Happy Epiphany! Merry Christmas, Day 12!

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 Image: Rubens, Adoration of the Magi, shamelessly pinched from WikiArt

On the "Abrahamic" meaning of Epiphany, from BXVI's Epiphany homily, 2008

...although the appearance of this light on earth was modest, it was powerfully projected in the heavens: the birth of the King of the Jews had been announced by the rising of a star, visible from afar. This was attested to by some "wise men" who had come to Jerusalem from the East shortly after Jesus' birth, in the time of King Herod (cf. Mt 2: 1-2). Once again heaven and earth, the cosmos and history, call to each other and respond. The ancient prophecies find confirmation in the language of the stars. "A star shall come forth out of Jacob, and a sceptre shall rise out of Israel" (Nm 24: 17), announced Balaam, the pagan seer, when he was summoned to curse the People of Israel, whom he instead blessed because, as God had revealed to him, "they are blessed" (Nm 22: 12). In his Commentary on Matthew's Gospel, Cromatius of Aquileia establishes a connection between Balaam and the Magi: "He prophesied that Christ would come; they saw him with the eyes of faith". And he adds an important observation: "The star was seen by everyone but not everyone understood its meaning. Likewise, our Lord and Saviour was born for everyone, but not everyone has welcomed him" (4: 1-2). Here, the meaning of the symbol of light applied to Christ's birth appears: it expresses God's special blessing on Abraham's descendents, destined to be extended to all the peoples of the earth.

Nice comments from Pia de Solenni on Papa Ratzinger's passing. 

How about a provocative resolution for the new year? 

Merry Christmas, Day 11!

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 Image: Nativity, attributed to Ilya Repin, shameless pinched from WikiArt


They laid Papa Ratzinger to rest this morning. 

Merry Christmas, Day 10

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Image credit: as above. Click to the site so you can see this large, as it really repays looking at all the layers -- including the kings arriving in the distance.  

To read:  it's not too late to reflect on the old year and the new year, and this reflection from Card. Ratzinger does the trick nicely. 

Once when Augustine’s contemporaries complained about the bad times, he told them: “We ourselves are the times!” And in fact when we talk about the Biedermeier period or the Baroque age or the French Revolution, we are really referring to the people who together turned those years into a particular kind of era. Human beings with their changing ways make up the times.
But can time really advance when men do not? Do men make progress when they enjoy greater comfort but their hearts stand still or even shrivel up? And can a man make progress when he does not even know himself? When he has time only for what he owns and not for what he is? When he himself, therefore, remains outside of, disengaged from time? How can he learn to distinguish the valuable from the worthless and to preserve the one and abandon the other, and how can he find his way, when he continues to be simply a fish in the waters of time and does not really become a man with head uplifted?
We men are the times. We ought to reflect further on this surprising statement. When we do, we stumble upon the fact that man lives through quite different periods: childhood, youth, adulthood, old age. But today more than ever these stages of life become separated from one another. It is as though the elderly and the young were living in different times, and the two groups compete with each other for the time. If we look more closely, the picture becomes even more confusing. On the one hand, human life-expectancy has increased; people have more time than in the past, or, more precisely, the span of time given them for living has become longer. On the other hand, human life changes ever more rapidly: it is used up sooner, so that the difference between past and present becomes steadily greater, the present moments become ever shorter, and the past recedes faster and faster and ends up at an increasing distance from the present.
This, however, means that man is thrust into the past at an increasingly earlier point and belongs to it longer. It also means that increasingly divergent times must coexist within a single time and that increasingly sharp tensions must be endured within one and the same time, which in fact consists of a stratification of contradictory times. People, therefore, find themselves increasingly difficult to deal with. They find it more and more difficult to accept their temporality because they inevitably experience this more intensely as transiency, as slipping into the past, and, therefore, as hopelessness.

RTWT.


 

Merry Christmas, Day 9

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Image: Nativity, William Strang, shamelessly pinched from National Galleries,  Scotland 
 

To read: Reason's Pope

To watch: Interview with BXVI's long-time secretary, Archbishop Georg Gänswein. Seems to have taken place shortly before he passed? 

Merry Christmas, Day 8

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Image: Nativity, Galo Ocampo, shamelessly pinched from J.R.s art place, or find it here. 

From BXVI's first Midnight Mass as Pontiff:

The Child foretold by Isaiah is called "Prince of Peace". His kingdom is said to be one "of endless peace. The shepherds in the Gospel hear the glad tidings: "Glory to God in the highest" and "on earth, peace...". At one time we used to say: "to men of good will". Nowadays we say "to those whom God loves". What does this change mean? Is good will no longer important? We would do better to ask: who are those whom God loves, and why does he love them? Does God have favourites? Does he love only certain people, while abandoning the others to themselves? The Gospel answers these questions by pointing to some particular people whom God loves. There are individuals, like Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, Zechariah, Simeon and Anna. But there are also two groups of people: the shepherds and the Wise Men from the East, the "Magi". Tonight let us look at the shepherds. What kind of people were they? In the world of their time, shepherds were looked down upon; they were considered untrustworthy and not admitted as witnesses in court. But really, who were they? To be sure, they were not great saints, if by that word we mean people of heroic virtue. They were simple souls. The Gospel sheds light on one feature which later on, in the words of Jesus, would take on particular importance: they were people who were watchful. This was chiefly true in a superficial way: they kept watch over their flocks by night. But it was also true in a deeper way: they were ready to receive God’s Word through the Angel's proclamation. Their life was not closed in on itself; their hearts were open. In some way, deep down, they were waiting for something; they were waiting for God. Their watchfulness was a kind of readiness – a readiness to listen and to set out. They were waiting for a light which would show them the way. That is what is important for God. He loves everyone, because everyone is his creature. But some persons have closed their hearts; there is no door by which his love can enter. They think that they do not need God, nor do they want him. Other persons, who, from a moral standpoint, are perhaps no less wretched and sinful, at least experience a certain remorse. They are waiting for God. They realize that they need his goodness, even if they have no clear idea of what this means. Into their expectant hearts God’s light can enter, and with it, his peace. God seeks persons who can be vessels and heralds of his peace. Let us pray that he will not find our hearts closed. Let us strive to be active heralds of his peace – in the world of today.

This amused me. Sign up here for the podcast.


 

 

Books Read, 2022

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Move it along, nothing to see here, this is just for personal records. 

Popery

The Bible (using the schedule from Fr. Mike Schmitz' Bible-in-a-year program)
Spe Salvi  (BXVI)

Professional & Devotional
The Art of Principled Entrepreneurship (Widmer)
The Art of Dying Well (St. Robert Bellarmine)
Business as a Calling (Novak)
Charles de Foucauld: Writings
Diary of St. Faustina 
Into Your Hands, Father (Stinissen)
Lessons from the Workshop of St. Joseph (Brandenberg) 
The Mind's Ascent to God by the Ladder of Created Things (Bellarmine) 
The Economics of the Parables (Sirico) 
Go! (Bartunek) 
Spirit of Democratic Capitalism (Novak)
Spiritual Direction of St. Claude de la Colombiere 

Book Clubs
As Earth Without Water (Carl) 
The Brothers K (David James Duncan) 
Cold Sassy Tree (Burns)
The Help (Stockett)
Hipparchus (Plato) 
Laws (Plato) (Books 1-6)
The Lincoln Highway (Towles) 
Lord of the World (Benson)
Minos (Plato)
Oeconomicus (Xenophon)
The Painted Veil (Maugham) 
The Question Concerning Technology (Heidegger) 
Scoop (Waugh) 

Just Felt Like It 
In Pieces (Ortiz) 
The Color Purple (Walker)  
The Path Between the Seas (McCullough) 
She Loves Me Not ~ not quite finished every story (Hansen) 
Small Things Like These (Keegan) 
Your Inner Hedgehog (McCall Smith) 

Shakespeare
King Lear 
Tempest

Happy New Year! Merry Christmas! ~ Day 8

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Image credit: personal photo of Madonna & Child with Ss. Jerome & Bernard of Siena, Benvenuto di Giovanni, taken in the National Gallery of Art, DC. 

Happy feast of the Mary, Mother of God!

If you have FB, then enjoy this transcription of a New Year's Eve reflection from Card. Ratzinger's "Dogma and Preaching: Applying Christian Doctrine to Daily Life." A "deep dive" on the meaning of time and into St. Augustine's comment that we ourselves are the times. A few cuts:

The consolation of transiency: nothing lasts, no matter how important it claims to be. But this consoling thought, which gives patience its character of promise, also has its discouraging and saddening aspect. Nothing lasts, and therefore along with the old year not only difficulties but much that is beautiful has passed away, and the more a person moves beyond the midpoint of life, the more poignantly he feels this transformation of what was once future and then present into something past. We cannot say to any moment: “Stay awhile! You are so lovely!” Anything that is within time comes and likewise passes away.
Our feelings toward the new year show the same ambivalence as our feelings toward the old year. A new beginning is something precious; it brings hope and possibilities as yet undisclosed. “Every beginning has a magic about it that protects us and helps us live” are the words Hermann Hesse puts in the mouth of the Master of the Game in his novel «Magister Ludi» ("The Glass Bead Game") at the moment when the now elderly character breaks out of his accustomed world of intellectual play and feels once again the spacious promise and intense excitement of a new beginning. At the same time, however, we fear a future whose paths we do not know and the ceaseless dwindling of our own share in that future.
And:

We men are the times. We ought to reflect further on this surprising statement. When we do, we stumble upon the fact that man lives through quite different periods: childhood, youth, adulthood, old age. But today more than ever these stages of life become separated from one another. It is as though the elderly and the young were living in different times, and the two groups compete with each other for the time. If we look more closely, the picture becomes even more confusing. On the one hand, human life-expectancy has increased; people have more time than in the past, or, more precisely, the span of time given them for living has become longer. On the other hand, human life changes ever more rapidly: it is used up sooner, so that the difference between past and present becomes steadily greater, the present moments become ever shorter, and the past recedes faster and faster and ends up at an increasing distance from the present.
This, however, means that man is thrust into the past at an increasingly earlier point and belongs to it longer. It also means that increasingly divergent times must coexist within a single time and that increasingly sharp tensions must be endured within one and the same time, which in fact consists of a stratification of contradictory times. People, therefore, find themselves increasingly difficult to deal with. They find it more and more difficult to accept their temporality because they inevitably experience this more intensely as transiency, as slipping into the past, and, therefore, as hopelessness.
This results not only in the conflict between the generations that we encounter every day. Another result is that people deny the time in which they actually live and are willing to acknowledge and accept only one stage of life: youth. In an era that derived its inner strength and organizing power from tradition, the most revered stage of life was old age. This experience is still reflected, in ecclesiastical language, in the word “priest”, which is derived from the Greek work «presbyteros» and means “an elder”. People who have experienced the coherence of time—the interconnection of the stages of life—are the ones who carry the times. Today, however, people try to stop the clock and remain fixed in a particular moment of time; makeup artists help them, with varying degrees of success, to remain thus disguised from themselves and others. But in both cases—the emphasis on age and the emphasis on youth—people deny the wholeness of life, resist time, and deceive themselves.

And:

"Chronos is a cruel god, now as in the past. Just think of all the things that those who worship the modern as the good have had to adore and then, a short time later, cast into the fire! Only the oblivion that Chronos bestows on his worshippers prevents them from seeing through his cruel game with all its contradictions. How cruel a game it really is becomes clear to anyone who turns the pages of twentieth-century history and sees all that men have done to themselves in the name of modernity. When time becomes master of man, man becomes a slave, even if Chronos makes his appearance under the alias of Progress or the Future."

Merry Christmas! ~Day 7

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Image: Adoration of the Shepherds, Pharaon de Winter,  more about it here.

Comes the word that Pope Benedict XVI passed around 9:30 this morning Rome time.  I'm not surprised he left during the Christmas octave. He loved Christmas so, and was one of those rare souls capable of celebrating it.  And he lived so close to the liturgy, always. Born on Easter Vigil, died at Christmas. 

I will do another post dedicated solely to his legacy because the onslaught of lies from people who don't know what they are talking about is going to sweep over us. For now, enough to say I loved him because it's impossible not to love the people who bring you Jesus. There have been times in my life when only his writing stood between me and despair, and in an age of corruption he has been a truth-teller; in an age of rage and wild hostility he has been a meek and humble soul. And he never preached a word that wasn't in service of his Master and in quest of beauty, truth and goodness. 

Update: It occurs to me, as the year draws to a close and it's time to sing Te Deum to close out the year, 
to read BXVI's last Te Deum message as pontiff,  Dec. 31, 2012 

The Te Deum we are raising to the Lord this evening, at the end of a solar year, is a hymn of thanksgiving that opens with praise: “We praise you, O God: We acclaim you as Lord” — and ends with a profession of trust — “in you, Lord, we put our trust; we shall not be put to shame”. However the year went, whether it was easy or difficult, barren or fruitful, let us give thanks to God. Indeed the Te Deum contains deep wisdom, that wisdom which makes us say that in spite of all good exists in the world and that this good is bound to win thanks be to God, the God of Jesus Christ, who was born, died and rose again.

At times of course it is hard to understand this profound reality, because evil is noisier than goodness; an atrocious murder, widespread violence, grave forms of injustice hit the headlines; whereas acts of love and service, the daily effort sustained with fidelity and patience are often left in the dark, they pass unnoticed. For this reason too, we cannot stop at reading the news if we wish to understand the world and life; we must be able to pause in silence, in meditation, in calm, prolonged reflection; we must know how to stop and think. In this way our mind can find healing from the inevitable wounds of daily life, it can penetrate the events that occur in our life and in the world and can attain that wisdom which makes it possible to see things with new eyes.