23 October 2010

On St Dominic & the miracle of the cornbread

I've had a couple of requests for more info on the painting of St Dominic that appears above in the blog header.  I hate to admit it. . .but I just googled "Order of Preachers" and found it somewhere out there in the intertubes ether.  The "Please pass the cornbread" subtitle is just me being redneckish.

The Rev. Br. Lawrence Lew, OP of the English Province has a great post on the painting on his blog, Contemplata aliis Tradere.  Since I can't figure out how to link to this post, I will reproduce the story:

One of the most famous miracles involving St Dominic happened in the Refectory of San Sisto, which still exists, and the story is recounted in the Vitae Fratrum of the Order of Preachers and a painting of the event often adorns Dominican refectories:

"When the brethren were still living at the Church of San Sisto and formed a community of about one hundred, Blessed Dominic one day sent Brother John of Calabria and Brother Albert of Rome into the city to beg. From morning to noon, they went from house to house, but all in vain. As they were returning home without anything, they passed by the church of St. Anastasia where they met a woman who had a great love for the Order. Seeing that they had received no alms, she gave them one loaf of bread, saying, "I would hate to see you return empty-handed." They thanked her for the bread and continued on their journey home. Soon they were met by a handsome youth, who earnestly begged an alms of them. But they explained that having almost nothing for themselves, they could hardly give anything to him. As he continued to press them, they said to one another, "How far would a loaf of bread go with us? Let's give it to him for the love of God." No sooner had they given him the bread than he disappeared so quickly that they did not even know in what direction. When they reached the priory, the first one they met was Blessed Dominic who already knew, by a special revelation, all that had happened. He smiled and said, "I see you have nothing, my children," and they answered, "No, father." Then they hold him what they had received and of the beggar to whom they gave the bread. But he said to them, "It was an angel of the Lord. Nevertheless, the Lord will feed His servants. Let us go and pray." After they said a brief prayer in the church, he told them to summon the community for their meal. But they reminded him, "Holy Father, how can you tell them to come, when we have nothing to serve them?", and he answered, "The Lord will feed His servants." But when they continued to dilly-dally, he called Brother Roger, the procurator, and ordered him to call the brethren to the refectory, because the Lord would provide for His servants. So they set the tables and, when the signal was given, the community entered the refectory. After the blessing of the meal by Blessed Dominic, the brethren sat down and Brother Henry of Rome began to read. At his table Blessed Dominic joined his hands in prayer. Then the promise he had made through the Holy Spirit began to be fulfilled, for, in the middle of the refectory, there suddenly appeared two handsome youths from whose shoulders hung, in front and in back, two beautiful baskets filled with bread. Serving the youngest first, they began, one on the right and the other on the left, to distribute to each of the brethren one whole loaf of bread of marvelous appearance. When they reached Blessed Dominic and gave him a loaf, they bowed and disappeared. No one to this day knows whence they came or where they went. Then Blessed Dominic said to the brethren, "Come, brethren, eat the bread which the Lord has sent you."

Then he told the brethren who were serving to get some wine for the brethren. But they answered, "Holy father, there is no wine." Then filled with a prophetic spirit, Blessed Dominic told them to go to the wine-cask and draw off the wine the Lord has put there. They went and found the cask filled to the top with wine. Drawing some off, they served it to the brethren. And Blessed Dominic said, "Come, brethren, drink the wine which the Lord has sent." Thus they ate and drank as much as they needed that day and the next and the day after. When the meal was over, he ordered that all the unused bread and wine be given to the poor, because he did not want anything to remain in the house. But for those three days he sent no one out to beg, because the Lord was supplying them with bread and wine from heaven in abundance. Later the blessed father gave the brethren a beautiful sermon exhorting them never to lose their trust in God's providence, even in the direst need.

Later on, Brother Tancred, prior of the brethren, Brothers Odo and Henry of Rome, Brother Lawrence of England, Brother Gaudio, Brother John of Rome, and many others described this famous miracle to Sister Cecilia, who was living in the convent of St. Mary in Tempulo, and to other nuns. To them they gave some of the bread and wine, which they kept for many years as relics."

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22 October 2010

Coffee Bowl Browsing

Former NPR news analysis, Juan Williams comments on his firing. But don't worry about Juan; he ain't hurtin'.  Oh, and it's OK to fire Juan b/c he was a "lawn jockey" for FOXNews. Oh, and there's a move afoot to defund NPR.  'Bout time too.

So, if Juan gets fired for speaking his mind as a news analysis, why didn't NPR fire Nina Totenberg for saying that God's justice could mean that Jesse Helms will get AIDS.

Wow. . .great political ad.  A Chinese professor lectures on the fall of great empires, including the USA.

League of Women Voters debate moderator upset that the audience "forced" her to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.  Very telling.

Greed eyed monster:  more reasons for women not to take The Pill.

New seminary for the Archdiocese of Washington!  Hey, I wonder if they could use a slightly used but still energetic English/philosophy/theology professor. . .hmmmmmm?

The "Muslim Dances on High Altar" vid has been making the rounds of late.  No doubt:  dancing on an altar is not something we can dismiss as a prank; however, it appears that the man is mentally unstable.  If so, then he can't properly be called a blasphemer. 

WaPo story confirms that Eric Holder's DoJ is refusing to pursue voting rights violations committed against white voters.  So much for a "post-racial" administration.

Some advice for those thinking about a graduate degree in theology.  Best advice:  don't let the shininess of a faculty star lure you into a blackhole.  Better advice.

Cute vid. . .caution:  likely to cause diabetes.

Movie cliches. . .yup, that's about right.

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On conscience and the magisterium

The relationship between an individual's conscience and the authority of the magisterium is often easily confused and intentionally distorted.   

Let's start with a definition:  "Conscience is a judgment of reason whereby the human person recognizes the moral quality of a concrete act that he is going to perform, is in the process of performing, or has already completed. In all he says and does, man is obliged to follow faithfully what he knows to be just and right. It is by the judgment of his conscience that man perceives and recognizes the prescriptions of the divine law. . ."(CCC, no. 1778).

Conscience "perceives and recognizes" moral truth.  Contemporary Catholics often seem to believe that conscience is the ability to choose freely among available moral options.  So long as I preface my choices with something like, "In good conscience, I believe. . .," I am safeguarded from error.  This is false.  Conscience is not the ability to magically turn an evil choice into a good choice.  Conscience is what helps us to perceive the Good and recognize that Good in making moral choices.

When I walk into a bookstore, I perceive and recognize items that we call books.  I do not walk into a bookstore and choose to perceive the books as squirrels and recognize them as squirrels.  If I do this, I am in error.  Announcing my erroneous judgment about the books with, "In good conscience, I perceive and recognize this collection of paper and cloth bound pages of printed material as squirrels," does not magically transform the books into squirrels.  

Catholic teaching holds that the morality of human acts is as real as the books in a bookshop.  Calling the intrinsically morally evil act of abortion "good" is the same error you make when you call a book a squirrel.*  Conscience empowers you to perceive and recognize abortion as evil.  If you do not perceive and recognize abortion as evil, then you are either ignorant and need to be instructed, or your conscience has been twisted into folly by sin and you need both instruction and confession.

The Church's role in conscience formation is to present the truth of the faith.  Ideally, a Catholic will immediately perceive and recognize the truth and act accordingly.  But because we have been mislead for a generation or two about the nature of conscience, many Catholics fail to perceive and recognize moral truth when they see it.  Basically, we have been told for decades now that conscience makes truth, or that conscience assigns truth value to moral acts according to subjective, private standards of judgment.  This is how we end up with pro-abortion Catholics, pro-same sex "marriage" Catholics, pro-torture Catholics, pro-women's "ordination" Catholics, ad. nau.  These Catholics have falsely perceived and falsely recognized moral truth and misused "conscience" as a defense of their errors.

To repeat:  conscience perceives and recognizes truth; it does NOT create truth. 

Tom Krietzberg at Disputations has a very good post on how Aquinas' thoughts on conscience have been misunderstood and misused to push the Free Choice notion of conscience.

*Of course, the eternal consequences of these two errors are not the same.

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21 October 2010

Coffee Cup Browsing

Wards of the French Nanny State throw violent temper tantrums.  Poor things are being told that they have to work until they are 62!  Evil, evil Nanny State.  And now, they don't even get all those tourist dollars/euros/pounds/sheckels.  That should help the economy.

Speaking of tantrums. . .Pelosi's flying monkeys in the House are dousing any fantasy she may have had about being Speaker again.

The Anchoress on "The Credentialed Gentry and the Unpersuaded Yahoo."  This puts me in a terrible bind.  I'm a member of both the credentialed gentry AND an unpersuaded yahoo.  Oops.  I'm pretty sure the other members of the CredGen would kick me out if they could.

Excellent article on how materialists fundamentally misunderstand the notion of free will.  Take time to read the whole thing.

Now we're talkin'!  Catholic pub opens in Rome

WaPo and the AP completely rewrite their O'Donnell Church and State story w/o issuing a correcction.  Predictably, the lefties wanted to hear her deny that there is a "wall between church and state," so when she asked her opponent if such a thing is found in the 1st Amendment, they jumped on her like a pack of rabid Credentialed Gentry hunting a wounded Yahoo. 

Prof. Jacobson fisks the original story for all he's worth.  Also, how did that wall btw church and state get there in the first place?  Interesting back story that includes the KKK!

More race-hustling from the NAACP.  BTW, the link has a list of links to all the black GOP and Tea Party backed candidates running for office in the mid-term elections.  For a bunch of racists they should do have a lot of black folks on their side.

Explaining what happened to Vatican Two btw 1965-85.  Good article.  In seminary we were told over and over again that the published documents were products of a liberal majority that (mistakenly) felt the need to compromise with reactionary factions.  Therefore, any "traditional language" could be dismissed b/c it was in the document only as a way of appeasing the ecclesial neanderthals.  Fortunately, none of us bought this ruse. . .but we kept our mouths shut just in case speaking up against the prof turned into a "formation issue."

Two kinds of human beings. . .which one are you?

Find a genie in a bottle?  Be careful what you wish for. . .

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19 October 2010

Making known the inscrutable riches of Christ

29th Week OT (Wed)
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
Ss. Domenico e Sisto, Roma

Jesus tells his disciples that they must be prepared for his unexpected return. That's just a little strange. How do you prepare for an unexpected return? There is only one way: always be prepared! You might think that Jesus is warning us that he intends to pop out from behind the sofa while we party and yell, “Gotcha!” The threat of his sudden appearance is supposed to keep us on our toes, ever vigilant against a surprise inspection from Big Daddy in the sky. However, the parable he tells is more about faithful stewardship than it is about being constantly on guard for surprises. Think of it this way: you can be a faithful servant b/c you are scared of getting caught being unfaithful, or you can be a faithful servant b/c you ARE a faithful servant. This is the difference between being stunted in your spiritual growth and being spiritually mature. Peter asks Jesus if his initial warning is meant for the disciples alone or for everyone. Jesus answers with a parable about stewardship. As is usually the case with parables, the answer is not black and white. Yes, stewards are the ones left in charge of the household, so it's pretty clear that Jesus is talking to those he will leave behind to oversee his Church. However, in baptism, each of us is made a steward of God's grace for the benefit of everyone else. So, is the initial warning to always be prepared meant for the disciples or everyone else? The answer is both. All of us must always be prepared for the Master's return. In fact, we are charged with fulfilling the duties of the stewards of God's grace as if the Master never left us. The spiritually immature Christian await his return with some measure of fear, some sense of foreboding that a severe beating is on the way. The spiritually mature Christian knows that the Master never left, that he is with us always and all we do in his name is done in his presence. As sinners we have been entrusted with more than deserve. Having been made stewards of God's grace we are entrusted with the responsibility of preaching “the inscrutable riches of Christ. . .so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the Church to the principalities and authorities in the heavens.” No small task! But not a burden either if we do our work in the knowledge that Christ is always with us, always abiding in the Body as our daily bread, the hour to hour source of all that is good.

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Coffee Bowl Browsing

The problem of evil as presented on a few popular TV shows.  Confession:  I'm a big fan of all things vampirish in the movies and on TV.  The Good vs. Evil plot lines resonant with my Catholic soul!

And speaking of evil. . .there are only six Catholic priests in the U.S. who perform exorcisms?

Handy summary and outline of the VC2 document, Gaudium et spes (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World).

The VFW fires its PAC board after the board endorsed Pelosi, Reed, and Boxer. 

Hypocrisy Alert:  Dems take twice as much foreign money as the GOP.  Of course, the Dem's hypocrisy here doesn't absolve the GOP.

CA firefighters who were forced to participate in a "gay pride" parade win their harassment case on appeal.  The decision of the appeals panel was unanimous. 

If this doesn't make you laugh. . .well, check your pulse.

Peace in our time!

A new terrorist threat:  Al-Gebra.  Bomb those @#$% back to the Roman numeral days!

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18 October 2010

Stranger in the living room

Feast of St Luke
Fr Philip Neri Powell, OP
Ss. Domenico e Sisto, Roma

Imagine: you're at home near the Sea of Galilee. . .quiet morning. . .you are building a fire in the oven, or sharpening your kitchen knives. . .the children are tending the few animals you share with the neighbors. . .you can hear some men down the street readying their nets for the day's fishing. . .it's going to be another very hot day. Just as you move toward the back garden to check on your children, an unfamiliar voice booms out from near the front door, “Peace be to this house!” Who could be visiting so early? No one was expected today. You turn the corner and see two middle-aged men, one is standing and one is squatting next to your youngest child, quietly talking. The men are obviously travelers: they are covered in dust, barefooted, no knapsack, nothing to indicate where they are from or where they are going. The one squatting stands to greet you, saying, “We are sent by the Lord as a lambs among wolves.” For just a second or two you stare, mouth open, eyes wide. . .what do you say? What do you do? 

Luke tells us that there are two possibilities for those who are greeted in this manner: receive the men, feeding them and offering them shelter; or, do not receive them, refusing them the hospitality that strangers customarily enjoy. Being a pious person, properly raised in the religious traditions of your people, you offer them food and water. They smile and the older man lays his hands on your head, offers a prayer for healing, and says, “The kingdom of God has come near to you!” You know instantly that these men are indeed sent by the Lord and that you have been blessed. But what do they mean when they say that the kingdom of God has come near to me? Has King Herod been overthrown by the Zealots? Have the Romans been driven out? Has the Temple in Jerusalem been destroyed? Maybe the prophet Isaiah has returned to proclaim the arrival of the Anointed One! Seeing your distress, the younger man says, “Peace be to this house.” Then you understand. . .peace now rests on your house; the Lord God does indeed rule. His kingdom has come near, and His peace rules.

When we go out as lambs among the wolves to proclaim the nearness of the Kingdom of God, we go as bearers of His peace. No fear, no anxiety, no concern for consequences or trials or persecution. In our words, our bearing, our deeds, in the way we think and pray and preach, we are the sons and daughters of the Lord's peace. When we proclaim the nearness of His kingdom, do we exude His peace? Do we look and sound as though we hold His peace? Live it, breath it, carry it with us wherever we go? When we enter a house, do we bring His peace with us? No worries. No fear, no concern for consequences. Reveal the kingdom of God and just rest wherever He sends you.

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