Saturday, January 23, 2010

Liturgy as Ingathering of all creation

"From the very beginning Jesus designed this institution precisely for this purpose, to rise in the midst of the people. Here is the wood of the cross standing firm and erect: Here our Lord's words find their fulfillment "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to myself" (John 2:32). A might process of assimilation, tending ever farther and farther, is centered in this glowing hearth--a process of conformation or at least approximation of the earthly to the heavenly, of the sinful life of man to the offering of the Son of God to His Father's will." J.A. Jungmann, S.J., The Mass of the Roman Rite (New York: Benziger, 1949), p. 1.
The idea of teh ingathering of all creation is, I think, an often neglected aspect of the liturgy. Teilhard de Chardin was viscerally aware of it, but then his ideas are suspect, so they don't get a proper hearing. I'm sure this is one of the reasons why de Lubac was sympathetic to Teilhard. I, at any rate, detect this them in de Lubac (as was made clear in my dissertation).

Chaos and order

When one experiences one's life as chaotic one can either seek to find the order hidden amidst the apparent chaos or seek to impose order on the actual chaos that is there. Or both. sometimes the chaos is real and one is called to order it, as an exercise of one's stewardship over creation. Sometimes the apparent chaos is actually a result of interior disorder, whether emotional, intellectual, volutional, or a combination thereof. then to impose might be destructive. Careful discernment is important when one experiences chaos. That is what Ignatian principles of discernment are meant to help with.

Friday, January 22, 2010


I found out something interesting today in a book called The Civilization of Rome, by Donald R. Dudley (New York: New American Library, 1962). I've always heard that the word pontifex means "bridge builder" because a priest builds a bridge between the gods and men. As it turns out the term pontifex originally came from a college of priests who had responsibility for a sacred bridge over the Tiber, the Pons Sublacus. They were literally bridge builders.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

An unsystematic reflection on St. Agnes

Despite the fact that the celebration of St. Agnes is only a memorial and that we don't even know what century she lived (according to the little bio in the liturgy of the hours), the office treats her almost as though this were a solemnity, with lots of proper texts and using the psalms from Sunday, Week I.

St. Agnes clearly has a deep significance for the Roman Church, as can be seen by the blessing of the lambs from whose wool the pallium for new archbishops is made. The ancient Christians certainly had an appreciation of consecrated virginity that we don't. Maybe, providentially, the emphasis on St. Agnes on this memorial is a good reminder that we need to recover an appreciation of the beauty of virginity, especially when consecrated to Christ.

By the way, you do not have to hate marriage and sexual relations to exalt virginity. I almost always had a student in the seminary who could not accept that the Church considers consecrated virginity a higher calling than marriage. I always made the point that virginity is not morally superior and that unconsecrated virginity isn't superior at all. That did not appease them. It has been repeated to them so often that there are four absolutely equal vocations, priesthood, religious life, marriage, singlehood (that last which I do not think is a vocation in the same sense as the other three) that they cannot conceive of a hierarchical relationship between them.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Well, I'll be darned

The Senate seat that has belonged to the Kennedys since before I was born is now going to be occupied bya Republican! Who would have predicted this a year ago, when my kids who went on the March for Life were having to step over the "Hope" and "Change" signs left over from the inauguration? Is that the kind of change they had in mind?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

C.S. Lewis College

Andrew Seeley, of the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education, just told me about a new college that will be opening in Massachusetts in a couple of year, C.S. Lewis College. It will feature a Great Books program, a school of visual and performing arts, and mere Christianity as its spiritual foundation. It is going to use Oxford as its model for academic life. The campus, which is stunning, was was the core campus of Northfield Mount Hermon School, founded by Dwight Moody of Moody Bible Institute fame.