Archive for December, 2011

He still tried to think what was the right answer. Was it right to kiss his mother or wrong to kiss his mother? What did that mean, to kiss? To put your face up like that to say goodnight and then his mother put her face down. That was to kiss. His mother put her lips on his cheek; her lips were soft and they wetted his cheek; and they made a tiny little noise: kiss. Why did people do that with their two faces? (14-15)

James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

n., a caress or touch with the lips.

[Middle English kissen, from Old English cyssan.]

n., the formation of words whose sound is imitative of the sound of the noise or action designated.

[Late Latin, from Greek ονοματοποιια, from ονοματοποιος, coiner of names]

Pompeo Batoni, Sacra Famigla (1760)


Read Full Post »

If you want to treat a tiger reasonably, you must go back to the garden of Eden. For the obstinate reminder continued to recur: only the supernatural has taken a sane view of Nature. The essence of all pantheism, evolutionism, and modern cosmic religion is really in the proposition: that Nature is our mother. Unfortunately, if you regard Nature as a mother, you discover that she is a step-mother. The main point of Christianity was this: that Nature is not out Mother: Nature is our sister. We can be proud of her beauty, since we have the same father; but she has no authority over us; we have to admire, but not to imitate. This gives to the typically Christian pleasure in this earth a strange touch of lightness that is almost frivolity. Nature was a solemn mother to the worshippers of Isis and Cybele. Nature was a solemn mother to Wordsworth or to Emerson. But Nature is not solemn to Francis of Assisi or to George Herbert. To St. Francis, Nature is a sister, and even a younger sister: a little, dancing sister, to be laughed at as well as loved. (115-116)

G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

Giotto di Bondone, Preaching to the Birds (1295-1300)

Read Full Post »

Lo! The First-born has opened unto us His feast as a treasure-house. This one day in the whole year alone opens that treasure-house: come, let us make gain, let us grow rich from it, ere they shut it up.

Blessed be the watchful, that have taken by force from it the spoil of Life. It is a great disgrace, when a man sees his neighbor take and carry out treasure, and himself sits in the treasure-house slumbering, so as to come forth empty.

In this feast, let each one of us crown the gates of his heart. The Holy Spirit longs for the gates thereof, that He may enter in and dwell there, and sanctify it, and He goes round about to all the gates to see where He may enter.

In this feast, the gates are glad before the gates, and the Holy One rejoices in the holy temple, and the voice resounds in the mouth of children, and Christ rejoices in His own feast as a mighty man.(Hymn 4)

St. Ephraim the Syrian, Hymns of the Nativity

Deacon Paul Drozdowski, St. Ephrem the Syrian

Read Full Post »

Awake, mankind! For your sake God has become man. Awake, you who sleep, rise up from the dead, and Christ will enlighten you. I tell you again: for your sake, God became man.

You would have suffered eternal death, had he not been born in time. Never would you have been freed from sinful flesh, had he not taken on himself the likeness of sinful flesh. You would have suffered everlasting unhappiness, had it not been for this mercy. You would never have returned to life, had he not shared your death. You would have been lost if he had not hastened to your aid. You would have perished, had he not come.

Let us then joyfully celebrate the coming of our salvation and redemption. Let us celebrate the festive day on which he who is the great and eternal day came from the great and endless day of eternity into our own short day of time.

He has become our justice, our sanctification, our redemption, so that, as it is written: Let him who glories glory in the Lord.

Truth, then, has arisen from the earth: Christ who said, I am the Truth, was born of the Virgin. And justice looked down from heaven: because believing in this new-born child, man is justified not by himself but by God.

Truth has arisen from the earth: because the Word was made flesh. And justice looked down from heaven: because every good gift and every perfect gift is from above.

Truth has arisen from the earth: flesh from Mary. And justice looked down from heaven: for man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven.

Justified by faith, let us be at peace with God: for justice and peace have embraced one another. Through our Lord Jesus Christ: for Truth has arisen from the earth. Through whom we have access to that grace in which we stand, and our boast is in our hope of God’s glory. He does not say: “of our glory,” but of God’s glory: for justice has not come out of us but has looked down from heaven. Therefore he who glories, let him glory, not in himself, but in the Lord.

For this reason, when our Lord was born of the Virgin, the message of the angelic voices was: Glory to God in the highest, and peace to men of good will.

For how could there be peace on earth unless Truth has arisen from the earth, that is, unless Christ were born of our flesh? And he is our peace who made the two into one: that we might be men of good will, sweetly linked by the bond of unity.

Let us then rejoice in this grace, so that our glorying may bear witness to our good conscience by which we glory, not in ourselves, but in the Lord. That is why Scripture says: He is my glory, the one who lifts up my head. For what greater grace could God have made to dawn on us than to make his only Son become the son of man, so that a son of man might in his turn become son of God?

Ask if this were merited; ask for its reason, for its justification, and see whether you will find any other answer but sheer grace.

St Augustine of Hippo, bishop

Read Full Post »

Marcus Aurelius is the most intolerable of human types. He is an unselfish egoist. An unselfish egoist is a man who has pride without the excuse of passion. Of all conceivable forms of enlightenment the worst is what these people call the Inner Light. Of all horrible religions the most horrible is the worship of the god within… That Jones shall worship the god within him turns out ultimately to mean that Jones shall worship Jones. Let Jones worship the sun or moon, anything rather than the Inner Light; let Jones worships cats or crocodiles, if he can find any in his street, but not the god within. Christianity came into the world firstly in order to assert with violence that a man had not only to look inwards, but to look outwards, to behold the astonishment and enthusiasm a divine company and a divine captain. The only fun of being a Christian was that a man was not left alone with the Inner Light, but definitely recognized an outer light, fair as the sun, clear as the moon, terrible as an army with banners. (75-76)

G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

Read Full Post »

Finally, and this was [St. Thomas Aquinas’] supreme achievement, when by his genius as a theologian he made use of Aristotle’s philosophy as the instrument of the sacred science which is, so to speak, “an impress on our minds of God’s own knowledge” (ST I, q. 1,a. 3,ad 2), he raised that philosophy above itself by submitting it to the illumination of a higher light, which invested its truth with a radiance more divine than human. Between Aristotle as viewed in himself and Aristotle viewed in the writings of St. Thomas is the difference which exists between a city seen by the flare of a torchlight procession and the same city bathed in the light of the morning sun. (61-62)

Jacques Maritain, An Introduction to Philosophy

n., “not a “wisdom of conduct or practical life that consists in acting well. It is a wisdom whose nature consists essentially in knowing.” (Maritain, 64)

[Middle English philosophie, from Old French, from Latin philosophia, from Greek φιλοσοφια]

n., the systematic study of Christian revelation concerning God’s nature and purpose, esp through the teaching of the Church

[Middle English theologie, from Old French, from Latin theologia, from Greek θεολογια]

Benozzo Gozzoli, The Glory of St. Thomas Aquinas (15th cent.)

Read Full Post »

[Søren] Kierkegaard left [Walker] Percy with two distinctions he would employ for the rest of his life. One was the distinction between two mdoes of knowledge: that of science, which deals with types and generalities, and that of religious faith, which deals with the individual whose salvation is at stake.

The other distinction was a broader one between ways of knowing, which Kierkegaard defined most memorably in an essay called “Of the Difference Between a Genius and an Apostle.” Percy summarized the argument: Kierkegaard says that a genius is a man who arrives at truth like a scientist or a philosopher or a thinker… He can arrive at a truth anywhere, anytime, anyplace, whereas an apostle has heard the news of something that has happened, and he has the authority to tell somebody who hasn’t heard the news what the news is.”

The news, in Kierkegaard’s view, is the Christian message; for him the genius is inferior to the apostle, whose knowledge bears most strongly on the individual life.

In the long term Kierkegaard’s essay made Percy want to be a Christian and an apostle.(142-143)

Paul Elie, The Life You Save May Be Your Own: An American Pilgrimage (2003)

Duccio di Buoninsegna, The Sending of the Twelve (14th cent.)

n., one of a group made up especially of the twelve disciples chosen by Jesus to preach the gospel.

[Old English apostol, from Church Latin apostolus, from Greek apostolos, messenger, from αποστελλειν, to send forth]

n., a person of extraordinary intellect and talent

[Middle English, guardian spirit, from Latin gignere, to beget]

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »