Well, that didn’t take very long.
The new Pope Francis has some very big shoes to fill. For the sake of my Catholic brothers and sisters, and really, for the sake of all of who bear the name of Christ, I hope and will pray that the Holy Spirit’s strength and guidance will be strong with him. In that spiritual and political hot-seat, he’s going to need it.
I am amused that the Conclave found a way to finesse the question “Should it be a Latin American? Or is it time for an Italian again?”
Also: First Dominican joke about the new Pope (via Mark Shea):
“Conclave locates Jesuit faithful to the Pope.”
Between the Rand Paul filibuster and the conviction of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick for corruption and racketeering, it seemed a good night to (finally!) watch Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. It did not disappoint.
We want to develop breadth of mind, to practice comparative study, to keep the horizon before us; these things cannot be done without much reading. But much and little are opposites only in the same domain. . . [M]uch is necessary in the absolute sense, because the work to be done is vast; but little, relatively to the deluge of writing that…floods our libraries and our minds nowadays. . . . What we are proscribing is the passion for reading, the uncontrolled habit, the poisoning of the mind by excess of mental food, the laziness in disguise which prefers easy familiarity with others’ thought to personal effort. . . . The passion for reading which many pride themselves on as a precious intellectual quality is in reality a defect; it differs in no wise from other passions that monopolize the soul , keep it in a state of disturbance, set it in uncertain currents and cross-currents, and exhaust its powers. . . . The mind is dulled, not fed, by inordinate reading, it is made gradually incapable of reflection and concentration, and therefore of production; it grows inwardly extroverted, if one can so express oneself, becomes the slave of its mental images, of the ebb and flow of ideas on which it has eagerly fastened its attention. This uncontrolled delight is an escape from self; it ousts the intelligence from its function and allows it merely to follow point for point the thoughts of others, to be carried along in the stream of words, developments, chapters, volumes. . . . [N]ever read when you can reflect; read only, except in moments of recreation, what concerns the purpose you are pursuing; and read little, so as not to eat up your interior silence.
– A. G. Sertillanges, The Intellectual Life: Its Spirit, Conditions, Methods
I don’t know how they balance checkbooks in Washington, but every time I increase spending and borrowing around our place the household economy goes straight to hell. Mind you, banks need our loan interest to thrive and grow, just as corporate manufacturers need us to buy their latest products, but a certain comfort and sense of independence comes with saving, not borrowing, for one’s needs. If these needs are simple and fail to bolster the national economy, then all we can do is hope the government will muddle through without our help a while longer.
– Peter V. Fossel, Organic Farming: Everything You Need to Know
It isn’t the Church’s job to teach a man what does and doesn’t make a woman desperate to have his baby.
Susanna Black, in this mediation on the book of Ruth, notes the same social welfare and mandated economic inefficiencies in the Old Testament Law that I’ve noticed myself. This would be one of the reasons I don’t see strict laissez-faire economics as the self-evidently “Biblical” economic system.
Ruth, the Moabitess, the foreigner, supporting herself and her mother-in-law after the death of all the men in their family by gleaning: picking up the sheaves of wheat left behind by harvesters in someone else’s field. This was put into place under God’s law as one of three levels of provision for social welfare in Israel (the other two, per my brilliant friend Kristen Filipic, are tithing, where a tenth of everybody’s income ends up in a central fund used for, among other purposes, welfare payments to those who really can’t support themselves; and jubilee, where every fifty years everyone’s debts are cancelled, along with any land sales that have alienated a family’s home farm.)
Gleaning is cool as follows: basically, God tells farmers to build in deliberate inefficiencies to their operation in order to allow others to make a living. You’re not supposed to reap to the edges of the field, and you’re not supposed to pick up the grain that you might accidentally drop in the process of harvesting, so that there’ll be plenty of leftovers for the gleaners. It’s almost like a portion of all privately owned land is actually commons, but commons that exist in the same physical space as the private property.
When the Irish scholars
decided to lay the
of medieval Europe,
Centers of Thought
in all the cities of Europe
as far as Constantinople,
could look for thought
so they could have light.
Houses of Hospitality
where Christian charity
where they combined
that is to say Liturgy
(b) with Culture—
that is to say Literature
(c) with Cultivation—
that is to say Agriculture.
– Peter Maurin, Catholic Radicalism: Phrased Essays for the Green Revolution
Flee fro the prees, and dwelle with sothfastnesse;
Suffyce unto thy thyng, though hit be smal…
However just and anxious I have been,
I will stop and step back
from the crowd of those who may agree
with what I say, and be apart.
There is no earthly promise of life or peace
but where the roots branch and weave
their patient silent passages in the dark;
uprooted, I have been furious without an aim.
I am not bound for any public place,
but for ground of my own
where I have planted vines and orchard trees,
and in the heat of the day climbed up
into the healing shadow of the woods.
Better than any argument is to rise at dawn
and pick dew-wet red berries in a cup
– Wendell Berry