Friday, January 20, 2017
From the first time I saw Mr. Obama, his First Inaugural, I said to myself, “This is a classical tyrant” and wrote an article to that effect. Now, a classical “tyrant” is not some brutal beast. Rather, he is popular, suave, smooth-talking, and ruled only by his own musings. He arises in a democracy when its citizenry have largely lost touch with natural being. Mr. Obama’s notion of America was that into which he wanted to change it. The America of the Founders or the tradition did not much interest him. Indeed, this America was what had to be changed to make the world safe for the America that he was out to re-found, one that looked pretty much like himself. And, to give him credit, he succeeded in many ways. His Muslim and community organizing backgrounds were both traditions that had almost nothing to do with what we once understood to be Western civilization, with its unique American gloss. (Read more.)
The second form of presumption is evident among many in the house of faith (both Protestant and Catholic). I have written at great length about the common presumption that just about everyone goes to Heaven. At too many funerals, bold “canonizations” take place.
Confident expectation of God’s help is essential to hope, but presumption sins against hope by claiming to have already “in the bag” what God offers us on condition. We must freely accept His transformative grace and by it, attain to the holiness without which no one will see God (Heb 12:14). This requires a profound work of God to take place within us. It is freely and unconditionally offered, but we must fully accept it. Our acceptance will lead to changes that many resist and that God will not force.
Presumption rejects the arduousness of achieving what we hope for by claiming to already “have” what is offered. In this way, presumption sins against hope. Once one has what one hopes for, hope ceases. As St. Paul said, who hopes for what he already has? (Rom 8:24)
Clearly, balance is required. Confidence of salvation, yes; current possession or possession without condition, no. Here is one of the best Scriptures against presumption:
Rely not on your strength in following the desires of your heart. Say not: “Who can prevail against me?” for the LORD will exact the punishment. Say not: “I have sinned, yet what has befallen me?” for the LORD bides his time. Of forgiveness be not overconfident, adding sin upon sin. Say not: “Great is his mercy; my many sins he will forgive.” For mercy and anger alike are with him; upon the wicked alights his wrath. Delay not your conversion to the LORD, put it not off from day to day; For suddenly his wrath flames forth; at the time of vengeance, you will be destroyed. Rely not upon deceitful wealth, for it will be no help on the day of wrath (Sirach 5:1-10).Share
Thursday, January 19, 2017
Following one from one of our earlier posts about the colour green, we find ourselves once again on the same topic. This time however, it is about an English eccentric: Henry Cope aka The Green Man. It is reported that Henry loved anything and everything green. This extract about Henry comes from The Omnium Gatherum, 1809.Share
The Green Man at Brighton – Amongst the visitors this season is an original, or would-be original, generally known by the appellation of ‘The Green Man’. He is dressed in green pantaloons, green waistcoat, green frock, green cravat and though his ears, whiskers, eye-brows and chin are better powdered than his head, which is, however, covered with flour, his countenance, no doubt, from the reflection of his clothes, is also green. He eats nothing but greens, fruits and vegetables; has his apartments painted green, and furnished with green sofa, green chairs, green tables, green bed and green curtains. His gig, his livery his portmanteau, his gloves and his whips, are all green. With a green silk handkerchief in his hand and a large watch chain with green seals, fastened to the green buttons of his green waistcoat he parades every day on the Steyne, Brighton.(Read more.)
Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Though he gave to all of his Apostles the power to “bind and loose” (Matthew 18.18), to Peter alone Jesus gave the “keys of the kingdom of heaven” (cf. Matthew 16.15-19), saying that Peter was the “rock” on which he would build his Church. Just before his passion, Christ told Peter, “I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22.32) And after his resurrection, Jesus – who is the Good Shepherd of the whole Church – told Peter to “take care of my sheep.” (cf. John 21.15-19)Share
All of this ultimately means that Jesus gave Peter a special and essential role among the Apostles in the governance and teaching function of the Church. The pope is the successor of St. Peter and continues to exercise today this essential role given to Peter by Christ. (Read more.)
Tuesday, January 17, 2017
The trouble is, I have always been a collector. As a child, I loved jumble sales and buying doll’s house furniture; as a teenager, I accumulated bags of vintage clothes. Latterly, my long-suffering family were forced to accommodate my brief but intense passion for antique copper pans. Another year, I became obsessed with antique linen sheets. Then there’s a wall of vintage fashion drawings that needs constant replenishing, and who can resist art-deco coffee pots, let alone those mugs that look like Penguin Classics? Last Christmas, I asked my in-laws to give me a teapot with legs, to match the sugar basin and milk jug I’d treated myself to; the year before, I requested an antique nutcracker in the shape of a dog. (Read more.)