Saturday, October 23, 2004 +

02004 10 23 +

Please bless Aunt Helen (Sister Anne Gabriel, CSJ), who will probably die soon.

Friday, October 22, 2004 +

Notes 50

It is better to be angry with God than with my neighbor.

"If there is no God, everything is permitted." I suppose this means, since not everything is permitted, there is God.

The God of the Jews

From Peter Brooke on "Islam and Politics":

The single God of the Jews could be conflated with the philosophical God of the Platonists, but it was easier to enter into relation with the intensely personal God revealed in the Bible. Whose violence and changes of mind also corresponded more closely to the realities of the world as we experience it.

John Henry Newman

quoted by M. D. Aeschliman in "The Prudence of John Henry Newman", First Things, No. 45 (August/September 1994):

The sentiment of the sacredness in institutions fades away, and the measure of truth or expediency is the private judgment of the individual. An endless variety of opinion is the certain though slow result; no overpowering majority of judgments is found to decide what is good and what is bad; political measures become acts of compromise; and at length the common bond of unity in the state consists in nothing really common, but simply in the unanimous wish of each member of it to secure his own interests.

Knowledge is one thing, virtue is another.... Philosophy, however enlightened, however profound, gives no command over the passions, no influential motives, no vivifying principles.... Quarry the granite rock with razors, or moor the vessel with a thread of silk; then may you hope with such keen and delicate instruments as human knowledge and human reason to contend against those giants, the passion and the pride of man. -- The Idea of a University

After all, man is not a reasoning animal; he is a seeing, feeling, contemplating, acting animal. -- The Tamworth Reading Room

Thursday, October 21, 2004 +

Notes 49

Distinguish between behave and be holy.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004 +


Phyllis McGinley (New York, 1962):

I would give anything (except my comforts, my customs, and my sins) to be a saint.

I cannot repeat often enough that saints are not angels.

While they lived the very saints which the Church eventually honors may have been suspect to the same establishment. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, was eight times imprisoned by the Inquisition, Teresa of Avila ran afoul of it, as did Francis Borgia, John of the Cross, and a multitude of others. It was fifty years after his death before the writings of Thomas Aquinas, now the basis for much churchly doctrine, were declared safe for the orthodox. The best of saints walked a constant tightrope, teetering (as did Pascal, who still remains unhaloed) just above the abyss of heresy.

They were literal. Literalness is the fork in the upward road where they part company with ordinary people. And it is the Gospels, the solid, explicit Word which they take literally.

The severities [Francis Borgia] imposed only on himself. With others he was all courtesy and charm.

The Roman Catholic Church, when it is being more Roman than catholic, has committed a number of political errors. One of the sorriest was the Bull issued by Pope Pius V, a good man but tactless. He could possibly have healed the breach between England and the Vatican that Henry VIII had initiated; instead, in a fit of self-righteous indignation, and quite misunderstanding the implacable patriotism of Englishmen, he chose to excommunicate Elizabeth and all her subjects who subscribed to the new Church. A schism already existed. By this edict it turned into complete revolt. Elizabeth retaliated by wholly outlawing the old faith. Popish leanings must be wiped out in the island. Saying mass was made an illegal act. Families who refused to follow the Book of Common Prayer or who did not attend the lawful Sunday services were either heavily fined or carried off to the Tower.

The triumphs [of Matteo Ricci] came to nothing. Priests of other establishments, coming now into China, denounced the Jesuits for what would presently be called their ecumenicism. It was charged that they taught that pagans were as good as anybody else (which charitable idea did not then inform Europe), and since they had seen Ignatian priests joining in Confucian ceremonies, accused them of idolatry. When the tolerant Chinese found Christians squabbling among themselves, and ridiculing sacred ancestral beliefs, they repudiated the whole new religion and China was once more lost to the Western World.

The Brief [of Clement XIV in 1773, dissolving the Jesuit Order] was supposed to have been read in every country in the world. But two important kingdoms, neither one Catholic, refused to publish it. They were Russia, under Catherine, and Prussia, ruled by Frederick the other Great. These two powerful suzerains admired the Jesuits and their educational system and not only urged the ones already there to stay on but invited priests from other lands to join them. The paradox of Ignatius was still valid.

Many immigrated and kept the Society intact in exile. In such places as England and America the members did not disband but rather chartered themselves as organizations under another name. In America twenty priests (who were then the only English-speaking Catholic clergy in the thirteen colonies) banded together as the Roman Catholic Priests of Maryland under the direction of Bishop John Carroll, brother of Daniel, the Signer. In England they called themselves the Gentlemen of Stonyhurst.

Saints have always had a sort of holy effrontery which comes, no doubt, from lack of personal vanity. They do not say to themselves, "This or that is impossible and will make me appear ridiculous." They say, "I will do the work of God."

Nobody wins a civil war, and it was well that England had none.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004 +

Notes 48

I think I must do some suffering in solidarity with other sufferers.

Craig G. Bartholomew

From his inaugural address as the H. Evan Runner Professor of Philosophy at Redeemer University College, "For Such a Time as This: The Relevance of the Neo-Calvinist Tradition Today":

The practice of public theology will lead us into spiritual warfare and involve taking up the cross. And if we are to go this route then we need to ensure that we weigh the costs and have adequate resources. Several years ago I heard Sheila Cassidy speak in Cheltenham. A young Christian doctor, she went to serve in Chile. There she made the fatal mistake of treating a government opponent. She was arrested and tortured, torture which included electrical shocks to the genitals. In her talk in Cheltenham she made the point that we need images of God that are adequate to the journey of life.

Piers Paul Read on Town and Country

From Piers Paul Read's Week (Feb 18-22, 2002):

The journey to London's West End to go to the theatre or opera is a costly ordeal. Over the past five years or so, I have rarely remained beyond the interval of any one play -- feeling, perhaps unfairly, that the actors are enjoying the performance more than I was, and yet it was I who was paying them. The opera is prohibitively expensive. Art galleries seem only to exhibit the work of charlatans.

...30 years ago, suffering from the same kind of urbophobia, we sold our house in Hammersmith and moved 200 miles north to live in Yorkshire.... "Oh friends, how boring it is," Chekhov wrote from his estate in the country. And it was. When not writing a book, I could think of nothing to do. I did not farm, hunt, shoot, or fish: The only part of gardening I liked was buying expensive machines which brought the unit price of each dirty lettuce or gnarled carrot to around £5. Evelyn Waugh, equally bored in Somerset, used to go off to the cinema in the little town of Taunton; our local town had no cinema. We had to make do with television. "If I am a physician," Chekhov went on, "I need patients and a hospital; if I am a man of letters, I have to live among people." As time went on, we began to grab at any pretext for going to go to London but, too ashamed to admit to our friends that we had made the expensive 500-mile round trip simply to turn up at a book launch or attend a cocktail party, I would take on time-wasting appointments to bodies such as the Arts Council or the Society of Authors.

In 1979 we let our house in Yorkshire and rented a bizarre villa in the middle of Nice.... "I am cruelly bored here," wrote Checkhov from Nice. I felt the same. But I did not have tuberculosis; I was not obliged to stay; and though I did not know it at the time, we were on our way back to London.

Alec Guinness

From The Catholic Weekly Online:

Like many others of his time, Sir Alec struggled with the changes brought about by Vatican II, not least in the liturgy.

He found the revised Mass lacked the mystery and depth of the old Mass.

Despite this, he put up with it and continued to worship in his parish church of St Lawrence in Petersfield, Hampshire, where his funeral was held.

His biographer Piers Paul Read about himself:

I'm not a Latin Mass or anti-Vatican II type. I met someone yesterday who said that he was so fed up with hearing social work preached from the pulpit. I feel that the Church has lost the plot a bit.

Falling Asleep at the Theater

I did it once, that I remember. It was in New York City at a performance of Pinter's No Man's Land, played by Ralph Richardson and John Gielgud. Or was it by John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson? (This try at humor is quite unfair. I have no idea if there was any feeling of rivalry between the two actors.)

Monday, October 18, 2004 +

A Shilling for Candles

From Josephine Tey, A Shilling for Candles, 1936:

And for a moment doubt stirred in Grant. That had been beautifully done. Time, expression, action. No professional actor could have done it better. But the doubt passed. He recrossed his legs, by way of shaking himself, recalled the charm and innocence of murderers he had known (Andew Hamey, who specialised in marrying women and drowning them and who looked like a choir soloist, and others of even greater charm and iniquity) and then composed his mind to the peace of a detective who has got his man.

"So you were wrong, and it's all right! You were wrong, and it's all right!

Notes 47

Though the young man was very sorrowful, most people would rather be very rich than enter into the kingdom of God.

Sunday, October 17, 2004 +

02004 10 17 +

Mary read "Danke Schoen, Kiddies!" at the Albany Public Library in a program put on by the Hudson Valley Writers Guild. Leon Van Dyke spoke about his research on Ibrahim Petrovich Gannibal, and Emily Gonzalez read some of her poems. Dan Wilcox was the moderator.

Gerald May

The people who have taught me the most about love have had more than their share of what we call dysfunction: self-doubt, suffering, and failure.

What’s wrong with feeling unfulfilled and restless? Isn't there something basically right about it?