29 Jul

Missing Pieces

Ah Love, could'st thou and I with fate conspire
To smash this sorry scheme of things entire,
Would we not shatter it to bits—and then
Remold it nearer the heart's desire?

Those are the lines of Omar Khayyam, a Persian scientist from the early middle ages. His beautiful poetry makes me think of a part of the Mass known as the "Fraction Rite." This is when the priest, during the Lamb of God, breaks the large host into three pieces. One of these pieces is small and he drops it into the chalice, saying quietly, “May the mingling of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ bring eternal life to all who receive it.”

22 Jul

Vice or Virtue

Because you have a particular negative trait or habit doesn't mean you have to be defined that way. There's always an opposite virtue to your vice. Look at Moses. This supreme prophet was regarded as perhaps the meekest man who ever walked the earth (cf. Num 12:3). He was calm in the face of Pharaoh's obstinacy, patient with the complaining Israelites in the desert, and obedient to the Lord's decision to not let him enter the Promised Land. But Moses wasn't always this way. He had an extreme temper. He killed an Egyptian in his youth and literally smashed the two tables upon which the Ten Commandments were written. Moses recognized his temper and countered it with meekness, so much so that he became known as a meek, and not a hot-headed, man.

15 Jul

MacArthur the Anti-Christ

“We heard God speak here today!” shouted Senator Dewey Short above the din on the floor of Congress. “God in the flesh! The voice of God!”

There was pandemonium in the room, as people jumped over one another to touch the man. Others were literally prostrating themselves before him. It was April 17, 1951, and General Douglas MacArthur had just given his farewell address to a joint session of Congress. Afterwards, Herbert Hoover said he was a “reincarnation of St. Paul,” while a woman from New Jersey was a little more praiseworthy, claiming, “he has the attributes of God: he is kind and merciful and firm and just.”

08 Jul

The Noonday Devil

Acedia is probably the most underrated of the seven deadly sins. We think of it is sloth or laziness, but acedia is more complicated than that. Fundamentally, St. Thomas Aquinas tells us, acedia is a sadness over a spiritual good. Something that should bring us joy and excitement does not. For example, being around one's children should bring happiness. A man suffering acedia will avoid his family because they make him sad. Or, going to church and praying should be an uplifting experience. The afflicted person will feel sad around God and not attend Mass. He will, instead, sleep in. This is where the notion of laziness enters, but again, laziness is the aftereffect. We do not fulfill the obligations that will satisfy us because of that antecedent sadness. Acedia, therefore, is referred to as the "Noonday Devil." At noon when the sun is at its peak and we should be enjoying the day and active, we are, instead, sad and paralyzed.

01 Jul

Chinese Catholic Church

On July 2, 1951 Fr. Tong Che-Tche disappeared. One month earlier, he had said this before the civil authorities: “I am a Chinese Catholic. I love my country; I also love my Church. I dissociate myself from everything that is opposed to the laws of my country, just as I dissociate myself from everything that is opposed to the laws of my Church, and above all things I dissociate myself from everything that can sow discord.”