La Danse…c’est une question morale

12 05 2009


AG pointed out to me Sarah Kaufman’s article for the Washington Times criticizing the hegemony of George Balanchine’s aesthetic in modern ballet. While Kaufman does not have too many negative things to say about Balanchine’s choreography (other than the initial criticism of decades ago that his ballets are “too abstract”), she basically posits that the dominance of the Russian émigré is too much of a good thing. At least in this country, many of the ballet companies are run by former Balanchine dancers who were at the New York City Ballet. While they tend to do many Balanchine works, AG also pointed out that Balanchine is nowhere nearly as ubiquitous as Kaufman portrays.
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De officiis

12 05 2009


I have never thought that sin is the problem. It is, but it is often a problem we can’t do much about. My defeatist attitude (bordering on quietism) stems from my readings of the Desert Fathers and the Ladder of Divine Ascent. It is not so much the Lutheran position as it is the position of someone who knows that we often exchange some sins for other sins. If we think we can solve the problem, more often than not we are deceiving ourselves. And above all, sometimes we are meant to have some bad sins before our eyes to keep us humble.

The problem, then, is not sin, but the self-absolution and self-justification of our sins… and also a total lack of honor and responsibility when it comes to sin’s consequences. Modern people like to make beds, large beds, but they don’t like to sleep in them. That is the difference between the bad Catholics of yesteryear, and even the “good Catholics” of today. Bad Catholics back then knew they were bad. They had a sense of shame. They would go to Mass, stay in the back, and slink off before anyone could see them as they went back to live with a significant other who wasn’t their spouse, or to continue living their sinful lifestyle. It wasn’t ideal, and it wasn’t edifying, but at least they had a modicum of dignity about it. People were content to live in that ambiguous state, latching on to any spiritual consolation that they could get, hoping for some faint chance of redemption.

I was reading the plight of Fr. Alberto Cutié recently, and my thought was not so much, “how could he?”, but rather, “how could he do it like that?” In Catholic cultures, people almost expect their clergy to be less than perfect, especially in sexual matters. It is just the “dirty little secret” of the Catholic world. But to then go to the national media and talk about what you did… I am sorry, I like the “old school” approach: whisked off to the monastery in the middle of the night, etc. And I have seen it happen myself. I don’t see how the wayward cleric’s half-hearted, on-air mea culpa will help matters at all. He does seem to want to uphold the “policy”, but he doesn’t seem to want to walk the walk. The bed has been made, and he has gotten up from it. But he says that he still wants people to sleep in it. Just not him.

I was never in a position to make any real committments in my years of religious life. I left seminary a seminarian, and the monastery a novice. Of course, I will say a few extra prayers for Fr. Cutié. But I have known people who have stuck to their guns no matter what, and have slept in the beds that they have made. I know married people who have separated from their spouse and live their life alone because they will not go to some ecclesiastical kangaroo court to have their marriage invalidated because of some very shaky casuistry. I have suspected priests I have known of being fundamentally unhappy with their priesthood, but they keep on in their tasks because they made a promise, and they feel that they cannot break it. I know of “bad Catholics” who have shacked up with someone who is not their spouse because they love that person, but who do not protest that they are being treated unjustly by the Church because they can’t marry again. Not everyone is going to be a saint, and God forbid I condemn someone lest I fall into the same tragic situation. But one thing that I would like to think is that I am man enough to own up to the messes I have made. I don’t think redemption is possible without that.

Unfailing prayer to Saint Anthony

12 05 2009


St. Anthony, gentlest of Saints, your love for God and charity for his creatures, made you worthy, when on earth, to possess miraculous powers. Miracles waited on your word, which you were ready to speak for those in trouble or anxiety. Encouraged by this thought, I ask you to obtain for me the favors that I seek (mention your request here).

The answer to my prayer may require a miracle, even so, you are the Saint of Miracles.

O gentle and loving St. Anthony, whose heart was full of sympathy, whisper my petition into the ears of the Infant Jesus, who loved to be held in your arms; and the gratitude of my heart will ever by yours.

found here