The Eucharist ‘is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.’
Heather King, "The Sad Anti-Pope Faction"
Go read the whole thing!
Urged to reflect upon myself, I entered under your guidance the innermost places of my being; but only because you had become my helper was I able to do so. I entered, then, and with the vision of my spirit, such as it was, I saw the incommutable light far above my spiritual ken and transcending my mind: not this common light which every carnal eye can see, nor any light of the same order; but greater, as though this common light were shining much more powerfully, far more brightly, and so extensively as to fill the universe. The light I saw was not the common light at all, but something different, utterly different, from all those things. Nor was it higher than my mind in the sense that oil floats on water or the sky is above the earth; it was exalted because this very light made me, and I was below it because by it I was made. Anyone who knows truth knows this light.
O eternal Truth, true Love, and beloved Eternity, you are my God, and for you I sigh day and night. As I first began to know you, you lifted me up and showed me that, while that which I might see exists indeed, I was not yet capable of seeing it. Your rays beamed intensely on me, beating back my feeble gaze, and I trembled with love and dread. I knew myself to be far away from you in a region of unlikeness, and I seemed to hear your voice from on high: “I am the food of the mature: grow, then, and you shall eat me. You will not change me into yourself like bodily food; but you will be changed into me”.
Accordingly I looked for a way to gain the strength I needed to enjoy you, but I did not find it until I embraced the mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, who is also God, supreme over all things and blessed for ever. He called out, proclaiming I am the Way and Truth and the Life, nor had I known him as the food which, though I was not yet strong enough to eat it, he had mingled with our flesh, for the Word became flesh so that your Wisdom, through whom you created all things, might become for us the milk adapted to our infancy.
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.
—St. Augustine, Confessions
— St. Bernard of Clarivaux (via you-before-me)
I’m better off washing dishes with a goal like “it should look like civilized people live here.” Guthlac is better off praying and fasting out of love for Christ. We New Evangelizers would do well to forget about converting the world in one fell swoop. Instead, let’s love our neighbor, remembering that love is patient and not easily angered. Let’s do good to those who hurt us, and respond to rude comments with courtesy.
Let’s keep up our Facebook posts, our research, our writing, our teaching, our conversations. Let’s keep up our evangelization. But let’s stay focused on Christ, patience, mercy, and self-giving love. Saying the same old things over and over can get boring, especially when we don’t see the world converting and we’d rather make snarky comments
—Mary Tillotson, "Plugging Along," Ignitum Today
Done by Lebanese young people under the guidance of His Eminent Beatitude Cardinal Béchara Boutros Raï. A beautiful set of meditations for this Holy Week
It’s been a while since I’ve wanted to write anything here, but given yesterday’s events, I feel the need to put my thoughts down. The internet has been a strange, sometimes difficult, place to be over the last 24 hours or so, and I wanted to make my corner feel safe to me and remember 11 February 2013 as clearly as I remember 19 April 2005.
At first I didn’t believe it was true-why would the pope abdicate? It might have been because it was early, as I have a terrible habit of checking Facebook from my phone before I get out of bed in the morning, but the person who posted the news wasn’t someone whom I believed would joke about such a serious matter. When I finally woke up to realize that it wasn’t some sort of strange joke and it registered that this was indeed real, I went into a bit of shock. I’ve been a bit numb since then-sad, yes, but mostly just stunned.
My sadness stems from the fact that Pope Benedict XVI is the pope under whose reign I became an adult in the Church. Pope John Paul II was the pope of my childhood, but I had just turned 16 in the spring that he died and it was around that time that my faith began to become my own; I had been confirmed years before (we were attending an Eastern Rite Catholic church at the time, so I received confirmation at the age of 10), but it was under Pope Benedict that I grew up as a Catholic and made the decision to live according to the Church’s teachings.
While he has always been a stalwart defender of the Faith, Pope Benedict’s intellectualism is gentle-brilliant, but accessible-and I love that about him too. As I began to study theology as an adult, going beyond the Baltimore Catechism of my childhood, I appreciated the way his work opened up the richness of Tradition for me; not that Pope John Paul’s didn’t, but Pope Benedict’s work touched me in a different way and I am truly grateful for that.
The strangeness of this whole situation is rooted for me in that he’s still alive; I don’t wish him gone by any means, but since it’s been centuries since a pope has voluntarily abdicated, things are a little different. There is no mourning period and, even after the new pontiff is chosen, there will still be the knowledge that, cloistered in a monastery, the previous pontiff will be praying and (I hope) writing more theology. That’s hard to wrap my head around in some ways.
But everything else is still familiar: I know that the cardinals will convene in their conclave and we the faithful will pray and wait for the white smoke and then, when the new pontiff is announced, life will go on as always. I don’t worry about that side of things; I trust that the Holy Spirit will guide the conclave as He always does and that God is still in charge, keeping his promise from Matthew 16:18-“you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Even though the world has lots of negative things to say about Pope Benedict and the Church, we’re assured that God keeps and will keep his Church safe and He’ll give us another shepherd who will take care of the Church’s needs.
I’ll close with this, from Creative Minority Report, which is the best summation of this event that I’ve found:
Pope Benedict is a great man with a great mind, a scholar and author with great insight. Many people waited for a man like this to be pope: deeply traditional, intelligent, able to take on today’s crises in thought and praxis. His meekness as a person, joined to the clarity and depth of his writing, made for a strong shepherd for the Church.
What to say of his resignation? All I can think of are humility and trust.
A prideful man would say “I want the power, I want the prestige of being pope.” A different kind of prideful man would say “With all of the threats out there against the Church, I must cling to power, I must exert my will upon the curia and the culture at large.”
A man who did not trust would say “I must stay in office, because what if someone else comes to power who doesn’t share my views?” A man showing lack of trust would say “I must stay here as long as I can…”
A man of God, a man of Christ, a man of the Holy Spirit, a man of the Church says:”This is Christ’s Church. It is guided by the Spirit. I can give up this power, this authority, and trust that God’s will shall be done.”
Pope Benedict is not a worldly politician, not even a worldly politician for Christ. He is a shepherd guided by humility and trust.
He says “You, Lord, must guide Your Church. Your will be done.”
I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.
Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.
—Neil Gaiman, "My New Year Wish" (from 2011, but still valid)
—Walker Percy, The Second Coming