Archive for June, 2009
Tags: Alfonso Ratisbonne, Cattolicesimo, Chiesa, Conversione, Fede, Musings
Tags: Catholicism, Conscience, General, Musings, Personal
Mannono’s comment to my post ‘Niente crisi per i veggenti’ – “irascimini et nolite peccare” – gave me much food for thought.
There is a kind of minimalist approach to the Faith to which many Catholics are prone, not because they are Catholic, but because they are men. There is something irksome about religion, and we have a tendency either to shirk off or minimalize all that is irksome to us. And religion is irksome because it asks of us the most difficult of all things: that we reform our lives. Genuine reform.
For beginners, and even for veterans of many failed campaigns, in which number I include myself, the first objective must be to make friends with one’s conscience. It may sound odd to speak of such a necessity, but our conscience is often regarded by us as a hostile force rather than a valued ally. We are wont to indulge in activities in which conscience cannot participate; so it stands and looks on, and its aloofness and expression of regret can be irritating in the extreme. We rather wish it would go elsewhere for the time being and return when we summon it, not hang about with its long face casting a gloom upon our pleasures.
So how does one befriend his conscience? The problem was addressed admirably by a monk of the late fourth century named Isaiah the Solitary. Isaiah quotes Our Lord’s advice that we come to agreement with our adversary before he turns us over to the judge, and the judge turns us over to the officer, who will cast us into prison. The adversary, Isaiah explains, is our conscience, whose claims we must satisfy if we are to escape judgment and condemnation. Chief among the means of satisfying conscience is the proper use of what he calls “the incensive power” – an anger of the intellect that is in accord with nature, which he identifies as the nature which God gave us, not our fallen condition as a result of original sin, which he regards as unnatural. He writes: “Without anger a man cannot attain purity; he has to feel angry with all that is sown in him by the enemy”. This “holy anger” can help us in our efforts to establish a habit of attentiveness. We must develop a detestation of sin, realizing its ugliness and malice, and then set about rooting out its causes. We must stop aiding and abetting the enemy and stand on the side of the angels, and then conscience will be transformed from being our accuser to being our defender.
Tags: Barzellette, General, Jokes
Upon arrival to the U.S. and after getting all of Pope Benedict’s luggage loaded into the limo, and He doesn’t travel light, the driver notices that the Pope is still standing on the curb. ‘Excuse me, Your Holiness,’ says the driver, ‘Would you please take your seat so we can leave?’
‘Well, to tell you the truth,’ says the Pope, ‘they never let me drive at the Vatican, and I’d really like to drive today.’
‘I’m sorry but I cannot let you do that. I’d lose my job! And what if something should happen?’ protests the driver, wishing he’d never gone to work that morning. But the Pope pleads: ‘Please let me, just this once, please – just for fun’.
Reluctantly, the driver gets in the back as the Pope climbs in behind the wheel. The driver quickly regrets his decision when, after exiting the airport, the Pontiff floors it, accelerating the limo.
‘Please slow down, Your Holiness!!!’ pleads the worried driver, but the Pope keeps the pedal to the metal until they hear sirens. ‘Oh, dear God, I’m going to lose my license’ moans the driver.
The Pope pulls over and rolls down the window as the cop approaches, but the cop takes one look at him, goes back to his motorcycle, and gets on the radio.
‘I need to talk to the Chief,’ he says to the dispatcher.
The Chief gets on the radio and the cop tells him that he’s stopped a limo going at super speed.
‘So bust him,’ says the Chief.
‘I don’t think we want to do that – he’s really important,’ said the cop.
The Chief exclaimed, ‘All the more reason!’
‘No, I mean really important,’ said the cop.
The Chief then asked, ‘Who have you got there, the Mayor?’
‘Well,’ said the Chief, ‘Who is it?’
Cop: ‘I think it’s God!’
Chief: ‘What?! What makes you think it’s God?’
Cop: ‘the Pope is his chauffeur!’
Nell’ultima visita a New York, il Papa chiede di poter guidare la sua limousine, così, per una volta, per togliersi la voglia. La richiesta appare strana, ma il suo desiderio ovviamente viene esaudito. Così l’autista si siede dietro e il papa parte e imbocca l’autostrada. Dopo un po’ però pigia troppo sull’acceleratore e supera abbondantemente i limiti di velocità. Ovviamente ad un certo punto viene fermato da un poliziotto. Questi si rende conto della situazione e imbarazzato chiama via radio il suo capitano per avere istruzioni.
“Capitano, ho fermato una persona molto importante per eccesso di velocità e non so cosa fare”.
“E chi sarebbe, il Presidente?”.
“No! Questo e’ molto più importante!”.
“Ma chi è?, il segretario generale dell’ONU?”.
“No! No! Molto più importante!”.
“Ma insomma chi e’? “.
“Capitano, è Dio … ha il Papa come autista!”.
Tags: feel-good humanism, love thy neighbor, The greatest commandment
Many people today are convinced that all that really matters is what one does, a ‘right conduct’, love of our neighbour. On the other hand, concern for a ‘right belief’ according to the true meaning of Scripture, read within the living tradition of the Church, occupies second place … if it’s not downright alienating. No longer does union with God have the primacy. Rather social activism has displaced it, little matter that a supernatural sacramental life has always occupied first place in the life of all the Saints.
Most of us, I’m sure, have heard many a modernist sermon on Christian action being more important than devotional efforts at union with God.
What did Jesus answer when a lawyer asked Him: “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. And the second is like to this: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself”.
Beautiful words. The essence of what it is to be a Christian.
The sermons we hear, however, usually go something like this: Yes, we should love the Lord our God. But the Lord our God is a Spirit. How do we go about loving an invisible Spirit? We love our neighbour. That is in fact exactly how we love God: by loving our neighbour. At best, the sermon puts the two commandments on a par, whereas Jesus actually said that love of God is the greatest commandment. Also, the sermon subtly reverses the order of the two commandments – love your neighbour and thereby love God. Efforts at seeking union with God are in effect out of the picture entirely and Christianity is reduced to a vague form of ‘feel-good’ humanism.
We first love God with our whole heart – all of it – and our whole soul and our whole mind. Only then are we able to practice the second commandment, loving our neighbours and our enemies truly as ourselves. It is the love of God that is the enabling love, not the other way around!
Tags: ciarlatani, incultura, occultisti, talismani e amuleti
In questo momento una TV privata sta pubblicizzando talismani e amuleti in una rubrica dedicata agli oroscopi pubblici – il cliente telefona, dice il proprio nome e la data di nascita, e si sente descrivere quello che sta per accadere nel lavoro, in famiglia, altrove. Genericamente, ma gratis. Per un vaticinio più preciso l’invito è a consultare privatamente l’esperto. La maggior precisione va pagata. A dispetto delle tante analisi sociologiche secondo le quali noi italiani saremmo molto maturi, ci troviamo in pieno boom dei veggenti, maghi, astrologi, cartomanti! Secondo una stima, solo nella mia provincia ci sarebbero ottanta maghi palesi e un centinaio di astrologi. Gli occultisti, che si attribuiscono radici scientifiche e vorrebbero regolarizzare il settore con un progetto di legge, accusano di ciarlataneria gli altri, e viceversa … insomma, i ciarlatani non scarseggiano.
Sant’Agostino, che se ne intendeva, rinnoverebbe i suoi fulmini non solo contro gli imbroglioni che speculano sulla speranza e sulla disperazione ma soprattutto contro l’innume – revole folla dei creduloni – quest’Italia che parla tanto di scienza senza però fidarsene, che avverte la presenza di un mondo non solo fisico … ma ne cerca le tracce in stanze esoteriche!
Mille forme di incultura hanno ormai stravinto. L’Italiano medio ha doppia auto, doppia casa, doppio lavoro, doppia pensione, doppio telegiornale, terroristi doppi (quelli buoni e quelli cattivi) contro i quali operano due polizie. C’è una doppia economia, emersa e sommersa, spesso una doppia morale, una doppia storia, quella vernacola e quella nazionale … insomma, una specie di doppia vita. Forse questa doppiezza può aiutare a capire almeno in parte quest’altra forma di incultura: la corsa ai veggenti – un modo ‘laterale’ di esistere? Una situazione che si vorrebbe spacciare per maturità e vecchiaia saggia … e intanto il boom dei maghi prospera su questa vecchiaia italiana, che sta infettando gli stessi nostri ragazzi, già carichi di inculture che non li aiutano a scrutare il mondo, ignari, così come le cicale non sanno del ramo che le sostiene.
Tags: Europe, heterosexual marriage, Rerum Novarum, traditional family, welfare
Throughout history, over millennia and across civilizations, heterosexual marriage, procreation and the nurturing of children has been the bedrock of society. It is the best, most cost-effective welfare safety net ever created – husbands taking care of wives and children. Wives taking care of husbands and children, children taking care of parents.
Today, the traditional family has no greater supporter and friend than the Catholic Church.
Yet for the past fifty years, the ‘modern’ world has been practicing a vast, uncontrolled experiment in redesigning society. Contraception, abortion, feminism, secularism, radical individualism, relativism and acceptance of perversion are found now in most countries. Worse, marriage is being redefined to the point of meaninglessness. All these have greatly undermined the traditional family, to the point at which in many European countries it is more common for children to be born out of wedlock than to a married couple.
Not surprisingly, a mammoth, extremely costly social welfare system has developed to fill in for what the traditional family did naturally and efficiently. How this system will be funded in the future with a rapidly declining population is one of Europe’s most pressing problems.
However, in a society in which Catholic teaching on the sanctity of life and the indissolubility of marriage prevailed, not only would the birth dearth disappear but the public welfare system would need to be only a small fraction of the size of those in today’s modern secular state.
The cornerstone of the Church’s social gospel is support for families, and the Vatican has always strongly articulated governments’ obligation to support natural families. As Pope Leo XIII wrote in ‘Rerum Novarum’:
“It is a most sacred law of nature that a father should provide food and all necessaries for those whom he has begotten; and, similarly, it is natural that he should wish that his children should be by him provided with all that is needful to enable them to keep themselves decently from want and misery … if the families on entering into association and fellowship, were to experience hindrance in a commonwealth instead of help, and were to find their rights attacked instead of being upheld, society would rightly be an object of detestation rather than of desire”.
Most Western governments are marching down this destructive path by hindering rather than supporting the traditional family.
As the Church has long maintained, only by recognizing God’s sovereignty and protecting the natural law and natural institutions like marriage and the family can governments re-establish and maintain their citizens’ loyalty.
Clearly, without the Church, the glorious civilization known as Europe – the greatest mankind has known – will die. To regain its grandeur, Europe must regain its faith.
This might seem utopian but … how much easier is it to rebuild something than to create it in the first place? All we need is the will and it can be so again!
Tags: Feast of the Sacred Heart, Festa del Sacro Cuore, Jesus, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque
FEAST OF THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS
FESTA DEL SACRO CUORE DI GESU’