Thursday, June 30, 2011

Dorothy Day on Theological Controversies

It seemed a wonderful thing to me that the priests and laity could still become excited about points of doctrine, about nature and the supernatural, nature and grace, about forces, spiritual capacities far more powerful than the atom bomb.--Dorothy Day, The Long Loneliness, pg. 258-259.
For evidence, see the miracle of Hiroshima.

The Wide World of Sports

Worth reading for this one paragraph alone. Excerpts:
...Secularisation is a lot harder than people tend to imagine. The history of modernity is, among other things, the history of substitutes for God. Art, culture, nation, Geist, humanity, society: all these, along with a clutch of other hopeful aspirants, have been tried from time to time. The most successful candidate currently on offer is sport, which, short of providing funeral rites for its spectators, fulfils almost every religious function in the book...

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Lives Transformed by Love

Body and soul constitute human nature.  The body is no less good than the soul.  In mortifying the natural we must not injure the body or the soul.  We are not to destroy but to transform it, as iron is transformed in the fire.  Most of our life is unimportant, filled with trivial things from morning till night.  But when it is transformed by love it is of interest even to the angels.

"Although human nature is essentially good it is infected by original sin, which is forgiven at baptism, but the effects will remain in the soul. We are prone to evil. We have a bias toward evil." These are notes which I took.--Dorothy Day, The Long Loneliness, pg. 257

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Share in the Divine Life

Grace is a share in the divine life and this idea was the keystone of the retreat.  We have been raised above ourselves by baptism, and the law of this supernatural life is love, a love which demands renunciation.  This is the official meditation during the paschal season.  "Seek the things that are above...For you are dead: and your life is hid with Christ in God."  All this is the starting point of Christianity...--Dorothy Day, The Long Loneliness, pg. 257

"The Pentagon Now Makes War for the World

An interesting piece by Mark Steyn. Excerpts:
...Clearly, if one nation is responsible for near half the world’s military budget, a lot of others aren’t pulling their weight. The Pentagon outspends the Chinese, British, French, Russian, Japanese, German, Saudi, Indian, Italian, South Korean, Brazilian, Canadian, Australian, Spanish, Turkish, and Israeli militaries combined. So why doesn’t it feel like that?

Well, for exactly that reason: If you outspend every serious rival combined, you’re obviously something other than the soldiery of a conventional nation state. But what exactly?...

“Americanization” is a euphemism for “globalization,” in which the geopolitical sugar daddy is so busy picking up the tab for the global order he loses all sense of national interest. Just as Hollywood now makes films for the world, so the Pentagon now makes war for the world...

An army has to wage war on behalf of something real. For better or worse, “king and country” is real, and so, mostly for worse, are the tribal loyalties of Africa’s blood-drenched civil wars. But it’s hardly surprising that it’s difficult to win wars waged on behalf of something so chimerical as “the international community.” If you’re making war on behalf of an illusory concept, is it even possible to have war aims? What’s ours?...

War is hell, but global “mentoring” is purgatory...

Nation building in Afghanistan is the ne plus ultra of a fool’s errand. But even if one were so disposed, effective “nation building” is done in the national interest of the builder. The British rebuilt India in their own image, with a Westminster parliament, common law, and an English education system. In whose image are we building Afghanistan? Eight months after Petraeus announced his latest folly, the Afghan Local Police initiative, Oxfam reported that the newly formed ALP was a hotbed of torture and pederasty. Almost every Afghan institution is, of course. But for most of human history they’ve managed to practice both enthusiasms without international subvention. The U.S. taxpayer accepts wearily the burden of subsidy for Nevada’s cowboy poets and San Francisco’s mime companies, but, even by those generous standards of cultural preservation, it’s hard to see why he should be facilitating the traditional predilections of Pashtun men with an eye for the “dancing boys of Kandahar.”...

So on we stagger, with Cold War institutions, transnational sensibilities, politically correct solicitousness, fraudulent preening pseudo–nation building, expensive gizmos, little will, and no war aims . . . but real American lives. “These Colors Don’t Run,” says the T-shirt. But, bereft of national purpose, they bleed away to a grey blur on a distant horizon. Sixty-six years after V-J Day, the American way of war needs top-to-toe reinvention...

Monday, June 27, 2011

Faith Works Through Love

Aristotle, Father Hugo explained, wished us to live according to our intellect, but "the just man lives by faith."  We had to conform our lives according to faith--that was the teaching of the Jews before Christ..."Without faith it is impossible to please God."

Faith that works through love is the mark of the supernatural life. God always gives us a chance to show our preference for Him. With Abraham it was to sacrifice his only son. With me it was to give up my married life with Forster. You do these things blindly, not because it is your natural inclination--you are going against nature when you do them--but because you wish to live in conformity with the will of God.

Love is a commandment, Father Hugo said. It is a choice, a preference. If we love God with our whole hearts, how much heart have we left? If we love with our whole mind and soul and strength, how much mind and soul and strength have we left? We must live this life now. Death changes nothing. If we do not learn to enjoy God now we never will. If we do not learn to praise Him and thank Him and rejoice in Him now, we never will.

Fearful thoughts, but glorious too! Not like that retreat of Daedelus in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man....--Dorothy Day, The Long Loneliness, pg. 256-257

Patrick Fitzgerald, On the Case Again

This is fascinating. No idea what to make of this. Excerpts:
...The search was part of a mysterious, ongoing nationwide terrorism investigation with an unusual target: prominent peace activists and politically active labor organizers...

The apparent targets, all vocal and visible critics of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and South America, deny any ties to terrorism. They say the government, using its post-9/11 focus on terrorism as a pretext, is targeting them for their political views.

This would of course be the same government being run by the guys on their side of the political aisle, correct?  The government that, as is pointed out repeatedly in this piece, is in power in part because of their help? So what the heck?
They are “public non-violent activists with long, distinguished careers in public service, including teachers, union organizers and antiwar and community leaders,” said Michael Deutsch, a Chicago lawyer and part of a legal team defending those who believe they are being targeted by the investigation...

All 23 of the activists invoked their right not to testify before a grand jury, defying U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, whose office is spearheading the investigation.

A spokesman for Fitzgerald, the Chicago prosecutor whose past work has sometimes riled both political parties, declined to comment.
And as soon as his name comes up, I get very, very interested. What has he found? Why does he think it important? This guy is not apparently partisan in his investigations--he went after both Libby and Blagojevich.
It is uncertain whether Obama is aware of the investigation. A White House official referred questions to the Justice Department, where spokesman Matthew Miller said the agency will not comment on an investigation, but he disputed any assertion that people would be targeted for political activities...

The union’s statewide group, which says it represents 46,000 workers, called on Obama to investigate and passed a resolution expressing “grave concern” about the raids. Similar resolutions have been approved by statewide AFSCME and SEIU affiliates in Illinois...
 Of course, the problem is they helped him get elected. There's a picture with the piece of one of the activists shaking then-Senatorial candidate Obama's hand. If the President calls off this investigation, especially when it's being run by a prosecutor famous for being bipartisan in hunting down powerful baddies, he'll have a lot of explaining to do.
If there are indictments, the case could test a 2010 Supreme Court ruling that found the ban on material support for designated foreign terrorist groups does not necessarily violate the First Amendment — even if the aid was intended for peaceful or humanitarian uses. The ruling held that any type of support could ultimately help a terrorist group’s pursuit of violence...

Search warrants, subpoenas and documents show that the FBI has been interested in links between the activists and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Hezbollah...
So they appear to have links to long-time anti-American terrorist organizations.  Interesting.  I wonder if material support passed from them to these groups.  This gets especially difficult when one considers that these unions and "peace organizations" (if these so-called peace activists supported Hezbollah, et al., they really need a new title) also helped the President reach his current position.
In Chicago, the raid at the home of Weiner, 49, also targeted her husband, Joe Iosbaker, 52, a University of Illinois-Chicago office worker and a union steward for his SEIU local. The couple are among the grassroots activists close to the world once inhabited by Barack Obama who have been caught up in the investigation...

Like others, Weiner and Iosbacker have been fixtures on the local liberal political scene, protesting police actions, attending antiwar rallies, leading pay equity fights and even doing some volunteer work for Obama’s past campaigns.

Tom Burke, who received a subpoena Sept. 24, had in 2004 discussed the plight of murdered Colombian trade unionists with then-state senator Obama.

“He was a sympathetic ear,” Burke said, recalling that Obama told him the murders were a “human rights problem.”

Hatem Abudayyeh, one of seven Palestinians to be subpoenaed in the investigation, recalls encountering Obama in the community during his years as a state legislator. Abudayyeh, 40, is executive director of the Arab American Action Network, a Chicago advocacy group that hosted then-state senator Obama for at least two events...
Kind of unbelievable. Really interesting. God bless Patrick Fitzgerald and keep him in your prayers, folks--for judgment, for protection, that he do the right thing, that he not chase shadows nor fail to chase true criminals, that he steer straight and work for justice.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Share in the Life of Christ

Mass should be a transformative experience. Excerpts:

...This year during the Mass of Our Lord’s Last Supper on Holy Thursday, I pointed out that the Eucharist is the transformation of the gifts of this land - the bread and wine - intended to transform our lives and usher in the transformation of the world...

Everything starts, you might say, from the heart of Christ, who at the Last Supper on the eve of his passion, thanked and praised God and, in doing so, with the power of his love transformed the meaning of death which he was about to encounter. The fact that the Sacrament of the altar has taken on the name "Eucharist" - "thanksgiving" - expresses this: that the change in the substance of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ is the fruit of the gift that Christ made of himself, a gift of a love stronger than death, love of God which made him rise from the dead. That is why the Eucharist is the food of eternal life, the Bread of life.

From the heart of Christ, from his "Eucharistic Prayer" on the eve of his passion, flows the dynamism that transforms reality in its cosmic, human and historical dimensions. All proceeds from God, from the omnipotence of his love One and Triune, incarnate in Jesus. In this Love the heart of Christ emerges, so He knows how to thank and praise God even in the face of betrayal and violence, and thus changes things, people and the world.

This transformation is possible thanks to a communion stronger than division, the communion of God himself. The word "communion", which we use to designate the Eucharist, sums up the vertical and horizontal dimension of the gift of Christ. The beautiful and eloquent expression "receive communion" refers to the act of eating the bread of the Eucharist. In fact, when we carry out this act, we enter into communion with the very life of Jesus, in the dynamism of this life which is given to us and for us. From God, through Jesus, to us: a unique communion is transmitted in the Holy Eucharist.

We have heard as much, in the second reading, from the words of the Apostle Paul to the Christians of Corinth: "The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ"(1 Cor 10:16-17).

Saint Augustine helps us to understand the dynamics of Holy Communion when referring to a kind of vision he had, in which Jesus said to him: "I am the food of the mature: grow, then, and you shall eat me. You will not change me into yourself like bodily food; but you will be changed into me"(Confessions, VII, 10, 18). Therefore, while the bodily food is assimilated by the body and contributes to its maintenance, the Eucharist is a different bread: we do not assimilate it, but it assimilates us to itself, so that we become conformed to Jesus Christ and members of his body, one with Him. This is a decisive passage. Indeed, precisely because it is Christ who, in Eucharistic communion, transforms us into Him, our individuality, in this encounter, is opened up, freed from its self-centeredness and placed in the Person of Jesus, who in turn is immersed in the Trinitarian communion.

Thus, while the Eucharist unites us to Christ, we open ourselves to others making us members one of another: we are no longer divided, but one thing in Him. Eucharistic communion unites me to the person next to me, and with whom I might not even have a good relationship, but also to my brothers and sisters who are far away, in every corner of the world. Thus the deep sense of social presence of the Church is derived from the Eucharist, as evidenced by the great social saints, who have always been great Eucharistic souls. Those who recognize Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, recognize their brother who suffers, who is hungry and thirsty, who is a stranger, naked, sick, imprisoned, and they are attentive to every person, committing themselves, in a concrete way, to those who are in need. So from the gift of Christ's love comes our special responsibility as Christians in building a cohesive, just and fraternal society...

This Folly of the Cross

This love, this foolishness of love, illustrated in the book of Osee (Hosea) in the Old Testament and in the story of the prodigal son in the New, this folly of the Cross, was the sum and substance of the retreat.  "O taste, and see that the Lord is sweet!"  "How precious is the mercy of God; the children of men take refuge under the shadow of thy wings; they are filled with the bounteousness of thy house, and thou givest them to drink of the torrent of thy delights.  For with thee is the foundation of life, and in thy light we see light.".--Dorothy Day, The Long Loneliness, pg. 255-256.

Happy Feast of Corpus Christi!

The feast of the new manna from heaven, of the offering of the order of Melchizedek, of the meal of the new and everlasting covenant. This, ladies and gentlemen, is a big deal. A really big deal.

From Carl Olson:
...“For my flesh is true food,” Jesus told his disciples and the others listening to him, “and my blood is true drink.” I became convinced of what the Church taught—and had taught for two thousand years—about the Real Presence: “In the Eucharist Christ gives us the very body which he gave up for us on the cross, the very blood which he ‘poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, par 1365).

Four times in John 6 the words “Amen, amen” (or “Truly, truly) are uttered by Jesus (vs 26, 32, 47, 53). Each signifies a transition and a teaching of great importance; each is a deeper revelation into the person and work of Christ. First, Jesus rebuked the people for seeking only after earthly, temporal food—they instead should believe in him (v. 29). Secondly, Jesus emphasized that it is his Father, not Moses, who gave the manna in the desert. Third, Jesus strongly stated that belief in him is eternal life (v. 47) and that he is “the bread of life” (v. 48).  He then announced, to the amazement of those present, that the bread he referred to is his flesh. “This is the bread that came down from heaven,” Jesus stated, “Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

Jesus had fed the people real bread (Jn 6:1-14). He then offered real, eternal life to those who believed in him. And then he offered his real flesh as food and his real blood as drink. Natural food, of course, sustains natural life. And the manna, although given in a miraculous manner, was still natural food for natural life. But the new manna, the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, is supernatural food given for supernatural life. This new manna, the Eucharist, is “the source and summit of the Christian life” (CCC 1324). It is, as Paul wrote the Corinthians, participation in the blood and body of Christ...

And, for a good dose of Eucharistic amazement, see the following:

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Family Farms

There could be, I believe, groups of families on the land, surrounding a chapel, disciplined by family life and daily attendance at Mass, all subject to one another, with a division of skills and labor and accepting too the authority of one coordinator. Ideally speaking, this should be as successful as any community of monks who maintain themselves by the labor of their hands.

It is no use comparing such a community of families, however, to a community of monks, because the latter are often maintained by the alms of the faithful. Land is often left to a monastery and usually there is income from the schools. If lay communities were given the start, if young families were given an initial subsidy, free and clear, and left to work out their way of life, great things could be done.--Dorothy Day, The Long Loneliness, pg. 234
So Brian Jacques had to have been familiar with some of Dorothy Day's ideas, or with Chesterton, Gill, Belloc, and McNabb, or something!

Wanna Be a Saint?

Simple.  Go live, work, and build community in one of the countries on the failed states index.  Seriously--anyone feel like founding monasteries, traditionally some of the best community building and healing centers known to human history?  Bring Jesus Christ to these places, bring brethren, start farms, start schools, or enter orders that are already working in these places.  Commit for a lifetime, become part of the enduring centers of community, help form the healing bonds of human relationships and interactions which someday generate whole, integral countries.


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