Monday, October 16, 2017

"You owe God a penny, and He will not accept a pearl from you in its place."

"You owe God a penny, and He will not accept a pearl from you in its place.  Having lost chastity, do not allow fornication to remain in its place and give alms because of it:  God will not accept them, for in place of sanctification He requires sanctification....
     "Saint Ephraim said, 'In summertime, do not struggle against the scorching heat in winter clothing.'  Let each man reap by means that oppose the iniquity he has sown.  Every disease is cured with its own remedies.  And you, who are overcome with envy, why do you battle against sleep?"

     Saint Isaac the Syrian, Homily 5/42-43.  The ascetical homilies of Saint Isaac the Syrian, rev. 2nd ed., trans. from the Greek and Syriac by the Holy Transfiguration Monastery (Boston, 2011), 156-157.  Cf. Mystic treatises by Isaac of Nineveh translated from Bedjan’s Syriac text with an introduction and registers by A. J. Wensink (Amsterdam, 1923), 43-44/63.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

"The art of man is the expression of his rational and disciplined delight in the forms and laws of the creation of which he forms a part."

     John Ruskin, The laws of Fésole . . . (Boston:  Dana Estes & company, 1877), 11 =chap. 1, All great art is praise.  I was put onto this by Michael Hanby:  "Homo faber and/or Homo adorans:  on the place of human making in a sacramental cosmos," Communio:  international Catholic review 38, no. 2 (Summer 2011):  230-231 (198-236).

"One world at a time."

     "By his own account [Parker] Pillsbury then remarked to Thoreau, 'You seem so near the dark river, that I almost wonder how the opposite shore may appear to you.'  Thoreau's answer remains, for all intents and purposes, his last word:  'One world at a time.'"

     Robert Hogue Harrison, "The true American," New York review of books 64, no. 13 (August 17, 2017):   17 (14-17).
     But would that be the Christian view?  I wonder that, too, about these beautiful words, also quoted (from Walden) on p. 17:  "Be it life or death, we crave only reality."

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

"the triumph of action and technologism over contemplation"

     "The crisis in liturgy is therefore a crisis of the first order that goes right to the heart of the 'social question,' and thus the human question.  Objectively, the loss of a transcendent horizon signals the eclipse of what Cardinal Ratzinger calls liturgy's 'cosmic dimension,' the relationship between the paschal mystery and the meaning and destiny of the universe.  Liturgy thus loses its connection with life.  Subjectively, it represents a deficit of adoration, wonder, and gratitude.  Both are reflected in the inorganic and a-cultural character of contemporary liturgical development and its failure to generate a culture of festive gratitude capable of reflecting the mysteries of creation and redemption in time and space or to penetrate the world of human making.  The crisis in liturgy thus reflects the triumph of action and technologism over contemplation.  To acquiesce to this crisis is ultimately to deliver up the laity to the inhuman dynamism of technological culture.  For if there is no place for beauty and for contemplative making in the life of the contemporary Church, what hope is there for the future of human making as a whole?  Those who would argue for the 'democratic' leveling of liturgy, for removing of all trace of grandeur or mystery or transcendence in the name of 'the people' argue at cross purposes with themselves."

     Michael Hanby, "Homo faber and/or Homo adorans:  on the place of human making in a sacramental cosmos," Communio:  international Catholic review 38, no. 2 (Summer 2011):  234-235 (198-236).

Saturday, September 23, 2017

"You do not pay any attention to what you are praying, yet you want God to?"

Σὺ οὐκ ἀκούεις τῆς εὐχῆς σου, καὶ τὸν θεὸν θέλεις εἰσακοῦσαι τῆς εὐχῆς σου;

     Pseudo John Chrysostom, De Chananaea (On the Canaanites) =PG 52, col. 458.  Literally, "You do not hear your prayer, yet you want God to hearken to your prayer?"  The subject is those who "'recite innumerable verses of prayer, yet are withdrawn; but they know not what they have said.  Their lips move but their ears hear not'" (DS, sv Attention (tom. 1, col. 1063), by R. Vernay).

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Cardinal Bellarmine warns Pope Clement VIII in 1602 that he is no theologian

From the autobiography of 1613:

"Nevertheless [Bellarmine] himself often warned [(admonuit)] the Pope that he should beware of self-delusions [(fraudes)]; and that he should not think himself capable, by personal study (since he was not a theologian), of arriving at an understanding of the most obscure matters; and openly predicted to him that that question was not to be defined by His Holiness; and when [His Holiness] reiterated [that it] would be self-defined [(replicaret se definiturum)], [Bellarmine] responded:  ‘Your Holiness will not define it,’ and he predicted this same thing to Cardinal del Monte, who later reminded [Bellarmine] himself [of this]."

"Ipse tamen N. saepe admonuit Pontificem, ut caveret fraudes, et ut non putaret, se studio proprio, cum theologus non esset, posse ad intelligentiam rei obscurissimae pervenire, et aperte illi praedixit, a Sanctitate sua quaestionem illam non esse definiendam, et cum ille replicaret se definiturum, respondit N.:  Sanctitas vestra non eam definiet, et hoc idem praedixit Cardinali de Monte, qui postea ipsi N. in memoriam revocavit."

From the letter of 1602, as translated into German, with the original Italian (which I do not really read) inserted:

"the way [of self-study that] you have taken [will] turn out to be too long and too hard for Your Holiness."

"la via che ha preso riesce molto lunga e molto laboriosa a V. Beatitudine."


"such a great effort on the part of Your Holiness is not necessary, and you have already seen and read enough."

"tanta fatica della Sta Vra non è necessaria, e già ha visto e letto assai."


"many popes have, without struggling away at studying, happily condemned many errors with the help of councils and universities, and others have by much studying brought themselves and the Church into great suffering."

"molti Pontefici senza faticarsi in studiare hanno felicemente dannati molti errori con ajuto di concilii ed accademie, ed altri con molto studiare hanno messo in gran travaglio se stessi e l chiesa."


"Most Holy Father!  I do not mention these things to prevent you from studying, but to encourage you to consider that the way is too long, and that on this way the Church suffers the greatest harm."

"Bmo. Padre non dico queste cose per divertirla dallo studio ma per metterle in considerazione che questa via è troppo lunga, et in questo mezzo la Chiesa riceve grandissimo danno."


"commend the matter to God and then . . . decide to put this fire out quickly."

"raccommandi il negozio a Dio, e poi si risolva di estinguere presto fuoco."

     For the sources, go here.  Bellarmine was profoundly opposed to Pope Clement VIII's determination to master the intricacies of the de auxiliis controversy because he didn't think him capable of grasping and then deciding correctly on his own a matter that the Jesuit Bellarmine himself had been studying professionally (in opposition to the Dominicans) for thirty years.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

The primary sources on Cardinal Bellarmine's slap-down of Pope Gregory VIII in 1602

Letter to Pope Clement VIII (1602):

* Italian original:




Autobiographical account (1613):

* Vita ven[erabilis] Roberti cardinalis Bellarmini (Louvain, 1753 (Rome, 1676, but composed in 1613)), p. 43 

* Sammlung der neusten Schriften, welche die Jesuiten in Portugal betreffen 4 (1762):  Latin/German, p. 84/85 ff.
 
* Selbstbiographie des Cardinals Bellarmin (Bonn, 1887)

     For some excerpts, go here.