Saturday, May 24, 2014

Cardinal Dolan steers the middle course

Cardinal Dolan's op-ed in the Wall Street Journal (the link goes to the National Catholic Register's article about the op-ed) seems to me to strike the right balance between "market economy" and "redistribution."
But the church certainly disapproves of any system of unregulated economic amorality, which leaves people at the mercy of impersonal market forces, where they have no choice but to sink, swim or be left with the scraps that fall from the table. That kind of environment produces the evils of greed, envy, fraud, misuse of riches, gross luxury and exploitation of the poor and the laborer. 
As Dolan points out, Pope Francis is saying that while there may be situations in which some redistribution is necessary, it is not the cornerstone of the strategy to get people out of poverty: personal virtue is.
[I]ndividual generosity, private economic development, community and family initiatives, and public policies of "legitimate redistribution of economic benefits" all have a role in enhancing economic opportunities, and in alleviating and eliminating poverty. 
Note that "ndividual generosity, private economic development, [and] community and family initiatives" are difficult to enact in a tightly controlled economy.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Why we should still read early Church writings

De Lubac makes a great observation in The Drama of Atheistic Humanism about the modern inversion of liberty. The ancients felt themselves entrapped by fate or at the mercy of capricious and self-serving gods, "who pinioned human life in the net of their tyrannical wills, weighing upon the soul with all their terrors" (5). They felt the world to be a prison. The Gospel of the resurrection and of union with the Creator was experienced as a liberation from an endless cycle of doom. "No more circle! No more blind hazard! No more Fate!"

Early Christian writers still exult in that sense of new freedom. "What wealth and force our faith is forfeiting by its ignorance of, for instance, the hymns of triumph and the stirring appeals that echo in the Prostrpticus of Clement of Alexandria!"

In our day, however, modern man experiences the escape as an imprisonment. He thinks he, by his own power, can create paradise on earth if only the wrong people can be got rid of. He chooses the closed circle and ignores the obvious evidence that the closed circle leads to destruction, rather than freedom and joy because the world is permeated by the principle of corruption. Exalting the circle leads us to criticize Tolkien for promoting "escape" through fantasy. Yet, all he is doing is reminding us that we need to escape the circle and that Providence makes it possible for us to do so, since we can't do it ourselves. The Invisible Hand may not lead to economic prosperity, but it does lead us to persistent joy.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

True reform

"Every true and lasting reform has ultimately sprung from the sanctity of men who were driven by the love of God and of men."  -- Pius XI, Mit Brennender Sorge, 1937.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Why I can sing the Alma Mater

Almost at every turn this graduation weekend at Notre Dame we were invited to sing the Alma Mater, "Notre Dame, Our Mother," including at the end of the Baccalaureate Mass.   Because of the ambiguity of the term "Notre Dame," the question came up about the appropriateness of the song at Mass. If one sees it as addressed to Our Lady, okay, but if the term refers to the university, well....

Here are the lyrics:
Notre Dame, our Mother
Tender, strong and true
Proudly in the heavens,
Gleams thy gold and blue.
Glory's mantle cloaks thee
Golden is thy fame,
And our hearts forever,
Praise thee, Notre Dame.
And our hearts forever,
Love thee, Notre Dame.
It seems to me that the lyrics are very specifically addressed to the Lady atop the Golden Dome, who is Our Lady, not the university. I'm sure it is possible for unthinking undergraduates and alumni to think that the phrase refers to the university. Certainly the university isn't adverse to making a close connotative connection between the two.

For me, though, it is so clearly Our Lady and not the university that I have no trouble singing it as a hymn even at Mass.

I also think they should sing it at the end of all home games, whether we win or lose. Just sayin'.