Shaken and Bestirred

“Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do…For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay everyone according to his conduct.” (Matthew 16:21,27)

I guess there are two kinds of Sunday Masses: run-of-the-mill Sunday Masses and Masses on the Sunday after an earthquake. At the run-of-the-mill Sunday Masses, distractions can get in the way. We don’t always open our minds to the Word of God like we should.

The same thing can happen at Mass after an earthquake. But coming to church after facing the possibility of sudden death and destruction can sharpen our attention somewhat.

Things like earthquakes can leave us wondering about the Providence of God. Thanks be to God, we did not suffer any serious damage this week. No injury, no loss of life. But we know well that sudden and apparently senseless death can come. Innocent people die in accidents every day. Others suffer unjustly. Why? Isn’t God in charge?

Maybe a televangelist, out there somewhere, has declared that the people of the mid-Atlantic must be sinners—since the Lord sent us an earthquake—but not really bad sinners—since the earthquake was only 5.9 on the Richter scale.

God is God, after all. He can send earthquakes, hurricanes, and plagues on whomever He wants to send them for whatever reason He has for sending them. But it does not require too much investigation on our part for us to discover that, if the Lord meted out His justice upon sinners strictly in the form of earthquakes, then there would not be a city left standing on the face of the earth. Washington, D.C., would not be standing, but neither would Rocky Mount, or Martinsville, or any other town.

The Word of God helps us to focus the matter. In the end, the Son of Man will come in glory with His angels, and He will repay us justly for our deeds.

Continue reading “Shaken and Bestirred”

Friday Morning Paintings

Earthquake and tsunami overnight. May God help us.

Hoyas out of the Big East tournament.* Still hungry from Wednesday’s fast. Can’t eat any meat today…

Just seems like a good time to gaze upon John Singer Sargent’s “Breakfast in the Loggia,”

or “The Art of Painting” by Johannes Vermeer,

or Berenice Abbott’s photograph of the Flatiron Building.

For the record, the Internet does not know everything. Not even close. It does not know the names of the paintings that appeared on the dust jackets of the Oxford World Classic editions published in the 1970’s, many of which are readily available at your finer local libraries.

* But the Hokies are still in the ACC tournament!

Sinners and Fruits

Some people told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices.

He said to them in reply, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were greater sinners than all other Galileans?

“By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!

“Or those eighteen people who were killed when the tower at Siloam fell on them–do you think they were more guilty than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem?

“By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!” (Luke 13:1-5)

We all have some idea of how much the people of Haiti have gone through since the terrible earthquake on January 12th.

Do we think, because the Haitians have suffered, that they are greater sinners than all the other people in the northern hemisphere?

By no means!

Continue reading “Sinners and Fruits”

Natural Evil

Jeremy Hazell

The “Intelligent Design Debate” has been going on a long time:

If the movement of the universe were irrational, and the world rolled on in a random fashion, one would be justified in disbelieving what we say.

But if the world is founded on reason, wisdom, and science, and is filled with orderly beauty, then it must owe its origin and order to none other than the Word of God.

–St. Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, died A.D. 373.

…We are praying hard for everyone in Haiti. May all who are unaccounted-for be found safe.

Port-au-Prince Cathedral, January 14
We pray for the repose of Archbishop Serge Miot and all the dead.

Many souls certainly went to their deaths without proper preparation; may God be merciful.

We pledge ourselves to help everyone in need.

But before we panic and go reeling off into uncharted spiritual territory–losing perspective on ultimate reality because of the incessant buzzing of the television–let’s remind ourselves of the words of the expert demon to the junior tempter in Screwtape Letter #28:

I sometimes wonder if you young fiends are not kept out on temptation duty too long at a time–if you are not in some danger of becoming infected by the sentiments and values of the humans among whom you work.

They, or course, do tend to regard death as the prime evil, and survival as the greatest good. But that is because we have taught them to do so.

Do not let us be infected by our own propaganda…Whatever you do, keep your patient as safe as you possibly can…

Capuchin Crypt in Rome
The long, dull years of middle-aged prosperity are excellent campaigning weather for us.

…My dear mom regards my desire to live among skeletons as “extreme.”

If you want extreme, check out the crypt-level chapels of the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Rome.

…Big Hoya game against Seton Hall this evening.

Chvotkin has the call at 7:00 on AM 980. Jeremy Hazell is a dangerous sharp-shooter. Root hard!