Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Feast of Thomas Aquinas

It is requisite for the relaxation of the mind that we make use, from time to time, of playful deeds and jokes.

If the highest aim of a captain were to preserve his ship, he would keep it in port forever.

Beware of the person of one book.

Because philosophy arises from awe, a philosopher is bound in his way to be a lover of myths and poetic fables. Poets and philosophers are alike in being big with wonder.

How is it they live in such harmony the billions of stars - when most men can barely go a minute without declaring war in their minds about someone they know.

Not everything that is more difficult is more meritorious.

To convert somebody go and take them by the hand and guide them.

Sorrow can be alleviated by good sleep, a bath and a glass of wine.

Man should not consider his material possession his own, but as common to all, so as to share them without hesitation when others are in need.

The things that we love tell us what we are.

Wonder is the desire for knowledge.

Wisdom: Saint Thomas Aquinas

Anschutz "Boys Playing with Crabs"
Bougereau "Compassion"
Bougereau "Charity"
Bussiere "Joan of Arc"
Benozzo di Lese di Sandro Gozzoli (1453-1478)"Triumph of St Thomas Aquinas"

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A New Year- A New Age?

The first reading invites us to reflect on a particular talent that is both natural and spiritual: the talent of femininity, the talent of being a woman. This reading contains the famous praise of women that begins with the words: "A perfect woman, who can find her?" This praise, which is so beautiful, has one defect, which does not come from the inspiration but from the epoch in which it was written and the culture that it reflects. If we pay attention, we see that the praise has entirely to do with what the woman does for the man. Its implicit conclusion: Blessed is the man who has such a woman. She makes him nice clothes, brings honor to his house, allows him to hold his head high among his friends. I do not think women today would be enthusiastic about this laud.

Putting this limitation aside, I would like to underscore the relevance of this praise of women. Everywhere there is the demand to make more room for women, to value the feminine genius. We do not believe that "the eternal feminine will save us." Daily experience shows that women can lift themselves up, but also that they can let themselves down. They also need Christ's salvation. But it is certain that, once she is redeemed and "liberated" by him, on the human level, from ancient subjections, she can help to save our society from some inveterate evils that threaten it: violence, will to power, spiritual aridity, scorn for life, etc.

After so many ages that took their name from man -- from the ages of "homo erectus" and "homo faber," to the age of "homo sapiens" today, we might hope that there will finally come, for humanity, the age of woman: the age of the heart, of tenderness, of compassion. It was devotion to the Virgin that, in past centuries, inspired respect for women and their idealization in literature and art. The woman of today, too, can look to her as a model, friend and ally in defending the dignity and the talent of being a woman.

Raniero Cantalamessa
Image: Caravaggio, Madonna of Loretto 'Madonna of the Dirty Feet'