Monday, 22 January 2018

The Feast of Blessed Henry Suso

O God, who hast enlightened thy Church by the teaching of thy servant Blessed Henry Suso. Enrich it evermore, we beseech thee, with thy heavenly grace, and raise up faithful witnesses, who by their life and doctrine may set forth to all men the truth of thy salvation; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blessed Henry Suso, pray for us and for all Dominicans.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

New York Times: No Dunkirk Spirit Can Save Britain From Brexit Defeat

New York Times: No Dunkirk Spirit Can Save Britain From Brexit Defeat

by Jenni Russell

"Nothing could be less helpful to our collective psyche as the country blunders toward Brexit. We hear much about American exceptionalism, but Britain feels it, too. We are the nation of empire, whose ancestors once controlled a quarter of the globe; we are the mother of parliaments; we stood alone against Hitler; we have not been conquered for a thousand years. We feel remarkable.

The Brexit vote was driven by the belief that Britain was hobbled by being shackled to a moribund, bureaucratic group of nations. The Brexiteers convinced enough of the electorate that we needed only to be set free from Europe, with its tiresome regulations, restrictions and pesky immigrants, to become a proud, swashbuckling, dominant and richer country again.

This promise is a stunning misunderstanding of who we are, what we are capable of and where we stand in the world. Britain’s faith in its independent future is rooted in its economic performance. We are a tiny island, but we are — as the prime minister, Theresa May, and leading Brexiteers have frequently assured us — the world’s fifth largest economy. That ranking has given just over half the country the false confidence that we have nothing to fear from change.

The trouble with that statistic is that it obscures all the weaknesses that lie beneath the surface. We don’t have the skills, the manufacturing base, the drive or the productivity we would need to take off as an independent nation. For years, Britain’s inadequacies have been compensated for by its membership in the European Union. Now, they are about to become painfully apparent."

America Magzine: I’m unapologetically pro-life, and I’m ashamed that Trump spoke at the March for Life

America Magzine: I’m unapologetically pro-life, and I’m ashamed that Trump spoke at the March for Life

by Haley Stewart

"The primary problem is not with Mr. Trump’s past sins, it is that the policies he currently supports are inconsistent with his claim in his address today that “every life is sacred.” And where do we begin? His inhumane deportation policies? His seeming belief that the value of lives from prosperous countries are worth more than those from poor—or as he allegedly put it, “shithole”—countries? His threats to end thousands of lives with nuclear war? Legislation that benefits the wealthy while treating the poor with disdain? I’ll let you choose; the list is a mile long. By making Donald Trump a figurehead for this movement, organizers of the March for Life offer not a consistent and beautiful ethic of life, but a farce, a brazen hypocrisy."

Eastern Ukraine Situation Report 21st January

Crux: Pope’s love affair with Mary adds new chapter Saturday in Peru

Crux: Pope’s love affair with Mary adds new chapter Saturday in Peru

by Ines San Martin

Francis has spoken about how his devotion to Mary helped him through his election to the papacy, about praying the Rosary three times a day, and that he always makes a point of stopping and even presenting flowers at the feet of Our Lady when she’s in St. Peter’s Square or wherever he celebrates Mass during his trips abroad.

During his visit to Poland in July 2016, he tripped and almost fell while celebrating Mass at the Jasna Gora monastery, in Czestochowa. Speaking to journalists on the flight back, he said he was simply “looking at the Madonna, and I forgot about the step.”

The list of examples to illustrate the pope’s devotion to the Mother of God is endless. However, it wasn’t always as strong as it is now, instead developing throughout the years, with two events in the 1980s marking him in particular.

In 2005, after the death of St. John Paul II, then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Beroglio wrote a piece for a special issue of the Italian magazine 30 Giorni, dedicated to the late pontiff. In it, the man who today leads the Church wrote about once praying the rosary with the Polish pope and the impact it had on him.

“If I remember well, it was 1985. One evening I went to recite the holy Rosary that was being led by the Holy Father. He was in front of everybody, on his knees,” Bergoglio writes.

“The group was numerous; I saw the Holy Father from the back, and, little by little, I got lost in prayer. I was not alone: I was praying in the middle of the people of God to which I and all those there belonged, led by our pastor.”

It’s unclear, from the original text, if this took place during John Paul’s 1982 trip to Argentina, or in some other place in 1985. Yet the where and when seem to have been secondary for Bergoglio.

“I felt that this man, chosen to lead the Church, was following a path back to his Mother in the sky, a path set out from his childhood,” he wrote. “I understood the presence of Mary in the life of the pope, a witness he never ceased to give. From that moment, I recite the 15 mysteries of the Rosary every day.”

The Fest of Saint Agnes

Almighty ever-living God, who choose what is weak in the world to confound the strong, mercifully grant, that we, who celebrate the heavenly birthday of your Martyr Saint Agnes, may follow her constancy in the faith. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Let us gain courage for our own battle by honoring the martyrdom of the glorious virgin Agnes. St. Agnes, vessel of honor, flower of unfading fragrance, beloved of the choirs of Angels, you are an example to the worth of virtue and chastity. O you who wear a Martyr's palm and a virgin's wreath, pray for us that, though unworthy of a special crown, we may have our names written in the list of Saints.

St. Agnes, pray for us, for all Christian young people and for the city of Rome.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Catholic Herald: Catholics prefer ritual and consistency at Mass, study suggests

Catholic Herald: Catholics prefer ritual and consistency at Mass, study suggests

by Dan Meloy

"Recognizing the limitations of conclusions one could draw from the observations of two people in a limited scope, McCallion and Ligas just focused on who was singing at Mass.

“At every liturgy at every church we observed, everyone joined in for the Lord’s Prayer,” Ligas said. “On the other side of the coin, the responsorial song was a bust, if you consider how many are participating and how many are not.”

The summary of the Ligas’s and McCallion’s research boils down to the idea that Catholics are more apt to verbally participate in parts of the Mass that are more ritualized, such as the Our Father. The response to the general intercession had the highest rate of response and participation, while more “changeable” parts of the Mass, such as the hymns, psalms, or the pastor asking the congregation to greet one another, tended to have low rates of participation."

As I have said before on this blog, whoever writes those Psalm responses should be sacked. Nobody can remember how they go. It really is painful listening to the priest and a few people say the responses, while everybody else is struggling to remember how they go.

The Washington Post| Trump’s first year: A damage assessment

The Washington Post| Trump’s first year: A damage assessment

by Tom Nicols

"Meanwhile, Trump has made good on the prediction that he would lead the conservative movement to disgrace, and he has gravely — perhaps even mortally — wounded the Republican Party. His endorsement of an accused child molester in Alabama’s Senate race coaxed a final humiliation of evangelical and “family values” conservatives that was a long time coming — and for many of us who are more moderate conservatives, our only regret is that it didn’t happen sooner. Yet the Trump effect has rippled further, attaching a repulsive hypocrisy to anything involving the word “conservative.” People who once insisted on religious beliefs and a sterling character as paramount in their evaluation of a president now wave away alleged payoffs to porn stars; fiscal conservatives now blithely applaud the addition of $1 trillion in debt; foreign policy hawks now mumble quietly as the president draws moral equivalences between the United States and Russia.

The consequent damage Trump is doing to the Republican Party should worry liberals as well as conservatives. The point of political parties is to aggregate interests and soften the edges of the extremes in order to find common cause to make policy. Without viable parties, alienated and discouraged citizens withdraw from politics, and only the most motivated and aggrieved voters show up for the primaries and conventions. This is already happening in the GOP. Whatever principled origins there were to the tea party movement, for example, it fell prey to the most angry and extreme elements within it, resulting in the emergence of some truly repellent congressional candidates (think Indiana’s Richard Mourdock, who said, “even when life begins in the horrible situation of rape, that is something that God intended to happen”) and later contributing to the rise of Trump."

Can We Stll Believe the Bible? by Craig Blomberg

Craig L. Blomberg, Can We Still Believe the Bible?: An Evanglical Engagement with Contemporary Questions, 2014 Brazos Press

Evangelical theologian Craig Blomberg provides here an apologetic defense of the reliability and authority of Scripture. There are plenty of Evangelical defenses of the Bible, but this one treats readers like grown-ups. It deals with historical questions raised by critical scholarship that are ignored by a lot of books by conservative Evangelical authors, such as Josh McDowell's God-Breathed and Wayne Grudem's Understanding Scripture.

In the first chapter, Blomberg addresses the question of the textural accuracy of the Biblical documents. He demonstrates that the textual differences between manuscripts are very insignificant and do not affect the accuracy and meaning of the content. Catholics will take issue with the second chapter, which deals with the issue of canon. Unsurprisingly, Blomberg takes the Protestant view of the canon, rejecting the Deuterocanonical books. I also had issues with the next chapter, on the subject of Bible translation. Our author is very critical of literal translations and encourages readers to choose Bible versions which use a less literal dynamic translation method. Personally I think readers who are serious about Bible study ought to opt for a literal translation, such as the King James Version of Modern English Version, as a less literal method of translation can introduce inaccurate and distorted readings.

Our author affirms the inerrancy of the Bible as a result of its divine inspiration. He rejects the position that the Bible's infallibility is limited to doctrine and morals and holds that the historical claims of Scripture must be upheld. However, he is critical of Evangelical theologians Robert Thomas and Norman Geisler who have used inerrancy as a bludgeon to attack any scholars who have shown flexibility in their interpretation of historical narratives in Scripture, such as Mike Licona and Darrel Bock and most notably seen in Geisler's efforts to get Robert Gundry expelled from the Evangelical Theological Society. In the next chapter he goes on to discuss the question of historical narratives and specific claims of critical scholars. He argues that it is not incompatible with the doctrine of inerrancy to hold that Jonah or Job are fictional and that there are two writers behind the book of Isaiah. His own views on those questions, however, are fairly conservative. In the final chapter he addresses the miracles recorded in Scripture and whether people today can believe them.

While I have disagreements with some of the points made in this book, I think it is an excellent apologetic work and provides a very useful engagement with the issues regarding the reliability of the Bible as they are discussed today. One area that he might have looked at is the issue of the Canaanite genocide in the Old Testament, an issue that might trouble many modern readers of the Bible.

Friday, 19 January 2018

The Feast of Saint Sebastian

Grant us, we pray, O Lord, a spirit of fortitude, so that, taught by the glorious example of your Martyr Saint Sebastian, we may learn to obey you rather than men. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Saint Sebastian, pray for us and for all soldiers.

Reagan on Abortion

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

The Feast of Saint Anthony of Egypt

O God, who brought the Abbot Saint Anthony to serve you by a wondrous way of life in the desert, grant, through his intercession, that, denying ourselves, we may always love you above all things. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Saint Anthony, pray for us, for the Christians of Egypt and for all monks.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Crux: Pope Francis to signal concern for Ukraine with basilica visit

Crux: Pope Francis to signal concern for Ukraine with basilica visit

ROME - In a sign of his concern for one of the world’s most chronic, and often neglected, conflict zones, Pope Francis will travel cross-town in Rome on Sunday, Jan. 28, to visit the Basilica of Santa Sofia and meet the Ukrainian Greek Catholic community which worships there, in what served for decades as their “Mother Church” during the period of Soviet domination in Ukraine.

The Vatican announced the pope’s visit on Friday, saying it comes in response to an invitation by Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, the leader of the Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine, and an old friend of Francis’s from the time Shevchuk served as Apostolic Administrator of a Greek Catholic diocese in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Shevchuk said on Friday that the visit is also a sign of the pope’s pastoral attention to immigrants.

The visit “is a sign of solidarity with the Ukrainian people, the victim of the war in Donbas [eastern Ukraine], and a manifestation of closeness to Ukrainian migrants in Italy, for whom the Basilica of Santa Sofia represents their home and a symbol of their native land,” Shevchuk said.

Hushed was the Evening Hymn

Hushed was the evening hymn,
The temple courts were dark;
The lamp was burning dim
Before the sacred ark;
When suddenly a voice divine
Rang through the silence of the shrine.

The old man, meek and mild,
The priest of Israel, slept;
His watch the temple child,
The little Levite, kept;
And what from Eli’s sense was sealed
The Lord to Hannah’s son revealed.

O give me Samuel’s ear,
The open ear, O Lord,
Alive and quick to hear
Each whisper of Thy Word,
Like him to answer at Thy call,
And to obey Thee first of all.

O give me Samuel’s heart,
A lowly heart, that waits
Where in Thy house Thou art,
Or watches at Thy gates;
By day and night, a heart that still
Moves at the breathing of Thy will.

O give me Samuel’s mind,
A sweet unmurm’ring faith,
Obedient and resigned
To Thee in life and death,
That I may read with child like eyes
Truths that are hidden from the wise.

James D. Burns

This is one of my favorite hymns. The tune is composed by Arthur Sullivan, of Gilbert and Sullivan fame and is probably his best hymn tune. The hymn tells the story that appears in this Sunday's mass readings, that of the Lord's revelation to the infant Samuel. The hymn reminds us of the need for a child like faith that is ready to receive and obey God's Word. We may not always understand Scripture, but we must receive it with faith. This world is full of clever people who are deeply learned. But all the university degrees you could possess are useless if you know nothing of the ways of God revealed in Scripture.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

French Troops in Lithuania

Aeon: Everything you know about the Gospel of Paul is likely wrong

Aeon: Everything you know about the Gospel of Paul is likely wrong

by David Bentley Hart

"Questions of law and righteousness, however, are secondary concerns. The essence of Paul’s theology is something far stranger, and unfolds on a far vaster scale. For Paul, the present world-age is rapidly passing, while another world-age differing from the former in every dimension – heavenly or terrestrial, spiritual or physical – is already dawning. The story of salvation concerns the entire cosmos; and it is a story of invasion, conquest, spoliation and triumph. For Paul, the cosmos has been enslaved to death, both by our sin and by the malign governance of those ‘angelic’ or ‘daemonian’ agencies who reign over the earth from the heavens, and who hold spirits in thrall below the earth. These angelic beings, these Archons, whom Paul calls Thrones and Powers and Dominations and Spiritual Forces of Evil in the High Places, are the gods of the nations. In the Letter to the Galatians, he even hints that the angel of the Lord who rules over Israel might be one of their number. Whether fallen, or mutinous, or merely incompetent, these beings stand intractably between us and God. But Christ has conquered them all."

Some interesting points that are probably correct, but I don't agree with Hart's universalism.