When Prayer becomes Mortification

What I look like when I pray

I first started praying the Liturgy of the Hours in the mid-winter of 2008, a few months after my reversion to Catholicism. At that time it was all exciting and new, and I looked forward to my prayer times every day; but that's not why I adopted the Liturgy of the Hours as a personal devotion. And then, when I became a Lay Dominican, I necessarily embarked on a life of diligent prayer. Per the rule, I am to pray a significant fraction of the Liturgy of the Hours, a daily rosary, daily mass … [Read more...]

Praying for the Islamic State

1280px-Fra_Angelico_027

One of my friends at Patheos, Rebecca Hamilton, recently wrote a post about the monstrous actions of the Islamic State in the Middle East, and noted that she prayed for the conversion of the Muslims.Someone commented on this, to another Patheos blogger,I could barely get past "I prayed for the conversion of the Muslims", a statement as oppressive as anything Isis has done.The comment stuck in my head. I wonder what the commenter thinks "the conversion of the Muslims" entails? … [Read more...]

What’s a Meme? Let me count the ways….

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In last Tuesday's post I referred to an image with superimposed text as a "meme", and one commenter justly took issue with that. He said,Well, as long as we on the subject... :) I object to calling a slogan-based statement combined with a pretty picture a "meme". It may be *intended* to become a "meme", but it ain't yet.So....what is a meme, anyway?I first encountered the term in the pages of Douglas Hofstadter's book Metamagical Themas, a collection of his columns from Scientific … [Read more...]

In Mosul, Crown Him with Many Thorns

Thorns

There's a fine old hymn I learned in college:Crown him with many crowns, the Lamb upon his throne, Hark! how the heavenly anthem drowns all music but its own. Awake, my soul, and sing of him who died for thee, and hail him as thy matchless King through all eternity.And it seems clear that we are to do so by living for Him, by leading lives that redound to His glory. (That's an interesting word, "redound". I'm not sure I've seen it in any other … [Read more...]

Active Contemplation—Wait, What?

Dripping Shower Head

I've sometimes thought that Dominican contemplation is very active contemplation, because Dominicans are active contemplatives.Religious orders are often described as being "active," working in the world, or "contemplative", praying behind walls. Dominicans, by contrast, are said to be "active contemplatives", embracing the activity of preaching, where preaching flows from contemplation. Somewhere (I cannot find it at the moment) I read that St. Thomas Aquinas looked at the merits of the … [Read more...]

Why Marriage is Controversial

Thoughts about Marriage

I first posted this on my old blog, a couple of years ago. I'm reviving it for this week's Summer Symposium on the Family, in preparation for the Bishop's Synod on the Family this October.The following chart shows why discussing marriage with others who do not share your presuppositions is fraught with peril.I suspect that most people’s notions of marriage form a subset of the items on the chart. Trouble is, for two different people the overlap can exclude what one or the other f … [Read more...]

I’d Fall On My Face and Worship

Contemplating the Blessed Sacrament

The other day I saw a blog post (I don't remember where) in which a Muslim friend accompanied the blogger to mass, and said, "If I really thought God was in that gold box, I'd fall on my face in worship. I'd be afraid to stand up." I've seen similar sentiments ascribed to Gandhi, and the challenge is clear: if we Catholics truly believe that the bread and wine truly become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, why don't we act like it? Why don't we fall down on our faces and worship?The … [Read more...]

Sacrificing Your Idols

Golden calf

Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry wrote a while back about the role of sacrifice in the worship of God, and says that sacrifice is all about gratitude, certainly in the New Testament, and probably in the Old Testament as well. He's clearly on to something; the central sacrifice of the Christian faith is Christ's sacrifice on the cross, which we participate in through the Blessed Sacrament, the Holy Eucharist; and the word "Eucharist" means "Thanksgiving".However, I've also read (I'm sorry, I cannot … [Read more...]

A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats—Or Does It?

Lifeguard Boat

Recently the US Conference of Catholic Bishops has been calling for an increase in the minimum wage. I don't like to argue with the bishops, and I'm not going to do so now; but I worry about efforts to use the Big Hammer: to try to fix social problems by fixing the "system", rather than by helping individuals.It's true that our society has systemic problems. It is clear that we have problems in the area of poverty and access to healthcare that, strictly speaking, we don't need to have. … [Read more...]


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