Tuesday, January 15, 2008

What's the real deal with Rome’s "La Sapienza"?

The astute John Allen has the goods here and here. Regensburg, anyone? Grr...

Monday, January 14, 2008

Hillary Clinton on Russert's "Jesuitical" Argument

This is a fun little observation.

Did any of you catch the interview between Senator Hillary Clinton and Tim Russert yesterday on Meet the Press? America Magazine caught it:
On Meet the Press this morning, Senator Hillary Clinton accused her host, Tim Russert, of being 'Jesuitical' in his argumentation. The Jesuit-educated Russert (Canisius High School in Buffalo, N.Y. and John Carroll University in Cleveland) was pressing Senator Clinton on her 2002 vote to authorize war in Iraq. Here's the transcript:
MR. RUSSERT: Did he (Obama) have better judgment in October of 2002?

SEN. CLINTON: You know, look, judgment is not a single snapshot. Judgment is what you do across the course of your life and your career.

MR. RUSSERT: A vote for war is a very important vote.

SEN. CLINTON: Well, you know, Tim, we can have this Jesuitical argument about what exactly was meant.
Now according to the Oxford American Dictionary, "Jesuitical" has two meanings. The first is the more benign: "of or concerning the Jesuits." Okay, that's straightforward. But the word has a second meaning, which is almost always pejorative and was born of the old anti-Jesuit canard that we can be a little slick with our reasoning. Here the word means, "Dissembling or equivocating, in the manner associated with Jesuits."

It's highly unlikely of course that any Jesuit will take offense. Mrs. Clinton is no Pascal and did not intend to be. But one does wonder where she picked up the word. Perhaps it came from her Georgetown-educated husband.
One of my high school religion teachers, now a university professor of American history, sent a note to Meet the Press concerning the choice of vocabulary. He writes:
Hillary Clinton, in her interview with Mr Russert on January 13, said she refused to "participate in this Jesuitical argument" over her past votes, etc. The use of the term, "Jesuitical," in this way is an old anti-Catholic attack common in post-Reformation England and in the United States during the 1800s, used to imply that members of the Society of Jesus--and all Catholics by extension--are deceivers.

Catholics, this term implies, are uniquely able to twist their arguments to suit their ends just as Jesuits, or so the argument goes, did in their attempt to reclaim England for the Catholic faith.
I'll thank him for pointing this out. Although I'm sure Hillary didn't intend to attack Catholics (or the Jesuits) in her usage of the word, it was very obviously chosen to convey her negative opinion concerning Russert's argument. One wonders what inspired her to choose that word as opposed to any number of synonyms... Or am I just being jesuitical..?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Pope celebrates mass ad orientem in Sistine Chapel

Apparently, this was a modern liturgy in Italian, proving, of course, that the Second Vatican Council did not somehow "outlaw" celebrating mass in this way.

The New Liturgical Movement blog has the goods:
the Pope has now given an important public witness and example of the acceptability of the celebration of the sacred liturgy "ad orientem" -- that is, with the priest, in this case the Pope himself, and the faithful directed together in a common sacred direction, turned towards the Lord, towards the symbolic "East" of the liturgy. This is the first such public manifestation (as compared to this practice in the Pope's private chapel) for quite some time and that it has occurred within the Vatican itself is also significant.
Celebrating mass in this way in the Sistine Chapel also makes complete sense. Catholic author Amy Welborn comments:
There is nothing accidental about the interior decoration of the chapel, including Michelangelo’s Last Judgment on the wall behind the altar. It is purposefully designed to provide a “space” for a large altar cross. The cross is set up to be directly below the figure of the Risen Christ - and these are the images which we - and the celebrant - face during Mass. To set up another altar in front of that and have the focus shift away does, indeed, violate the original intention of the space.
I would have expected the half-witted press to come up with more stupid headlines that missed the point, such as "Pope snubs laity during mass by turning back on them." I would modify it slightly: "Pope leads faithful toward the Coming Lord." Come, Lord Jesus!


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