My soul thirsts

As a deer longs for flowing streams,
    so my soul longs for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
    for the living God.
When shall I come and behold
    the face of God? (Ps 42:1-2)

“I have life, says the Lord, and I do not desire the death of the sinner but, rather, that he should be converted and himself have life.” (Ezekiel 18:32) God desires the sinner to turn away from the darkness of his own nothingness and void and come to himself, to draw life from his life. Sin is grounded in an illusion concerning my own alleged greatness and worth in my own eyes. Repentance is grounded, not in a desire to abase myself, but in a clear understanding and a profound conviction of my great worth in the eyes of God. Penance springs from a knowledge that I am worth so much that I do not have the right to deprive myself of the life God wants to give me, or to deprive God himself, for that matter, of the irreplaceable love he seeks in me. An old French poem, by Francois Villon, begins with the striking line: Je meurs de soif auprès de la fontaine [I die of thirst right by the fountain’s edge]. It happens that the call to Christian conversion intends to correct precisely such an irrational situation: we must turn to the rich, abundant water under our noses that God never denies us. It is not a humiliation but a show of intelligence to admit that my own cisterns are broken, empty, and clogged with accumulated refuse and that I must go to the fontes Salvatoris—the “fountain of the Savior” that is the Heart of Jesus—in order to quench my raging thirst. The Christian’s authentic sense of self-worth consists in this conviction that I have both the right and the possibility to quench a thirst that is the expression of the noblest part of my being; and this conviction, resulting in so much trust, was brought to us by Jesus’ coming among us in the flesh. (Erasmo Leiva)

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Review: Dynamics of World History

Dynamics of World History
Dynamics of World History by Christopher Henry Dawson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A Christian is like a red rag to a bull—to the force of evil that seeks to be master of the world and which, in a limited sense, but in a very real sense, is, as St. John says, the Lord of this world. And not only the individual but the Church as an historic community follows the same pattern and finds its success and failure not where the politician finds them, but where Christ found them.

At first sight the difference between sixteenth-century Catholicism and Protestantism is the difference between the traditional and the revolutionary conceptions of Christianity and of the church. To the Catholic the church was the Kingdom of God on earth—in via—the supernatural society through which and in which alone humanity could realize its true end. It was a visible society with its own law and constitution which possessed divine and indefectible authority. It remained through the ages one and the same, like a city set on a hill, plain for all men to see, handing on from generation to generation the same deposit of faith and the same mandate of authority which it had received from its divine Founder and which it would retain whole and intact until the end of time. The Reformers, on the other hand, while maintaining a similar conception of the church as the community through which God’s purpose towards the human race is realized, refused to identify this divine society with the actual visible hierarchical church, as known to history. Against the Catholic view of the church as the visible City of God, they set the apocalyptic vision of an apostate church, a harlot drunk with the blood of the saints, sitting on the seven hills and intoxicating the nations with her splendour and her evil enchantments. The true church was not this second Babylon, but the society of the elect, the hidden saints who followed the teaching of the Bible rather than of the hierarchy and who were to be found among the so-called heretics—Hussites, Wycliffites, Waldensians and the rest, rather than among the servants of the official institutional church.

The result of this revolutionary attitude to the historic church was a revolutionary, catastrophic, apocalyptic and discontinuous view of history. As Calvin writes, the history of the church is a series of resurrections. Again and again the church becomes corrupt, the Word is no longer preached, life seems extinct, until God once more sends forth prophets and teachers to bear witness to the truth and to reveal the evangelical doctrine in its pristine purity. Thus the Reformation may be compared to the Renaissance since it was an attempt to go back behind the Middle Ages, to wipe out a thousand years of historical development and to restore the Christian religion to its primitive “classical” form. Yet on the other hand this return to the past brought the Protestant mind into fresh contact with the Jewish and apocalyptic sources of the Christian view of history, so that the Reformation led to an increased emphasis on the Hebraic prophetic and apocalyptic elements in the Christian tradition as against the Hellenic, patristic and metaphysical elements that were so strongly represented alike in patristic orthodoxy and in mediaeval Catholicism

As the Christian faith in Christ is faith in a real historical person, not an abstract ideal, so the Catholic faith in the church is faith in a real historical society, not an invisible communion of saints or a spiritual union of Christians who are divided into a number of religious groups and sects. And this historic society is not merely the custodian of the sacred Scriptures and a teacher of Christian morality. It is the bearer of a living tradition which unites the present and the past, the living and the dead, in one great spiritual community which transcends all the limited communities of race and nation and state. Hence, it is not enough for the Catholic to believe in the Word as contained in the sacred Scriptures, it is not even enough to accept the historic faith as embodied in the creeds and interpreted by Catholic theology, it is necessary for him to be incorporated as a cell in the living organism of the divine society and to enter into communion with the historic reality of the sacred tradition. Thus to the student who considers Catholicism as an intellectual system embodied in theological treatises, Catholicism may seem far more legalist and intellectualist than Protestantism, which emphasizes so strongly the personal and moral-emotional sides of religion, but the sociologist who studies it in its historical and social reality will soon understand the incomparable importance for Catholicism of tradition, which makes the individual a member of a historic society and a spiritual civilization and which influences his life and thought consciously and unconsciously in a thousand different ways.

Question

What right has the Catholic Church to arrogate to herself powers given by Christ, rather than any other body of believers?

None whatever. No body of believers has any right to arrogate to itself any powers at all in this matter, just as no ordinary citizen has the right to enter a court and declare himself to be judge. Yet a lawfully appointed judge has the right to act in virtue of his commission. The Catholic Church takes nothing upon herself, but she does endeavor to fulfill the commission given her by Christ. Historically she alone can possibly inherit the jurisdiction given by Christ to the Apostles, and handed down through the ages. All other churches exist because men arrogated to themselves the right to coin new doctrines and set up churches of their own. (Radio Replies – by Charles M. Carty, Leslie Rumble)

Review: Church of Spies: The Pope’s Secret War Against Hitler

Church of Spies: The Pope's Secret War Against Hitler
Church of Spies: The Pope’s Secret War Against Hitler by Mark Riebling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There have been many books written about Pope Pius XII. He has been slandered and misunderstood by many. He was called Hitler’s Pope by John Cornwell. He was accused of not doing enough during the war to prevent the horrible atrocities the Nazi Germany carried out against Jewish people. For many years this myth has been spread throughout the culture. Now that we can finally look at the secret archives from the time of the war, a different picture is starting to emerge.

Mark Riebling has done a wonderful job with this book. The actual history is so much more interesting then the mindless theories of the enemies of the Church. Was Pope Pius perfect? No. Could he have done more? Perhaps. What Mr. Riebling has showed quite well in this well researched book is how involved the Pope actually was in trying to bring down Hitler.

The book is also excellent highlighting the brave men inside of Germany. They fought Hitler from the inside, often at a great cost to their own safety. I knew about the Valkyrie plot but I was not familiar with the other attempts at Hitler’s life. What also was surprising to me was the cooperation between the Catholic Germany and the Protestants. The name of Dietrich Bonhoeffer is well known throughout the Christian world. He suffered and died because of the plot against Hitler. Other names were less known to me. The heroic actions of Josef Müller and Wilhelm Canaris need to be remembered.

This is a great book and a great addition to any WWII history library. I highly recommend it.

Broke through my deafness

Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you!  You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you.  In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created.  You were with me, but I was not with you.  Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would not have been at all.  You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness.  You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness.  You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you.  I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more.  You touched me, and I burned for your peace.

This beautiful passage from Augustine’s Confessions was the key in my embrace of Christ.  I picked up Augustine’s Confessions in my second year at university.  I remember this was a troubling time in my life.  As is often the case at that age, there were many different distractions that occupied my mind.  I didn’t know my faith well then.  I didn’t even own an English bible. I learned my faith as a child in another language.  When I came to Canada my religious education stalled. For most of my teens my faith didn’t grow, doubts sept in, and few times my faith was challenged by non Catholics.  I attended church each week and went through the motions of a Christian life.

One day on a trip to university book store I noticed a copy of this wonderful book.  I don’t know what drew me to it.  I picked it up and bought it.  At this point I didn’t know who Augustine was.  I didn’t read the book right away.  It laid in my room for several months.  I now believe that it was God’s grace that made me buy this book. That it was God preparing me for an encounter that would change my life.

Saint_Augustine_PortraitThat encounter came on a beautiful August Sunday, when my family and I went to an annual pilgrimage at the Martyr’s Shrine in Midland Ontario.  It was there during the Mass that for the first time God’s word has broken through me. Something changed there. I can’t explain it but in an instant my entire world view has shifted.  I started to feel this great internal hunger for God.  After returning home, alone in my room I prayed for the first time in a long time.  I also said my Rosary for the first time in a very long time.  All the sudden everything started to fit in place.  This Jesus that I’ve been meditating on during the Rosary came alive to me.  I felt this profound love coming from Him.  I felt loved by Love itself and peace filled my soul.  My hunger for God just increased, and Augustine’s Confession was on my desk.

In Augustine’s work I recognized my own story.  The beautiful way he expressed his love for the Lord was the way my soul felt.  The next day I went out and bought my first English bible.  It was a NIV translation.  I didn’t know at the time that it was missing books.  I read it every day.  The Gospels were my favourite books right away.  I wanted to know Jesus,  I wanted to know the person who my heart burned with love for.

Over the next few years, I’ve read everything that I could get my hands on that spoke about Jesus.  I’ve read theology books, apologetic books, bible commentaries, conversion stories and the catechisms.  I also read the bible a lot.  By that time I’ve learned the differences between Catholic and Protestant scripture. I abandoned my incomplete NIV translation and settled finally for the RSV CE. My protestant friends tried to convince me of the errors of the Church.  I always found their arguments to be weak and none of them bothered to actually see what the Church teaches.  Protestantism never appealed to me.  Protestantism’s central doctrines are not biblical. They were created by men with no connection to the apostolic faith. The were created to justify their separation from Christ’s church. Their theology sounds like lawyer speak to me. Which makes sense since their doctrines were created by a lawyer.

In Christ’s Church I found what I was hungry for. I found Jesus.  There is no greater gift that God gave us then the Eucharist.  Every time I go to communion, I am united with my Love.  Nothing else satisfies.  Not the books, not the theology, not any creature. Only Jesus satisfies the hunger that burns in the heart of every disciple.