Thursday, August 10, 2017

Ideas for future development: Exulting in monotony.

All the towering materialism which dominates the modern mind rests ultimately upon one assumption; a false assumption. It is supposed that if a thing goes on repeating itself it is probably dead; a piece of clockwork. People feel that if the universe was personal it would vary; if the sun were alive it would dance. This is a fallacy even in relation to known fact. For the variation in human affairs is generally brought into them, not by life, but by death; by the dying down or breaking off of their strength or desire. A man varies his movements because of some slight element of failure or fatigue. He gets into an omnibus because he is tired of walking; or he walks because he is tired of sitting still. But if his life and joy were so gigantic that he never tired of going to Islington, he might go to Islington as regularly as the Thames goes to Sheerness. The very speed and ecstacy of his life would have the stillness of death. The sun rises every morning. I do not rise every morning; but the variation is due not to my activity, but to my inaction. Now, to put the matter in a popular phrase, it might be true that the sun rises regularly because he never gets tired of rising. His routine might be due, not to a lifelessness, but to a rush of life. The thing I mean can be seen, for instance, in children, when they find some game or joke that they specially enjoy. A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, "Do it again"; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore. Heaven may encore the bird who laid an egg. If the human being conceives and brings forth a human child instead of bringing forth a fish, or a bat, or a griffin, the reason may not be that we are fixed in an animal fate without life or purpose. It may be that our little tragedy has touched the gods, that they admire it from their starry galleries, and that at the end of every human drama man is called again and again before the curtain. Repetition may go on for millions of years, by mere choice, and at any instant it may stop. Man may stand on the earth generation after generation, and yet each birth be his positively last appearance.
From Chapter 4 (The Ethics of Elfland) of Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton

Surely there is some connection here with the Jesus Prayer (and of course, the Rosary). There must be a parallel passage to this somewhere in The Way of a Pilgrim or in the Philokalia.

The Compound Effect?

    ... and presently Jack Aubrey, in a summer-house by the bowling-green, began again, playing very gently in the darkness, improvising wholly for himself, dreaming away on his violin with a mastery that Stephen had never heard equalled, though they had played together for years and years.
    Like many other sailors Jack Aubrey had long dreamed of lying in his warm bed all night long; yet although he could now do so with a clear conscience he often rose at unChristian hours, particularly if he were moved by strong emotion, and crept from his bedroom in a watch-coat, to walk about the house or into the stables or to pace the bowling-green. Sometimes he took his fiddle with him. He was in fact a better player than Stephen, and now that he was using his precious Guarnieri rather than a robust sea-going fiddle the difference was still more evident: but the Guarnieri did not account for the whole of it, nor anything like. Jack certainly concealed his excellence when they were playing together, keeping to Stephen's mediocre level: this had become perfectly clear when Stephen's hands were at last recovered from the thumbscrews and other implements applied by French counterintelligence officers in Minorca; but on reflexion Stephen thought it had been the case much earlier, since quite apart from his delicacy at that period, Jack hated showing away.
    Now, in the warm night, there was no one to be comforted, kept in countenance, no one who could scorn him for virtuosity, and he could let himself go entirely; and as the grave and subtle music wound on and on, Stephen once more contemplated on the apparent contradiction between the big, cheerful, florid sea-officer whom most people liked on sight but who would never have been described as subtle or capable of subtlety by any one of them (except perhaps his surviving opponents in battle) and the intricate, reflective music he was now creating. So utterly unlike his limited vocabulary in words, at times verging upon the inarticulate.
    'My hands have now regained the moderate ability they possessed before I was captured,' observed Maturin, 'but his have gone on to a point I never thought he could reach: his hands and his mind. I am amazed. In his own way he is the secret man of the world; but I wish his music were happier.'

From The Commodore by Patrick O'Brian (Book 17 of the Aubrey-Maturin series)

Is this perhaps what Darren Hardy and Jeff Olsen described in their books?

Ideas for Future Development: "Eternal Rome" & the "Church Invisible"

During a conversation with a friend, I was asked, "How is the concept of 'Eternal Rome' that some traditionalist Catholics espouse not the same as the idea of the 'Church Invisble' as posited by the Protestants?"

I've been thinking about this for a while, and one difference that strikes me right off the bat is this:

1. In the teaching of the Protestant Reformers, the "Church Invisible" seems to be a feature of the Church.

2. In the ideas of Traditionalist Catholics, the discord between "Eternal Rome" and the current Papacy+Curia is an unfortunate bug that should be resolved as soon as possible.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The spirit that is sorely needed these days

Hence, in order that no one for the future may be able to plead in excuse that he did not clearly understand his duty and that all vagueness may be eliminated from the interpretation of matters which have already been commanded,...

Also, Pope Pius X seems to have had a subtle sense of humour. From the immediately preceding paragraph:

And it is vain to hope that the blessing of heaven will descend abundantly upon us, when our homage to the Most High, instead of ascending in the odor of sweetness, puts into the hand of the Lord the scourges wherewith of old the Divine Redeemer drove the unworthy profaners from the Temple.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Snippet: Humility and Manliness

Humility is a virtue. So is manliness or virility (c.f. St. Catherine of Siena). How does one progress in both equally without one of them swallowing up the other thus sliding over from the golden mean to the extreme of a vice?

For example, a colleague or superior treats you like dirt in public, simply because he is like that.  Do you swallow the insult and practice humility? Are you then enabling a bully? Or do you stand up for yourself and risk falling into the passion (here used in the sense that the Greek & Syriac Church Fathers and the Orthodox Christians use it; in the Latin Church and for us Roman Catholics, passion simply means emotion and is not in itself a sin) of Anger?

Christ expresses a mild protest when he is slapped in the presence of the High Priest, but thereafter meekly allows himself to be tortured and crucified. So what does this teach us?

Perhaps committing oneself to humility and clarity also takes care of virility?

Or perhaps, since humility is the wellspring of virtue (Dietrich von Hildebrand has a book by this title, which is actually a chapter from his longer book Transformation in Christ), those that focus on cultivating humility will receive virility added unto the grace of humility?

Perhaps Transformation in Christ has the answer. I've still not got this figured out.

Or perhaps the answer is something like the following? "Try to keep your prayer rule and do the good at hand. Allow Christ to war against the enemy with a hidden hand in your heart, and without you knowing it, your sanctification will have been accomplished."

"All we can do is pray..."

This is what goes through my mind when I hear this: