Saturday, December 31, 2005
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
Here is a really great prayer book for our soldiers in Iraq. Bishop Fulton Sheen compiled it. Here is one prayer that is in the prayer book.
PRAYER IN TIME OF WARLink-Extracts of the Book
O God, who bring wars to nought and shield by Thy power all who hope in Thee, over-throwing those who assail them; help Thy servants who implore Thy mercy so that the fierce might of their enemy may be brought low and we may never cease to praise and thank Thee.
O God, who hast dominion over all realms and all kings, who by striking heals, and by pardoning saves: stretch out over us Thy mercy, so that by Thy power we may enjoy peace and tranquility and use them for our healing and amendment.
Through our Lord, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Link- To Send Prayer Books to our Soldiers!
Monday, December 26, 2005
Saturday, December 24, 2005
And while your at it check out the phorum and tell them that the Cure of Ars sent ya.
Friday, December 23, 2005
Say with the Royal Prophets, “I opened my mouth and panted.” And your Savior will respond, “Surely I come quickly; you shall see me very soon.” Your eyes at the midnight Mass will gaze upon the elevated Host and your lips will utter, “My Lord and my God.” A few minutes more and the little Infant will have come to you. His Immaculate Mother did not hold him more truly in her arms that first Christmas midnight than you will have him, heart to heart. Then all the love of that Infant Redeemer will be poured out upon you. It’s a thirst of the heart of every creature that desires to be loved, and the love which can alone satisfy that craving is the Divine Love. Let your hearts delight in the love your God has for you, personally, individually.by Saint Katherine Drexel
Current psychological theory and research affirm the positive affective and motivational consequences of having personal choice. These findings have led to the popular notion that more choice is better, that the human ability to desire and manage choice is unlimited. Findings from three studies starkly challenge the implicit assumption that having more choice is necessarily more intrinsically motivating than having fewer options. These three experiments which were conducted in field and laboratory settings show that people are more likely to purchase exotic jams or gourmet chocolates, and undertake optional class essay assignments, when offered a limited array of 6 choices rather than an extensive array of 24 or 30 choices. Moreover, participants actually reported greater subsequent satisfaction with their selections and wrote better essays when their original set of options had been restricted rather than expanded. Implications for future research are discussed.
When we consider the pros and cons of a large array of choices, all the choices become less desirable. This is counterintuitive in a way but nonetheless true. Maybe this is one of the reasons why Jesus only built one Church. This study also lends weight to Ronald Knox when he said, “the study of comparative religions is the best way to become comparatively religious.”
Thursday, December 22, 2005
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
"... The reds, yellows, and blues of Madeleine shine like dawn through the ribs of the Cathedral, everything here is either in shadow or painted with viscous colors. I'll sit, I'll quiet my heart. I thought that it would be mainly fear, an animal terror, but I feel only regret now, a great, motionless, heavy regret, the squeezing weight of dark water. No thoughts, no instructions for the body, even my eyes are dry. There is only a little tightening in my chest. But why speak, silence is better ..."
Polish Film Festival
Tomek Bagiñski on "The Cathedral"
Short, poetic film
Thursday, December 15, 2005
How and when did the use of X-Mas in the place of Christmas get started?
Generally, the term X-mas has negative connotations today owing to its rather frequent use as a kind of secular euphemism for Christmas. The historical origins of the word, however, are found in the Greek for Christ (Kristos, Xristos). Early printers in the West adopted the X as an abbreviation for Christ to save a little money on the typesetting. The usage found wider acceptance and Xmas has been used by earnest Christians ever since.
While this origin of the term points to intentions that were entirely respectful, many of the current uses are far from rooted in good intentions.
I figure that since it is getting close to Christmas that I should have some posts for the season. The following is a quote;
According to legend there was a candy maker who wanted to invent a candy that was a witness to Christ. First of all, he used a hard candy because Christ is the rock of ages. This hard candy was shaped so that it would resemble a "J" for Jesus or, turned upside down, a shepherd's staff. He made it white to represent the purity of Christ. Finally a red stripe was added to represent the blood Christ shed for the sins of the world, and three thinner red stripes for the stripes He received on our behalf when the Roman soldiers whipped Him. Sometimes a green stripe is added as a reminder that Jesus is a gift from God. The flavor of the cane is peppermint, which is similar to hyssop. Hyssop is in the mint family and was used in the Old Testament for purification and sacrifice. Jesus is the pure Lamb of God, come to be a sacrifice for the sins of the world. So, every time you see a candy cane, remember the message of the candy maker: Jesus is the Christ!
From The Catholic Encyclopedia;
On Good Friday morn, when the faithful were crowding the churches, Hubert sallied forth to the chase. As he was pursuing a magnificent stag, the animal turned and, as the pious legend narrates, he was astounded at perceiving a crucifix between its antlers, while he heard a voice saying: "Hubert, unless thou turnest to the Lord, and leadest an holy life, thou shalt quickly go down into hell". Hubert dismounted, prostrated himself and said, "Lord, what wouldst Thou have me do?" He received the answer, "Go and seek Lambert, and he will instruct you."
Accordingly, he set out immediately for Maastricht, of which place St. Lambert was then bishop. The latter received Hubert kindly, and became his spiritual director. Hubert, losing his wife shortly after this, renounced all his honors and his military rank, and gave up his birthright to the Duchy of Aquitaine to his younger brother Eudon, whom he made guardian of his infant son, Floribert. Having distributed all his personal wealth among the poor, he entered upon his studies for the priesthood, was soon ordained, and shortly afterwards became one of St. Lambert's chief associates in the administration of his diocese.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
Sunday, November 27, 2005
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is comming out on December 9. It should be good. There are a lot of Christian themes and symbols in the story. Here is a link that explains some of them:
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: Themes, Motifs, and Symbols
And if you like C.S. Lewis you have to check this website out:
Into the Wardrobe
The lives of the saints are a good indirect method of defending the faith. I think most people are inspired by the courage and faith that the saints have. The Cure of Ars is my patron saint on the Internet. I us the screen name Cure of Ars when I post on forums. I know it has produced many conversations when people ask about the name.
Here is a wax museum that traces the life of John Vianney.
Here is some general information.
The Cure of Ars' body has been incorrupt since his death in 1859.
Saturday, November 26, 2005
Here is a link to a 60’s Catholic comic book made by the Catholic Guild that explains Communism and it’s history. I guess the Catholic Guild made a monthly comic book called the Treasure Chest. It’s actually covers a lot of ground and has some good information. There are a few places where it would be considered cheesy to present day tastes. But I'm old school so I don't mind.
I wonder as Catholics, who our main enemy that we face today is? Secularism? It would be nice to have a comic book exposing the present day dangers we are facing as Catholic.
Thursday, September 15, 2005
This is a picture of one of the happiest days of my life. It’s the day I married my wife and made an oath to her, the Church, and to Jesus that I would be faithful to her and be willing to lay down my life for her. Our marriage is not perfect but it is still beautiful and it is an image of the love that Jesus has for the Church. Here is the concept in the Bible:
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. So (also) husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body....This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church.(Eph 5:25-32)
For Catholics marriage is a sacrament. It is a sign and instrument - of God's own life.
Here is a prayer that my wife and I made when we went to an engagement encounter.
God of Love
We thank you for the life you give use.
We thank you for the love you show us.
We give praise to you because your love conquers all.
God of Mercy
We ask that you bestow your grace
upon our marriage so that we may fulfill our vocation.
We ask you, oh Lord, to make our lives fruitful.
We ask this in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen
I love you Melissa
Sunday, September 11, 2005
The following is from Bishop Fulton J. Sheen on how to reach Muslims. This quote is just a tast and to understand what Bishop Sheen is saying you will have to read the entire article. Let me just add that Fatima is the daughter of Mohammed. 'But after the death of Fatima, Mohammed wrote: "Thou shalt be the most blessed of all the women in Paradise, after Mary."'
Missionaries in the future will, more and more, see that their apostolate among the Moslems will be successful in the measure that they preach Our Lady of Fatima. Mary is the advent of Christ, bringing Christ to the people before Christ Himself is born. In an apologetic endeavor, it is always best to start with that which people already accept. Because the Moslems have a devotion to Mary, our missionaries should be satisfied merely to expand and to develop that devotion, with the full realization that Our Blessed Lady will carry the Moslems the rest of the way to her divine Son. She is forever a "traitor," in the sense that she will not accept any devotion for herself, but will always bring anyone who is devoted to her to her divine Son. As those who lose devotion to her lose belief in the divinity of Christ, so those who intensify devotion to her gradually acquire that belief.
Information on Fatima from EWTN
Saturday, September 10, 2005
Aragorn if you see this please read this Catholic Answer artical:
A LAST piece of evidence comes from the New Testament: Examine John 20:25, where doubting Thomas speaks. The Witnesses’ New World Translation gives the verse as follows: "Unless I see in his hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe." Even in their own translation John refers to hands (plural) and nails (plural). The inference is simple. (Catholic Answers, Cross or Torture Stake?)
And this is the proper way of making the sign of the cross.
At this rock, pagans would worship the pagan god Pan. Here is a picture of a couple of niches that probably held a statue of Pan. Pan was the pagan god of shepherds and flocks.
On top of the rock there was a temple for the worship of Caesar (see Josephus Ant. 15).
This backdrop is very significant in relation to what Jesus says in Matthew 16:13-20. Jesus established Peter as the true shepard of his true flock in opposition to Pan the false god of shepherds and flocks. And the true divine king, Christ, is going to build his Church on Peter, the Rock, in opposition to the false god Caesar and his false church on the rock. And the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church that Christ established.
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
The Catholic faith is intricate and comprehensive. It is earthy but at the same time mystical. It uses the ordinary world and brings out the transcendent through it. It is one unified faith but it is large enough to live free, crazy, and creative within the limits of the faith. It is a personal faith but also a communal, family faith. It is a faith that is both religious and spiritual. It resides not only in the mind or soul but also the body. It is a faith that is in the world but not of the world. It is a faith that has roots in the old and historical but is also ever new and eternal. It is a faith that holds to both scripture and apostolic tradition. It is a faith that is authoritative but also freeing and forgiving. It is a faith that promotes the search for the beautiful, the good, the Truth, and Charity. The Catholic Church is a hospital for great sinners but also a home for great saints. It is a faith that produces a life that can make meaning out of great sorrow but it also has the ability to party it up with great joy. It is a faith that is universal enough to encompass all peoples and the good things in all cultures. It is a faith that is very challenging; it asks things that can only be done by supernatural Grace. It is a faith that requires great oaths through sacraments that helps me make commitments to God but it also gives me God’s grace to fulfill what God is asking of me because I can't do it by myself.
If there was one thing that I could point to that would encompass all that I am trying to say it would be Christ’s real presence: body, soul, and Divinity in the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Catholic life. It is the “participation in the body of Christ” (1 Cor 10:16) and without it the Catholic Church would have no life (John 6:53). It is crazy that Jesus would give himself to me 2000 years ago on the Cross. But is beyond anything that I could hope for to be able to be physically and spiritually intimate with Jesus in a personally and ongoing way in the sacrament of Holy Communion. What Jesus does for us out of love is mind-blowing.
Monday, September 05, 2005
And once ghostly father and human son are alone, the ghost tells Hamlet how he was murdered by his brother Claudius and begs to be avenged. Yet, in doing so, the ghost bemoans his own spiritual state — presenting a version of his afterlife which is nothing short of the Catholic doctrine of Purgatory. In Act I, Scene V, the dead king says:
"I am thy father's spirit,
Doom'd for a certain term to walk the night,
And for the day confin'd to fast in fires,
Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature
Are burnt and purg'd away."
Here Shakespeare is clearly presenting the Catholic doctrine of Purgatory and the need for justification and sanctification to continue after death if they are not completed in this life — a doctrine which Lutherans (and all other Protestants) bitterly denied. Shakespeare also clearly presents this state as a temporary thing, and so he is not speaking about hell, but about Purgatory — that is, the fact that the king died in an ill-prepared condition; that he did not have a chance to properly repent of his sins. Indeed, the ghostly king goes on, recounting his murder by his brother Claudius:
"Thus was I, sleeping, by a brother's hand
Of life, of crown, of queen, at once dispatch'd,
Cut off even in the blossoms of my sin,
Unhous'led, disappointed, unanel'ed,
No reck'ning made, but sent to my account
With all my imperfections on my head."
Clearly, this view of salvation flies in the face of Lutheranism and of the prevailing Protestant faith of England in Shakespeare's own day; and most certainly that of the English crown.
Now, hearing that his father has been murdered and is suffering in such a way, Hamlet is of course quite upset, if not driven to the point of madness by it. But is it merely a matter of fraternal love and wounded family honor that has so shaken Hamlet here? Or rather could it not be something more? If he was a faithful student of the University of Wittenberg — that is, a devoted Protestant intellectual who has been taught that a man is saved by "faith alone," requiring no venerable works and with no need to worry about a period of purgation after death (if not in this life), it becomes quite apparent that this apparition of his departed father has stripped Hamlet of his very religion and plunged him into a world where not only his presumably reliable theology has been ripped apart, but where now his very future (and that of his family and country!) depends on his personal action — that is, on his "works" (in this case, setting things right in the kingdom by avenging his father's murder). Quite a cold-water shock for a "comfortable" and "carefree" Protestant who had always presumed that one could, as Luther put it, "commit mortal sin one thousand times a day and still not lose his justification."
Dramatic and Theological Realities
And this brings us to the line in question — that is, the obvious jab at Luther's supposedly "biblical" doctrine. After the ghost disappears, Hamlet is rejoined with Horatio and the two guards, who pressed him to tell them what the ghost said. Hamlet, however, refuses and says to Horatio — that is, to his fellow-Protestant student from Wittenberg:
"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."
In other words, “You Lutherans have it wrong.” Purgatory is a reality, and what they have been taught at Wittenberg (i.e., what Horatio still apparently takes to be sound doctrine) is merely a human "philosophy," and not a true religion (a truth faith) in any realistic sense.
MHR: You have stated that you see some mysteries or truths better in concrete stories rather than in abstract concepts-in novels rather than in philosophy. How has that been true for you?
PK: It has been true for me in my reading of C.S. Lewis, Chesterton, Tolkien, Charles Williams, Dorothy Sayers. These writers have plugged into the depths of the Christian tradition. Their images and stories have influenced me from below.
MHR: What do you mean by "below"?
PK: Let's use the image of water. A city is surrounded by walls and it is fighting a war. The enemy is trying to knock down the walls, but they can't do it because the walls are too strong. Then a great rainstorm comes. As the rain suddenly gets underneath the walls and softens the ground, the walls fall down and the city is conquered.
Rational arguments are like bullets. They're useful, but if we're going to conquer the city that is the world, we need rain and not just bullets. Images and attractive symbols are like the rain. They soften the ground as they seep into the unconscious. Lewis called it "baptizing the imagination."
MHR: Is the study of literature important for the church?
PK: It is crucial-absolutely crucial. We are still deeply influenced by stories. We learn morality more from stories than from anything else. If we're not good storytellers, and if we're not sensitive to good storytellers, we'll miss out on the most powerful means of enlightening ourselves and transforming our world apart from a living, personal example.
Christianity has always produced great writers. But, unfortunately, I cannot name a single great one who is alive today. Walker Percy and Flannery O'Connor may be the two last great Christian writers. I'm sure there will be more, because it is in our tradition.
Sunday, September 04, 2005
The Catholic Church played a big role in the development of our modern understanding of human rights. This fact has been neglected by historians but this is starting to change do to the work of Brian Tierney. Canon law and the concept of Natural law set the stage for the understanding of human rights. Here is a quote from a article that I found. It's an interesing read.
The evolution of a language of rights is only part of the story of this first "context." By the year 1300, the jurists of the Ius commune had developed a sturdy language of rights and created a number of rights derived from natural law. During the period from 1150 to 1300, they defined the rights of property, self-defense, non-Christians, marriage, and procedure as being rooted in natural, not positive, law. By placing these rights squarely within the framework of natural law, the jurists could and did argue that these rights could not be taken away by the human prince. The prince had no jurisdiction over rights based on natural law; consequently these rights were inalienable.(16)
It is also Ironic that society is now rejecting natural law when it is the foundation of human rights.
Saturday, September 03, 2005
I was reading a book called The Tipping Point and it gave me an idea. In the book it talks about a study that was done with a pamphlet on tetanus with college students. They found that the students learned the information that was in the pamphlet, and that they believed the information, but despite this only 3% went out and got a tetanus shot. They did a follow-up study and this time they again handed out the same pamphlet but they included practical information of a map of where the campus clinic was and times when the shots were available. They then found that 28% of the students obtained a tetanus shot. The practical information was not anything that the students didn't already know but it acted like a trigger helping them make the first step.
Like the pamphlet we have been giving out good information and a lot of people believe but there is not the trigger that gets them to actively seek entrance into the Catholic Church. So some of my friends at Phatmass and I came up with this link that gives practical and simple steps on how to become Catholic. Please post this link on you websites to introduce people to the possiblity of entering the Catholic Church. May it be a trigger with God's grace.
It won’t let me place the code within the blog for some reason. So please go HERE for the code.
The Oxyrhynchus hymn is the oldest existing Christian hymn that we have the notes for, dating from the second or third century AD. We have the words to older hymns but we really do not know how the melody went. It is also interesting that this hymn was found in a old dump near Egypt. Here are the words to the hymn which are beautiful:
...Let it be silent,Let the Luminous stars not shine, Let the winds and all the noisy rivers died down; And as we hymn the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen Let all the powers add "Amen Amen"praise always, and glory to God,Amen Amen The sole giver of good things, Amen Amen.
As for indirect apologetics it is note worthy to point out that it is a hymn to the Trinity.
Here is some links one of which has audio of how the hymn sounded.
Oxyrhynchus hymn Audio
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
The following are some Michael O'Brien links and quotes that may be useful for indirect literary apologetics. I will be updating this log as I come across more information and insight.
Catholic Educator's on O'Brien
Rose tugged on Grandma’s sleeve and asked, “What is a sacrifice?”
“A sacrifice”. Oldmary whispered, “is when you take a heavy load on your back, like a hurt or a not-fairness. You give it to God and he puts it on the Gross of Jesus, the Big Sacrifice, and the Mass whish is also the Big Sacrifice. Then you have a part in it.”
“What kind of part?” Rose whispered.
“Part of mending.”
“Yes. Sewing the ripped hide. Sewing the cut flesh. Stopping the blood that is pouring out too fast.”
“That is sacrifice?”
“That is sacrifice.”
“Does it hurt?”
(A Cry of Stone, Michael O'Brien)
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Sunday, August 21, 2005
It could be my imagination but Mr. Incredible reminds me a lot of Jesus. For example, Mr. Incredible is captured with his arms held out wide and his legs together in the form of a cross (see the picture above). Mr. Incredible believes that his family has died and they are his life and because of this, in a way, he dies. Mr. Syndrome dares him to repay evil for evil but Mr. Incredible chooses not to do this. Later, Mr. Incredible finds out that his family is not dead and through this situation the family gains new life and they concur evil. Now it is not totally the same but there are many similarities…coincidence? I think not.
Saturday, August 20, 2005
why, mr. Anderson, why? why, why do you do it? why, why get up? why keep fighting? do you believe you're fighting for something, for more than your survival? can you tell me what it is, do you even know? is it freedom or truth, perhaps peace - could it be for love? illusions, mr. Anderson, vagaries of perception. temporary constructs of a feeble human intellect trying desperately to justify an existence that is without meaning or purpose. and all of them as artificial as the matrix itself. although, only a human mind could invent something as insipid as love. you must be able to see it, mr. Anderson, you must know it by now! you can't win, it's pointless to keep fighting! why, mr. Anderson, why, why do you persist? -agent Smith, Matrix Revolutions
Thursday, August 18, 2005
Only way to correct these distortions is to focus more time on the central tenants than on the controversial. Apologetics must become secondary, while spirituality and theology become primary. This is indirect approach at its best. Reaping the fruit of the central tenants will spill over into the secondary making a more congruent and comprehensive defense. Maybe the indirect approach to apologetics is a straighter line to the truth when it goes unexpectedly through the central tenants first to finally address the controversial. The trick is being creative enough to lead them on this path without loosing them.
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
Friday, August 12, 2005
The authentic image of God in the world is the image of crucified love -- nothing else. All the profusion of imagery in the Spiritual Canticle can only be explained and justified as the deployment of the 'hidden treasures' of this one image.
John carved crucifixes, but more than that, he drew a little oval sketch in Indian ink, about five. centimeters in diameter, to explain to one of his brethren the vision he had of the crucified in the chapel gallery. The sketch shows the hanging body with such staggering foreshortening that the technique alone 'presupposes long practice'.
The image only becomes comprehensible if we picture the body to ourselves hanging not vertically (as it usually does in representations of the cross) but downward by its hands and feet, with the crossbeams lying horizontally, downward into the darkness of God's night, the night of the world and the night of Hell.
It is in full downward flight that Christ appears to John; a stupendous vertical movement hurls him down, like a rock, the head first and straining the chest behind it, the neck vertical, the nape of the neck bent over, the arms distended and dislocated, the shoulder blades arched. The face is hidden, only the nape of the neck, the hair falling down in front of his face, the cranium, the upper part of the back, the hip, are visible. The lighting is violent, cast from above. A certain brutality produces this effect, while the lines of the drawing are supple and soft.
The work has two main features: the first appears to be imposed upon the artist, the other is his own contribution. What is imposed is the soaring vision, the apparition hurtling madly downward in the light, the divine body with specks of shadow, made of nerves rather than bones. What is imposed is to be seen in the arms composed of wounded, painfully swollen tissue, the suppleness of the narrow chest, which appears to be in flight from the unyielding wood, to be trying to detach itself and throw itself onto the ground. Under the force gravity the left wrist has been torn, and the nail has been reinserted into the swollen soft hand.
The heart bleeds in a long blackish stream on to the rigid chest ... John's own personal contribution is the sovereign allure of this vibrant sketch, full of intensity and at the same time almost relaxed, so delicately and with such quickness of touch has the artist worked. Artistic effectiveness is completely subordinated to the significance of the event. The impression almost of cruelty is revealed in an uncompromising anatomical representation (we must not forget that the young Juan de Yepes, at the age of twenty, was an orderly at the hospital ... of Medina del Campo). (Florisoone)
Florisoone reflects on the opportunities John might have had, at the time the sketch was drawn (1572-1577 in Avila), of seeing imitations of Italian originals in vertical perspective: Michelangelo's Last Judgment, which was imitated by Spanish artists, the early works of Tintoretto (El Greco only appears later). Elements of pictures, or of their copies, that John had seen may well have entered into his vision and its depiction, for 'God speaks the language of time and place'; 'yet in power of dramatic expression and in technical skill St John of the Cross surpassed the innovations of Michelangelo, Correggio, Tintoretto and El Greco, remarkable enough though they are'. (Florisoone)
For all my brothers from the East...run to your bathrooms and set a mirror up next to this buddy icon. You will then understand what I mean. I'm speaking Orthodox flip mode.
From a Adventist:
I dont quite understand the Othodox Flip mode as of yet!
Catholics from the west side make the sign of the cross touching the left shoulder and then the right shoulder. Those from the east side make the sign of the cross touching their right shoulder and then their left. Its kinda like gangster signs for old school Christians to know what set your claiming. (hehehe) So with a mirror I would be showing an eastern sign of the cross flip mode. Capeesh?
From an Orthodox Christian:
I'm with that
Look at Jesus throw up this "East Side" sign
And just look at this bling
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
The following is from First Things:
Nothing is more difficult for one who teaches this poem to students than to convince them that all of the damned souls, no matter how attractively they present their own cases, are to be seen as justly damned. The poem creates some of its drama from the tension that exists between the narrator’s view of events (in Inferno often represented by Virgil’s interpretive remarks) and that of the protagonist. What makes our task as readers difficult is that at some pivotal moments neither the narrator nor Virgil offers clear moral judgments. Instead, Dante uses irony to undercut the alluring words of sinners who present themselves as victims rather than as perpetrators of outrage in the eyes of God. Guido da Pisa’s gloss (to Inf. XX, 28–30) puts the matter succinctly: "But the suffering of the damned should move no one to compassion, as the Bible attests. And the reason for this is that the time for mercy is here in this world, while in the world to come there is time only for justice."
If it was John Milton’s task in Paradise Lost to "justify the ways of God to men," Dante before him had taken on the responsibility of showing that all that is found in this world and in the next is measured by justice. Everything in God is just; only in the mortal world of sin and death do we find injustice. And it is small wonder that Dante believes there are only few living in his time who will find salvation (Par. XXXII, 25–27). Words for "justice" and "just" recur frequently in the poem, the noun some thirty–five times, the adjective some thirty–six. If one were asked to epitomize the central concern of the Comedy in a single word, "justice" might represent the best choice.
In the Inferno we see this insistence on God’s justness from the opening lines describing Hell proper, the inscription over the gate of Hell (III, 4): "Giustizia mosse il mio alto fattore" (Justice moved my maker on high). If God is just, there can be absolutely no question concerning the justness of his judgments. All who are condemned to Hell are justly condemned. Thus, when the protagonist feels pity for some of the damned, we are meant to realize that he is at fault for doing so. This is perhaps the most crucial test of us as readers that the poem offers. If we sympathize with the damned, we follow a bad example. In such a view, the protagonist’s at times harsh reaction to various sinners, e.g., Filippo Argenti (canto VIII), Pope Nicholas III (canto XIX), Bocca degli Abati (canto XXXII), is not (even if it seems so to some contemporary readers) a sign of his falling into sinful attitudes himself, but proof of his righteous indignation as he learns to hate sin.
If some readers think that the protagonist is occasionally too zealous in his reactions to sinners, far more are of the opinion that his sympathetic responses to others correspond to those that we ourselves may legitimately feel. To be sure, Francesca da Rimini (canto V) is portrayed more sympathetically than Thaïs (canto XVIII), Ulysses (canto XXVI) than Mosca dei Lamberti (canto XXVIII), etc. Yet it also seems to some readers that Dante’s treatment of Francesca, Ulysses, and others asks us to put the question of damnation to one side, leaving us to admire their most pleasing human traits in a moral vacuum, as it were.
It is probably better to understand that we are never authorized by the poem to embrace such a view. If we are struck by Francesca’s courteous speech, we note that she is also in the habit of blaming others for her own difficulties; if we admire Farinata’s magnanimity, we also note that his soul contains no room for God; if we are wrung by Pier delle Vigne’s piteous narrative, we also consider that he has totally abandoned his allegiance to God for his belief in the power of his emperor; if we are moved by Brunetto Latini’s devotion to his pupil, we become aware that his view of Dante’s earthly mission has little of religion in it; if we are swept up in enthusiasm for the noble vigor of Ulysses, we eventually understand that he is maniacally egotistical; if we weep for Ugolino’s piteous paternal feelings, we finally understand that he, too, was centrally (and damnably) concerned with himself, even at the expense of his children.
Dante’s innovative but risky technique was to trust us, his readers, with the responsibility for seizing upon the details in the narratives told by these sympathetic sinners in order to condemn them on the evidence that issues from their own mouths. It was indeed, as we can see from the many readers who fail to take note of this evidence, a perilous decision for him to have made. Yet we are given at least two clear indicators of the attitude that should be ours. Twice in Inferno figures from Heaven descend into Hell to further God’s purpose in sending Dante on his mission. Virgil tells of the coming of Beatrice to Limbo. She tells him, in no uncertain terms, that she feels nothing for the tribulations of the damned and cannot be harmed in any way by them or by the destructive agents of the place that contains them (Inf. II, 88–93). All she longs to do is to return to her seat in Paradise (Inf. II, 71). And when the angelic intercessor arrives to open the gates of Dis, slammed shut by the rebellious angels against Virgil, we are told that this benign presence has absolutely no interest in the situation of the damned or even of the living Dante. All he desires is to complete his mission and be done with such things (Inf. IX, 88, 100–103).
Such indicators should point us in the right direction. It is a continuing monument, both to the complexity of Dante’s poem and to some readers’ desire to turn it into a less morally determined text than it ultimately is, that so many of us have such difficulty wrestling with its moral implications. This is not to say that the poem is less because of its complexity, but precisely the opposite. Its greatness is reflected in its rich and full realization of the complicated nature of human behavior and of the difficulty of moral judgment for living mortals. It asks us to learn, as does the protagonist, as we proceed.
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
Michelangelo. The Creation of Adam (detail, Sistine Chapel). 1510. Fresco. Sistine Chapel, Vatican, Rome.
Some believe that the shape behind God the father represents a cross section of the human brain. Here is a comparison;
There are also other human anatomy parts that are in other sections of the Sistine Chapel. Here is one example;
Saturday, August 06, 2005
The following is from This Rock Magazine.
In contrast to most other buildings, the successful church is so constructed that the vertical element dominates the horizontal. The soaring heights of its spaces speak to us of reaching toward heaven, of transcendence—bringing the heavenly Jerusalem down to us through the medium of the church building. It’s no coincidence that the text the Church reads in the liturgy for the dedication of a church is taken from John’s vision of the celestial Jerusalem:
"And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold the dwelling of God with men" (Rev. 21:2–4).
According to John’s words, the interior spaces of the church ought to be characterized by a dramatic sense of height—in a word, verticality. It’s a fact of human experience that verticality, the massing of volumes upward, most readily creates an atmosphere of transcendence and in turn enables man to create a building that expresses a sense of the spiritual and the heavenly. It’s this transcendence that makes sacred architecture at all possible.
The building’s architectural elements—such as windows, columns, buttresses, and sacred art—should reinforce this heavenward aspiration. Likewise, the articulation of the ceiling should further create a sense of reaching toward the heavenly Jerusalem through the use of mosaics, murals, and coffering, as well as by incorporating the mysterious play of natural light into the body of the church.
Consider also that the early Christians, prior to the Constantinian era, solemnized the holy sacrifice of the Mass in inconspicuous places—most likely in homes and sometimes in the catacombs—that had no recourse to an emphasized verticality. Yet once Constantine legalized public Christian worship, the Christians quickly adopted the basilica form, in which spaces were emphatically vertical and conspicuous. Not only did the soaring spaces of such structures lend themselves to symbolizing the reaching toward God and toward things heavenly, it also represented a kingly nobility, for the basilica was the Roman "House of the King," fittingly adapted as the House of the King of Kings.
It is difficult to visualize the kind of spaces that would be created if the ceilings in such grand churches as Notre Dame, St. Peter’s Basilica, or Constantinople’s Hagia Sophia were lowered to, say, twelve feet—or even thirty feet. Despite the exemplary iconography and permanence of these structures, they would fall drastically short—literally—as sacred places, as houses of God, if their building’s proportions were reduced to reflect an emphasis on the horizontal rather than on the vertical.
This need to emphasize the reaching toward the heavens was primarily what inspired Gothic builders to develop a structural system that allowed for even greater soaring spaces. The Gothic architect knew that without an emphasized verticality, the church is emasculated, its raison d’être subverted.
The following is from Envoy Magazine;
Well…you basically see an interesting design — nice to look at, maybe a bit eye-catching, but nothing you’d want to look at for more than a minute or so. Then, you completely relax and let your eyes go out of focus. It helps to hold it a couple inches from your face, where it’s automatically blurred, and then pull it away slowly, keeping your focus blurred. If you’re patient, a three-dimensional image will come into the foreground, with the original design staying in the background. It’s pretty amazing. I don’t know how they do it, but it’s great!
It sure is, and it really is a fantastic analogy for Christianity — for the very heart and soul of Christianity, which is the experience of God’s own Trinitarian life dwelling right within us. Think about it for a minute. The reality of grace indwelling within a person is not something immediately visible, is not part of what is “natural” to a person. If you see a human being walking down the street, and even see that person do a good deed for someone, you don’t see grace at work. You see the individual’s physical nature, and then you see a morally good act. You see someone following natural physical laws and natural moral laws, but you don’t know from that whether or not sanctifying grace indwells a person.
In fact, if you did know that grace existed in that person, and tried to explain it to someone who didn’t understand it, it would be very difficult — just like explaining the magic eye to someone who had no clue about it!
Aha! You’ve picked up the analogy perfectly! Note that once you’ve experienced grace, you realize that it is more real than the natural world, and that the natural world is really just the surface of reality. Nothing against the natural world; it’s truly good and beautiful in its own right. But a whole new adventure awaits each of us beneath the surface of the natural world, and that’s the dynamic adventure of the life of grace, the adventure of living one’s entire life in the presence of and in light of that mystery.
I think that this picture has a lot to say to Catholics today. The picture depicts the following Bible passage;
And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. A windstorm arose on the sea, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him up, saying, "Lord, save us! We are perishing!" And he said to them, "Why are you afraid, you of little faith?" Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm. They were amazed, saying, "What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?" (Matt 8:23-27)
The picture is cool because the people who are closer to Christ in the picture seem more peaceful while the people further way are in peril. The Church right now is a lot like this picture. It is getting beat up and tossed around. But what we have to remember is to keep faith and call on Jesus. If we trust in him he will get us to our destination safely. God bless
Jesus prophesied about Peter’s death when he said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go." He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, "Follow me." (John 21:18) Tradition says that St. Peter requested to be crucified up side down because he did not feel worthy to be crucified in the same way Jesus was. What I like about this painting is that the Christians look to be still moving towards their mission that Christ gave them while Peter is being crucified.
Some make the claim that Peter did not have a successor. This is odd when one of the first things that Peter did in Acts was to find a successor for Judas. (Acts 1:15-26) If Judas’ office needed a successor how much more would Peter’s Bishoprick need a successor? Peter also makes a promise in his second epistle when he wrote, “I shall also make every effort to enable you always to remember these things after my departure.” (2 Peter 1:15) From the historical record of the successors of Peter it is reasonable that one of the efforts that Peter planed for was a successor for himself.
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
Please do not bring up issues between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church on the 123 Christian forum. Example; The Filioque, Papism, The Great SchismFrom my point of view we are practically brothers in faith. Now brothers can have disagreements but you don’t air your dirty laundry with mixed company. It’s just bad form. I believe that it is to our advantage if we have a unified front. Now I am just asking. But just to let you know, I will not be responding to the issues that our faiths have with one another on this forum no matter what you decide.
Your separated brother in faith,
He made this response;
In agree, Cure- I think that we shall see communion between East and West, perhaps in our lifetime. And I agree that bringing up those issues on this board is bad form- my apologies.
When I wrote down those issues, I was actually thinking about the error on both parts. I see the Filioque as a misunderstanding that need not have went further than it did (and we now have agreement on this issue), the Schism as being a mutual failure...only Papism in strict form do I see as a Western error. But the way that JP II described his position, and described the Vicarship, I would not describe as Papism. These issues are being ironed out by our (West and East)Bishops/hierarchs- may God guide them together. Anyway, I love my Catholic brethren, and meant and mean no offense. Comment well taken and taken to heart
Yours in Christ
In battle it is important discerning foes from allies. This interaction I had is true ecumenism. We were not compromising our beliefs but we are wise enough to know when to team up. If I am on an Atheist website I do not discuss differences with Protestants and when I am on a Protestant website I do not discuss difference with those of the Orthodox faith. There is a time and place for these types of things. One thing is for sure I made an ally.
Monday, August 01, 2005
Indirect apologetics is a battle to find truth and if we are to come together in truth there must be an edge of truth that is present on both sides which the cross of Christ can bridge. We must have fairness and see the truth in others if we are to bring them from the truth that they possess to a fuller truth in Christ. To discern Christ in our enemies is a supernatural task that is only possible by saints who are able to perceive the edge of truth and not fall into heresy.
Sunday, July 31, 2005
Written by Michael Morris
Saint Teresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church, Carmelite reformer, and one of the most celebrated mystics of all time, was, by her own admission, a practical and forthright person. When asked by her confessors to write her life story detailing her prayer life and the special favors granted to her by God, she did as she was commanded but protested that she would have preferred to spend the time spinning or doing household work to benefit her poor convent. What she produced in her autobiography is a remarkable account of a woman’s entry into religious life, of the constant battle between sin and grace, and the progress of the soul towards mystical union with God. Her language, simple and unforced. Flows freely like that of a born conversationalist. It is no wonder, therefore, that it became a literary masterpiece, and one of the most widely read prose classics of Spain. While Teresa would not be labeled an intellectual, her writings are filled with a sublime wisdom that attracted, among others, the Jewish philosopher Edith Stein, leading to her conversion and entry into Carmel. This sculptural creation by Bernini is an artistic interpretation of a passage found in chapter 29 of Teresa’s autobiography. Around the year 1560 when Teresa was in her late forties, she experienced one of her most intense ecstasies. It was brought on by the visit of an angel. In her own words, she said “the angel was not large but small; he was very beautiful, and his face was so aflame that he seemed to be one of those very sublime angels that appear to be cherubim, for they didn’t tell me their names. But ference between some angels and others and between these latter and still others that I wouldn’t know how to explain it.” Students of angelology will notice that Teresa made a mistake in identifying her angelic visitor. Of the nine choirs of angels, the angels of fire and love are called seraphim, not cherubim, and they stand closest to the throne of God. Furthermore, what this angel did do to Teresa was to fill her with God’s love, a love that was so incredibly intense that it was at the same time both sweet and painful: “I saw in his hands, a large golden arrow and at the end of the iron tip there appeared to be a little fire. It seemed to me this angel plunged the arrow several times into my heart and that it reached deep within me. When he drew it out, I thought he was carrying off with him the deepest part of me; and he left me all on fire with the great love of God. The pain was so great that it made me moan, and the sweetness this greatest pain caused me was so superabundant that there is no desire capable of taking it away.” Bernini’s angel holds the golden arrow in his hand, ready to plunge it again into Teresa’s heart. With a serene smile, he looks down upon the barefoot Carmelite nun as her mouth slackens, her body goes limp, her eyelids drop, and her head is thrown back in ecstasy. Critics were quick to remark how indelicately sensual this religious composition appeared. And yet, Teresa, in her own words, relates how closely the body trails the soul enraptured by God: “The pain is not bodily but spiritual, although the body doesn’t fail to share in some of it, and even a great deal. The loving exchange that takes place between the soul and God is so sweet that I beg him in his goodness to give a taste of this love to anyone who thinks I am lying.” Thus, the body of the saint is Bernini’s sculpture is levitating, lifted as it were by that same irresistible love that captivates her soul. According to Carmelite tradition, this mystical event occurred again in the life of Saint Teresa ten years later when she was prioress of the Incarnation convent in Avila. Known as the “Transverberation,” the occurrence was commemorated as a feast of the saint by the eighteenth century. As a sculptural composition, Bernini’s depiction of the Transverberation is a triumph of baroque ingenuity. Natural light is funneled from a concealed window above, shimmering against the golden rays and bathing the white marble figures with an ethereal glow. The golden arrow that plunged itself into Teresa’s heart reflects that light with the glow of fire. All these elements bring to the sensible observer a material approximation of the wonder and awe found in the invisible world of the spirit, a spirit relishing the embrace of divine, ineffable love. (Magnificat October 2001, Vol. 3, No. 8)