Daily Archives: March 16, 2009

_Before Sunset_: People Unclear on the Concept

When I was a kid in Erie, PA, the newspaper carried a comic strip called Mr. Boffo. One of its running features is “People Unclear on the Concept.”
C. S. Lewis refers to atheist friend Owen Barfield as the “other” friend, “who read all the right books but got the wrong things out of them.”

Recently, I watched a movie on Netflix called Before Sunset (2004), with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. It is a sequel to a film called, surprisingly enough, Before Sunrise. Both movies concern a man and a woman who meet up in a European City and walk around talking. Very post-modern, existentialist, whatever.

But what struck me, as often happens when I watch or read postmodernist or existentialist stuff (like Simone de Beauvoir’s The Mandarins) is how desperately these people are crying out for the very Christian worldview they decry.

In this case, there’s a scene where the guy played by Hawke talks about visiting a Trappist monastery and being awed at how genuinely holy (and happy) the monks were. Delpy’s character frequently dances around the emptiness of casual sex and says things that are fine for a self-proclaimed feminist, but if a chastity educator said them, that person would be decried as a backwards hick.

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St. Teresa on living in a time of great evil

“Human forces are not sufficient to stop the spread of this fire caused by these heretics, even though people have tried to see if with the force of arms tehy could remedy all the evil that is making such progress. It has seemed to me that what is necessary is a different approach, the approach of a lord when in time of war his land is overrun with enemies and he finds himself restricted on all sides. He withdraws to a city that he has well fortified and from there sometimes strikse his foe.” (Way of Perfection, Ch. 3. para. 1).

St. Teresa of Jesus says here that the best approach in times of great evil is for the Church–as She did under Roman persecution–to adopt a “catacombs” mentality. Not to attack the evil full-force, but to fortify Herself and rebuild the strength of her forces, striking back against the enemies when necessary.

This would seem to be an accurate portrayal of how the Church is governed, and can reassure us in times like the present.

In our own lives as laity, we have times when we need to actively engage the world, and times when we need to–as they say–retreat.

Whether we are adopting a more vita activa or vita contempliva approach, we can only succeed in spiritual warfare if we have our own souls in order. You know, the whole “remove the beam” thing. . . .

Traditional Latin Mass Readings: Third Sunday of Lent

Before I proceed to this week’s readings. . . . Weird. I actually made it to Mass this week, but only after spending most of Saturday and Sunday in bed.
Mary said, “This is what happens: You feel good, and then I feel worn down from taking care of the kids all day.” Anyway, we went to Mass, had one of our best “family” mass experiences in a while, and got to go to Communion. I was having chest pain the whole time, but that’s why I have my power chair.

Anyway, normally, when I go to Mass, and make it through the whole thing, and I am having chest pain, I go to Communion, and my chest pain goes away for a while. If I’m in a spiritual crisis, and not sure if I should go to Communion, one of two things happens: 1) I get some kind of consolation experience after Communion–occasionally an ecstasy–and I know I’m OK with God; b) I have horrible pain, and a bad taste in my mouth, and I know I need to go to Confession.

So, tonight. . . . Tuesday, I went to Confession and received Anointing. Wednesday, I went to the Fr. Groeschel talk. Thursday, I went to Mass with Fr. Groeschel and did 2 hours at Adoration. I haven’t been very good with my daily prayers, but I haven’t committed even any mildly serious venial sins that I’m aware of.

So, tonight, I went to Confession, and, after Confession, my chest pain got worse. Go figure.

Anyway, here are the traditional readings for Today:

Epistle is Ephesians 5:1-9. No fornicating, unclean or covetous person can inherit the kingdom, because all these things constitute serving idols.

Gospel is Luke 11:14-28. Starts with the driving out of a devil in a mute. The demon was cast out, the dumb man spoke, and the people said Jesus cast out demons by the power of Beelzebub.
Jesus says the whole “house divided against itself. . .” thing. Some of these proverbs of Jesus are kind of interesting in this way. Obviously, Satan’s house cannot stand, and Jesus is partly saying that Satan’s house *is* divided against itself. However, He points out that demons will team up with each other if it means possessing a soul.
The last part of this reading, as excerpted, is the woman who calls out “blessed is the womb that bore you,” to which Jesus recalled “Rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it.”

Of course, He is not criticizing the woman’s commendation of His Mother but her criteria. After all, in Luke 1:45, Elizabeth says, “Blessed are you who believed 15 that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled”
Luke 2:19 says, “And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. ” Again, Luke 2:51: “and his mother kept all these things in her heart. ”
So, Mary *is* the one who hears the word of God and keeps it.