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Moral Obligation is Our Dignity [Mar. 8th, 2011|03:32 am]
KahlessNestor
[Current Location |Work]
[mood |contemplativecontemplative]
[music |Louis Armstrong]

Moral obligation is not man's prison, from which he must liberate himself in order finally to be able to do what he wants. It is moral obligation that constitutes his dignity, and he does not become more free if he discards it: on the contrary, he takes a step backward, to the level of a machine, of a mere thing. If there is no longer any obligation to which he can and must respond in freedom, then there is no longer any realm of freedom at all. The recognition of morality is the real substance of human dignity; but one cannot recognize this without simultaneously experiencing it as an obligation of freedom. Morality is not man's prison but rather the divine element in him… For nature is not – as is asserted by a totalitarian scientism – some assemblage built up by chance and its rules of play but is rather a creation. A creation in which the Creator Spiritus expresses himself. This is why there are not only natural laws in the sense of physical functions: the specific natural law itself is a moral law. Creation itself teaches us how we can be human in the right way. The Christian faith, which helps us to recognize creations as creation, does not paralyze reason; it gives practical reason the life-sphere in which it can unfold. The morality that the Church teaches I s not some special burden for Christians: it is the defense of man against the attempt to abolish him. If morality – as we have seen – is not the enslavement of man but his liberation, then the Christian faith is the advance post of human freedom. -- Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI)
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Salt and Light [Feb. 6th, 2011|12:02 pm]
KahlessNestor
[Current Location |The Stupe]
[mood |annoyedannoyed]
[music |Canadian Brass]

Trust a Catholic to focus on the negative side of the "salt and light" gospel reading today. I don't think it's sound pastoral practice to warn against being "too salty" or "too bright"! That's hardly the problem of American Catholics (or American Christians in general). It may be something you could advise to some specific person, and I've known a few at Wheaton, but it's hardly something to preach to a complacent suburban American congregation. Would Father offer this advice to a St. Francis, a St. Ignatius Loyal, or any other number of saints I could cite that we would call "overzealous"? And to put down renewel movements like Cursillo, Marriage Encounter, etc., no matter how many caveats you throw in about how great they are, is uncool. A pastor should encourage his congregation to be MORE salt, MORE light. Unfortunately, this homily just encourages the Evangelical stereotypes of Catholics as being fundamentally unserious about their faith.

Zeal should never be discouraged; complacency should never be encouraged, no matter how unintentionally done.

KN
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Quote [Feb. 1st, 2011|09:37 am]
KahlessNestor
[Current Location |Home]
[mood |amusedamused]

"Best autopsy ever. I think I just peed myself a little. Seriously, I did." - Jameson Rook, in "Naked Heat" by Richard Castle

KN
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(no subject) [Dec. 21st, 2010|06:41 am]
KahlessNestor
[Current Location |Work]
[mood |amusedamused]

"I find thy face apelike and thy form misshapen. Thy beard, moreover, is an offense against decency, resembling more closely teh scabrous fur which doth decorate the hinder portion of a mongrel dog than a proper adornment for a human face. Is it possible that they mother, seized by some wild lechery, did dally at some time past with a randy goat?" Mandorallen, from the last book of The Mallorean by David Eddings

KN
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True Community [Nov. 5th, 2010|01:32 am]
KahlessNestor
[Current Location |Work]
[mood |thoughtfulthoughtful]
[music |Acapella]

From Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Life Together:

"Innumerable times a whole Christian community has broken down because it had sprung from a wish dream. The serious Christian, set down for the first time in a Christian community, is likely to bring with him a very definite idea of what Christian life together should be and to try to realize it. But God's grace speedily shatters such dreams. Just as surely as God desires to lead us to a knowledge of genuine Christian fellowship, so surely must we be overwhelmed by a great disillusionment with others, with Christians in general, and, if we are fortunate, with ourselves….

"He who loves his dream of a community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial.

"God hates visionary dreaming; it makes the dreamer proud and pretentious…."

*****

Rereading the opening of this text today, I was struck by how applicable it is to the faith communities of which I'm a part.

Evangelicals – I meet many people who claim to be Christians but don't go to church, for whatever the reason. They are the ultimate expression of Protestantism and evangelical "Me and Jesus"-ism, often using any excuse to avoid Christian community.

Catholics – for those stuck in the '70s and '80s, with the liturgical focus on 'the community' that produced all those awful, banal, and, frankly, heretical hymns singing our own praises, this book shows from where true community comes, something I've said numerous times before. Community is only formed by group focus on one thing. For the church, that is worship of God. Vertical, God-centered and Eucharistic-centered worship is the only way to produce the horizontal community these people long for. Collective navel gazing at 'community' only ends up turning community into an idol and, ultimately, destroying the very thing we are trying to gain. C.S. Lewis discusses this in Mere Christianity (I think) when he talks about putting first things first, right ordering of goods. One only gets lesser goods by keeping the ultimate good first. To place anything else first only leads one to lose that for which one grasps.

KN
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(no subject) [Nov. 1st, 2010|07:13 am]
KahlessNestor
[Current Location |Work]
[mood |tiredtired]
[music |Anuna]

About Jesus Christ and the Church, I simply know they're just one thing, and we shouldn't complicate the matter. - St. Joan of Arc

KN
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Quotes [Sep. 20th, 2010|03:56 am]
KahlessNestor
[Current Location |Work]
[mood |amusedamused]
[music |Scott Hahn]

When God saw that the Church in America lacked persecutions, he sent them liturgists. - Peter Kreeft

I think that in Heaven, Protestants will teach Catholics to sing and Catholics will teach Protestants to dance and sculpt. - Peter Kreeft

KN
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Quote [Sep. 10th, 2010|01:46 am]
KahlessNestor
[Current Location |Work]
[mood |contemplativecontemplative]
[music |Pink Martini]

We must speak to them with our hands before we try to speak to them with our lips. - St. Peter Claver

KN
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Eric Metaxas' Bonhoeffer [Aug. 23rd, 2010|04:08 am]
KahlessNestor
[Current Location |Work]

I'm really enjoying his new Bonhoeffer biography by Eric Metaxas. He is a really good writer and the bio does read like a novel, as the jacket blurbs say. He's also got these amazing one-line flourishes that have me literally laughing out loud:

p. 348 – After Germany's invasion of Poland: "for two days the British engaged in a diplomatic back and forth, but at some point someone lent Chamberlain a vertebra, for against Hitler's calculations, on Sunday, Great Britain declared war."

p. 356 – "Behold, that unpredictable magus, Adolf Hitler, would now with a flourish produce from his hindquarters a withered olive branch and wave it before the goggling world."


One of the best features of the book, I think, is how it highlights the situation in Germany during these years. There was more activity in the German Resistance than we are taught in school, but it was like walking a tightrope. Many just could not fathom the depths of evil with which they were dealing, and Hitler and his Nazis were very good at deception and taking advantage of the old Prussian morality and honor. At Metaxas is able to describe the situation with remarkable prose:

p. 351-352:

"….What [Admiral] Canaris [head of the Abwehr, German military intelligence, and a leader in the resistance] could not have known at that civilized meeting was that it would continue and would get much worse. It would not only destroy Germany, but would do so more completely than he had ever dared to fear. The German culture and civilization that he, Donanyi [Bonhoeffer's brother-in-law], and Bonhoeffer knew and loved would be obliterated from history. Future generations would be convinced that nothing good could ever have existed in a country that produced such evil. They would think only of these evils It would be as if these unleashed dark forces had grotesquely marched like devils on dead horses, backward through the gash in the present, and had destroyed the German past, too.

"Canaris and the others in the German military leadership thought that Hitler's bestial nature was unfortunate, but they had no idea it was something that he cultivated and celebrated, that it was part of an ideology that had been waiting for this opportunity to leap at the throats of every Jew and Pole, priest and aristocrat, and tear them to pieces. The German generals had not seen the dark river of blood bubbling beneath the surface of the new Germany, but suddenly here it was, gushing like a geyser. Despite all the hints and warnings, it was too gruesome to be believed.

"Hitler's hour had arrived, and on the first of September, a brutal new Darwinism broke over Europe: the Nietzschean triumph of the strong over the weak could at last begin. The weak who could be useful would be brutally enslaved, all others would be murdered. What seemed so offensive to the international community—that Hitler would take the territory of the Polish people by force—was nothing compared to what the Nazis were doing. Their racial ideologies demanded more than territory; Poland must become a giant slave labor camp. The Poles were to be treated as Untermenschen (subhumans). Their lands would not merely be occupied; they themselves would be terrorized and broken into utter docility, would be dealt with as beasts. The Germans would not tolerate the possibility of failure or the slightest manifestations of mercy. Brutality and mercilessness would be aggressively cultivated as virtues."

KN
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Quotes [Aug. 23rd, 2010|03:45 am]
KahlessNestor
[Current Location |Work]
[music |Whipple Tree Band]

Where books are burned, they will, in the end, burn people, too. - Heinrich Heine

It's been our misfortune to have the wrong religion. Why didn't we have the religion of the Japanese, who regard sacrifice for the Fatherland as the highest good? The Mohammedan religion too would have been much more compatible to us than Christianity. Why did it have to be Christianity with its meekness and flabbiness? - Adolf Hitler

KN
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