Leave a comment

Aldous Huxley on The Age of Noise

More than 70 years ago, the English satirist Aldous Huxley wrote that modernity is the “age of noise.” He was writing about the radio, whose noise, he said “penetrates the mind, filling it with a babel of distractions – news items, mutually irrelevant bits of information, blasts of corybantic or sentimental music, continually repeated doses of drama that bring no catharsis.”

If Huxley had lived into the 21st century…

+

The “age of noise” diminishes virtue, and charity, and imagination, replacing them with anxiety, and worry, and exhaustion.

The Lord didn’t make us for this kind of noise. He made us for conversation, for exchange and communion. And our political community depends upon real deliberation: serious debate and activism over serious subjects. But the Lord also made us for silence. For contemplation. For quietude. And without these things anchoring our lives…

—from the online article The Age of Noise by Bishop James Conley of the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska

Leave a comment

Pope Saint John XXIII and Latin

Of its very nature Latin is most suitable for promoting every form of culture among peoples. It gives rise to no jealousies. It does not favor any one nation, but presents itself with equal impartiality to all and is equally acceptable to all.

+

These are the words of Our Predecessor Pius XI, who conducted a scientific inquiry into this whole subject, and indicated three qualities of the Latin language which harmonize to a remarkable degree with the Church’s nature. “For the Church, precisely because it embraces all nations and is destined to endure to the end of time … of its very nature requires a language which is universal, immutable, and non-vernacular.”7

+

Modern languages are liable to change, and no single one of them is superior to the others in authority. Thus if the truths of the Catholic Church were entrusted to an unspecified number of them, the meaning of these truths, varied as they are, would not be manifested to everyone with sufficient clarity and precision. There would, moreover, be no language which could serve as a common and constant norm by which to gauge the exact meaning of other renderings.

But Latin is indeed such a language. It is set and unchanging. it has long since ceased to be affected by those alterations in the meaning of words which are the normal result of daily, popular use.

+

It is also a most effective bond, binding the Church of today with that of the past and of the future in wonderful continuity.

—from the Apostolic Constitution Veterum Sapientia (On the Promotion of the Study of Latin) by Pope Saint John XXIII, February 22, 1962.

Leave a comment

Rene Descartes and the Latin Mass

What Vatican II did with the Mass, Rene Descartes did with the Academy. From the founding of the first university in Bologna, Latin was the language of the schools. […]Descartes deliberately published his first important work—The Discourse on the Method—in French. His action was shocking and, in the minds of many in the Church and the University, needlessly reckless.

+

What has this to do with the Latin Mass? Plenty. Descartes is telling people, in their native language, that they can “do” philosophy as well as anyone in the Academy. No one need be alienated from the world of ideas. Nothing strange, or difficult, or humbling going on here. No need for humility. No need to feel “less than” anyone else. Everyone can play. In the same way, the vernacular Mass encourages the faithful to think of transubstantiation as no big deal. We are all just getting together and celebrating our warm and fuzzy—our accessible to everyone—faith.

+

If we are to maintain the humility that is the necessary condition of worship and of learning, we have to find a way to remind ourselves that the liturgy is an act of sacrifice and worship, not a get-together to feel good about our faith. It may well be that a return to Latin would remind us all that what is going on at Mass is something not of this world, something much more profound than anything else happening in our lives.

+

We have managed to bring the Mass down “to our level” when Mass is happening as far away from “our level” as is possible. The Latin is gone, and in the vernacular that replaced it, the words of sacrifice and redemption are, Walker Percy says, “worn smooth as poker chips … a certain devaluation has occurred, like a poker chip after it is cashed in.”

—from the on-line article Lessons from Descartes on the Virtue of the Latin Liturgy by Anne Maloney

Leave a comment

Prayer is meant to…

For some “all we can do is pray” is an admission of reaching the end of our rope of having tried everything possible and now that there’s nothing else we can do “let’s put the situation in God’s hands.”  […] In the Christian faith, prayer is not meant to get you out of a bad situation.  It’s meant to get you through every situation, to utilize the power to enable you to handle every circumstance in life, not just the ones we want to get out of or want to avoid.

—from the blog post All We Can Do Is Pray by Dr. Joe Strass

Leave a comment

The Miracle of Birth

[W]e often talk about the “miracle of birth”. However a miracle is an event that occurs with no human/natural explanation. At Christmas we celebrate the only true Miracle of Birth that occurred once in human history.

—from the blog post A Christmas Thought by Dr. Joe Strauss

Leave a comment

Why Would We Ever Want to Be Anywhere Else?

“But things are going so wrong now!”, some say.

In the satirical writings, dialogues, of the 14th c. Italian author Boccaccio there is story about a Jew who has to go to Rome for something.  The local Bishop has been trying to get the Jew to convert the Christianity.  Knowing the Jew was about to see the Church at its worst in Rome, the corruption and moral turpitude of many of the clerics and religious, even Popes like the Borgias, the Bishop despaired that the Jew would ever covert on his return.   However, once returned from his trip, the Jew went to the Bishop and said, “I’m ready to convert now!”  The Bishop, flabbergasted, replied, “You went to Rome and you saw how horrid things were there… and you still want to join this Church?”  “Yes”, said the Jew. “I figure that with so many wicked and corrupt people hard at work trying to destroy the Church, it shouldn’t have lasted 14 years, much less 14 centuries.  It has to be of divine origin!”

The Catholic Church was founded by Jesus Christ.  That fact alone should be compelling enough for us even in our darkest moments of doubts.  If Christ founded it, why would we ever want to be anywhere else?

He founded the Church and gave His own authority to her to teach, to govern and to sanctify.  He gave her the ordinary means of our salvation in the Sacraments He instituted.  When we pray in our sacred liturgical worship, Christ Himself is praying with our voices, gesturing with our hands in intimate unity with us through our baptismal character.

—from the blog post ASK FATHER: Why should I remain Catholic when the Church doesn’t seem to believe her own message? by Fr. Z

Leave a comment

Distraction is a poor master…

—from the blog post Connected to What’s Real by Jenny Uebbing whose blog is called Mama Needs Coffee (I especially like the parts/phrases below that I highlighted in red.)

I’m sitting in the silence of the post-bedtime hurricane, surveying the damage of the living room and feeling the tug towards a screen, but choosing often to forgo another episode of such and such, to plug in the phone for the night and walk away.

I can’t say that those nights are particularly exciting, or even productive, but there is a peaceful stillness to the way a brain naturally shuts down, maybe after a bath or a half hour with a book or a newspaper. Or maybe just in quiet, companionable silence mingled with conversation with my husband.

I don’t want to miss my life because I’m trying to escape from it. I want to lean into the hard, boring, painful parts and find out what He has for me there. Or I want to curl into a ball and cry out to Him that I can’t handle the pain, that I need Him to fix it, to answer me.

But I don’t want to be distracted from it. That’s not good enough any more.

Entertained sometimes? Sure. I still want that. But want to be the one to make that call.

I don’t want my default setting to be “numb, zoned, consumed, detached.” I’m too aware of the sharp pains and pleasures now of real life, and that every minute I spend disconnected from it is a gradual atrophy of the muscles I need in order to stay in the present when the going gets tough. Motherhood is hard enough when I’m not handicapping myself by training my attention span back down to that of my very sanguine 6-year-old’s. Distraction is a poor master but a good occasional servant. I don’t need to constantly employ it in the checkout line or the car. Or when I’m in pain and tempted to turn away from real life.

It’s not cut and dry, and I’m not disavowing technology or digital engagement. But there is peace and clarity in pulling back, in assessing and evaluating and making conscious and intentional decisions about how this short time on earth is spent, and what it is spent on.

Sometimes I’ve joked in the past that I’m going to have to answer to God one day for every hour spent on Facebook. And while it was said tongue in cheek, that’s actually a terrifying prospect. Not that I used social media, per se, but how much time was spent there, and doing what.

The tools are neutral. Our actions with them are not. I don’t want to get busted having buried the talent.

Not because of any servile fear of God, but because what a waste. I wonder, when I think about Mother Teresa’s now-famed schedule, would she have found time to build a platform and grow a brand and get the MCs online, even if it would have been great for their fundraising efforts?

And I do sincerely wonder this. We have few saints to pattern our behavior after in this new digital frontier. I have a hunch that she’d probably err on the side of social media minimalism, just because she had such insight into matters of the heart. She’s a good saint, I think, to petition for prayers in this landscape of human loneliness and discontent. I think she would be happy to become a sort of patroness against isolation and loneliness. I think she’d like that a lot.