Thursday, December 27, 2007

This sketch of the human story began in a cave; the cave which popular science associates with the cave-man and in which practical discovery has really found archaic drawings of animals. The second half of human history, which was like a new creation of the world, also begins in a cave. There is even a shadow of such a fancy in the fact that animals were again present; for it was a cave used as a stable by the mountaineers of the uplands about Bethlehem; […] It was here that a homeless couple had crept underground with the cattle when the doors of the crowded caravanserai had been shut in their faces; and it was here beneath the very feet of the passersby, in a cellar under the very floor of the world, that Jesus Christ was born. But in that second creation there was indeed something symbolical in the roots of the primeval rock or the horns of the prehistoric herd. God also was a Cave-Man, and had also traced strange shapes of creatures, curiously colored upon the wall of the world; but the pictures that he made had come to life.

--G. K. Chesterton

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Bethlehem is emphatically a place where extremes meet.

[…] If the world wanted what is called a non-controversial aspect of Christianity, it would probably select Christmas. Yet it is obviously bound up with what is supposed to be a controversial aspect […]; the respect paid to the Blessed Virgin. […] You cannot chip away the statue of a mother from all round that of a new-born child. You cannot suspend the new-born child in mid-air; indeed you cannot really have a statue of a new-born child at all. Similarly, you cannot suspend the idea of a new-born child in the void or think of him without thinking of his mother. You cannot visit the child without visiting the mother; you cannot in common human life approach the child except through the mother. […] We must either leave Christ out of Christmas, or Christmas out of Christ, or we must admit, if only as we admit it in an old picture, that those holy heads are too near together for the haloes not to mingle and cross.

--G. K. Chesterton

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

I am unable to fear a God who makes himself so little for me ... I love him! ... for he is all love and mercy.

--St. Therese of Lisieux

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas 2007

Yes, [this history] really did happen. Jesus is no myth. He is a man of flesh and blood and He stands as a fully real part of history. We can go the the very places where He himself went. We can hear His words through His witnesses. He died and He is risen... the myths had waited for Him, because in Him what they long for came to pass.

-Benedict XVI

Christianity is not born as the fruit of our culture or as the discovery of our intelligence... it reveals itself in facts events, which constitute a new reality in the world, a living reality; in movement. Christian reality is God's mystery that has entered the world as a human history.

-Luigi Giussani

Schall on Christmas

Fr. James V. Schall, SJ, is one of my favorite essayists as well as a great priest. Over the years he has written essays just for this time of year. Spend some time with:

In his wonderful book Idylls and Rambles, sub-titled "Lighter Christian Essays," Schall explains the notion of "Christmas reading" and suggests we begin with:
  • Belloc's The Four Men
  • E.F. Schumacher's A Guide for the Perplexed
  • Dorothy Sayers's The Nine Tailors and The Man Born to Be King
  • Anything by P. G. Wodehouse, but especially Right Ho, Jeeves and Leave It to Psmith
  • Josef Pieper's Enthusiasm and the Divine Madness
  • Mad Magazine
  • G. K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy

There is a difference between a "Christmas Shopping Guide" and a "Short List of What to Read for Christmas." It is said that one can "recommend" his own books! What else? My memory is hazy, but Scott Walter once told me that Belloc, in his old age, was supposed to have read nothing but "Wodehouse, the Diary of a Nobody, and his own works."Of my own works, I have a few of late that I am glad are out, to wit: On the Unseriousness of Human Affairs, Sum Total of Human Happiness, and The Order of Things.

My friend Jim Campbell recently asked me if I wanted anything from London. I said, "Find me a copy of Belloc's
Towns of Destiny," a 1927 book. And he found a very handsome edition. It is almost painfully beautiful. I think that Christmas reading and giving of books should not be in the ordinary line of what are called "best-sellers." Rarely are best sellers worth too much effort.

Most of the world's wisdom is found in things that did not currently sell very well. There are exceptions. This year is the 100th anniversary of the publication of Chesterton's
Orthodoxy. It is the greatest book of the last hundred years. No one should be without a copy. No one will read it and not be delighted.

I read Peter Kreeft's
The Philosophy of Jesus, which I much enjoyed.

The pope's
Jesus of Nazareth is something of an event.

I am still amused, from several years ago, at having read, while at my brother's for Christmas, Dostoevsky's
The Idiot. Needless to say, my brother had great fun explaining to his friends that his brother spent Christmas reading a book called The Idiot. But of course, it is a great book.

Finally, I had mentioned in an interview that I had somehow lost my copy of Robert Short's
The Gospel According to Peanuts. When one arrived unexpectedly in the mail from a generous reader, I was most pleased. This book is well worth reading at Christmas. It contains no Christmas sequences, but it does have two Great Pumpkin ones. It's the Great Pumpkin is, after all, a Christmas story. Linus insists on believing that the Great Pumpkin will come no matter what. He is not exactly a fideist. But one suspects that if we do not believe it will come, we will likely never see it when it does.

There is a Santa Claus!

"Yes, Aquinas, There Is a Santa Claus." A very fun read, especially if you are familiar with St. Thomas.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Bella the Movie

If you want to make God laugh,
tell him your plans.


Go see the movie Bella. Here is a good interview with both the main actor and one of the producers. From about minute 11:30 to 15:00, the interview is must listening to: Eduardo tells the story of why making this movie has already been worth it.

Here is a chance to see it for free:

If you live in LA, Pasadena, Orange County, or surrounding areas,METANOIA FILMS HAS HUNDREDS OF FREE TICKETS TO GIVE AWAY!Call Amanda or Emily at (323) 850-5467 RIGHT NOW! We will hook you up - Tickets are available for this Saturday's matinee showtimes and all showtimes for this Sunday! CALL NOW and remember to mention the Bella Free Tickets Facebook giveaway! TELL ALL OF YOUR FRIENDS!

It is showing at these theaters: Theater Listings (click the cities on the left side).

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Claire Marie

Yes, I know it is the feast day of St. Francis, but first a little more on Claire, Clare, Chiara.

O Claire, endowed with so many titles of clarity! Clear [clara] even before your conversion, clearer [clarior] in your manner of living, exceedingly clear [praeclarior] in your enclosed life, and brilliant [clarissima] in splendor after the course of your mortal life. In Claire, a clear mirror is given to the entire world.

--Pope Alexander IV

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Our Second Daughter

Claire Marie was born today at 5:17 am, weighing 8 lbs., 12 oz, and measuring 20 1/2 inches long. All are doing fine. I guess our guardian angels were looking out for us. What a great day to be born and to be little: to be under the protection of our guardian angels. Very blessed with two daughters: Therese Marie and now Claire Marie.

From a sermon by St. Bernard:

That they might guard you in all your ways
He has given his angels charge over you to guard you in all your ways. Let them thank the Lord for his mercy; his wonderful works are for the children of men. Let them give thanks and say among the nations, the Lord has done great things for them. O Lord, what is man that you have made yourself known to him, or why do you incline your heart to him? And you do incline your heart to him; you show him your care and your concern. Finally, you send your only Son and the grace of your Spirit, and promise him a vision of your countenance. And so, that nothing in heaven should be wanting in your concern for us, you send those blessed spirits to serve us, assigning them as our guardians and our teachers.

He has given his angels charge over you to guard you in all your ways. These words should fill you with respect, inspire devotion and instil confidence; respect for the presence of angels, devotion because of their loving service, and confidence because of their protection. And so the angels are here; they are at your side, they are with you, present on your behalf. They are here to protect you and to serve you. But even if it is God who has given them this charge, we must nonetheless be grateful to them for the great love with which they obey and come to help us in our great need.

So let us be devoted and grateful to such great protectors; let us return their love and honour them as much as we can and should. Yet all our love and honour must go to him, for it is from him that they receive all that makes them worthy of our love and respect.

We should then, my brothers, show our affection for the angels, for one day they will be our co-heirs just as here below they are our guardians and trustees appointed and set over us by the Father. We are God’s children although it does not seem so, because we are still but small children under guardians and trustees, and for the present little better than slaves.Even though we are children and have a long, a very long and dangerous way to go, with such protectors what have we to fear? They who keep us in all our ways cannot be overpowered or led astray, much less lead us astray. They are loyal, prudent, powerful. Why then are we afraid? We have only to follow them, stay close to them, and we shall dwell under the protection of God’s heaven.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Little Blogging These Days

Yes, school is back in session and the beginning of this school year is busy ... as usual. Sporadic posting for a couple weeks and then back to more normal ways.
Feel free to leave your suggestion for world poetry that high school students should memorize. See below: "World's Best Poetry."

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Mother Teresa's Faith

With all the fuss over Mother Teresa's doubts, Dr. Anthony Lilles has penned a better explanation of Mother Teresa's faith: "Mother Teresa – The Scandal of her Faith." Here is a snippet, but you should read the whole thing:

By her faith, what Mother Teresa did what every great man and woman has done, and every true Christian seeks to do. That is this: to live for others. She chose to do this in the context of her faith, even when her emotions and understanding could not support her. Here, the mystery of Mother Teresa’s faith is much richer than Hitchens sees. For Christians, faith means specifically to imitate Christ: to accept God's love even when it cannot be felt and to love as he commanded even when it does not seem to make sense to do so. By her faith, even when she could not feel God’s love and wondered whether it was real at all, Mother Teresa chose to believe in that love enough to reach out to the world: to the lonely, to the abandoned, to the dying, and to the poorest of the poor. For Hitchens living out such a decision is a scandal. For Christians, it is the mystery of the Cross.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

World's Best Poetry

As some of you know, I teach high school English. I require the students to memorize and recite one poem (or excerpt from a play/novel/speech) a month. So if you know of any poems that are not considered British or American (yes, I teach World Literature), then please let me know. I have a few but need some more. So far, there is:

Excerpt from The Odyssey
St. Augustine's "O Beauty, Ever Ancient, Ever New"
and an excerpt from the windmill scene from Don Quixote.

I have some others but am not sure if I want to use them: opening lines of Aeneid, Paz (which is his best or most appropriate for high school students? and the same for Verlaine, Rilke, Baudelaire, Adonis, Gabriela Mistral, Milosz), St. John of the Cross, Pericles' Funeral Oration, and something (which?) from Cicero.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Secular Java

Ignatius Insight Scoop has an interesting article worth reading and considering along with their own response: "A Secularist Philosophy of Coffee."

The Golden Compass? What It's Really about?

In "The Golden Compass is pointing towards anti-Catholicism," American Papist has a good overview of the upcoming movie and the discussion related to the book's author and his anti-theistic and anti-Christian views, which he has said he seeks to impart to children through his stories.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Queenship of Our Lady

Worth listening to is "A Biblical Theology of Mary's Queenship." Especially today!

Observe how fitting it was that even before her assumption the name of Mary shone forth wondrously throughout the world. Her fame spread everywhere even before she was raised above the heavens in her magnificence. Because of the honour due her Son, it was indeed fitting for the Virgin Mother to have first ruled upon earth and then be raised up to heaven in glory. It was fitting that her fame be spread in this world below, so that she might enter the heights of heaven on overwhelming blessedness. Just as she was borne from virtue to virtue by the Spirit of the Lord, she was transported from earthly renown to heavenly brightness.

So it was that she began to taste the fruits of her future reign while still in the flesh. At one moment she withdrew to God in ecstasy; at the next she would bend down to her neighbours with indescribable love. In heaven angels served her, while here on earth she was venerated by the service of men. Gabriel and the angels waited upon her in heaven. The virgin John, rejoicing that the Virgin Mother was entrusted to him at the cross, cared for her with the other apostles here below. The angels rejoiced to see their queen; the apostles rejoiced to see their lady, and both obeyed her with loving devotion.Dwelling in the loftiest citadel of virtue, like a sea of divine grace or an unfathomable source of love that has everywhere overflowed its banks, she poured forth her bountiful waters on trusting and thirsting souls. Able to preserve both flesh and spirit from death she bestowed health-giving salve on bodies and souls. Has anyone ever come away from her troubled or saddened or ignorant of the heavenly mysteries? Who has not returned to everyday life gladdened and joyful because his request had been granted by the Mother of God?

She is a bride, so gentle and affectionate, and the mother of the only true bridegroom. In her abundant goodness she has channelled the spring of reason’s garden, the well of living and life-giving waters that pour forth in a rushing stream from divine Lebanon and flow down from Mount Zion until they surround the shores of every far-flung nation. With divine assistance she has redirected these waters and made them into streams of peace and pools of grace. Therefore, when the Virgin of virgins was led forth by God and her Son, the King of kings. amid the company of exulting angels and rejoicing archangels, with the heavens ringing with praise, the prophecy of the psalmist was fulfilled, in which he said to the Lord: At your right hand stands the queen, clothed in gold of Ophir.

Ten years ago today, I was at the Rue de Bac at a special liturgical celebration for the Queenship of Our Lady and the Marian consecration of quite a few "young" Catholics.

Monday, August 20, 2007

"The President, The Pope and the Prime Minister: Three Who Changed The World" Interview

An interview/discussion worth listening to: "The President, The Pope and the Prime Minister: Three Who Changed The World" with Hugh Hewitt and the author of this new book, John O'Sullivan. You can listen live here from 3-6 pm (PST) on Monday, August 20, or listen to it in their audio clips archive for August 20, 2007.

Mellifluous Doctor : St. Bernard of Clairvaux

From a sermon by St. Bernard, abbot

I love because I love, I love that I may love

Love is sufficient of itself, it gives pleasure by itself and because of itself. It is its own merit, its own reward. Love looks for no cause outside itself, no effect beyond itself. Its profit lies in its practice. I love because I love, I love that I may love. Love is a great thing so long as it continually returns to its fountainhead, flows back to its source, always drawing from there the water which constantly replenishes it. Of all the movements, sensations and feelings of the soul, love is the only one in which the creature can respond to the Creator and make some sort of similar return however unequal though it be. For when God loves, all he desires is to be loved in return; the sole purpose of his love is to be loved, in the knowledge that those who love him are made happy by their love of him.

The Bridegroom’s love, or rather the love which is the Bridegroom, asks in return nothing but faithful love. Let the beloved, then, love in return. Should not a bride love, and above all, Love’s bride? Could it be that Love not be loved?Rightly then does she give up all other feelings and give herself wholly to love alone; in giving love back, all she can do is to respond to love. And when she has poured out her whole being in love, what is that in comparison with the unceasing torrent of that original source? Clearly, lover and Love, soul and Word, bride and Bridegroom, creature and Creator do not flow with the same volume; one might as well equate a thirsty man with the fountain.

What then of the bride’s hope, her aching desire, her passionate love, her confident assurance? Is all this to wilt just because she cannot match stride for stride with her giant, any more than she can vie with honey for sweetness, rival the lamb for gentleness, show herself as white as the lily, burn as bright as the sun, be equal in love with him who is Love? No. It is true that the creature loves less because she is less. But if she loves with her whole being, nothing is lacking where everything is given. To love so ardently then is to share the marriage bond; she cannot love so much and not be totally loved, and it is in the perfect union of two hearts that complete and total marriage consists. Or are we to doubt that the soul is loved by the Word first and with a greater love?

Now, be sure to live this feast day: feast!

Pope Benedict XVI: "On Saint Bernard of Clairvaux"

For him, love is the greatest force of the spiritual life. God, who is love, creates man out of love and out of love rescues him. The salvation of all human beings, mortally wounded by original sin and burdened with personal sins, consists in adhering firmly to divine charity, which was fully revealed to us in Christ crucified and risen.

In his love, God heals our will and sick intelligence, raising them to the highest level of union with him, namely, to holiness and mystical union.
It is necessary to pay attention to the dangers of excessive activity, regardless of one's condition and occupation, observes the saint, because -- as he said to the Pope of that time, and to all Popes and to all of us -- numerous occupations often lead to "hardness of heart," "they are no more than suffering for the spirit, loss of intelligence and dispersion of grace" (II, 3).
This admonition is valid for all kinds of occupations, including those inherent to the governance of the Church. The message that, in this connection, Bernard addresses to the Pontiff, who had been his disciple at Clairvaux, is provocative: "See where these accursed occupations can lead you, if you continue to lose yourself in them -- without leaving anything of yourself for yourself" (ibid).
How useful for us also is this call to the primacy of prayer! May St. Bernard, who was able to harmonize the monk's aspiration for solitude and the tranquility of the cloister with the urgency of important and complex missions in the service of the Church, help us to concretize it in our lives, in our circumstances and possibilities.
He [St. Bernard] wrote these famous words: "Whoever you are that perceive yourself during this mortal existence to be rather drifting in treacherous waters, at the mercy of the winds and the waves, than walking on firm ground, turn not away your eyes from the splendor of this guiding star, unless thou wish to be submerged by the storm. ... Look at the star, call upon Mary. ... With her for guide, you shall not go astray, while invoking her, you shall never lose heart ... if she walks before you, you shall not grow weary; if she shows you favor, you shall reach the goal," ("Homilia super Missus est," II, 17).

Mary, Star of the Sea, Pray for us.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Reversion Story in the Works *UPDATED*

White Stone Name Seeker is in the process of telling her "reversion" story through blog posts. So far, there are four posted. All are well worth the brief time and short read.

From nominal Catholic to confused to mixed-up to transcendental to tarot to New Age to suicidal to Islam to "religious" to ... . This is just a taste.


Allah Is Three?

Say it ain't so: "Pray to Allah, Dutch bishop suggests."
(HT: CafeteriaIsClosed) Here's a bit more.

Um, but "Allah" says:
They are unbelievers who say, 'Allah is the Third of Three.' No allah is there but one Allah. (Qur'an V.77)
But those who disbelieve, and cry lies to Our signs--they are the inhabitants of Hell. (Qur'an V.88)
Gates of Vienna closes their post on this with this quote:

Mr. Numan adds this afterthought:
Why not call God Quetzalcoatl? Or maybe Baal or Moloch? After all, they are supreme deities too. And almost as bloody as Allah.

More Atheism : Darwinism and Religion

Some time ago, theoretical particle physicist Stephen Barr recounted a talk by atheist Daniel Dennett, wherein Dennett was a bit stunned at one of the consequences of his atheism:

The philosopher Daniel Dennett visited us at the University of Delaware a few weeks ago and gave a public lecture entitled “Darwin, Meaning, Truth, and Morality.” I missed the talk—I was visiting my sons at Notre Dame and taking in the Notre Dame-Navy football game. Friends told me what I missed, however. Dennett claimed that Darwin had shredded the credibility of religion and was, indeed, the very “destroyer” of God. In the question session, philosophy professor Jeff Jordan made the following observation to Dennett, “If Darwinism is inherently atheistic, as you say, then obviously it can’t be taught in public schools.” “And why is that?” inquired Dennett, incredulous. “Because,” said Jordan, “the Supreme Court has held that the Constitution guarantees government neutrality between religion and irreligion.” Dennett, looking as if he’d been sucker-punched, leaned back against the wall, and said, after a few moments of silence, “clever.” After another silence, he came up with a reply: He had not meant to say that evolution logically entails atheism, merely that it undercuts religion.

Jeff Jordan’s question underlines how the self-appointed defenders of the scientific method are trying to have it both ways. Don’t allow religious philosophy to intrude into biology classrooms and texts, they say, for that is to soil the sacred precincts of science, which must be reserved for hypotheses that can be rigorously tested and confronted with data. The next minute they are going around claiming that anti-religious philosophy is part and parcel of the scientific viewpoint.

One of the glories of science is that people come together to do it who have all sorts of religious beliefs, philosophical views, cultural backgrounds, and political opinions. But as scientists they speak the same language. It is a wonderful fellowship. I have written research papers with colleagues (and friends) who are fierce atheists and think my Catholic beliefs are for the birds, and they know that I think their atheism is for the birds. Yet we respect each other as scientists. People like Dennett who wish to equate science with their own philosophical views (presumably out of vanity) risk doing immeasurable harm both to science itself and to its prestige. He is entitled to his philosophical opinions, but he is not entitled to claim them as the utterances of Science.
I believe it was Dennett who coined the term “brights” for those who reject religion on scientific grounds. Dennett would of course make his own list of “brights”, but poor Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Newton, Boyle, Lavoisier, Ampère, Faraday, Maxwell, Kelvin and almost every other founder of modern science wouldn’t make his list. I am sure they don’t mind, however. They will make the list of people who have actually contributed to human knowledge.


Monday, August 13, 2007

More Cardinal Lustiger. "You died for me and I don't give a damn." Huh?

Nova et Vetera has a brief post on Cardinal Lustiger's passing, which recalls an anecdote Cardinal Lustiger used to tell:

I heard a story attributed to him—maybe it is one he told rather than a story about himself (since he himself was a Jewish convert). I was given to understand that the story is a true one.

Two boys were, out of mischief, determined to tease their parish priest, so they went to confession and made up outrageous sins, just to see what the priest would say. The priest, listening to the second boy, realizing that he was being 'had', and hurt by the mockery of the sacrament, asked the second lad as a 'penance' to go to the crucifix over the tabernacle and shout out loud, three times 'you died for me, and I don't give a damn'. The lad did as he was asked; by the third time he was in tears. Some years later, he was ordained a priest.

Faith is ... evidence? Discussion on Faith

Here is a good discussion on faith. What is faith? What is its origin? Is faith certain? Is faith evidence? (A good complement to this: "Cardinal Danielou on Faith")

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Fellowship 9/11 : Michael Moore Style

Click "Play" twice if need be. Hilarious!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

New Atheism? Same Result: God Still Exists

If the latest atheist craze, which some call the "New Atheism," interests you or even challenges you--and by that I mean arguments from Hitchens, Dawkins, Dennett, et al.--then I suggest these two essays: "Hitchens’ Hubris" by Tom Piatak and "The Dawkins Confusion" by Alvin Plantinga.

Piatak's piece points out some weak argumentation by Hitchens and then explains many (though there are plenty more) of the errors that Hitchens states and apparently believes in. One may take issue with some of Piatak's points but overall he levies quite a bit of damage upon Hitchens's so-called evidence and facts.

Plantinga's essay is a critical review of Dawkins's latest book, The God Delusion, and I think if you accept Plantinga's metaphysics then it is hard to argue against him ... at least successfully. Otherwise, I guess it just depends on what you choose to see.

I would love to comment more, but I am spending the rest of the evening with this (Mozart's Requiem), some of this (slurp), and bits of this (Communio articles; just about finished "Mirth and Freedom in The Magic Flute" by Jonah Lynch; a good read) for break time while I try to finish reading this (if you don't know why, don't ask, just follow the next link) so I can finish that.

On Canons, Modern Philosophy, Thomism, and Sleeping Beauty?

Though I take issue with some of the less significant (at least to his overall thesis) points in this essay, "On Canons" by Fr. Edward T. Oakes, SJ, is a good read and sheds light on some important philosophical (and educational) issues. There is much to consider in this piece, but I will just quote two passages, the first of which considers the critique from some that medieval Christians basically enslaved philosophy to the dictates of faith ... so much so that philosophy was in a slumber, awaiting its day of liberation:
[Etienne] Gilson [...] retorted that, far from poisoning philosophy with a sleeping potion, faith illuminates from above the path reason would follow in any event if it only had a map and a flashlight. Philosophy’s goal has always been the truth, but it has to grope because it can’t see that far ahead. To understand Gilson’s thesis, think of it this way: When one is first studying algebra, say, especially when using one of those teach-yourself books, the problems are given in the front to work out on one’s own, with the answers keyed at the back. Now, if one works out a problem only to discover from the answer key that one got it wrong, one knows then and there that one was wrong but not how or why. For that one needs to go back and retrace one’s steps and see how one can rationally prove both the false step and the true path.
And then the closing lines:

But as Adler says in his Aquinas Lecture: “I owe to a friend the insight that it is not possible to be a good disciple of a false doctrine; but it must be added that it is not easy to be the good disciple of a true one.”

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Monday, August 06, 2007

Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger : Death of the Cardinal *UPDATED*

Christianity is the fruit of Judaism.

The strength of evil can only be answered with an even greater strength of love.

Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger passed away. Here's the ABC News story.

And better, here's a more reflective perspective on the Cardinal:

In the early 1950s, or so I’m told, two young men who would later come to world prominence attended some of the same political science lectures at the Sorbonne. One was the son of Polish-Jewish parents who had emigrated to France; the other was from Cambodia. One had lost his mother to the race-madness of German National Socialism; the other would himself be the cause of suffering for innumerable mothers. One had been converted to Catholicism as a young man; the other had followed a different messianic creed, Marxism. One would become the embodiment of a humanizing, reasonable faith; the other would come to symbolize the horrors that irrationality married to utopianism can cause. One would advocate spiritual revolution; the other, communist revolution. One would see his name invoked as a blessing; the other’s name would be cursed.

One was named Jean-Marie Lustiger; the other, Pol Pot.

Wow! What a beginning! Here's some more:

For Cardinal Lustiger, the “choice of God” was, at the very same time, the choice of an authentic humanism, a truly liberating humanism that could set men and women free in the deepest meaning of freedom: freedom from the fear of final oblivion that has haunted humanity for millennia, but no more so than in our time.
And at the heart of culture, Lustiger knew, is cult: the act of worship. Everyone worships; the only question is whether the object of our worship is worthy. Jean-Marie Lustiger lived, led, and died in the conviction that the worship of the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jesus is true worship, worship that can shape a truly liberating humanism. That is why everyone whose life he touched was the richer for the encounter.

And if I can find my Dare To Believe (in a box somewhere; not enough bookshelves), then I can post some of my favorite comments/thoughts from the Cardinal.

Until then, I leave you with this:

Lustiger kept largely silent on the tragedy of his mother Gisele [who died in the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz]. But during France's National Day of Remembrance to commemorate the deportation and death of French Jews during World War II, he took part in the reading of names in 1999 and came to his mother's.

"Gisele Lustiger," he intoned, then added, "ma maman" (my mama), before continuing, Catholic World News reported.

Here is a lecture worth reading: "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity" (1997) by Jean-Marie Cardinal Lustiger.

Blog by the Sea has a great round-up of related posts: "Cardinal Lustiger Rest in Peace."

And the Archdiocese of Paris has a photo album of some moments from Lustiger's life.

Following the tremendous success of World Youth Day 1997 in Paris, Cardinal Lustiger was interviewed by Communio (24,4. Winter 97). Here are some highlights:

The secret of WYD in Paris is not that we looked for
something we thought would attract the youth, but only the truth, the purity, and the beauty of the Good News of Christ.

It was evident to the young people that the pope did not welcome them in his own name, but in the name of Christ, by exercising his apostolic ministry as Peter's successor.

What brought together these hundreds of thousands of teenagers, what they lived, was the mystery of Salvation, the freedom brought by Christ the Savior. Through the liturgy, Christ himself touched their hearts. Remember the words of Irenaeus: "Omnem novitatem attulit, afferens semetipsum" [In becoming present himself, he brought all novelty]. Something new occurs every time Christ becomes present in the midst of his people.

People objected that the liturgy would not respond to young people's need to celebrate, and that we would risk meeting with failure--if we did not pervert the liturgy altogether. However, the event itself proved that nothing could have been further from the truth.

The liturgy is the place par excellence where the Church communicates the word of God and his presence in the sacraments; it is the means by which Christ reveals himself to men--today as always.

[T]eaching the faith must go straight to the core: the Paschal mystery of Christ in its ecclesial dimension.

This last statement by Lustiger brings to mind much of what Fr. Louis Bouyer conveyed in many of his writings, which perhaps is one reason why Cardinal Lustiger gave the homily at Fr. Bouyer's funeral, which is also published by Communio (32, 2. Summer 2005).


CatholicGeek has a worth-reading bio/eulogy to Cardinal Lustiger at "A Cardinal, A Jew, the Son of an Immigrant."


Nova et Vetera recalls one of the anecdotes Cardinal Lustiger used to tell: Was it just some kid or Lustiger himself as a child?

Friday, August 03, 2007


Ave Maria : Things Don't Look Good

Ave Maria School of Law and the University have been through quite a few "problems." How many can Monaghan and Dobranski weather? Here is part of the latest: Professor Emeritus Charles E. Rice's Memo to the Board of Governors. AveWatch has more ... and quite a bit of it. Mirror of Justice also has a letter from some faculty.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

CAIR Threatens Young America's and Free Speech

Every summer, Young America's Foundation has a conference for conservative (and libertarians too) students. Go here for more on that. Well, this year Robert Spencer is scheduled to speak. He is well-known but not necessarily as well-liked by all. Spencer writes and speaks on Islam and especially on those Muslims (and their supporters) who interpret Islam in a way that allows for or even calls for lying, suppression of equal rights, the spread of Islam to the point of a greater Islamic state (an empire/caliphate), and even, yes, terrorism in the cause of jihad. As you can imagine, Spencer has some enemies. One of them is the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

This week, CAIR had its lawyers send Young America's Founation a letter threatening legal action unless Spencer's talk was cancelled or unless Young America's would "ensure that false and defamatory statements are not disseminated at that session." If you know anything about CAIR and their tactics, then you automatically see the irony here. CAIR itself engages in actions and words that are "false" as well as "defamatory" towards those with whom they disagree ... and they do this often.

As well, just this week CAIR's spokesman Ibrahim Hooper once again made statements and accusations which are not altogether true. Robert Spencer has more on what happened.

Washington Times on "CAIR vs. YAF" here.

Interestingly, the lawyer for CAIR has also been quite involved in the Democratic Party:

From February 1993 until May 1998, Mr. Sandler served on the staff of the DNC as general counsel. He continues to serve in that position through his law firm. In this capacity, Mr. Sandler has been responsible for all legal matters affecting the national party [...].

As to CAIR's history of this type of intimidation and deceit, start here and then go here and when I have the time I will comment further on it.

Spencer gave the speech. Michelle Malkin has commentary from the event. (Keep scrolling down for excerpts from Spencer's speech and even the introduction. Worth reading.)
Washington Times has some too.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Moore Sicko

Is this British Patient Safety report what he wants for the U.S.: "Hundreds of hospital fatalities 'avoidable'"?
"Biscet Forever: Silence is SiCKO" is worth reading to find out what Moore didn't do and that he should have done.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Nietzsche : Truth and Woman? Woman and Truth?

Friedrich Nietzsche begins the Preface of Beyond Good and Evil with the provocative question:
Supposing truth is a woman--what then?
There are a few takes on his point here and with the rest of the book ... regarding the connection of truth to a woman. Considering what he does with the rest of the book (especially his attack on philosophical dogmatists, his discussion in the section "We Scholars," and his further as well as quite controversial comments on women in "Our Virtues"), perhaps there is more to Nietzsche here than first appears. Perhaps there is something he sees in women that is connected to the traits of the Dionysian and to what he is calling for in the new philosophers. Perhaps. And perhaps not.

This is the direction of a paper that I am working on.
Any suggestions or comments are quite welcome.

Even now truth finds it necessary to stifle her yawns when she is expected to give answers. In the end she is a woman: she should not be violated. (Beyond Good and Evil, 220)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Final Harry Potter : Virtue and the Dead

In "Harry Potter & the Art of Dying Well," Thomas Hibbs offers a rather positive review of the latest Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and in so doing also praises the achievements of the whole series itself:

“The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” This passage, without a reference to its scriptural source (I Corinthians 15:26), appears nearly half way through J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, the final book in her hugely popular series. Deathly Hallows marks a satisfying completion of the series, more dramatically captivating and more effectively orchestrated than any book in the series since Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. As both the title and the scriptural reference indicate, the book is preoccupied with death. While addressing our peculiarly modern obsessions, the reflection on death and its possible overcoming is hardly morbid. Ultimately, it is not even tragic; instead, it is a comic affirmation of the triumph of life over death, love over hate, and community over isolation.


The early pacing of Deathly Hallows is superb; because the central characters (Ron, Hermione, and Harry) are no longer attending Hogwarts Academy, in the wake of Dumbledore’s death and Voldemort’s takeover of the institution, the plot is freed from having to follow the rhythm of the academic year. Rowling’s formula had been to give us an initial scare in the opening chapters and then slowly to build up to a particular quest and its defining battle. In the middle parts of her books, however, Rowling had developed a bad habit of inordinate expansion and repetition, testing readers’ interest in the daily life of Hogwarts Academy and particularly in the politics of institutional gossip, teen angst, and petty competitions for recognition.

In saving the big battle for the finale, previous plots also delayed until then the deaths of major figures. In Deathly Hallows, there are significant casualties early, middle, and late and important revelations early, middle, and late. Through it all, Harry, much more clearly and forcefully than in the previous books, comes into his own, as he grows in confidence and judgment. What was becoming a bit tiresome in the last few books — the bottomless teen angst and Harry’s internal horrors — here achieves an equilibrium between external challenge and internal preparedness. In short, he becomes an adult and a leader.

Hibbs then closes with:

Readers of the final book are left to puzzle over, not just the mysterious powers of mercy and self-sacrifice, but also explicit references to the New Testament, the one from Corinthians cited above and a passage from Matthew, “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Harry encounters these statements on tombstones and knows neither their source nor their precise import. In that respect, Harry is a stand-in for most modern readers. Although he never explicitly formulates it this way, Harry’s great quest in Deathly Hallows leads him toward an understanding of the meaning of these scriptural passages, an understanding not just theoretical but eminently practical.

Beyond her creation of memorable characters and plots that will likely remain part of the cultural vocabulary for years to come, Rowling has crafted — and this is no mean achievement — a mythical universe at whose center stands the cultivation of the virtues of remembering, and preparing for, death.

Friday, July 20, 2007

How To Read a Book (with humor)

Perhaps this is "How To Open a Book."

Friday, July 13, 2007

Wobbly Republicans and Time for Petraeus

In "Deserting Petraeus" (13 July 2007) Charles Krauthammer explains why now--just as the "surge" is working--is not the time to withdraw or signal withdrawal:

Finally, after four terribly long years, we know what works. Or what can work. A year ago, a confidential Marine intelligence report declared Anbar province (which comprises about a third of Iraq's territory) lost to al-Qaeda. Now, in what the Times's John Burns calls an "astonishing success," the tribal sheiks have joined our side and committed large numbers of fighters that, in concert with American and Iraqi forces, have largely driven out al-Qaeda and turned its former stronghold of Ramadi into one of most secure cities in Iraq.

It began with a U.S.-led offensive that killed or wounded more than 200 enemy fighters and captured 600. Most important was the follow-up. Not a retreat back to American bases but the setting up of small posts within the population that, together with the Iraqi national and tribal forces, have brought relative stability to Anbar.

The same has started happening in many of the Sunni areas around Baghdad, including Diyala province -- just a year ago considered as lost as Anbar -- where, for example, the Sunni insurgent 1920 Revolution Brigades has turned against al-Qaeda and joined the fight on the side of U.S. and Iraqi government forces.


Just this week, Petraeus said that the one thing he needs more than anything else is time. To cut off Petraeus's plan just as it is beginning -- the last surge troops arrived only last month -- on the assumption that we cannot succeed is to declare Petraeus either deluded or dishonorable. Deluded in that, as the best-positioned American in Baghdad, he still believes we can succeed. Or dishonorable in pretending to believe in victory and sending soldiers to die in what he really knows is an already failed strategy.

That's the logic of the wobbly Republicans' position. [...]

Wobbly, indeed. Give the general time. If not, then why did you send him there with an 81-0 vote to start this new strategy of the "surge" (counterinsurgency strategy)?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Facing East?

As usual, there is a lot going on at The Cafeteria Is Closed. More than here, unfortunately. Too much studying and driving here and driving there and doing this and doing that.

However, one discussion at The Cafeteria Is Closed led someone to criticize Fr. Fessio et al. for facing "East," for facing the altar, when celebrating Mass, the so-called "regular one," not the Tridentine. Can they do that without explicit permission? Isn't that going against the rules?

Well, no, it is not.

Here is what I wrote:

From what I have read, priests are able to celebrate Mass ad orientam [facing East, toward the altar].

Yes, there is a suggestion that the priest face the people, but facing "east" is not precluded. In fact, at one point, it is implied that the priest is facing east since the rubrics say something along the lines of "then turn and face the people."

However, in reading the pertinent documents, I think it is not as clear as could be. Both sides seem to have arguments with strong points.

Which is precisely why the cardinal at the head of the Church's congregation in charge of such matters had to issue a statement on whether or not the GIRM (the Church's manual, if you will, for celebrating the Mass) meant to exclude the possibility of facing east:

The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has been asked whether the expression in no. 299 of the Instituto Generalis Missalis Romani constitutes a norm according to which, during the Eucharistic liturgy, the position of the priest versus absidem [facing towards the apse] is to be excluded.

The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, after mature reflection and in light of liturgical precedents, responds:

Negative, and in accordance with the following explanation.

In the explanation, the cardinal explains that versus absidem and versus orientem (toward the East) mean the same thing.

Thus, facing the altar, facing the East is not excluded in the current rubrics.

Fr. Fessio is not violating any Church rubric.

You can read the entirety of the cardinal's explanation

Wish more of us had experienced the priest facing the same direction as the people and had also known why. Very deep reasons and reasons which might help some "get more" out of the Mass.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Gore and the Rejection and Distortion of Science

Here is another article explaining what is wrong with Gore's so-called "science" and "reasoned" approach to matters: "Alarmist global warming claims melt under scientific scrutiny."

In his new book, The Assault on Reason, Al Gore pleads, "We must stop tolerating the rejection and distortion of science. We must insist on an end to the cynical use of pseudo-studies known to be false for the purpose of intentionally clouding the public's ability to discern the truth." Gore repeatedly asks that science and reason displace cynical political posturing as the central focus of public discourse.

If Gore really means what he writes, he has an opportunity to make a difference by leading by example on the issue of global warming.


Many of the assertions Gore makes in his movie, ''An Inconvenient Truth,'' have been refuted by science, both before and after he made them. Gore can show sincerity in his plea for scientific honesty by publicly acknowledging where science has rebutted his claims.

For example, Gore claims that Himalayan glaciers are shrinking and global warming is to blame. Yet the September 2006 issue of the American Meteorological Society's Journal of Climate reported, "Glaciers are growing in the Himalayan Mountains, confounding global warming alarmists who recently claimed the glaciers were shrinking and that global warming was to blame."

Gore claims the snowcap atop Africa's Mt. Kilimanjaro is shrinking and that global warming is to blame. Yet according to the November 23, 2003, issue of Nature magazine, "Although it's tempting to blame the ice loss on global warming, researchers think that deforestation of the mountain's foothills is the more likely culprit. Without the forests' humidity, previously moisture-laden winds blew dry. No longer replenished with water, the ice is evaporating in the
strong equatorial sunshine."

Gore claims global warming is causing more tornadoes. Yet the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated in February that there has been no scientific link established between global warming and tornadoes.

And on and on. Read the whole thing.
Click here for a collection of articles dealing with global warming or climate change.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Immaculée update

Immaculée has an amazing story. You can watch a short presentation of it tonight on 60 Minutes.

Immaculée Ilibagiza was born in Rwanda and studied Electronic and Mechanical Engineering at the National University of Rwanda. Her life transformed dramatically in 1994 during the Rwanda genocide when she and seven other women huddled silently together in a cramped bathroom of a local pastor’s house for 91 days! During this horrific ordeal, Immaculée lost most of her family, but she survived to share the story and her miraculous transition into forgiveness and a profound relationship with God. Four years later, she emigrated from Rwanda to the United States and began working for the United Nations in New York City. She has since established the Left to Tell Charitable Fund to help others heal from the long-term effects of genocide and war.

Here is more info on her and tonight's programming.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Back to Blogging; Nietzsche, the Koran, and the Will

After being without an internet connection for some weeks, all is fixed and much better and faster. Fiber optics!

I am taking a summer class on Nietzsche and spending my summer reading the Koran. Should be fun. Considering the Regensberg address and Fr. Schall's developed commentary on it, perhaps there is a coincidental voluntarist confluence with the role of the will. We shall see.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day : Honoring the Sacrifice of Heroes

Let me not mourn for men who have died fighting,

but rather let me be glad that such heroes have lived.

--General George S. Patton

Memorial Day : The American Flag

A thoughtful mind, when it sees a Nation's flag, sees not the flag only, but the Nation itself; and whatever may be its symbols, its insignia, he reads chiefly in the flag the Government, the principles, the truths, the history which belongs to the Nation that sets it forth.

--Henry Ward Beecher from " The American Flag"

Fly the Flag!

Memorial Day : Remembering Freedom's Defenders

Memorial Day. It is important to remember (each day and not just on the "holiday") the sacrifice many have made in defense of this country, our freedom, and the protection and security of those throughout the world who have not been able to defend themselves sufficiently.

Freedom Is Not Free

By LCDR Kelly Strong, USCG - Copyright 1981

I watched the flag pass by one day,
It fluttered in the breeze.
A young Service man saluted it,
And then he stood at ease.

I looked at him in uniform
So young, so tall, so proud,
With hair cut square and eyes alert
He'd stand out in any crowd.

I thought how many men like him
Had fallen through the years.
How many died on foreign soil
How many mothers' tears?

How many pilots' planes shot down?
How many died at sea
How many foxholes were soldiers' graves?
No, freedom isn't free.

I heard the sound of Taps one night,
When everything was still,
I listened to the bugler play
And felt a sudden chill.

I wondered just how many times
That Taps had meant "Amen,"
When a flag had draped a coffin.
Of a brother or a friend.

I thought of all the children,
Of the mothers and the wives,
Of fathers, sons and husbands
With interrupted lives.

I thought about a graveyard
At the bottom of the sea
Of unmarked graves in Arlington.
No, freedom isn't free.

Posted by Hello

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Not Gone, Still Living in Hearts They Leave Behind

Posted by Hello

This poem reminds us to keep alive the brave men and women who have given the gift of their lives so we could be free. Keep them alive in our hearts as they softly walk in our thoughts.


By Hugh Robert Orr

They are not gone who pass
Beyond the clasp of hand,
Out from the stone embrace.
They are but come so close
We need not grope with hands,
Nor look to see, nor try
To catch the sound of feet.
They have put off their shoes
Softly to walk by day
Within our thoughts, to tread
At night our dream-led paths

Of sleep.
They are not lost who find
The sunset gate, the goal
Of all their faithful years.
Not lost are they who reach
The summit of their climb,
The peak above the clouds
And storms. They are not lost
Who find the light of sun
And stars and God.
They are not dead who live
In hearts they leave behind.
In those whom they have blessed
They live a life again,
And shall live through the years
Eternal life, and grow

Each day more beautiful
As time declares their good,
Forgets the rest, and proves
Their immortality.

Gore and a High School Challenge?

Two related sites worth reading through are by a high school student responding to global warming/climate change arguments. Her name is Kristen Byrnes and she has really done a thorough job in her research. Check them out:

Ponder the Maunder:

Welcome to Ponder the Maunder, an extra credit assignment for Honors Earth Science, Portland High School, by Kristen Byrnes of Portland Maine.

This report is a comprehensive look at the global warming issue without financial or political bias. It uses the most updated information provided by scientists and researchers and interjects common sense, an important component missing from the global warming debate.

Facts and Fictions of Al Gore’s "An Inconvenient Truth":

Al Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth does indeed have some correct facts, but as he even says himself, sometimes you have to over-exaggerate to send the message to people.

Go check them out.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

To Defend a Country They Never Knew and a People They Never Met



Posted by Hello

Wall of Freedom 2007

Freedom is not free.

Thank a veteran.

Say a prayer for and honor those who gave all.

Posted by Hello

Friday, May 25, 2007

Illegal Immigration : A Middle Eastern Connection?

A different (and scary) side to the immigration issue: a Middle Eastern and often Islamist connection.

I tend to fall somewhere in the middle on the immigration issue so don't think this is a typical take on illegal (read: Latino) immigration. It is not. This is about national security.

There is an article series getting attention all over. The focus is on illegal immigration, visas (sometimes fake, other times not), and those of Arab and/or Muslim background (both non-violent Muslims and militant Islamists).

Todd Bensman wrote the articles. They are a must- and good-read:

I suggest you paste them into a word document and print them out for a hard-copy version to read. Most will want to keep these for some time or pass them on to someone unsuspecting of what is going on.

*** Updated 27 May 2007 ***
A continuation of the same topic:

In an interview the author Todd Bensam did with Hugh Hewitt last week, he stated there would be further articles and some dealing with some rather surprising aspects.