More from the Mailbox

22 05 2019

I was re-reading this the other day and thought I would share it again.

Reditus

A continuation of a previous conversation:

Of course the liturgy of the Byzantine Church is infinitely better than the Latin Church. Why do you think I had anything to do with it? Just because I “liked it” or that it made me “feel closer to God!” There are many reasons for why it is better.

The Latin Church has always been rather primitive. It tends far more towards the “mystical” and direct “feeling” approach because it is so far behind the eight ball when it comes to brains. They (Latins) never really got into the big theological debates of the first 7 councils. They have always promoted a Jesus-centric, (not even Christo-centric) spirituality. They have never really come to terms with the role of the Mother of God. All the major liturgical feasts of the BVM were imported from the East and the Reformation never had a clue what it…

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The only way to win is not to play

8 05 2019

The idea of reviving the office of female deacon or deaconess has been raised by the current Vatican. Though I have traditionalist leanings, I don’t have a strong opinion on this. To cite Slavoj Zizek, I would say that I would prefer not to, but I don’t think the traditional camp has much of a leg to stand on at this point. Deaconesses are documented to have been in existence in the early Church, and across various ritual churches, their duties and privileges varied widely. Apparently in the Armenian Orthodox Church, there were female deacons all the way up to the middle of the 20th century and beyond. Above is a recently ordained Armenian female deacon. What would the Vatican or conservative Catholics say about this deacon? What if the Armenian Catholics, who share the same rites but are communion with the Vatican, decide to ordain their own female deacons again? Could she serve in St. Peter’s Basilica during Mass, as clergy in other rites sometimes tend to do? I would say this is not a question of “if”, but “when”. Read the rest of this entry »





On the Power of the Stars

6 05 2019

Reditus

fortunaAnd some random reflections

[Image by Robert Place found on this site]

But what is remarkable about the Florentine cupolas is that they represent no merely random arrangement of the stars: the artist has preserved the aspect of the sky exactly as it appeared at a given day and hour. Why was this done? Without the slightest doubt, because some event of decisive importance for the Church had taken place at that very moment – an event over which the celestial powers then above the horizon had presided. Aby Warburg was able, in fact, to prove that the arrangement of the stars shown in the Old Sacristy of San Lorenzo corresponds exactly to their position in the sky above Florence on July 9, 1422, the date of the consecration of the main altar.

-taken from The Survival of the Pagan Gods by Jean Seznec

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On the love of God

5 04 2019

Reditus

A spiritual creature can love God more than himself because the relation of a creature to God is the relation of the part to the whole. A part can love the whole on which it depends for its existence more than it loves itself. The hand moves instinctively to sacrifice itself in protecting the body whose part it is. The citizen willingly gives up his life for the community of which he is a member. So the creature can love the God on whom he depends even more than he loves himself- more so indeed than the hand or citizen in the examples cited. For the creature’s relation to God is no ordinary relation of part to whole. It is a relation of participation, the relation of a participant to the Infinite Existence in whose plenitude it shares. The creature depends on God for everything he is and does. God…

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The Platonic Sea: Marsilio Ficino and Mediterranean Philosophy — Mediterraneanisms

21 02 2019

I was recently asked to review Denis J.-J. Robichaud’s recent book, Plato’s Persona: Marsilio Ficino, Renaissance Humanism, and Platonic Traditions, which was published last year by Pennsylvania University Press. The review will appear in The Sixteenth Century Journal, a periodical aimed at an academic audience that specializes in the early modern period. While that review is geared toward scholars, I thought […]

via The Platonic Sea: Marsilio Ficino and Mediterranean Philosophy — Mediterraneanisms





All tradition is a product of the 19th century

15 02 2019

I recently learned of the impending canonization of John Henry Cardinal Newman, and honestly it makes me more suspect that canonization process has just become a popularity contest. In an institution with one billion people in it, you are bound to find someone attributing a miracle to anything from a dead 19th century cardinal to the face of Jesus appearing in a piece of toast. I am not sure I will ever consider John Paul II or John XXIII to be saints. Maybe they can be removed from the calendar one day or demoted to mythology just like St. Christopher or St. Philomena. In the case of the latter recent “saint”, that would be poetic justice. Read the rest of this entry »





Wandering Bishops

14 02 2019

The Chequer-board of Nights and Days

Rene Vilatte, wandering bishop par excellance

We discussed the validity and liceity of the Sacraments, particularly Holy Orders, last time, noting that a church may recognize lineages of Apostolic Succession of bishops as having valid Holy Orders despite that lineage being outside that particular church.  In short, the Church may recognize a man as a “real” bishop even if he was ordained irregularly.  One way this can occur is though schism, pure and simple.  That is, a bishop goes rogue and breaks away from the Church, then ordains as many men as he sees fit.  Since the bishop was validly ordained in the Church, these ordinations he performs, though illicit and carrying the penalty of automatic excommunication for both the bishop himself and those he ordains, are valid.  The men he ordains, in short, are real bishops, full stop.

We saw back here, though, that while some lineages indeed…

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Apostolic Succession

7 02 2019

The Chequer-board of Nights and Days

I shared my post about the Gospel of Thomas to a Facebook group, and one of the members suggested I do a post about Apostolic Succession.  I’d never thought to do that, frankly; but it does tie in with some of the things I’ve written about here.  Moreover, Apostolic Succession is something of which many non-Catholics and non-Orthodox may have never heard.  Even  many Catholics and Orthodox may have only fuzzy ideas of the concept, despite its extreme importance to their respective churches.  Thus, since it’s a legitimate topic, I think I will indeed discuss it here.

In any church or religious organization–or any organization at all, for that matter–two of the most fundamental questions are “Who’s in charge” and “Why are they in charge?”  No human organization can lack some type of leadership.  Even among hunter-gatherer tribes that have little structure, there will almost always be one or…

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Deus deorum

5 02 2019

Another re-run

Reditus

Christ as the Fulfilment of Pagan Theology

In the past, I have criticized the “grand march of monotheism” view of history. In this view, people agonizingly climbed their way out of a mental cave that is haunted by spirits, ghosts, gods, and all of the other usual suspects in the polytheistic cosmos. Little by little, one small group of people, the Hebrews, grew out of this worldview to realize that their was only one God, and all of the other religions were either superstition or the manipulation of devils. Even from the founding of the Church, we are becoming more monothesitic, more Biblical, and more knowledgeable about the Christian religion as time passes. People feel, for example, that St. Anselm’s idea of the vicarious satisfaction of Christ on the Cross was a remnant of the pagan ethos: the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob would never demand blood from…

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The Tenderness of Vision

27 01 2019

Reditus

Hadot Reads Plotinus

[Plotinus] gently accepted the multiple levels of our being, and all he tried to do was reduce this multiplicity as much as possible, by turning his attention away from the “composite”. For him, it was necessary that mankind learn to tolerate itself.

-Pierre Hadot, Plotinus or the Simplicity of Vision

Plotinus is without a doubt the father of mysticism in the Western world. His language, elan, and depth have been imitated by countless Christian mystics, and his ideas of knowledge as turning within into oneself continues to influence all spiritual seekers from the cloistered Carmelite nun in traditional habit to the New Age ex-hippie in a yoga class.  Plotinus can be exceptionally beautiful to read, but his is often a hollow beauty, a beauty that is inaccessible, fleeting, and of little application to daily life. Pierre Hadot, in his book on Plotinus, seeks to plant the third century…

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