Behold! We have always been "radical" -updated!

I very much like this piece by Pat Gohn:

“Behold!” is one of my favorite words from the Bible. The wordsmith in me adores words that tickle my ears, words that are uncommon yet descriptive. Behold sounds somewhat archaic yet it still shows up in modern usage. Behold makes me perk up and pay attention. Simply defined, behold means to see, to gaze upon, to observe, to have vision.

Whenever I find it in the New Testament, I always watch what happens next. Behold is like the sound of the drum roll you hear when the theater curtain pulls back revealing center stage. Behold is my cue to tune in, to get ready, and see what unfolds.

Last night I had a “behold” moment, when my son called from his Christmas shopping/driving to say “NPR had a piece on some Dominican nuns in Tennessee…”

As Margaret Cabaniss writes here:

First it was the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, on Oprah; now, the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia in Nashville are taking over NPR.

Or, at least, “All Things Considered”: A segment on last night’s program profiled the Dominican sisters who, like their counterparts in Ann Arbor, are theologically orthodox, live in community, wear the traditional habit…and are absolutely bursting at the seams with young applicants:

Van Acker, who’s 23, says her generation is hungry for absolute truth and tradition — ideals they found in the messages of Pope John Paul II.

“Our generation is thirsting for orthodoxy,” she says. “And I know it because I’ve seen it in university settings. I’ve seen how young people … love JP2 not only because he was a nice-looking old man and he gave great hugs or something — but because what he spoke and wrote was the truth and it spoke to their hearts.”

We live in an era where simply to declare that there is such a thing
as real, objective and singular “truth” is to be considered “radical.” So it goes. A priest once told me “there is nothing more radical than a committed Christian.”

Which, perhaps, is why the “world” will ever be at odds with Christianity.

Jesus did tell us, after all, how it would be.

But it does make one wonder, as Fr. James Martin does, here, whether even in our worship, we are too conformed to the world?

Also, Tim Muldoon is thinking about the Nashville Dominicans, picks up on the “oriented toward heaven” line and writes:

The only possible explanation for religion is that through it, a person and a community comes to know God. What appears to be a lot of routine, a lot of sacrifice, a lot of rules–all this is a waste of time unless it leads a person deeper into relationship with God. Looking at it from a different angle, though, it becomes clear that these routines, these sacrifices, these rules can be liberating if they keep at bay those things which distract us from happiness. These things help “orient us toward heaven”–much like a compass orients us toward a destination. This orientation allows us to make a life in the everyday, because we know where the everyday is leading us.

Exactly so.

Reader Deborah sends this along:
another NPR piece, this time on American Franciscan Friars in Ireland:

Burnt out and boarded up houses are easy to find and so is poverty. It is just the kind of place the Franciscan friars of the Renewal were looking for.

“And we were shown this area Moyross and it seemed like a perfect place: there were burnt out houses there was graffiti on walls there dogs and horses wandering around aimlessly sometimes kids wandering around,” said Brother Shawn O’Connor. “So I said this is a good place for us to be.”

O’Connor and four other monks opened their friary here in 2007 by converting three abandoned houses into a simple residence and chapel. Shortly before they moved in, they got a reminder of how tough the neighbourhood was.

Two children were nearly burned to death when three teenagers firebombed the car they were sitting in. But O’Connor and the others saw a need and over the last three years they have worked hard to get to know the community.

Out on the street, O’Connor is trying to use the offer of cookies and chocolate to get a group of boys to talk about the meaning of Christmas — with mixed results.


The Habit of Witness
The Collar as Yoke

Crossposted here

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  • Lisa Graas

    Radical, yes…and ‘counter-cultural’. ;-) Love it!

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  • Steve P in Madison, Wis.

    >>Behold sounds somewhat archaic yet it still shows up in modern usage. Behold makes me perk up and pay attention. Simply defined, behold means to see, to gaze upon, to observe, to have vision.<<

    "Behold" is also an accurate translation of the Latin "ecce". And for the reasons Pat Gohn mentions, I think it would be the translation much to be preferred in the Mass for "ecce Agnus Dei". "Behold the Lamb of God" is an imperative verb telling us to have the vision to the true Substance that now underlies the accidents of bread. "This is the Lamb of God," on the other hand, while true, is solely a statement of theological fact; it's wording that doesn't invite the worshiper to enter into the mystery.

    (Along the same lines, I always like the inscription around the base of the apse in the Blessed Sacrament chapel in the Anglican Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, England. It reads, "Ecce Ancilla Domini / Ecce Angus Dei / Ecce Panis Angelorum" — "Behold the Handmaid of the Lord / Behold the Lamb of God / Behold the Bread of Angels".)

  • Sarah

    After hearing Nina Totenberg apologize to the nation for uttering the word “Christmas,” I am shocked to hear anything good about any part of public broadcasting.

    Hopefully, the government will stop paying her specifically and them in general, my money soon. Does anyone out there know why they weren’t defunded after 94?

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  • Steve Colby

    Sarah: There may be many good reasons to defund NPR, But Nina Totenberg’s comment is not one of them. See

    (HT Instapundit)

  • Steve Colby

    Behold! William Barclay translated it as “Look you”, and that always left me feeling … disappointed. ‘Behold” is so much more commanding and majestic.

    Unless you consider the last words of a medieval redneck: “Hey y’all, Behold!”

    (A mind is a terrible thing to waste, I know)

  • Old Fan

    Merry Christmas to all !

    Best wishes Anchoress.

    So busy, so little time.

    Hoping all is joy in the world for you and yours.
    God Bless everyone.

  • dry valleys

    Well, Sarah, the BBC is a publicly funded broadcaster, which conservatives for some reason hate, yet here it is giving Benedict platform alongside countless other faithful.

    I will be going to my parents tomorrow, hopefuly to have a roaring time. Merry Christmas, readers! Hope you use this little window in time to make some reflections/decisions & they work out for you. Whoever you may be :)

  • Brett

    Nice stories — and I mean no disrespect when I channel my inner Dave Barry and say that “Nashville Dominicans” would be a great name for a band ;-)

  • CathyB

    Thank you, Anchoress, for so many good thoughts!