Collect for the Fourth Sunday after Easter

O Almighty God, who alone makest the minds of the faithful to be of one will: grant unto thy people, that they may love the thing which thou commandest, and desire that which thou dost promise; that so, among the manifold changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed, where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Five Quick Takes


I've been gradually starting to deal with the sin of anger (and its countless manifestations -- impatience, outbursts, punitive withdrawal, hurtful sarcasm) over the last year or so. Hitherto, my anger had been so thoroughly repressed that it almost never manifested itself in any form at all, except for gigantic outbursts of frustrated wrath separated literally by years.

Like this, but without the advantage of the stylish indigo pants.

Anger is extremely scary for me. It's horrible to anticipate, horrible to feel, horrible to remember. I hate it because it almost always has the feeling, and very frequently the real-world result, of distorting my perspective, and if there's anything I value, it is fidelity to the truth -- which is inseparable from a fair-minded perspective. However, as the ancient saying goes, that which Christ does not assume, He cannot redeem; hiding things from Him, whether by also hiding them from ourselves or not, does not unite us to Him but rather creates distance. Not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by the taking of the manhood into God: the maxim that governs the Incarnation of the Deity also, and for that reason, governs the deification of our humanity.

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I have, after some guilty months of neglect, picked up my copy of Melinda Selmys' Slave of Two Masters, a Catholic treatment of the God-and-Mammon problem. I can't believe I put it off. It brought out one element of economics that had completely escaped me before, which I'd therefore like to quote here:
Once Eve was cursed to have Adam "lord it over her," which aspects of the human endeavor did he choose for himself? It is usually assumed that Adam took the better portion and left the dregs to Eve ... 
But what is it that women produce? Men, arrogantly desiring to claim all of the credit for human achievement, have habitually missed the glaring and inescapable fact that women produce men. Society economics, science, culture, knowledge, politics, and production are all just things that serve human interests; only human persons are ends in themselves. ... 
This has dire consequences for a society in which not only men but also women have rejected women's work in favor of economic accomplishment. John Paul II, in Mulieris Dignitatem, suggests that the increased participation of women in social, economic, and cultural life could serve to positively transform those areas in the light of "women's genius." Yet this can be accomplished only if women's genius itself is preserved -- and that genius is intimately connected to motherhood. 
The economics of motherhood is governed by very different principles than the economics of the marketplace. In domestic life, the stronger do not triumph, or even seek to triumph, over the weak. ... John Paul II expressed a hope that it would be possible to reform economics so that it could be fueled by such an engine of love and affection, rather than being governed solely by self-interest. 
-- Slave of Two Masters, pp. 6-8

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Our Lady of Mount Carmel by Pietro Novelli. 1641. The saints depicted below, from left to right, are:

Yesterday was the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. As I believe I've said before, she and the Carmelite Order are and have been very important to me: the poetry of Saint John of the Cross was one of my first exposures to Catholicism, and Saint Teresa, judging from what I have read of her writings, must have been looking after me for some time. She drives me nuts, mostly by being right.

One oddly persistent trend that I've noticed about the Carmelites is their propensity to attract Jewish converts. Saint Teresa (foundress of the Discalced or reformed branch of the Order), Saint John of the Cross (who helped her found the Discalced), Saint John of Avila (her spiritual director), Saint Angelus of Jerusalem, Venerable Augustine Mary, and Saint Edith Stein, to name just six, were all Hebrew Catholics -- to employ a phrase coined by another Hebrew Catholic who was also a Carmelite, Elias Friedman.

I rather like this trend. I have a drop of Jewish blood myself, though it's well over a century old, and, coming through my father, doesn't count anyway -- but I have always had a sort of irrational fondness for the Jewish people, so that the discovery of a personal connection (however tenuous) was extremely pleasing, and it was a weird and happy coincidence that the Carmelites should seem to forge another link. Why Carmel should have such a draw, I'm not sure, though I have a hunch that it has something to do with the profound theology of suffering and darkness that is a mark of their spirituality. The Jews being no strangers to suffering, I could understand how it would be more naturally sympathetic than some other Catholic traditions. But that's definitely a guess.

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Cole Webb Harter, author of the Andalusian Peafowl, an Eastern Catholic (I think he's Byzantine? I don't know my Eastern Churches that well) pop culture critic and thinker, recently did a piece on the Anarcho-Monarchist politics that he and Tolkien (and I) largely sympathize with, as exampled on My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.

Fluttershy is the best pegasus ever and I will not be gainsaid. No matter how

He has since gone on to a piece on the implicitly Distributist economic system that prevails in Equestria, something that tends to go hand-in-hand with Anarcho-Monarchism. I was planning to plug his post anyway -- Catholic Anarchist bronies, being few, ought to stick together -- and the delightful tour de force of his continued analysis of My Little Pony from these perspectives, at once whimsical and really fairly convincing, is a further reason to do so. The fact that Anarchy is grossly misunderstood by most Americans, and that Distributism has sadly made so little impact in this country (despite being the sole economic theory with a serious claim to be endorsed by the Church), is a third reason for me to say: tolle lege, tolle lege.

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If you all who are the praying sort would pray for my roommate, I'd be very grateful. He is in his sixties and is planning to go in for hip replacement surgery, which had to be postponed on account of a bout of laryngitis. The surgery hasn't yet been rescheduled, though he did receive Unction this past Sunday. I'll be away over the weekend, so if you would pray for his health and spirits, and for a safe, soon-effected surgery and a swift recovery, I'd be grateful.


  1. So two people left very nice comments here, and I accidentally pressed "delete" instead of "publish" ... If you want to, please feel free to comment again in the same vein, it was not intentional ... :P

  2. Thank you for your kind words, Gabriel.

    Although, I have to admit, I am partial to Rainbow Dash. I hope this doesn't mean we can't be friends.

    Keep fighting the power!

    IC XC
    NI KA

  3. A few quick comments:
    -Anger is so important in the Spiritual life! I always think of "love God with your whole heart." If anger is a *part* of what's in my heart, then it's one of the things that I've got to pray with & offer to God, not just asking him to rid me of it.
    -Selmys had an article on Sabbth and work/leisure in NCR recently. I had a similar reaction.
    -What do *you* mean by "anarchy"? How have most of us gotten it wrong? Did I miss that post?

  4. I love your blog. Thanks for writing.