Friday, August 11, 2006

Origen on prayer

"Since therefore it is so great an undertaking to write about prayer, in order to think and speak worthily of so great a subject, we need the special illumination of the Father, and the teaching of the first born Word himself, and the inward working of the Spirit, I pray as a man—for I by no means attribute to myself any capacity for prayer—that I may obtain the Spirit of prayer before I discourse upon it, and I entreat that a discourse full and spiritual may be granted to us and that the prayers recorded in the Gospels may be elucidated." (On Prayer, Ch. 1)

This reminds me of the Book of Wisdom: "For what man knows God's counsel, or who can conceive what our LORD intends? For the deliberations of mortals are timid, and unsure are our plans. For the corruptible body burdens the soul and the earthen shelter weighs down the mind that has many concerns. And scarce do we guess the things on earth, and what is within our grasp we find with difficulty; but when things are in heaven, who can search them out? Or who ever knew your counsel, except you had given Wisdom and sent your holy spirit from on high? And thus were the paths of those on earth made straight, and men learned what was your pleasure, and were saved by Wisdom." (Wisdom 9:13-18)

And Bonaventure's Itinerarium: "Therefore to the cry of prayer through Christ crucified, by Whose blood we are purged of the filth of vice, do I first invite the reader, lest perchance he should believe that it suffices to read without unction, speculate without devotion, investigate without wonder, examine without exultation, work without piety, know without love, understand without humility, be zealous without divine grace, see without wisdom divinely inspired. Therefore to those predisposed by divine grace, to the humble and the pious, to those filled with compunction and devotion, anointed with the oil of gladness [Ps., 44, 8], to the lovers of divine wisdom, inflamed with desire for it, to those wishing to give themselves over to praising God, to wondering over Him and to delighting in Him, do I propose the following reflections, hinting that little or nothing is the outer mirror unless the mirror of the mind be clear and polished." (Prologue 4)


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Comments back on

A reader writes:
How you begin the day affects how you live in that day - start with thoughts and a focus based on what you believe in about God, you, your family, etc. and the energy and grace you connect with or generate moves you through the day. If you want to love your wife or husband more, one thing to do is think well of them from the get go - then you see more of the good in them or what they do. Start well, and you will get more.


YACCS isn't working right now for some reason, so if you want to comment, e-mail me at

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Good advice for daily living from a saint

"When you awake in the morning, your first thought should be to raise your mind to God and offer Him all the actions of that day, asking Him to help you by His grace. Then make the other morning Christian acts of thanksgiving, love, petition, and the firm resolve of living during that day as if it were the last day of your life....(cont.)

Why Churches need to be beautiful

"When you see a beautiful church all decorated, consider the beauty of a soul in the state of grace--a real temple of God." St. Alphonsus Liguori, How to Converse Continually and Familiarly with God, Chapter 18.

If the Church is the mirror of a sanctified soul, what kind of soul is mirrored by the gymnasium churches that dot the American suburban landscape!

Nifty Communion and Liberation Reading List

An Invitation to Reading

Reading is the first way to listen, and therefore to learn. Since the very beginning of its history CL suggested to read certain books that were, and are, dear to Father Giussani. Reading these books is another precious tool to educate to a critical sense, to a discovery of human dignity and the true face of the Church.

On May 2003, Father Giussani, at the ceremony for the 10th anniversary of the birth of the series "The Books of the Christian Spirit," directed by him, stated: "It is through education that a people can be built into a unified conscience and a civilization. More than ever today we understand how urgent and necessary this task is for those who have responsibility. Reading is part of this educational path toward the reconstruction of what is human. To encounter the story of people who have lived reality intensely, who have endured its provocations as an unanswered question, or rather, in glimpsing in it the features of a good destiny, have arrived at the unforeseen discovery of a positive answer, is the documented purpose of many of the books published in this series.

In particular, we want to show the reasonableness and the usefulness for the contemporary man of this answer to the drama of existence that is called "the Christian event." We offer that answer as a sincere contribution to that education to reality for a true liberation of young people and adults."

The List follows

Monday, August 07, 2006

Dominic Aquila on Liberal Education

"If one leads students to the top of a mountain so that they see all the surrounding territory, then when they return to their special work at some particular spot in the valley, they take with them the view from the mountaintop, and all of their work will have reference to the whole landscape."

Renewal of Catholic Education

There are two basic approaches to the renewal of Catholic higher education in the United States. The first is the method of leavening--that is seeking to transform the present Academy by becoming members at established institutions and working to move them in the right direction. There are many saintly scholars and administrators quietly doing this kind of work at the established, prestigious Catholic Universities. Many students (who are usually already quite strong in their faith or who through contact with robust Catholicism at their college become so) come away from these institutions on fire for the Gospel.

The problem is that these type of students are often in the minority. Many others either lose their faith or come away from their college life with a minimal or distorted understanding of the Catholicism they profess.

The other method is to create, either from scratch or on the stump of a dying institution, something new that more closely corresponds (if never perfectly) to an ideal Catholic education.

Concerns I have had of the latter approach are a) lack of scholarly rigor, b) isolationism and c) a utopianism that focuses too much on externals. As I have gotten to know graduates of these institutions better, I realize that these concerns do not in fact pan out as often as one might think. In fact, as Christopher Derrick argues in Escape from Scepticism, because these students are allowed to develop their minds in an environment relatively free from the poisonous influences of our culture, they are more able in the long run to enter into healthy dialogue with the good and bad trends of our culture. All Catholic institutions of higher learning should take note of what the graduates of these institutions are really like (and the graduates of the mainline colleges), rather than going by some kind of hypothetical judgment of "sectarianism."

A genuinely Catholic university will be concerned not only with excellence the intellectual environment, but in the moral and spiritual environment as well. Although, as Newman points out, the purpose of a University is universal knowledge, if a college administration is interested in the person who is studying at his institution, he will want that person to stay away from those things that will harm him and have available those that help him. Besides, as Mark Shea says, sin makes one stupid. Further, spiritual maturity makes one smarter. So, to avoid sin and seek communion with the Lord will help one in his pursuit of the truth, even if it doesn't relieve him of the hard work of thinking.