Saturday, June 21, 2008

How Long Do We Have - PRAYER

In How Long Do We Have Left, the introduction to this series, we looked at certain tell tale signs of a culture in a predictable stage of disequilibrium; namely, in mimetic theory terminology, a "crisis of distinctions." Rather than examine the taxonomy of the western culture's demise here and now, I proposed to look at faithful responses to this cultural meltdown, as it were, using T. S. Eliot's five-fold schema from his poem, The Four Quartets: prayer, observance, discipline, thought and action.

Let me begin by stating the obvious: no where in the Bible is there this "verse" - God helps those who help themselves. Isn't there. You won't find it. You never will. In point of fact, that little proverb of human device runs counter to the very premise of prayer: our human need for help from outside our world of melodrama, ineptitude, error, selfishness, and pride. Prayer, in short, presupposes a Helper from whom we can and may request - and occasionally, beg - for assistance because we cannot get out of our mess on our own without "help" that knows us better than we know ourselves. Even shorter: we can't help ourselves because we don't even understand ourselves.

A similar but not quite as wrong proverb is one that I, personally, like much more: Work like there is no praying, and pray like there is no working. This rings true to a truth stated by Saint Paul the Apostle, " out your salvation with fear and trembling. For God is the one who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work" (Ph 2,12-13). It more than a little implies that we do not depend on what Dietrich Bonhoeffer called "cheap grace" (waiting around for God to do everything for us), but rather we actively participate, or better, cooperate, with grace in obedience to what has been revealed to us in the Church's Tradition and Scripture. But that is too specific just yet.

Prayer is generic, formless, so far. Prayer must simply of its nature for humans connote humility not hubris - it is a self recognition of neediness, a request for help, and a willingness to cooperate with such help as a man would cooperate by clinging to a rope thrown to him. Prayer may look to other humans, but after a certain amount of life experience, learns not to look for such mere mortals for the kind of help we need. "Put no trust in princes, in mere mortals powerless to save. When they breathe their last, they return to the earth; that day all their planning comes to nothing" (Ps 146,3-4). Good advice during a presidential campaign season.

Prayer rejects Feuerbach's notion that we merely "project" a God-image on an uncaring, random universe. Prayer presumes not only a Creator who Is, but One Who listens and cares for his creation and creatures; particularly for one made imago dei, in God's own image, as presumptuous as that sounds. We are not slaves to a judgmental deity (as the Scimitar gloomily preaches) but children whose Heavenly Father behaves in a shockingly uncoming manner, running to meet his wayward, penitent children (Lk 15,11-32).

Finally, prayer in the Judeo-Christian faith traditions says that this divine Helper keeps his Promises, even when we humans are faithless.

Next, we will look at a more specific venue of response to our growing cultural malaise: observance. In this, we will move from a generic set of premises to a very specifically Catholic set of practices. This is not out of a lock-step superstitious mentality, but because, to paraphrase Gilbert Chesterton, the Church's teachings are complex, like a key, because life is complex and calls for a complex solution. (Why on earth do intelligent adults who learn Law, Medicine, Accounting, and vast array of bodies of knowledge think something as wildly huge and miraculous as Salvation and Eternal Life must somehow be as simplistic as a 3rd-grader's "Four Spiritual Laws?" That makes no sense to me.)

Prayer addresses real human needs. Prayer asks for help from a God Who Is there. And He is not silent.

How Long Do We Have Left

Catholic Exchange posits a fascinating question, [h/t: Spirit Daily]

A friend recently asked: “How long do we have left as a society?” In answer to that question I informed her about an interesting and comprehensive study that a renowned British anthropologist, Joseph Unwin, PhD., presented to the British Psychological Society in 1935. Unwin sought to prove that the traditional monogamous model for marriage was not essential to the maintenance of a healthy society. After studying 86 different cultures, across time and continents –and much to his surprise — he came to the inescapable conclusion that the traditional male-female monogamous model for marriage was indeed the best foundation for a healthy and productive society.

Unwin found that societies that adopted this model typically took about three generations to reach their peak of productivity and progress. After that, frequently, a gradual development of complacency and licentiousness would take place and what he described as an ”outburst of homosexuality” would sometimes occur. When that happened, and the society started to move away from the traditional model of male-female monogamous marriage as its foundation, it would begin to unravel. It would then take another three generations of deterioration from that point for the society to collapse ...

From a mimetic theory point of view, the "crisis of distinctions" is indeed a clear marker of cultural dissolution, it being an indicator of a culture's religious center inability to command the social and psychological coherence of its people. The prohibitions instead of steering people safely clear of behavior that could lead to explosive and retaliatory violence become points of scandal, leading people to imitate destructiveness.

Need examples of such prohibitions? Okay. "Whatever you do, don't play with matches," to a five-year old. "Don't engage in unsafe sex, sex outside of lifelong, covenantal matrimony, sex with the same gender, different species, etc." to a _____ (fill in the blank).

Mimetic theory posits that after a certain amount of spiraling downward in the "sacrificial preparation," prohibitions actually promote more destruction of cultural framework rather than less as more and more people engage in kicking them down. It is like the Trojans tearing stones from their own fortifications to throw at the Greeks outside their gates.

The best plan of action now is not engaging in a spitting contest in bipartisan conservatism or utopia-messianic pipe dreaming. VOTE for the Culture of Life and the smallest, most voiceless victims of the degenerate west - the unborn. But the best plan is the one given by T. S. Eliot in his Four Quartets:
prayer, observance, discipline, thought and action
In upcoming posts, I will spell out what, for me, each of these injunctions mean for the Catholic person of faith living at A Time Near the End of the World.

Friday, June 20, 2008

(only) Two Obamas?

Friend Scott Dinsmore at his blog In the Meantime, and fellow attender at the D.C. venue Emmaus Road Initiative, lifted up this from No Left Turns:

David Brooks’ column today about the two Obamas, one genial, easy-going, but very much a man of the effete Left, and another Machiavellian, reminds me of this bit of commentary from John Adams:

Mirabeau said of La Fayette, ‘Il a affiche desinteressement’ and he added, ‘this never fails. You know the sense of the word ‘affiche’? It is as much to say, ‘he advertised’ his disinterestedness.” This is equivalent to saying that he employed a crier to proclaim through the streets ‘O Yes! O Yes! O Yes!’ All manner of persons may have the benefit of my services, gratis, provided always and only that they will yield me their unlimited and unsuspecting confidence and make me commander in chief., and after I shall have gained a few victories, make me a king or an emperor, when I shall take a fancy to be either. This has been the amount and the result of most of the disinterestedness that has been professed in the world. I say most, not all. There are exceptions, and our Washington ought to pass for one.
As far as I can tell, the key question, regarding Obama, is what his true intensions are. Sometimes, it seems that he’s been talking Left in order to please certain constitutencies, even as he prepares to steer a more moderate course in practice. But sometimes, it seems that he really wants this expansive republic to have the kind of regime that is only suitable for a small one.

Recall here, Obama’s NAFTA kerfuffle, and the question of whether Obama means it when he says, "Look. I am a pro-growth, free-market guy. I love the market." (Quoted here), or if he’s geniunely baffled by the Laffer Curve.

One final point. There are several instances in the past few centuries of men who believed that they were free to be Machiavellians today in order to change the world into a place where such hijinks were no longer necessary. Others, like our friend John Adams, believing that the would could not be fundamentally remade, tried to burst such bubbles.

Benedict XVI - Eucharistic Centrality

Lest we fall into mimetic, violent rivalry:

Vatican, Jun. 19, 2008 ( - During a June 19 meeting with the bishops of Pakistan, who were making their ad limina visit to Rome, Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) emphasized the central importance of Eucharistic spirituality in the life of the Catholic Church.

The Eucharist "reorients the way Christians think, speak, and act in the world," the Pope told the Pakistani bishops.

The Pope said that the spiritual perspective nourished by the celebration and adoration of the Eucharist is particularly important in Pakistan, where the seeds of faith have grown despite "conditions that sometimes hinder their capacity to take root." For Christians who face the threat of violence, the Pope said, the Eucharist furnishes a constant reminder that "the absurdity of violence never has the last word, for Christ has conquered sin and death through His glorious resurrection."

Read all …

What a Great Idea

Pardon the low terms of discourse, but, dudes, I'm all in favor: Campus Radicals: A New Muslim Student Group Tries to Rouse the Moderates. [h/t: Mark Shea]

And it's about time.

Anti-Abortion Prayer Vigils During Dem Convention

Calling Sen. Barack Obama's views on abortion "radical," protest groups said Wednesday they plan prayer vigils during the Democratic National Convention to bring attention to the issue. The groups said their main event will be encircling the Pepsi Center, site of the convention, with as many as 1,000 demonstrators who will kneel and pray for an end to abortions. They plan to leave roses on the sidewalk outside the arena Aug. 23. The convention runs from Aug. 25 to Aug. 28. [h/t: New Advent]

"Sen. Obama, I never thought I'd say this, but he almost makes Sen. (Hillary Clinton) look pro-life," said the Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney of the Washington-based Christian Defense Coalition.

Read all ....

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Go Irish

The NYT opines on the idiotic pig-headedness of Ireland's no-vote on the Lisbon Treaty in The Muck of the Irish. To Roger Cohen and his craven thinking, I say, "How long have you loved megalithic totalitarian regimes, Rog?" To the Irish, I say, Erin Go Braugh and pass the pouchin!

Quotes of the Day

"For me it is the Virgin birth, the Incarnation, the resurrection which are the true laws of the flesh and the physical. Death, decay, destruction are the suspension of these laws. I am always astonished at the emphasis the Church puts on the body. It is not the soul she says that will rise but the body, glorified." – Flannery O’Connor

"May God grant my continued understanding of one thing: attachment to the Church's tradition, far from being a stumbling block, is the principle of all effective audacity.” - Henri de Lubac

"The first thing that must strike a non-Christian about a Christian's faith is that it is all too daring. It is too beautiful to be true: The mystery of being, unveiled as absolute love, coming down to wash the feet and the souls of its creatures; a love that assumes the whole burden of our guilt and hate, that accepts the accusations that shower down.. all the scorn and contempt that nails down his incomprehensible movement of self-abasement -- all this absolute love accepts in order to excuse his creature before himself ..." - Hans Urs von Balthasar

"Our culture's adjustment to the epistemology of television is by now almost complete; we have so thoroughly accepted its definitions of truth, knowledge and reality that irrelevance seems to us to be filled with import, and incoherence seems eminently sane." - Neil Postman

"I had better inform my readers that the famous dogma of papal infallibility is by far the most modest profession of its kind in existence. Compared to our infallible democracies, our infallible medical councils, our infallible astronomers, our infallible parliaments, the Pope is on his knees in the dust confessing his ignorance before God." - George Bernard Shaw

[Quotes gleaned from the now-dormant Cornerstone Forum "Daily Quote."]

Redefinition Revolution

The irreplaceable Maggie Gallagher looks down the road at the future of same-sex matrimony. Or, Gay marriage is about more than Adam and Steve. [h/t: Mark Shea]

Bear Witness - Contemplation & Action

.- Pope Benedict XVI greeted thousands of pilgrims gathered under a warm Roman sun in St. Peter’s Square on Wednesday. In his address, the Pope focused on how Christians must live out their faith by uniting contemplation with action.

Continuing his catechetical series on ancient figures in the Church, the Pope turned his attention to the St. Isidore of Seville, the brother of Saint Leander and a contemporary and friend of Saint Gregory the Great.

Isidore, under his brother's guidance, became disciplined and studious. Their house had a large library of pagan and Christian works, and hence Isidore's writings "reveal an encyclopedic knowledge of classical pagan culture as well as a profound understanding of Christian culture."

The Holy Father also noted that St. Isidore lived during the Visigothic invasions of Spain, devoted much energy to converting the barbarian tribes from heresy and preserving the best fruits of classical and Christian culture.

Despite the tendency to think of ancient writings as irrelevant to modern society, Pope Benedict said Saint Isidore’s reflections, which "gather and express the full Christian life,” are still valid today.

Isidore worked to bring the richness of pagan, Jewish and Christian learning to the rapidly changing political, social and religious situations in which he lived.

Read all …

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Phobia, Wisdom and Love

That Mona Burqa Smile

Spence at Jihadwatch juxtaposes two interesting phrases: Italian PM and Muslim convert to Christianity targets of jihadist death threats; Islamic conference decries "Islamophobia".

Isn't it beginning to look like the wise thing to be - in a state of watchful, prayerful "Islamophobia"?

Of course, for those more saintly and loving, one can also try to convert them. But till such grace allows, be vigilant, prayerful, and "innocent as doves and wise as serpents" as Our Lord recommends.

How the Plowman Learned His Paternoster

Seven-Sacrament font: Baptism, Westhall, Suffolk
ROUND THE FOURTEENTH-CENTURY font in the parish church of Bradley, Lincolnshire, is carved an English inscription, which runs
Pater Noster, Ave Maria, Criede,
Leren the childe yt is nede.
That injunction was directed to the godparents and was a formal part of the rite of baptism in late medieval England. Just before the blessing of the font at baptisms the priest was required to admonish the godparents to see that the child's parents kept it from fire, water, and other perils, and themselves to "lerne or se yt be lerned the Pater noster, Aue Maria and Credo after the law of all holy churche" The Lord's Pryaer, Hail Mary, and Apostles' Creed were in fact the irreducible core of a more elaborate catechetical programme for the laity which had been decisively formulated for the English Church at Archbishop Pecham's provincial Council of Lambeth in 1281. The Council drew up a schema of instruction for the laity, De informacione simplicium, better known by its opening words Ignorantia Sacerdotum, which was to be expounded in the vernacular to parishioners four times in the year.
- Eamon Duffy, Stripping of the Altars (Yale)
Unlike many who were raised as Evangelical or nominally Christian homes, presumably, I read the above and felt like I was coming home. The paucity and aridity of Protestant faith, in my opinion, needs the richness and fullness of the Catholic faith in order to ward off the elemental hazards of secularism and neo-paganism. True transcendence is vouchsafed in the Sacramental life and the Magisterium of the Catholic faith and morals. The more I study the Protestant "reformation", the more it appears to contain all the structural elements of a sacrificial event.

Be that as it may be, Professor Duffy (Fellow of Magdalene College, Cambridge) has done a great service in presenting this major revisionist account of the pre-Reformation church in England. In the words of Jack Scarisbrick, "A mighty and momentous book ... which re-orders one's thinking about much of England's religious past."

Faith in My Bones

Shrine of the Holy Whapping looks at the ways of death and matter as if it mattered here.

David P. Lang's Why Matter Matters covers some of these matters (sorry) too, and shows how much most of us have been raised to be quasi-Gnostics. And Father Z's superb The Bones of Augustine is a must read.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Happy 750th

Salisbury Cathedral (1825) - John Constable

Cat at Brits at Their Best adds her well wishes as Salisbury Cathedral (Cathedral of Saint Mary) celebrates its 750th birthday.

Global Cooling - No Sun Spots

Geophysicist Phil Chapman noted that the world cooled quickly between January last year and January this year, by about 0.7C. "This is the fastest temperature change in the instrumental record, and it puts us back to where we were in 1930," Dr Chapman noted in The Australian recently.

Humanism's Slavish Mythology

It is clear that the rule of "tolerance" in such western nations as Canada has come to mean no free speech or no sharing of free thoughts. In such an Orwellian milieu, truly "some animals are more equal than others." Looking for the roots of such humanistic self- annihilation of freedom, we must as usual look to what started the downward spiral: the procrustean movement from human dignity born of the Judeo-Christian notion of humanity, imago dei, into the narrow, sordid, Freudian paradigm of humans as talking animals, the product of the mindless, arbitrary mechanism of evolution.

As friend and teacher Gil Bailie has noted and with whom I fully agree, there is nothing wrong with the idea of natural selection per se. It is only when we come to give it an overarching dominion for meaning that evolution is out of its depth. As with science itself, evolution does not begin nor claim to answer questions beyond what can be studied by the empirical method. Worse yet, casting out the world view of the biblical faiths unwittingly opens the door to ancient mythological world views: our human default pagan posture toward the world and ourselves.

So trying to apply Freud theory to the meaning of human beings and culture is like applying the mechanical applications of an automobile exhaust manifold to marriage, parenthood, or the Holy Eucharist. The paradigm buckles and folds because it is being called on to do what it never claimed it could do.

Yet this is precisely what has happened in the west, largely by pols and commissars and ministers riding the presuppositions of science, not realizing they are ushering in not only a diminished and fractured form of civilization but a more violent, brutal, and slavish mythology As Gil Bailie says,
... the thing about it [Freudian mythology] being another mythology, at the heart of which is Greek mythology, at the heart of which is violence , is something which Girard touches on in the same context, where he says, “Victimage mechanisms remain fundamental to any kind of mythology.” So there is always going to be some victim expelled, something expelled, in order to make this system have meaning. And what is expelled is the biblical revelation. That is why the theory ginned up by Freud and Jung and Eliade and Joseph Campbell, et al., were really a harkening back to systems of the primitive sacred as a refuge from the revelation that was overtaking them, which is coming right out of the biblical tradition.

The revelation about the sacrificial or scapegoating nature of conventional religion and culture, and the revelation about the mimetic structure of subjectivity. And so we can now see, or will pretty soon be able to see, that so many of these theories that presume to be a great improvement on the old, moribund Judeo-Christian tradition were in fact an attempt to hide from the revelation that was coming from that tradition and overtaking all the modern presumptions. And it’s still happening in our day.

So Freud’s move from the biblical tradition to Greek myth was a perfect replica of the defining maneuver of Western humanism. And it reproduced the familiar combination of initial enthusiasm and eventual despair [nihilism] that each of humanism’s endless revivals always repeat. Remember: Guy LaFort described [cited in the previous tape] the ‘successful’ psychoanalysis in these terms: “The patient and the analyst have reached the same point of mutual disillusionment when they call it quits. There is no longer any transcendence involved, and the best sign of a completed analysis is the patient’s lack of gratitude.”

Monday, June 16, 2008

Eamon Duffy & the Loss of the West

It is my conviction ... that no substantial gulf existed between the religion of the clergy and the educated élite on the one hand and that of the people at large on the other. I do not believe that it is helpful or accurate to talk of the religion of the average fifteenth-century parishioner as magical, superstitious, or semi-pagan. Nor does it seem to me that the most interesting aspect of late medieval religion lay in the views and activities of those who, like the relatively small number of Lollards, rejected its central tenets and preoccupations. The fifteenth and sixteenth centuries of England witnessed a period of massive catechetical enterprise on the part not only of the bishops and parochial clergy, whose responsibility it mainly was, but also on the part of members of religious orders and private individuals, like the printers Caxton, Wynkyn de Worde, and Richard Pynson. The teachings of late medieval Christianity were graphically represented within the liturgy, endlessly reiterated in sermons, rhymed in verse treatises and saints' lives, enacted in the Corpus Christi and Miracle plays which absorbed so much lay energy and expenditure, and carved and painted on walls, screens, bench-ends, and windows of the parish churches. It is true that the wealthy and literate had increasing access to and interest in types of spirituality previously confined to the monastery. Yet within the diversity of medieval religious options there was a remarkable degree of religious and imaginative homogeneity across the social spectrum, a shared repertoire of symbols, prayers, and beliefs which crossed and bridge even the gulf between the literate and the illiterate.
- Eamon Duffy, The Stripping of the Altars
Traditional Religion in England 1400-1580
+ + +
In my opinion, it was precisely this "shared repertoire of symbols, prayers, and beliefs" that built and maintained the best of Christendom in England until Henry's break with the Papacy in the early 1530s to the Elizabethan "Settlement" of religion.

The slide to present-day mayhem in the west was, thus, inevitable without these milestones and markers of true transcendence. The scattering of Christendom brought us to the brink. The hope for the old west is the Catholic Church still.

Nonsense on Stilts

Dominicans charitably destroy secular humanists and other postmodern hangers-on. Read with a snifter of brandy preferably. Savor. Learn. [h/t: Mark Shea]

Small, Drooling Invaders in USA

Creative Minority Report tells of fact finding trip by EU researchers: America is filled with tiny people wearing diapers and speaking no discernible language!

“You know,” said one scientist from Germany. “I haven’t seen one of these very small people anywhere in the European Union in years but if history is correct then this could be a species known as infantus terriblus. We believed them to be extinct.”

So, 4 Imams and an Evangelical Go ...

A fellow by the name of Bruce Fisk received what four imams considered top flight Islamic "evangelization". If you read his account, pay close attention to your feelings as you are winged so high above the ground by their arguments that you feel it isn't safe to jump.

Should he have argued with them from his Evangelical point of view?

How would one talk with them about the need for a Savior? Grace? Forgiveness? A Divinity who is perfect love and does not welcome the bloodshed of unbelievers? [h/t: New Advent]

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Princess Parizade Bringing Home the Singing Tree
Maxfield Parrish (1906)

Team Hoyt - Happy Father's Day

h/t: Dirty Harry's Place

Monasteries Rebuilt Culture

[I]T WAS THE GREAT MONASTERIES, especially those of Southern Germany, Saint Gall, Reichenau and Tegernsee, that were the only remaining islands of intellectual life amidst the returning flood of barbarism which once again threatened to submerge Western Christendom (in the 9th and 10th centuries A.D.). For, though monasticism seems at first ill-adapted to withstand the material destructiveness of an age of lawlessness and war, it was an institution which possessed extraordinary recuperative power.

Ninety-nine out of a hundred monasteries could be burnt and the monks killed or driven out, and yet the whole tradition could be reconstituted from the one survivor, and the desolate sites could be repeopled by fresh supplies of monks who would take up again the broken tradition, following the same rule, singing the same liturgy, reading the same books and thinking the same thoughts as their predecessors. In this way monasticism and the monastic culture came back to England and Normandy in the age of Saint Dunstan from Fleury and Ghent after more than a century of utter destruction; with the result that a century later the Norman and English monasteries were again among the leaders of Western culture.
- Christopher Dawson

For the Renewal of Christendom +

Are you seeking and willing to work at bringing about a renewal of Christendom? I invite you to visit the website of Corpus Christianum.
Corpus Christianum is an international Private Association of the Faithful, open both to men and women, dedicated to praying for a renewal of Christendom.

Guided by a Catholic chivalrous spirit and Marian in character, Corpus Christianum members daily pray for the following key points:

* The renewal, unity, and spread of Christendom
* The Supreme Pontiff and all priests/religious
* The protection of Christians around the world
* The restoration of the family
* The conversion of sinners and the sanctification of all people

We are looking for courageous souls who are willing to take up the standard of Christ the King! We invite you to review the association's Statutes for more information about the organization and its obligations.

What England Lost - Mary's Dowry

"Not one hundred (in the United States) hate the Roman Catholic Church, but millions hate what they mistakenly think that the Roman Catholic Church is."
- Archbishop Fulton Sheen

For any who might not be under the sway of the anti-Catholic historians and would have minds sufficiently open to undertake an understanding of the true history of England, an invaluable and succinct form can be found in Hiliare Belloc's Europe and the Faith, chapter 5, "What Happened in Britain?"

An irrational and warm feeling of oneness with England won't bring Mary's Dowry back to one's imaginary, misty thoughts of chivalry, nobility, and Christendom. That only existed insofar as England was one with Christendom that was wholly one with the Catholic Church. It began breaking down with the Tudor revolution and we see its barren, ugly results today.

Ratio Studies in Tolerance

Question: Has any study been carried out to gauge the ratio English bobbies (a) inhibit their arrest of murderously seething Scimitar imams to, for example, (b) charging a teen who draped a flag over his speakers in the rear window? Might said bobbies build a head of resentful steam at having their hands tied regarding the former and therefore really lay into the latter, disproportionately?

Juuuuuust wondering.

Ad Hoc Priests of Primitive Sacred

Attempt to incite violence in the name of the Scimitar. A rather well made 5-minute video. Remember well: Look for the structure of events, not the ostensible messages and themes if you are to understand the crisis of cultures today.

Question: When is a jacket that reads "Soldier of Islam" acceptable, but a jacket that reads "Crusader" unacceptable? Answer: When one wears either in a politically correct, multiculturalist western nation, of course. The day is coming when Chivalry will be a necessity among Christian men. [h/t: Pastorius @ IBA]

May I Have Another, Sir

Spence lauds a WSJ editorial, "$4 Gasbags", then succinctly lists the way bloomin' multiculturalist naïveté just INVITES troubles for the US of A here. Sigh. Talk about legends of the fall.

Vote Culture of Life

McCain Meets Privately with Fr. Pavone - Says Constitutional Right to Life Applies to Unborn.

The first issue addressed by McCain was abortion. He said that the "noblest words ever written" were "the inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." McCain believes that those words "apply to the unborn." He reminded the Philadelphia Catholics of his pro-life voting record, adding that he would "maintain that commitment" if elected president.

Too Good to be True

A Japanese firm develops a car that runs on water.

Eucharist and the Evangelical Life

Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley, Ofm. Cap. delivered the address at the Eucharistic Symposium and Congress in Quebec, June 11th – 13th, 2008.
... In a world of political correctness and “inclusivity” these ancient practices seem peregrine and even harsh. Yet the awareness of the sacredness of the Eucharist evoked an awe and reverence in the faithful even before they approached the Eucharist. Indeed many sinners have found motivation to overcome their vices because of their desire to receive the sacrament of the Eucharist. Even before we are repulsed by sin and evil we are attracted by grace and beauty.

This attitude so beautifully expressed in Francois Mauriac’s book on Holy Thursday is dismissed by those who would encourage everyone to receive communion without examining themselves. It is what Bonhoeffer described as a cheap grace.

However, where believers are aware of their need to be spiritually prepared for the Eucharist, the call to conversion is part of the experience of the Eucharist. Jesus washes the feet of the Apostles in part to denote the cleansing and repentance that must be in preparation for participation in the Eucharist.

The practices of fasting from all food and drink from midnight and weekly confession as preparations for the Eucharist were still the custom in my youth. There was a great awareness that the way we lived before the Eucharist and how we prepared was very important. Eucharistic consistency was generally understood.

The call to conversion that opens the Gospel is complemented in the Mass by the Penitential Rite. We present ourselves before God and before the community acknowledging our need for forgiveness and reconciliation. Jesus says clearly in the Gospel that before we offer our gifts on the altar, we must be reconciled with our brothers and sisters. We need to wear the wedding garment of grace and mercy.

The Gospel Life begins with a longing for the Holy, a hunger for God, and a sense of the transcendent. This is different from the modern culture’s addiction to entertainment and sense of entitlement. We must approach the Eucharist like Moses drawing near the burning bush, with a sense of wonder and awe. At the same time we have a sense of our own unworthiness in the presence of God’s boundless and gratuitous love, like Peter who throws himself at Jesus’ feet and says: “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” And the Eucharist is a greater miracle than the miraculous draught of fishes ...
[Read all ... ]