The Use of Talking

There is no end of things in the heart.

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Francis Makes All Things New

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02-Gioachino-da-fiore

Last week Fr. John Hunwicke posted the first three parts (here, here, and here) of a series titled “Is the Pope a heretic?” His answer, by the way, is no, although for a very interesting reason. But what struck me the most  wasn’t the answer to his question, but rather Father’s analysis of the pope’s sermon at last month’s Easter Vigil.

After his usual attacks on rigid legalists yesterday and today, the pope goes on to say,

When the High Priest and the religious leaders, in collusion with the Romans, believed that they could calculate everything, that the final word had been spoken and that it was up to them to apply it*, God suddenly breaks in, upsets all the rules and offers new possibilities. #God once more comes to meet us, to create and consolidate a new age, the age of mercy. This is the promise present from the beginning. This is God’s surprise for his faithful people. … if we cannot let the Spirit lead us on this road, then we are not Christians. Let us go, then. Let us allow ourselves to be surprised by this new dawn and by the newness that Christ alone can give.

Fr. Hunwicke comments,

The Holy Father begins this passage by telling us Gospel truth. He is right to assert that the Priestly Jewish establishment did believe the final word had been spoken  and that it was up to them to apply it. Because they knew only the Old Law and the Old Word. They were wrong, because the Man on trial was himself the Law and the Divine Word, who had come to fulfill what was old. As the Church has incessantly taught, Newness put the Old to flight. The Old Testament ended and the New was begun when That Blood was shed.

But notice what happens at the point where I have inserted a *. The following words do accurately describe what happened in the Passion of the Messiah. God did suddenly break in, did upset all the rules, did offer new possibilities [although I think the anodyne flabbiness of that modern ‘management’ phrase about ‘offering new possibilities’ radically and infinitely fails to do justice to the cosmos-shattering wonder of both the Incarnation and the Atonement].

What we need to notice is how Bergoglio deftly changes tenses. He has begun in the past: The High Priest … believed …. Past tense … we were being told about the first century, circa 33 Anni Salutis. But after *, the tenses become present (breaks …upsets … offers). We hardly notice the transition … it slips past our guard … because there is an accepted convention that one can use a ‘Historic Present’ to render  more vivid a narrative of past events. But as the next sentence gets under way at the spot marked#, the careful listener will notice that we are no longer in a first century A D. We are now in the present tense; we are being told about the year 2017.

Fr. Hunwicke’s analysis opens up a stark view of the real agenda of this pontificate. Just as Christ replaced the Law with the Gospel (in the pope’s Lutheran reading), so now the age of the Gospel is being superseded by the age of Mercy. To anyone familiar with Eric Voegelin, all this sounds very familiar: The dispensation of the Father is succeeded by that of the Son, which is in turn succeeded by the reign of the Holy Spirit. Here is the gnosis of Joachim of Fiore, the eschatological doctrine of the Spiritual Franciscans, being proclaimed in St. Peter’s by a pope who has named himself Francis. The guidance of the Spirit, our “discernment,” will lead us beyond the literal sense of the words of Christ (after all, as Fr. Sosa has reminded us, the evangelists didn’t have tape recorders) to places we may never have thought we would go. As Archbishop Scicluna of Malta tells us, “Whoever wishes to discover what Jesus wants from him, he must ask the Pope, this Pope, not the one who came before him, or the one who came before that. This present Pope.” What Francis says is all the guidance we need. The Spirit is here, now, and Jorge Bergoglio is his oracle. Montanus sits on the throne of Peter.

 

Nota bene: Fr. Hunwicke is in no way responsible for my conclusions.

Illustration: The three ages according to Joachim of Fiore from Dante’s Library,  https://sites.duke.edu/danteslibrary/

Oh, dear, got to do something about that blogroll!

 

Written by hans castorp

May 21, 2017 at 10:20 pm

Ms found in a fortune cookie

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Wisdom doesn’t automatically come with age. I know that firsthand, and if you don’t believe me, just ask Mrs. C or any of our children. I’ve spent countless hours consuming knowledge, most of it entirely useless. And a lot of what I’ve read on blogs or in books, or heard on podcasts or, in days gone by, the radio, especially if it’s outré, stays with me so I can drag it out to amaze and astonish the unfortunate souls who have to put up with me. All that stuff came in handy at work in the days before Google, but since I’ve been retired, not very much. But here are a few things I’ve learned over the last 66 years. They’re about all the wisdom you’ll ever get from me.

  • The flavor of ice cream you didn’t choose is always better.
  • The number of interesting things you hear on an all-night radio show are inversely proportional to the length of your insomnia and directly proportional to how early you have to get up the next morning.
  • As difficulty increases, interest decreases.
  • Babies know when you’ve just fallen asleep. That’s when they cry.
  • Books do furnish a room, but your wife won’t necessarily think so.
  • The more you need it, the harder it is to find.
  • Pride goeth before a fall, but so does almost everything else.
  • The closer you are to a deadline, the more likely that the copier will jam.
  • Matzoh-ball soup won’t cure a cold, but it sure tastes good.
  • It’s always impossible to remember the brilliant idea you had at three o’clock in the morning after the office party, and all things considered, you’re lucky it is.
  • Don’t blog at three o’clock in morning, whether you’ve been to a party or not.
  • You will always just miss the bus or the subway.
  • The early bird will annoy his/her spouse.
  • Other people’s music is always too loud.
  • You never have any pennies when you need them.
  • You always notice the typos just as you’re clicking Publish.
  • There’s nothing more embarrassing than having to take the pauper’s oath at the Delaware Memorial Bridge. Don’t ask. And a word to the wise: Don’t try this on the Jersey Turnpike.
  • People who post lists usually have better things to do, and so do the people who read them.

Well, that’s enough of that. But do follow me so you won’t miss my pearls of wisdom about UFOs.

 

 

Written by hans castorp

March 13, 2015 at 3:02 pm

Hurrah, boys, hurrah!

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The better part of week has passed since my last intemperate screed. I seem to have done nothing except to grieve Mrs. C, one of my very few readers, and the one with the most clout with me. She made a very good point: “Have you spent a tenth of the time it took you to write that post praying for the synod and the pope?” And she’s right.Sacred Heart icon

And she’s right that I spend too much time mulling over ecclesiastical politics and not enough in more spiritually productive pursuits.

So instead of saying anything negative about anybody, I’ll be positive: God bless Cardinal Pell and the other synod fathers who asserted themselves this week.

And as for prayer: This is Friday, a good time to say the Litany to the Sacred Heart of Jesus for our church and those who guide her:

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
(Repeat have mercy on us. after each line)
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
God the Holy Spirit,
Holy Trinity, one God,
Heart of Jesus, Son of the Eternal Father,
Heart of Jesus, formed by the Holy Spirit in
the Virgin Mother’s womb,
Heart of Jesus, substantially united to the
Word of God,
Heart of Jesus, of infinite majesty,
Heart of Jesus, holy temple of God,
Heart of Jesus, tabernacle of the Most High,
Heart of Jesus, house of God and gate of heaven,
Heart of Jesus, glowing furnace of charity,
Heart of Jesus, vessel of justice and love,
Heart of Jesus, full of goodness and love,
Heart of Jesus, abyss of all virtues,
Heart of Jesus, most worthy of all praise,
Heart of Jesus, King and center of all hearts,
Heart of Jesus, in whom are all the treasures
of wisdom and knowledge,
Heart of Jesus, in whom dwells all the fullness of the Godhead,
Heart of Jesus, in whom the Father was well pleased,
Heart of Jesus, of whose fullness we have all received,
Heart of Jesus, desire of the everlasting hills,
Heart of Jesus, patient and rich in mercy,
Heart of Jesus, rich to all who call upon You,
Heart of Jesus, fount of life and holiness,
Heart of Jesus, propitiation for our offenses,
Heart of Jesus, overwhelmed with reproaches,
Heart of Jesus, bruised for our iniquities,
Heart of Jesus, obedient even unto death,
Heart of Jesus, pierced with a lance,
Heart of Jesus, source of all consolation,
Heart of Jesus, our life and resurrection,
Heart of Jesus, our peace and reconciliation,
Heart of Jesus, victim for our sins,
Heart of Jesus, salvation of those who hope in You,
Heart of Jesus, hope of those who die in You,
Heart of Jesus, delight of all saints,
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
Have mercy on us.
Jesus, meek and humble of Heart,
Make our hearts like unto Thine.

Let us pray.
Almighty and eternal God, look upon the Heart of Thy most beloved Son and upon the praises and satisfaction which He offers Thee in the name of sinners; and to those who implore Thy mercy, in Thy great goodness, grant forgiveness in the name of the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who livest and reignest with Thee forever and ever. Amen.

Written by hans castorp

October 17, 2014 at 9:44 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

The Pope

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Last night I dictated a post about Pope Francis. It was cranky, mannered, and not entirely coherent. Fortunately, when I tried to transfer it to WordPress, it disappeared. I’m not going to try to reconstruct it now. But let’s just say I’m puzzled and even a bit frightened about what’s been going on in Rome. Try as I might, I can’t warm up to Francis. The daily homilies, the omnipresence in the media, the (maybe not so) off-the-cuff remarks, the protracted tease about communion for the divorced, and now the rehabilitation of Fr. Fagan; it’s all too much for me.

No doubt a lot of this is a reflection of my own insecurities. Most of the time, and especially lately, my faith seems tenuous. I feel like I’m desperately trying to hold on to allege that juts out over an abyss. Maybe I’m looking for a kind of certitude that just isn’t in the cards. Maybe so much of my mind and heart is taken up by frustrations and anxieties that I can’t help projecting them everywhere. So I can’t credit myself with seeing particularly clearly. But I can be pretty sure that it would be very, very hard for me to become a Catholic today.

For now, I’m just trying to live with my uncertainties. The alternatives to the church of Peter, as far as I’m concerned, just don’t exist. But for me, at least, these are hard, hard times to be a Catholic.

 

Written by hans castorp

May 1, 2014 at 9:31 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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Coming Back

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It’s been a long time since I posted here. It’s not that I haven’t had anything to say, but that I’ve had a lot of trouble figuring out how to say it. And, of course, there has been my constant, but usually losing, battle with my demons.

Anyway, I’ll leave the explanations for later, if I make any at all. What, after all, is the use of talking?

Written by hans castorp

May 1, 2014 at 9:28 am

Posted in Uncategorized

As I Was(n’t) Saying . . .

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One of the reasons (and there are more than a few) why I’m such a sporadic blogger is my inability to remember all the brilliant insights that come to me in subway stations or strolls down the street. I’d really like to write about that, I think, and I continue on convinced that at last I’ve found something worthwhile to say. As soon as I get home I’m going to open the laptop and get it down in pixels.

But by the time I get home, reality intervenes. The open computer is too seductive, beckoning me to take a long and exhausting sprint from blog to blog and message board to message board. Too tired to do anything, I promise myself to get to it first thing in the morning, but by the time morning comes, I’ve forgotten about it entirely.

I had a thought in the subway station last night on the way home from mass. I know it was something about faith; it struck me as a good way to get to some of the issues that have preoccupied me lately. If it comes back to me, I’ll let you know.

Written by hans castorp

August 16, 2013 at 7:14 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Unbelief

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 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.   —1 Corinthians 2:14

For many, if not most, unbelievers, unbelief is often not the result of a logical thought process, but of feelings. Prior to any, the existence of God and the tenets of religion are not so much inconceivable as unimaginable. In any society there are unspoken assumptions about what is real, what counts as evidence for a worldview, what can be imagined. Charles Taylor calls the set of these assumptions the social imaginary. During the Middle Ages, the imaginary included God, angels, the soul, blessings, prayers, sacraments, the value of sexual purity, the bliss of heaven. Today our imaginary is populated by the quantum vacuum, particles and fields, therapy and pharmaceuticals, cultivation of the self, and sexuality. I think the modern imaginary plagues believers; I know it plagues me. My doubts aren’t the conclusions of a set of syllogisms. They are the product of (indeed, they are the same as) a failure of imagination.

I was raised with a vague religiosity, part Jewish and part Christian, and I was an atheist by the time I turned thirteen. The secular imaginary is so ingrained in me that on my bad days, incarnation, resurrection, the beatific vision, God, any meaning at all, seem less than words, just phonemes shuffled at random. Blessedly, my days aren’t all bad. Still, even on my good days, faith isn’t my default setting; it’s an act of will. Not against the facts, and certainly not against reason, but against the cold. angular furniture of the secular mind.

Written by hans castorp

March 22, 2013 at 8:31 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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