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The stupidist thing I am currently addicted to are those really short, shot over the shoulder, quick-cut DIY, cooking and Life-hacking videos you find mostly on Instagram, and also on Facebook pages like 5-Minute Crafts. It makes satisfying that aspirational (which is it all it will ever be) Maker inside that more efficient.
LifeHacks on Instagram. One of the DIY feeds, if you want to know what I’m talking about.
Glue guns not optional.
That said, this was very funny to me. When you have no more ideas – not a single one – left.
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Fr. Robert Imbelli, always good and fair writer and thinker, has thoughts on the impact of the post-Conciliar reforms on sacramental life:
But is the challenge before us a doctrinal-pastoral “accommodation” to current cultural “realities,” or (as Saint Paul dares to mount, in the face of the culture of his day), a doctrinal-pastoral mystagogy?
The Corinthians, the Romans, the Galatians were as fractious and divisive as our contemporary divorce and discard culture. Hence Paul’s “accompaniment” of them entailed all the pain and hope of childbirth: “until Christ be formed in you” (Gal 4:19).
Thus Catholicism’s tradition of “Seven Sacraments” should not be construed as some arbitrary numerical concoction. Rather, especially today, it represents the Spirit-guided safeguard of a life-giving sacramental vision that stands in liberating contrast to the stunted secular imagination whose one-dimensional individualism and consumerism ends by suffocating the soul.
However, if as I have suggested the foundational issue is faith in Jesus Christ as Lord of the Church and Savior of the world, then the challenge is primarily that of a renewed Christ-centered proclamation and catechesis.
His is the beloved face revealed in and through the warp and woof of Catholicism’s sacramental tapestry. His is the radiant form to whom believers are sacramentally conformed and transformed.
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This is an excellent article from the UK Catholic Herald on the ridiculous recent Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences on “biological extinction.”
The Pass has, since its founding in 1994, been charged with surveying the scholarship on contemporary topics in order to be of use to the Church’s pastors and theologians in the application of the principles of Catholic social teaching. In recent years, it has taken a turn towards publicity seeking, as when it invited Evo Morales of Bolivia and American senator Bernie Sanders last year to discuss the 25th anniversary of Centesimus Annus.
This year’s gambit was to invite the completely discredited Paul Ehrlich, the grandfather – if one might use that natalist term – of coercive population control, presumably to show broadmindedness by inviting the Church’s enemies and to generate notoriety by gratuitously sticking a finger in the eye of the Church’s pro-life witnesses.
This year’s meeting of the Pass was little different from any routine gathering of environmental alarmists at the United Nations. Consider the preamble to the meeting, which is standard man-is-a-cancer-on-the-planet boilerplate..
Robert Royal had a lot to say about the conference at the Catholic Thing website – his articles are gathered here. (He intended to actually attend the sessions, but they were closed off to the press at somewhat the last minute.)
Donna Cooper O’Boyle has a new book coming out soon – a children’s book on Fatima. And perhaps you can recognize the style of the illustrator? Yes – it’s Ann Engelhart, my friend and colleague and talented artist. I’ve seen some of the interior art, and it’s really lovely, so check it out.
Another recent project of Ann’s, published last year, is The Chestertons and the Golden Key, written by Nancy Carpentier Brown. It’s another lovely book!
And what about us? Yes, we are tossing around ideas for something new. I will be traveling up that way in June for a joint talk we are doing at Immaculate Conception Seminary Library, so we will hopefully by then have substantive ideas to discuss.
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Speaking of my books, I just restocked the bookstore. Go here to see what’s available. I’ll include a copy of the Lent Daybreaks with each order – until they run out.
Not there because it’s not yet published…but coming in a few months:
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Back to the Catholic Herald – Matthew Schmitz this time: “A Beautiful Church for the Poor.”
Mary Douglas, a great anthropologist and devout Catholic, saw this coming. When the bishops of England and Wales lifted the obligation for Friday abstinence, they suggested there was something untoward in the gusto with which Irish labourers observed the fast. Surely, the bishops believed, such outward observance would be better replaced by the more careful and thoughtful cultivation of an interior state of penitence and sorrow, perhaps complemented by a charitable gift?
Such anti-ritualistic arguments were made all across the Catholic world during and after the Council. Douglas, who had studied ritual among primitive tribes, bristled at them. She believed the bog Irish were being treated unfairly because of “a blank in the imaginative sympathy of their pastors”. The hierarchy had been made, “by the manner of their education, dull to non-verbal signals, and insensitive to their meaning”. They came to prefer ethical stances to ritual observance, and so they forgot how to speak to the poor.
For people who have not had the time and training necessary for cultivating a refined interior life or exquisite set of ethical commitments, a simple task like abstaining from meat gives the Christian life a meaning and shape that is no less profound for being inarticulate. In abolishing practices that poor Catholics had treasured for so long, the bishops acted with such violence that it is hard not to see it in terms of class war.
Of course, the Catholic faith is about divine mysteries, not human rituals, however treasured. Thomas Aquinas distinguished ceremonial forms from what was essential to the sacraments. While the sacraments were instituted by God, the form of celebration was determined by man.
This distinction is what gave the fathers of the Second Vatican Council the boldness to tamper with the most ancient rites of the Church. Yet Aquinas saw something that too many in that time did not: ritual cannot be dispensed with and should not be disparaged. We need solemn ceremonial forms not because they are essential but because humans have always tended to comprehend the profound through the trivial.
We need fixed and tangible ways of perceiving divine mysteries. This is why Aquinas defends not only the importance of ritual but also the use of images in Church. He offers three arguments. First, images are necessary for the instruction of simple people. Second, they aid the memory by daily presenting the example of the saints. Third, they help to excite devotion.
Really, though, Aquinas’s three reasons are one. Though he first defends images as useful for the instruction of simple people, he then goes on to explain why they are useful to us all. For learned and unlettered alike, memory is imprinted and emotion aroused “more effectively by things seen than by things heard”. Aquinas was sophisticated enough to realise that all men are simple. If the poor need art and ritual, so does everyone.
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Off to finish my own (not nearly as good) essay and two talks for Monday. Happy first day of the St. Joseph Novena….
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