Monday, April 23, 2018

The indefectibility of Rome as ensured by "the complex structure of the ecclesial constellation itself"


"As the guardians of orthodoxy, the best among [the popes] sometimes found themselves obliged to resist [heretical] emperors to their face.  It was often the great, solitary saints such as . . . Maximus the Confessor . . . who inspired them with the confidence they needed to do so. . . . This is a fact belonging to the complex structure of the ecclesial constellation itself."

     Hans Urs von Balthasar, The office of Peter and the structure of the Church, trans. Andrée Emery (San Francisco:  Ignatius Press, 1986), 209 (of the German original), as quoted by Adrian J. Walker, in "Conscience, the emperor, and the pope:  the witness of St. Maximus the Confessor," Communio:  international Catholic review 41, no. 4 (2014):  750 (740-750).  Thus, St. Maximus does not consider the indefectibility of the Pope a "done deal," but fortifies Pope Martin I for the martyrdom to which they will both be soon subjected.  Also:  "John remains steadfastly ‘other’ than Peter, but he does so precisely in order to give Peter (and his successors) his, John’s, own ‘greater love,’ which is the very gift the Prince of the Apostles will need to ‘confirm the brethren’ (Lk 22:32) in the unity of office and love willed by the Lord".

Sunday, April 22, 2018

"Nature, invoked at the beginning against convention, has itself become a convention."

     "Rights are detatched from nature and thus without any anchor.  They multiply and proliferate in a chaotic profusion.  As originally understood, the rights of man were based on a distinction:  on the one hand, the realm of rights where humanity as such received its due, where no distinction between men applied; on the other, the rest of life, in which differences among men were played out.  But this distinction is effaced along with the idea of nature.  If rights are no longer based on nature, then there is no reason to limit them....
"...Nature, invoked at the beginning against convention, has itself become a convention."

     Philippe Bénéton, Equality by default:  an essay on modernity as confinement, trans. Ralph C.  Hancock (Wilmington, DE:  ISI Books, 2004), 12-13.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Syria as "willing to fight to the last Egyptian"

     "The [Syrian] shelling of Israeli settlements escalated meanwhile, reaching various levels of lethality throughout the [second] day.  Rabin was not impressed with the display, dismissing it as an attempt to refute the allegation, already gaining currency in the Arab world, that 'Syria is willing to fight to the last Egyptian.'"

     Michael B. Oren, Six days of war:  June 1967 and the making of the modern Middle East (New York:  Oxford University Press, 2002), 231.  Not anxious to open up a third front, the Israelis, and most notably Dayan, had been studiously ignoring Syrian activity.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

"A song is a thing of joy; more profoundly, it is a thing of love."

"Canticum, res est hilaritatis; et si diligentius consideremus, res est amoris."

A song is a thing of gaiety; and, if we reflect [upon the matter] more diligently, [we come to realize that] it is a thing of love.

     St. Augustine, Sermo 34.1 (Carthage, 420).  =CCSL 41, 424 (424-426) =PL 38, col. 210A (209-213).  The translation in the header is that of the Liturgy of the hours.  WSA III/2, p. 166 (166-170):  "A song is a matter of cheerfulness, and if we think about it more thoroughly, it's a matter of love."

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Countervailing institution

"In [Slezkine's] account, the Soviet experiment failed, half a century before the country's actual collapse, because it neglected to drain the oldest, most persistent swamp of all—the family....
     "Unable or unwilling to abolish the family, Bolsheviks proved incapable of reproducing themselves.  For Slezkine, this is cause for celebrating the resilience of family ties under the onslaught of Stalin's social engineering.... the same Bolsheviks who willingly deported or exterminated millions of class enemies as remnants of capitalism balked at similarly radical measures against the bourgeois institution of the family....
So "the children they raised in the House of Government became loyal Soviet citizens but not ['religious'] millenarians.  Their deepest ties were to their parents (many of whom, as Slezkine shows with novelistic detail, were seized from their apartments and shot during the Great Terror) and to Pushkin and Tolstoy—not to Marx and Lenin.  Instead of devouring its children, he concludes, the Russian Revolution was devoured by the children of the revolutionaries."

     Benjamin Nathans, "Bolshevism's new believers," a review of The house of government:  a saga of the Russian Revolution (Princeton:  Princeton University Press, 2017), by Yuri Slezkine, The New York review of books 64, no. 18 (November 23, 2017):  21 (18-21).

Monday, April 2, 2018

Catastrophes in law


     "When the laws regulating human society are so formed as to come into collision with the nature of things, and in particular with the fundamental realities of human nature, they will end by producing an impossible situation which, unless the laws are altered, will issue in . . . catastrophes. . . ."

     Dorothy Sayers, "The 'laws' of nature and opinion," chap. 1 in The mind of the maker (New York:  Harcourt, Brace, 1941), 8.

Friday, March 30, 2018

The blood that laves the stars

"mite corpus perforatur, sanguis unde profluit;
terra, pontus, astra, mundus quo lavantur flumine!"

gently [his] body is pierced through,
     whence blood flows forth;
in which stream the earth, the sea, the stars,
     the universe [(or human race)] are washed.

     Venantius Fortunatus, "Pange lingua gloriosi proelium certaminis" (Poems 4.2), stanza 7 (in part), as reproduced (but not translated) in the current Roman missal, at Good Friday.  In the critical edition in MGH, Auctores Antiquissimi 4 (1881-1885), pp. 27-28, this comes out as

"mite corpus perforatur, sanguis unda profluit;
terra, pontus, astra, mundus quo lavantur flumine."

gently [his] body is pierced through,
     [and] blood, a wave [of it (or blood, rising in waves)], flows forth;
in which stream the earth, the sea, the stars
     the universe [(or human race)] are washed.

See also the modern critical edition:  Poèmes, ed. Reydellet, Collection des Universités de France, vol. 1 (Paris:  Les Belles Lettres, 1994), p. 51:

"Mite corpus perforatur, sanguis unda profluit,
terra pontus astra mundus quo lauantur flumine."