24 December 2010

A Christmas Thought

And when we give each other Christmas gifts in His name, let us remember that He has given us the sun and the moon and the stars, and the earth with its forests and mountains and oceans--and all that lives and move upon them. He has given us all green things and everything that blossoms and bears fruit and all that we quarrel about and all that we have misused--and to save us from our foolishness, from all our sins, He came down to earth and gave us Himself.
Sigrid Undset
Merry Christmas to all!

21 December 2010

Gosh, Were Our Ancestors STUPID.

AL Daily linked to an interesting project over at Edge.org: a collection of now-disproven commonly held beliefs, scientific or otherwise.  It was a fun exercise to guess at some of the presuppositions and pet peeves of the contributors based on the paragraphs submitted.  There seems to be a wide range of respondents from many different disciplines, though there is certainly a bias toward standing aghast at some of the "scientifically driven" medical theories that were way, way off the mark.

One in particular caught my attention, not so much on account of its thinly veiled hostility to the influence of the churches on public policy (that sentiment was actually quite common, from what I found) but the preposterous inconsistency of his reasoning.  Eduardo Salcedo-Albar├ín had some strong words about the reprehensible practices of phrenology and lobotomy:

18 December 2010

From the Abbot's Desk

Working my way through the commentary of St. Bernard of Clairvaux on the Song of Songs has been a most rewarding journey (aided by the gift of the entirety of the extant sermons for my 30th birthday last year. . . you know who you are).  I've been posting miscellaneous quotes that seem to have a standalone value without knowing just how they fit into the overall context.  I've been posting them sans commentary, perhaps with emphasis here or there.  Another worthy entry from the Mellifluous Doctor, some prudent counsel for those who undertake to guide the Church as priests or engage in her mission to the world (which just about sums all of us up):

At this point we need to be warned not to give away what we have received for our own welfare, nor to retain for ourselves what must be expended for others.

08 December 2010

Holy Mother Takes a Stand

From von Balthasar's Christian State of Life, in honor of today's Feast of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, patroness of our seminary and of the United States:

"You are all beautiful, and
there is no blemish in you"
(Song of Songs 4:1).
An outdoor fresco outside
the Pantheon in Rome.
In Mary is proof that one does not have to experience all the ways of the world in order to know them. She, the Seat of Wisdom, knows the whole truth about the fallen world, for she sees in the torn body and spiritual anguish of her Son what this world actually does and is. In God’s view, no further knowledge about sin is either valid or useful. Mary does not have to leave the contemplation of her Son to dispense her love, her assistance and her mediation on all the paths of earth. She does so because her Son has done so before her in eucharistic prodigality, and it is no more necessary for her than for him to alter her stand in God’s will in order to bend pityingly and efficaciously over all the world’s suffering and guilt. She is so pure and loving that she needs no cloister to remain undefiled by the world. Wherever she goes, she brings purity, love and heaven with her; her love is its own cloister. Every dividing wall between world and cloister, earth and heaven, falls as she approaches it. She teaches Christians to be fearless in their following of Christ, who does not hesitate to send his own among wolves and to expose them unprotected to the hostility of the world. Where a cloister does exist, it is not an invention of fear; like the whole state of election, it has a representative value as the manifest symbol of withdrawal from the world and the taking of a stand in God.
 I just returned from a ceremony in which about a dozen of my brother seminarians finished the 30-day consecration to Jesus through Mary according to St. Louis de Montfort.  It was an edifying and "pious" gathering, not in the self-conscious, preening way we normally use that word, but in the sense of a quiet, devoted act of love for the Virgin Mother and the Son she was given to bear.

Thank you, men.

06 December 2010

The Census

An excerpt from my Advent reading on St. Joseph, felicitously and fortuitously coinciding with our theological studies on Origen of Alexandria:
Journeying to Bethlehem for the census in obedience to the orders of legitimate authority, Joseph fulfilled for the child the significant task of officially inserting the name "Jesus, son of Joseph of Nazareth" (cf. Jn 1:45) in the registry of the Roman Empire. This registration clearly shows that Jesus belongs to the human race as a man among men, a citizen of this world, subject to laws and civil institutions, but also "savior of the world." Origen gives a good description of the theological significance, by no means marginal, of this historical fact: "Since the first census of the whole world took place under Caesar Augustus, and among all the others Joseph too went to register together with Mary his wife, who was with child, and since Jesus was born before the census was completed: to the person who makes a careful examination it will appear that a kind of mystery is expressed in the fact that at the time when all people in the world presented themselves to be counted, Christ too should be counted. By being registered with everyone, he could sanctify everyone; inscribed with the whole world in the census, he offered to the world communion with himself, and after presenting himself he wrote all the people of the world in the book of the living, so that as many as believed in him could then be written in heaven with the saints of God, to whom be glory and power for ever and ever, Amen."

Origen of Alexandria
Eleventh Homily on Luke
Post-Apostolic Exhortation of John Paul II
Promulgated on the Feast of the Assumption, 1989
(the Eleventh of his Pontificate)