April 16th, 2014Joyful Sufferingby Joseph Pearce
Many years ago I had been struck by some words spoken by a fictional priest in a Maurice Baring novel that the acceptance of suffering was the secret of life. This one phrase seemed to encapsulate so much. Since we are all doomed to suffer it is not suffering but its acceptance that makes the difference.
Later, during my time with Fr Ho Lung and Missionaries of the Poor in Jamaica, I came to see that sanctity required more than merely the acceptance of suffering. Holiness meant moving beyond the acceptance of suffering to its joyful embrace. This deeper understanding was encapsulated in the motto of the Missionaries of the Poor: "Joyful Suffering with Christ on the Cross". The key word in this phrase, the word that literally unlocks the deepest meaning of the motto, is not the magisterial "Christ" or the crucial "Cross", nor is it "joyful" or "suffering". The key word is the humble preposition "with". Holiness is not contemplation of the joyful suffering of Christ on the Cross, it is the act of joyful suffering with Christ on the Cross.
This level of sanctity was achieved to an astonishing degree by Chiara Corbella, a young Italian who died in 2012 at the age of only twenty-eight. She died so that her child might live. I have prayed to her often.
Those wishing to know more about this holy and inspiring woman should read on:
April 16th, 2014Father Milward and Father Jakiby Joseph Pearce
I was gratified to receive a note from the venerable Father Peter Milward, best known to the world for his pioneering Shakespeare studies, his correspondence with C. S. Lewis, and his musings on the poetry of Hopkins. Father Milward's note was a response to the preview of the forthcoming issue of the St. Austin Review that I posted on Monday. I announced that the issue's theme will be "Science and Orthodoxy: The Legacy of Fr. Stanley L Jaki", prompting Father Milward to reminisce about his own meeting with Father Jaki and their shared passion for the Catholic Shakespeare.
Here's the text of Father Milward's note:
I, too, once met the great Father Jaki at Princeton University. He came to meet me at the station and drove me round the university in the pouring rain. He had no idea that I would have preferred to discuss his ideas on Shakespeare before a blazing fire than to see his university. For he was, among other interests, a great Shakespearian and an ardent advocate of his Catholicism. Not that he ever published a book of his own on Shakespeare the Papist, but he republished J.H. De Groot's seminal work on The Shakespeares and the Old Faith (1946). He was a unique case of a combination of scientist and humanist, a follower of both Shakespeare and Galileo. Another good friend of mine was also an admirer of Father Jaki, Dr Peter Hodgson of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, a well known Catholic physicist and member of the Pontifical Academy of Science. And Peter was also a great admirer of Duhem. With my best wishes, Peter SJ
April 14th, 2014Confessions of an English Immigrantby Joseph PearceMy latest article for the Imaginative Conservative describes my view as an English immigrant of my adoptive home in the United States. Here it is:And here's Father Dwight Longenecker's comment on it:
April 14th, 2014Preview of the May/June Issue of the St. Austin Reviewby Joseph Pearce
The next issue of the St. Austin Review is winging its way to the printers. The theme of this edition is “Science and Orthodoxy: The Legacy of Fr. Stanley L. Jaki”. Considering the science-related theme, I hope you will consider forwarding this to any of your scientist colleagues who might be interested.
Highlights of the issue include:
Joseph Pearce reminisces about “a Meeting with Father Jaki”.
Antonio Colombo revisits the life and legacy of Father Jaki along “Paths that are Made by Walking”.
Beniamino Danese finds that “the Truth of the Pudding is in the Eating” in his survey of Father Jaki’s work.
Julio Gonzalo asks the crucial question, “Science: Western or What?”
Stacy Trasancos examines “Fr. Jaki and the Stillbirths of Science”.
Jacques Vauthier describes Fr. Jaki as “the Real Follower of Pierre Duhem”.
Anne Barbeau Gardiner compares “the Real versus the Mythical Newman”.
John Beaumont offers some “Concluding Thoughts” on “the Real Fr. Stanley Jaki”.
In one of two full-colour art features Sue Kouma Johnson describes her work as “Catholic Art for the Modern World”.
In the other full-colour art feature Ali Cavanaugh charts “An Artist’s Evolution … From Embryonic Beginnings”.
Kevin O’Brien reveals “How I Became Fr. Stanley Jaki”.
Donald DeMarco distinguishes between “Science and Loose Talk”.
Fr. Dwight Longenecker exposes “That Hideous Scientism”.
Fr. Benedict Kiely compares “The Oath and the Mandate”.
Susan Treacy tells the “Tale of a Younger Brother”, a pen portrait of Michael Haydn.
James Bemis continues his series of reviews of great films with Kieslowski’s Decalogue.
Grettelyn Nypaver reviews Death Dons a Mask, Lorraine Murray’s latest mystery novel.
Dena Hunt reviews The Song at the Scaffold, Gertrud von le Fort’s classic historical novel.
Shaun Blanchard admires Jerusalem, Athens, and Rome: Essays in Honor of James V. Schall, SJ”.
Marie Dudzik reviews The Book Of Jotham, Arthur Powers’ award-winning novella.
Robert Merchant enjoys The Voice of the Church at Prayer, Uwe Michael Lang’s “reflections on liturgy and language”.
Louis Markos reviews Race with the Devil: My Journey from Racial Hatred to Rational Love by Joseph Pearce.
Dena Hunt has this issue’s last word, musing on “Tolkien and Women”.
All this plus new poetry by Trevor Lipscombe and Philip Kolin.
Join the Wise Men – Follow the StAR! Subscribe on-line at www.staustinreview.com.
April 14th, 2014Dante and the Papacyby Daniel J. Heisey
If a Catholic layman criticizes a Pope, other critics of the Church say he is brave and open-minded; if a Pope were to criticize a layman, those critics would call the Pope repressive and judgmental. Along these lines, less important is Dante Alighieri using his Divine Comedy to condemn Pope Boniface VIII or other Bishops of Rome to the depths of the Inferno, than how a modern Pope has appreciated and promoted Dante.
So far the only papal encyclical on Dante has been In praeclara summorum, promulgated in April of 1921 by Pope Benedict XV. The occasion was the upcoming 600th anniversary of Dante’s death, and the Pope noted that the event would be marked by scholarly conferences and added, “Surely we cannot be absent from this universal consensus of good men,” since “the Church has special right to call Alighieri hers.”
This encyclical came fifty years after the First Vatican Council, and it followed up that Council’s teaching about the relationship between faith and reason. Pope Benedict XV related that Dante was a keen reader of Saint Thomas Aquinas, from whom “he gained nearly all his philosophical and theological knowledge.” Pope Benedict also pointed out Dante’s debts to the Bible and to the Church Fathers.
“Thus,” wrote the Pope, Dante “learned almost all that could be known in his time.” Moreover, Dante was “nourished specially by Christian knowledge,” so that “it was on that field of religion that he drew when he set himself to treat in verse of things so vast and deep.” Since Dante’s Divine Comedy and all his writings focus on the doctrines of the Catholic faith, said the Pope, “we think that these things may serve as teaching for men of our times.”
Along with reverence for Scripture and Tradition, Dante had “great reverence for the authority of the Catholic Church, the account in which he holds the power of the Roman Pontiff as the base of every law and institution of that Church.” Still, Pope Benedict had to acknowledge Dante’s sometimes harsh criticisms. “But, it will be said,” the Pope conceded, “he inveighs with terrible bitterness against the Supreme Pontiffs of his times.” Of that fact there was no denying, and Dante’s bitterness towards Pope Boniface VIII derived from the role he played in Dante’s political exile from his beloved city of Florence.
With that situation in mind, Pope Benedict XV looked upon Dante’s invective with pastoral charity: “One can feel for a man so beaten down by fortune, if with lacerated mind he breaks out sometimes into words of excessive blame.” Also, “it cannot be denied that at that time there were matters on which the clergy might be reproved, and a mind as devoted to the Church as was that of Dante could not but feel disgust.”
Yet, for all his revulsion at certain temporal machinations by Popes and others in the Church hierarchy, Dante never rejected the principle of papal primacy. Even in his treatise on monarchy, often misread as a charter for world government or as a case for the superiority of the Holy Roman Emperor over the Pope, Dante reiterated the assertion of Pope Gelasius in the late fifth century, that in the end the authority of priests trumps the power of kings, since priests deal with immortal souls, while kings deal with mortal concerns. “Excellent and wise principle indeed,” Pope Benedict agreed, “which, if it were observed today as it ought to be, would bring to States abundant fruits of civil prosperity.”
Pope Benedict’s words now seem prophetic, for he wrote a few years after the end of the First World War and the outbreak of the Russian Revolution. He seems to have foreseen the tyranny masquerading as populism and altruism that would mar Europe for decades to come. He pointed out that Dante “was not a man to maintain, for the purpose of giving greater glory to country or pleasure to ruler, that the State may neglect justice and right, which he knew well to be the main foundation of civil nations.”
With this encyclical Pope Benedict XV was putting on notice the secular powers of the day that the Church was aware of their trajectory that would seek to exclude faith from public discourse. For him, Dante was proof of “the falseness of the assertion that obedience of mind and heart to God is a hindrance to genius.” The example of Dante also shows “the harm done to the cause of learning and civilization by such a desire to banish all idea of religion from public instruction.”
The Pope then minced no words: “Deplorable indeed is the system prevalent today of educating young students as if God did not exist and without the least reference to the supernatural.” His hope was that scholarly celebrations of Dante on his 600th anniversary would counteract secular efforts to separate faith and reason.
A year later, Pope Benedict XV was dead, and his successors, first Pope Pius XI and then Pope Pius XII, had to contend with secular states in Europe that had no regard for the rightly ordered society envisioned by Dante. Those secular governments embraced various forms of state socialism and waged wars whilst promising to build Heaven on Earth, a paradise as potentially benevolent as one’s big brother. Popes saw what Dante had seen, that man without the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob wanders in his own wasteland.
In April, 1999, Pope John Paul II mentioned Dante in a Letter to Artists, and in January, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI began an address to the Pontifical Council Cor Unum with an extended reference to Dante’s Paradiso and the importance of divine love. It is unclear, though, whether we are seeing an emerging papal teaching about Dante. In any case, we ought to follow the lead of Pope Benedict XV and meditate less on whom Dante damns and more on his love for the Church.
Daniel J. Heisey, O. S. B., is a Benedictine monk of Saint Vincent Archabbey, Latrobe, Pennsylvania, where he is known as Brother Bruno. He teaches Church History at Saint Vincent Seminary.
April 14th, 2014A Pilgrimage to Englandby Joseph PearceI've been contacted by a religious sister seeking suggestions for a pilgrimage to London and Oxford in the footsteps of the English Martyrs and Literary Converts. My suggestions were written in haste, without checking my facts, so it's possible, indeed likely, that I have made factual errors. With this disclaimer in mind, I thought visitors to the Ink Desk might also be interested in these suggested places to visit:Regarding your possible pilgrimage to England, I'm attaching the itinerary of two pilgrimages to England that I led a few years ago. These might give you some ideas.Other suggestions:In London:Brompton Oratory (I would recommend the 11 am Traditional Mass on Sunday);Church of the Immaculate Conception in Farm Street, Mayfair (a beautiful church in which many notable converts have been received, including, I think, Evelyn Waugh and Edith Sitwell. Famous priests based here include the Jesuits, Martin D'Arcy and Philip Caraman, who had contacts with many of the best known converts);Westminster Cathedral - especially as a pilgrimage to the tomb of the English Martyr, St. Robert Southworth, whose body, stitched together after its being hanged, drawn and quartered, is on display in a glass case;Corpus Christi, Maiden Lane, near Covent Garden - a quaint little church at which, I think, Cecil Chesterton was received into the Church, and which Belloc and Chesterton would have frequented on their visits to London;St. Etheldreda's, Ely Place - full of history because it was in use as a Catholic church during the Reformation, enjoying diplomatic immunity because of its connection to foreign embassies (I think);Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese - a pub, in an alley on the north side of Fleet Street, at which Chesterton, Belloc, Shelley, Dr. Johnson and a host of other prominent literati have supped over the centuries. Be sure to check out the two levels of cellar bars. It's largely unchanged since Chesterton's time and used to serve good food.The Tower of London - if you apply in advance you should be able to visit the cell at which St. Thomas More spent his final days.Tyburn - The site is in the middle of a busy traffic island, so there's not much to see. I would recommend that you visit the Tyburn Convent, a hundred yards or so away.In Oxford:Tolkien's and Lewis's gravesMagdalen College (Lewis, Wilde and others)The Eagle and Child Pub (aka the Bird and Baby), where Lewis, Tolkien and the other Inklings met regularlyThe Trout - You should plan to walk from the Bird and Baby to the Trout in Wolvercote. It's about three miles along the river, passing through the Binsey Poplars, immortalized by Hopkins (which have been replanted) and close to the ruins of Godstow Abbey. The Trout was a favourite destination of Lewis and Tolkien and they would have done this walk often, as would have HopkinsOxford Oratory - Beautiful church at which Hopkins served and at which the Latin Mass is celebratedLittlemore and other sites associated with NewmanPriest Holes:Unfortunately the houses in which priest holes are to be found are in inaccessible places which will require the renting of a vehicle. If you feel that you might be able to include the renting of a vehicle, I will provide further details.
April 10th, 2014Catholic Coffee: Spoils and Legendsby Michael Lichens
Over at Catholic Exchange, Sam Guzman of The Catholic Gentleman discusses a very interesting legend about Pope Clement VIII blessing coffee and assuring its popularity for all posterity in the West. I am unsure if it is true, but thank God for it.
Really, though, I just wanted to post this image.
Now, the story of how coffee came to the west is even more interesting for me. For, you see, it is from the spoils of war and the lifting of a great siege.
The city of Vienna had resisted a massive Ottoman army in 1683 until Jan III Sobieski of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth brought relief and routed Kara Mustaph's massive force. The Ottoman army fled so quickly that they left behind many great spoils, including bags of coffee, a substance that was known to some parts of Christendom but quite new to Europe.
Vienna, Europe, and the World owe a great debt of gratitude to one particular man, Franz George Kolschitzky. According to most reliable sources, Kolschitzky was a well-traveled and learned man who knew the value of the precious, dark commodity. He is credited with teaching brewing techniques to the Viennese. He opened the first of what would be numerous coffee houses in Vienna and was honored with accolades and even a statue. You can read more about him and the fallout of these spoils here.
Of course, Vienna's coffee houses quickly became meeting spaces for some of the most brilliant of minds. If we are to believe some modern scholarship (ahem) we can credit/blame these places of the sacred brew for psychoanalysis, Marxism, and perhaps a few modern wars.
Ah, let's not think of this and let's instead get one of my readers to send me a few pounds of Ozo.
April 9th, 2014Is Putin One of Us? (An old-fashioned Conservative?)by Joseph Pearce
Via Patrick J. Buchanan, http://buchanan.org/blog/putin-one-us-6071
Is Vladimir Putin a paleoconservative?
In the culture war for mankind's future, is he one of us?
While such a question may be blasphemous in Western circles, consider the content of the Russian president's state of the nation address.
With America clearly in mind, Putin declared, "In many countries today, moral and ethical norms are being reconsidered."
"They're now requiring not only the proper acknowledgment of freedom of conscience, political views and private life, but also the mandatory acknowledgment of the equality of good and evil."
Translation: While privacy and freedom of thought, religion and speech are cherished rights, to equate traditional marriage and same-sex marriage is to equate good with evil.
No moral confusion here, this is moral clarity, agree or disagree.
President Reagan once called the old Soviet Empire "the focus of evil in the modern world." President Putin is implying that Barack Obama's America may deserve the title in the 21st century.
Nor is he without an argument when we reflect on America's embrace of abortion on demand, homosexual marriage, pornography, promiscuity, and the whole panoply of Hollywood values.
Our grandparents would not recognize the America in which we live.
Moreover, Putin asserts, the new immorality has been imposed undemocratically.
The "destruction of traditional values" in these countries, he said, comes "from the top" and is "inherently undemocratic because it is based on abstract ideas and runs counter to the will of the majority of people."
Does he not have a point?
Unelected justices declared abortion and homosexual acts to be constitutionally protected rights. Judges have been the driving force behind the imposition of same-sex marriage. Attorney General Eric Holder refused to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act.
America was de-Christianized in the second half of the 20th century by court orders, over the vehement objections of a huge majority of a country that was overwhelmingly Christian.
And same-sex marriage is indeed an "abstract" idea unrooted in the history or tradition of the West. Where did it come from?
Peoples all over the world, claims Putin, are supporting Russia's "defense of traditional values" against a "so-called tolerance" that is "genderless and infertile."
While his stance as a defender of traditional values has drawn the mockery of Western media and cultural elites, Putin is not wrong in saying that he can speak for much of mankind.
Same-sex marriage is supported by America's young, but most states still resist it, with black pastors visible in the vanguard of the counterrevolution.
In France, a million people took to the streets of Paris to denounce the Socialists' imposition of homosexual marriage.
Only 15 nations out of more than 190 have recognized it.
In India, the world's largest democracy, the Supreme Court has struck down a lower court ruling that made same-sex marriage a right. And the parliament in this socially conservative nation of more than a billion people is unlikely soon to reverse the high court.
In the four dozen nations that are predominantly Muslim, which make up a fourth of the U.N. General Assembly and a fifth of mankind, same-sex marriage is not even on the table. And Pope Francis has reaffirmed Catholic doctrine on the issue for over a billion Catholics.
While much of American and Western media dismiss him as an authoritarian and reactionary, a throwback, Putin may be seeing the future with more clarity than Americans still caught up in a Cold War paradigm.
As the decisive struggle in the second half of the 20th century was vertical, East vs. West, the 21st century struggle may be horizontal, with conservatives and traditionalists in every country arrayed against the militant secularism of a multicultural and transnational elite.
And though America's elite may be found at the epicenter of anti-conservatism and anti-traditionalism, the American people have never been more alienated or more divided culturally, socially and morally.
We are two countries now.
Putin says his mother had him secretly baptized as a baby and professes to be a Christian. And what he is talking about here is ambitious, even audacious.
He is seeking to redefine the "Us vs. Them" world conflict of the future as one in which conservatives, traditionalists and nationalists of all continents and countries stand up against the cultural and ideological imperialism of what he sees as a decadent west.
"We do not infringe on anyone's interests," said Putin, "or try to teach anyone how to live." The adversary he has identified is not the America we grew up in, but the America we live in, which Putin sees as pagan and wildly progressive.
Without naming any country, Putin attacked "attempts to enforce more progressive development models" on other nations, which have led to "decline, barbarity and big blood," a straight shot at the U.S. interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Egypt.
In his speech, Putin cited Russian philosopher Nicholas Berdyaev whom Solzhenitsyn had hailed for his courage in defying his Bolshevik inquisitors. Though no household word, Berdyaev is favorably known at the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal.
Which raises this question: Who is writing Putin's stuff?
April 9th, 2014Vladimir Putin: Some Rare and Welcome Common Senseby Joseph Pearce
So much rubbish has been written about Vladimir Putin over the past weeks that I was very pleased to receive an excellent rebuttal of some of the worst nonsense. It was written by Dr. Boyd Cathey, a former colleague of the late Russell Kirk, who has granted me permission to publish his solid, fact-based appraisal of Putin.
Dr. Cathey writes in response to an article by North Carolina Congressman, Robert Pittengeer:
This has got to be the most uninformed piece on the issue that I have read in weeks (and there have been many such ignorant pieces)! Pittenger cannot even sum up well the usual Neocon "talking points," much less understand what they have been writing, correctly.
Just one example to illustrate my point: Pittenger trots out the old saw that Putin, and let me quote, "clearly stated his objectives years ago when he said that the worst tragedy of the 20th century was the collapse of the Soviet empire."
Any decent researcher or honest journalist, any self-respecting congressman, who had minimum knowledge, would know just what Putin said and the absolutely necessary context. Putin, who was perhaps the chief reason why the August 1991 KGB coup against Russia's transition away from Communism, failed, was talking specifically about the break up of the Soviet Union (the original interview is in the volume First Person, and is quoted by Prof. Allen Lynch in his detailed study, Vladimir Putin and Russian Statecraft) in relation to the immense economic, social, cultural, and linguistic problems that the separation of fifteen constituent republics occasioned---many of which had been integrally part of older pre-Bolshevik Russia (prior to 1918) for hundreds of years. There had developed indelible economic ties and dependency, large overlaps in population (e.g., the fact that half of the population of Ukraine speaks Russian and 25% are ethnically Russian, or that a quarter of the population of Kazakhstan is Russian). A similar situation took place with the break up of the old Autro-Hungarian state after World War II...most of the newly independent states in the Balkans were incapable of economic and social security and economic success. More, huge groups of Germans, Hungarians, Poles, Bulgars, and Croats were left in areas then ruled by those new states (e.g., Sudetenland, overwhelmingly German, in Czechoslovakia; Transylvania, populated by Hungarians, in Romania). It was a recipe for disaster and future war---World War II, and the resultant millions of deaths that followed (thank you, liberal democracy! Thank you, Woodrow Wilson and Treaty of Versailles!)
Specifically, that model for disaster was what Putin was referencing, and he was exactly on target. He was NOT advocating the re-establishment of the Soviet regime, which he openly and has repeatedly condemned. No better source than Ronald Reagan's ambassador to the USSR, Jack Matlock, has written at length saying the same thing. Lastly, and again ironically, this statement by Putin, ripped out of context, was made at approximately the same time that Putin had gone to Poland to formally denounce Communist crimes and massacres (e.g. Katyn Forest, the gulags).
Pittenger states that Putin is a "bully" (I was expecting to read the term "thug" or perhaps "KGB thug," since these are the terms that the neoconservative press habitually enjoys using). Let me go back and just cite one or two examples of this ambitious "KGB bully" who wishes to "re-assert the power of the KGB" and "re-establish the Soviet Union."
First, Putin was NEVER the "head of the KGB," as Greta van Susteren and several Fox News "talking heads" repeatedly assert. He had a desk job in evaluating intelligence, as a Lt. Colonel, in Dresden, before coming back to Leningrad, to serve as Deputy Mayor to the very pro-Western, democratic Anatoly Sobchak (see Lynch, pp 27-39). Putin had, by then, resigned from the KGB.
There is an interview with Alexander Solzhenitsyn in Der Spiegel, in which Solzhenitsyn--that staunch anti-Communist--fully understands this and expresses his strong support for Putin as president of Russia. [By the way, Putin and Medvedev arranged a state funeral for Solzhenitsyn in 2008, and both attended, and both praised the writer, whose works are now required reading in all Russian schools.] So, then, was the great and intransigent anti-Communist Solzhenitsyn "snookered" by that "KGB thug"?
Second, let me quote Lynch concerning the abortive Communist coup by the old hands at the KGB, August 1991 (p. 34): "During the August 1991 anti-Gorbachev coup attempt, Putin played a key role in saving Leningrad for the democrats. The coup, which lasted but three days, was carried out on August 19. That same day Mayor Sobchak arrived on a flight from Moscow. The Leningrad KGB, which supported the coup, planned to arrest Sobchak immediately upon landing. Putin got word of the plan and took decisive and preemptive action: he organized a handful of loyal troops and met Sobchak at the airport, driving the car right up to the plane's exit ramp. The KGB turned back, not wishing to risk an open confrontation with Sobchak's armed entourage [led by Putin]." This signal failure in Russia's second city doomed the attempted KGB coup, and, in effect, assured the eventual transition of Russia away from Communism.
I've written about this at length previously, perhaps ten or twelve pieces. I will not go back and re-write what I've already sent out. Additionally, for anyone who actually wishes to become well-informed, the information is there, with a little research. Obviously, Pittenger prefers to regurgitate the old sputum that continually comes up and is continually spewed forth by Fox and the keystone cops in the US State Department.
Let me add, that given this piece by Pittenger, I would not vote for him were he running against even my local garbage collector, who at least knows the difference between garbage and legitimate information.
Dr. Boyd D. Cathey holds an MA in American intellectual history from the University of Virginia where he was a Jefferson Fellow. In 1971-72, he was assistant to the late Dr. Russell Kirk, assisting Kirk on two volumes, Eliot and His Age and The Roots of American Order. As recipient of a Richard M. Weaver Fellowship he completed a doctorate in European history at the University of Navarra, later finishing studies in theology in Switzerland. He recently retired as State Registrar of the North Carolina State Archives.
April 9th, 2014What Chesterton Saw in Americaby Joseph Pearce
My latest musings for The Imaginative Conservative are inspired by Chesterton's visits to and views on the United States: