Of the glory of the Blessed

And they have a special participation with those whom they closely loved with particular affection in the world, with which affection they grew in grace, increasing virtue, and the one was the occasion to the other of manifesting the glory and praise of My name, in themselves and in their neighbor; and, in the life everlasting, they have not lost their love, but have it still, participating closely, with more abundance, the one with the other, their love being added to the universal good, and I would not that you should think that they have this particular good, of which I have told you, for themselves alone, for it is not so, but it is shared by all the proved citizens, My beloved sons, and all the angels — for, when the soul arrives at eternal life, all participate in the good of that soul, and the soul in their good. Not that her vessel or theirs can increase, nor that there be need to fill it, because it is full, but they have an exultation, a mirthfulness, a jubilee, a joyousness in themselves, which is refreshed by the knowledge that they have found in that soul. They see that, by My mercy, she is raised from the earth with the plenitude of grace, and therefore they exult in Me in the good of that soul, which good she has received through My goodness.

And that soul rejoices in Me, and in the souls, and in the blessed spirits, seeing and tasting in them the beauty and the sweetness of My love. And their desires forever cry out to Me, for the salvation of the whole world. And because their life ended in the love of the neighbor, they have not left it behind, but, with it, they will pass through the Door, My only-begotten Son in the way that I will relate to you. So you see that in those bonds of love in which they finished their life, they go on and remain eternally.

The Dialogue, St. Catherine of Siena

When Europe Demands that Religions Become “Liberal”

Recent debates in Europe and the U.S. about key societal issues like abortion or same-sex marriages show that, in contemporary Western societies, there is no longer a natural law common to believers and non-believers. In other words, and whatever the intellectual genealogy of contemporary secularism may be, the gap between religious and secular values has become such that there is no longer a “common Go(o)d”. In this context, many share a concern on how to maintain cohesion within increasingly diverse societies. Far from being a theoretical issue, this question is becoming more urgent because of the growing presence of Muslims in Europe. But in essence, the debate is not limited to Islam; it deals with the meaning of religion (any religion) in a secular Europe.

From an essay by Olivier Roy, European University of Florence, at Oasis

On Metaphysics and Ethics

“Metaphysics is a necessary prerequisite of ethics. This truth is masked sometimes, since man, who carries within him the same realities – soul, freedom, the call of destiny – which metaphysics has to study and to know, and who thus lives the life of metaphysics before his mind has grasped its principles, man, I say, can afford the luxury of denying in theory the metaphysical truths of which in practice he makes considerable use. It is plain, however, that such a situation is not normal and that it is of supreme importance for man to take cognizance of all the things that are in him; and of the true dimensions of his being.”

Jacques Maritain, Freedom in the Modern World

The Transcendentals

Truth, goodness, and beauty are so fully transcendental properties of being that they can be grasped only in and through one another. In their communion, they furnish proof of the inexhaustible depth and overflowing richness of being. Finally, they show that in the end everything is comprehensible and unveiled only because it is grounded in an ultimate mystery, whose mysteriousness rests, not upon a lack of clarity, but rather upon a super abundance of light. For what is more incomprehensible than the fact that the core of being consists in love and that its emergence as essence and existence has no ground other than groundless grace?

Hans urs van Balthasar, Truth of the World

The Tunisian Option

From Oasis Magazine:

The creation of a moderate “European” Islam is an idea that is rapidly gaining ground following the events in Paris. The aim of such a project would be to counter the fascination that the bloodthirsty and radical version of Islam propagated by the Islamic State – and by al-Qaeda before it – exercises over the minds of young people, both in Europe and Arab and Islamic countries.

And yet, there’s no need to look so very far afield . . .

Liturgical Conflicts – III

As I’ve noted in earlier entries, in the late 11th century a number of popes were intent upon unifying liturgical practice across Christian Europe. In Spain that effort was opposed by Christians who had been living under Moorish rule for centuries and had developed their own Arab language rite. Loyal to what would later be dubbed the Mozarabic Rite, these Christians didn’t appreciate Rome’s efforts, to put it lightly.

According to lore, in addition to the “El Juicio de Dios”, the battle between two knights, “one a Castilian and the other a Toledan”, as well as the story that two bulls, one named “Roma” and the other “Toledo”, were set to fight, and there also the victory was with Toledo, there was a challenge by fire. As the New Advent encyclopedia describes it, a copy each of the Roman Rite and the Mozarabic Rite “were thrown into a fire. By the time the Roman book was consumed, the Toledan was little damaged. No one who has seen a Mozarabic manuscript with its extraordinarily solid vellum, will adopt any hypothesis of Divine Interposition here.”

As with the earlier two incidents, I have adapted this incident for Song of Toledo. The following is an excerpt. I apologize for cutting the scene off rather abruptly, but it leads to the book’s climax, and for that I hope you’ll read the entire book.

From Song of Toledo:

Across the plaza, in the farthest corner from the cathedral, a large crowd had gathered in a circle. Through the crowd they could see a fire that had only recently been started but, judging by the flames reaching skyward, was becoming larger by the moment.

“What is that?” Brother Bernardo wondered aloud as they slowly began to move forward.

At least 50 people had gathered around a fire that had been started since Vespers began, and more people were spilling into the plaza from the surrounding streets. As they moved closer, the soldiers who had previously been on guard around the edges of the plaza formed a line between the crowd and the fire. They pushed the crowd back into a semi-circle around the fire, and when Pelayo looked closer he could see the cause of the fire behind the soldiers. A monk and two other soldiers, it appeared, were taking books from a cart and throwing them into the fire. Each armload of books sent a shower of sparks flaring skyward, and each shower of sparks spurred the crowd further into what was clearly a state of increasing agitation. When Pelayo and Brother Bernardo first came out of the cathedral, it was difficult in the fading daylight to see who the monk was, but by the time they’d made it half-way across the plaza they could see clearly that it was Brother Raúl.

When he realized who it was, Brother Bernardo began walking more quickly and finally broke into a run. Pelayo followed as closely as he could, but while the guards let Brother Bernarod pass to the fire, they held the boy back. Breathing heavily, Brother Bernardo went to the edge of the fire and picked up one of the books. As an old man with a long, gray beard shouted and shook his fist at Brother Raúl, Brother Bernardo leafed quickly through the charred pages of the book in his hand, then he tossed it aside and began to reach into the fire for any books that weren’t already burned beyond recognition. When one of the soldiers threw another armload of books from the cart into the fire, sending another shower of sparks towering into the air, Brother Bernardo had to jump back. He wiped his face and looked at the fire, then turned to Brother Raúl.

“Has it come to this, Raúl?” he shouted.

The crowd was growing more agitated by the moment, although it didn’t seem clear to anyone what exactly was going on.

“It has come to what is necessary,” Brother Raúl replied without stopping. He was moving quickly, turning as little as necessary and grabbing as many books as he could hold without stopping.

Brother Bernardo reached for the book he’d first picked up.

“This is our heritage,” he shouted, shaking the book at Brother Raúl. “It is written in a language you don’t understand, . . .”

“That is not the point, Brother,” Brother Raúl replied.

Pelayo realized then that the cart was loaded with prayer books written in Brother Bernardo’s native Arabic, and he learned later that Brother Raúl had spent much of his time since arriving going into churches across the city and confiscating as many of them as he could find.

On blindness and true guides

“A blind man, if he be not quite blind, refuses to be led by a guide; and, since he sees a little, he thinks it better to go in whatever happens to be the direction which he can distinguish, because he sees none better; and thus he can lead astray a guide who sees more than he, for after all it is for him to say where he shall go rather than for the guide. In the same way a soul may lean upon any knowledge of its own, or any feeling or experience of God, yet, however great this may be, it is very little and far different from what God is; and, in going along this road, a soul is easily led astray, or brought to a standstill, because it will not remain in faith like one that is blind, and faith is its true guide.”

St. John of the Cross, Ascent of Mt. Carmel

The liturgy: foremost and indispensable

An Irish monk explains some liturgical differences:

“Jesuits, as practical individuals, are wont to pray privately in whatever posture a man finds congenial; there is a certain distrust of ritual, corporate ceremony, and rubrics. Nec cantat, nec rubricat. This approach to private prayer even affects the way certain Jesuit priests celebrate Holy Mass. Benedictines, on the whole, are wont to submit to whatever rites, ceremonies, and rubrics have been passed on to them. Schooled by long hours in choir, day after day, they habitually engage their bodies in a kind of sacred choreography that affects their most intimate yearnings Godward. Just as the Jesuit’s approach to personal prayer colours his approach to the liturgy, so too do a Benedictine’s liturgical instincts colour his personal prayer.”