Today is the Feast of St Andrew who, as an Apostle, is mentioned in the Roman Canon of the Mass.
Before he was called to follow Christ he was a follower of John the Baptist and like him, he is depicted with unkempt hair.
Here are two more icons that caught my eye. The second of the two was painted by Sr Petra Clare and it hangs in Pluscarden Abbey in Scotland. I remember seeing it many times when I visited.
The cross upon which he was martyred, during the persecution of Nero, is a characteristic X shape. As someone from the British Isles, I am well aware of this because he is the patron saint of Scotland and the Scottish flag depicts it symbolically. This was incorporated into the Union Jack sometime after the formal union of the two countries in the 18th century.
The martyrdom itself is depicted in Western portrayals of the saint. For example here is one by Rubens in characteristically dramatic style. In accordance with tradition he is shown bound, not nailed, to the cross:
Andrew was the brother of St Peter and the portrayal of the calling of the two as fishermen who will become ‘fishers of men’ is another common scene in Western portrayals.
Here is Duccio’s painting…
…an early mosaic from Ravenna (note how Christ is beardless)…
I do not know who the figure in the toga is on the right. Below is a baroque painting of the same scene.
FIT58808 The Calling of St. Peter and St. Andrew, c.1626-30 (oil on canvas) by Cortona, Pietro da (Berrettini) (1596-1669); 28.7×57.4 cm; Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge, UK; Italian, out of copyright
This is one of a series of articles written to highlight the great feasts and the saints of the Roman Canon. All are connected to a single opening essay, in which I set out principles by which we might create a canon of art for Roman Rite churches, and a schema that would guide the placement of such images in a church. (Read it here.) In these, I plan to cover the key elements of images of the Saints of the Roman Canon – Eucharistic Prayer I – and the major feasts of the year. I have created the tag Canon of Art for Roman Rite to group these together, should any be interested in seeing these articles as they accumulate. For the fullest presentation of (Read More)
“We are called, then, to draw near to the poor, to encounter them, to meet their gaze, to embrace them and to let them feel the warmth of love that breaks through their solitude. Their outstretched hand is also an invitation to step out of our certainties and comforts, and to acknowledge the value of poverty in itself.”
Pope Francis on the First World Day of the Poor, November 19, 2017
I have just been creating a new online course on the mathematics of beauty and as part of this, I wanted to show how to represent the symbolic meaning of number in the context of the liturgy in such a way that it might deepen participation. The obvious way to do this is to have a pattern with the symmetry of the number. This will require also some catechesis of the congregations so that they are reminded of what it is pointing to every time they see it.
It can be part of the decoration of the church, incidental, as it were, to the structure:
Or it can be more intimately and obviously bound with the form of the church, as it is in the medieval rose window. Here is a window dating from about 1500 in the cathedral at Amiens in France:
It is important to awaken our innate sense of the symbolism of the natural world and all that is created as this stimulates also our natural sense of the divine. The awe and wonder that we feel when we contemplate the world around us is, for all that it seems profound, little better than a shallow emotion generated artificially by a drug if we stop there and do not allow it to draw us closer to its source – God. This is its true consummation, we are made to see the glory of God in his creation and it will be to his greater glory and our greater joy if we allow the beauty of the world to take us to what it points to.
We can consider this to be a form of relation. Creation is in relation to its Creator. By virtue of its existence, it is relational, for it is connected to its Creator by the mark of divine beauty He has impressed upon it. This interconnectivity of all that exists, therefore, is not a mental construct thrust upon the cosmos artificially by mankind. Rather it is a property of the object that we see. All being is relational by nature and is patterned lattice that has the Creator at its heart.
As created beings ourselves, we participate in this dynamic too, seeing a natural connection between ourselves and the rest of the cosmos. All of mankind is endowed by the Creator with an intellect and the capacity to observe the world around us in such as way (Read More)
Painting the 21 Christian Coptic Martyrs
Anyone who has ever seen an icon of St Therese of Lisieux painting or John Paul II will know how difficult it is to paint an icon of a modern figure. There are two problems associated with them that I can think of:
Firstly, when the facial features are well known through photographs, there is a tendency to over naturalize the facial and the mismatch with the stylization of the rest of the figure and it ends up looking like an iconographic version of a head-in-the-hole picture
Second is dealing with contemporary clothes. While it seems to have been fine in the middle ages to paint the soldiers of their past in contemporary chainmail because the idea of awareness of what the biblical soldiers might actually have worn was different (here’s Samual anointing David and David slaying Goliath).
…I don’t think it would work today. We would use historical dress. When it comes to contemporary saints, such as the 21 Coptic Christian martyrs beheaded by ISIS, the iconographer can’t suddenly put them in historical clothing to give the aura of holiness but must aim to represent the clothes they wore in an iconographic way.
Here is an icon by a neo-Coptic iconographer of the 21 martyrs. Notice the sensitive way that the painter has handled the faces and the clothes, to create a contemporary icon very well, even portraying the bright orange jumpsuits that the prisoners wore.
Artists! Do the Master’s in Sacred Arts at www.Pontifex.University
Ron Rolheiser OMI writes in his May 1992 blog that “To be a saint is to be motivated by gratitude, nothing more and nothing less. Scripture, everywhere and always, makes this point.” Read the full reflection below.
There’s a Jewish folk-tale which runs something like this:
There once was a young man who aspired to great holiness. After some time at working to achieve it, he went to see his Rabbi.
“Rabbi,” he announced, “I think I have achieved sanctity.”
”Why do you think that?” asked the Rabbi.
”Well,” responded the young man, “I’ve been practising virtue and discipline for some time now and I have grown quite proficient at them. From the time the sun rises until it sets, I take no food or water. All day long, I do all l do all kinds of hard work for others and I never expect to be thanked.
“If I have temptations of the flesh, I roll in the snow or in thorn bushes until they go away, and then at night, before bed, I practice the ancient monastic discipline and administer lashes to my bare back. I have disciplined myself so as to become holy.”
The Rabbi was silent for a time. Then he took the young man by the arm and led him to a window and pointed to an old horse which was just being led away by its master.
“I have been observing that horse for some time,” the Rabbi said, “and I’ve noticed that it doesn’t get fed or watered from morning to night. All day long it has to do work for people and it never gets thanked. I often see it rolling around in snow or in bushes, as horses are prone to do, and frequently I see it get whipped.
“But, I ask you: Is that a saint or a horse?”
This is a good parable because it shows how simplistic it is to simply identity sanctity and virtue with self-renunciation and the capacity to do what’s difficult. In popular thought there’s a common spiritual equation: saint=horse. What’s more difficult is always better. But that can be wrong.
To be a saint is to be motivated by gratitude, nothing more and nothing less. Scripture, everywhere and always, makes this point.
For example, the sin of Adam and Eve was, first and foremost, a failure in receptivity and gratitude. God gives them life, each other and the garden and asks them only to receive it properly, in gratitude—receive and give thanks. Only after doing this, do we go on to “break and share” Before all else, we first give thanks.
To receive in gratitude, to be properly grateful, is the most primary of all religious attitudes. Proper gratitude is ultimate virtue. It defines sanctity. Saints, holy persons, are people who are grateful, people who see and receive everything as gift.
The converse is also true. Anyone who takes life and love for granted should not ever be confused with a saint.
Let me try to illustrate this: As a young seminarian, I once spent a week in a hospital, on a public ward, with a knee injury. One night a patient was brought on to our ward from the emergency room. His pain was so severe that his groans kept us awake. The doctors had just worked on him and it was then left to a single nurse to attend to him.
Several times that night, she entered the room to administer to him—changing bandages, giving medication, and so on. Each time, as she walked away from his bed he would, despite his extreme pain, thank her.
Finally, after this had happened a number of times, she said to him: “Sir, you don’t need to thank me. This is my job!”
“Ma’am!” he replied, “it’s nobody’s job to take care of me! Nobody owes me that. I want to thank you!
I was struck by that, how, even in his great pain, this man remained conscious of the fact that life, love, care, and everything else come to us as a gift, not as owed. He genuinely appreciated what this nurse was doing for him and he was right— it isn’t anybody’s job to take care of us!
It’s our propensity to forget this that gets us into trouble. The failure to be properly grateful, to take as owed what’s offered as gift, lies at the root of many of our deepest resentments towards others—and their resentments towards us.
Invariably when we are angry at someone, especially at those closest to us, it is precisely because we are not being appreciated (that is, thanked) properly. Conversely, I suspect, more than a few people harbor resentments towards us because we, consciously or unconsciously, think that it is their job to take care of us.
Like Adam and Eve we take, as if it is ours by right, what can only be received gratefully as gift. This goes against the very contours of love. It is the original sin.
Remember the Jesuit Martyrs of El Salvador, who were killed 28 years ago today.
Below is an excerpt of a reflection by William Bole on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the events.
It was one of the most glaring and brazen human-rights crimes of the late 20th century. In the predawn hours of November 16, 1989, an elite battalion of El Salvador’s military forced its way into the Jesuit residence at the University of Central America, or UCA. The university, led by its president, Father Ignacio Ellacuría, SJ, had become a stronghold of opposition to human rights abuses committed by the U.S.-backed military.
On that night, soldiers dragged five priests out of their beds and into a courtyard, made them lay facedown on the grass, and fired bullets into their heads. They went back inside and killed another Jesuit. Then, searching the residence further, they found a housekeeper and her teenage daughter crouching in the corner of a bedroom, holding each other. The gunmen shot them too.
Twenty-five years later, many are still waiting for justice in the case of the murdered Jesuits and women. None of the top military commanders who issued the orders to kill was ever prosecuted for the crimes.
“Being Trees in Autumn”
by Stephen Garnaas-Holmes
These trees in Buddhist saffron robes,
becoming naked without fear,
in wind that is a part of them,
disclose a beauty in this death,
become new shapes, interior.
To live they cannot hoard;
this losing, too, is growth.
New shapes emerge,
new vision clears.
Surrender strengthens in the soul
This emptying is confidence
in spring, but more – a faithing
in the growth that’s come before,
a counting of the gifts
and then releasing one by one,
so as to give again,
knowing growth is not a season,
but is in the root of things.
This is no losing,
but a becoming.
Coveting such openness
of limb and heart and hand,
such bareness in the singing,
I only now discover that I want
this wind, blowing where it will,
By Administrator1 Margarita Rodriguez holds a flashlight as she quizzes her 11-year-old daughter, Isel Martinez, about homework outside their home in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Oct. 25. Most of Puerto Rico has been without power and water for more than one month after Hurricane Maria devastated the island. (CNS photo/Bob Roller) See HURRICANES-CARIBBEAN-DEBT-RELIEF Oct. 27, 2017.
” data-medium-file=”https://cnsblog.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/20171027t1110-0197-cns-hurricanes-caribbean-debt-relief.jpg?w=640&h=427?w=300″ data-large-file=”https://cnsblog.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/20171027t1110-0197-cns-hurricanes-caribbean-debt-relief.jpg?w=640&h=427?w=3000″ src=”https://cnsblog.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/20171027t1110-0197-cns-hurricanes-caribbean-debt-relief.jpg?w=640&h=427″ alt=”Margarita Rodriguez holds a flashlight as she quizzes her 11-year-old daughter, Isel Martinez, about homework outside their home in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Oct. 25. Most of Puerto Rico was without power and water for more than a month after Hurricane Maria devastated the island. (CNS/Bob Roller) ” width=”640″ height=”427″ srcset=”https://cnsblog.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/20171027t1110-0197-cns-hurricanes-caribbean-debt-relief.jpg?w=640&h=427 640w, https://cnsblog.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/20171027t1110-0197-cns-hurricanes-caribbean-debt-relief.jpg?w=1280&h=854 1280w, https://cnsblog.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/20171027t1110-0197-cns-hurricanes-caribbean-debt-relief.jpg?w=128&h=85 128w, https://cnsblog.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/20171027t1110-0197-cns-hurricanes-caribbean-debt-relief.jpg?w=300&h=200 300w, https://cnsblog.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/20171027t1110-0197-cns-hurricanes-caribbean-debt-relief.jpg?w=768&h=512 768w, https://cnsblog.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/20171027t1110-0197-cns-hurricanes-caribbean-debt-relief.jpg?w=1024&h=683 1024w” sizes=”(max-width: 640px) 100vw, 640px”>
Margarita Rodriguez holds a flashlight as she quizzes 11-year-old daughter Isel Martinez about homework outside their home in San Juan Oct. 25. Most of Puerto Rico was without power and water for more than a month after Hurricane Maria devastated the island. (CNS/Bob Roller)
By Greg Erlandson
Catholic News Service
Hurricane Irma and Maria had a devastating impact on the island of Puerto Rico. As the U.S. bishops have described it, “the people of Puerto Rico face an unprecedented level of need” as a result of these storms.
A U.S. commonwealth, Puerto Rico has a population of 2.7 million Catholics, with 1 archdiocese, five dioceses and 329 parishes. For almost two months the island has dealt with the aftereffects of the storms, including a collapsed power grid and a lack of clean drinking water or other assistance in many parts of the island.
A prekindergarten student looks at the photographer in the classroom at Good Heart of Mary Catholic School in San Juan, Puerto, Rico, Oct. 26. (CNS/Bob Roller)
Catholic News Service was the first major Catholic news organization to send a photographer and a reporter to tour the island and document the efforts of the church and other organizations to help many of the people far from the capital of San Juan.
In addition, the team interviewed Archbishop Roberto Gonzalez Nieves of San Juan, Bishop Daniel Fernandez of Arecibo and countless others intent on helping these American citizens get back on their feet.
Here are links to the four stories the team produced in Puerto Rico for CNS and its clients:
Catholic organizations, groups actively working on Puerto Rico’s recovery https://t.co/5KwCjrx5Aw pic.twitter.com/EIE0J9nsVu
— Catholic (Read More)
Comments Off on All Saints Day
It’s All Saints Day! So: Who cares about the saints?
Here is what James Martin, SJ has to say: “I found companions among the saints — friends to turn to when I needed a helping hand. My novice director told me that he thought of the saints as older brothers and sisters to whom one could look for advice and counsel. The Catholic theologian Lawrence S. Cunningham, in his book The Meaning of Saints, suggests that the saints also serve as our “prophetic witnesses,” spurring us to live more fully as Christian disciples.” James Martin, SJ My Life with the Saints
… and take a look at this short video! James Martin’s Introduction to “Who Cares About The Saints?”
At Creator Mundi, we know that buying a religious holiday gift for your mother, grandmother, sister, wife, daughter, or other females in your life that glorifies God is one of the best choices you could make this Christmas. Creator Mundi has many items for women that can serve as wonderful gifts of faith for any age. We’ve picked out a few special items that you may find perfect for the important female in your life, but please feel free to check out our entire collection of religious holiday gifts, we know you’ll find the right one. Some ideas to choose from could include:
Joie de Vivre Figurine
The Joie de Vivre Figurine is French for the joy of living. What better way to express the love of Jesus on Christmas than to signify it with a figurine that reflects the joyful yearnings of our hearts? Imagine how the woman in your life might display it: on the dresser in her bedroom, the mantel in the living room, or in another location that has significance to her.
… these things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. (John 15:11)
Giving her a Christmas gift that celebrates the joy of living will be a delicate reminder for her, on good days and bad, that she is a joyful part of your life and you appreciate the part she plays in it. At Creator Mundi, we choose only heirloom quality religious items that can be given to show appreciation for the people you love.
The Pocket Angel in Matchbox
Creator Mundi wants our customers to know that God is always around us. The Pocket Angel In Matchbox is a charming solid bronze angel inside of a delicately made 2-inch box is a gentle reminder that even in the most trying times, we are never alone. The inspiring messages on the sides of the box will touch the hearts of young or old. It’s a sweet Christmas gift for a goddaughter, godmother, mom, or grandma.
A lovely prayer piece, it’s an ideal complement to the women in your life. They may want to keep it with them in their car, desk, purse, or perhaps in their pockets to keep it at the ready when they need it throughout the day. The messages on the outside of the box remind them that God is always there for them. The top of the matchbox reads: “At times, you need an angel.” The back of the box reads: “Angel of God, be at my side, to light, to guard, to rule, and guide.” When you lift the angel out of the box, the following saying is revealed: “May you be blessed with a wonderful angel—for good thoughts by day and for your dreams at night.” Bless a woman in your life with this beautiful angel this Christmas.
Hand-Burnt Wood Cross Pendant
Popular with youth groups and Sunday school classes, this elegant Hand-Burnt Wood Cross Pendant is a beautiful way to express God’s love at Christmas for the women near and dear to you. Its smooth surface makes it soothing to hold while in prayer or when you need to be reminded that God is never far away. The hand-burnt surface is covered with a smooth and shiny lacquer that makes the cross reflect the light and produce a gentle glow that signifies the light of the Lord during this Christmas season. This wood cross pendant comes with a tasteful nylon cord, or you could upgrade it and pair it with one of Creator Mundi’s 18-inch bronzed or silver-plated pendant chains to complete the gift. Inexpensively priced, this is a great item for Sunday school teachers, youth group leaders, and anyone else you want to bless with a token of God’s love this season.
Religious Gifts For Her From Creator Mundi
For the perfect religious gift for her, browse our collection at Creator Mundi. We’ve offered just a few ideas for the important women in your life this Christmas. Check out our jewelry and pendants or selection of wall art today.
By Matthew Fowler
ROME (CNS) — The historic tomb of Michelangelo and the Buonarroti family altarpiece in the Church of Santa Croce in Florence are in dire need of cleaning and restoration due to sustained damage over the past 50 years.
“In the Name of Michelangelo” is an international fundraising campaign being launched by the Opera di Santa Croce foundation to raise €100.000 ($118,105) by Oct. 30 to fund these repairs.
The altarpiece (left) combines with the tomb (right) to honor Michelangelo and the Buonarroti family, while attracting the eyes of tourists. Photo credit: Opera di Santa Croce.
Michelangelo, who is well known for his work in the Sistine Chapel, became very ill and died in 1564. Although Pope Pius IV ordered for his body to be buried in Rome in St. Peter’s, Michelangelo’s body was ‘stolen’ and returned to Florence where he was then buried in Santa Croce.
By Mark Pattison and Julie Asher
WASHINGTON (CNS) — It’s summertime and the movies are plentiful.
As everyone knows the summer movie season is a big one for Hollywood, and when it comes to a close, it is followed closely by a few select September and October film festivals where moviemakers usually debut their fall releases – and their hopes the movies will be Oscar contenders. Catholic News Service reviewers keep up with the best of them.
(Photo by Lori Bucci, Flickr/via LA Tourism)
All this talk of movies and reviews brings to mind something CNS/USCCB archivist Katherine Nuss recently unearthed from an archival box – the pledge Catholics used to take called the Legion of Decency.
The Legion of Decency assumed the U.S. Catholic Church’s mantle in keeping objectionable material — well, most objectionable material, anyway — out of Hollywood films.
Here’s an excerpt from a 1936 Legion pamphlet:
The Legion of Decency is concerned not so much about the materials selected for a story as about the moral treatment of those materials. … The Legion of Decency, in short, does not object to human problems being dramatized on the screen; it does not deny that sin and crime may at times be necessary ingredients of a plot; but the Legion is deeply concerned with what elicits the sympathy of the audience and influences its judgment. The audience must not be led to accept false principles and to condone wrong-doing. When moral evil is portrayed in a film, it should never be pictured as good, admirable, or justifiable. And, conversely, moral good should never be proposed as evil, foolish or despicable.
It was the Legion of Decency that came up with the classification system — modified in the ensuing decades — still in use by CNS to assess the moral suitability of films. Because it’s been around for 80 years, there are thousands upon thousands of movies that use Roman numerals in the classification — I, II, III — rather than the far more commonplace 1, 2, 3.
It was a big, big deal in 1939 for Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) to say onscreen to Scarlett O’Hara in “Gone With the Wind,” “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” That remark might very well have earned the film a “B” rating from the Legion. For the uninitiated, “B” meant “morally objectionable in part for all.” It was later (Read More)
Here is an exciting and innovative approach to financing original works of sacred art. It comes from the recently formed John Paul II Foundation for Sacred Arts.
It is a free market approach in which artists are motivated to create work of sufficient quality that it will fulfil its purpose fully, which means that it will connect with congregations in their worship. If he fulfils both of these criteria, then through this system, he will generate enough return that he will have more than a living wage.
Instead of a traditional endowment or commission model, the Foundation partners with artists in an entrepreneurial venture to fund a given project at cost. This format makes funding sacred art financially accessible to donors of all levels. Grants are crowd-funded and paid in installments throughout the creative process to pay the artist’s material costs and living expenses. Upon its completion, the artist retains primary ownership of the work, while the Foundation enjoys a share in the proceeds of any sale of the work, associated prints, or revenues from displaying the work.
The great strength of this, is that once the artist is selected for crowd-funding, he is still not guaranteed success. The funding will only come if the crowds are interested, so to speak. In other words, it must appeal to large numbers of ordinary, non-elites as well.
This is the ultimate test of beauty – it appeals to the cognoscienti and hoi polloi alike. As Benedict XVI said in A New Song to the Lord (p123): “It is precisely the test of true creativity that the artist steps out of the esoteric and knows how to form his or her intuition in such a way that the other – the many – may perceive what the artist has perceived.”
This is saying that while all that is popular is not beautiful; all that is beautiful will be popular (provided enough people are exposed to it). Therefore, the judges who consider its appropriateness for sacred art must consider also whether this is likely to connect with congregations. If they get it wrong and no one wants to fund it, they won’t make the same mistake twice! It is, in part at least, self-selecting.
Some artists may still argue that they won’t be able to access this funding unless they can first jump through the hoop of judges’ selection. This is true. But if that happens to you…start your (Read More)
Here is a fascinating paper by Dr Tom Larson of St Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire entitled Man, Music and Catholic Culture. He presented it at the Institute of St Anselm Studies, an annual symposium which takes place the college campus each summer. It has just been published in the proceedings and is now online.
Dr Larson examines first the place of music in Greek philosophical tradition and compares this with accounts of two modern commentators. The first, a non-Christian philosopher Allan Bloom, whose thoughts he presents as a foil to a modern Christian view, that of Pope Benedict XVI.
Larson’s discussion clearly applies to sacred music and reinforces all that has been said on the importance of music in the liturgy. But he extends this also to the profane and considers the place of music in the wider culture too.
Here is the abstract for the paper:
The topic of this paper is the place of music within the Catholic intellectual tradition. The paper discusses the dignity of music, its relationship to man, and its place in education. The paper begins with the pagan classical treatment of music. The classical account of music is bound up with certain claims about human psychology, education, and culture, as well as certain claims about the universe. Allan Bloom’s discussion of music in the Greek philosophic tradition is examined as a foil to the Catholic vision discussed in the second part of the paper. The second part presents Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI’s understanding of music’s place in Catholic culture. Music, along with laws of beauty and order, has its source in God; it contributes to the re-integration of Man and directs him toward union with God in prayer; it has an intimate relationship with the human longing for transcendence; as a universal language, it has a role in evangelization and facilitating inter-cultural dialogue; in its beauty we are enabled to experience the presence of Ultimate Beauty; and in its own and very powerful way, the beauty of the music that has grown out of Christian culture serves as a kind of verification of the Christian faith.
I have been frustrated by the fact that it is difficult to get hold of an English translation of the only extant part of Boethius’s influential book on music. It had been stored on my laptop, but it crashed last month and I lost all stored files. Finally I found an old email, from about 10 years ago in which somebody sent me a copy. So, to make sure this never happens again, I am going to publish it on my blog so that it is freely available. Here we have the 30 odd chapters of Book 1.
So here it is!
Five Books of Music (1)
We will be studying this in an upcoming class at www.Pontifex.University which will be on Sacred Geometry and Sacred Number – the Traditional Mathematics of Beauty and Cultural Transformation which I will be offering in the Fall. By the way, h/t to a fellow blogger Baroque Pearls for the snappy headline. I’d like to take credit but modesty forbids. Incidentally in his article, I am flattered that he took the diagram for the musical harmony from my blog – I know because I drew it. I guess what goes around comes around.
Below are some pictures of diagrams of musical harmony from medieval manuscripts of the book, form. Plus Raphael’s painting of Pythagoras with a chalk board with the musical harmony diagram on it!
From where does our worldview come ? If we are worried about the philosophical errors of modernity it would be helpful to be able to answer this question.
If all right philosophy is derived from the adoption of right premises, the question then reduces to: how do we choose the axioms, the foundational truths, upon which the whole edifice is built?
The simple answer, it seems to me, is that most people just choose what looks good to them. It is a somewhat arbitrary process, an act of faith of sorts. Discursive reason does have a part to play in this but in my experience it is used most commonly to validate the intuitive choices already made, rather than to investigate their validity with a truly open mind.
Consequently, however rational and well worked out we think we present the case for the Christian worldview, unless people are ready to listen we are unlikely to get anywhere.
If we wish to change people’s minds then there are two approaches. One is to examine their worldview rationally and point out any contradictions. As mentioned, this is least likely to convince, simply because on the whole people don’t want to listen. If people do want to listen it might be because they are facing a crisis by which, in some way, the contradictions or inadequacies of their current worldview are slapping them in the face.
But even then I suggest that most will still only be prepared to listen if the second approach is taken as well. That is, people must be presented with a set of premises that are better – more attractive – than the ones they already have.
How can we do this?
I would say that this is what the method of the New Evangelization, as described by Benedict XVI, is aiming to do. (I have written an article about this, here).
For Catholics, the strongest presentation of these premises is encountered in the person of Christ in the liturgy. Through this encounter, because we are in relation with Truth, we are more likely to respond with an acceptance of the basic assumptions of, for example, the nature of existence in regard to all that we perceive around us. We say: I am – You are – it is. If this were to happen, in one stroke, the radical skepticism of much of modern philosophy would be banished; and by this we can accept the (Read More)
Here’s a dispatch from Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in West Virginia sent earlier this week by Msgr. John B. Brady from the national Scout jamboree, which closed today. A retired priest of the Archdiocese of Washington, he became a Scout in 1942 and has served in the Scouting movement as a youth and an adult for over 75 years.
He experienced the first U.S. national jamboree in 1937, when he was 8 years old and visited the encampment on the National Mall in Washington. He joined the Boy Scouts in seventh grade and went on to become an Eagle Scout.
Papal nuncio, Trump give Scouting high praise at Jamboree
By Msgr. John B. Brady
Catholic Chaplain for Subcamp Delta 1, 2, 3 and 4.
Msgr. John B. Brady. (Photo/ The Summit)
July 24, 2017 — I am sitting in the pavilion of Base Camp Delta, one of the six camps of the 2017 National Scout Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in Glen Jean, W.Va.
In the distance I can see about 27,000 Scouts sitting on the green grass slope of the arena plus about 6,000 staff, volunteer troop leaders, and visitors. They are filled with excitement, awaiting the arrival of President Donald Trump.
I am an 88-year-old-Scout, unable to walk the mile to the arena, go through security, and sit in the sun for hours to hear the president. This is the 19th jamboree held by the Boy Scouts of America — a national event scheduled every four years. I attended most of them beginning with the first jamboree in Washington in 1937, and this will most likely be my last.
A jamboree is a life-changing event for both youth and adults. The second jamboree — in 1950 at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania — led me to the seminary and 62 years of serving as a parish priest for the Archdiocese of Washington, for which I thank almighty God.
Phil Rowe, a freight transportation consultant for the past 20 years is here, serving as one of the 600 medical staff, to discern transitioning to a new profession such as becoming an Advance EMT, which will be more helpful to mankind and offer him new opportunities to serve others.
Phil’s son earned the Geology merit badge at age 11 and has just graduated from college with a degree in geology and is on the threshold of beginning his geology career.
Tomorrow I meet with a (Read More)
Discern Your Personal Vocation and Lead a Joyful Life
Here is an article that has appeared recently in both Catholic San Francisco and the Oakland Voice about a program being offered in the Bay Area, which we call the Vision for You. It is on page 5, here.
It is a series of spiritual exercises that I was offered over 25 years ago by a friend. Going through this process led to my conversion to the Catholic faith and to my becoming an artist. Both of these outcomes were against all odds – I was a cynical unhappy atheist when I met my mentor, David; and I couldn’t afford to go to art school. What convinced me to give it a go was seeing other people whom he had directed who demonstrated to me, as much in the way they were as anything else, that they had something in their lives that I didn’t have.
It was only once I came into the Church that I realised how lucky I had been to have met David. I always felt that this process of systematic discernment is something that should be offered more widely. Over the years I have passed it on to a number people, perhaps 50 or so, and have seen the same thing happen to them – nearly all who stuck with it developed a faith and a good proportion of those became Catholic.
One of the great postives about a Catholic education, such as that offered by Pontifex University, is that it forms to the person to transform the culture. You might say that it helps him to do whatever he does joyfully and gracefully.
The big question, which is often left unanswered, is: ‘But what am I meant to do? It’s all very well helping me to do something well, but surely it would help me to know what it is that God actually wants me to do, joyfully and gracefully?’
The Vision for You process, which is what I have called the program David gave me, answered these questions for me and so I see it as something that can be offered hand-in-hand with the formation that a genuinely Catholic education offers.
The article in San Francisco Catholic describes how a small group of us, including myself and colleague Pontifex University faculty member, Dr Michel Accad, are hoping to make this process more widely available.
Dr Accad is a medical (Read More)
Anyone who is interested in an overview of Catholic social teaching and the economic policies that are in harmony with it should read this book. It is published by the Institute of Economic Affairs and is available from Amazon or as a free download from the IEA website here – I read it on kindle on my phone from this. If you order a hard copy be sure to get the second edition which is much fuller presentation.
The contributors to this book clearly explain, in terms that people without prior knowledge could understand, the main ideas behind Catholic social teaching and consider how they might be realised practically. This is rooted in sound doctrine, and sound economics. This cannot be emphasized enough – so often discussions and public statements of what ought to be in society, even by member of the hierarchy of the Church, seems to be lacks.
The constributors to this book, which is edited by Philip Booth of the Institute of Economic Affairs, explain ideas such as solidarity, subsidiarity and the common good and in the light of these consider how they offer the chance for a society that will give greatest human flourishing. They show how a free society and in accord with this, a free economy, are necessary for such flourishing and how they support natural associations of people which are in harmony with this goal, such as the family.
They explain also why socialism – even the soft socialism of Western European democracies – is bound to undermine them.
This second edition, which takes into account of recent developments in both political economy such as the crash of 2008, examines how differing approaches to taxation, welfare, foreign aid, labour markets, finance and the environment often result in the opposite effect of that sought. If ever we need evidence that passing a law that attempts to enforces a desired economic result usually backfires, we have it here.
It is common for critics of the free market to claim that its proponents have a diminished sense of the human person, of freedom and ignore the importance of culture of beauty and responsibility. These are not accusations that can be levelled at the writers of this book.
Most of those who contributed to this book are connected also to the Acton Institute. This year’s annual conference – the Acton University – which took place in June was once again a (Read More)
“For your might is the source of justice; your mastery over all things makes you lenient to all.” — Wisdom 12:16
July 23, Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Cycle A. Readings:
1) Wisdom 12:13, 16-19
Psalm 86:5-6, 9-10, 15-16
2) Romans 8:26-27
Gospel: Matthew 13:24-33
By Sharon K. Perkins
Catholic News Service
I had a conversation with a group of colleagues who also happened to be parents of young children, and we were sharing stories of various parenting techniques that we observed. A couple of techniques and characteristics stood out as both exemplary and very effective. “The Look” was high on our list.
Having just observed “the Look” used by a young mother of four during Mass, I could describe it well: Whenever one of her brood became disruptive, she simply fixed her eyes on him or her with an expression that could have meant anything from “You know that there will be severe consequences for your behavior when we get home” to “I’ve taught you how to behave appropriately in church, and I’m really disappointed in you right now” to “I know you’re hungry/tired/need to go to the potty, but I’m sure you’re capable of lasting a while longer!”
Sometimes “the Look” was accompanied by a raised eyebrow, a gentle touch on the shoulder or a whispered word, but there was never any question about who was in charge.
Whatever unspoken family “code” had been established, there was an obvious, underlying assumption of parental authority that was calmly communicated, justly applied and gently enforced. It also indicated that Mom was fully aware of each child’s unique limitations and capabilities and was prepared to respond accordingly to each one’s age-appropriate need.
Although she must have had her moments of fatigue and frustration (she was human, after all), there was no drama, no flare of temper, no demonstrated resentment. From my vantage point in the pew behind them, I was duly impressed.
Today’s readings convey these same unmistakable messages of God’s just, yet gentle, treatment of all his children, regardless of our individual capabilities and deficiencies. God’s lenience is also God’s strength. God compensates for our inadequacies in prayer. When the seeds of goodness in our lives are contaminated by sin or evil influences, God doesn’t petulantly overreact or intervene prematurely, but he patiently entrusts us with (Read More)