Saturday, July 9, 2011

Barney the Friendly (or Purple) Dinosaur as French Revolutionary

"Anyone today who would worship with mimes and balloons, with instant folk music composed by commercial interests, is capable of singing the 'Ronde de la Décade' about the elimination of the sabbatarian calendar:
Oublions saint Roche et son chien
Saint Crépin et saint Crépinien
Et Monsieur le Cochon
Du saint en capuchon
Celébrons la Décade."
George William Rutler, "Church and state in Vianney's youth," Appendix I to Saint John Vianney:  the Curé d'Ars today (San Francisco, CA:  Ignatius Press, 1988), 228, citing Albert Mathiez, La théophilanthropie et le culte décadaire, 1796-1801 (Paris:  Félix Alcan, 1904), 64, which punctuates and formats it differently, as in this lame attempt at a translation:
Let's forget St. Roch and his dog,
St. Crispin and St. Crispinian
     And Monsieur the Pig
     Of the saint in cowl.
     Let's celebrate the Décade, . . . etc. [(Refrain)]
I know absolutely nothing about the Republican calendar, or any of the word play here, but 5 Frimaire (formerly 25 November) was apparently the day of the pig.  None of the Catholic saints mentioned in this stanza were associated with 25 November.  "Du saint en capuchon" is obscure to me, but the pig was an attribute of St. Anthony of Egypt, so could he be the "saint en capuchon"?  His feast day was 17 January.

Probably I've got this all wrong.  Nonetheless, what Rutler makes of it stands alone.

"J'avise le bon Dieu et le bon Dieu m'avise."

     The farmer Louis Chaffangeon, as quoted by the Curé d'Ars, as quoted by Abbé Francis Trochu, in his The Curé d'Ars:  St Jean-Marie-Baptiste Vianney (1786-1859) according to the Acts of the process of canonization and numerous hitherto unpublished documents, trans. Dom Ernest Graf, O.S.B. (London:  Burns Oates & Washbourne Ltd., 1951 [1927]), 184; and George William Rutler, in his Saint John Vianney:  the Curé d'Ars today (San Francisco, CA:  Ignatius Press, 1988), 151.

"When fashion inclines to silk underwear and denim outerwear, it is well to remember a man who had it the other way, his salute to an all-seeing God."

George William Rutler, Saint John Vianney:  the Curé d'Ars today (San Francisco, CA:  Ignatius Press, 1988), 99.  Yeah, but this is now a bit dated.  Now fashion inclines to silk underwear as outerwear period.  So is that a tribute, too?

"But breathing is by rote, too, and no less vital for that."

"A couple of extra prayers.  If we knew less, we would call it formalism, religion by rote.  But breathing is by rote, too, and no less vital for that."

George William Rutler, Saint John Vianney:  the Curé d'Ars today (San Francisco, CA:  Ignatius Press, 1988), 55.  This goes on for another page.

"Each enslavement to sin calls itself a new form of liberation as it tightens its chains."

George William Rutler, Saint John Vianney:  the Curé d'Ars today (San Francisco, CA:  Ignatius Press, 1988), 30-31.

"in admiring the virtues of the saints, we are only admiring the virtues of Jesus Christ."

"In his apostles [Christ] gazes upon his zeal and his love for the salvation of souls; in the martyrs he gazes upon his patience, his sufferings and his grievous death; in the hermits he sees his obscure and hidden life; in the virgins he admires his stainless purity, and in all the saints his limitless love; so that in admiring the virtues of the saints, we are only admiring the virtues of Jesus Christ."

     The Curé d'Ars, as quoted by George William Rutler, in his Saint John Vianney:  the Curé d'Ars today (San Francisco, CA:  Ignatius Press, 1988), 29-30.  Here is another, slightly different translation (Jean LaFrance, Abiding in God, trans. Florestine Audette (Sherbroooke, QC:  Mediaspaul, 2004), 108, from Demeurer en Dieu (Paris:  Mediaspaul, 1995):
Saints are like so many little mirrors in which Jesus Christ contemplates himself.  In his apostles, he contemplates his zeal and love for the salvation of souls; in martyrs, he contemplates his patience, his sufferings and his painful death.  In his hermits, he sees his obscure and hidden life.  In the virgins, he admires his purity without blemish and in all the saints his boundless charity.  This is so in such a way that by admiring the virtues of the saints, we only admire the virtues of Jesus Christ.  If we could question the saints, they would tell us that their happiness is to love God and to be guaranteed of always loving him ([L'Abbé Bernard Nodet,] Le Curé d’Ars, sa pensée, son coeur, pp. 240-241).
This was translated into English by John Joyce as The heart of the Curé of Ars.
Les saints sont comme autant de petits miroirs dans lesquels Jésus-Christ se contemple.  Dans ses apôtres, il contemple son zèle et son amour pour le salut des âmes; dans le martyrs, il contemple sa patience, ses souffrances et sa mort douloureuse; dans les solitaires, il voit sa vie obscure et chachée; dans les vierges, il admire sa pureté sans tache, et dans tous les saints sa charité sans borne; de sorte, M. F., qu’en admirant les vertus des saints, nous ne faisons qu’admirer les vertus de Jésus-Christ, vertus dont il nous a donné lui-même l’exemple pendant sa vie mortelle.

"God does not look like himself; as perfect Being, he is himself and is thus an analogous world's single incapacity for simile."

George William Rutler, Saint John Vianney:  the Curé d'Ars today (San Francisco, CA:  Ignatius Press, 1988), 27.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

"Very soon, it will no longer be possible. . . ."

"The motivations of this double refusal are deeper than one might suspect from the reasons we actually hear.  They presuppose the idea that only the radical culture born of the Enlightenment, which has attained its full development in our own age, can be constitutive of European identity.  Alongside this culture, various religious cultures with their respective rights can coexist, on condition (and to the degree) that they respect the criteria of the Enlightenment culture and subordinate themselves to it.  This Enlightenment culture is substantially defined by the rights to liberty.  Its starting point is that liberty is a fundamental value and the criterion of everything else:  the freedom of choice in matters of religion, which includes the religious neutrality of the state; the liberty to express one's own opinion, on condition that it does not call precisely this canon into question; the democratic ordering of the state, that is, the parliamentary control of the organs of the state; the freedom to form political parties; the independence of those who administer the law; and finally, the protection of the rights of man and the prohibition of discrimination.  On this point, the canon is still in the process of formation, since there exist contrasting human rights, as we see in the conflict between a woman's right to freedom and the unborn child's right to life.  The concept of discrimination is constantly enlarged, and this means that the prohibition of discrimination can be transformed more and more into a limitation on the freedom of opinion and on religious liberty.  Very soon, it will no longer be possible to affirm that homosexuality (as the Catholic Church teaches) constitutes an objective disordering in the structure of human existence, and the fact that the Church is convinced that she does not have the right to confer priestly ordination on women is already seen by some as irreconcilable with the spirit of the European Constitution.  I mention only some points here; I do not intend to provide an exhaustive list of the contents of this canon of the Enlightenment culture.  It is obvious that it contains important values that are essential for us, precisely as Christians, and we do not wish to do without them.  At the same time, it is equally obvious that the concept of liberty on which this culture is based inevitably leads to contradictions, since it is either badly defined or not defined at all.  And it is clear that the very fact of employing this concept entails limitations on freedom that we could not even have imagined a generation ago.  A confused ideology of liberty leads to a dogmatism that is proving ever more hostile to real liberty."

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI), Christianity and the crisis of cultures, trans. Brian McNeil (San Francisco, CA:  Ignatius Press, 2006 [2005]), 33-36.  "even the concept of liberty, which initially seemed capable of expanding without any limits, leads in the end to the self-destruction of liberty itself" (40).  "The failure to mention Christian roots is not the expression of a superior tolerance that respects all cultures in the same way and chooses not to accord privileges to any one of them.  Rather, it expresses the absolutization of a way of thinking and living that is radically opposed (inter alia) to all the other historical cultures of humanity.  The real antagonism typical of today's world is not that between diverse religious cultures; rather, it is the antagonism between the radical emancipation of man from God, from the roots of life, on the one hand, and the great religious cultures, on the other (44).  "this double refusal" is the refusal of any reference to either 1) God or 2) the Christian roots of Europe in the preamble to the European Constitution (32).

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Steck on the Akedah (or Aqedah)

"The story of the sacrifice of Isaac is naturally today a defenseless text, and anyonenot just Tilmann Moser or . . . Leszek Kolakowskican help himself to it and treat it as he likes.  But he who wants to speak of God today and stick to the soil in which this story is rooted [(auf dem Boden dieser Geschichte bleiben)], he who wants to preach it, he who wants to tell it to children, he who wants simply therefore to live with it, he may not overlook how story-telling Israel itself offers it to us as a special, as a certainly disconcerting pointer to God, as an entry into the mysterious and incomprehensible God [to be sure], but [also as] completely [and] inextricably embedded in [its] witness to and self-transformative [(selbstbetroffene)] experience of the graciously accompanying God.  Of this gracious God must one speak [both] before and after [the telling], as Israel did.  He who would refrain from doing this, he who would strike it [(das)] out of his life, he would retain not the story of the sacrifice of Isaac, but only fragments of it in hand."

Odil Hannes Steck, "Ist Gott grausam?  Über Isaaks Opferung aus der Sicht des alten Testaments," Ist Gott grausam?  Eine Stellungnahme zu Tilmann Mosers 'Gottesvergiftung', hrsg. Wolfgang Böhme (Stuttgart:  Evangelisches Verlagswerk, 1977), 83 (75-95).

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

"being bred at Oxford or Cambridge was not enough to fit and qualify men to be ministers of Christ"

"One day Abba Arsenius consulted an old Egyptian monk about his own thoughts.  Someone noticed this and said to him, 'Abba Arsenius, how is it that you with such a good Latin and Greek education, ask this peasant about your thoughts?'  He replied, 'I have indeed been taught Latin and Greek, but I do not know even the alphabet of this peasant.'"

Collection systématique XV.7 (SC 474, p. 286) = Abba Arsenius 6 (PG 65, col. 89).  The desert Christian:  sayings of the Desert Fathers:  the alphabetical collection, trans. Benedicta Ward (New York, NY:  Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc., 1975), 51.  The heading is from the Journal of George Fox (at 1646; cf. 1647).