question:
  • If it were true then God would have destroyed the Universe shortly after creating it, or not created Adam & Eve, or destroyed it shortly thereafter. Also, if it were true then destroying human life wouldn't be an evil since you were preventing sin.
Personally, I don't know what I think, but then again, I'm probably brain-fried from pulling an all-nighter last night. Destroying the entire universe seems like an extreme way to prove a point, I know that much. Anyway, leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Thursday, April 10, 2008

On Baptism by Immersion

I recently received the following question via the combox in my sidebar:

Baptism by immersion only: I went to catholic.com but I need some more stuff on this. I just got back from getting my rump handed to me on this one. Can ya help?
Well, without knowing what their exact arguments are, I can't really say a whole lot. But, I can point you to various articles online that address this issue:A lot of those links were broken, so I had to look up the archived version. They should work now, but if for some reason they don't, just leave a comment and let me know.

Remember that immersion is a legitimate form of baptism in the Catholic Church, and it is actually the form that best symbolizes the dying to sin and rising to new life that truly takes place in baptism. BUT, it is not the only way to baptize. The important thing is that water is used, not that the person be completely submerged in it.

I know that's not a lot, but I hope it helps. If you would like an answer to any specific arguments or objections that your opponents may have, then tell me what those are and I'll see what I can do.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

D.D.D. is M.I.A.

In case anyone is wondering, I have decided to postpone the "Daily Dose of Discernment" for the time being. School is so hectic right now that I simply cannot keep up with it anymore. This is my last semester of grad school, and it is crunch time like you would not believe.

Check out my to-do list:
  • finish a catechetics project that is already late
  • Apr. 14: 60-min catechesis using the full Ecclesial Method
  • Apr. 15: A catechetical project on a topic of my choosing
  • Apr. 22: Exit Presentation
  • May 2: 5-lesson plans
  • May 5: 5-pg. paper on catechesis
  • Jun 16: Comprehensive Exam
Pretty sick.

Please, please, PLEASE pray for me that I can overcome the intense anxiety that I feel right now and complete all of these assignments.

If you end up craving your daily dose of discernment, have no fear, both sections for each day are online:St. Thomas Aquinas, patron saint of students .... pray for us.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Taming the Tongue

I recently received the following question, via email:

What is the Catholic teaching on cursing? It seems today that it is almost the vernacular for college students. Is it ever appropriate to cuss?
I scoured the Catechism and was unable to find anything specifically about "cussing" or using foul language. But, there are a few articles that are related, and these might be helpful.

As Christians, we must comform our words to the mind of Christ and follow His example (no. 1694). God's presence and His truth must be honored in all speech (no. 2153). He is "the Lord of all speech" (no. 2152), and human speech is either in accord with or in opposition to God who is Truth itself (no. 2151). Living in accordance with Truth includes displaying an uprightness and sincerity in speech (no. 2468). The purpose of speech is to communicate truth (no. 2485).

Conversely, abusive language is forbidden by the fifth commandment (no. 2073), and anyone who is angry with his brother is liable to judgment (no. 2302-2303). Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury (no. 2477).

Finally, cussing often includes taking God's name in vain, and this is certainly forbidden, as is language against the Church, the saints, and sacred things (no. 2148).

The Bible is more explicit in its condemnation of foul language. For example, see the following passages:
Mt 5:33-37 "Again you have heard that it was said to the men of old, 'You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.' 34 But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let what you say be simply 'Yes' or 'No'; anything more than this comes from evil.

Mt 15:10-11,17-20 And he called the people to him and said to them, "Hear and understand: 11 not what goes into the mouth defiles a man, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man." 17 Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and so passes on? 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a man. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man."

Eph 4:29 Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for edifying, as fits the occasion, that it may impart grace to those who hear.

1 Pet 3:10 For "He that would love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking guile;

Jas 1:26 If any one thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this man's religion is vain.

Jas 3:3-10 If we put bits into the mouths of horses that they may obey us, we guide their whole bodies. 4 Look at the ships also; though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5 So the tongue is a little member and boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is an unrighteous world among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the cycle of nature, and set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by humankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue--a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brethren, this ought not to be so.

I would like to add that using foul language is also wrong because of the scandal it causes. What kind of witness do we give to non-Christians when we speak crudely to or about each other? We are called to sanctify the world, not fall into its various vices. Also, cussing is usually symptomatic of anger, impatience, hatred, and other sentiments that are generally unbecoming of a person who is supposed to be living a life of grace, and peace, and self-mastery. It's difficult not to cuss, particularly once it becomes a habit (trust me, I know!), but this tongue of ours is a powerful weapon and we must strive to tame it.

I hope that helps.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

In Memoriam

In honor of Pope John Paul II on this, the third anniversary of his death, I present the following poems: In Memoriam: The Beginning by Alfred Loyd Tennyson and Fulfillment--Apocalypsis (from the second panel of his Roman Triptych) by Pope John Paul II.

Karol Wojtyla, requiescat in pace.
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In Memoriam
by Alfred Lord Tennyson

The Beginning

STRONG Son of God, immortal Love,
Whom we, that have not seen thy face,
By faith, and faith alone, embrace,
Believing where we cannot prove;

Thine are these orbs of light and shade;
Thou madest Life in man and brute;
Thou madest Death; and lo, thy foot
Is on the skull which thou hast made.

Thou wilt not leave us in the dust:
Thou madest man, he knows not why,
He thinks he was not made to die;
And thou hast made him: thou art just.

Thou seemest human and divine,
The highest, holiest manhood, thou:
Our wills are ours, we know not how;
Our wills are ours, to make them thine.

Our little systems have their day;
They have their day and cease to be:
They are but broken lights of thee,
And thou, O Lord, art more than they.

We have but faith: we cannot know;
For knowledge is of things we see;
And yet we trust it comes from thee,
A beam in darkness: let it grow.

Let knowledge grow from more to more,
But more of reverence in us dwell;
That mind and soul, according well,
May make one music as before,

But vaster. We are fools and slight;
We mock thee when we do not fear:
But help thy foolish ones to bear;
Help thy vain worlds to bear thy light.

Forgive what seem’d my sin in me;
What seem’d my worth since I began;
For merit lives from man to man,
And not from man, O Lord, to thee.

Forgive my grief for one removed,
Thy creature, whom I found so fair.
I trust he lives in thee, and there
I find him worthier to be loved.

Forgive these wild and wandering cries,
Confusions of a wasted youth;
Forgive them where they fail in truth,
And in thy wisdom make me wise.
- - - - - -
Roman Tryptich
by Pope John Paul II

Panel 2: Meditations on the Book of Genesis at the Threshold of the Sistine Chapel
Fulfillment--Apocalypse

The End is as invisible as the Beginning.
The universe came forth from the Word,
and returns to the Word.
In the very center of the Sistine Chapel, the artist
depicts this invisible End
in the visible drama of the Judgment --
This invisible End has become visible as the
height of transparency:
omnia nuda et aperta ante oculos Eius!
Matthew's words are here transfigured in the painter's vision:
"Come, you blessed . . . depart from me, y ou accursed . . ."
And so the generations pass --
naked they come into the world and naked they return
to the earthfrom which they were formed.
"From dust you came, and to dust you shall return";
What had shape is now shapeless.
What was alive is now dead.
What was beautiful is now the ugliness of decay.
And yet I do not altogether die,
what is indestructible in me remains!

A Sincere Faith and A Life Well Lived

I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lo'is and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you.
-- 2 Tim 1:5
My grandmother died on Thursday. Margaret Sue Greenwell Hardesty was 76 years old. She had 12 children, 33 grandchildren, and 4 great-grandchildren. I should have posted this sooner, but it has been difficult to write.

Echoing the words of St. Paul, I am reminded of a sincere faith when I think of my grandmother. When I was little, I would occasionally stay at her house whenever I got too sick to go to school. One reason why I always loved staying there was because she had statues, and icons, and pictures of Jesus all throughout the house. The most comfortable place in the world was on her couch, underneath a blanket, with those Catholic images all around me. Even now, so many years later, I can think of that and it helps me to relax.

"Granmommy," as we called her, was a good and holy woman. She walked to Mass every day, she somehow managed to put all 12 of her children through Catholic schools, and she always encouraged us to pray and to love Jesus. My fervent prayer is that she has now received the Eternal Beatitude with God that she so deserves. I also pray that her strong desire in these last 12 or so years has finally been met: to be in heaven with her husband, Thomas Dennis Hardesty, who died of lung cancer.

Hopefully, when I stand face-to-face with God when it is my time, He will be able to say to me, "I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother .... and now, I am sure, dwells in you."

Please pray for her, particularly at Mass.

Eternal rest grant unto them, oh Lord
-- And may His perpetual light shine upon them.
May the souls of the faithfully departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Margaret Hardesty .... requiescat in pace.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Daily Dose of Discernment: 4/2/08

Modesty has moved from the organ of ambition. Modesty has settled upon the organ of conviction -- where it was never meant to be. A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth: this has been exactly reversed. Nowadays the part of a man that a man does assert is exactly the part he ought not to assert -- himself. The part he doubts is exactly the part he ought not to doubt -- the Divine Reason. Huxley preached a humility content to learn from Nature. But the new sceptic is so humble that he doubts if he can even learn. Thus we should be wrong if we had said hastily that there is no humility typical of our time. The truth is that there is a real humility typical of our time; but it so happens that it is practically a more poisonous humility than the wildest prostrations of the ascetic. The old humility was a spur that prevented a man from stopping: not a nail in his boot that prevented him from going on. For the old humility made a man doubtful about his efforts, which might make him work harder. But the new humility makes a man doubtful about his aims, which will make him stop working altogether.
-- G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy
- - - - - - - - - -
Fix your minds on the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. Inflamed with love for us, he came down from heaven to redeem us. For our sake he endured every torment of body and soul and shrank from no bodily pain. He himself gave us an example of perfect patience and love. We, then, are to be patient in adversity.

Put aside your hatred and animosity. Take pains to refrain from sharp words. If they escape your lips, do not be ashamed to let your lips produce the remedy, since they have caused the wounds. Pardon one another so that later on you will not remember the injury. The recollection of an injury is itself wrong. It adds to our anger, nurtures our sin, and hates what is good. It is a rusty arrow and poison for the soul. It puts all virtue to flight. It is like a worm in the mind: it confuses our speech and tears to shreds our petitions to God. It is foreign to charity: it remains planted in the soul like a nail. It is wickedness that never sleeps, sin that never fails. It is indeed a daily death.
-- Francis de Paola, Letters

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Daily Dose of Discernment: 4/1/08

We shall never make anything of democracy until we make fools of ourselves. For if a man really cannot make a fool of himself, we may be quite certain that the effort is superfluous.
-- G. K. Chesterton, The Defendant





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Jesus took care of his mother, spoke to her, gave her for a son the disciple he loved, and said to that disciple, Behold your mother. As Saint John here represented all peoples, our Savior commanded us all in his person to honor and serve the Blessed Virgin as our Mother. It was, nevertheless, a great consolation to that afflicted Mother to hear the voice of her only Son. She knew that by adopting a second son she ceased not to be the mother of the first, whom she regarded as her Creator and her God. The holy virgin accepted Saint John as her son in the same way as she accepted, at the same time, all the human race as her children. Mary accepted this trust because she clearly saw that it was the will of Christ, and that people, after having treated him so badly, would never presume to return to him if he did not give them his own mother to act as a mediatrix.

She entered fully into her Son's intentions, assumed the heart of a mother for all sinners, and looked upon them as the children of sorrow whom she had brought forth at the foot of the cross. Thus that sea of sufferings into which Jesus and Mary were plunged has become for sinners a river of peace and a fountain of blessings.
-- Thomas of Jesus, Sufferings of Jesus, Book I, chapter 47
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