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Sunday, September 25, 2005

Here and There . . .

An irregular roundup of blogs, articles and commentary.

  • "Legends of the Fall" - musings from DarwinCatholic:
    When Catholics are confronted with suffering in the world, we often say that whatever the source of suffering is, whether direct human agency (war, crime, etc.) or natural phenomena (hurricane, earthquake, disease, etc.) are involved that this is "a result of the fall". This makes a lot of since, since as we learn from the bible, "Therefore, just as through one person sin entered the world, and through sin, death, and thus death came to all, inasmuch as all sinned." (Romans 5:12)

    One of the things that strikes me, however, is: If the suffering resulting from an earthquake or a hurricane is somehow the result of the fall, what would things have been like had man not fallen? . . .

    Via Scott Carson @ An Examined Life, who offers some thoughts of his own.

  • Oswald Sobrino on "The Grace of Writing":
    For me and I think for many others, writing is not so much an escape from reality as a way into reality. In writing, we order the jumble of thoughts and desires inside of us--I am excluding those who practice the "stream of consciousness" form of writing which seems to me more akin to painting or composing. The act of writing brings order and logic which reveals new depths to what we think. In the act of writing, value is added, something new emerges that was not present before the laptop was opened. That something new is insight and enlightenment. . . .

    Announcing the arrival of a new Catholic literary journal for young Catholic writers called Dappled Things, planning its first issue for December 2005. (The deadline for current submissions is October 15th).

  • "The Old Days Were Better", from Jeff Culbreath:
    Traditionalists are often caricatured as sentimentalists hankering for a Golden Age that never was. Their critics will often say that every generation thinks society is going to hell-in-a-handbasket; or that cultural decline is a myth fabricated by those classes which have lost power and influence; or that all generations are equally good and equally bad; or, more boldly, that the things traditionalists lament in reality constitute social progress. Sometimes they will also say things like: "Do you really want to go back to slavery or racial segregation?" "Do you really want to go back to sweat shops and child labor?" "Do you really want to go back to keeping women barefoot and pregnant and in the kitchen?" "Do you really want to go back to high rates of poverty and illiteracy and infant mortality (forgetting about abortion, of course)?" Etc.

    Beware of those who argue thus. These claims are designed to be conversation stoppers, to divert attention from the specific issues raised by cultural traditionalists. Defining the past by its worst characteristics is an illegitimate argument. Distorting the faults of the past (e.g., the "subjugation" of women, infant mortality, etc.) is also an illegitimate argument. When your critics throw this kind of garbage at you, it simply means they are not willing to address the issues you are raising. . . .

    Read the whole post. Very well said, and give a round of thanks to Jeff for joining the blogosphere once again.

  • Jeff Miller offers some reflections on doubt as an avenue to communication, interaction with atheists and his journey to the Catholic faith.

  • Old and New Rites Distinguished: Specifics of the Mass of the Catechumens and Old and New Rites Distinguished: Specifics of the Mass of the Faithful - two rich and detailed comparison by Fr. Tucker (Dappled Things):
    I'm not sure exactly how to go about concisely highlighting the differences between the Old and the New Rites of the Roman Mass. I don't want to do a long and detailed play-by-play. Nor do I want to enter into facile and odious comparisons (e.g., "Old Mass=reverent, New Mass=irreverent" or "Old Mass=robotic, New Mass=spirit-filled"). This is what I've decided to do: I will presume the reader is familiar with a Sunday parish Mass in the New Rite, celebrated according to the rubrics and with effort at reverence and loveliness. I will imagine a person going into Solemn Mass celebrated according to the traditional Rite and note the principal differences. . . .

    Fr. Tucker is also involved in a worthy project Digitizing the Tradition:

    One of the things I've been trying to do here (the photo projects are a goood example of this) is to document and make publicly available images, prayers, and descriptions of customs that have been a part of the Catholic tradition but have, of late, slipped from view. By rescuing these things from oblivion and making records freely available in digital format, I'm hoping to aid in their dissemination and put them within reach of anyone's who's interested.

    I've been corresponding with a number of my readers who care for this sort of thing, and I am expecting some new projects to emerge that will be of liturgical interest (chiefly). A number of them are currently scanning old photographs and rituals from the rare books in their possessions, and this work will soon be available for your edification. If others are interested in helping with this endeavor, do let me know.

  • Fr. Tucker also has very good posts on recognizing one's predominant faults and "talking down to bishops", something we -- myself included -- can take to heart.

  • Will or willn't? - Elliot Bougis ponders an inexplicable riddle of Calvinist theology, and gives us some insight into his own conversion as well. . . . also, "Get Back, or, What I Didn't Learn from The Beatles.

  • A Sobering Prospect--Personal Holiness, Stephen Riddle (Flos Carmeli):
    I was writing a meditation on a gospel passage this morning when a sobering thought occurred to me. We serve the Lord more by who we are than by what we say. People who see us and know that we are Christians judge both us and the Christ we proclaim by what we do. The look at the concurrence of words and actions to see what it is we proclaim. . . .

  • "The Faith Connection promotes universalism" - Dr. Blosser writes his bishop about serious ambiguities on the Church's mission to evangelize in the article "Who Can Be Saved?" by Bob Duggan. (The Faith Connection is one of those educational flyers (one page and light in content) distributed in parishes today):
    "What I find depressingly tendentious about the issue, like many, is that although the writing generally falls within the broad limits of what may conform to Church teaching, it often skirts the edges of these limits precariously, suggesting ecclesiastical support for prevailing social opinions distinctly at odds with Catholic orthodoxy. . . ."

  • Dr. Blosser -- The Pertinacious Papist -- is WAGING ACADEMIC JIHAD! -- battling downsizing and fragmentation of the liberal arts core at my alma mater, Lenoir-Rhyne College. Find out more at the North Hall Society.

  • The Doré Gallery of Bible Illustrations, Complete [Project Gutenberg Online Texts]: "This volume, as its title indicates, is a collection of engravings illustrative of the Bible—the designs being all from the pencil of the greatest of modern delineators, Gustave Doré [1891]."

    Gustave Doré (1832-83) is my favorite illustrator, admire from the moment I discovered his work as a child. He is famous for his woodcut illustrations of Dante's Divine Comedy, Paradise Lost, and Don Quixote, and his biblical illustrations are truly a sight to behold. I can't imagine better than Doré in bringing the stories and imagery of the Scriptures to life. My thanks to Steven Riddle for noting that these prints are now available online.

  • Just as he did with Louisiana bloggers during Katrina, Gen Ex Revert provides a list of Catholic bloggers from Texas. Remember them in your prayers.

  • Cathy Hutchins @ Reform Club asks: So Who Wants to be an Anarchist?"
    A question posed earlier on this blog, probing the possible interpretations of the word 'anarchist' as used by a product of Western civilization circa 2005, took on a different and more personal hue for me this weekend. Hue, saturation, and contrast, to be specific.

    My husband's employer dispatched him to New York City for a couple of days last week. He never goes anywhere without his Contax U4R digital camera; it's the sort of object Sidney Reilly might have used to great advantage before the Bolshies executed him in 1918. He spent his small ration of spare time wandering around Manhattan and Brooklyn snapping pictures.

    This photo was taken at the corner of Wall and Broad Streets. It is 23 Wall Street, the J.P. Morgan Building, built in 1914. . . .

    I confess it was a college obsession during my freshman-sophomore year.

  • "Reconnecting with Reality" Sept. 18, 2005. - My friend David Jones (la nouvelle théologie) interviews Caleb Segall, editor of The New Pantagruel, web-based journal and refuge for "Augustinian-Thomists" seeking respite from the con-game of liberalism.

  • Aquinas:"First Whig?" - Novak's Catholic Whig Tradition - If I may make a plug for one of my own posts to Religion & Liberty -- an exploration of the origins of Michael Novak's claim that St. Thomas Aquinas was the 'First Whig' and misinterpretations thereof.

  • Teófilo @ Vivificat) reviews Mother Angelica: The Remarkable Story of a Nun, Her Nerve, and a Network of Miracles, by Raymond Arroyo, EWTN's news anchor (who btw lost his home in Katrina -- remember him in your prayers as well). It sounds like a very good book, about an amazing woman.

    Dual congratulations are in order to Pedro and his wife, who on August 31st celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary, and on Sept. 18, 2005, became full Oblates of St. Benedict, "in a simple ceremony held at St. Vincent's Archabbey in Latrobe, PA." Read his post to find out the significance of this event.

  • Karen Marie Knapp (From the Anchor Hold) says We can't let schismatic "traditionalists" steal our saint!

  • Over at Pontifications, Michael Liccione is blogging "a series of articles I’ve planned on Catholic teachings that many say have changed to such an extent that the Church’s claim to teach infallibly is thereby decisively undermined." Development and Negation Part 1 (Introduction); Part 2 ("extra ecclesiam nulla salus"); Part III (the doctrine of limbo).

    Meanwhile, Al Kimel has a series of reflections (disputes, rather) with the Protestant understanding of justification. (Note that as is the usual case with Pontifications, the comments are a worthy read as well, and given that they tend to run in excess of 50+ per post and are rather substantial in their own right, you might want to grab that cup of coffee and settle down with an hour or two of heavy reading. =)

Apostolic Visitation and an impending "Purge" of Gay Clergy?

Catholic World News reports that "The Vatican-run apostolic visitation of U.S. Catholic seminaries and houses of priestly formation will begin late this September." Visits will be coordinated by Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services.

In light of the recent spate of sexual scandals in the American Catholic Church, special attention will be paid to "areas such as the quality of the seminarians' human and spiritual formation for living chastely and of their intellectual formation for faithfulness to church teachings, especially in the area of moral theology." Suffice to say this -- together with notice "about a document that hasn't been released yet that no reporter has read" regarding a Vatican crackdown on gay clergy -- is causing an outbreak of panic, hysteria and rumor-mongering among the press. Here are some of perspectives on the issue from St. Blog's Parish, offering various perspectives on the issue . . .

  • Ready to Rumble - Amy Welborn questions:
    As the American Church gets healthier, the seminaries get healthier, and vice-versa. The question of who is a good candidate - who has an authentic vocation - continues to be difficult, though. I agree that those who embrace a "gay" identity as defined by American culture should not be admitted to seminary, because most of the time, that self-definition is formed more by American culture than by Church teaching. Andrew Sullivan, for example, is complaining long and loud about this, but the truth is that, judging from his previous writings, Sullivan doesn't have any problem with, for example, sexual promiscuity, obsessions and fetishes as lived out in the gay subculture, sees all of that beyond the pale of possible judgment, and for all of his hopes for the positive impact of gay families (which I believe is sincere), has absolutely no connection with the ways that Catholic tradition has conceptualized and thought about sexuality. You're laughing because you're saying "Of course," but I'm making the point because there's a veneer of tradition that some would like to try to pretend exists: that the self-identified, political gay position is capable of simply espousing gay marriage, for example, or the morality of love-inspired homosexual acts, and at the same time retaining the rest of traditional Catholic morality underneath it all.

    I say...that position can't and, isn't really interested. So for that reason, sure, the self-identified political gay man shouldn't be in seminary.

    But should the man who struggles with same-sex attraction and seeks to live chastely, who buys the whole package of Catholic moral teaching, be put into that category? Absolutely not. To me, that's insane, and truth be told, it's not that difficult to tell the difference. And if you think that your list of favorite, orthodox priests through the ages doesn't include at least one who's struggled with same-sex attraction, you're mistaken, and I'll bet you real money. Not that we can prove it, of course.

    Speaking of Amy Welborn, she has an op-ed this Sunday with the Grey Lady herself, telling it like it is ("In truth, it's about far more than homosexuality. And it's badly needed"): "The Sins of the Seminaries" New York Times Sept. 25, 2005.

  • To the question posed by a reader: "How should a man with same-sex attraction understand a blanket prohibition on his entrance into the priesthood irrespective of behavior?", Mark Shea responds:
    I don't know, since I am not subject to same sex attraction and am loath to hand out free advice about temptations I have never experienced. I do know that, as somebody who is just as barred from the priesthood as you are (since I am married) that I do not regard this particular judgment call by the hierarchy as a comment on my value as a human being, nor even on my progress in holiness. I merely regard it as a prudential judgment call on the likelihood that someone in my state of life would able to fulfill the demands required by a priestly vocation. . . .
    Read the whole exchange. Nonetheless, Mark later registers his concern:
    a) I think it takes an approach that does not see the person, but thinks only in broad insurance company terms. I would prefer it if a guy like David Morrison--i.e. a committed, celibate man with SSA with a proven track record of devotion to our Lord--could be a priest if he wanted to be.

    b) I think it will, if implemented, wind up punishing the honest and rewarding liars.

    c) I very much doubt it will be implemented in any case, just as the American Church has managed to avoid implementing Ex Corde Ecclesia.

  • On this issue I believe the most relevant voices are those Catholics with SSA who live the call to bring their lives into conformity with the Church's vision of sexuality. Of these, John Heard, aka. DreadNought is in my opinion one of the best and most eloquent in his witness to the gospel: Seachange Not Shortchange 9/19/05; Vatican Bans Gay Priests 9/21/05 and Responses to a Seminarian.

  • David Morrison has a different take on the policy:
    acknowledge that this is a cynical view, but I don't believe this visitation of the seminaries will correct anything. Faculty, both clergy and lay, who have participated in the malformation of priests in the past will be left alone. The institutions will spiff up their curricula for the visit and conduct the visiting clerics through some pro-forma tour of the facilities and nothing will happen. The whole point of this new policy will be to distract attention from seminary staff who have not formed seminarians to seek and to strive for chastity and who have undermined their faith. Indeed, the whole point of this policy is to scapegoat all men with SSA for the misbehavior of those who have been bad priests and those who have formed them.

The McCarrick / Allah Controversy

  • Reproducing the full text of McCarrick's address, Jimmy Akin thinks it's not that big a deal, and explains why:
    The fact is that Allah is simply the standard Arabic word for "God." It is used by Arabic-speaking Muslims and Christians alike--including Arabic-speaking Catholics. If you read an Arabic New Testament, it's going to have Allah where "God" appears in the English version. When they say prayers in Arabic (e.g., the Rosary) and the prayer refers to God, they use the word Allah.

  • Domenico Bettinelli disagrees: "The point they're missing on McCarrick" Sept. 21, 2005.

On a lighter note . . .

  • Bloggers return from hiatus: Catholic & Enjoying It (Mark Shea); View From The Core (Lane Core, Jr.), Hallowed Ground (Jeff Culbreath) -- welcome back!

  • Mark Shea -- who is now podcasting @ CatholicExchange -- asks: What do YOU enjoy about being a Catholic?

  • As if Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code wasn't enough, from Speculative Catholic comes a list of thriller novels which revolve around the Catholic Church (and the terrible, TERRIBLE secrets harbored within its depths! -- didja know that "The Catholic Church has kept the immortal Risen Christ prisoner in a dungeon beneath the Vatican for 2,000 years"?

  • William Luse has been bitten by The 24-Hour Bug. I've been there. =)

  • Gregorian Chant Enforces The Peace ICWales. March 24, 2005.

  • HUFFPO EMERGENCY BUSH BASH BLOG APPLICATION FOR THE VICTIMS OF ALL DISASTERS EVERYWHERE!, by Greg Gutfeld. The Huffington Post, May 9, 2005 (Via Domenico Bettinelli.

  • Curses. . . . This is a positively evil recommendation from Steven Riddle at Flos Carmeli. I'm talking about, a convenient tool to list your library online, downloadable to an Excel file, links to, searchable by tags, etc. Simple and practical, it's one of those nifty ideas that make you wonder "why didn't I think of that?" and ponder the God-given creativity of man. I predict I'll be obsessively cataloging and organizing my library online for the next week, such that I'll get absolutely NOTHING done.

  • "is the first Catholic web portal that allows users to choose their own content, layout, and preferences. It offers daily Mass readings, reflections, news, commentary, custom RSS/Atom feeds, a Catechism study, links, tools, and more." Check it out.

  • Ok, here's something we can all get behind -- got any rosaries to spare? A Catholic parish in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba serving our military could use your help:
    friend with whom I have served in the past just returned from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. While he was down there, he established a great relationship with the parish there, Our Lady of Cobre. He is presently trying to get together rosaries and other sacramentals to be used by the servicemen and civilians who are presently stationed there. . . . I am hoping that if we can get the word out about this through Catholic bloggers, we may be able to really make something happen. If you feel that you are unable to do so, thanks for your consideration and please keep the parishoners of Our Lady of Cobre in your thoughts and prayers.
    Click the link for further information on how you can assist.

From the new blog Against The Grain

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Against The Grain is the personal blog of Christopher Blosser - web designer and all around maintenance guy for the original Cardinal Ratzinger Fan Club (Now Pope Benedict XVI).

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