Monday, December 31, 2018

"we don't allow [our children] to be free until we establish a constitution in them"

"law . . . is the ally of everyone. . . . [W]e don't allow [our children] to be free until we establish a constitution in them, just as in a city, and—by fostering their best part [(the rational part)] with our own—equip them with a guardian and ruler similar to our own to take our place.  Then, and only then, we set them free."

     Plato, Republic 9, 590d, trans. Grube & Reeve.

"the part that they're trying to fill is like a vessel full of holes, and neither it nor the things they are trying to fill it with are among the things that are"

"those who have no experience of reason or virtue, but are always occupied with feasts and the like, are brought down and then back up to the middle, as it seems, and wander in this way throughout their lives, never reaching beyond this to what is truly higher up, never looking up at it or being brought up to it, and so they aren't filled with that which really is and never taste any stable or pure pleasure.  Instead, they always look down at the ground like cattle, and, with their heads bent over the dinner table, they feed, fatten, and fornicate.  To outdo others in these things, they kick and butt them with iron horns and hooves, killing each other, because their desires are insatiable.  For the part that they're trying to fill is like a vessel full of holes, and neither it nor the things they are trying to fill it with are among the things that are [(ἅτε οὐχὶ τοῖς οὖσιν οὐδὲ τὸ ὂν οὐδὲ τὸ στέγον ἑαυτῶν πιμπλάντες; an initial stab:  as if filling with things that don't exist neither the existing nor the leak-proof [part] of themselves]."

     Plato, Republic 9, 585d-586b, trans. Grube & Reeve.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

"three things an intelligent preacher should never speak about"

"there are three things an intelligent preacher should never speak about, and which an up-to-date Christian should think about as seldom as possible, although one has to recite the Creed each Sunday (but there are so many myths therein; and besides, one can always repeat a formula—even in the vernacular—without stopping to think about it).
     "The first thing to leave in oblivion is obviously the other world (since there isn't any).
     "The second thing to leave in oblivion is the cross (it is only a symbol of the momentary sacrifices demanded by progress).
     "The third thing to leave in oblivion is sanctity—if it is true that sanctity has its principle, at the center of the soul (even if the saint remains plunged in the activities of the world) in a radical break with the world (in the Gospel sense of the word) and with the false god of the world, its mythical god, 'the Emperor of this world.'"

     Jacques Maritain, The peasant of the Garonne:  an old layman questions himself about the present time, trans. Michael Cuddihy and Elizabeth Hughes (New York:  Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1968 [1966]), 57-58.

Monday, December 17, 2018

"within me, around me, mounts up like a clamor the universal vegetation"

"What I then perceive is like a pure activity, a consistency, but superior to the whole order of the imaginable, a vivid tenacity, at once precarious (it is nothing for me to crush a gnat) and fierce (within me, around me, mounts up like a clamor the universal vegetation) by which things surge up against me and triumph over a possible disaster, stand there, and not merely there, but in themselves, and by which they shelter in their thickness, in the humble measure meted out to what is perishable, a kind of glory demanding to be recognized."

     Jacques Maritain, The peasant of the Garonne:  an old layman questions himself about the present time, trans. Michael Cuddihy and Elizabeth Hughes (New York:  Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1968 [1966]), 111, on "the intuition of the actus essendi."

No one could buy or sell unless he had the mark

"Public annexation of the marketplace under nondiscrimination and other public norms not qualified by religious accommodation" "brings to mind features of the ancient struggle between Christians and pagan authorities.  As we saw in chapter 6, 'as a prerequisite to engaging in any commercial transaction [Christians] had to give specific divine honours to the Caesars.  Without doing so they would not have been able to secure provisions for their daily needs, as all goods could only be bought or sold through the authorized markets in a first-century city.'  Subjects had to be certified for economic activity:  'then, and only then, could they sell or purchase essential commodities.'  A similar logic is being applied, it seems, to pharmacists, doctors, marriage counselors, wedding photographers, florists, bakers, and others who are told:  accept requirements that put you in violation of your religion or else get out of your business or profession."

     Steven D. Smith, Pagans and Christians in the city:  culture wars from the Tiber to the Potomac (Grand Rapids, MI:  Eerdmans, 2018), 341-343, italics mine.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Sliding by

     "One recent conciliating book seeks to shed light on the religious situation in late antiquity by drawing parallels between Christians of that time and the LGBT movement of today. . . .  The gist of the argument, it seems, is that although people then and now have often been mistrustful of perceived differences, once they got to know the supposedly different folks ('The New Neighbors Who Moved in Next Door,' as one chapter title puts it), they come to realize that the differences are not of great importance and need not impede a cordial human fellowship.  Thus, by quietly getting to know their neighbors, and getting to be known by them, Christians 'made a place [for themselves] in Caesar's Empire.'
     "For this story line to work, the author has to emphasize and elevate those mostly inconspicuous Christians—'The Quieter Ones'—who were content to mingle unobtrusively, to join the Roman religious festivities, and (in disregard of the minimal essential prohibitions declared by the Christian council of Jerusalem) congenially to eat the meat sacrificed to pagan deities.  In other words, the author elevates the Christians who, then and now, would be regarded by more rigorous Christians as lax or lapsed or 'lukewarm.'  Conversely, the author disapproves of and attempts to marginalize, as unreasonable or 'antisocial,' those more fervent Christians—including nontrivial figures like Saint Paul, Saint John, Tertullian, Cyprian, Perpetua, Athanasius, Ambrose, Gregory of Nazianzus, Augustine, and John Chrysostom—who stood out as leaders and exemplars of the Christian movement, who wrote and expounded its sacred texts, who defined its doctrines, and who sometimes persisted in professing it even though this meant going to the cross or the pyre or the lions."

     Steven D. Smith, Pagans and Christians in the city:  culture wars from the Tiber to the Potomac (Grand Rapids, MI:  Eerdmans, 2018), 105-106.  The book in question is Douglas Boin, Coming out Christian in the Roman world:  how the followers of Jesus made a place for themselves in Caesar's empire (New York:  Bloomsbury, 2015).

Monday, December 10, 2018

Saying goodbye

"He had assembled, with a long patience and real ability, an impressively complete library on the New Testament.  These books, they had been his entire life.  Yet the moment came when [unable to hold a pen or even, later, read] he had to part with them.  While they were being removed, he, already paralyzed and immobile in his wheelchair, put up a brave front.  But when [his] whole world had gone and the door had been shut [behind it], the tears came unbidden."

"Il s’était compose avec une longue patience et une réelle habileté une bibliothèque très complete sur le Nouveau Testament.  Ces livres, c’était sa vie tout entière.  Le moment vint cependant où il fallut s’en séparer.  Tandis qu’on les enlevait, lui, déjà perclus et immobile dans son fauteuil, faisait bonne contenance.  Mais quand tout le monde fut parti et la porte fermée, malgré lui les larmes vinrent."

     Emmanuel Podechard on the New Testament scholar Eugène-Jacques Jacquier (15 April 1847-7 February 1932), Bulletin des facultés catholiques de Lyon 54, [no. 2] (mars-juillet 1932):  19 (14-19).

Sunday, December 9, 2018

"when love comes forth in judgment"

     Stanza 4 of some paraphrases of the fourth stanza of the anonymous 5th-century (?) Advent hymn "Vox clara ecce intonat" (Analecta hymnica medii aevi 2 (1888), no. 20 on p. 35; Analecta hymnica medii aevi 51 (1908), no. 49 on p. 48-49Walpole, Early Latin hymns (1922), no. 86 on p. 304; Millful, Hymns of the Anglo-Saxon church (2006), pp. 186-187), rendered by Edward Caswall as "Hark! An awful voice is sounding," but by others as "Hark! A thrilling voice is sounding," "Hark! A herald voice is calling," etc. (it has undergone many modifications in English since Lyra Catholica (1849)).  According to the Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology, the Caswall translation was made from the modified Breviary text of 1632.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

"there is no 'nature' in things that are not manufactured and artificial."

"If one were to compare the thought of Sartre and St. Thomas and reduce both to syllogistic form, one would realize that both start with the same 'major premise,' namely from this principle:  things have an essential nature only in so far as they are fashioned by thought.  Since man exists and has a constructive intellect, which can invent and has in fact invented, for instance, a letter opener, therefore, and for no other reason, we can speak of the 'nature' of a letter opener.  Then, Sartre continues, because there exists no creative intelligence which could have designed man and all natural things—and could have put an inner significance into them—therefore there is no 'nature' in things that are not manufactured and artificial. . . . St. Thomas, on the contrary, declares:  Because and in so far as God has creatively thought things, just so and to that extent have they a nature."

     Josef Pieper, Silence of St. Thomas, 53-53, as quoted by Michele M. Schumacher, “Gender ideology and the ‘artistic’ fabrication of human sex:  nature as norm or the remaking of the human?,” The Thomist:  a speculative quarterly review 80, no. 3 (July 2016):  403-404 (363-423), underscoring mine.

Friday, November 30, 2018

"a one-horse town on the way to Birmingham"

Former Prime Minister Harold Macmillan "came up with the following nugget during his speech at a college feast:  'We in Balliol should never take a narrow and provincial view of the universe.  We should imitate the genial tolerance of the sun which rises over Wadham and sets over Worcester'.  Ironic words, certainly.  But were they either spoken or heard ironically enough?  Kenny may be as surprised as Macmillan would have been to learn that for every person who imagines Oxford to be the centre of the world there are others who see it as a one-horse town on the way to Birmingham."

     Rupert Shortt, reviewing Anthony Kenny's Brief encounters:  notes from a philosopher's diary, in "Matter matters:  a prominent thinker recalls the great and the good," The times literary supplement no. 6031 (2 November 2018):  14 (14-15).

Yeah yeah yeah!

"The mid-century Oxford philosopher J. L. Austin was sometimes considered too arch for his own good.  My favourite anecdote about him comes from a lecture he once gave in New York.  'There are many languages in which a double negative can be used to mean a positive,' the visitor told his audience, 'but none in which a double positive can produce a negative.'  A well-timed heckle is usually attributed to Sidney Morgenbesser.  'Yeah, yeah.'"

     Rupert Shortt reviewing Anthony Kenny's Brief encounters:  notes from a philosopher's diary in "Matter matters:  a prominent thinker recalls the great and the good," The times literary supplement no. 6031 (2 November 2018):  14 (14-15).
     This is one of my favorite stories, too.  But of course the success of the heckle depends almost entirely upon tone.  Cf., for example, our modern (and very rapidly pronounced) "Yeah yeah yeah!"

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Salvation from pusillanimity of spirit

"I waited for him that hath saved me from pusillanimity of spirit" (Douay-Rheims).
"expectabam eum, qui salvum me fecit a pusillanimitate spiritus" (Vulgata iuxta LXX).
"προσεδεχόμην τὸν σῴζοντά με ἀπὸ ὀλιγοψυχίας" (LXX).

     Ps 54:9.  The Hebrew (and Vulgata iuxta Hebraicum) is quite different.

"Each Christological or Trinitarian heresy contains the seeds of a Church-State relationship inimical to Christian thought and practice"

"Solovyov perceived an inner link between dogma and models of political and social order. For him, it was no surprise that the rash of Byzantine emperors who championed in turn Arian, Nestorian, Monophysite, Monothelite, and Iconoclast heresies, also raised themselves to quasi-divine status and considered the Church and matters of theology to be under their political jurisdiction. Each Christological or Trinitarian heresy contains the seeds of a Church-State relationship inimical to Christian thought and practice:
Heresy attacked the perfect unity of the divine and the human in Jesus Christ precisely in order to undermine the living bond between Church and State, and to confer upon the latter an absolute independence. Hence it is clear why the emperors of the Second Rome, intent on maintaining within Christendom the absolutism of the pagan Sate, were so partial to all the heresies, which were but manifold variations on a single theme."
     Andrew Kuiper, "Solovyov's Russia and the Catholic Church," Church life journal, 26 November 2018.  The quotation is said to come from p. 14 of Solovyov's Russia and the universal church.

Friday, November 23, 2018

"Drawe me to mercie"

Have mercie, Lord have mercie:  for I know | How much I nede thy mercie in this case. | The horror of my gilt doth dayly growe, | And growing weares my feble hope of grace. | I fele and suffer in my thralled breast | Secret remorse and gnawing of my heart. | I fele my sinne, my sinne that hath opprest | My soule with sorrow and surmounting smart. | Drawe me to mercie:  for so oft as I | Presume to mercy to direct my sight, | My Chaos and my heape of sinne doth lie, | Between me and thy mercies shining light. | What ever way I gaze about for grace, | My filth and fault are ever in my face.

     Anne Vaughan Locke, from A meditation of a penitent sinner, vvriten in maner of a paraphrase vpon the 51. Psalme of Dauid, in Sermons of John Calvin, vpon the songe that Ezechias made after he had been sicke (1560), as quoted by David Marno, in Death be not proud:  the art of holy attention (Chicago:  The University of Chicago Press, 2016), 118.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Drop the book without scruple

"When contemplation makes us drop the book from our hands, there is nothing more for us to do than to let it fall without worry."

"Quand le recueillement nous fait tomber le livre des mains, il n’y a qu’à le laisser tomber sans scrupule."

     François de Salignac de La Mothe-Fénelon, Maxims of the saints 20.True, trans. Chad Helms, Classics of Western spirituality (New York:  Paulist Press, 2006), 262.  I was put onto this by Dictionnaire de spiritualité, sv Lectio divina et lecture spirituelle III (col. 502), by André Boland.  French from the critical edition of 1911, ed. A. Chérel, p. 242, here.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

"envy of Joyce"

"In a sense, I guess I did read my way into the Church. But I didn’t reason my way. I was drawn in large measure by envy of Joyce, who had been raised in a Catholic Church that had spiritual and imaginative power, and that went on haunting him after he had left. I couldn’t imagine writing an autobiographical novel to compare with Joyce’s Portrait, about a young woman who grew up singing 'On Eagle’s Wings.'"

     Julia Yost, as interviewed by Matthew Schmitz in "A conversation between two converts," First things, 12 November 2018, an excerpt from the book Mind, heart, and soul: intellectuals and the path to Rome, ed. Robert P. George and R. J. Snell (TAN Books, 2018).

"The sacramental imagination" as a dodge

"There’s a lot of talk about how Catholics have something called the 'sacramental imagination.' Often this is said sentimentally, as if Catholics were romantic savages who view everything as suffused with wonderment and beauty, enchanted people who climb up and down the rungs of the analogy of being. This is a way of talking around the actual content of the faith. What the sacramental imagination should mean, first of all, is actual belief in the sacraments: Marriage is indissoluble and ordained by God. Christ is present in the Eucharist and must be revered. My grandparents in their concern for my baptism were much better examples of the sacramental imagination than all the faith-in-fiction litterateurs combined. The sacrament of baptism was real to them, and so long as I went without it, they feared my damnation. They had the sacramental imagination in that cold, narrow sense. My parents did not."

     Matthew Schmitz, as interviewed by Julia Yost in "A conversation between two converts," First things, 12 November 2018, an excerpt from the book Mind, heart, and soul: intellectuals and the path to Rome, ed. Robert P. George and R. J. Snell (TAN Books, 2018).

Monday, November 12, 2018

"one's love is durable only if one's mind is fed."

"son amour n'est durable que si son esprit est nourri."

     Bernard-Marie Chevignard, O.P., "Formation spirituelle," Dictionnaire de spiritualité 5 (1964), cols. 705 (cols. 699-716).

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Into Great Silence, or: "silent prayer can center a life more than the liturgy"

"It is also necessary to safeguard without let-up the essential contemplative function of the liturgy, which demands an appreciation for [(le sens de)] sacred silence.  Silence and song are the privileged expressions of human communion.  A liturgical celebration that culminates [(s'achever)] spontaneously in silence gives proof of its religious quality.  Monastic wisdom knows how to effect [(sait)] this, for it always mixes silent prayer into the divine office".
     "It is necessary to respect profoundly the freedom of the Holy Spirit.  If there is no Church, are no Christians without sacraments; if there is no fundamental spiritual formation without incorporation into Christ dead and risen—[an incorporation] accomplished organically via the sacraments and the grace of Pasch experienced in the liturgy—, there are, however, very different ways and degrees of leading the life of the liturgy.  In fact, practically [speaking], silent prayer can center a life more than the liturgy.  There is no spiritual formation that does not aim at the one as well as the other.  Meanwhile a grave deficiency in liturgical life [such as a lack of silence] would be a fundamental omission in spiritual formation".

     Bernard-Marie Chevignard, O.P., "Formation spirituelle," Dictionnaire de spiritualité 5 (1964), cols. 710-711 (cols. 699-716).

"there is no serious spiritual formation that is not devoted to looking life straight in the face"

"The spiritual Christian is thus a man objectively formed [('objectivement formé' or 'ordonné')] for real life.  The theological virtues center him on God himself and render him docile to him.  By them he is able to live and breathe in God [(sait respirer en Dieu)].  Under the inspiration of God, the moral virtues govern his human steps along [(dans)] the difficult paths of life.  Whatever the words employed by the spiritual [writers]—discretion, prudence, strength [(force)], etc.—there is no serious spiritual formation that is not devoted to looking life straight in the face [(regarder la vie en face)] and taking it up with the grace of God and under [(dans)] the inspiration [(souffle, also breath or blast)] of the theological virtues.  Supernatural prudence and Christian strength are its pivots; lucidity, courage, a sense of one's responsibilities, even confrontation are its conditions."

     Bernard-Marie Chevignard, O.P. on how "The grace of Christ forges in the soul the courageous virtues of life," "Formation spirituelle," Dictionaire de spiritualité 5 (1964), col. 702 (cols. 699-716).  According to Chevignard, the supernatural virtues tend to "wed" themselves to (épouser, to marry, wed, espouse; take up, assume) the natural structures of the soul.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Simone Weil on St. John Vianney

"Never in any case whatever is a genuine effort of the attention wasted.  It always has its effect on the spiritual plane and in consequence on the lower one of the intelligence, for all spiritual light lightens the mind.
     "If we concentrate our attention on trying to solve a problem of geometry, and if at the end of an hour we are no nearer to doing so than at the beginning, we have nevertheless been making progress each minute of that hour in another more mysterious dimension.  Without our knowing or feeling it, this apparently barren effort has brought more light into the soul.  The result will one day be discovered in prayer. . . . it may very likely be felt in some department of the intelligence. . . . But it is certain that this effort will bear its fruit in prayer.  There is no doubt whatever about that. . . .
". . . Even if our efforts of attention seem for years to be producing no result, one day a light that is in exact proportion to them will flood the soul. . . .  The useless efforts made by the Curé d'Ars, for long and painful years, in his attempt to learn Latin bore fruit in the marvelous discernment that enabled  him to see the very soul of his penitents behind their words and even their silences."

     Simone Weil, "Reflections on the right use of school studies with a view to the love of God," in Waiting for God, trans. Emma Craufurd (New York:  G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1951), 106-108.  Note, however, this qualification:  "If there is a real desire, if the thing desired is really light" (107).
     Cf. Hilary of Poitiers.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

"Let each man take care how he builds upon it."

"in the history of the mind as in that of towns, the ruins [of a civilization] expose the bedrock [(les fondations)] that, in the case of man, is a matter not of what he constructed, but of what is innate."

"dans l'histoire de l'esprit comme dans celle des villes, les ruines mettent toujours à nu les fondations qui, dans le cas de l'homme, relèvent non du construit mais de l'inné."

     Gustave Martelet, S.J., "Information du monde et résurrection du Christ," in Penser la foi:  recherches en théologie aujourd'hui:  mélanges offerts à Joseph Moingt, ed. Joseph Doré and Christoph Theobald (Paris:  Éditions du Cerf/Assas Éditions, 1993), 1056 (1053-1061). relèver (but without de) can also mean to raise, even erect.  Unfortunately, relèvent du/de is, in any case, in the present.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Play the man (aner), act manfully (viriliter)

Ps 26:14:

LXX:  ὑπόμεινον τὸν κύριον· ἀνδρίζου, καὶ κραταιούσθω ἡ καρδία σου, καὶ ὑπόμεινον τὸν κύριον.  NETS:  Wait for the Lord; take courage, and let your heart be strong, and wait for the Lord!
Vulgate iuxta LXX:  exspecta Dominum viriliter age et confortetur cor tuum et sustine Dominum.  Douay-Rheims:  Expect the Lord, do manfully, and let thy heart take courage, and wait thou for the Lord.

BH:  קַוֵּ֗ה אֶל־יְה֫וָ֥ה חֲ֭זַק וְיַאֲמֵ֣ץ לִבֶּ֑ךָ וְ֝קַוֵּ֗ה אֶל־יְהוָֽה׃
Vulgate iuxta Hebr.:  expecta Dominum confortare et roboretur cor tuum et sustine Dominum.

     ἀνδρίζομαι:  conduct oneself in a resolute manner; be a man; act in a manner typical of men (Muraoka, A Greek-English lexicon of the Septuagint (2009)).  חזק doesn't seem to have the sense that is clearly there in Greek and the Vulgate according to the Septuagint.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Mirror images

"the dismissal of 'God' by modern evolutionary naturalists, and the rejection of evolution by creationists and 'intelligent design' devotees, is often a result of their shared observation that the Darwinian world fails to conform to simplistic notions of design and order.  There is no need here to enter into a thorough discussion of creationism and intelligent design.  It is well known that their antipathy to evolution is rooted in the assumption that a world filled with accidents or contingencies is too noisy to be rendered compatible with their idea of a designing deity.  But it is also worth noting that the atheistic ideas of the renowned evolutionist Richard Dawkins and many other evolutionists are also based on the same assumption:  namely, that any God deserving of the name would also have to be a designer in the same sense as 'intelligent design' proponents understand the ultimate cause of living complexity.  In his obsession with the deadhorse of design, Dawkins insists that any reasonable affirmation of God’s existence would require that living organisms exhibit perfect engineering.  So Dawkins' implicit theological assumptions are essentially identical to those of his 'intelligent design' opponents."

     John F. Haught, "Information, theology, and the universe," in Information and the nature of reality:  from physics to metaphysics, ed. Paul Davies and Niels Henrik Gregerson (Cambridge, England:  Cambridge University Press, 2010), 308 (301-318).  Haught goes on to cite Newman on Paley (his "lecture in the School of Medicine" on "Christianity and physical science" in The idea of a university) against his fellow Christians, though I would have to re-read that more closely to be convinced that he does so in all fairness to the current representatives of "intelligent design."

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Hanby on the disastrous de-Hellenization of Christianity

"Christianity cannot be de-Hellenized . . . without being de-Christianized at the same time, and Christianity cannot be de-Christianized without an eclipse of the sense of God and man casting its dark shadow over the whole of our thought and life."

     Michael Hanby, "A false paradigm," First things no. 287 (November 2018):  24 (19-24).  And further on down that same page,
     At the head of the Cross of Christ, the Gospels tell us, was an inscription which read 'Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.'  According to St. John, it was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek.  What could this detail even mean to our de-Hellenized minds, except perhaps to indicate an early example of sociological 'inculturation'?  But for the traditional Christian, on whom the ends of the ages had come, and for whom the universe itself is a symbol crying out to us to recognize its Creator, it would have meant much more.  It would signify that the whole world was united in judgement under the Cross of Christ in the fullness of time, and that it was precisely in this Kairos—which unites the language of true worship, the language of power, and the language of the wise—that God chose to reveal himself.  The wisdom of the Greeks could not therefore be adventitious to the meaning of the gospel and to the articulation of Christian faith, as indeed they have never been up till now.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

"a gauzy mercy without justice or truth"

"the idea of a gauzy mercy without justice or truth appears suspiciously self-serving for a Church that has so much to confess."

     Michael Hanby, "A false paradigm," First things no. 287 (November 2018):  19 (19-24).  Does Hanby consider this "gauzy mercy" distinctively Francis-can, by chance?  Well, yes:
It would perhaps be unfair to burden [the] progressive proponents [of this false paradigm] with the full weight of its Kuhnian meaning, just as it would be unfair to charge the pope with full responsibility for bringing this change about [(21, italics mine)].


A moonset at sunrise by Tracie Hall
"'Does not a good man consider every day a festival?'  And a very splendid one, to be sure, if we are virtuous.  For the world is the most sacred and divine of temples, and the one most fitting for the gods.  Man is introduced into it by birth to be a spectator:  not of artificial, immobile statues, but of the perceptible images of intelligible essences [that the divine mind, says Plato, has revealed, images which have innate within themselves the beginnings of life and motion:  images] such as the sun, the moon, the stars, the rivers whose water always flows afresh, and the earth, which sends forth food for plants and animals alike.  A life which is a perfect revelation, and an initiation into these mysteries, should be filled with tranquility and joy."

     Plutarch, On tranquility of mind 20, 477C, in response to Diogenes, as translated in Pierre Hadot in Philosophy as a way of life, ed. Arnold I. Davidson, trans. Michael Chase (Malden, MA:  Blackwell Publishing, 1995), 98.  The ellipsis in Hadot I have filled in with the old Loeb translation by W. C. Helmbold.
'Does not a good man consider every day a festival?'  And a very splendid one, to be sure, if we are virtuous.  For the world is the most sacred and divine of temples, and the one most fitting for the gods [(ἱερὸν μὲν γὰρ ἁγιώτατον ὁ κόσμος ἐστὶ καὶ θεοπρεπέστατον)].  Man is introduced into it by birth to be a spectator [(θεατής)]:  not of artificial, immobile statues, but of the perceptible images of intelligible essences [that the divine mind, says Plato, has revealed, images which have innate within themselves the beginnings of life and motion [(οὐ χειροκμήτων οὐδ' ἀκινήτων ἀγαλμάτων . . . , ἀλλ' οἷα νοῦς θεῖος αἰσθητὰ μιμήματα νοητῶν, . . . ἔμφυτον ἀρχὴν ζωῆς ἔχοντα καὶ κινήσεως ἔγηνεν)]:  images] such as the sun, the moon, the stars, the rivers whose water always flows afresh, and the earth, which sends forth food for plants and animals alike.  A life which is a perfect revelation, and an initiation into these mysteries, should be filled with tranquility and joy [(ὧν τὸν βίον μύησιν ὄντα καὶ τελετὴν τελειοτάτην εὐθυμίας δεῖ μεστὸν εἶναι καὶ γήθους)].

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The study of spirituality as spiritual discipline

Catholic Theological Union

"the [academic] study of spirituality is necessarily a self-implicating discipline.
     "In short, . . . the actual 'object' that spirituality studies [(namely, 'expressions of human meaning' 'constructed' by 'the human spirit fully in act', by 'human persons being, living, acting according to their fullest intrinsic potential', and 'thus, ultimately, in the fullness of interpersonal, communal, and mystical relationship')] cannot be approached except with the attitude like that of one who takes up a spiritual discipline. . . .  If the academic discipline of spirituality is to have any specificity, it must claim and clarify its character as [itself] a form of spiritual discipline.  Spirituality can be an academic discipline only insofar as it coheres with its deeper character as spiritual discipline.  Unless it is understood in clear relation to its real core, the academic study of spirituality will fragment across all other disciplines and lose any specificity."

     Mary Frohlich, “Spiritual discipline, discipline of spirituality:  revisiting questions of definition and method,” Spiritus:  a journal of Christian spirituality 1, no. 1 (Spring 2001):  75, 71 (65-78).  That focus on personal experience as mediated via human construction is suspect, but she does make an attempt to transcend this with those claims about other-directed relationship, including 'mystical relationship'.  Suspect, too, is that penultimate paragraph.  The study of spirituality as spiritual discipline sounds good, but this is unfortunately all too familiar (italics mine):
     Such a discipline of spirituality will, to be sure, be of a different character than the spiritual disciplines of former eras.  Rather than an obedient immersion in an institutional culture, it will require a high tolerance for aloneness, permanent quest, vulnerability, and 'things falling apart.'  It will presume a willingness to probe, experiment, and accept challenges to every element of one’s lived spirituality.  It will call for the repeated risk of dialogue with the sometimes unnerving range of interpretations applied to the phenomena of one’s own and others’ spiritual experiences.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

"there is one Jesus Christ our Lord, who came by means of the whole economy".

"there is one Jesus Christ our Lord, who came by means of the whole economy and who has recapitulated all things in himself."

"et unus Christus Jesus Dominus noster, veniens per universam dispositionem, et omnia in semetipsum recapitulans."

     Irenaeus, Adv. haer. III.17.6, as translated on p. 127 of Rodrigo Polanco, "Balthasar and Irenaeus:  the total glorification of God and of man in God," Communio:  international Catholic review 36, no. 1 (Spring 2009):  116-137.  Dispositio does translate οἰκονομία (as does dispensatio), though there is no Greek on this page.  Greek > Latin; Latin > Greek.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

"a work of Thine own hands, a sheep of Thine own fold, a lamb of Thine own flock, a sinner of Thine own redeeming"

"Into your hands, O merciful Savior, we commend your servant N.  Acknowledge, we humbly beseech you, a sheep of your own fold, a lamb of your own flock, a sinner of your own redeeming.  Receive him into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints in light.  Amen."

     1979 BCP, p. 465, 483, and 499.

1928 BCP ("A Commendatory Prayer when the Soul is Departed"):
Into thy hands, O merciful Saviour, we commend the soul of thy servant, now departed from the body.  Acknowledge, we humbly beseech thee, a sheep of thine own fold, a lamb of thine own flock, a sinner of thine own redeeming.  Receive him into the arms of thy mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints in light.  Amen.
1883:  The book annexed to the report of the Joint Committee on the Book of Common Prayer as modified by the action of the General Convention of MDCCCLXXXIII (New York:  E. & J. B. Younge Co., 1885), 307:
Into thy merciful hands, O heavenly Father, we commend the soul of thy servant, now departing from the body.  Acknowledge, we meekly beseech thee, a sheep of thine own fold, a lamb of thine own flock, a sinner of thine own redeeming.  Receive him into the arms of thy mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, into the glorious estate of thy chosen saints in heaven.  O most merciful Jesus, that thing cannot perish which is committed to thy charge; Receive, we beseech thee, his spirit in peace.  Amen.
1627:  John Cosin, A collection of priuate deuotions, as reproduced in 1867:
Into Thy merciful hands, O Lord, we commend the soul of this Thy servant, now departing from the body:   acknowledge, we meekly beseech Thee, a work of Thine own hands, a sheep of Thine own fold, a lamb of Thine own flock, a sinner of Thine own redeeming.  Receive him into the blessed arms of Thy unspeakable mercy, into the sacred rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious estate of Thy chosen saints in heaven.

"In the Catholic tradition, it is the dignity of the human person—not its denial—that undergirds the legitimacy of capital punishment."

     Steven A. Long, "Magisterial irresponsibility," First things no. 286 (October 2018):  43 (41-45).  Great article.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The pagan "never worries about [the world's] fate because he believes in its eternity."

"The [ancient] pagan regards the world as sacred because it is penetrated by divine presence; he therefore respects it to the point of worshipping it and does no damage to it.  But he never worries about its fate because he believes in its eternity.  He is also unaware of any need for transformation of nature or transcendence of its limitations; the world is good as it stands and possesses in its nature all that is necessary for its survival.
". . . The Christian regards the world as sacred because it stands in dialectical relationship with God; thus he respects it (without worshipping it, since it has no divine presence in its nature), but he regards the human being as the only possible link between God and creation, a link that can either bring nature in communion with God and thus sanctify it; or condemn it to the state of a 'thing', the meaning and purpose of which are exhausted with the satisfaction of man.
     "Paganism sees man as part of the world; the Christian way sees him as the crucial link between the world and God, as the only person in creation that can lead it to survival.  It is the second one that attaches to man responsibility for the fate of creation.  Unless we decide to return to paganism, this second way would appear to be the only way to respect again the sacrality of nature and grapple with the ecological crisis."

     John Zizioulas, "Priest of creation," chap. 24 in Environmental stewardship:  critical perspectives — past and present, ed. R. J. Berry (London:  T & T Clark, 2006):  289-290 (273-290).  The whole essay builds to this summation.  From p. 281:
A Christian who wishes to have both his or her doctrine of creatio ex nihilo and a faith that the world possesses in its nature some kind of means for eternal survival is bound to be logically inconsistent.
On the other "person[s] in creation", i.e. the angels, see p. 277, but especially 286, where only "man, unlike the angels . . . , forms an organic part of the material world, being the highest point in its evolution."


"the French scholarly term for the moment when the Declaration of the Rights of Man collapsed into the Terror."

     Mark Bauerlein, citing Richard Bernstein's Dictatorship of virtue:  multiculturalism and the battle for America's future (New York:  Knopf, 1994), in "Hate signs," First things no. 286 (October 2018):  71 (72-71).  Skid(ding), sideslip(ping), slippage, rasp(ing of metal on metal, presumably in conjunction with such a slide), deterioration.  Inflationary spiral:  le dérapage des prix.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Vita activa

     "Though the charge of temporal affairs seems to be and is distracting, I have no doubt that by your good and upright intention you turn everything you do to something spiritual for God's glory, and are thus very pleasing to his Divine Goodness. The distractions which you accept for His greater service, in conformity with His divine will interpreted to you by obedience cannot only equal the union and recollection of uninterrupted contemplation, but even be more acceptable to Him, proceeding as they do from a more active and vigorous charity. May God our Creator and Lord deign to preserve and increase this charity in your soul and in the souls of all. We correctly hold that any activity in which charity is exercised unto God's glory, is very holy and suitable for us. . . ."

     Ignatius of Loyola, Epistle 2383 to Father Manuel Godin(h)o dated 31 January 1552, trans. Tylenda (?).  =Epistolae et instructiones 4 (Madrid, 1906), p. 127 (126-128).  Cf. the Epistles of 1 June 1551 and 8 June 1555 (Dictionnaire de spiritualité, sv Distractions (vol. 3, col. 1354)).

The trombone (or, rather, Canary-Island sack) as supreme Muse

COme Bacchus, God of Poetry, by right; | Lend me thine influence, whilst now I write. | Thy Sackbut can into my breast inspire | More active heat, than can Apollo's Lire. | He's an Vsurper; and his pow'r a crack, | If we his Helicon compare with Sack. | Lock up that Nectar but a year or two, | And see what all his Hippocrene can do. | That Trough of Pegasus! a pretious grace | To vaunt thus of an Hackney's wat'ring-place!

     Thomas Shipman, "The Canary Islands" (1666), stanza 1 (of 7).  In Carolina, or, Loyal poems (London:  Printed for Samuel Heyrick, at Grayes-Inn-Gate in Holborn, and William Crook, at the Green Dragon without Temple-Bar, 1683), 115.  Viewed in Early English Books Online.  From the OED:
  • Crack:  an empty boast.
  • Helicon:  "a mountain in Bœotia, sacred to the Muses, in which rose the fountains of Aganippe and Hippocrene; by 16th and 17th century writers often confused with these. Hence used allusively in reference to poetic inspiration."  Also:  "An ancient acoustical instrument consisting of strings stretched over a resonance-box and capable of being adjusted to different lengths" (cf. "lire").  (And, ironically, from about 1875, "A large brass wind-instrument of a spiral form", roughly a sousaphone.)
  • Sack:  "a class of white wines formerly imported from Spain and the Canaries."
  • Hippocrene:  "Poetic or literary inspiration; [or] a source of this.  The Hippocrene spring . . . was sacred to the Muses, and its waters were said to imbue the drinker with poetic inspiration."
  • Pegasus:  "Greek Mythology.  The winged horse . .. which is said to have created the fountain Hippocrene, sacred to the Muses, with a stroke of its hoof; (hence) often represented as the favourite steed of the Muses, bearing poets on their flights of poetic inspiration."
     Forget Apollo's lyre.  Imbibe sackbutian fire.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

"Grant us, with Michael, still, O Lord | Against the prince of pride to fight"

Ghirlandaio (15th cent.)
"As often as anything very mighty is to be done, we see that Michael is sent, that by that very thing, and by his name [('Who-is-like-unto-God?')], we may remember that none is able to do as God doeth. Hence that old enemy whose pride hath puffed him up to be fain to be like unto God, even he who said, I will ascend unto heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God. I will be like the Most High [(Is 14:13-14)], this old enemy, when at the end of the world he is about to perish in the last death, having no strength but his own, is shown unto us a-fighting with Michael the Archangel [(Rev 12:7)]".

     St. Gregory I, Homily 34.9 on the Gospels, trans. Divine Office.  CCSL 141, p. 307 =PL 76, col. 1251A.  The headline is from the 17th-century (?) hymn "Te splendor et virtus Patris":
Contra ducem superbiæ | Sequamur hunc nos principem 
Against the duke of pride | May we follow this prince
Trans. Hurst (Gregory the Great:  forty gospel homilies, Cistercian studies series 123 (Kalamazoo, MI:  Cistercian Publications, 1990), 287):
     As often as something requiring wonderful courage is to be done, Michael is said to be sent.  We are to understand from the very action and name [('Who is like God')] that no one can do what is possible to God.  The ancient enemy, who in his pride desired to be like God, said, I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of heaven I will set my throne on high; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.  At the end of the world, when he is left to his own strength, he is to be destroyed by a most dreadful punishment when he does battle with the archangel Michael.  So John tells us that war broke out with Michael the archangel, so that the one who proudly elevated himself to likeness to God may learn, after he has been destroyed by Michael, that no one can rise to likeness to God by pride.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Cebes on the cloak, coat, or garment that survives the man

"that weaver had woven and worn out many such cloaks [(ἱμάτια)],  He perished after many of them, but before the last."

     Plato, Phaedo 87c, trans. G. M. A. Grube.  "the cloak [(ἱμάτιον)] the old [weaver] had woven himself and was wearing was still sound and had not perished" at his death (87bc).  Plato has Cebes directs this against the argument that "Since you see that when the man dies, the weaker part continues to exist, do you not think that the more lasting part must be preserved during that time?" (87a), but it's a striking observation regardless of the use to which it is here put.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Bibliotheca Christi

"by constant reading and long-continued meditation he had made his breast a library of Christ."

"lectione quoque adsidua et meditatione diuturna pectus suum bibliothecam fecerat Christi."

     St. Jerome, of Nepotian, Letter 60.10, trans. Fremantle, Lewis, & Martley (NPNF, ser. 2, vol. 2).  Latin from CSEL 54, p. 561, ll. 18-19.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

"Ye who long pain and sorrow bear, | praise God and on Him cast your care!"

Ye who long pain and sorrow bear,
praise God and on Him cast your care!

     William Henry Draper, "All creatures of our God and king" (1899/1919), stanza free.  Free translation of the "Canticle of the Sun" ("canticum solis" or "laudes creaturarum"), by St. Francis of Assisi.  St. Francis of Assisi:  writings and early biographies:  English omnibus of the sources for the life of St. Francis, ed. Marion A. Habig, trans. Raphael Brown, Benen Fahy, Placid Hermann, Paul Oligny, Nesta de Robeck, Leo Sherley-Price (Quincy, IL:  Franciscan Press, Quincy University, 1991), vol. 1, p. 131 (127-131):

All praise be yours, my Lord, through those who grant pardon
     For love of you; through those who endure
     Sickness and trial.
Happy those who endure in peace,
     By you, Most High, they will be crowned.

Francis of Assisi:  early documents, vol. 1, The saint, ed. Regis J. Armstrong, OFM Cap, J. A. Wayne Hellmann, OFM Conv, and William J. Short, OFM (New York:  New City Press, 1999), 114 (113-114):

Praised by you, my Lord, through those who give pardon for Your love,
     and bear infirmity and tribulation.
     Blessed are those who endure in peace
          for by You, Most High, shall they be crowned.

Critical edition of the original:  Die Opuscula des hl. Franziskus von Assisi, Spicilegium Bonaventurianum 13, ed. Kajetan Esser; 2nd ed. Engelbert Grau (Grottaferrata:  1989), 129, which I haven't yet checked, but which is supposed to read:
Laudato si, mi signore, per quelli ke perdonano per lo tuo amore, et sostengo infirmitate et tribulatione.  Beati quelli ke ‘l sosterrano in pace, ka da te, altissimo, sirano incoronati.
Brian Maloney, Francis of Assisi and his 'Canticle of Brother Sun' reassessed, The new Middle Ages (New York:  Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), xxi-xxii:
Laudato si', mi' Signore, per quelli ke perdonano per lo Tuo amore | e sostengo infirmitate et tribulazione. | Beati quelli ke 'l sosterrano in pace, | ka da Te, Altissimo, sirano incoronati. 

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Some fragments of Irenaeus lifted from Polanco on von Balthasar

"man, falling away from God altogether, should cease to exist. For the glory of God is a living man; and the life of man [is the vision of] God."

"in toto deficiens a Deo homo, cessaret esse.  Gloria enim Dei vivens homo:  vita autem hominis visio Dei."

     Irenaeus, Adv. haer. IV.xx.7, trans. Roberts & Rambaut, ANF 1, modification mine.  Latin ed. Harvey (1857), vol. 2, p. 219.

"The flesh is designed as receptive and capable of containing the power of God, and since the beginning has hosted God's art."

Εὑρεθήσεται δὲ καὶ δεκτικὴ ἅμα καὶ χωρητικὴ ἡ σὰρξ τῆς τοῦ θεοῦ δυνάμεως· εἰ γὰρ τὴν ἀρχὴν ἀπεδέξατο τὴν τέχνην τοῦ θεοῦ. . . .

"Invenietur autem perceptrix et capax caro virtutis Dei, quae ab initio percepit artem Dei".

     Irenaeus, Adv. haer. V.iii.2, trans. Balthasar, trans. Polanco, p. 123.  Greek & Latin ed. Harvey (1857), vol. 2, p. 326.  Roberts & Rambaut:  "And that flesh shall also be found fit for and capable of receiving the power of God, which at the beginning received the skilful touches of God".

"The real man is the soul in the body and grace in both . . . and, in the same way, neither is the eschatologically saved man a completed soul, freed from the body, but exclusively in flesh resurrected."

     von Balthasar on Irenaeus, Herrlichkeit II/1, 64, trans. Polanco, p. 123.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Ps 31:22

I had said in my alarm,
     'I am driven far from thy sight.'
But [in fact (אָכֵ֗ן)] thou didst hear my supplications,
     when I cried to thee for help.

     Ps 31:22 RSV.  In the Septuagint and Vulgate "But in fact" (אָכֵ֗ן) becomes "Therefore" (ergone, Divine Office:  ideo; διὰ τοῦτο):
Therefore thou has heard the voice of my prayer (Douay-Rheims).... 
Therefore you listened to the voice of my petition (NETS)....

Sunday, September 9, 2018

"conduct her along the narrow byways of time to the eternal joy of your kingdom"

"With mighty hand and outstretched arm you led your people Israel through the desert.  Now, as your Church makes her pilgrim journey in the world, you always accompany her by the power of the Holy Spirit and lead her along the paths of time to the eternal joy of your Kingdom [(eamque per temporis semitas in gaudium aeternum regni tui conducis)] through Christ our Lord."

     "Eucharistic Prayer for Use in Masses for Various Needs II:  God Guides His Church along the Way of Salvation," Missale Romanum, 3rd typical edition (CTS new daily missal, people's edition (London:  Catholic Truth Society, 2012), 1136|1137).  The phrase "per temporis semitas" is very close to the "in temporis semitis" of the post-synodal apostolic exhortation of John Paul II Pastoris gregis (On the Bishop, Servant of the Gospel of Christ for the Salvation of the World) 12, 16 October 2003:
the Bishop will be able to show his brothers and sisters that he is their father, brother and friend only if he has entered the dark yet luminous cloud of the mystery of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Radiant with the light of the Trinity, he will be a sign of the merciful goodness of the Father, a living image of the love of the Son, and transparently a man of the Spirit, consecrated and sent forth to lead the People of God along the paths of history on their pilgrimage to eternity [(ut Dei Populus in temporis semitis ad aeternitatem peregrinans ducatur)].
I was unable to turn "temporis semit*" up in the Vulgate at Bible Gateway, and indeed this Eucharistic Prayer appears to be a post-Vatican II composition.  In Mt 7:14 the phrase is "arcta via" ("narrow . . . way").
     For some moving images, see the amazing series of photographs by Amos Chapple in Alan Taylor, "The shepherds of the Tusheti Mountains," The Atlantic, 31 October 2017.

The question is how to become "capable and fit" for such friendship

"Angels have not, nor affect not other knowledge of one another, then they lift to reveal to one another.  It is then in this onely, that friends are Angels, that they are capable and fit for such revelations when they are offered."

     John Donne to Sr H[enry]. G[oodyer]., Letters to severall persons of honour (London, 1651), 109-110, as quoted by David Marno in Death be not proud:  the art of holy attention (Chicago:  The University of Chicago Press, 2016), 90.

Monday, September 3, 2018

"'if your right hand causes you to sin'"

"all they that continue in their evill wayes. . . . must depart:  how far?  first, they must be avoided, Declinate, saith S. Paul, I beseech you brethren, marke them diligently which cause division and offences, and avoid them.  And this corrects our desire in running after such men, as come with their owne inventions, Schismaticall Separatists, Declinate, avoid them; if hee be no such, but amongst our selves, a brother, but yet a worker of iniquity, If any one that is called a brother, be a Fornicator, or covetous, with such a one eate not.  If we cannot starve him out, wee must thrust him out; Put away from among you, that wicked man.  No conversation at all is allowed to us, with such a man, as is obstinate in his sin, and incorrigible; no not to bid him God speed, For he that biddeth him God speed, is partaker of his evill deeds.  In this divorce, both the generality, and the distance is best exprest by Christ himselfe, If thine eye, thine hand, thy foote offend thee, amputandi & projiciendi, with what anguish or remorse soever it be done, they must bee cut off, and being cut off, cast away; it is a divorce and no super-induction, it is a separating, and no redintegration.  Though thou couldest be content to goe to Heaven with both eyes, (thy selfe, and thy companion) yet better to goe into Heaven with one, thy selfe alone, then to endanger thy selfe to be left out for thy companions sake."