Monday, October 24, 2011

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Battle In El Paso



Briefly Noted: LITERARY CONVERTS


Joseph Pearce's Literary Converts: Spiritual Inspiration in an Age of Unbelief (Ignatius Press: 2000), is one of those books which I intended to read but has wound up sitting around on the shelf unread for several years. During a brief vacation to the beach a couple of weeks ago, I finally sat down and read it.

My general reaction is that in comparison with the literary intellectuals of the early and mid twentieth century, we live in a world populated by intellectual pygmies.  Like I previously noted with respect to Pearce's book Literary Giants, Literary Catholics, all the usual suspects are here: Oscar Wilde and his death bed conversion, G.K. Chesterton, Robert Hugh Benson, Eric Gill, Siegfried Sassoon, Ronald Knox, Evelyn Waugh, Graham Greene, Roy Campbell, Malcolm Muggeridge and others. Pearce does not confine his book to converts to the Roman Catholic Church however, and also includes those atheists or agnostics who became High Church Anglicans like T.S. Eliot, C.S. Lewis and Dorothy L. Sayers.


The intellectual level of these folks was so high that I wonder if there is anybody today of this stature. It seems that although we live in "the information age" we are really dumber than ever. Some of it was the product of the early twentieth century education that these folks received in the British "public schools" (which are really what Americans would call exclusive private schools).   Back then students received instruction in Greek and Latin and read the classics in the original languages. This education laid the foundation for lives of intellectual inquiry.  These people did things which astound us today.  C.S. Lewis corresponded for years with a monk in Italy in Latin which was their only shared language. Mystery writer Dorothy L. Sayers spent the last fifteen years of her life studying Dante and translating The Divine Comedy into English. Monsignor Ronald Knox translated the entire Latin Vulgate Bible into English.

Almost all of the literary converts who survived into the nineteen sixties and seventies were appalled at the changes in the Church following the Second Vatican Council. They were especially upset at what they felt was the banal translation of the sacred liturgy from Latin into the vernacular. Many, like Evelyn Waugh, also prophesied that the watering down of the liturgy would lead inexorably to the decay of the faith and moral life of the faithful. There are many who believe that this was a correct assessment.

Literary Converts is a great read and a great intellectual tour de force. The breadth and depth of Professor Pearce's knowledge of twentieth century literature and the history of the Church is truly impressive. Highly recommended.

Professor Joseph Pearce

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Saint Teresa of Avila, Mystic and Doctor of the Church





Today, October 15, the Church celebrates the memorial of Saint Teresa of Avila, one of the greatest mystics of all time. Along with a Carmelite priest, the mystic and poet Saint John of the Cross, she founded the Discalced Carmelites.

From THE LITURGY OF THE HOURS: Saint Teresa was born at Avila in Spain in 1515. She joined the Carmelite Order, made great progress in the way of purification and enjoyed mystical revelations. When she reformed the order, she met with much resistance, but she succeeded with undaunted courage. She also wrote books filled with sublime doctrine, the fruit of her own spiritual life. She died at Avila in 1582.

PRAYER: God, You raised up St. Teresa by Your Spirit so that she could manifest to the Church the way to perfection. Nourish us with the food of Heaven, and fire us with a desire for holiness. Amen.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Our Lady of the Rosary






Today, October 7, the Church celebrates the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.

Under the name of Our Lady of Victories, Pope Pius V instituted the annual feast to celebrate the victory of Don Juan of Austria and Christian forces over the invading Turks at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571.


Pope Pius V with the victorious flags of the Battle of Lepanto in the background.

Pope Gregory XII changed the name of the feast to OUR LADY OF THE ROSARY.


Pope John Paul II praying the Holy Rosary

"It could be said that each mystery of the rosary, carefully meditated, sheds light on the mystery of man.  "Cast your burden on the Lord and he will sustain you." Psalm 55:23.  To pray the rosary is to hand over our burdens to the merciful heart of Christ and his Mother.  The rosary does indeed 'mark the rythm of human life' bringing it into harmony with the 'rhythm' of God's own life, in the joyful communion of the Holy Trinity, our life's destiny and deepest longing.  Through the rosary the faithful receive abundant grace, as though from the very hands of the Mother of the Redeemer."
POPE JOHN PAUL II




PRAYER:  God, fill us with Your Grace.  We know the Incarnation of Your Son by the message of an Angel.  Through the intercession of Mary may we obtain the glory of resurrection through Christ's Passion and Cross.  Amen.






Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Catholic News Roundup

Saint Francis of Assisi


Today, October 4th, the Church honors one of the most beloved saints of all time, Francis of Assisi.

From the Liturgy of the Hours:

Saint Francis was born at Assisi in 1182.  After a carefree youth, he renounced his paternal wealth and committed himself to God. He led a life of evangelical poverty and preached the love of God to all.  He established a rule which a number of his companions followed and which gained the approval of the Holy See.  Subsequently, he founded an order of nuns and a society of laypersons who practice penance while living in the world.  He died in 1226.

From a letter written by Saint Francis:

Furthermore, let us produce worthy fruits of penance.  Let us also love our neighbors as ourselves.  Let us have charity and humility.  Let us give alms because these cleanse our souls from the stains of sin.  Men lose all the material things they leave behind them in this world, but they carry with them the reward of their charity and the alms they give.  For these they will receive from the Lord the reward and recompense they deserve.  We must not be wise and prudent according to the flesh.  Rather we must be simple, humble and pure.  We should never desire to be over others.  Instead, we ought to be servants who are submissive to every human being for God's sake.  The Spirit of the Lord will rest on all who live in this way and persevere in it until the end.  He will permanently dwell in them.  They will be the Father's children who do his work.  They are the spouses, brothers and mothers of our Lord Jesus Christ.

PRAYER:  FATHER, YOU HELPED SAINT FRANCIS TO REFLECT THE IMAGE OF CHRIST THROUGH A LIFE OF POVERTY AND HUMILITY.  MAY WE FOLLOW YOUR SON BY WALKING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF FRANCIS OF ASSISI, AND BY IMITATING HIS JOYFUL LOVE.  GRANT THIS THROUGH OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, YOUR SON, WHO LIVES AND REIGNS WITH YOU AND THE HOLY SPIRIT, ONE GOD, FOREVER AND EVER. AMEN.