Wednesday, December 23, 2015

"If we do not fill our mind with prayer, it will fill itself with anxieties, worries, temptations, resentments, and unwelcome memories."

 -Scott Hahn

Sunday, December 6, 2015

"Lord, I do not wish for such mercy, which is a chastisement that surpasses all chastisements."

When, then, God sends us tribulations, let us say with Job: "I have sinned, and indeed I have offended, and I have not received what I have deserved." (Job xxxiii. 27.) O Lord, my sins merit far greater chastisement than that which thou hast inflicted on me. We should even pray with St. Augustine, "Burn cut, spare not in this life, that thou mayest spare for eternity." How frightful is the chastisement of the sinner of whom the Lord says: "Let us have pity on the wicked, but he will not learn justice." (Is. xxvi. 10.) Let us abstain from chastising the impious: as long as they remain in this life they will continue to live in sin, and shall thus be punished with eternal torments. On this passage St. Bernard says : "Misericordiam hanc nolo, super omnem iram miseratio ista." (Serin, xlii., in Cant.) Lord, I do not wish for such mercy, which is a chastisement that surpasses all chastisements.

-St. Alphonsus Liguori (Sermons for all the Sundays in the Year, Sermon II)

Saturday, November 14, 2015

As Heisenberg noted, what we observe is not Nature but only those aspects of nature accessible to our methods of investigation. The medieval idea of methodological naturalism means that our results will only ever consist of natural causes. We cannot conclude from that that there are no other facets of reality, because we have decided ahead of time that we will not "detect" them.

-Mike Flynn

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Mike Flynn on the difference between medieval scholasticism and modern fundamentalism:
The entire post from which this quote comes can be found here:

And the third thing, which is what actually got my attention in the first place was that neither Wilson (who said it) or Hibbard (who "reported" it) seem to have a clue about medieval scholasticism.  They seem to think it has something to do with Late Modern, scientificalisitc fundamentalism.

The scholastics, it is well to recall, had no reason to suppose that there were such a thing as evolution, having never seen an example of a new species arising.  In fact, all the kinds known to Aristotle were known to Darwin; and those known to Darwin within Aristotle's geographic scope were already known to Aristotle.  There is no reason to concoct a theory to explain a phenomenon that has never been observed. 

Tommy Aquinas
One scholastic who did consider the concept in passing was Thomas Aquinas (aka Da Man), who wrote:
Species, also, that are new, if any such appear, existed beforehand in various active powers; so that animals, and perhaps even new species of animals, are produced by putrefaction by the power which the stars and elements received at the beginning.
-- Summa theologica, Part I Q73 A1 reply3
IOW, if any new species ever did arise, they would do so through the immanent powers of nature actualizing the existing potentials.  (Much as the word "gat" exists beforehand in the word "cat," being actualized by a simple mutation/phonemic shift.)  Moderns, who do not believe in immanent natures, have a mechanical philosophy "in which nature is seen as a kind of unnatural composite of passive, unintelligent, preexisting matter, on which order has been extrinsically imposed."  This led inevitably to Paley and Dawkins. 

The Louisiana textbook material is further presented as saying:
"God created each type of fish, amphibian, and reptile as separate, unique animals." 
Gus Hippo
But there is nothing that actually requires this, and it is a belief that dates pretty much to the 19th century novelty sects.  If we go back a millennium and a half, we find Augustine (who was not a medieval scholastic, the middle age having not yet quite begun).  He wrote:
It is therefore, causally that Scripture has said that earth brought forth the crops and trees, in the sense that it received the power of bringing them forth.  In the earth from the beginning, in what I might call the roots of time, God created what was to be in times to come.
-- On the literal meanings of Genesis, Book V Ch. 4:11
IOW, various species need not have come into being at the same time, since God created "what was to be in times to come."  Not only that, but it was the "earth," that is, the natural world, which received from God the immanent power to do this, Gus citing the Bible as his source.

Were I of a puckish frame of mind, I might even say that this means that evolution can be found in the Bible.  Fortunately, I am not; and so I will not. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

In the aftermath of the Synod on the Family, in which faithful Catholics are often being unjustly compared to Pharisees, it's good to see we're not alone in being so charged. This morning I happened to remember this anecdote from St. Therese's "The Story of a Soul" concerning her father, St. Louis Martin (who coincidentally enough was canonized at the Synod...)
"During our pilgrimage we were in the train for days and nights together, and to wile away the time our companions played cards, and occasionally grew very noisy. One day they asked us to join them, but we refused, saying we knew little about the game; we did not find the time long—only too short, indeed, to enjoy the beautiful views which opened before us. Presently their annoyance became evident, and then dear Papa began quietly to defend us, pointing out that as we were on pilgrimage, more of our time might be given to prayer.

"One of the players, forgetting the respect due to age, called out thoughtlessly: 'Thank God, Pharisees are rare!' My Father did not answer a word, he even seemed pleased; and later on he found an opportunity of shaking hands with this man, and of speaking so pleasantly that the latter must have thought his rude words had either not been heard, or at least were forgotten."
Now just to learn to follow St. Louis Martin's example in how to respond to such accusations...

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

"The claim that proofs must be agreed on is one of my pet peeves; it is equivalent to claiming that no one can determine what's rational except the least rational people in the discussion."

Blog comment I came across that is very true....


Saturday, October 3, 2015

“I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed. It is frustrating to have discovered a new author and not to be able to tell anyone how good he is; to come suddenly, at the turn of the road, upon some mountain valley of unexpected grandeur and then to have to keep silent because the people with you care for it no more than for a tin can in the ditch; to hear a good joke and find no one to share it with. . . . The Scotch catechism says that man’s chief end is ‘to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.’ But we shall then know that these are the same thing. Fully to enjoy is to glorify. In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him.” 

C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms
(H/T Catholic Bibles blog)

Friday, August 28, 2015

"Anyone who truly wants to follow God must be free from the bonds of attachment to this life. To do this we must make a complete break with our old way of life. Indeed, unless we avoid all obsession with the body and with the concerns of this world, we shall never succeed in pleasing God. We must depart as it were to another world in our way of thinking, as the Apostle said: 'Our citizenship is in heaven'. "

-St. Basil the Great

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

"Any old stick is good enough to beat the poor old Church of Rome, and if it breaks, you've got two!'
-Msgr. Ronald Knox

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Newman on Catholic Tradition

"We hear it said," I then observed, "that they [the Catholics] go by Tradition; and we fancy in consequence that there are a certain definite number of statements ready framed and compiled, which they profess to have received from the Apostles. One may hear the question sometimes asked, for instance, where their professed Traditions are to be found, whether there is any collection of them, and whether they are printed and published. Now, though they would allow that the Traditions of the Church are, in fact, contained in the writings of her Doctors, still this question proceeds on somewhat of a misconception of their real theory, which seems to be as follows:—By tradition they mean the whole system of faith and ordinances, which they have received from the generation before them, and that generation again from the generation before itself. And in this sense undoubtedly we all go by Tradition in matters of this world. Where is the corporation, society, or fraternity of any kind, but has certain received rules and understood practices, which are nowhere put down in writing? How often do we hear it said, that this or that person has 'acted unusually;' that so and so 'was never done before;' that it is 'against rule,' and the like; and then, perhaps, to avoid the inconvenience of such irregularity in future, what was before a tacit engagement is turned into a formal and explicit order or principle. The need of a regulation must be discovered before it is supplied; and the virtual transgression of it goes before its imposition. At this very time, great part of the law of the land is administered under the sanction of such a Tradition: it is not contained in any formal or authoritative code, it depends on custom or precedent. There is no explicit written law, for instance, simply declaring murder to be a capital offence, unless, indeed, we have recourse to the divine command in the ninth chapter of the book of Genesis. Murderers are hanged by custom. Such as this is the Tradition of the Church; Tradition is uniform custom. It is silent, but it lives. It is silent like the rapids of a river, before the rocks intercept it. It is the Church's ... habit of opinion and feeling, which she reflects upon, masters and expresses, according to the emergency. We see, then, the mistake of asking for a complete collection of the Roman traditions; as well might we ask for a collection of a man's tastes and opinions on a given subject. Tradition in its fulness is necessarily unwritten; it is the mode in which a society has felt or acted, during a certain period, and it cannot be circumscribed, any more than a man's countenance and manner can be conveyed to strangers in any set of propositions."

-Lectures on the Present Position of Catholics in England (but quoting from a previous work by Newman)

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Monday, July 6, 2015

I appeal to the weekly caricatures, not of persons only and their doings, but of all that is held sacred in our doctrines and observances, of our rites and ceremonies, our saints and our relics, our sacred vestments and our rosaries. I appeal to the popular publication, which witty and amusing in its place, thought it well to leave its "sweetness" and its "fatness," to change make-believe for earnest, to become solemn and sour in its jests, and awkwardly to try its hand at divinity, because Catholics were the game. I appeal to the cowardly issue of a cowardly agitation, to the blows dealt in the streets of this very town upon the persons of the innocent, the tender, and the helpless [...] who, at various times, up to the day I am recording it, because they are Catholics, have been the  victims of these newspaper sarcasms, and these platform blasphemies. I appeal to the stones striking sharply upon the one, and the teeth knocked out of the mouths of the other [...] Such are some of the phenomena of a Religion which makes it its special boast to be the Prophet of Toleration.

-John Henry Newman, Lectures on the Present Position of Catholics in England (1851).

Sunday, July 5, 2015

"...the multitude of men hate Catholicism mainly on tradition, there being few, indeed, who have made fact and argument the primary or the supplemental grounds of their aversion to it."

-John Henry Newman

Thursday, April 30, 2015

It is astonishing that anyone would think that the author of nature would be negated by the discovery of the natural causes of which he is the author. Remember, Aquinas' fifth way was based on the lawfulness of nature; not exceptions to those laws.

-Mike Flynn

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Commenter Patti Sheffield, in response to a historically illiterate meme on the "pagan" origins of Christian holidays and other things:

"Silly pagans. Everything is pagan before it's baptized."

Of course, for the meme in question and the examples it chose, many were not in fact pagan (as the meme understands that word) in origin anyway, and so the meme was what is technically known as "wrong"...What a shock, I know! The Internet isn't infallible and you can't believe everything you see on it? Who would have thought?.....But even granting for the sake of argument that they were accurate....yeah, that comment basically nails the stupidity of the meme. Or, as G.K. Chesterton put it:

"It is often said by the critics of Christian origins that certain ritual feasts, processions or dances are really of pagan origin. They might as well say that our legs are of pagan origin. Nobody ever disputed that humanity was human before it was Christian; and no Church manufactured the legs with which men walked or danced, either in a pilgrimage or a ballet. What can really be maintained, so as to carry not a little conviction, is this: that where such a Church has existed it has preserved not only the processions but the dances; not only the cathedral but the carnival. One of the chief claims of Christian civilisation is to have preserved things of pagan origin. In short, in the old religious countries men continue to dance; while in the new scientific cities they are often content to drudge." (The Superstition of Divorce, 1920)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A lady once carried a crying child from a church where Fulton J. Sheen was preaching. The archbishop declared, “Madame, there’s no reason to remove that child. He’s not bothering me.” The lady called back, “You’re bothering him!”

Thursday, March 5, 2015

C.S Lewis, to a group of Anglican ministers:

"This is your duty not specifically as Christians or as priests but as honest men. There is a danger here of the clergy developing a special professional conscience which obscures the very plain moral issue. Men who have passed beyond these boundary lines in either direction are apt to protest that they have come by their unorthodox opinions honestly. In defense of these opinions they are prepared to suffer obloquy and to forfeit professional advancement. They thus come to feel like martyrs. But this simply misses the point which so gravely scandalizes the layman. We never doubted that the unorthodox opinions were honestly held: what we complain of is your continuing you ministry after you have come to hold them. We always knew that a man who makes his living as a paid agent of the Conservative party may honestly change his views and honestly become a Communist. What we deny is that he can honestly continue to be a Conservative agent and to receive money from one party while he supports the policy of another."

Sunday, February 22, 2015

“What is the extra ingredient in suffering, which when absent prompts a curse, and when present becomes a joy? You must unite your sufferings and sorrows with Christ and see your Calvary as coming from the Hand of God. Our Lord saw the cup of His Passion as given to Him, not by Judas or Pilate or Caiphas or the people, but by His Father: ‘Shall I not drink the Cup My Father Himself has appointed for Me?’ Pain without Christ is suffering; pain with Christ is sacrifice.”

-Archbishop Fulton Sheen

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

"No item of compulsory Christian morals is valid only for Christians"

-J.R.R. Tolkien, Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 49

[found in draft of a letter intended for C.S. Lewis, apparently written in 1943]

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The ancient saying, “The road to hell is paved with the skulls of bishops,” may need a modern addendum: "The road to hell is paved for pastoral reasons."
-commenter Leo Wong on the OnePeterFive website