Monday, August 29, 2005

Check it out now ya'll

What people without younger brothers do with themselves I have not yet figured out. Those of you who unlike me have been deprived of the ministrations of masculine siblings my want to visit this newly linked site.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

What Is Youth?

...It is a time given by providence to every person and given to him as a responsibility. During that time he searches, like the young man in the Gospel, for answers to basic questions; he searches not only for the meaning of life, but also for a concrete way to go about living his life. This is the most fundamental characteristic of youth.

...There is a youthfulness of spirit that lasts through time; it arises from the fact that at ever stage of life a person seeks and finds a new task to fulfill, a particular way of being, of serving, of loving... Even though you are young, the time for action is now! Jesus does not have 'contempt' for your youth. He does not set you aside for a later time when you will be older and your training will be comple. Your training will never be finished. Christinas are always in training. You are ready for what Christ wants for you now. He wants you - all of you - to to a light to the world, as only young people can be light. It is time to let you light shine!

Servant of God Pope John Paul II

Friday, August 12, 2005

A Brief Hiatus

Please pray for me and the 1 million others at World Youth Day in Cologne as we begin to gather today.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Why I Love Hans

Want something stimulating? Peeping Thomists and Hans Urs Von Blathazar present the following morning wake up call.

"...remarkable though it is, not even all that we idiots with all our measures can do has yet succeeded in destroying the Church. Indeed, almost the opposite seems true: the more one violates her, the more clearly appears her inviolable virginity. The more one humiliates her, the more clearly one can see that the Church is in her own, proper place. That is, of course, in the “last” place. The saying about the last place is found on Jesus’ and Paul’s lips. What people outside the Church get up to need not worry us, but there are very many within her who think that they are doing God a service by belaboring the Church like a dusty old mattress; and indeed why not, if only they would not forget at every blow to identify themselves with what they are beating, and so were really to beat their own ancient and ailing breast. But as soon as they leave off doing that, then I cannot understand why they should be able to maintain that they have remained in the Church, that they are not kicking at her from without. However, let us leave them to their fate, or rather to gentle providence, in the hope that it may one day open their eyes to the fact that a pure Church which imagines she knows better than other Christians and which belabors the old dusty Church is not a Church at all but a Montanistic-Donatistic-Pelagian sect which has nothing whatsoever in common with the Church of Jesus Christ. But we must leave it to them to draw this simple conclusion while we move on to the more positive arguments..."

Read more
Image: Caravaggio 'Deposition From The Cross'

Monday, August 08, 2005

Gaudi, the Spanish Architect

Click here to learn about one of my heros, and the controversial cause for his beatification.

Opponents of the cause insist, ...that Gaudí's Catholicism is accidental to his genius—even a limitation on it. They believe that if Gaudí had not been Catholic, he would have been even greater...

Gaudí was recognised from the beginning as a genius, the extraordinariness of whose work lay in his attempt to harness the forms of nature. From a childhood spent contemplating nature's forms, he observed that the abstract geometry of human architecture was foreign to nature, which instead had forms that are fibrous—wood, bone, muscle—and in shapes formed by gravity. ...Gaudí's major works—La Pedrera, the Güell Park, and not least the Sagrada Familia—are initially upsetting, because they are more like nature than architecture. For the same reason they are both captivating and timeless. Everything in his work, Gaudí would later say, "comes from the Great Book of Nature"; his task was that of "collaboration with the Creator".

Click here to visit the church: Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

"Life is love, and love is sacrifice, the architect used to say ... Sacrifice is the only really fruitful thing. The idea is embodied in his great church, which he conceived as an "expiation" for the sins of the world."

Image: Nativity Facade (from my own trip to Barcelona: look closely and you can find the Holy Family surrounded by all the interesting characters of the greatest story ever told.)

Friday, August 05, 2005

A little madness

I said to day that I was going
mad, quite mad, quite certifiably,

because quite possibily this fantastic
adventure with all of its unexpected gifts

is inconcievably turning,
as I test it, into a reality.

But how much love can truly exist
in an earthenware world without
it cracking?

Can sane people live and resist the irony
when they agree that suffering overcomes fear

with peace? And is it really
really possible to easily carry

a yoke? You say this is all for me;
Let me also spoil others so effortlessly.

Image: Hunt 'Shadow of Death'

Culture & Crisis: Reflections on Islam and Enlightenment

Religion cannot be imposed by the state, but ...can only be accepted in freedom; respect of the fundamental rights of man equal for all; the separation of powers and control of power.

It cannot be thought, however, that these fundamental values, recognized by us as generally valid, can be realized in the same way in every historical context. Not all societies have the sociological assumptions for a democracy based on parties, as occurs in the West; therefore, the total religious neutrality of the state, in the majority of historical contexts, has to be considered an illusion.

But let us clarify first if the modern Enlightenment philosophies, considered as a whole, can contain the last word of the cause common to all men. These philosophies are characterized by the fact that they are positivist and, therefore, anti-metaphysical, so much so that, in the end, God cannot have any place in them. They are based on the self-limitation of rational positivism, which can be applied in the technical realm, but which when it is generalized, entails instead a mutilation of man. It succeeds in having man no longer admit any moral claim beyond his calculations and, as we saw, the concept of freedom, which at first glance would seem to extend in an unlimited manner, in the end leads to the self-destruction of freedom.

It is true that the positivist philosophies contain important elements of truth. However, these are based on imposed limitations of reason, characteristic of a specific cultural situation -- that of the modern West -- and therefore not the last word of reason. Nevertheless though they might seem totally rational, they are not the voice of reason itself, but are also identified culturally with the present situation in the West.

For this reason they are in no way that philosophy which one day could be valid throughout the world. But, above all, it must be said that this Enlightenment philosophy, and its respective culture, is incomplete. It consciously severs its own historical roots depriving itself of the regenerating forces from which it sprang, from that fundamental memory of humanity, so to speak, without which reason loses its orientation.

Knowing is doing

In fact, the principle is now valid, according to which, man's capacity is measured by his action. What one knows how to do, may also be done. There no longer exists a knowing how to do separated from a being able to do, because it would be against freedom, which is the absolute supreme value. But man knows how to do many things, and knows increasingly how to do more things; and if this knowing how to do does not find its measure in a moral norm, it becomes, as we can already see, a power of destruction. Man knows how to clone men, and so he does it. Man knows how to use men as a store of organs for other men, and so he does it; he does it because this seems to be an exigency of his freedom. Man knows how to construct atomic bombs and so he makes them, being, in line of principle, also disposed to use them. In the end, terrorism is also based on this modality of man's self-authorization, and not on the teachings of the Koran.

The radical detachment of the Enlightenment philosophy from its roots becomes, in the last analysis, contempt for man. Man, deep down, has no freedom, we are told by the spokesmen of the natural sciences, in total contradiction with the starting point of the whole question. Man must not think that he is something more than all other living beings and, therefore, should also be treated like them, we are told by even the most advanced spokesmen of a philosophy clearly separated from the roots of humanity's historical memory.

We asked ourselves two questions: if rationalist (positivist) philosophy is strictly rational and, consequently, if it is universally valid, and if it is complete. Is it self-sufficient? Can it, or more directly must it, relegate its historical roots to the realm of the pure past and, therefore, to the realm of what can only be valid subjectively? We must respond to both questions with a definitive "no." This philosophy does not express man's complete reason, but only a part of it, and because of this mutilation of reason it cannot be considered entirely rational. For this reason it is incomplete, and can only be fulfilled by re-establishing contact with its roots. A tree without roots dries up.

Removing God

By stating this, one does not deny all that is positive and important of this philosophy, but one affirms rather its need to complete itself, its profound deficiency. And so we must again address the two controversial points of the Preamble of the European Constitution. The banishment of Christian roots does not reveal itself as the expression of a higher tolerance, which respects all cultures in the same way, not wishing to privilege any, but rather as the absolutizing of a pattern of thought and of life that are radically opposed, among other things, to the other historical cultures of humanity.

The real opposition that characterizes today's world is not that between various religious cultures, but that between the radical emancipation of man from God, from the roots of life, on one hand, and from the great religious cultures on the other. If there were to be a clash of cultures, it would not be because of a clash of the great religions -- which have always struggled against one another, but which, in the end, have also always known how to live with one another -- but it will be because of the clash between this radical emancipation of man and the great historical cultures. Thus, even the rejection of the reference to God, is not the expression of a tolerance that desires to protect the non-theistic religions and the dignity of atheists and agnostics, but rather the expression of a conscience that would like to see God cancelled definitively from the public life of humanity, and relegated to the subjective realm of residual cultures of the past.

Relativism, which is the starting point of all this, thus becomes a dogmatism which believes itself to be in possession of the definitive scope of reason, and with the right to regard all the rest only as a stage of humanity, in the end surmounted, and that can be appropriately relativized. In reality, this means that we have need of roots to survive, and that we must not lose sight of God, if we do not want human dignity to disappear.

Translation of the lecture given in Italian by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Benedict XIV, in the convent of Saint Scholastica in Subiaco, Italy, the day before Pope John Paul II died.
Zenit code: ZE05072829
Image: Pilgrims Going to Mecca, 1861-Leon Belly

The Arrow and the Song

I shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For, so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight.

I breathed a song into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For who has sight so keen and strong,
That it can follow the flight of song?

Long, long afterward, in an oak
I found the arrow, still unbroke;
And the song, from beginning to end,
I found again in the heart of a friend.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)
One of my Great Grandmother's favorites
Image: Millias 'The Blind Girl'

Monday, August 01, 2005


To suffer and to be happy although suffering,
To have one's feet on the earth,
To walk on the dirty and rough paths of this earth and yet
To be enthroned with Christ at the Father's right hand,
To laugh and cry with the children of this world
And ceaselessly sing the praises of God with the choirs of angels
This is the life of the Christian until the morning of eternity breaks forth.

For now the world consists of opposites.
But in the end these contrasts must disappear
How can they do otherwise
In the fullness of love?
Edith Stein