Leave it to LeBron to talk like he has a ring on his finger, when, in fact, the Heat must still face two teams from Central Time. May the the MVP and Co. stuff King James in a four-game sweep. Then LeBron can sit and watch the Finals with Kobe and their respective hand-puppets…

…Our Holy Father started a new series of catecheses on prayer last Wednesday, and continued it the day before yesterday. Don’t miss.

Here is a good part–about the universality of prayer throughout history, and of kneeling in prayer:

“Digital” man and the caveman alike seek in religious experience the ways to overcome his finitude and to ensure his precarious earthly adventure…In the dynamic of this relationship with the One who gives meaning to existence, with God, prayer has one of its typical expressions in the gesture of kneeling…The posture of kneeling at prayer expresses this acknowledgment of our need and our openness to God’s gift of himself in a mysterious encounter of friendship.

…Thirty years ago today, somebody shot the blessed pope.

Ten years ago, Theodore Cardinal McCarrick laid hands on a tall, kneeling goofball, after the goofball promised to serve the holy altar for life. Happy Friday the 13th!

…If a Jesuit named Conroy has to be the chaplain of the US Congress, I wish it could have been Father Jim Conroy.

…How about if we discuss A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, by Mark Twain?

Mark Twain offers companionship that excels any we could hope for. The man generously wrote down a great deal of the contents of his mind, so that he could accompany us even now, though he has been dead for 111 years.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of perusing the book recently, you could read from HERE to the end of the chapter, to get a flavor.

A late effort, written during a period when the illustrious raconteur seemed to have run out of steam, Connecticut Yankee amuses as much as the books Twain wrote at the height of his powers. His gift for hillarious mimicry of colloquial speech shines in the Round Table colloquies he invents.

This book, however, has a glowering dark side which bears our deep meditation.

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court is a bald-faced, unapologetic, obtuse, and clumsy anti-Catholic screed. A lone voice exposed it as such at the time.

With these words, Hank (the Connecticut Yankee narrator) exposes Twain’s faulty thesis, which he apparently thought justified his malice:

Something of this disagreeable sort was turning up every now and then. I mean, episodes that showed that not all priests were frauds and self-seekers, but that many, even the great majority, of these that were down on the ground among the common people, were sincere and right-hearted, and devoted to the alleviation of human troubles and sufferings.

Well, it was a thing which could not be helped, so I seldom fretted about it, and never many minutes at a time; it has never been my way to bother much about things which you can’t cure. But I did not like it, for it was just the sort of thing to keep people reconciled to an Established Church.

We MUST have a religion — it goes without saying — but my idea is, to have it cut up into forty free sects, so that they will police each other, as had been the case in the United States in my time. Concentration of power in a political machine is bad; and and an Established Church is only a political machine; it was invented for that; it is nursed, cradled, preserved for that; it is an enemy to human liberty, and does no good which it could not better do in a split-up and scattered condition. That wasn’t law; it wasn’t gospel: it was only an opinion — my opinion, and I was only a man, one man: so it wasn’t worth any more than the pope’s — or any less, for that matter. (Chapter 18)

Here it is, eloquently expressed: The American fallacy of private religion.

Let us counterpose these words of Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, written thirty years earlier:

I think I am right in saying that the tradition of the Apostles, committed to the whole Church in its various constituents and functions, manifests itself variously at various times: sometimes by the mouth of the episcopacy, sometimes by the doctors, sometimes by the people, sometimes by liturgies, rites, ceremonies, and customs, by events, disputes, movements, and all those other phenomena which are comprised under the name of history.

It follows that none of these channels of tradition may be treated with disrespect; granting at the same time fully, that the gift of discerning, discriminating, defining, promulgating, and enforcing any portion of that tradition resides solely in the Ecclesia docens [the teaching Church].

One thought on “Superstitious?

  1. Fr. Mark,

    Samuel Clemens was reknown as an equal opportunity aspersion caster. I never read the book, but saw the movie, the 1949 version, with Bing Crosby. That would have made me 10 years old at the time; and I now remember only all the servants being executed on the death of the king, and that the protagonist used modern technology to pass himself off as a magician [your suggested reading is about the latter, but alludes to the king — Arthur].

    Wikipedia takes a somewhat different view of the object of the book: , saying that it is directed at the Sir-Walter-Scott type of romanticism. It also mentions Will Rogers as a star in the Broadway version of the same title — a good fit.

    Clemens’ experiences in early life, and those as a writer, made him a very earthy commentator on the society of his time — beginning in the wild west days (1835), extending through the Victorian era, and ending in the industrial age (1910). His reputation for cynicism is legendary.

    So, we have the following logical breakdown (in my not-necessarily-so-humble opinion) for the subjects of your blog today:

    Real beyond belief: Stevie Wonder & Sesame Street, Pope John Paul II & Ali Agca, Mark Twain & the United States of America in his lifetime

    Real: Pope Benedict & Prayer, One tall drink of water & Cardinal McCarrick ten years ago [and today], Cardinal Newman & the tradition of the apostles

    Unreal: LeBron & the NBA.

    Just thinking!



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