From “Apocalypse When…?” Lee Siegel (Daily Beast, 28 August 2011)
Is it 9/11 that has made us feel so perennially vulnerable? Not likely, since the end-of-millennium Y2K scare was just as hysterical as the response to Irene. Is it the desperate media, the desperate politicians, the rising punitiveness toward our elected representatives if they appear to falter even slightly in their obligations to us (e.g., Bloomberg’s inept response to last December’s blizzard and his public excoriation)? Are we simply bored, in the manner of late, decadent civilizations, absolutely jaded by ever more sophisticated, graphic, instantly gratifying, adrenaline-pumping forms of entertainment and distraction? Do we need the ever-escalating high of impending disaster to keep us awake?
All those reasons probably have something to do with the instant hysteria with which we respond to the slightest hint of calamity. But perhaps the most plausible reason for our wild response is that weather is authentic, while our public life is more and more fabricated. We long for the clarifying crisis because the response to it is clear and direct. We will know, as a nation, what to do in response to a disaster. In every other area of politics and social issues, we have no idea, as a nation, what to do.
We even have a tendency to portray politicians whom we hope will be redemptive in meteorological terms. Remember when Obama was presented as an elemental form of hope, like a jubilant earthquake that would topple and smash our rotten politics? Now, however, he approaches public life the way he approaches hurricanes and swine flu: cautious, fearful, and appeasing, with a kind of repressed hysteria. If Bush was too quick to pull the trigger, Obama is reluctant ever to pull the gun out of its holster.
If Irene teaches us anything—how we love our “lessons”—it’s that we need politicians who have the character to wait calmly and courageously until, as it were, the storm’s shape is clear, and then calmly and courageously spring into action. Neither trigger-happy nor hesitant, but steely, self-possessed, and clear-eyed. Alas, my son’s instructions notwithstanding, I won’t hold my breath.
From Pope Benedict XVI, “The Seer of Patmos” (Wednesday Audience of 23 August 2006)
… Today we are again concerned with the figure of John, this time to consider the seer of Revelation…. From the title of his book, “Apocalypse” [Revelation], were introduced in our language the words “apocalypse, apocalyptic,” which evoke, though inappropriately, the idea of an impending catastrophe….
Perhaps [the] weeping of John [Rev. 5.4] before the very dark mystery of history expresses the disconcertment of the Asian Churches because of God’s silence in the face of the persecutions to which they were exposed at that time. It is a disconcertment which might well reflect our surprise in the face of the grave difficulties, misunderstandings and hostilities that the Church also suffers today in several parts of the world.
They are sufferings which the Church certainly does not deserve, as Jesus did not deserve punishment either. However, they reveal both man’s maliciousness, when he allows himself to be led by the snares of evil, as well as the higher governance of events by God. So, only the immolated Lamb is capable of opening the sealed book and of revealing its content, to give meaning to this history which, apparently, often seems so absurd.
He alone can draw pointers and teachings for the life of Christians, to whom his victory over death brings the announcement and guarantee of the victory that they also, without a doubt, will attain. All the language John uses, charged with strong images, tends to offer this consolation.
At the center of the vision that Revelation presents is the extremely significant image of the Woman, who gives birth to a male Child, and the complementary vision of the Dragon, which has fallen from the heavens, but is still very powerful. This Woman represents Mary, the Mother of the Redeemer, but she represents at the same time the whole Church, the People of God of all times, the Church that at all times, with great pain, again gives birth to Christ. And she is always threatened by the power of the Dragon. She seems defenseless, weak.
But, while she is threatened, pursued by the Dragon, she is also protected by God’s consolation. And this Woman, at the end, is victorious. The Dragon does not conquer. This is the great prophecy of this book, which gives us confidence! The Woman who suffers in history, the Church which is persecuted, at the end is presented as the splendid Bride, image of the new Jerusalem, in which there is no more tears or weeping, image of the world transformed, of the new world whose light is God himself, whose lamp is the Lamb.
For this reason, John’s Revelation, though full of constant references to sufferings, tribulations and weeping — the dark face of history — at the same time presents frequent songs of praise, which represent, so to speak, the luminous face of history.
For example, it speaks of an immense crowd that sings almost shouting: “Alleluia! The Lord has established his reign, (our) God, the almighty. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory. For the wedding day of the Lamb has come, his bride has made herself ready” (Revelation 19:6-7). We are before the typical Christian paradox, according to which, suffering is never perceived as the last word; rather it is seen as a passing moment to happiness and, what is more, the latter is already mysteriously permeated with the joy that springs from hope.
Therefore, John, the seer of Patmos, can end his book with a final aspiration, in which an ardent hope palpitates. He invokes the Lord’s final coming: “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20). It is one of the central prayers of nascent Christianity, translated also by St. Paul in Aramaic: “Marana tha.” And this prayer, “Come, Lord Jesus!” (1 Corinthians 16:22) has several dimensions.
Above all it implies, of course, the awaiting of the Lord’s definitive victory, of the new Jerusalem, of the Lord who comes and transforms the world. But, at the same time, it is also a Eucharistic prayer: “Come, Jesus, now!” And Jesus comes, he anticipates his definitive coming. In this way, with joy, let us say at the same time: “Come now and come definitively!” This prayer also has a third meaning: “You have already come, Lord! We are certain of your presence among us. For us it is a joyful experience. But, come definitively!” Thus, with St. Paul, with the seer of Patmos, with nascent Christianity, we also pray: “Come, Jesus! Come and transform the world! Come now, today, and may peace conquer!” Amen.
From Friday Evening’s Liturgy of the Hours (Week I), Psalm 46
God is for us a refuge and strength,
a helper close at hand, in time of distress:
so we shall not fear though the earth should rock,
though the mountains fall into the depths of the sea,
even though its waters rage and foam,
even though the mountains be shaken by its waves.
The Lord of hosts is with us:
the God of Jacob is our stronghold.
The waters of a river give joy to God’s city,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within, it cannot be shaken;
God will help it at the dawning of the day.
Nations are in tumult, kingdoms are shaken:
he lifts his voice, the earth shrinks away.
The Lord of hosts is with us:
the God of Jacob is our stronghold.
Come, consider the works of the Lord,
the redoubtable deeds he has done on the earth.
He puts an end to wars over all the earth;
the bow he breaks, the spear he snaps.
He burns the shields with fire.
“Be still and know that I am God,
supreme among the nations, supreme on the earth!”
The Lord of hosts is with us:
The God of Jacob is our stronghold.
St. Rose was born in Lima, Peru, in 1586, and became the first canonized saint of the Western Hemisphere. She made a vow of virginity at an early age and only with great difficulty overcame the objections and misunderstanding of her family to her way of life. At the age of twenty she became a Dominican Tertiary and lived in a hermitage which she had set up in her family’s garden. She practiced severe penances for the salvation of sinners and for the missionary efforts of the Church in the Indies. Her great love for Christ manifested itself by her care of and concern for the poor and sick. She had a special devotion to Christ in the Eucharist and to Mary, the Mother of God. Her desire to teach others the secret of prayer made her a zealous promoter of the Rosary. She died at Lima on August 24, 1617.
[From one of the testimonies from St. Rose's canonization, included in the Dominican proper Office of Readings]
In all things Rose of Saint Mary found an occasion to praise the Creator….
The anguish she experienced at the thought of evil and sin was overcome by the sweetness which the love of God caused her to experience in prayer. She was deeply disturbed by those who made charges against the Church. At such times her zeal was enkindled and she did not spare her words, although she knew how to temper her reproof with kinds and persuasive pleas. Many were amazed that the young girl said nothing to those who made charges against her personally, but quickly resisted the slightest offense against God….
Rose was saddened at the thought of souls not enjoying the gift of faith, especially those in many parts of the Americas who were caught up in the worship of false idols. Overcome with compassion, she constantly thought of them and wanted to overturn all obstacles and fly, as it were, with the wings of the soul to enlighten and bring them to salvation. She would have liked to make of herself a rock and a barrier to keep the door to hell closed.
[From Thomas Peters, the connection between image and history]
World Youth Day and Religious Freedom
Once upon a time, a student at one of the world’s oldest universities took a break from her studies to visit the Catholic chapel on campus. As she sat there in silence—praying for a sick relative or trying to settle her nerves before a test—the chapel suddenly filled with noise. A mob of about seventy fellow students charged in chanting anti-Christian slogans. They shouted obscenities against the Church and insults about the Pope.
Two females in the mob climbed on top of the altar. Then, according to the student who was trying to pray, the women stripped off their shirts and boasted about their homosexual tendencies. The young Catholic student, and several others, left the chapel in fear. [Read the rest of Archbishop Chaput's reflections here on the significance of Spain and the challenge of dogmatic ignorance.]
From the New York Times, “On Economy, Raw Data Gets a Grain of Salt” (17 Aug 2011)
“When the government announced in April that the economy had grown at a moderate annual pace of 1.8 percent in the first quarter, politicians and investors saw evidence that the nation was continuing its recovery ….
“Three months later, the government announced a small change. The economy, it said, actually had expanded at a pace of only 0.4 percent in the first quarter.
“Politicians and investors are placing a great deal of weight on a crude and rough estimate that has never been particularly reliable…. The basic problem is easy to understand: More than half of the ingredients in the [initial quarterly] estimate are based in whole or in part on projections from past months. The government doesn’t actually know how much people spend on their cellphone bills or how much companies spend on construction. It simply makes an educated guess based on past spending. Even in the third estimate, 22 percent of the data still comes from projections.
“If basic assumptions start changing rapidly — business failures during a recession, start-ups during a recovery — the estimates can quickly lose touch with economic reality.
““These are really not much more than educated guesses and yet the marketplace puts enormous weight on them because financial markets are high-frequency trading places based on immediate data,” said Madeline Schnapp, director of macroeconomic research at TrimTabs Investment Research.
“… A growing number of economists say that the government should shift its approach to measuring growth. The current system emphasizes data on spending, but the bureau also collects data on income. In theory the two should match perfectly — a penny spent is a penny earned by someone else. But estimates of the two measures can diverge widely…”
From Jean Baudrillard, The Intelligence of Evil, or the Lucidity Pact (2004)
“This absolute [productive and technological control of] reality is also that of money when it passes from the relative abstraction of exchange-value to the purely speculative stage of the virtual economy. Marx in his day argued that the movement of exchange-value was more real than mere use-value, but, in our situation, where capital flows are unrelated to commodity exchange, money becomes an even stranger hyperreality: it becomes absolute money; it attains the Integral Reality of calculus. Being no longer the equivalent of anything, it becomes the object of a universal passion. The hieroglyph of the commodity has become the integral fetishism of money.”
[Adapted from the Domincans Interactive]
Saint Hyacinth (Jacek) was born near Wroclaw (Breslau) in Upper Silesia, Poland, around 1185. He was ordained and became a canon of the cathedral of Krakow. On a journey to Rome in 1220 he was attracted to the Order by the holiness and preaching of Saint Dominic. In 1221 he was sent with Henry of Moravia to establish the Order in Poland. The priory of Krakow was established in 1222 and the Province of Poland in 1225. St. Hyacinth labored many years in this region and established priories at Gdarísk and at Kiel. Like so many saints of the Order he was devoted to Mary, the Mother of God. He died in Krakow on August 15, 1257.
From the Life of Saint Hyacinth: “A new light has arisen for Poland”
When the light of day dawns, illness is alleviated, people stir from sleep, birds begin to chirp, beasts leave their lairs; likewise when Saint Jacek was sent to Poland by Blessed Dominic, the Polish people were freed from their vices, aroused from their negligence, encouraged to consider things of heaven, and set free from the power of demons. A new light seemed to arise for the Polish people, bringing joy, honor and festivity for all.
I, Brother Stanislaus, youngest lector of the Friars Preachers in Krakow, know about this light, that is, Saint Jacek. When I myself heard stories from our forebears, stories worthy of belief from those who knew Saint Jacek and lived with him, I carefully wrote down what they said in a brief and simple style for the honor of God both Three and One, who established all the saints and adorned them with inexpressible light….
Jacek is the common form for the name “Hyacinth”. Literally understood, “Hyacinth” is said to derive from the hyacinth flower or hyacinth stone and thus its meaning has two interpretations.
In the first place he is called “Hyacinth”, because the flower has a stalk with a crimson blossom: this suits Blessed Jacek well for he was a simple stalk in his docility of heart, a flower in his chastity, a crimson blossom in his vow of poverty and lack of material goods.
Secondly, he is called “Hyacinth” from the hyacinth stone, for he shines brilliantly in the way he handed on the teaching of the gospel, was resplendent in his holy way of life, and most steadfast in spreading the catholic faith. For these reasons his name has spread abroad.
You are invited to join the Chiaroscuro Foundation and the World Youth Alliance TODAY!, Tuesday, August 16th at 12 noon on the steps of City Hall as they host a press conference requesting the Department of Education allow at least one option, such as an abstinence based curriculum, for those who do not want their child to be taught the recommended curricula, HealthSmart and Red
Invite anyone whom you feel would be of support and would like to join! Also, please let us know if you will be attending if you have not already.
It is recommended to arrive at City Hall by 11:45 am.
If you didn’t see the recent “New Yorker” review by James Wood of The Joy of Secularism, it’s worth the quick read. “Is That All There Is? Secularism and Its Discontents” has some blind spots as well as some worthy insights.
The book, edited by George Levine, contains 11 essays written by thinkers of varying casts. The object of the book is to promote considerations of “secularism” that are not primarily in terms of lament and loss—namely, of God and His order.
First, what I find Wood misses (in his review of a book that I have not and probably will not read):
Presenting the strange case of his philosopher friend who is nevertheless beset by angst, he rightly notes that, as a “convinced atheist,” she is posing “theological questions without theological answers.” (One could extrapolate at great length about this contrived problematic, which is in some ways the quandary of secularism.) But he goes on to mention that, if “the atheist is not supposed to entertain” questions about God and meaning, “then, for slightly different reasons, neither is the religious believer. Religion assumes that they are not valid questions because it has already answered them.” Not only is this statement an absurd generalization about “religion,” it has nothing to do with that horrid apotheosis of organized religion—the Catholic Church.
Without researching the validity of his presumption, Wood believes that the mere acceptance of doctrine and dogma precludes questioning. This premise reveals more about what Wood believes is the nature and purpose of questioning than anything else! It reveals a perspective that sees questioning itself as revisionary and threatening. But to question is fundamentally to seek the depths of reality, not to challenge our constructions of it.
Take the example of St. Thomas, who is, if anyone is, the Church’s official and perennial thinker. His classic treatment of God and reality is a beautiful if sober course through the mysteries of the Revealing God, who has entrusted the handing-on of His Truth to the Church. And the basic instrument of this Summa Theologiae is the question! Precisely through formulating a diversity of answers to questions, whether or not they presumably have answers, Thomas’s advertence to philosophical and theological doctrine and dogma is actually an entrée into the freedom of wisdom.
In fact, theology results from the proper invitation that faith elicits from reason to question it for reasons and intelligibility! As classically described by St. Anselm, theology is faith seeking understanding. And note well that it is “the faith’ that is the subject of the seeking enterprise! Faith has a properly theological dynamic, which is to say, a seeking and questioning verve.
Or take the example of the Church’s moral teaching. To say that one must obey (to take but one example) the Church’s position on contraception is to say that one must endeavor as a work of divine faith and love to conform one’s mind and will to this teaching. To contravene it is sinful. But this is not to say that one may not question it, that one may not ask why and how? Indeed, to some extent, there is a predetermined answer. But the question (in our example) to be posed about contraception is not merely “Can or can’t I do it?” There are deeper questions about what it is, how it has arisen in history, what are its effects, and so on. And this kind of questioning the Church doesn’t merely allow—she actually promotes!
Also missing from the questions of secularism are terms of conversation that extend beyond philosophical discourse. Wood should have adverted more to the cultural richness of human existence, which, if secularism be the fabric of our contemporary existence, would show forth its multiplicity of colors and folds.
Hence, he misses the import of “Terrence Malick’s oddly beautiful film, ‘The Tree of Life’ [which] reminds us, the answers are still hidden even if we believe in God.” Forgetting that this insight unsettles his dogmatic position on dogma, Wood does not sense that he is at the threshold of mystery. Indeed, Mallick’s film does not give and answer, the way questions of mathematical equation and moral obligation have clear either-or responses. But in some ways, Mallick’s film itself wants to be the answer, such that the cinematic experience takes the aesthetic place of the void that is left by the absence of a rational answer. Wood himself, after all, calls it “beautiful”; and the beauty of the film is the response to man’s intellectual poverty.
Finally, Wood could have recognized a little more matter of factly that secularism is the cause of its own malaise—and this, in a rather analytic way. He regrets, “One problem is that it’s not always clear what Levine and his contributors mean by secularism…” But the very existence of “isms” is a secuarlist innovation. Humanism, classicism, romanticism… even Catholicism (!) are all modern terms coined after the onset of the assault against reality and metaphysics, wrought by nominalism in the 13th and 14th centuries. When one is no longer disposed to trust the revelatory nature of nature, that the semblance of things is related to the truth of things, then reality dissolves and either becomes the play of words or the imposition of power—postmodernism is itself this dialectic between rhetoric and politics.
Hence, insofar as our observable world no longer contains a rich treasury of identifiably discrete substances that bear the imprint of causes beyond themselves, and insofar as this loss leaves us with the death of God, there is no such thing as things… since it is all left up to us. Hence, the terms of conversations become vague historico-cultural dynamics that are loosely suggested in ways that are not specific but always adjectival—such as secularism.
There are a few other things the Christian could quibble with Wood about: no mention of the Pope’s rather well-known considerations of secularism, an unfortunate characterization of Christianity “harshly challenging the self with an insistence on submission, sacrifice, and kenosis,” for example. But let us turn to some of his thoughtful cues.
He rightly notes that “one is continually running up against a crass evolutionary neuroscientific pragmatism that is loved by popular evolutionary psychologists and newspaper columnists.” In commenting upon one of the (illustrious) Catholic essayists of the collection, Wood helpfully suggests that, whatever our response to the existentiality of secularism, our responses must be thick.
I had a young couple in my office not too long ago. Always seeking to show the wisdom and intelligence of Revelation, I discussed St. Paul’s notorious passage on wifely submission, found in Ephesians 5. When I asked the bride whether or not she found my presentation of the text convincing, she sighed: “Yeah, it makes sense… the only problem is that it took you twenty minutes to explain it.”
In our day, modern scientific reason is conniving with entertainment scintillation. In other words, we want theories and explanations that are backed up by “hard science.” But we want them in a few seconds. And when we do, these very positions cannot but be simplistic and weak, like “when evolutionary biology tries to reduce the strong evaluation we make about [the good of] altruism by claiming that, like all animal behavior, it is just a contrivance that benefits our selfish genes.”
The recognition of its anthropic limits is another benefit of secularism, and in this way, there is a good kind of reduction. For example, a primatologist’s acknowledgment of behaviors that can be categorized as altruistic shows the behavior’s natural depth, that it could be, “older than humanity itself” (quoting Frans BM de Waal). In this recognition, secularism could be spurred beyond itself to ask precisely what is older than humanity itself… and what could answer this question in a way that would be intellectually and existentially significant? (Re-enter Terrence Mallick – the mysterious, transcendent, God of Creation!)
Again, think about sex. “Once a tendency has been put in place by nature [again quoting the Duth-American primatologist], ‘it is not essential that each and every expression of it serve [only] survival and reproduction. It is a bit as with the sex drive: it evolved to serve reproduction, but that does not mean that humans and animals have sex only in order to reproduce’.” Indeed not! Before God gave man the commandment to be fruitful and multiply, he deemed it necessary that the man have a friend and helpmate in the woman. This revelation proceeds from two distinct creation accounts in the book of Genesis—two accounts being given, among other reasons, so that we might precisely see the way in which friendship and procreation are ordered toward one another, however distinctly we might adjudge them!
Moreover, with such a perspective, we can challenge the view that the only real reason for sex is an individual’s perceived benefit. For, just as much as we may have evolved to see in our sexual drives the potential of our good feelings, we must recognize that this cannot be the only reason we have sex.
But secularism is largely unwilling to see things apart from the terms of itself and its projections. Whereas Milton’s Satan bore his own heaven and hell in his own mind, we’ve done away with both by the sheer projection of our will—which is what Satan’s non serviam is actually all about. John Lennon’s “Imagine” doesn’t ring so much as a particular conception of a perfect society, but the pretense that it could exist simply by willing to act as if it did. As Michael Gillespie has developed, Descartes’ cogito ergo sum, which can be seen as the spawning premise of secularim, is actually a premise of the will. It doesn’t logically follow from one’s thinking that one is; but one’s irreducible thought is the valence from which all projections proceed: I think, therefore I will to be; I am what I shall think that I am.
Despite its bedazzlingly despondent ruminations, secularism doesn’t not so much lie in what it thinks, but in the fact that its thoughts are reducible to what it wills. All of this owes to a deleterious, proto-protestant formulation of God’s sovereignty in terms of His absolute will, with no regard for His naturally discernible and supernaturally revealed wisdom. May the preaching of the Gospel of truth and freedom, which in all wisdom and insight has been made known to us in the mystery of Christ’s love (Eph 1.9), be proclaimed as the prospect of joy for all… in secula seculorum.
Tuesday 16th at 5:30pm: Conversation on Why Marriage Matters
In recent decades, scholars waged battles over marriage. Some argued that marriage was an outmoded and even destructive institution. But now, the debate is over. The scholarly evidence points to the enormous benefits of marriage to couples, children, and the society. Released by a group of 18 family scholars, Why Marriage Matters (a publication of The Institute for American Values) offers important new findings from the social sciences on the state of marriage in the United States.
The Institute for American Values cordially invites you to join them on Tuesday evening, August 16th for a Conversation on Why Marriage Matters: An Argument for the Goods of Marriage with:
- Linda Malone-Calon, Founder of the National Center on African American Marriages
and Parenting at Hampton University
- Elizabeth Marquardt, Director of the Center for Marriage and Families at the Institute for American Values, and
- W. Bradford Wilcox, Director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia
- It will be hosted by Jonathan Rauch, Guest Scholar at the Brookings Institution.
Time: Opens 5:30pm with refreshments, program will begin promptly at 6, finishes at 7:30
Venue: Center for Public Conversation, 1841 Broadway, Second Floor
Seating: Limited and running out fast
RSVP: email@example.com OR 212-246-3942
For more information about this event, the panelists and host, head to:
I say that the second condition of salt is that it preserves from corruption. It doesn’t just cure and clean what is already corrupt, but it also preserves. This is clear because when a man wishes to preserve meat or fish, he puts salt on them, which restricts moistures etc. Although this is clear, nevertheless there is a scriptural authority, of Tobias, who caught a fish, of which he ate a part, “…and they took it with them in the way: the rest they salted as much as might serve them, till they came to Rages the city of the Medes,” (Tob 6:6).
So too of blessed Dominic. For I find that this world ought to be corrupted and finished. Already it has been two hundred years and more have gone by. But the Virgin Mary, wishing still to preserve the world, put salt in it, namely Blessed Dominic, and saved the world. For in the stories of the saints and in the life of blessed Dominic also in two places we read of a vision which Blessed Dominic and Blessed Francis both witnessed. When they were in Rome working for the confirmation of their orders, about which the pope and cordials were giving them difficulties over this such new thing, because they were seeking confirmation of a status which was both higher and lower.
High, because it was both a contemplative life of study, and active. By exercising, by celebrating and by preaching — spiritual efforts, the family [of God] is satisfied with the word of God, and the ignorant are instructed in the faith etc. And the dead, that is sinners, are buried in the wounds of Christ. Again, the captives of the devil are redeemed. The army is activated, because the demons are conquered. O what an assembly, that is, by preaching sinners are made subject to Christ. Secondly so lowly, because despising affluence, because they are mendicants, therefore the pope was not inclined to confirm them, because they could repay nothing.
One night, when Blessed Dominic was in a certain church praying, and blessed Francis in another, Christ was seen by them with three lances, wishing to destroy the world. These saints were saying to themselves, “O shall there be there no holy one in heaven who can call back this wrath?” And suddenly the Virgin Mary came, like a mother coming quickly to snatch her child from devouring wolves, saying, “O son, you are now bearing lances, you who are accustomed to bearing nails in your hands for the world. Christ replied — Saints Dominic and Francis were listening– “My mother, how much more should I do, since I have showered the world with so many graces? I sent the patriarchs, and prophets, and they killed them; and finally I myself came etc. History tells, how up until now, I have not spared [graces]. These three lances, destructive of the world, are the three great tribulations about to come shortly over the world. First is the tribulation and persecution of the antichrist, which lance can be said that it pierces the whole world. Second shall be the conflagration of the world through fire; the whole world is burned, etc. Third is the judicial sentencing by Christ. Of these three lances, scripture testifies, allegorically in 2 Kgs 18 About Absalom, the traitor and rebel son of David. He was killed by three lances from Joab, the captain of the army. The story says, “So he [Joab] took three lances in his hand, and thrust them into the heart of Absalom,” (2 Kgs 18:14).
Why did God wish that Absalom be killed by three lances, since one would have been sufficient, especially for a man suspended etc. It was a figure. For the son betraying God the Father is this whole world acting against the commandments of God, expelling their father, namely God from the world as much as possible. But the prince of the army, namely Christ kills them with three aforesaid lances. Even in the time of blessed Dominic the world ought to have been destroyed by Christ and corrupted, but the Virgin Mary put the salt, namely, Dominic, gaining a reprieve.
Think now here how the whole world is in reprieve, and not for a fixed time, but on condition. If converted, OK, otherwise I shall no longer spare them. Now let us see if the world in these [our] lands, is corrected.
I believe that never was there so much pomp and vanities, etc. as there are now, no such luxury, unless in the time of Noah. For the hotels [hospitia] are full, and even the villas are filled with prostitutes. Mix bad apples with the good, and shortly all are rotten. Same for avarice and usury, because they change its name, usury they call “contrived assessments,” but when the intention is not buying or selling, but of borrowing, it is usury. Also not for a just price, whatever your receive beyond strong [ultra forte] is usury and damnation. Same too with simony in the clergy; they have all sacraments ultimately for sale in some way. Same for envy. If someone among religious has some excellence in discussion, or the science of preaching, others are envious. It is the same with clergy and laity about gluttony. Already you se that Lent is not observed, nor vigils of the apostles nor the rogation days observed etc. [quatuor temporum, literally the four times] You know about anger, already worse, it is against both God and reason. If someone does another injury, and they cannot get him, they kill his innocent friend contrary to divine law, because it is against divine and human judgment to kill an innocent person. About sloth. The world comes to this that all are reputed lazy, unless a businessmen, but if someone takes some time off for a work of God and of prayer they are called lazy, but in the evening [of time] it will be apparent who was lazy, and because the world is not corrected, moreover that it is worse, these religions, which were given to correct the world are already destroyed. So if blessed Dominic or Francis should come now, they would not recognize their religious orders.
Since therefore the world has not been corrected, what follows, but that in a short time it will be corrupted before the coming of the day of judgment? and so for the others objections respond. etc. Behold the salt, namely Blessed Dominic. On his account we praise God saying: Blessed be the redeemer of all, who providing for the salvation of mankind gave St. Dominic to the world.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) sharply criticized a new HHS “preventive services” mandate requiring private health plans to cover female surgical sterilization and all drugs and devices approved by the FDA as contraceptives, including drugs which can attack a developing unborn child before and after implantation in the mother’s womb.
“Although this new rule gives the agency the discretion to authorize a ‘religious’ exemption, it is so narrow as to exclude most Catholic social service agencies and healthcare providers,” said Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities.
“For example, under the new rule our institutions would be free to act in accord with Catholic teaching on life and procreation only if they were to stop hiring and serving non-Catholics,” Cardinal DiNardo continued [bold added, Fr BMS]. “Could the federal government possibly intend to pressure Catholic institutions to cease providing health care, education and charitable services to the general public? Health care reform should expand access to basic health care for all, not undermine that goal.”
“The Administration’s failure to create a meaningful conscience exemption to the preventive services mandate underscores the need for Congress to approve the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act,” the Cardinal said. That bill (H.R. 1179), introduced by Reps. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and Dan Boren (D-OK), would prevent mandates under the new health reform law from undermining rights of conscience.
Cardinal DiNardo added: “Catholics are not alone in conscientiously objecting to this mandate. The drugs that Americans would be forced to subsidize under the new rule include Ella, which was approved by the FDA as an ‘emergency contraceptive’ but can act like the abortion drug RU-486. It can abort an established pregnancy weeks after conception. The pro-life majority of Americans – Catholics and others – would be outraged to learn that their premiums must be used for this purpose.”
“HHS says the intent of its ‘preventive services’ mandate is to help ‘stop health problems before they start,’ said Cardinal DiNardo. “But pregnancy is not a disease, and children are not a ‘health problem’ – they are the next generation of Americans.”
“It’s now more vital than ever that Congress pass the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act to close the gaps in conscience protection in the new health care reform act, so employers and employees alike will have the freedom to choose health plans in accordance with their deeply held moral and religious beliefs.”
In a July 22 letter supporting the bill, Cardinal DiNardo wrote: “Those who sponsor, purchase and issue health plans should not be forced to violate their deeply held moral and religious convictions in order to take part in the health care system or provide for the needs of their families or their employees. To force such an unacceptable choice would be as much a threat to universal access to health care as it is to freedom of conscience.”
The full text of Cardinal DiNardo’s letter is available online at www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/religious-liberty/upload/respect-for-rights-of-conscience-act-cardinal-dinardo-letter-to-congress-hr1179-07-22-11.pdf. Cardinal DiNardo also addressed the Institute of Medicine’s recommendations on preventive services for women in a July 19 statement:www.usccb.org/comm/archives/2011/11-143.shtml.