Saturday, March 26, 2011

Knox - The Indelible Mark

WE BELONG TO OUR LORD, that is, our Owner, just as the farmer's sheep belong to the farmer; that is why we carry his mark. If you have had anything to do with sheep, you will know that they have an incorrigible habit of squirming their way through hedges and getting mixed up with the sheep of the farmer next door. And that is why, especially when sheep are turned out to graze on hillsides, the farmer who owns them puts a sort of splotch on their sides, rather like what happened to you the last time you spilt the red ink. And so, if they do get straying and mix up with other people's flocks, there's no great harm done. So it was that, when you were baptized, our Lord put his mark on you, the sign of the cross. You and I can't see it there, because it belongs to the supernatural, not to the natural order; but an angel can see whether you are baptized or not, just as easily as you or I can see when somebody's got a smut on their nose. And that mark is indelible; it never comes out.

- Ronald A. Knox

Friday, March 25, 2011

Frost Warnings

Saint Fiacre, I appeal to you on this Feast of the Annunciation to protect all the plants of gardeners who realize with some trepidation that we will be having frost again tonight.
Many thanks, good saint!

Lev - A Chivalrous Jewish Knight

No display of crucifixes in classrooms? Had the EU cast out not only the last remnant of reminders of Europe's Christian origins, not only the Christ Child in the bathwater but the Savior of mankind upon his glorious throne?

Elizabeth Lev relates how close it came, and how a Jewish "knight" came riding to do battle:

(T)he true knight in shining armor of this story is a New York University law professor, Joseph Weiler, a devout and observant Jew, who represented, pro bono, the governments of Armenia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Lithuania, Malta, The Russian Federation and San Marino against the court's ruling.

With expert arguments, a mixture of wisdom drawn from the Old and New World and an occasional spark of humor, Europe's modern Galahad, made his winning case.

He compared the cross to a picture of the queen of England hanging in the classroom. "Like the cross," Weiler noted, "that picture has a double meaning. It is a photo of the head of state. It is, too, a photo of the titular head of the Church of England."

"Would it be acceptable," he asked, "for someone to demand that the picture of the queen may not hang in the school since it is incompatible with their religious conviction or their right to education since they are Catholics, or Jews, or Muslims?"

He closed with a warning, one that should echo in the United States: "A one rule fits all, as in the decision of the Second Chamber, devoid of historical, political, demographic and cultural context is not only inadvisable, but undermines the very pluralism, diversity and tolerance which the Convention is meant to guarantee and which is the hallmark of Europe."

Weiler won the day -- the court decided 15-2 in favor of Italy. Much like the Knights of Malta in 1565, who single-handedly held off the Turkish fleet, Professor Joseph Weiler and the nations and advisors who came to Italy's rescue, struck a decisive blow in favor of Europe's religious freedom.

Read all here.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Royal Viewpoint

Very interesting, acute, and incisive analysis about England from an insider if ever there was one here.

Knox - Creatures of Earth and Heaven

CREATURES EXIST TO REMIND us of God and make us think how much greater the Maker must be than the things he has made; how much more irresistible his power must be than the power of the whirlwind, how much more captivating his beauty must be than the beauty of the sunset. Creatures exist so that we can enjoy them and be grateful for them; so that when we have had a holiday we can go to bed thanking God, with a glow in our hearts, for all his goodness to us. Creatures exist so that we may make a right and wise use of them, mortifying ourselves and disciplining our appetites instead of being selfish about them, and making pigs of ourselves over them. All that is true of God's earthly creatures; but meanwhile, God made heaven as well as earth, and not only earth, but heaven, is ours, is meant for us to enjoy. Even now, the protection of the holy angels and the prayers of our Blessed Lady and all the saints are available to us, because we are his children.

How much more thrilling it will be when one day, please God, we put Purgatory behind us, and find, in heaven, the end for which we were really created, the existence which really satisfies the longings of our nature! Only then will the Artist put the finishing touches to his works; only then shall we be able to admire the grand scale of it, the perfect symmetry of it. The curtain will be drawn aside, and the Author of all that exists will stand there to take our applause.

- Ronald A. Knox

Belloc - Prophet of Our Times

Hilaire Belloc is lauded as a prophet of our times by Father C. John McCloskey at ZENIT in an excellent interview here. Remember Belloc's immortal words:

"One thing in this world is different from all other. It has a personality and a force. It is recognized, and (when recognized) most violently loved or hated. It is the Catholic Church. Within that household the human spirit has roof and hearth. Outside it, is the night."

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Knox - That God Exists

WHEN YOU ARE YOUNG, YOU CAN always fall back on yourself for company, unless you are a very melancholy kind of person. When you go to bed at night, and can't get to sleep yet, you can be quite happy thinking about your own plans and your own pleasures, your own friends and your own ambitions; you can lie there day-dreaming, and tell yourself stories about what you are going to do when you grow up ... But when you've had fifty years and more of your own company, it ceases to be quite so enjoyable - you've got bored with it. And that breeds a dreadful loneliness inside the human soul, unless the human soul has learned, and has managed to remember, and still believes, that God exists. You have begun to see yourself as a pretty second-rate sort of article; your prospects of getting your way over this and that don't seem so frightfully important; your judgment of things and of people doesn't seem to matter so much; what the map of Europe will be like in a hundred years' time is a speculation that doesn't much interest you.

THEN, to believe that God exists means that you have something - better still, that you have somebody - to fall back upon; everything still matters, because there is God's will to be taken into account, God's glory to be considered. "I BELIEVE IN GOD"; forty years from now, if you keep then the faith you have now, you will be thanking God that God exists.

- Ronald A. Knox

God Wills It

As historian Thomas F. Madden (Director of Saint Louis University's Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies) elucidated to Colleen Carroll Campbell, Christians in general and Catholics in particular need not scurry away when conversation turns to either the Crusades or the Spanish Inquisition.

An excellent if slightly dated article on the former can be found here.