Saturday, November 30, 2013
Monday, November 25, 2013
"I may well say, therefore, that his holy man lived with himself, because he never turned the eye of his soul from himself, but standing always on his guard with great circumspection, he kept himself continually in the all-seeing eye of his Creator." [Kindle Locations 163-165]
The enthusiasm of unreflective youth needs to be confronted with the purpose of our great fathers Benedict and Gregory. The authority they exercised was Christ's; the wonders they worked were from His Hand.
Saturday, November 23, 2013
Friday, November 22, 2013
Sunday, November 10, 2013
I finally finished reading all the way through St. Augustine's City of God. The quote above comes from the Saint's commentary on what Varro has to say about human happiness being rooted in virtue. St. Augustine takes such beyond the earthy city and situates it in the context of the city of God. It is a big, hearty work which St. Augustine did for his own times and of which any half intelligent person can see the application to our world today. Pagan folly and overall cynicism might have a somewhat different vesture in our day, but the whole pantheon still comes up wanting and challenged in 2013.
I'm still haunted a bit by John Senior's dismissal of the possibilities of raising up a first rate Catholic intellectual today for lack of cultural humus (as he would say). Look at what St. Augustine did in the midst of paganism and heresy! There is at least as much belief afoot today as there was in Augustine's day and hence potential for transforming culture. Let us give ourselves to the challenge of replacing bread and circus with humbled and contrite hearts set on the Kingdom which will have no end! Let us open to the Bridegroom!
PROPERANTES ADVENTUM DIEI DEI
Saturday, November 9, 2013
As in his first book, Senior insists that culture will be restored through a monastic revival. He sees us all as having our part in insuring that young men and women choose the better part.
Senior's argument for such an abundant prayer life (four hours per day for secular priests) stems from his comparison of our world today to that of St. Benedict of Nursia. He observed that a millennium almost of Benedictine life is what rescued Europe from barbarism and engendered or served as the gestating womb for St. Thomas Aquinas. Senior says that we have fallen so far that it is pointless to attempt a revival of Thomism today; we need to do for our world what St. Benedict and his Rule did for another world and successfully. For Senior, monasticism/prayer and work (ora et labora) spawns culture, which then can produce a life of the intellect.
It is in this book that John Senior recounts his own experience of a Holy Week and Easter in the Monastery of Fongombault. That part of the book alone made it worth the read for me.
For fellow "Kindlers", one caveat: this book was obviously scanned in with software which did not know Latin. Invariably "ae" comes out "ce", which can be annoying. Too bad a proofreader didn't go through this Kindle edition.
Apart from the challenge which Senior presents to any serious Catholic, to restore the lamp to its stand or to give new luster to the city on a hilltop, I'm becoming more concerned generally about avenues open to us for genuine human exchange. Apart from issues about excessive time spent with Facebook and other media, plus gaming, I am beginning to suspect that genuine human exchanges are more of a rarity than we would like to believe. Senior was thoroughly against television, but it goes further. Talk years ago was about avoiding an objectification of the other, which keeps us from an encounter with the other as person. Maybe today we should say that the tendency is to "virtualize" the other and thereby deprive him or her, not so much of personhood as of the possibility to speak to us and touch our hearts. I ask myself whether even Pope Francis isn't more virtual than he is real for a lot of people.
That then for me would be another reason for getting on the Senior "bandwagon" of urging lay people to tithe prayer time/time for God each day: two and one half hours! I guess I better get busy setting an example by attaining my four hours a day! Pray for me as I do for you!
Sunday, November 3, 2013
As with any work which extends beyond 30 pages not every chapter of this book is equally brilliant, but the author cannot be denied his laurels for having gifted us with a genius work. For my own propensity, I especially enjoyed his two chapters on the Church's liturgical and sacramental life. Nonetheless, I'd like to see a parish study group concentrate on his chapters on virtue, law and family. Working through this book could encourage people to more time with the Catechism of the Catholic Church itself, but no less be a source of reassurance and challenge in the face of ambiguity and discouragement.
I know that many good Catholics have been taken aback in the last months, given the "full court press" by liberal and otherwise relativist media interests. Topping reassures and does it with both intelligence and flair. Because the book covers the whole spectrum and the man who wrote it is not only erudite but communicative and down to earth, this one gets five gold stars!
It could be my imagination, but it seems to me also in these months, with greater frequency, one notes finger-pointing with shouts of "modernist" or tagging of things as smacking of the heresy of "modernism". I think I better understand the deleterious effect of this error on Christian life and faith. Modernism is many things, but always and everywhere it is aimless; it tempts really to unbelief and Godlessness. Topping concludes with a simple plan for restoring Catholic culture. It is a good one and in no way shape or form can he be accused of "obsessing" for the priorities he establishes: