31 March 2010

Spy Wednesday

Grr. Instead of working on the last section of my thesis today, I spent all day (it seemed like) running around getting together the things I need for an Austrian driver's license. A rather one-sided conversation with a very helpful policeman at the border of Slovakia convinced me that this would be a good idea. The really strange thing, though, is that they insist on taking away my American license before giving me an Austrian one. I hope my friends / family are able to chauffeur me around this Summer...

Tigers' Pitchers

Well, with only a few days left before the season begins on Monday, the Tigers have settled their rotation questions by trading Nate Robertson to Florida. The first turn through the rotation will look like this:

1. Justin Verlander at Kansas City (5.63 ERA)

2. Max Scherzer at Kansas City (7.15 ERA)

3. Dontrelle Willis at Kansas City (3.26 ERA)

4. Rick Porcello at home vs. Cleveland (1.50 ERA)

5. Jeremy Bonderman at home vs. Cleveland (6.92 ERA)

28 March 2010

Palm Sunday

All glory, praise, and honor,
to Thee, Redeemer, King,
to whom the lips of children
made sweet Hosannas ring.

Thou art the King of Israel,
Thou David's royal Son,
Who in the Lord's Name comest.
the King and blessed One.

The company of Angels
are praislng Thee on high,
and mortal men and all things
created make reply.

The people of the Hebrews
with palms before Thee went;
our pralse and prayer and anthems
before Thee we present.

To Thee before Thy Passion
they sang their hymns of praise;
to Thee now high exalted
our melody we raise.

Thou didst accept their praises,
accept the prayers we bring,
Who in all good delightest,
Thou good and gracious King.

25 March 2010

Feast of the Annunciation

All the rich among the people shall entreat Thy countenance: after her shall virgins be brought to the King: her neighbors shall be brought to thee in gladness and rejoicing.

Ave Maria, gratia plena. Dominus tecum.

21 March 2010

Political Authority

In our class on Catholic Social Teaching we have been reading an immensely frustrating piece of work called The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, penned by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. I don't know precisely what magisterial weight this Council has, but I'm guessing (and hoping) that it's "slim to none".

Last Wednesday we came to paragraphs 393-395, under the heading, "The Foundation of Political Authority."

393. The Church has always considered different ways of understanding authority, taking care to defend and propose a model of authority that is founded on the social nature of the person. "Since God made men social by nature, and since no society can hold together unless some one be over all, directing all to strive earnestly for the common good, every civilized community must have a ruling authority, and this authority, no less than society itself, has its source in nature, and has, consequently, God for its author" [Pope John XXIII, Pacem in terris, 46 (1963).] ....

394. Political authority must guarantee an ordered and upright community life without usurping the free activity of individuals and groups but disciplining and orienting this freedom, by respecting and defending the independence of the individual and social subjects, for the attainment of the common good...

395. The subject of political authority is the people considered in its entirety as those who have sovereignty. In various forms, this people transfers the exercise of sovereignty to those whom it freely elects as its representatives, but it preserves the prerogative to assert this sovereignty in evaluating the work of those charged with governing and also in replacing them when they do not fulfil their functions satisfactorily. Although this right is operative in every State and in every kind of political regime, a democratic form of government, due to its procedures for verification, allows and guarantees its fullest application. [cf. Pope John Paul II, Centesimus annus, 46 (1991).] The mere consent of the people is not, however, sufficient for considering "just" the ways in which political authority is exercised.

My summary: The Compendium asserts that political authority moves like this: God - people - rulers. Now, read Pope St. Pius X's condemnation of Sillonism, in Notre Charge Apostolique (1910):

[Pius X:] The Sillon places public authority primarily in the people, from whom it then flows into the government in such a manner, however, that it continues to reside in the people. But Leo XIII absolutely condemned this doctrine in his Encyclical Diuturnum Illud on political government in which he said:

[Leo XIII:] "Modern writers in great numbers, following in the footsteps of those who called themselves philosophers in the last century, declare that all power comes from the people; consequently those who exercise power in society do not exercise it from their own authority, but from an authority delegated to them by the people and on the condition that it can be revoked by the will of the people from whom they hold it. Quite contrary is the sentiment of Catholics who hold that the right of government derives from God as its natural and necessary principle."

[Pius X:] Admittedly, the Sillon holds that authority - which first places in the people - descends from God, but in such a way: "as to return from below upwards, whilst in the organization of the Church power descends from above downwards." But besides its being abnormal for the delegation of power to ascend, since it is in its nature to descend, Leo XIII refuted in advance this attempt to reconcile Catholic Doctrine with the error of philosophism. For, he continues:

[Leo XIII:] "It is necessary to remark here that those who preside over the government of public affairs may indeed, in certain cases, be chosen by the will and judgment of the multitude without repugnance or opposition to Catholic doctrine. But whilst this choice marks out the ruler, it does not confer upon him the authority to govern; it does not delegate the power, it designates the person who will be invested with it."

[Pius X:] For the rest, if the people remain the holders of power, what becomes of authority? A shadow, a myth; there is no more law properly so-called, no more obedience. The Sillon acknowledges this: indeed, since it demands that threefold political, economic, and intellectual emancipation in the name of human dignity, the Future City in the formation of which it is engaged will have no masters and no servants. All citizens will be free; all comrades, all kings. A command, a precept would be viewed as an attack upon their freedom; subordination to any form of superiority would be a diminishment of the human person, and obedience a disgrace. Is it in this manner, Venerable Brethren, that the traditional doctrine of the Church represents social relations, even in the most perfect society? Has not every community of people, dependent and unequal by nature, need of an authority to direct their activity towards the common good and to enforce its laws? And if perverse individuals are to be found in a community (and there always are), should not authority be all the stronger as the selfishness of the wicked is more threatening? Further, - unless one greatly deceives oneself in the conception of liberty - can it be said with an atom of reason that authority and liberty are incompatible? Can one teach that obedience is contrary to human dignity and that the ideal would be to replace it by "accepted authority"? Did not St. Paul the Apostle foresee human society in all its possible stages of development when he bade the faithful to be subject to every authority? Does obedience to men as the legitimate representatives of God, that is to say in the final analysis, obedience to God, degrade Man and reduce him to a level unworthy of himself? Is the religious life which is based on obedience, contrary to the ideal of human nature? Were the Saints - the most obedient men, just slaves and degenerates? Finally, can you imagine social conditions in which Jesus Christ, if He returned to earth, would not give an example of obedience and, further, would no longer say: "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's" ?

My summary: Pius X, citing the doctrine of Leo XIII, condemns the Sillonist assertion that political authority moves like this: God - people - rulers.

Has the Compendium re-introduced the condemned doctrine of the Sillonists? Or am I missing something? If I'm not, then I'd love to know what happens to the asserted superiority of the democratic form of government, since paragraph 395 bases this assertion on the aforesaid condemned doctrine.

Passion Sunday

Commemoration of St. Benedict, Abbot

"The Mass of Passion Sunday is full of the thought of the Passion of Jesus and of the infidelity of the Jews, whose place in the Kingdom of God was taken by those who were baptized, that is to say by Christians." ~Roman Catholic Daily Missal (1962)

20 March 2010

Feast of St. Joseph (I Class)

We beseech Thee, O Lord, that we may be helped by the merits of the Spouse of Thy most holy Mother: so that what we cannot obtain ourselves, may be given to us through his intercession.

Yesterday was the Feast of St. Joseph, patron of the Universal Church. He is also the patron of fathers, so March 19 is traditionally recognized as a day to honor fathers, and a special patron of little Thomas Joseph. So happy belated Father's day to all fathers, and happy belated name day to everyone named Joseph.

John didn't request anything particularly special to mark the day, although we did have a nice Italian dinner. A few weeks ago I found a website with lots of fun things to make on particular feast days, and there were many ideas of things to do for this feast, including a St. Joseph's Table, and a St. Joseph's Altar. Those didn't happen, but I did use their idea for Sfinge San Giuseppe (ricotta filled cream puffs) for dessert.

I came home to find the boys hanging out, watching baseball highlights.

Sfinge San Giuseppe (pastry made by Katie).

17 March 2010

St. Paddy's Day

Lisa has been hard at work preparing a fitting celebration of the good Saint Patrick; and Maria, for one, is pretty excited about it!

Happy St. Paddy's Day!

Guinness Beef Stew

Soda Bread

Kilkenny Cream Ale

Guinness Chocolate Cake

The Tyrconnell

The Feast of St. Patrick

O God, Who didst vouchsafe to send blessed Patrick, Thy Confessor and Bishop, to preach Thy glory to the nations: grant, by his merits and intercession, that whatever Thou commandest us to do, we may be Thy mercy be able to fulfill. Through our Lord Jesus Christ...

I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of the Invocation of the Trinity:
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe

I bind to myself today
The virtue of the Incarnation of Christ with His Baptism
The virtue of His crucifixion with His burial
The virtue of His Resurrection with His Ascension
The virtue of His coming on the Judgement Day.

I bind to myself today
The virtue of the love of the seraphim
In the obedience of angels
In the hope of resurrection unto reward
In the prayers of Patriarchs
In the predictions of Prophets
In the preaching of Apostles
In the faith of Confessors
In the purity of holy Virgins
In deeds of righteous men.

I bind to myself today
The power of Heaven,
The light of the sun,
The brightness of the moon,
The splendour of fire,
The flashing of lightning,
The swiftness of the wind,
The depth of the sea,
The stability of the earth,
The compactness of rocks.

I bind to myself today
God's Power to guide me,
God's Might to uphold me,
God's Wisdom to teach me,
God's Eye to watch over me,
God's Ear to hear me,
God's Word to give me speech,
God's hand to guide me,
God's Way to lie before me,
God's Shield to shelter me,
God's Host to secure me,
Against the snares of demons,
Against the seductions of vices,
Against the lusts of nature,
Against everyone who meditates injury to me,
Whether far or near,
Whether few or many.

I invoke today all these virtues
Against every merciless power
Which may assail my body or soul.
Against the incantations of false prophets,
Against the black laws of heathenism,
Against the false laws of heresy,
Against the deceits of idolatry,
Against the spells of womens, and smiths, and druids,
Against every knowledge that binds the soul of man.

Christ, protect me today
Against every poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against death-wound,
That I may receive abundant reward.

Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ at my right, Christ at my left,
Christ in the fort,
Christ in the chariot seat,
Christ in the poop [deck],
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of the Invocation of the Trinity:
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe

16 March 2010

Many Happy Returns of the Day...

For Vincent:

And for Brigid:

Lots of love from all of us, and especially big kisses from the kiddies

14 March 2010

Laetare Sunday

Laetare Sunday has also long been known as Mothering Sunday, on account of the Mass propers that speak to us of the Holy City Jerusalem (prefiguring the Church) as our mother. The Introit, for example, puts together Isaiah 66:10-11 and Psalm 121:1. The Epistle is Galatians 4:22-31.

Traditions associated with the day include hearing Mass at the cathedral (the mother church of the diocese), as well as honoring human mothers (i.e. this was Christendom's "Mother's Day"). In light of which traditions, we heard the Laetare Mass at the Stephansdom, and then took Lisa out to lunch at a restaurant in Vienna that she had been wanting to try, Flanagans Irish Pub. More than the Guinness, it was the Sunday roast beef special with all the Irish trimmings that intrigued her. It was good, but I couldn't turn down the rare chance at a real, good, beef burger. Wow. The place has an interesting story, too. There used to be a pub in County Cork called Flannerys, but they dismantled it, packed it up, sent it to Vienna, put it back together, and opened their doors again in 1996 with the new name of Flanagans.

And, to our dear mothers back home, we wish you a very happy Mother's Day!

12 March 2010

Happy Birthday, Mom!

And from the kids...

Happy Birthday, Nana!

We love you!

07 March 2010

St. Thomas Aquinas

Confessor, Doctor of the Church

O God, through Whom Thy Church is glorified by the wonderful learning of Thy blessed Confessor Thomas and profiteth still from his holy labors: grant, we pray, that we may grasp his teaching with our minds and show it, as he did, in our lives. Through our Lord Jesus Christ...

The Apotheosis of St. Thomas Aquinas (1631)
~ Francisco Zurbaran

Museo Provincial de Bellas Artes, Seville, Spain

06 March 2010

Culture and the Thomist Tradition after Vatican II

Since I'm taking only two classes at this point in the semester, I've actually been able to find time for some leisure reading on the side. I've just finished Tracey Rowland's Culture and the Thomist Tradition: After Vatican II (2003).

Her work basically contrasts the respective approaches taken by "Postmodern Augustinian Thomists" and "Whig Thomists" to the dominant Western culture of Liberalism. She aligns herself with the former group, who view Catholicism and Liberalism as essentially incompatible, against the latter group, who want to effect a synthesis between them.

I won't suggest that it is the main point of her work, but the one that I found most interesting is her critique of the attempt to "baptize" elements of Liberal thought as Aquinas did for Aristotelian thought. Here she argues the essential difference between a pre-Christian paganism open to transcendence and the Incarnation, and a post-Christian atheism or agnosticism that has deliberately shut the door against Christianity.

The most interesting case in point that she takes up is the language of "natural rights." That's right, believe it or not, the Dean of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family (Melbourne, Austrialia), argues that the adoption of "natural rights" rhetoric (which presumably includes the idea of a "right to life") by the conciliar and post-conciliar magisterium and theologians at large, actually inadvertently undermines their own efforts to correct errant aspects of the culture and jurisprudence of modernity.

This aspect of her argument resonated with me rather strongly because of the frustrations that I regularly encounter in my Catholic Social Teaching class, the most recent example of which was the fact that the magisterium has adopted as one of the four main principles of her social doctrine the principle of "solidarity." Now, what is the problem here? Nothing, if you understand the word to mean "friendship" in the classical Aristotelian / Ciceronian sense, and this is what John Paul II says he means by the word in Centesimus Annus (1991). In fact, he says that he means the same thing by "solidarity" that Pope Leo XIII meant by "friendship" and Pope Pius XI by "social charity".

Here is the problem: the word "solidarity" is not a vacuous string of letters just waiting to be filled with content by whoever wants to use it. It was coined in the 18th century French Encyclopaedia, written by such men as Voltaire, Diderot, Rousseau, et al. It was a massive compilation of Enlightenment thought, theory, and argumentation, and contributed directly to the intellectual ferment which erupted in the French Revolution (1789). The word was then first translated into English in the 19th century Chartist movement in England, with which Karl Marx was peripherally involved, and which was tied to the 1848 revolutions that shook London, Paris, Vienna, and Italy (the Communist Manifesto was published in early 1848). "Solidarity" was then adopted as the central ethic of the First International (with Marx more or less at its head), from its founding Congress in Geneva in 1864 (or 1866 - I forget). In short, the term "solidarity" concretely refers to the cooperation of poor men in all countries which is necessary for the overthrow of oppressive regimes.

Is it really possible in the 1960s -1980s, when Marxism was still very current, to simply inject the term with different meaning? In other words, in this historical context, was it prudent for John Paul II to say that one of the most important things that secular society needs to implement is solidarity? Given what he meant by the word, his teaching was undoubtedly true. But was it prudent? The positive argument for using such an essentially Liberal / Marxist term is that it has such currency that people will readily understand it, whereas words like "charity" are somewhat lost on modern men. The negative argument is also that it has such currency that people will readily understand it... but in the way in which they already understand it.

My question, therefore, is whether this kind of strategy may have contributed to or at least enabled post-conciliar phenomena such as liberation theology, which essentially posits that the Gospel and the Church are really calling the poor to rise up in Marxist revolutions. Another example could be the movement to "democratize" the Church. If those who hear the magisterium of the Church stressing the need for "solidarity" understand that term in the manner in which they are accustomed to understand it, is it any surprise that they charge the Church with inconsistency for attempting to maintain her own hierarchical structure?

Something to chew on, anyways, and a book much to be recommended. Oh, and in the interests of all fairness and all that, I'll link a review of the book from the Journal First Things, which is one of the flagship publications for the strain of thought in Catholicism that Rowland calls "Whig Thomism".

Vive le Roi!

05 March 2010

Scouting Report

The initial results are mostly in now, and at this point in spring training I'd say the pitching rotation stacks up as follows:

1. Justin Verlander - we'll go ahead and tentatively pencil him in as the staff ace, pending the results of his first spring training performance.

2. Rick Porcello - the kid sent six in order back to the dugout in his two innings of work.

3. Jeremy Bonderman - two scoreless innings, highlighted by three strikeouts; good to see him looking like his old self (including allowing the first two batters he faced to reach base).

4. Eddie Bonine - two scoreless innings, one hit and one walk.

5. Dontrelle Willis - the big surprise here is the D-Train, who got out of his two innings unscathed despite walking the lead-off hitter both times.

Waiting in the wings: Phil Coke - at this point he'll be coming out of the bullpen as he did for the Yanks last year, but should one of the top five guys falter, he could be available as a starter, and his two scoreless innings in his start against Florida Southern on Tuesday showed that he would be ready.

Not yet out of the running, but coming off pretty poor showings, are Max Scherzer (ERA: 13.50); Nate Robertson (ERA: 13.50); and Armando Galarraga (ERA: 36.00).

04 March 2010

Thomas finds a friend

This certainly isn't the first time he's discovered the mirror, but he seemed more amused than usual.

02 March 2010

Daily Intentions

As the more observant will have perhaps noticed by now, we like to keep track of the Church's sanctification of time by noting to what or whom the months of the year are dedicated. Having done this for some time, I was reflecting on the weekly cycle of dedications, wondering if specific prayer intentions might be matched up with each one. I had a few ideas, and Katie added another, but there are still gaps. Any ideas?

Sunday: The Resurrection.

Monday: The Blessed Trinity.
Pray for the reintegration of our separated brethren into the unity of the Catholic Church?

Tuesday: The Holy Angels.

Wednesday: St. Joseph / Ss. Peter and Paul / The Holy Apostles.
Pray for families, or perhaps missionaries?

Thursday: The Holy Spirit / The Blessed Sacrament / Christ the High Priest.
Pray for priests?

Friday: The Holy Cross / The Passion.

Saturday: Our Lady.

The Winter is Past

For lo, the winter is past,
the rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth,
the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtledove
is heard in our land.

~Canticle of Canticles 2:11-12

01 March 2010

St. Joseph

"It is a salutary practice and very praiseworthy, already established in some countries, to consecrate the month of March to the honor of the holy Patriarch by daily exercises of piety. Where this custom cannot be easily established, it is as least desirable, that before the feast-day, in the principal church of each parish, a "triduo" of prayer be celebrated. In those lands where the 19th of March - the Feast of St. Joseph - is not a Festival of Obligation, We exhort the faithful to sanctify it as far as possible by private pious practices, in honor of their heavenly patron, as though it were a day of Obligation."

~Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Letter Quamquam pluries (On Devotion to St. Joseph), 1889.