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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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Miscellaneous Musings, Thursday, November 10, 2011

Brother Bonaventure Chapman, O.P. has a really good post on the blog, Dominicana, referencing a new book (I think its new) titled Our Contempory Nihilism.  It’s well worth reading, as I believe, the book is too.

First, it is true that contemporary American culture seems to be moving in a more nihilistic direction every passing day. This is true whether one reads academic tomes like Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age or merely watches the latest reality TV show highlights on the Internet. People are certain of less and less; Dreyfus’ and Kelly’s diagnosis of a culture with an overemphasis on freedom leading to a form of suicide strikes me as prescient. As the Dominican tradition is wont to emphasize, freedom of indifference is no substitute for the true freedom of excellence, which is the freedom which comes not from our whim but from Truth.

Secondly, I think Dreyfus and Kelly are correct in recalling us to a life filled with “shining things.” Jesus says: “The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy; I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Today’s materialist reductionism leads to a truncated sense of life. Catholic philosopher Jean-Luc Marion talks of the “saturated phenomena” where the content of revelation overwhelms our finite capacity to receive and interpret. The world is so saturated with meaning that even the banal events of everyday life should be filled with significance. As Hamlet says: “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” This saturated sense may not be possible at all times, but if it is not present in the Christian life something is certainly amiss.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Word on Wednesday, Wednesday, November 9, 2011 – St John of the Cross

St. John of the Cross, Doctor of the Church.Image via Wikipedia
"At the end of our life, we shall all be judged by charity." -- St. John of the Cross

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

What Time is it?, Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Zenith Model 5-S-220 "cube" radio ci...Image via Wikipedia
I bought a book of Ted Kooser’s poems, Delights and Shadows¸ a few weeks ago. For some reason, I bought a used copy from Amazon. It turns outs to have been very obviously used by a young lady for a college class, I imagine in literature or poetry.

     I guess my first thought was, why would anyone turn in such a book, especially one they had had so much involvement with and worked so hard over those poems?. How could it have meant so little to them to have so quickly outlived its usefulness? We live in an age that has become much too utilitarian and I expect there may come a day when she would like to have it back.

     The next point that I found fascinating was the note she wrote at the bottom of the page holding the poem below. It was something to the effect “TV – watching the war from afar.” What? Are kids today so unaware of even the most recent history not to recognize that during World War II there was no such thing as TV? Was she so ill prepared to read this poem, that even the most basic facts escaped her? Without that, she could have had no appreciation of the very significant difference between listening to news reports of a far distant war and watching it. And what of the professor, was he the source of this anachronistic idea? If so, we’re really in trouble.

     I have, only recently discovered Mr. Kooser’s poetry, but I thoroughly enjoy it, perhaps you will enjoy this one too.


It was part of her parlor's darkness

during the war years – its Gothic cabinet,

its shadowy speaker behind a thin lattice

like the face of a priest – but when

my grandmother snapped its switch

each evening to tune in the news,
it opened the tiny Japanese fan

of its dial and light spilled over her fingers,

swollen and stiff. And in the near darkness

my sister and I, shushed into silence,

and Grandmother, rubbing and kneading

the pain from her hands, sat there

at the rear of the action, a patrol

in the weak yellow glow from the war.

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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Early Church Fathers, Sunday, November 6, 2011 -- Tertullian

TertullianImage via Wikipedia"Where was Marcion then, that shipmaster of Pontus, the zealous student of Stoicism? Where was Valentinus then, the disciple of Platonism? For it is evident that those men lived not so long ago – in the reign of Antoninus for the most part – and that they at first were believers in the doctrine of the Catholic Church, in the church of Rome under the episcopate of the blessed Eleutherus, until on account of their ever restless curiosity, with which they even infected the brethren, they were more than once expelled." (On the Prescription Against Heretics 22,30 [A.D.200])

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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Offering Ourselves

Here's a good quote from Fr Brendan Freeman in his book Come and See:

The Eucharist is a mystery and as such cannot be fully understood by reason alone; faith must supplement our reason. But there has to be something we understand about it, something to hold onto and practice. I believe that by washing his disciple’s feet, Jesus is telling us something about the mystery of the Eucharist, something easily understood, something as easily understood as, who is more privileged? The one who serves the table? Or the one who sits at the table and is served? What does this tell us about the Eucharist? In the Eucharist, Jesus hands over his body and pours out his blood for us. Jesus’ words are repeated every day at the consecration: “This is the cup of my blood … it will be shed for you and for all. Do this in memory of me.” We know that our blood is our life force, our life. When someone says, “I offer you a cup of my blood,” they are saying very graphically that they are offering themselves, their very existence to us. Now, we cannot offer actual blood, but we can serve each other and in this way pour out our blood for the other. St. Benedict calls the monastery a school of the Lord’s service. As such, it is a eucharistic school, a place where we connect liturgy and life. However, you do not have to be in a monastery to be in this school. The message is so simple: serve each other and you will fulfill the law of Christ who came among us to serve and not to be served.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Good Point

Then there's this from Jonah Goldberg:

If you didn't know, Fringe is a TV show. If it wasn't so enjoyable, the charge that it's a ripoff of The X-Files would sting more.

One of the central premises of the show is the existence of a parallel universe where a near-exact replica of Earth exists with all the same people, living under just slightly different circumstances.

This, of course, gives me a chance to offer my longstanding complaint about the multiverse. First of all, you'd think with an infinite number of universes, it'd be easier to find good deli.

Founders Friday, Friday, November 4, 2011 – Josiah Bartlett

Josiah Bartlett.Image via Wikipedia"Firstly I commit my Soul into the hands of God, its great and benevolent author." - - Josiah Bartlett
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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Music and Culture, A Connection?

I've been reading Fr. James Schall's wonderful book, The 

     "Plato, it is said, asked that the flute be played by a young Thracian maiden on the evening he died. When she hit a wrong note, he indicated the proper tune with his finger. This was his last act in this world.  An act worthy of Plato, since it indicated the harmony of the world even in death.  Still, Plato was quite certain that, while music could move us to our depths, it could also, almost without our noticing it. Corrupt our very souls and cities by attuning them to patterns of emotional disorder. We underestimate the power of music and its rhythms at our peril. "

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I couldn't help but think back on all the changes that have occured, both in musical tastes and culture during the course of my life time.  I think Plato may have been on to something.

Life of the Mind, Schall, pg 80

 Life of the Mind, and came across this interesting passage on music:

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Word on Wednesday, Wednesday, November 2, 2011 – Bishop Fulton J. Sheen

Fulton J. Sheen, Roman Catholic Bishop and ear...Image via Wikipedia

"Not 100 in the United States hate the Roman Catholic Church, but millions hate what they mistakenly think the Roman Catholic Church is." -- Bishop Fulton J. Sheen
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Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Here’s a bit of trivia I just figured out. It turns out 2011 is an unusual year, there are four dates in particular made up of one number, one:





Can’t think of any other year where this might occur. My brilliance is amazing sometimes!  (Ever wonder if some people don't have enough to do?)