Friday, December 30, 2011

Founders Friday, Friday, December 30, 2011 – James Madison

President James Madison served as the second R...Image via Wikipedia

"A just security to property is not afforded by that government, under which unequal taxes oppress one species of property and reward another species. "
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Thursday, December 29, 2011

My wife had a very minor medical procedure on Tuesday and when we arrived at the doctors office, this sight greeted us.  The balloon was trying to land, apparently, in a park just across the street from the medical complex.  I don't know if it finally made a safe landing, but there was no news of a crash.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Wednesday, December 28, 2011 – St John Bosco

filedesc says "I c...Image via WikipediaNever read books you aren't sure about . . . even supposing that these bad books are very well written from a literary point of view. Let me ask you this: Would you drink something you knew was poisoned just because it was offered to you in a golden cup?
St. John Bosco
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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas, Sunday, December 25, 2011 - Robert Southwell

The Nativity by Caravaggio, 1609. The angel’s ...Image via WikipediaFROM St. Peter's Complaint, 1595
By Robert Southwell

As I in hoary winter's night stood shivering in the snow,
Surprised I was with sudden heat which made my heart to glow ;
And lifting up a fearful eye to view what fire was near,
A pretty babe all burning bright did in the air appear ;
Who, scorchëd with excessive heat, such floods of tears did shed
As though his floods should quench his flames which with his tears were fed.
Alas, quoth he, but newly born in fiery heats I fry,
Yet none approach to warm their hearts or feel my fire but I !
My faultless breast the furnace is, the fuel wounding thorns,
Love is the fire, and sighs the smoke, the ashes shame and scorns ;
The fuel justice layeth on, and mercy blows the coals,
The metal in this furnace wrought are men's defilëd souls,
For which, as now on fire I am to work them to their good,
So will I melt into a bath to wash them in my blood.
With this he vanished out of sight and swiftly shrunk away,
And straight I callëd unto mind that it was Christmas day.
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Friday, December 23, 2011

Founders Friday, Friday, December 23, 2011 – John Quincy Adams

John Quincy Adams portrait. "John Quincy ...Image via Wikipedia"The hope of a Christian is inseparable from his faith. Whoever believes in the divine inspiration of the Holy Scriptures must hope that the religion of Jesus shall prevail throughout the earth. Never since the foundation of the world have the prospects of mankind been more encouraging to that hope than they appear to be at the present time. And may the associated distribution of the Bible proceed and prosper till the Lord shall have made 'bare His holy arm in the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God' (Isaiah 52:10)."
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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011 – St John of the Cross

St. John of the Cross, Doctor of the Church.Image via WikipediaWhenever anything disagreeable or displeasing happens to you, remember Christ crucified and be silent.
St. John of the Cross
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Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Early Church Fathers, Sunday, December 18, 2011

c. 1730-1735Image via Wikipedia
"Since then these things are manifest to us, and we have looked into the depths of the divine knowledge, we ought to do in order all things which the Master commanded us to perform at appointed times. He commanded us to celebrate sacrifices and services, and that it should not be thoughtlessly or disorderly, but at fixed times and hours. He has Himself fixed by His supreme will the places and persons whom He desires for these celebrations, in order that all things may be done piously according to His good pleasure, and be acceptable to His will. So then those who offer their oblations at the appointed seasons are acceptable and blessed, but they follow the laws of the Master and do not sin. For to the high priest his proper ministrations are allotted, and to the priests the proper place has been appointed, and on Levites their proper services have been imposed. The layman is bound by the ordinances for the laity."
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Friday, December 16, 2011

Founders Friday, Friday, December 16, 2011 – Thomas Jefferson

Jefferson Memorial in Washington D.C. with exc...Image via Wikipedia
"When all government, domestic and foreign, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the center of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another, and will become as venal and oppressive as the government from which we separated."

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wednesday, December 14, 2011 – St Basil the Great

Saint Basil (a.k.a. Basil the Great, Basil of ...Image via Wikipedia
A woman who deliberately destroys a fetus is answerable for murder. And any fine distinction between its being completely formed or unformed is not admissible among us.

St. Basil the Great
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Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Desert Fathers, Sunday, December 11, 2011 – St Gregory of Nyssa

Gregory of NyssaImage via WikipediaWhen we lay bare the hidden meaning of the history, scripture is seen to teach that the birth which distresses the tyrant is the beginning of the virtuous life. I am speaking of the kind of birth in which free will serves as the midwife, delivering the child amid great pain. For no one causes grief to his antagonist unless he exhibits in himself those marks which give proof of his victory over the other.

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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Tebowing, Saturday, December 10, 2011

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 17:  Quarterback Mark Sa...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
There’s a good article in today’s Wall Street Journal about Tim Tebow and his conspicuous display of his faith.  Of course, I’m somewhat interested in this, being a Denver Bronco’s fan, but also because it seems such a refreshing change to have an openly Christian young man doing good things.  Possibly unlike many people who are cheering Tebow on, I don’t think his success says much about God’s interest in football, and I don’t think his winning or losing proves that God is “on our side”, so to speak.  What the Tebow phenomena does show is that it’s equally possible to be successful in pro sports being a man of upright character as it is being a man of weak character; perhaps even more so. 

One point in the article I take exception to is the conclusion the writer seems to reach as to why so very many people seem to hate Tebow and wish him to fail.  Here is a short quote from the article:

Mr. Tebow may indeed turn out to be a hypocrite, like other high-profile Christians in recent memory. Some of us might even want that to happen, because moral failure is something we understand. We know how to deal with disappointed expectations, to turn our songs of praise into condemnation. 

What we are far less sure how to do is to take seriously a public figure's seemingly admirable character and professions of higher purpose. We don't know how to trust goodness.  

And who can blame us? We don't want to be fooled again.

 I don’t think the reason is that people fear being let down.  I think the reason is that people don’t like to compare themselves to someone with a higher standard; I think they fear they are letting themselves down.  Tebow sets a high moral standard, one that few of us can live up to; it’s easier to tear him down than to try to build ourselves up to the standard he sets.

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Friday, December 9, 2011

Founders Friday, Friday, December 9, 2011 – Samuel Adams

From A History of the United States page 124, ...Image via Wikipedia"Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt."

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A A Word on Wednesday, Wednesday, December 7, 2011 - St Ignatius Loyola

St. Ignatius of LoyolaImage via Wikipedia

"Few souls understand what God would accomplish in them if they were to abandon themselves unreservedly to Him and if they were to allow His grace to mold them accordingly."
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Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Desert Fathers, Sunday, December 4, 2011 – St Symeon the New Theologian

Symeon the New TheologianImage via Wikipedia
When a man walks in the fear of God he knows no fear, even if he were to be surrounded by wicked men. He has the fear of God within him and wears the invincible armor of faith. This makes him strong and able to take on anything, even things which seem difficult or impossible to most people. Such a man is like a giant surrounded by monkeys, or a roaring lion among dogs and foxes. He goes forward trusting in the Lord and the constancy of his will to strike and paralyze his foes. He wields the blazing club of the Word in wisdom.
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Friday, December 2, 2011

Founders Friday, Friday, December 2, 2011 – Patrick Henry

Peter F. Rothermel's "Patrick Henry Befor...Image via Wikipedia"This book [The Bible] is worth all the books that ever were printed, and it has been my misfortune that I never found time to read it with the proper attention and feeling till lately. I trust in the mercy of heaven that it is not too late."
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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Desert Fathers, Sunday, November 27, 2011 – St John Chrysotom

John Chrysostom, Constantinople, early or midd...Image via Wikipedia

"We must thoroughly quench the darts of the devil and beat them off by continual reading of the divine Scriptures. For it is not possible, not possible for anyone, to be saved without continually taking advantage of spiritual reading. Actually, we must be content, if even with continual use of this therapy, we are barely able to be saved. But when we are struck every day, if we do not use any medical care, what hope do we have of salvation?”

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Friday, November 25, 2011

Friday, November 25, 2011 – Lewis Morris

Lewis MorrisImage by cliff1066™ via Flickr"Stand upright, speak thy thoughts, declare the truth thou hast, that all may share; Be bold, proclaim it everywhere: They only live who dare." - - Lewis Morris
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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Day, 2011

The First Thanksgiving Jean Louis Gerome FerrisImage via Wikipedia
The original Thanksgiving Day proclamation by George Washington

General Thanksgiving

By the PRESIDENT of the United States Of America


WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houfes of Congress have, by their joint committee, requefted me "to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLICK THANKSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to eftablifh a form of government for their safety and happiness:"

NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and affign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of thefe States to the fervice of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our fincere and humble thanksfor His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the fignal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpofitions of His providence in the courfe and conclufion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have fince enjoyed;-- for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to eftablish Conftitutions of government for our fafety and happinefs, and particularly the national one now lately instituted;-- for the civil and religious liberty with which we are bleffed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffufing useful knowledge;-- and, in general, for all the great and various favours which He has been pleafed to confer upon us.

And also, that we may then unite in moft humbly offering our prayers and fupplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and befeech Him to pardon our national and other tranfgreffions;-- to enable us all, whether in publick or private ftations, to perform our feveral and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a bleffing to all the people by conftantly being a Government of wife, juft, and conftitutional laws, difcreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all fovereigns and nations (especially fuch as have shewn kindnefs unto us); and to blefs them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increafe of fcience among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind fuch a degree of temporal profperity as he alone knows to be beft.

GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand feven hundred and eighty-nine.

(signed) G. Washington

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Word on Wednesday, Wednesday, November 23, 2011 – St Vincent Pallotti

Image pieuse de Saint Vincent PallottiImage via Wikipedia
"Not the goods of the world, but God. Not riches, but God. Not honors, but God. Not distinction, but God. Not dignities, but God. Not advancement, but God. God always and in everything." -- St. Vincent Pallotti
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Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday Musings, Monday, November 21, 2011

Last night, looking for something a little different to read, I downloaded a sample chapter from Fr. Robert Spitzer’s book on proofs of God from modern day physics to the old Kindle. Normally I avoid such books. My idea is that, the existence of God doesn’t depend on any proof or disproof we could offer, we’re finite beings, of very limited knowledge, and God is something we could never definitively prove. Our understanding of science changes quite rapidly, I hate to say progresses, and a “proof” offered one day based on our existing knowledge, risks being thrown out, taken to actually disprove God’s existence the next day, when in fact, as stated above, there is no such proof available to us. These are mostly mind games, to my mind (so to speak).

And yet, and yet. I realized there is value in such books. The value is in the fact that they show that there is little in “science” as we know it that disproves God’s existence, contrary to the claims made by atheistic so called scientists. They show, in fact, that what we are learning in the fields of physics and astronomy more points to the fact of God existing than not.

+ + +

Speaking of the old Kindle (K2 version), I’m now tempted greatly by the new Kindle Touch. From what I gather, it is a bit smaller and noticeably lighter than my current version, and has far better battery life and available memory, too. All at a fairly reasonable price.  Who knows, maybe Santa will read this.

A lady who works with me just received her Kindle Fire and I have reservations about it after a quick look. The screen is very nice, however, controls seem poorly thought out and it is also quite heavy, almost to the point I think it would be tiring to try to hold it while reading for any length of time. I’m leaning much more to the Touch version.

I find I’m buying more ebooks these days, for several reasons. First, the house is nearly full of books and space is becoming a concern; it’s nice to buy books and not have them take up a lot of room, or have to worry about where to put them. Also, it’s very convenient to be able to take a small but growing library with me wherever I go. If I’m stuck somewhere and have to spend time waiting, I can pull the trusty Kindle out of the bag and start reading. It’s very handy.

+ + +

I’ve started reading Mortimer Adler’s book, How to Read a Book. I thought it about time; with retirement possibly immanent, I will have time to read some fairly serious tomes and it would be nice to have some level of real understanding of them, maybe even learn something from them.   I tend to breeze through books without really taking them in, and that's not a good practice.  One thing that is puzzling me is that Adler, of course, recommends some serious level of note taking during reading. The thing that has me a bit stumped is that I’d like to have some truly systematic way of taking notes and keeping the organized so that they can be easily retrieved and reviewed (maybe even used in blog posts). I don’t think 3x5 cards are up to the task, not really, they are too small and too easily lost or misplaced. I’m thinking it may be a matter of just buying some loose leaf paper and a notebook and starting there, but I don’t find that a totally satisfying solution. Anyone have any good ideas?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Early Church Fathers, Sunday, November 20, 2011 – Justin Martyr

Justin MartyrImage via Wikipedia
We call this food Eucharist, and no one else is permitted to partake of it, except one who believes our teaching to be true and who has been washed in the washing which is for the remission of sins and for regeneration [i.e., has received baptism] and is thereby living as Christ enjoined. For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these, but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nurtured, is both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus (First Apology 66 [A.D. 151]).
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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Make You a Bet!

This is from Domine, da mihi hanc aquam! (what a name, but a great blog): 

"YouKnow It's A Myth. This Season, Celebrate Reason," was one tagline offered up on a billboard by the American Atheists organization one holiday season. The atheists intend to put up more billboards this year, some featuring images of Santa, Jesus, Poseidon and the devil next to the message: "37 Million Americans know MYTHS when they see them."

     It seems the atheists are at it again with the billboards.  They ask us to celebrate REASON during the upcoming holy season of Christmas.  The problem is, I think reason would have to tell us that we DON’T know it’s a myth, we can’t possibly know.  There is no measurement we can make that will tell us definitively whether this is a myth or not.  It isn't reasonable to want something to be true and insist that is but not offer any sort of concrete proof.  There is, however, considerable historical evidence to suggest that the factual claims made in the Bible concerning those events, given by eye witnesses, are accurate.  Still, there is nothing that allows us to know or not know what is true about these events.

To paraphrase Pascal, there is a point to make if you find yourself in an argument with a similarly minded atheist.  If his claims that all of this is a myth are correct, none of us will ever know it; it will make no difference if I believe or not.  If my claims are correct, we’ll both know it forever.

WaPo and the OWS Outlaws

This is from James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal:
Yesterday the erstwhile denizens of New York's Obamaville called for a day of rage that included disruptions in the Wall Street area, on the subways and at Foley Square, site of the state and federal courthouses. WCBS-TV reports that "some grade school students were forced to walk a gauntlet of screaming 'Occupy Wall Street' protesters just to get to school."

"In the middle of thousands of protestors yelling and chanting--some kicking and screaming--CBS 2's Emily Smith found little school kids trying to get to class," the report continues. "Nervous parents led them through the barriers on Wall Street. The [New York City Police Department] helped funnel the children, anything to ease their fears while some protestors chanted 'follow those kids!' "

"A big failure? No, quite the opposite," writes the Washington Post's Eugene Robinson. "Lower Manhattan was swarming not just with demonstrators and police but with journalists from around the world--and with tourists who wanted to see what all the fuss was about. A small, nonviolent protest had been amplified into something much bigger and more compelling, not by the strength of its numbers but by the power of its central idea."
I fail to see how this is a good thing.  Just sayin'

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday, November 18, 2011 – George Washington

George Washington, First President (1789-1797)Image by cliff1066™ via Flickr"A people... who are possessed of the spirit of commerce, who see and who will pursue their advantages may achieve almost anything." - - George Washington
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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Modern Day Issues, Wednesday, November 16, 2011

This little notice popped up on my computer home screen today. This is about as wrong an assessment of the Catechism as could be written. The issues addressed in that volume are as old a humanity itself, certainly as old as the Church itself: the faith, sin, death, prayer, and many others. If there was an update, I’d suggest it’s only to allow the Catechism to cover development of doctrine over the centuries. It’s amazing how sure we are of the difference between ourselves and those who have gone before us. The height of arrogance, I call it.

          “Events: 1992
           The Roman Catholic Church issued a new universal catechism, addressing modern-day issues.”

A Word on Wednesday, Wednesday, November 16, 2011 – St Aelred of Rievaulx

Rievaulx AbbeyImage via Wikipedia"Charity may be a very short word, but with its tremendous meaning of pure love, it sums up man's entire relation to God and to his neighbor." -- St Aelred of Rievaulx
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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Written on the Heart, Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fr. James Schall, one of my favorite writers these days, has a review of a new book by Fr. Robert Spitzer on the Roe v Wade case and it’s intellectual merits. Fr. Schall writes:

The fact is, as Spitzer points out, from Blackstone and previous decisions of State Courts, legal precedent existed that the human fetus at all its stages was a human person. The Court simply ignored this background.

The Court’s effort to make a distinction between a “human being” and a “person” was spurious from the beginning. Spitzer’s analysis of the legal, linguistic, and metaphysical use of the word “person” in every instance identifies it with a human being protected both by natural and constitutional law. Why the Court could not find the word “person” in previous Court decisions was simple. The issue never came up before. It would be, Spitzer suggests, like saying that because the old maps did not show the existence of the American continent, therefore, it did not exist.

This background also leads to the issue of the scientific status of the human fetus. No longer is there any doubt that the fertilized human zygote from its beginning is an independent human life separate from the mother. Spitzer cites the work of Jerome Lejeune on the DNA of the human fetus. This work became known a few years after the decision, but the Court has not recognized its force. The Court equivalently said that, if it is in doubt about whether a thing is human, we can assume that it is not. This is a principle directly contrary to reason. If in doubt about a thing’s humanity, we do not act until we find out.

Fr. Schall goes on to point out that a constitution doesn’t stipulate all of the conditions under which people live in society. There are laws that people should know and live by that exist in their hearts. In other words, to take an innocent life is always and everywhere wrong, a sin, and a person can know that “in his heart,” without the need to have it written in a constitution. I think I’ll need to add this book to my Kindle collection pretty soon.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Early Church Fathers, Sunday, November 13, 2011 -- Clement of Alexandria

Clement of Alexandria, from book 1, folio 5 re...Image via Wikipedia
A multitude of other pieces of advice to particular persons is written in the holy books: some for presbyters, some for bishops and deacons; and others for widows, of whom we shall have opportunity to speak elsewhere (The Instructor of Children 3:12:97:2 [pre-A.D. 202]).

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Friday, November 11, 2011

In Flanders Fields, Friday, November 11, 2011

Roll of Honour of Clan MacRae's dead of World ...Image via Wikipedia
Role of Honor of Clan McCrae for WWI dead.

Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918), Canadian Army

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

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Founders Friday, Friday, November 11, 2011 – Samuel Adams

Portrait of Samuel Adams, painted by Major Joh...Image via Wikipedia“It is the greatest absurdity to suppose it in the power of one, or any number of men, at the entering into society, to renounce their essential natural rights, or the means of preserving those rights; when the grand end of civil government, from the very nature of its institution, is for the support, protection, and defence of those very rights; the principal of which, as is before observed, are Life, Liberty, and Property. If men, through fear, fraud, or mistake, should in terms renounce or give up any essential natural right, the eternal law of reason and the grand end of society would absolutely vacate such renunciation. The right to freedom being the gift of God Almighty, it is not in the power of man to alienate this gift and voluntarily become a slave.”
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