Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Merton on the Spiritual Life

This is one of the best descriptions of the spiritual life I've come across.

I consider that the spiritual life is the life of man's real self, the life of that interior self whose flame is so often allowed to be smothered under the ashes of anxiety and futile concern. The spiritual life is oriented toward God, rather than toward the immediate satisfaction of the material needs of life, but it is not, for all that, a life of unreality or a life of dreams. On the contrary, without a life of the spirit, our whole existence becomes unsubstantial and illusory. The life of the spirit, by integrating us in the real order established by God, puts us in the fullest possible contact with reality - not as we imagine it, but as it really is. It does so by making us aware of our real selves, and placing them in the presence of God. 
The point that hit home for me are the flame that is smothered by anxiety and futile concern and the intrgration into the real order established by God. Those who are not seeking to do that will have an unsubstantial and illusory existence. And, that could be an eternal condition....

Wednesday, September 30, 2015


I'm going to revive this blog with a question my fourteen-year old son raised this morning: "Did God intend slapstick to be funny?"

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Praying the Office

"As to the Office, there are three ways of saying it, equally easy and solid. The first is to keep yourself in the presence of God and to say the Office with great recollection in union with Him,  occasionally raising your mind and heart to Him. Those who can say it thus need not trouble to alter their method. The second way is to attend to the words in union with the mind of the Church, praying as she prays, sighing when she sighs, and deriving all the instruction from it; praising, adoring, thanking, according to the different meanings of the verses we are pronouncing. The third way is to reflect humbly that you are actually united to holy souls in praising God and in desiring to share their holy dispositions. You should prostrate yourself in spirit at their feet, believing that they are much more full of piety and fervour than yourself. These feelings are very pleasing to His divine Majesty, and we cannot be too deeply impressed with them." Abandonment to Divine Providence (Spiritual Counsels of Fr. De Caussade),

Friday, May 08, 2015

Good morning!

This quote from Newman reminded me of another quote:
If I say that tomorrow will be fine, what does this enunciation mean? Perhaps it means that it ought to be fine, if the glass tells truly; then it is the inference of a probability. Perhaps it means no more than a surmise, because it is fine today, or has been so for the week past. And perhaps it is a compliance with the word of another, in which case it is sometimes a real assent, sometimes a polite assertion or a wish. (Grammar, Pt. I, Ch. 4)
Here is the other quote:
“Good Morning!" said Bilbo, and he meant it. The sun was shining, and the grass was very green. But Gandalf looked at him from under long bushy eyebrows that stuck out further than the brim of his shady hat.
"What do you mean?" he said. "Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?"
"All of them at once," said Bilbo. "And a very fine morning for a pipe of tobacco out of doors, into the bargain.
"Good morning!" he said at last. "We don't want any adventures here, thank you! You might try over The Hill or across The Water." By this he meant that the conversation was at an end.
"What a lot of things you do use Good morning for!" said Gandalf. "Now you mean that you want to get rid of me, and that it won't be good till I move off.” J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "The Unexpected Party."
Of course, for Bilbo, it is a real assertion, not just a "profession," which is what Newman is talking about.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Invisible

I reflected on two things in Sirach today--don't judge before you investigate, and that the interior condition is more important than the exterior success or failure. Both of these reflect the priority of the invisible over the visible. I think what is most lacking in today's culture is the eyes to see the invisible--eyes trained in mystic vision.

Yet, the invisible is not separate from the visible. Our material existence is connected to the invisible story [I mean "narrative," not "level"]. It is just that the connection is not easily discerned and is easily misinterpreted. Perhaps a synonym for "Seek that which is above" might be "cultivate eyes to see the invisible beneath the visible."

I am convinced that the belief in the invisible is a key to escaping our intellectual prison.  Plato's cave, I suppose. Even believers are practical materialists because they always are looking for a methodological solution to even spiritual problems. They fail to realize that the Story is beyond the reach of our vision and understanding--that we do not see all ends and have to trust and not always seek closure and a result that corresponds to our understanding. 

Intellectual humility is the first virtue.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

The physio-psychology of virtue

This is a fantastic article by Kevin Majeres, MD, about the physio-psychological component of the cultivation of virtue. It brings together brain physiology and chemistry, cognitive therapy, and classic Thomistic virtue ethics It applies not just to sexuality, but to the relationship between our rational and emotional life in all things.

Get on the bus!

Saturday, January 03, 2015

New Testament and Logic courses

This spring semester I will be teaching two online high school courses for Homeschool Connections.

The first one is a twelve week course on Advanced Logic using the Memoria Press materials. It meets on Thursdays from Jan. 8 to Apr. 9 @ 6:00 PM ET. If your child has studied basic logic, this would be a good contiuation.

Here is a promotional video for the course.

The other course is Reading the New Testament. It meets for nine sessions from Tuesdays from Mar. 3 to May 5 @ 6:00 PM ET, excluding Holy Thursday. Topics include: What is the NT?, Studying and praying with the NT, Genres of NT books (Gospel, gesta, letters, apocalypse), Common terms in the NT, Geography, Culture, NT history and The writing of the NT.

To register, go here.