Will The Vatican Let Teilhard de Chardin Help Save The Church?

Henry Fuseli’s painting of Odysseus facing the choice between Scylla and Charybdis. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons .

Does the name Teilhard de Chardin give you the willies? When you saw it in the title, did you immediately think that heterodox thoughts were about to be served up?

No? Perhaps, like me up until a few years ago, you’ve never even heard of the guy. [Read more...]

For The Prayers Of St. Gregory Of Narek (A Few Words For Wednesday) UPDATED

Grigor Narekatsi, Ms. 1568 (1173), Matenadaran, Yerevan, Armenia. Public Domain.

Grigor Narekatsi, Ms. 1568 (1173), Matenadaran, Yerevan, Armenia. Public Domain.

A few days ago, Pope Francis declared St. Gregory of Narek our newest Doctor of the Church. It appears that Grigor Narekatsi is a man of many talents. The hastily compiled list of his accomplishments on Wikipedia includes,

“monk, poet, mystical philosopher, theologian and saint of the Armenian Apostolic Church, born into a family of writers.”

From what I gather, he composed some very beautiful prayers that I look forward to pondering as a part of the Lenten triumvirate of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. [Read more...]

Oftentimes, The Best Blog Post Is The One With The Fewest Words…

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Grasshopper recommends Counsels of Light and Love of St. John of the Cross for more thoughts like the one above.

Because Joseph of Cupertino Could Fly

—Feast of St. Joseph of Cupertino

A few years ago, the world was held in thrall by Stephen Hawking’s declaration that there is no need for a Creator for the universe to have been formed. The giant had spoken, succinctly, and confidently. If you are like me, you haven’t read his new book, but you probably saw the interview with Larry King.

One of my take-away’s from the interview? Stephen Hawking gushing over his experience of being weightless. He got to take a flight on one of those NASA planes that climbs parabolically so at the “top”, for a short while, zero-G is achieved. He evidently was thrilled to be weightless. [Read more...]

The Prophet Thomas Merton On The Archdiocese of New York’s HHS Mandate Problem

 

Problem? What problem? So the Archdiocese of New York provides healthcare to unionized employees of ArchCare through SEIU 1199′s  National Benefits Fund, which provides coverage for contraceptives and abortion services. What could it hurt? [Read more...]

For All the Saints: Catherine of Siena

 

Fearless. Bold. Doctor of the Church. Poet. Mystic. Stigmatic. Correspondent of Popes and Royalty. Correspondent to the Faithful. Action-oriented contemplative. Saint Catherine of Siena was all these and more. [Read more...]

Because God Became Human To Save Us All

The title of this post says it all. Why bother becoming a Christian unless you believe this? “God became human to save us all.” And if you do believe it, why not practice the ancient faith of the earliest Christians? The one that, despite criticisms attempting to prove the opposite, has developed since Christ ascended to heaven, and yet has not done so at the expense of Biblical (and doctrinal) truth.

This post is not an attempt to explain all of that. That is what this blog, and a lifetime of study, prayer, and reflection, is for. Today though, just for a few minutes, pause from all the crises and craziness of your daily life to ponder the fact that God became a human being. [Read more...]

Because of Thomas Merton, OCSO (January 31, 1915 – December 10, 1968)

This is part VII of my conversion story, tagged as 2BFrank in the Tag Cloud. I run it every year on this day to commemorate the death of Thomas Merton, who was also known as Father Louis.

Yes, I am well aware that he is not a canonized saint, but the salient point about Fr. Louis’ life is not whether he was a good Catholic, or a bad Catholic. The main thing isn’t even that his writings helped bring me into the Church. [Read more...]

Wisdom from Thomas Merton’s Letter to a Young Activist

Now that the presidential election is over, some of you may be feeling listless after the loss in the “biggest election of all time.” My advice? Don’t be.

Depending on where you stand politically, think about how you reacted to last nights election news.

Did you get caught up in the election cycle so much that you lost sight of the Kingdom of Heaven? A slippery slope lies between being a concerned citizen and morphing into a partisan political hack who sees everything through the lens of party and not through the lens of faith. [Read more...]

For Thoughts on Faith Like These by Thomas Merton

Divine_Mercy-779948“Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.”

Now, as Pope Benedict has declared the coming year as the Year of Faith, Fr. Louis explains clearly and simply what faith means. What follows are thoughts from the prologue of his “The Silent Life,” published in 1957.

I came across these words a few years ago, when I was reading all I could that Merton had written. When I read them, I couldn’t help changing the words “monk” and “monasticism” to “Catholic” and “Catholicism”, because when I did, they helped answer the statement “Why I Am Catholic” very effectively. Fr. Louis has the floor,

Let us face the fact that the monastic vocation tends to present itself to the modern world as a problem and as a scandal.

In a basically religious culture, like that of India, or of Japan, the monk is more or less taken for granted. When all society is oriented beyond the mere transient quest of business and pleasure, no one is surprised that men should devote their lives to an invisible God.

In a materialistic culture, which is fundamentally irreligious, the monk is incomprehensible because he “produces nothing.” His life appears to be completely useless. Not even Christians have been exempt from anxiety over this apparent “uselessness” of the monk, and we are familiar with the argument that the monastery is a kind of dynamo which, though it does not “produce” grace, procures this infinitely precious spiritual commodity for the world.

The first Fathers of monasticism were concerned with no such arguments, valid though they may be in their proper context. The Fathers did not feel that the search for God was something that needed to be defended. Or rather, they saw that if men did not realize in the first place that God was to be sought, no other defence of monasticism would avail them.

Is God, then, to be sought?

The deepest law in man’s being is his need for God, for life. God is Life. “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men, and the light shineth in the darkness and the darkness comprehended it not” (John 1:5). The deepest need of our darkness is to comprehend the light which shines in the midst of it. Therefore God has given us his first commandment:

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with all thy strength.

The monastic life is nothing but the life of those who have taken the first commandment in deadly earnest, and have, in the words of St. Benedict, “preferred nothing to the love of Christ.”

But Who is God? Where is He? Is Christian monasticism a search for some pure intuition of the Absolute? A cult of supreme Good? A worship of perfect and changeless Beauty? The very emptiness of such abstractions strikes the heart cold. The Holy One, the Invisible, the Almighty is infinitely greater and more real than any abstraction of man’s devising. But he has said: “No one shall see me and live” (Exodus 33:20). Yet the monk persists in crying out with Moses: “Show me Thy face” (Exodus 33:13).

The monk, then, is one who is so intent upon the search for God that he is ready to die in order to see Him. That is why monastic life is a “martyrdom” as  well as a “paradise,” a life that is at once “angelic” and “crucified.”

St. Paul resolves the problem: “God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Christ Jesus” (2 Corinthians 4:6).

The monastic life is the rejection of all that obstructs the spiritual rays of this mysterious light. The monk is one who leaves behind the fictions and illusions of a merely human spirituality in order to plunge himself in the faith of Christ. Faith is the light which illumines him in mystery. Faith is the power which seizes upon the inner depths of his souls and delivers him up to the action of the divine Spirit, the Spirit of liberty, the Spirit of love. Faith takes him, as the power of God took the ancient prophets, and “stands him upon his feet” (Ezekiel 2:2) before the Lord. The monastic life is the life in the Spirit of Christ, a life in which the Christian gives himself entirely to the love of God which transforms him in the light of Christ.

“The Lord is a Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, beholding the glory of the Lord with open face, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3: 17-18).

What St. Paul has said of the inner life of every Christian becomes in all truth the main objective of the monk, living in his solitary cloister. In seeking Christian perfection the monk seeks the fullness of the Christian life, the complete maturity of the Christian faith. For him, “to live is Christ.”

Amen. It’s time to harness our inner monks and crank up the dynamo of prayer.


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