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.