New Blog

I have started a new blog, in case anyone is interested, dealing more with personal issues and ideas but continuing some of the themes from this blog:

The Domestic Hermit

So pop-in and comment.

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Novo Millennio Ineunte

“I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Mt 28:20). This assurance, dear brothers and sisters, has accompanied the Church for two thousand years, and has now been renewed in our hearts by the celebration of the Jubilee. From it we must gain new impetus in Christian living, making it the force which inspires our journey of faith. Conscious of the Risen Lord’s presence among us, we ask ourselves today the same question put to Peter in Jerusalem immediately after his Pentecost speech: “What must we do?” (Acts 2:37).

We put the question with trusting optimism, but without underestimating the problems we face. We are certainly not seduced by the naive expectation that, faced with the great challenges of our time, we shall find some magic formula. No, we shall not be saved by a formula but by a Person, and the assurance which he gives us: I am with you!

It is not therefore a matter of inventing a “new programme”. The programme already exists: it is the plan found in the Gospel and in the living Tradition, it is the same as ever. Ultimately, it has its centre in Christ himself, who is to be known, loved and imitated, so that in him we may live the life of the Trinity, and with him transform history until its fulfilment in the heavenly Jerusalem. This is a programme which does not change with shifts of times and cultures, even though it takes account of time and culture for the sake of true dialogue and effective communication. This programme for all times is our programme for the Third Millennium.

Source: Novo Millennio Ineunte, 29

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A new start!

I have deleted the posts for the last three or so years together with the comments.

So this is either new start or a resurrection! The old is gone.

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How To Be Alone

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The paradox of identity

Last night I read Thomas Merton’s describtion of his first visit to Our Lady of Gethsemani to the children. He went for Easter 1941 just after he had moved to St Bonaventure University. Reflecting upon the monks of the Abbey, Merton writes in The Seven Storey Mountain:

But what was the answer to this paradox? Simply that the monk in hiding himself from the world becomes not less himself, not less of a person, but more of a person, more truly and perfectly himself: for his personality and individuality are perfected in their true order, the spiritual, interior order, of union with God, the principle of all perfection. Omnis gloria ejus filiae regis ab intus.

The logic of worldly success rests on a fallacy: the strange error that our perfection depends on the thoughts and opinions and applause of other men! A weird life it is, indeed, to be living always in somebody else’s imagination, as if that were the only place in which one could at last become real!

In two paragraphs Merton puts before us the paradox of our world and the paradox of our own identity. Our identity is not tied up in what other people think of us or what other people say we are. It is in the abandoning of self to God that we find who we truly are.

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Some more Merton

Hence there must be something more in the Christian life and apostolate, than merely persuading Christian to adhere to the same doctrinal propositions, to obey the same laws, and frequent the same sacraments. If we are content with merely exterior practice of our religion we will tend to make Christianity another of the mass-movements that cover the face of the earth. Then the Christian, rather than a free man, humbled by the consciousness of his responsibility, tends to become another frantic who allows himself the worst excesses and excuses them easily on the ground that he is ‘defending the faith,’ or fighting for the Church.

Disputed Questions

Our faith in God is much more than a collection of statements I put my name to. While theology and dogma is extremely important, it is not what defines one to be a Christian: it is a living personal relationship with Jesus in his Church. Of course that relationship must be ordered, as against being chaotic, so the Church’s dogmatic definitions set the bonds of relationship but do no define it. Jesus wants all of me, all of the time!

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Prayer for Self Knowledge

Lord Jesus, let me know myself and know You, and desire nothing save only You.
Let me hate myself and love You.
Let me do everything for the sake of You.
Let me humble myself and exalt You.
Let me think of nothing except You.
Let me die to myself and live in You.
Let me accept whatever happens as from You.
Let me banish self and follow You, and ever desire to follow You.
Let me fly from myself and take refuge in You,
That I may deserve to be defended by You.
Let me fear for myself.
Let me fear You, and let me be among those who are chosen by You.
Let me distrust myself and put my trust in You.
Let me be willing to obey for the sake of You.
Let me cling to nothing save only to You,
And let me be poor because of You.
Look upon me, that I may love You.
Call me that I may see You, and for ever enjoy You. Amen.

St Augustine of Hippo

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St Augustine of Hippo

Two quotes illustrating a fundamental idea in St Augustine’s philosophical theology: the Image of God in human beings. The first from the Confessions shows his comparative epistemology, while the second is St Augustine’s starting point for his mediation on the Trinity. Blessed Feast day to you!

Is not this beauty visible to all whose senses are unimpaired? Why then does it not speak the same things unto all? Animals, the very small and the great, see it, but they are unable to question it, because their senses are not endowed with reason to enable them to judge on what they report. But men can question it, so that the invisible things of Him . . . are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made; (Romans 1:20) but by loving them, they are brought into subjection to them; and subjects are not able to judge. Neither do the creatures reply to such as question them, unless they can judge; nor will they alter their voice (that is, their beauty), if so be one man only sees, another both sees and questions, so as to appear one way to this man, and another to that; but appearing the same way to both, it is mute to this, it speaks to that— yea, verily, it speaks unto all but they only understand it who compare that voice received from without with the truth within. For the truth declares unto me, Neither heaven, nor earth, nor any body is your God. This, their nature declares unto him that beholds them. They are a mass; a mass is less in part than in the whole. Now, O my soul, you are my better part, unto you I speak; for you animate the mass of your body, giving it life, which no body furnishes to a body but your God is even unto you the Life of life.

Confessions 10.6.10

14. But since we treat of the nature of the mind, let us remove from our consideration all knowledge which is received from without, through the senses of the body; and attend more carefully to the position which we have laid down, that all minds know and are certain concerning themselves. For men certainly have doubted whether the power of living, of remembering, of understanding, of willing, of thinking, of knowing, of judging, be of air, or of fire, or of the brain, or of the blood, or of atoms, or besides the usual four elements of a fifth kind of body, I know not what; or,whether the combining or tempering together of this our flesh itself has power to accomplish these things. And one has attempted to establish this, and another to establish that. Yet who ever doubts that he himself lives, and remembers, and understands, and wills, and thinks, and knows, and judges? Seeing that even if he doubts, he lives; if he doubts, he remembers why he doubts; if he doubts, he understands that he doubts; if he doubts, he wishes to be certain; if he doubts, he thinks; if he doubts, he knows that he does not know; if he doubts, he judges that he ought not to assent rashly. Whosoever therefore doubts about anything else, ought not to doubt of all these things; which if they were not, he would not be able to doubt of anything.

On the Trinity 10.10.14

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Some Merton for the re-start!

For me to be a saint means to be myself. Therefore the problem of sanctity and salvation is in fact the problem of finding out who I am and of discovering my true self.

Trees and animals have no problem. God makes them what they are without consulting them, and they are perfectly satisfied.

With us it is different. God leaves us free to be whatever we like. We can be ourselves or not, as we please. We are at liberty to be real, or to be unreal. We may be true or false, the choice is ours. We may wear now one mask and now another, and never, if we desire, appear with our own true face. But we cannot make these choices with impunity. Causes have effects, and if we lie to ourselves and to others, then we cannot expect to find truth and reality whenever we happen to want them. If we choose the way of falsity we must not be surprised that truth eludes us when we finally come to need it!

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Common pitfalls of Apologists

Apologists are prone to commit certain mistakes. In trying to win arguments with particular opponents, they sometimes mistakenly take over the assumptions of their adversaries. Exaggerating the powers of reason, some try in vain to demonstrate mysteries of faith such as the Trinity and the Incarnation. Others, as I have mentioned, make Christianity uninteresting by minimizing the element of mystery. I am convinced that it is best not to conceal the offense–the scandal, if you like–of the God who died on the Cross.

From The History and Purpose of Apologetics: An Interview with Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J. by Carl E. Olson

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