Saturday, May 09, 2009

Mary and the Order of Preachers

Friday was the Feast of the Patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary over the entire Order of Preachers, according to the Dominican Liturgical calendar.

From the Commentary on the Constitutions of the Order of Preachers by Bl. Humbert of Romans, who was the fifth master of the Order:
From the events surrounding the beginning of our Order many reasons can be adduced why the Blessed Virgin Mary herself may be considered the special patroness of our Order. From what I have heard with my own ears and from the many accounts in the 'Lives of the Brethren', it seems that she is our special Mother, bringing forth, advancing and defending the Order whose purpose is to praise, to bless and to preach her Son.
From the Miracles of St. Dominic as narrated by Sr. Cecilia:
Suddenly [Dominic] was caught up in spirit before God and saw the Lord and the Blessed Virgin sitting at his right. It seemed to Blessed Dominic that Our Lady was wearing a cloak the color of sapphire.

As Blessed Dominic looked around, he could see religious of all the orders but his own before the throne of God. He began to weep bitterly and stood apart, not daring to approach the Lord and his Mother. Then Our Lady motioned for him to come near. But he would not dare, until the Lord himself also called him.

Blessed Dominic cast himself down before them weeping bitterly. The Lord told him to rise, and when he did, asked him, "Why are you weeping so?" "I am weeping because I see all the other orders here but no sign of my own." The Lord said to him, "Do you want to see your Order?" and he answered, "Yes, Lord." Then the Blessed Virgin opened the cloak she was wearing and spread it out before Blessed Dominic, to whom it seemed cast enough to cover the entire heaven, and under it he saw a large multitude of the brethren.

Then prostrating himself, Blessed Dominic gave thanks to God and to Blessed Mary his Mother.
It has often been said that Dominic had the gift of tears. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Fact Checking: Angels & Demons

Steve Greydanus has some fact-checking on Dan Brown's book. Yes, like The DaVinci Code, "it's only fiction". Yet, I still run across folks who think it's more fact than fiction. Angels & Demons seems to be more silly, in my opinion. The old "Catholic Church vs. Science" lie. Yet we have priests like Clavius, Mendel, Grimaldi, LeMaitre, and other Catholics like Copernicus and, yes, even Galileo himself, who say: "No, not quite."

Fires in Santa Barbara

Another terrible fire in Santa Barbara right now. The "Jesusita Fire" is only 10% contained tonight. I know several people who have evacuated, one having to spend the night in a Red Cross shelter. Please pray for relief for this fire!

Meanwhile, a load of people plan to descend upon Isla Vista (near UC Santa Barbara) this weekend for "Floatopia 2", which folks worry will put a massive burden on the region's firefighting resources. "Floatopia" is an event where drunken kids, mostly from out of town, take over an Isla Vista beach and float out over the water in a drunken frenzy, leaving behind injuries and an ocean and beach full of half-empty beer cans. The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisor passed an urgency ordinance banning alcohol consumption, but most people don't think it will have an effect. What will happen? The last "Floatopia" drew over 12,000 people.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Hopkins and Haecceity

We had a very interesting discussion in our Catholic reading group a few days ago. The subject of this session was the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins. I would like to thank Ben, in particular, for sharing Hopkins' As Kingfishers Catch Fire with the group:
As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell's
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves - goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying What I do is me: for that I came.

I say more: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: that keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God's eye what in God's eye he is--
Christ. For Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men's faces.
The poem illustrates quite nicely the influence Bl. John Duns Scotus had on Hopkins' theology, particularly concerning the concept of haecceity -- that which pertains to the haecceitas, or thisness, of a person or object, that identifies it as being individual or distinct from other things. God made us as human beings, but he made each one of us, and all living creatures, unique. This would better explain some terms Hopkins identified: inscape and instress, which are described here in more detail:
By "inscape" he means the unified complex of characteristics that give each thing its uniqueness and that differentiate it from other things, and by "instress" he means either the force of being which holds the inscape together or the impulse from the inscape which carries it whole into the mind of the beholder...

The concept of inscape shares much with Wordsworth's "spots of time," Emerson's "moments," and Joyce's "epiphanies," showing it to be a characteristically Romantic and post-Romantic idea. But Hopkins' "inscape" is also fundamentally religious: a glimpse of the inscape of a thing shows us why God created it. "Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:/ . . myself it speaks and spells,/ Crying What I do is me: for that I came."
You see this generally reflected in Hopkins' poetry. He writes about this bird, this tree, this person, rather than about birds, or trees, or people in general. Exquisite.

Why Aquinas Matters Today

In three points, from Catholic News Service in an interview with Dominican Father Thomas Joseph White of the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception in DC:
The first, I would say, is Aquinas' insistence on the harmony of faith and reason...

The second point is that for Aquinas the creation reflects the mystery of the wisdom of God. If we look off into the creation, we see a beautiful, existent world that is good, that is orderly and that bespeaks the wisdom of God...

The third point, I would say, is that for Aquinas there is a very profound emphasis on the primacy of grace for all of our works that lead to union with God. God is not only the source from whom we all come, but he is the ultimate term or endpoint toward whom we are all returning. How do we return to God? For Aquinas, by grace...
Read the whole thing.


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