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mea culpa

I have decided to stop blogging. I don’t feel that I am doing a good enough job at it to keep it going. If I had to summarize this blog it would be: read your Bible, the Catechism (or the Compendium), the Fathers, and the Pope.
So, until I decide to start blogging more purposefully, adieu.

Anyway, all that other reading you have to do should keep you busy….

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Corpus Christi

Ten years ago, on the Feast of Corpus Christi, I was confirmed into the Episcopal Church. This feast will always have a special significance for me. It was because of the Eucharist that I entered the Episcopal Church and it is for the same reason that I became Catholic.

It’s been almost year since I moved to Chicago, in order to attend St. John Cantius, be formed by the Canons Regular and finally be confirmed by the Bishop. For most Anglo-Catholics the conversion process is a difficult one (especially in regards to the Novus Ordo, whether abusively celebrated or not, it is seen as greatly inferior to what is celebrated in most Anglo-Catholic parishes). There can be no question that the Anglo-Catholic tradition is a beautiful one, both in its music, hymns, and English translations of the Bible (eg. KJV and Coverdale’s Psalms) and the Mass. Once I converted and stopped going to the Episcopal parish and started visiting the Catholic parishes in the area where I was living at the time (central PA), I knew for the good of my soul I had to find a traditional parish that celebrated the Traditional Mass and had a rigorous devotional schedule…. Thanks to the internet, NLM and Daniel’s “The Lion and the Cardinal,” I found out about St. John Cantius. I wanted to attend the most Catholic parish in the US and St. John Cantius (if I may say so) is probably it. (It is at least in the top 10). So I moved.

For me the transition from Anglo-Catholic to Roman Catholic has been very easy, to be honest. This is partly because I was such a bad Anglican and because I am able to attend such a good Catholic parish. I do not miss that much about the Anglican/Episcopal church. Yet, I must confess that I still read my Anglican Breviary. And although this book has not been approved for use in the Church there is actually not much Anglican about it (when the Prayer Book Collects vary from the Roman Rite it gives both). I do, however, miss the 1940 hymnal. I was raised to sing in church and sometimes I find the recessional hymns (even at St. John’s) fairly lame. (That just means I have to learn how to read square notes).

I didn’t really care about Merrie Olde England (one of the reasons I was such a bad Anglican). I was (am) a Francophile not an Anglophile (thus my appreciation for Traditional Catholicism). The reason I supported the Anglican Communion was because I thought it was catholic (universal), transcending national and cultural boarders not because it was English. I was eventually relieved of that illusion, for there is no Communion in the Anglican Communion (in any sense of the term). The so called “genius of the Anglican tradition,” the Via Media, is the wide road that leads straight to Hell. If I shared anything in common with the Catholic Church as an Anglo-Catholic it was despite of the Anglican Communion, not because of it.

This is not to say that I have any illusions about the lack of communion (or other very serious issues) in the Catholic Church. God knows there is a battle to fight, but this is the only Church that can do it. The “gates of hell will not prevail against it.” This means we are the ones storming the gates of hell. By the grace of God, we will continue to lay siege to Hell until the last of the elect are fighting with us. Are you with us?!

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One of my favorite bloggers just published a novel. Mr. Blunt, with the same self-sufficient attitude with which he runs his family farm, wrote and published his own novel. I don’t buy books anymore (I’ve been spoiled by The Book Thing) but perhaps I will ask the library to order it… Anyway if you don’t read the novel at least check out his blog.

Congratulations to Mr. Blunt.

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Congratulations to my brother Gregory who read a paper at Princeton Theological Seminary at the Kuyper Center conference on Civil Society and Sphere Sovereignty. Have a look at the video here. The paper is called “Dooyeweerd’s Conception of Societal Sphere Sovereignty: with an application to the question of the status and tax-based support of education”.

It was also his birthday on May 3.

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When we read the New Testament attentively, we discover that there is nothing magical about forgiveness.  But neither is it a fictitious forgetting, a refusal to accept the truth, but an entirely real process of change carried out by the Sculptor.  The removal of guilt truly gets rid of something; the proof that forgiveness has come in us is that penance springs up from us.  Forgiveness is in this sense an active-passive event: the creative word of power that God speaks to us produces the pain of conversion and thus becomes an active self-transformation.  Forgiveness and penance, grace and personal conversion are not contradictions but two sides of one and the same event.  This fusion of activity and passivity expresses the essential form of human existence, for all of our creativity begins with our having been created, with our participation in God’s creative activity.

Here we have reached a very central point: I believe that the core of the spiritual crisis of our time has its basis in the obscuration of the grace of forgiveness.  But let us first take note of the positive side of the present: morality is gradually coming back into favor.  It is recognized, indeed, it has become evident, that all technical progress is questionable and, in the end, destructive when there is no corresponding moral advancement.  It is recognized that there is no reform of man or of humanity without moral renewal.  But the call for morality ultimately remains without effect, because the criteria are veiled in a fog of discussions.  In fact, man cannot bear sheer morality, he cannot live by it: it becomes a “law” for him that provokes contradiction and engenders sin.  For this reason, where forgiveness–true forgiveness guaranteed by authority–is not recognized or believed, morality must be cut down to size so that the conditions of sinful action can never actually occur for the individual.  Today’s discussion of morality is making great strides toward liberating man from guilt by precluding the occurrence of the conditions that make it possible.  One is reminded of the mordant aphorism of Pascal: “Ecce patres qui tollunt peccata mundi!” (Behold the fathers who take away the sins of the world).  According to these “moralists”, guilt simply no longer exists.  

[From Called to Communion, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger]

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I recently read a review of Anne Rice’s new book, “The Road to Cana.” But more importantly I found out that she is not going to publish another vampire story which she initially said she was willing to write.

I have to admit that I am indeed saddened. Of course I respect the consecration of her work to Christ. And I commend her on striving to follow God’s will. I just wish that it included a Catholic vampire story. (But not my will…)

She wants to use her writing as a tool for Evangelism. Well, there is no other genre of literature better equipped for Evangelism than the vampire story. It has only been recently that vampires have suffered from the modern preoccupation of calling what is evil, good and what is good, evil. And do not mistake something which is intrinsically evil as something intrinsically other. Vampires are us, what we become (monsters) when we turn our backs to God and give ourselves over to unbridled passions, our lusts and selfishness, our nihilism. In this way vampire stories are at their core Catholic. Built into the conventions of the genre is Catholic theology; light/darkness, blood/life, life/sacrifice, undeath/damnation, soul/immortality, instinct/vice, sin/slavery, the sacramentals (holy water, crucifixes, rosaries, etc…).

Since vampires represent human nature how is redemption possible? Within the conventions of the genre it is not. Once you are a vampire you are always a vampire, there is no cure, no redemption. But this can lead to fairly one dimensional characters (pure evil, however witty). [This is why Milton gave Satan the best lines.] And why Mrs. Rice let Lestat suffer guilt. Others have tried in different ways to overcome this problem. Take the characters of Angel and Spike. But both characters suffer from what amounts to emasculation or an identity crisis. They are vampires but either can’t be a vampire (Spike’s chip) or do not want to be (Angel’s soul), except when convenient.

When one reads Rice’s Vampire Chronicles you can’t help but ask yourself, would I risk eternal damnation for immortality and vampiric gifts? It is scary to think that I might actually care so much about this “sterile promontory.” The distinction between good and evil should always be clear.

So, it is obvious that in writing a Catholic vampire story one would include a story of redemption. But is a “saved” vampire still a vampire? Aren’t we as baptized Christians made into a new creation? The cruse has been removed and we have been glorified. So the key here is to make the post-vampire character even more powerful and glorious than the conventional vampire but sans the need to kill and all other evil. We are sustained by the once for all sacrifice of Jesus and His flesh and blood. He is Life. We are no longer slaves to sin and our fleshly impulses. We are through Him (and His life, death, resurrection) brought into the life of the Trinity in Heaven.

I think the story of the “Catholic” vampire is viable. It is after all our story. And I think it would be even better if the redemption of the character were to coincide with the Parousia, the final defeat of evil, a new creation of humanity, earth and heaven….

Mrs. Rice pray on it.

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Confirmation Names

[updated]
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I wasn’t paying that close attention (to anyone else that is), but during the confirmation at St. John Cantius at Easter Vigil, I heard three confirmation names repeated a couple times. For the women it was St. Faustina and St. Teresa and for the men the name used at least twice was St. Augustine.

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I chose the name Anthony (after St. Anthony the Great). Ambrose, Joseph and Benedict were my runner up names…. Here is the Life of St. Anthony by St. Athanasius. You can read an older post about St. Anthony here.

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Here is the list of names for this year’s confirmations at St. John Cantius:

Anthony
Augustine (2)
Christopher
Faustina (2)
Isaac Jogues
Joseph
Marie
Maximilian Kolbe
Philmena
Theresa of Avila (2)

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