As desire is never ended

And inasmuch as desire is never ended, it is never satisfied in this life, but the more the soul loves the less she seems to herself to love. Thus is holy desire, which is founded in love, exercised, and with this desire the eye weeps. But when the soul is separated from the body and has reached Me, her End, she does not on that account abandon desire, so as to no longer yearn for Me or love her neighbor, for love has entered into her like a woman bearing the fruits of all other virtues. It is true that suffering is over and ended, as I have said to you, for the soul that desires Me possesses Me in very truth, without any fear of ever losing that which she has so long desired; but, in this way, hunger is kept up, because those who are hungry are satisfied, and as soon as they are satisfied hunger again; in this way their satiety is without disgust, and their hunger without suffering, for, in Me, no perfection is wanting.

Thus is your desire infinite, otherwise it would be worth nothing, nor would any virtue of yours have any life if you served Me with anything finite. For I, who am the Infinite God, wish to be served by you with infinite service, and the only infinite thing you possess is the affection and desire of your souls.

The Dialogue, St. Catherine of Siena

Oh! blessed obedience!

Oh! blessed obedience! you voyage without fatigue, and reach without danger the port of salvation, you are conformed to My only-begotten Son, the Word, you board the ship of the holy cross, forcing yourself to endure, so as not to transgress the obedience of the Word, nor abandon His doctrine, of which you make a table when you eat the food of souls, dwelling in the love of your neighbor, being anointed with true humility, which saves you from coveting, contrary to My will, his possessions, you walk erect, without bending, for your heart is sincere and not false, loving generously and truly My creatures, you are a sunrise drawing after you the light of divine grace, you are a sun which makes the earth, that is to say, the organs of the soul, to germinate with the heat of charity, all of which as well as those of the body produce life-giving fruit for yourself and your neighbor.

You are even cheerful, for your face is never wrinkled with impatience, but smooth and pleasant with the happiness of patience, and even in its fortitude you are great by your long endurance, so long that it reaches from earth to heaven and unlocks the celestial door. You are a hidden pearl, trampled by the world, abasing yourself, submitting to all creatures. Yet your kingdom is so great that no one can rule you, for you have come out of the mortal servitude of your own sensuality, which destroyed your dignity, and having slain this enemy with hatred and dislike of your own pleasure have re-obtained your liberty.

The Dialogue, St. Catherine of Siena

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.