Monday, October 22, 2007
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Jason LaLonde (27), born in Lakeland, FL; graduated from the Harrison Center for the Visual and Performing Arts at Lakeland High School; received a B.A. in English and History from Florida State University and a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Florida; as an undergraduate, produced and hosted opera and classical music programs for public radio; studied flute and piccolo and played in several musical ensembles; as a graduate student, served as VP of Student Development for the MBA Association and consulted for GatorNest Business Consulting; was active in numerous ministries and programs at St. Augustine Catholic Church and Student Center in Gainesville, including serving as a sacristan for daily mass; regularly volunteered at the Gainesville Catholic Worker House and helped manage an organic garden used to teach underprivileged youth to grow and harvest vegetables; most recent job was Senior Marketing Specialist with SumTotal Systems, Inc., a global provider of enterprise-level talent management software; previously worked in arts administration for the Santa Fe Opera (NM) and Sarasota Opera (FL); enjoys SEC football, recreational sports, hiking, fishing, kayaking, cycling, running, weight lifting, classical music, opera, theatre, literature, and cooking for friends; attended the December Discernment retreat; contact info: firstname.lastname@example.orgCongratulations to Jason. Please keep him in your prayers as he goes through the process of becoming a Jesuit.
Monday, June 04, 2007
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
The transcript is here.It's toward the end.
A few gems:
BECK: OK. And it`s weird, Jesus said he was going to come back as a thief in the night, and you`ve been arrested for petty theft. But the band that says, "What would Jesus do?" Let me ask you this, you have a Cartier Pasha watch -- I`m a watch collector -- and it`s encrusted in diamonds. I understand that`s a $142,000 watch. You have a 7 Series BMW, an armored Lexus. You live on $130,000 a year, but they say that you live over your lifestyle and your means. You were arrested for heroin and petty theft. Wouldn`t the question really be, what would Jesus not do?
BECK: Jesus, it`s been good to have you on. It really has. We`re out of time. I wanted to ask if you felt a little ripped off by your birthday being on Christmas or if you get the two presents or not, but thank you very much, and we`ll be back in just a minute.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
It's going to be weird posting my own columns to the blog. Thanks for praying for me while this was going on and be sure to keep me and my column in your prayers!
Monday, May 07, 2007
Thursday, May 03, 2007
Monday, April 30, 2007
Saturday, April 28, 2007
Friday, April 27, 2007
However, we have another story to celebrate! Today I received verification that the Parousians have become an official organization at LSU! woohoo! This means we'll get to do lots of cool stuff and receive money from SG (perhaps for a field trip to New York lol). This is pretty good news and has been a while in the making so thanks to everyone who made it happen.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Monday, April 23, 2007
Really good post by Katerina over at Evangelical Catholicism. The big thing I got from this is not letting the easy attacks provoke but be indifferent. I have too much of what like to call the "St. Michael tendency" which is when someone says something stupid, I want to personally cast them into hell by ripping them apart. But that's not "saintly" at all; love instead is the answer.
Friday, April 20, 2007
Thursday, April 19, 2007
This event was sponsored by W.O.W., Women Organizing Women, a very feminist group. As a result, we knew Angela would face some opposition at the panel so we endeavored to try to get as many Catholics to come and support her. We've had success with this already this year, successfully matching VOX (the campus chapter of Planned Parenthood which is incidentally run by the same person) person for person. e
Not only did we duplicate that result, we exceeded it. The room count was, including the Atheist and Unitarian, 11 people against Catholicism. This did include 2 Protestants, so WOW only got about 9 of their people there. We had 15. So that's 6 more people then WOW could get and 4 more people overall in the room. That's assuming some of the people I didn't know were in fact not Catholic.
So the panel started and Angela did not fail to impress the now home crowd. She was obviously the best prepared and most consistent speaker there. A few Parousians asked really intelligent questions to the panel. To be frank, the panel doesn't flow without us there.
This is exactly what we want to do by engaging the community. We helped make the dialogue richer by adding to it the truth of the Catholic faith. We hope to be able to put on some panels of our own next year.
Once again, I was very impressed with the LSU Parousians. Thanks to everyone who managed to come out. Thanks to Mary-Grace & Emily specifically for helping to tell us about the event and inviting people to make sure that we had the turnout we did. And special thanks to Angela and everyone who helped her this week for putting on an incredible defense of the faith.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
“The humans live in time but our Enemy destines them to eternity. He therefore, I believe, wants them to attend chiefly to two things, to eternity itself, and to that point of time which they call the Present. For the present is the point at time at which time touches eternity. Of the present moment, and of it only, humans have an experience analogous to the experience which our Enemy has of reality as a whole; in it alone freedom and actuality are offered them. He would therefore have them…either meditating on their eternal union with, or separation from, Himself, or else obeying the present voice of conscience, bearing the present cross, receiving the present grace, giving thanks for the present pleasure.”
So Screwtape’s advice is to get the patient off from the Present. The past is a possibility but limited because the past itself is limited. So the future holds the most promise. It is, “the least like eternity” because it most invites us to think entirely imaginary. Sin itself is a type of looking to the future as we are concerned with the future pleasures when we commit to sin. As Screwtape says,
“Nearly all vices are rooted in the future. Gratitude looks to the past and love to the present; fear, avarice, lust, and amibition look ahead…When the present pleasure arrives, the sin is already over.”
Now, Screwtape is not looking forward to encourage all types of thinking about the future. Planning for the future is good. What Screwtape wants is agonizing & focusing on the future even after the planning so that the patient will be
“haunted by visions of an imminent heaven or hell on earth…We want a whole race perpetually in pursuit of a rainbow’s end, never honest, nor kind, nor happy now, but always using as mere fuel wherewith to heap the altar of the future every real gift which is offered them in the Present.”
Thus Screwtape succeeds twofold when we look too much towards the future. 1) We miss out on the graces that are being offered right now to us which prevents us from growing closer to God. 2) We become obsessed with a unreal world and the pleasures of it which makes us more likely to sin as sin is based on the hope of future pleasures.
I want to conclude using the lyrics of a Garth Brooks song:
If tomorrow never comes
Will she know how much I loved her
Did I try in every way to show her every day
That shes my only one
And if my time on earth were through
And she must face the world without me
Is the love I gave her in the past
Gonna be enough to last.
Tomorrow might not come. We can do our greatest good now; let us not keep putting things off. We have the opportunity to tell our loved ones we love them today; we have the opportunity to love people today; we have the opportunity to love and serve God today. If tomorrow never comes we shouldn’t have to wish that it had.
Next Letter: the Liturgy
Monday, April 16, 2007
Sunday, April 15, 2007
Bad, but not hopeless for the demons. Humility is a difficult virtue to practice and Wormwood has a chance to ensnare him in it. Screwtape first proposes trying to get him to be prideful.
“Catch him at the moment when he is really poor in spirit and smuggle into his mind the gratifying reflection, ‘By jove! I’m being humble,’ and almost immediately pride - pride at his own humility - will appear. If he awakes to the danger and tries to smother this new form of pride, make him proud of his attempt - and so on.”
This is something discussed by Christ in the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. The Pharisee prays to God thanking Him for making him better than everyone else and more virtuous. Perhaps the best way to avoid this is not to declare that we’re not humble but simply to remind ourselves that we can be more humble and have failed to be humble in the past.
So then what is this humility that we are striving for? Screwtape says of the virtue that “By this virtue, as by all the others, our Enemy wants to turn the man’s attention away from self to Him, and to the man’s neighbours.” The easy way for Screwtape to counteract humility then is to pervert it so that the attention is refocused on the self.
“Let him think of it not as self-forgetfulness but as a certain kind of opinion…of his own talents and character. Some talents, I gather, he really has. Fix in his mind the idea that humility consists in trying to believe those talents to be less valuable than he believes them to be. No doubt they are in fact less valuable than he believes, but that is not the point. The great thing is to make him value an opinion for some quality other than truth, thus introducing an element of dishonesty and make-believe into the heart of what otherwise threatens to become a virtue. By this method thousands of humans have been brought to think that humility means pretty women trying to believe they are ugly and clever men trying to believe they are fools…. their minds (are) endlessly revolving on themselves in an effort to achieve the impossible.”
What Screwtape is saying is that if humility is about not taking joy in our gifts, then the focus is still on ourselves and not on God. It is also focusing on falsehood which is contrary to the truth that is Christ. Instead a realistic and accurate portrayal of our abilities is necessary.
Screwtape goes on to discuss how true humility is practiced. What it means is to be indifferent to the fact that we have the gifts. That is, if we’re arguing with the people in free speech alley, it doesn’t matter who delivers the logical blow that topples their house of cards. It matters that the blow is delivered and we should rejoice in the accomplishment in argumentation. Humility then is an indifference to the self which allows us to more fully love others and most importantly love God. The paradox is, as Screwtape points out, that “when they have really learned to love their neighbors as themselves, they will be allowed to love themselves as their neighbors.”
Tonight the LSU bunch is going to have a presentation on Edith Stein's Feminism & then on Thursday many of us will be going to a panel discussion on Women in Religion hosted by the campus chapter of W.O.W. This article gives a good brief outline of feminism so I thought it would be helpful to us tonight & the rest of the week.
Friday, April 13, 2007
Friday, April 06, 2007
In teaching my students about what it means to be an image of God, a much clearer view of human nature has emerged within my own spiritual vision.
What is natural to man? Is indulgence in worldly affairs natural? Is revelry in sexual adventure that which completes man? To know what is natural to man, one must first know man’s nature.
To say that something is natural, one is claiming that that which is deemed natural is in accordance with the nature of the thing being observed. For example, is it natural for a fish to swim? Of course it is. By observing the nature of the fish, the conclusion is easily reached that swimming is natural to the fish, for that is part of its nature. A fish that doesn’t swim quickly dies. A bird that doesn’t fly falls to its death. A man that doesn’t pray is crushed under the weight of the world, for he is not made for the world in both his and its present state.
This begs the question: What is man’s nature? The answer is both simple and profound -- man is an image of God. The image must tell us something of that which it reflects, and if the image is a reflection of eternity, then to reflect eternity for all eternity is what is natural to it. This is confirmed by St. Gregory of Nyssa in his Catechetical Orations in which he writes:
“If humanity is called to life in order to share in the divine nature, it must have been suitably constituted for the purpose…That is why humanity was given life, intelligence, wisdom, and all the qualities worthy of the godhead, so that each one of them should cause it to desire the godhead, so that each one of them should cause it to desire what is akin to it. And since eternity is inherent in the godhead, it was absolutely imperative that our nature should not lack it but should have in itself the principle of immortality. By virtue of this inborn faculty it could always be drawn towards what is superior to it and retain the desire for eternity.”
God is all good, and order is good. Therefore, God is Order itself. We see a reflection of the face of God in His creation. The Orthodox theologian Olivier Clement in his book “The Roots of Christian Mysticism” writes: “Each being manifests the creative word which gives it its identity and attracts it. Each being manifests a dynamic idea, something willed by God. Ultimately each thing is a created name of him who cannot be named.” There is order in creation, for its Creator is order itself. Order begets order. Man is an image of God, therefore he is made in the image of Order. Order is part of man’s nature as an image of God, therefore disorder is unnatural to man.
In God, all of His attributes are one. Because he is eternal and infinite, He cannot be made of parts, nor does He possess parts. He is one is His essence. This has infinite implications, a few being that His order is His love, His love is His justice, His justice is His love, His love is His order, etc. God is all these good things, and man being an image of God finds in them his natural habitat. It is natural for man to have order both in the world and in his mind, will, and body. It is natural for man to love, to seek justice, etc. It is unnatural for man to do anything else. Yet more often than not, we do that which is unnatural to us and claim that it is simply human nature. This couldn’t be farther from the truth! To do anything but love, seek justice, obey God, etc. is to introduce disorder into our minds, wills, and bodies. Disorder in the human soul is manifested in many and various ways, all of which are hideous to the ordered soul.
Who is the man that embraces disorder? He is the one that is confused, addicted, angry, materialistic, yet all the while convincing himself that he has found happiness and contentment. Of course, the conclusions of a disordered mind will almost always be disordered.
How must a disordered system be overcome? By introducing order into the system. When it comes to the human soul made in the image and likeness of Order, Order must be brought into the disordered soul. By an opening up of the soul to the influence of Order through the indwelling of Order can the human soul begin to banish from it the darkness of disorder. This opening up of the soul is called prayer, which is as natural to man as barking is to a dog, as flying is to a bird, as swimming is to a fish. Yet we are like dogs that do not know how to bark and fish that cannot swim. We are dominated by the world which was created to be dominated by us. How absolutely unnatural!
Prayer is our best bet for happiness as happiness can only be found in order. In fact, order is happiness. The purpose of prayer is to turn outside of ourselves, to empty the image in order to be filled with the reality. It is our nature to empty ourselves to both God and neighbor, that in emptying ourselves we may be filled. Fulfillment in emptiness! Yet another of those wonderful Christian paradoxes.
How can we know that our calling is to turn and open to others? If we were created to turn in on ourselves, then our eyes would be facing the opposite direction. We would be created to look inward. But according to nature that is not so. We look outward. It is in looking outward that we can empty ourselves just as the greatest Man, the God-man, did: “Who though He was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped; Rather, He emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave…”
Through prayer, we look outward to the Source of all order and happiness. Through prayer, we empty ourselves of our worldly accretions, placing ourselves under the direct influence of a Perfect Order. As Order begins to reign in our souls, so, too, does love, truth, joy, peace, and all other attributes of God.
We pray in order that the unnatural be overcome by the natural, that darkness might become light, and that disorder be crushed under the liberating weight of Order.
Thursday, April 05, 2007
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
How did this happen? Wormwood got lazy and let the patient read a book and take a walk. Nothing dramatic it would seem but as Screwtape says this is a very real deterent from hell.
“In other words you allowed him two real positive Pleasures. Were you so ignorant as not to see the danger of this? The characteristic of Pains and Pleasures is that they are unmistakably real, and therefore, as far as they go, give the man who feels them a touchstone of reality. Thus if you had been trying to damn your man by the Romantic method…you would try to protect him at all costs from any real pain; because, of course, five minutes’ genuine toothache would reveal the romantic sorrows for the nonsense they were and unmask your whole stratagem. But you were trying to damn your patient by the World, that is by palming off vanity, bustle, irony, and expensive tedium as pleasures. How can you have failed to see that a real pleasure was the last thing you ought to have let him meet?
In other words, those under the devil are under a disguise and falsehood. Similar to the Matrix or the cave, they will persist in their ways until shown another way. Real pleasure is that the other way, the red pill or the sun. These real pleasures strike down the façade and invite the patient to connect with reality. Reality, of course, is God. This might be a helpful tool in evangelizing. We might be well advised to help people who have fallen away from the Church connect with the real first. Show them a good movie, a pretty painting, or take a walk with them. As all pleasures are from God and God is in all things any genuine pleasure will do (note that genuine does mean in the bounds of morality). Of course, this means that C.S. Lewis is ascribing to the Ignatian ideal of God in all things. That is, Lewis is a closet Jesuit
Screwtape goes on to explain that pleasure succeeded in this way b/c created us to be in accordance with our natures (it seems Lewis is a closet Thomist as well). This creates a paradox between detaching from ourselves for His sake. He says,
“Hence, while He is delighted to see them sacrificing even their innocent Wills to His, He hates to them drifting away from their own nature for any other reason. And we should always encourage them to do so. The deepest likings and impulses of any man are the raw material, the starting point, with which the Enemy has furnished a point gained; even in things indifferent it is always desirable to substitute the standards of the world, or convention, or fashion, for a human’s own real likings and dislikings. I myself would carry this very far. I would make it a rule to eradicate from my patient any strong personal taste which is not actually a sin.”
What Screwtape is trying to convince Wormwood to do is to cause in the patient an error similar to that committed by Gerard Manley Hopkins. Hopkins, on becoming a Jesuit priest, tried to give up his poetry and writing for the sake of his order because he considered it beneath the dignity of the order. However, he soon returned to writing and because of that decision we have many inspiring poems that have helped people in the faith. If we do something well and enjoy it then we ought to pursue it. Whether it’s being among people, football, sports, music, dancing, or writing as it is in Hopkins’s case, we are given these gifts and desires in order to experience real pleasure in accordance with our nature and in order to taste of the cup from which we shall have our full of in eternal life.
Saturday, March 31, 2007
That doesn't matter right now though. For this Palm Sunday is also April's Fools Day. So what would happen to the Parousians in a crazy world. A world in which up is down and down is up. I wonder...
Spiritual Philip, speaking to the Parousian Post, explained that he was trying to write a paper late at night when he went to type something only to discover that he had no hands with which to write. He has floated around asking people to help. However, as Philip explains, “most of my friends are really into philosophy. When I first told them, their first reaction was to figure out whether this fit into a Manichean Dualism conception of body and soul. They’re still talking about it. I told them I would go look up in MacIntrye what he said about it until I realized I couldn’t turn the pages of the book... and that I had lost the book.”
Philip however is keeping in good spirits. Or maybe just a good spirit. As he says, “It could have been worse. Usually with stuff I have they explode. I don’t think my body has exploded yet.”
So Philip needs your help in the search. Here’s a picture of Philip to remind you of what he looks like. Remember, he’s a baron and a member of the landed aristocracy, so finding his body will entitle you to a rich reward and a position. Note that Philip’s body may have found itself into a Catholic school girl skirt so do not be deceived!
Sadly, Philip is not the only Parousian is need of assistance. Michael Denton as we all know is an avid NASCAR fan. However, this obsession has led to some irregularities in our friend.
“I can only turn left now. I don’t believe in turning right; it’s unnatural. I can get wherever I want to go by traveling in a circle.” Perhaps this would be harmless in and of itself, but Michael has brought the techniques of NASCAR into every facet of transportation. He explains that “people started to tell me that I drove like a NASCAR driver. So I started thinking, ‘why don’t I do everything like a NASCAR driver?’ So I have.”
This has particularly shown itself as Michael walks around campus. When stuck behind slower pedestrians, usually Greeks, Michael has taken to “bump drafting” them. This technique, normally applied at plate races, requires the person behind to physically push the person further ahead. Michael explains, “well, I get behind them but they’re going slow. I figure, we gotta go for the win, baby! So I slam ‘em. Nothing too hard, just about the same power as Dale Jr. uses when he bump drafts. We usually get pretty far before they can’t take it and peel off, giving me the lead.”
Sometimes they don’t however, necessitating a move called “the bump and run” which apparently is nothing more than Michael pushing the person out of the way. “Sometimes they whine about it. So does Jeff Gordon. Don’t act like Jeff Gordon.”
Specialist Dr. Carl Joseph Giffin was asked about how to fix this. While hesitating to call Michael’s condition a “disease” he did say that NASCAR fixation was a critical thing driving Michael. As Dr. Giffin states, “a love of NASCAR is all pervasive. If not satisfied or interfered with by victories by worthless people like Kyle Busch, then higher dosages of NASCAR must be applied. That is, Michael should go see a NASCAR race and everyone around him should constantly discuss NASCAR so that he does not feel the need to evangelize about NASCAR to the campus community. I myself will volunteer to take Michael to a NASCAR event, but y’all have to do the rest.”
So we need you to keep Dr. Giffin and Michael in your prayers as they go to a NASCAR race in order to help with Michael’s condition. Meanwhile, we need everyone to become a NASCAR fan so that Michael can be constantly exposed to NASCAR. It’s the Christian thing to do.
Asked how he was inspired, Ryan Hallford said, “Over the past year, Mary-Grace and I have really come to enjoy dancing. With our tremendous involvement in the faith, it was inevitable that these two passions should be become merged. However, the liturgical dances that were out there didn’t fit our style.” Here Mary-Grace chimed in, “They do more ballet styles. That would require Ryan to wear tights.” Ryan then explained that being seen in tights would jeopardize his standing as keeper of the Sacred Heart Rectory.
Ryan and Mary-Grace hope to display their new dance soon but gave the Parousian Post a sneak preview with some of their better moves. Among them the “Losing your head in Christ” move
And the “sinful split.”
When Ryan and Mary-Grace do put on a public performance, The Parousian Post will notify everyone.
This is why I am proud to announce that Liz Johnson and Angela Miceli have done that by renouncing the ways of Satan. Specifically, they have renounced the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Bears respectively.
Explaining her decision, Ms. Johnson pointed to the scandals that have rocked the St. Louis ballhouse. “Well, we all know that Albert Pujols does steroids. No one can hit a Brad Lidge ball for a homer run in the NLCS without the use of extreme steroids. After he hit that home run, I began to feel uncomfortable about the Cardinals but I tried to hold faith in Tony LaRussa. Yet in the past few weeks, we’ve been reading Aquinas and the Cardinal Virtues. It occurred to me that the virtues Aquinas was describing was anything but ‘Cardinal,’ at least ‘St. Louis Cardinal.’ I tried to resist that thought, but when Tony LaRussa was caught in a state of drunkenness, I knew I had to reject them.”
Taking Aquinas’s advice that to see good find the opposite of evil, Liz journeyed across Major League Baseball until she found the rivals of the Cardinals, the Houston Astros. Ms. Johnson is very happy with her team, commenting on Roy Oswalt that “it’s so nice to have a pitcher who doesn’t look like a mole.”
Ms. Miceli had a different struggle. She has always been very dedicated to the lives of the saints, and so when the Bears in obvious violations of the rules defeated the Saints in January, she too was troubled. “I’ve always really liked the Saints and the Bears but I’ve never had to choose. When the two faced off in the playoffs, I went with my hometown team. But when I saw the way the fans really were and when I saw that my team, my team had given Rex Grossman a job at quarterback, I knew things were wrong. I’ve come to love Louisiana and so I decided to become a Saints fan. Since I did, it’s been fabulous! Reggie Bush and Drew Brees are awesome, and I really look fabulous in black and gold!”
We encourage you to approach either Ms. Miceli or Ms. Johnson and ask them to testify about the greatness of their new teams.
On making her announcement, Ms. Byers declared, “The positions on policy are important to me but really I think it’s about time we had a woman president. The presidency, when examined closely, is really a job for women and only women.”
In the rest of her speech, Ms. Byers outlined the platform she will be taking. We all know that Ms. Byers is strongly pro-life and that will be a major part of her platform. However, Ms. Byers has also identified what she perceives as “weak” stances on immigration. She is proposing an electric fence across the entire border, a ban on new immigration, and English as the sole national language because Spanish “is pretty lame.”
Ms. Byers has already made waves in the presidential race by beating the other candidates in naming her running mate. She will be running with another Parousian, Kim Monteleone. When asked why she joined the ticket, Ms. Monteleone responded: “I like babies.” Ms. Monteleone and campaign manager Amanda Pendleton made their first campaign stop in front of the White House, where they prophesied a victory for Byers/Monteleone 2008 and showed the reporters at the scene the celebration that would occur next November.
We do however fear that this campaign could get dirty with this entry, as Ms. Pendleton has already formally accused Rudy Guiliani of being in the mafia.
Friday, March 30, 2007
Thursday, March 29, 2007
I agree with Emily. This is a link to the photos & the judges comments:
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
“he can still be made to think of himself as one who has adopted a few new friends and amusements but whose spiritual state is much the same as it was six weeks ago. And while he thinks that, we do not have to contend with the explicit repentance of a definite fully, recognized, sin, but only with his vague, though uneasy feeling that he hasn’t been doing very lately.”
What’s happened to the patient then is very simple. He wasn’t watchful enough. Perhaps he was too concerned with the outward signs. The motions were the same and so he didn’t notice. As Mad-Eye Moody would say “CONSTANT VIGILANCE!” We need to be constantly checking ourselves and making sure we don’t slip. Just because our Mass attendance is the same, just because we say the daily prayers and do everything else that we normally do in our spiritual lives doesn’t mean that our spiritual lives aren’t changing. The roller coaster is constantly moving and will drop if we’re not careful.
When we get to the place that something’s wrong but we’re not fully aware of it, Screwtape has a very easy job. We have a tendency to not want to know what’s wrong. Instead,
“…you will find him opening his arms to you and almost begging you to distract his purpose and benumb his heart. He will want his prayers to be unreal, for he will dread nothing so much as effective contact with the Enemy. His aim will be to let sleeping worms lie.”
We never want to confront the full reality of sin. We don’t want to admit everyone is hurt by it and that we’re responsible. We certainly don’t want to admit that we’ve sinned against God. Yet that is what we have to admit if we are going to be cured. This is precisely why in the sacrament of Reconciliation we have to go to a priest. When we go face to face with another person, there is no doubt that the community is involved. We can’t just wish it away with “unreal prayers.” Instead, we have to say “Forgive me for I have sinned” and then say in the act of contrition “I have offended you my God.” This confrontation is necessary so that we fully die to our sinful selves. With this death, we can live again.
The other option is not very comforting:
“(In the patient’s attempts to avoid his guilt) You can make him do nothing at all for long periods. You can keep him up late at night, not roistering, but staring at a dead fire in a cold room. All the healthy and outgoing activities we want him to avoid can be inhibited and nothing given in return…The Christians describe the Enemy as ‘one without whom Nothing is strong.’ And Nothing is very strong: strong enough to steal away a man’s best years not in sweet sins but in a dreary flickering of the mind over it knows not what and knows not why…the only thing that matters is the extent to which you separate the man from the Enemy. It does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and into the Nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one-the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”
We need to keep our eyes on the road to make sure we’re not traveling down Screwtape’s road to hell.
Monday, March 26, 2007
‘I divide the causes into human laugher into Joy, Fun, the Joke Proper, and Flippancy. You will see the first among friends and lover reunited on the eve of a holiday. Among adults some pretext in the way of jokes is usually provided, but hr facility with which the smallest witticisms produce laughter at such a time shows that they are not the real cause…the phenomenon is of itself disgusting and a direct insult to the realism, dignity, and austerity of Hell.”
So Joy is of little use. Fun too is difficult to utilize other than as diversion from more important things, Screwtape tells Wormwood. The third and fourth however are more promising. The Joke Proper is defined by Screwtape as a joke “which turns on sudden perception of incongruity.” The main area that Screwtape goes for with this type of comedy is the bawdy joke. Lewis argues that only if the joke incites the listener to lust and not only to humor is the joke helpful to Screwtape. This is an area which I think Lewis is skating too fine a line if he’s not plain wrong. Sexuality is of a nature that is so sacred and so private that I think it’s very difficult to imagine a situation in which jesting about sex does not in some way diminish the importance of the act itself. This diminishing can hurt our ability to respect and utilize it for the ends that God intended it (namely an expression of love). So while I’ll agree with Lewis that a joke about sex is far more serious if it incites lust, all sexual jokes run the risk of doing damage regardless of the feelings they incur.
Before discussing Flippancy, Lewis chooses to digress to talk about a dangerous aspect of humor. That is, its ability to justify the unjustifiable. Screwtape explains:
“(Humor) is an invaluable as a means of destroying shame. If a man simply lets others pay for him, he is ‘mean’; if he boasts of it in a jocular manner and twits his fellows with having been scored off, he is no longer ‘mean’ but a comical fellow…Cruelty is shameful-unless the cruel man can represent it as a practical joke. A thousand bawdy, or even blasphemous, jokes do not help towards a man’s damnation so much as his discovery that almost anything he wants to do can be done, not only without the disapproval but with the admiration of his fellows, if only it can get itself treated as a joke.”
It is important for us to recognize that harm done in jest is still harm and as such should be avoided. This part however has the extra danger of convincing ourselves that we are in fact doing no wrong. Being sinful and being unaware of its consequences is a two-edged sword with which we ought not to play.
Finally, Screwtape discusses Flippancy. The danger in Flippancy is quite simply an inability to take seriously what we need to take seriously. Flippancy promotes an idea that there is nothing grave and this is problematic when trying to deal with weighty matters of the soul. In these cases we need to be serious and to accept the horrifyingly real consequences of the decisions we make. If everything is a joke, if the demons are funny little men with pitchforks and the angels little women with shiny circles floating above our head, then how are we supposed to quiet ourselves to listen to good and to make firm difficult decisions, particularly about sacrificing ourselves. As Screwtape says, “If prolonged, the habit of Flippancy builds up around a man the finest armour-plating against the Enemy that I know, and it is quite free from the dangers inherent in other sources of laughter.”
So laugh. Laughter is good. But be careful about what you’re laughing about so that when the time to laugh passes you can cease laughing and start listening.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Recall that Screwtape and Wormwood have the patient in a dry spell in his faith. In this letter, the two discuss a new set of friends that patient has made. This delights the devils, as the pair is
“just the sort of people we want him to know-rich, smart, superficially intellectual, and brightly skeptical about everything in the world. I gather they are even vaguely pacifist, not on moral grounds but from an ingrained habit of belittling anything that concerns the great mass of their fellow men and from a dash of purely fashionable and literary communism.”
This sound familiar? Is this not the type of people we are surrounded by at the university? Replace “communism” with “postmodernism” and it’s a nearly perfect fit for many we meet and interact it with. So as university students, if the people we associate most with make dangerous friends, we need to be on watch. But for what? Are we not supposed to engage these people in the New Evangelization? Yes, but we have to be very careful. In order to make friends we have to be “nice” and “nice” can mean sacrificing part of our responsibility as Catholics.
“He will be silent when he ought to speak and laugh when he ought to be silent. He will assume, at first only by his manner, but presently by his words, all sorts of cynical and skeptical attitudes which are not really his. But if you play him well, they may become his. All mortals tend to turn into the thing they are pretending to be.”
That is, if in engaging these people we do not hold a firm grasp on our Catholicism and are not careful for the slips through which the presumptions of the devil can sneak into, we can easily be swept away by the tide. We have to recognize that even though all new friends are pleasures, they can also be temptations.
In these type of friendships there is also a danger of pride arising. Lewis explains:
“He can be made to take a positive pleasure in the perception that the two sides of his life are inconsistent. This is done by exploiting his vanity. He can be taught to enjoy kneeling beside the grocer on Sunday just because he remembers that the grocer could not possibly understand the urbane and mocking world which he inhabited Saturday evening; and contrariwise, to enjoy the bawdy and blasphemy over coffee with these admirable friends all the more because he is aware of a ‘deeper,’ ‘spiritual’ world within him which they cannot understand.”
That is, in dealing with several different groups of people we are tempted to think that our associations with others make us better than everyone else. This can even be true within different Catholic groups; going to the orthodox church while the liturgical dance class could be an example. The important thing is trust first of all in Jesus for our faith and to watch as our beliefs shift with the tide to make sure they’re shifting closer to Christ. Second, it’s to remain humble despite the many people we have the privilege of knowing and becoming friends with. Then we’ll frustrate Screwtape.
Friday, March 23, 2007
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
I think if King wanted to sign B-16, it would make for an awesome fight. B-16 versus Richard Dawkins in the theological fight of the Ceeeeennnntuuurrry. Of course, B-16 would be advised to watch some Rocky before the fight, but I still think he could take on anybody.
Monday, March 19, 2007
But when one searches for the reasons why Christian art should have pictured Joseph as aged, we discover that it was in order to better safeguard the virginity of Mary. Somehow, the assumption had crept in that senility was a better protector of virginity than adolescence. Art thus unconcsciously made Joseph a spouse chaste and pure by age rather than virtue...To make Joseph appear pure only because his flesh had aged is like glorifying a mountain stream that has dried. The Church will not a ordain a man to the priesthood who has not his vital powers. She wants men who have something to tame, rather than those who are tame because they have no energy to be wild. It should be no different with God.
...Joseph was probably a young man, strong, virile, atheletic, handsome, chaste, and disciplined; the kind of man one sees sometimes shepherding sheep, or piloting a plane, or working at a carpenter's bench. Instead of being a man incapable of love, he must have been on fire with love....Instead, then, of being dried fruit to be served on the table of the king, he was rather a blossom filled with promise and power. He was not in the evening of life, but in its morning, bubbling over with energy, strength, and controlled passion.
You know, while typing this and the part about Joseph being young and strong the image of JPII came to my mind. I think that image helps confirm Sheen's belief in the young Joseph as being more appropriate for our conception of St. Joseph.
I've just launched a blog of my own! (groans from the audience). Some stuff on it is serious, most of it is just fun. Granted, my idea of fun is NASCAR, so you may need to be careful. I talk about everything, but politics has been a big focus of the blog so far as it hasn't been on my postings here. So look at it and tell me what you think (I know the color scheme is a little odd; I'm working on it).
Friday, March 16, 2007
I really like the two suggested encyclicals at the end of this piece that the Curt Jester puts up.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
I grew up in a single-parent household. My mother raised me from when I was 4 and a half and my sister from when she was 1. My mother is a very strong woman. She managed to raise two incredibly young children by herself. If being suddenly widowed with two small children is not a crisis, then I don’t know what is.
So when Emily wrote in her column about how women couldn’t handle crises, the image of my mother came to my mind. Perhaps this isn’t as personal as an attack on one’s own sexuality, but the bond between mother and son is one of the strongest known to mankind. So in a sense, the column was personal to me too. I wasn’t very angry about it as I certainly don’t think that Emily meant to slight my mother. Also, I wasn’t too upset as I can see the value in much of Emily’s argument and I see much we agree upon. It is mainly in her conclusion stated in the headline that we disagree.
My position is that Emily in her column took the application too far. While men may naturally make better leaders than women, to say that it is impossible for a woman to lead is to take it too far.
I’m a big fan of the popular writers like Lewis and Sheen, so I’m going to make an analogy to try to demonstrate the principle I’m working off of. Let’s take the example of a single parent family. We would all agree (and I especially) that having a mother and a father is an optimal situation in which to raise children as it demonstrates both sexes so that the children learn justice tempered with mercy and learn how to properly relate to members of both sexes from a young age. However, if one of the parents died, the survivor faces a difficult situation. If God does not call them to remarry, then they have to raise their children in a less than optimal state.
Does this mean that a person cannot raise a child in a single parent family? Would the survivor be forced to marry again quickly? If the survivor doesn’t remarry, should the children be taken from the parent and moved into a family in which there are two spouses? While we agree that a mother and father are best, looking from those choices we would say that no, the parent is not obligated to remarry and can raise the children on his or her own.
This demonstrates that optimal situations are not necessary situations. While having two parents is best, it is not required (let me make sure I clarify here that single parenting is different from gay parenting, which skews the traits of the sexes in the children). In the same way, while men may make better leaders than women, it is not necessary that men always rule.
Why then does Emily believe that women are incapable of the presidency? The crux of her argument is that women would be less able to lead in a crisis because they are too emotional. She points to the example of Gov. Blanco. First, I think she makes an assumption here, namely that being logical and just in a crisis is always the best way to handle a crisis. While this might be true in most cases, it is not true in all. In Katrina for example both care and logic were required: Logic to restore the traditionally male notion of order to the city of New Orleans and care and compassion to deal with the evacuees. A logician dealing with evacuees might turn them away, rightfully arguing that the evacuees cause an inconvenience at best and severe problems at worst. Considering what’s happened in Houston since the storm, we really couldn’t blame them for keeping the gyms locked up. So we can see that a sense of compassion is necessary for leaders in some situations.
My second response to this is based off of a quote by Bishop Fulton J. Sheen in World’s First Love:
Which stands up better in a crisis: man or woman? One can discuss this in a series of historical crises, but without arriving at any decision. The best way to arrive at a conclusion is to go to the greatest crisis the world ever faced, namely, the Crucifixion of Our Divine Lord. When we come to this great drama of Calvary, there is one fact that stands out very clearly: men failed...In contrast, there is not a single instance of a woman's failing Jesus. At the trial, the only voice that is raised in His defense is the voice of a woman....This is the greatest crisis this earth ever staged, and women did not fail. May not this be the key to the crisis of our hour? Men have been ruling the world, and the world is lapsing.
While standing at the Cross might be a different thing from leading a country, I think at least we can see the point. If one believes Sheen’s argument, then women might actually be better than men in handling crises. Now, this argument can be critiqued on the basis of the actions of John the Beloved, but still the implication that more women succeeded than men in the crisis of Calvary is very significant to the discussion. So while Blanco might have failed, Mary did not. I would take Mary to be the more substantial indicator of the potential of femininity.
It also worth noting that Mary did not lose any of her feminine dignity in handling the crisis, which brings us to the next point of the article: that women, in order to be good leaders, would have to emasculate themselves. Emily is concerned that women would have to build up such emotional detachment, among other things, that they would cease to be a good example of a woman. In other words, Emily sees that a woman would have to sacrifice part of her emotional attachment and she doesn’t want to see this sacrifice happen. I agree with Emily that a tremendous amount of emotional detachment is inherent to the job but she fails to consider the opposite side. That is, is the amount of detachment good for men either? It would be less drastic for men than for women, for sure, but making the decision to either drop the atom bombs and destroy two cities of citizens or send about a million soldiers for whom you are responsible is hardly one in which any emotional attachment is called for. In either one of those choices enormous amounts of people die. You can say that “well, you did the right thing” all you want, but the emotional toll on anybody, man or woman, is incredible and probably unhealthy. This is why states are favored to be small, so that such enormous responsibility is not one head, but that’s besides the point. The point is while Emily says the detachment necessary is bad for women, it’s bad for men too. Anybody seeking the job is going to have to make that sacrifice. With that in mind, it seems odd to say that men can sacrifice it while women can’t.
Emily goes on to say that women shouldn’t feel like they have to be president. I agree. We shouldn’t be aiming at the best woman for the job, just as we shouldn’t be looking for the best Catholic, African-American, Hispanic, etc for the job. We should be looking for the best person for the job. This is why I think Emily’s position can be a bit dangerous. If we were presented with a choice between candidates in which the woman is the superior candidate, then we should choose the woman. If for instance, we had a pro-life woman running for president named, oh I don’t know, Emily Byers. Emily is running against a pro-choice man. Or maybe a utilitarian man, or a fascist man, whatever your scariest position is, this man has it and is running against Emily. I would argue in this case one not only is allowed to vote for the woman, but is in fact obligated to vote for the woman. Emily’s column seems to suggest otherwise in that the man is always going to be the best candidate in a matchup with a woman. I think even Emily would be in favor of voting for a pro-life woman over a pro-choice man, so I think her argument falls apart (I would especially hope that Emily would vote for herself).
The only argument I see working for Emily is one that she spends too little time on. That is, the argument of foreign standing. Emily is right in writing that many foreign countries look down on women and so it would be more difficult for a woman to be as accepted, if she ever could be, in dealing with those nations. As much of the United States’ diplomatic need is in countries in the Middle East, this would seem to be especially problematic. Condolezza Rice and St. Joan of Arc can be brought up as counter-examples to this argument, but even then they were both seen not as primary leaders but representatives of male leaders (Bush in Rice’s case and the King of France in Joan’s). However, note that this argument is very different from the one Emily makes in the rest of her column and in her thesis. Namely, Emily is trying to argue that women are inherently worse candidates. The argument of foreign standing does not make a judgment on the intrinsic capacity of women but rather the state of affairs in the world. The argument of foreign standing would be equally applicable in a world in which Planned Parenthood has taken over and now men (and babies) form the lower and disrespected group.
In summation, it might be optimal for men to be presidents. However, in a time of need women could certainly answer the call. So I’m afraid I must respectfully dissent from Emily’s column.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Fr. Euteneur was the priest that Sean Hannity blasted. What hasn't been posted on this blog yet is that a priest who worked for Fox News, a Fr. Johnathan Morris, replied calling Fr. Euteneur out of line. Fairly absurd if you've seen the video. Anyway, Fr. Euteneur did not hesitate to reply. I think this is a particularly intriguing discussion as it has implications on my post about proper dissension between Catholics. Fr. Euteneur's response can be found here: The letter to Fr. Morris It has trouble loading, so it give it some time. As for Fr. Morris's original letter, it can be seen here: Fr. Morris's Open Letter to Sean Hannity
In case you haven't seen the video, that can be seen here: Hannity bullies clergyman
P.S. Thanks to Catholic Cartoon Blog for the scoop!
Monday, March 12, 2007
Saturday, March 10, 2007
I used to like Sean Hannity during the 2004 election. But now he goes after a priest on the issue of birth control and the sex scandal? Look at the video which for the moment is up at the right hand side of the screen (I couldn't link at it directly). It's disturbing. Big props to the priest; I think I'm done watching Hannity. For everyone concerned about the priest, his website is: Human Life International. And this is an article that the priest, Father Thomas J. Euteneuer (what is it with awesome priests and "J" as their middle intial? ) wrote on the subject.
If you'd like to email Fr. Thomas Euteneuer, his email is email@example.com. If you'd like to email Sean Hannity, you might go to the website for his show, which is right here. That's enough links for now, lol. Enjoy.
UPDATE: This is a more permanent link to the video in question
Friday, March 09, 2007
The Death of Catholic Culture
I've never listened to Dylan, so I can't say, but I would be interested to hear what some Dylan fans might have to say about this.
Thursday, March 08, 2007
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
The attack has a much better chance of success when the man’s whole inner world is drab and cold and empty. And it is also to be noted that the trough sexuality is…much more easily drawn into perversions, much less contained by those generous and imaginative and even spiritual concomitants which often render human sexuality so disappointing…You are much more likely to make your man a sound drunkard by pressing drink on him as an anodyne when he is dull and weary than by encouraging him to use it as a means of merriment.
What Screwtape is getting at here is that when we are happy, truly happy, that is because in some way we have experienced God so that when it’s accompanied with pleasures of the flesh like drink it’s simply a complement, not the focus. Screwtape wants it to be the focus and that’s more easily done when we’re unhappy. Using the example of pornography, Screwtape sees showing it to a happily married couple as far less fruitful than to showing it to the lonely man who just broke up with his sweetheart. In times of drought, it is God we are to turn to. If Screwtape can replace that with food, sex, or anything material that is not Christ, then Screwtape’s won the battle because any time we suffer we don’t get the redemption of God. Besides, many say that we are most truly who we are when we are down and out. Screwtape, accompanied with an idea that a world without joy is most real, wants us to think that what is most real is the material object with which we have replaced God instead of God himself.
Screwtape recommends caution however in playing with the pleasures:
Never forget that when we are dealing with any pleasure in its healthy and normal and satisfying form, we are, in a sense, on the Enemy’s ground. I know we have won many a soul with pleasure. All the same, it is His invention, not ours. He made all the pleasures: all our research so far has not enabled us to produce one. All we can do is to encourage the pleasures which our Enemy has produced, at times, or in ways, or in degrees, which He has forbidden. Hence we always try to work away from the natural condition of any pleasure to that in which it is least natural.
I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but pleasure in moderation (to put it in Aristotelian terms) is good: food, drink, sex, etc. It’s all designed by God. I believe somewhere in Mere Christianity Lewis talks about how God likes pleasures because He created them. It’s important, especially with sex, to keep in mind that pleasures properly understood can in fact enhance our ability to enjoy life and come closer to God. A drink and a fine meal can encourage fellowship which strengthens our community for instance.
After the pleasures, Screwtape advises Wormwood to start messing with the patient’s mind:
Do not let him suspect the law of undulation. Let him assume that the first ardours of his conversion might have been expected to last, and ought to have lasted, forever, and that his present dryness is an equally permanent condition.
I spoke a little about this last time. Understanding that we are naturally going to rise and fall helps us during the fall to not lose hope and during the rise to be more on guard. The battle is never fully won or fully lost; if we think either one, then the battle’s over and more likely we’re on the wrong side. Unlike many “once-saved” Christians, we believe that conversion is a continual process throughout our lives, and we always need to stay on top of it and be aware of the problems we may face. This however, does not mean that we don’t do anything about the troughs. Screwtape would like us to do either that or too much:
…then set him to work on the desperate design of recovering his old feelings by sheer willpower, and the game is ours. If he is of the more hopeful type your job is to make him acquiesce in the present low temperature of his spirit and gradually become content with it, persuading himself that it is not so low after all. In a week or two you will be making him doubt whether the first days of his Christianity were not, perhaps, a little excessive. Talk to him about ‘moderation in all things'…A moderated religion is as good for us as is no religion at all-and more amusing.
So don’t try to force getting better nor should we accept the trough as the way it ought to be. God wants us to live in joy and that is what we should seek. But we cannot do it by our own will not only because that will ultimately fail, but because that effort puts the focus back on ourselves when to be in joy the focus needs to be on the divine. We have to come to God humbly and ask for His help. We have to turn towards the sacraments for the grace to lift us up. If we persist, the door will be opened, and we will rise out of the trough.
Next letter: Associating with Non-Christians.
Monday, March 05, 2007
Study Shows that NFP is slightly MORE effective than artificial contraception.
Sunday, March 04, 2007
Humans are amphibians-half spirit and half animal (The Enemy’s determination to produce such a revolting hybrid was one of the things that determined Our Father to withdraw his support from Him.)…This means that while their spirit can be directed to an eternal object, their bodies, passions, and imaginations are in continual change, for to be in time means to change. Their nearest approach to constancy, therefore, is undulation-the repeated return to a level from which they repeatedly fall back, a series of troughs and peaks.
I think it’s fascinating that Lewis maintains that the very concept of humans played a role in Satan’s fall. I think a contrast exists between that and Jesus’s willingness to become not only a human but also to associate with sinners. Satan is one of the biggest purists, Lewis is saying, not with respect to orthodoxy but with respect to bringing the sacred to the profane as God brought the spiritual to the material. The desire to withdraw from instead of engaging the fallen culture in a sense is similar to the desire that Satan had. As Parousians, I’m probably preaching to the choir as we’re committed to a sense of faith and culture and engaging in culture in ways that we’ve done the past week (see my post: LSU Parousians Engage the Consuming Fire Fellowship and Planned Parenthood).
The other important thing is, of course, the law of undulation. Lewis is telling us that it is natural for humans to go through ups and downs. In fact, Lewis suggests that it’s necessary for us to approach the constancy which we will fully participate in when we’re outside of time. Understanding the law of undulation is a tremendous advantage for us. Every rise in joy does not mean we’ve finally triumphed nor does every fall mean we’re in a crisis of faith that requires a re-evaluation of everything. Stress and doubt are powerful tools Screwtape can use to discourage us. Screwtape goes more into how the devil can use the law of undulation for his purposes in the next letter, (#9) but he does tell us in this letter how God plans to use the troughs.
Now it may surprise you to learn that in His efforts to get permanent possession of a soul, He relies on the trough even more than on the peaks; some of His special favourites have gone through longer and deeper troughs than anyone else…It is during such trough periods, much more than during the peak periods, that it is growing into the sort of creature He wants it to be. Hence the prayer offered in the state of dryness are those which please Him best…Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks round on a universe from which every trace of Him has vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.
Is that something we can do? To have little hope of joy on this planet, to see everything good stripped from us and life and see only darkness in the future and to not want to walk on and yet still plunge headlong into the darkness because we believe with no reason that there is a God whose beauty and goodness will eventually shine through? That’s a lot to ask of us, yet it is that which precisely the definition of true faith is. Truth, Beauty, and Goodness may do well to show people that there’s a God, but when we can’t see those things it is then that we’re really called to be a people of faith. It is that moment on which salvation rests.
Why should it though? Why does God look for such things? Screwtape tells us it is this desire for us to choose in the troughs which divides heaven from hell and the demons from the angels.
One must face the fact that all the talk about His love for men, and His service being perfect freedom, is not (as one would gladly believe mere propaganda, but an appalling truth. He really does want to fill the universe with a lot of loathsome little replicas of Himself-creatures whose life, on its own miniature scale, will be qualitatively like His own, not because He has absorbed them but because their wills conform freely to His…Merely to override a human will (as His felt presence in any but the faintest and most mitigated degree would certainly do) would be for Him useless. He cannot ravish. He can only woo. For His ignoble idea is to eat the cake and have it; the creatures are to be one with Him, but yet themselves; merely to cancel them, or assimilate them, will not serve.
So while the devil wants to subvert and eliminate our will, God wants to actualize it fully so that we can be fully with him. The greatest way of actualizing this is by choosing God just for God. When we’re in the trough periods, there’s nothing else. Our love for God seems to have no benefits and only pains. An unrequited love is quite painful, yet to continue in it demands great nobility on our part and even greater love for the beloved in order to persist. It is that love of God only for Him that most pleases God, and the choice by us to love God in that way is what will set us free.
Friday, March 02, 2007
"Ride out with me. Ride out and meet them."-Theoden and Aragorn, Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
This week was about taking the faith that has been enriched and strengthened by that peculiar bond of fellowship we call the Parousians into the campus. Specifically, into places we knew would be hostile to that faith, places in which we would certainly be challenged. However in both instances I can say that the Parousians came out with a stronger faith and the belief that we made things better by being there and representing the truth.
The first instance came on Tuesday. Every two weeks on Tuesday a group from the Consuming Fire Fellowship comes into LSU’s “Free Speech Alley” and preaches their beliefs. Most of their discussions are about sexuality and sin and salvation (and generally how we have too much of the first two and none of the last). This of course perturbs a great number of the student body who are atheists and what have you. So generally when the Consuming Fire Fellowship comes to campus, we can expect a lot of yelling back and forth and probably a lot of hate as well. Perhaps this would be fine and irrelevant to the Parousians, except that one of the signs they wear has a list of the people going to hell. Next to abortionists, Jehovah Witnesses, and sodomites are, you guessed it, Catholics. I thought that this would be the perfect place to put the love and mercy of the Blessed Mother, so I invited people to come pray the rosary in “Free Speech Alley.” Because it’s the beginning of LSU midterms and during class time, we could only get one other person besides me to go to the rosary, Parousian and Guard member Liz Johnson. That’s alright; I announced it kinda late, and I’m positive it will build. Since we had small numbers, we decided to pray the rosary off to the side.
So we began the rosary. At first the only attention we got from the preachers was from their children. Every time I looked up I could see two little girls casting glances at us. According to Scott Hahn’s wife, Kimberly, the Virgin Mary is almost despised in Protestant circles and I imagine a similar situation if not worse occurs in the households of these young girls. Perhaps I am being fanciful when I say that I think something about the rosary clicked with them. Fulton Sheen argues that Mary is the woman that all girls want to be like, and I think that for those girls that flash of the perfect femininity was attractive or at least interesting and compelling.
It seemed that that would be all the response we would get going into the fifth decade. About halfway through the fifth, the guy with the sign saying that Catholics are going to hell came over and stood next to us. This is probably a child too but not too much younger than I am so that 16 or 17 would be about his age. And he began to tell us, “You know that’s not doing any good. She can’t hear you.” We prayed on. We said the St. Michael’s prayer as he was telling us, very respectfully I should note, that it was a waste of time. So we finished the rosary and immediately began to discuss with him the faith. Liz and I were later joined by another Parousian, Nicole Augustin. And we talked to him about our beliefs, particularly in regard to Mary, purgatory, and the Eucharist, each of us backing the other up when we needed it (Each of the girls did a fantastic job, by the way, which is required when paired with my attempts at apologetics). And he didn’t really know what to say. It was obvious that what we were saying, Michael (that was the young man’s name) had never heard. It clicked with him, and he didn’t know how to handle it. Eventually he got another preacher over and we debated with him awhile until the main preacher Britt Williams, who was also the young man’s father, arrived. Liz and Nicole had to leave for class, leaving me with Rev. Williams and what turned out to be a sort of circle of other people from the Consuming Fire Fellowship. They would come in and out and listen and then walk off, obviously interested in the debate. We talked about requirements for salvation and Church history and abuses. At the end he wasn’t convinced and I had to leave, though I intend to return in two weeks.
The second instance came tonight. A group calling itself “Spiritual Youth for Reproductive Freedom,” with the help of the LSU Women’s Center and a group called Vox: Voices for Planned Parenthood (I’m not quite sure why they use the singular “vox” for the plural “voices,” but that’s another issue) put on a series called “Spirituality and Choice.” This has been a three part series with a session on stem cells, one on sexual education, and the grand finale tonight on Abortion titled, "Can You Choose Choice? Religion and the Pro-Choice Movement". I missed the first one but attended the second one and knew that this was important. The perverse union between spirituality and their ideology is a dangerous one, one that can hurt many young people, especially women. So I wanted a big turnout at their event in order to challenge them. I set up a facebook event, told people about it for a week (and other people talked about it too; lemme be quite clear that any success is not solely my success). Being exam week and being a Planned Parenthood event, I was hoping we could get a few people to give a different perspective.
This was my mindset when I entered the room tonight a little early. I watched as people began to stream in and kept a tally of which ones I knew and which ones I didn’t (we had decided ahead of time to sit separately, so I didn’t have anyone to talk to). The count was a total of 40 people. 13 of them were Parousians. From the question session after that, I think there 5 more pro-lifers in the crowd at least, so that the pro-life group represented a little less than half the crowd. That is incredible. I was so glad to see that people could make it. This happened despite it being a hectic week, despite many people leaving to set up the Veritas retreat this weekend, and despite people’s natural hesitation to go to an event hosted by a pro-choice crowd. I feel we were very blessed.
The Planned Parenthood people probably didn’t feel the same way. They made sure the question and answer session was very short but starting late and letting the presenters read on and on from little stat sheets which were not even really abortion as much as they were about poverty. Yet when the question and answer session came, they were stumped. They couldn’t answer the very basic question a girl we didn’t know asked: when does the fetus become a human? The basic tenet of the pro-life movement and they couldn’t respond. Questions about whether or not a bad abortion was possible and whether or not abortion was simply sweeping under the rug the social issues they had so exhaustively discussed were similarly baffling to them. While no one agreed with us at the end, I think that we show at the very least that the pro-life position is one to be reckoned with and an idea that has significant intellectual merit, which was precisely the opposite goal of their forum.
However, the question can come up: what good did it do? On the surface, we had no conversions. No new Catholics, no new pro-lifers. Perhaps we touched some of them but how much will that matter when they go back to church on Sunday or go back to the Women’s Center and talk about the conference? Did we do any good or did we simply stroke our own egos by trying to beat our opponents in face to face debate? I have to admit, it’s possible that the seeds we tried to sow fell on bad soil. Even if they did however, we did something. I would say that at least for me I came away stronger in my faith, having seen it come up against its enemies and come out intact. But even more than that, I think that the seeds we planted will have an effect. God only needs a crack to flow completely through, and I think we showed these people the cracks in their armor. We made these people think twice about their positions. That’s allowing for God and the Holy Spirit to work. We’ll never know how much of a difference we made this week, but we made a difference.
I want to end this with a quote from the movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. In the movie, Senator Smith is forced to defend himself in the Senate and every other senator thinks him a fraud and a troublemaker and wants to expel him from the Senate, so in one of the great scenes of cinematic history Senator Smith filibusters. This is the conclusion to that filibuster (but not the movie, so don’t worry, I didn’t spoil anything for you).
“I guess this is just a lost cause, Mr. Paine. You people don't know about lost causes; Mr. Paine does...You know that you fight for the lost causes harder than for any others. Yes, you even die for them…I'm going to stay right here and fight for this lost cause even if this room gets filled with lies like these until the Taylors and all their armies come marching into this place. Somebody'll listen to me.”
It’s that last sentence which embodies all our hope. Somebody will listen to us if we only keep speaking in witness to Christ.
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
I've attended a few Tridentine Masses and each time I've come away disappointed. Part of the reason for this could be that the masses I attended were in South Florida, where most of the Latin Mass church-goers look and act like Uncle Lewis and Aunt Bethany from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. But the bigger problem is that I came away each time feeling as though I hadn't been to mass at all. Perhaps I expected too much, but instead of experiencing awe and reverence I just felt frustration and disillusionment. I kind of assumed that it was a personal defect, perhaps the consequence of not having adequately prepared myself. So I was heartened to read this post by Dan at Holy Whapping, which perfectly captures the uneasiness I've experienced before in the Tridentine Mass:
when you show up at the local indult parish, you discover something very different from what you expected.There's an extended discussion in the comboxes at Holy Whapping.
- Participation is discouraged, except perhaps on a few chants
- It is very hard to keep track of anything for those who haven't already gotten it down
- The whole experience has a vaguely dusty feel
- Many pamphlets and literature around the Church, with the exception of maybe some natural family planning materials, feel frozen in time somewhere around the 1920's.
What I am arguing, then, is that the Tridentine Mass, as currently celebrated in indult parishes, at least those I have seen, is celebrated in such a way as to necessarily become an "acquired taste." Furthermore, an approach is often taken to make it seem as if the indult is carte blanche to act as if nothing in the Church has changed since the early 1940's, and to make such completely orthodox movements as the nouvelle theologie or even Vatican II itself as a council, seem suspect. This is not a good approach, and it works very much against integrating traditional liturgy into the present day life of the Church. This approach is not one that, in my experience, easily appeals to young people looking for beauty and transcendence, unless they're already convinced to keep coming for other reasons, or have someone to explain everything to them in detail and keep them coming back.
In other words, why can't we have "tradition" without "ism" in these quarters, and be willing to have the Tridentine Mass and Vatican II and new developments in theology?
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
I watched a little bit of CNN's coverage of this last night. It seems that the mainstream media is finding little credibility in the story, but will the consumer culture reject it?
But now, since we have the DNA samples, perhaps we can finally clone Jesus.
Monday, February 26, 2007
Happy Birthday, I Love You Whoever You Would Have Been.
Sunday, February 25, 2007
For decades, the Church in America has been marked by dissent. Catholic filmmakers, novelists and artists have been here all along — but their products have become morally indistinguishable from the culture’s.
But that’s starting to change. There are two examples in this issue: Tim Drake’s story about the new literary revival (page 2) and our profile of Jordan Allott on our Arts & Entertainment page (B3)."
Tim Drake's article notes one group in particular, "The Minnklings," who are "a Minnesotan take-off on C.S. Lewis’ and J.R.R. Tolkien’s writer’s group The Inklings. Among others, it includes a newspaper publisher, an academic journal editor, published fiction writers and journalists. They gather to critique one another’s work and share stories about getting published. The group is one of several literary efforts underway aimed at supporting existing Catholic writers and fostering new ones."
Some very exciting stuff going on here.