Archive for April, 2012

April 26, 2012

predisposition to admire

The incident illustrates an attractive aspect of Cicero’s personality: his predisposition to admire. He was not a cynic and, although he was much concerned with his own glory and had a fair share of hatreds and dislikes, he was appreciative of the achievements of others and liked to praise them if he could.

From Anthony Everitt’s Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome’s Greatest Politician (Kindle Locations 822-825), in reference to Cicero’s praise of Crassus (whose last speech and death Cicero witnessed as a young boy).

April 26, 2012

under the direction of the Great Architect

From Divine Craftsmanship by Jean Hani (compare to this poem):

To say that God is the only architect can be understood in a yet more precise fashion in the case of the construction of the temple. Here, God is more directly the architect of His own abode. …The earthly temple is realized according to a heavenly archetype communicated to men through the intermediary of a prophet or other sacred figure. (46-47)

…The Heavenly Jerusalem, which descends from God, and the shape and dimensions of which were also taught to St John by an angel, is the model of the Christian temple, as is amply proved by the layout of the later, and affirmed by its ritual consecration. (47)

…Now this archetypal building, by its very nature, reproduces the architecture of the universe in such a way that its base corresponds to the earth, its intermediate space to the air, and its roof to the heavenly vault.

From this it follows that the house is a symbol of the universe, which, in a way, is the primordial House of Man; and, as a result, the building of a house will also reproduce or imitate the creation of the world. (48)

…The text from Job evokes the splendor of the original world, spoilt by sin. But God decided to rebuild it. And this new world in the making is the Church, both the earthly and heavenly. The Church is the Holy City, ‘the masterpiece’ of the divine Artisan. ‘It is God who builds Jerusalem’ (Psalm 46). (49)

…The unfolding of this story appears as the spiritual construction of a new world, the New Jerusalem, which under the direction of the Great Architect, is the work of all. It unfolds in three phases. In the first, Christ comes to earth to lay the first or foundation stone, upon this foundation, of which Simon Peter is the visible substitute, the Temple is built with living stones, which are the believers. Finally, in the third phase, the building is completed with the placing of the keystone of the vault, which is again Christ, the Beginning and End, Alpha and Omega. Then the whole building undergoes a glorious transmutation, the stones becoming precious and shining in the Divine Light. At this point, the Heavenly City appears in all its splendor…. (54)

April 14, 2012

the divine in him contracted to an ache

By Scott Cairns in his “Recovered Body” collection and recently shared here on the Huffington Post.

The More Earnest Prayer of Christ

And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly
–Luke 22:44

His last prayer in the garden began, as most
as his prayers began–in earnest, certainly,
but not without distraction, an habitual…what?

Distance? Well, yes, a sort of distance, or a mute
remove from the genuine distress he witnessed
in the endlessly grasping hands of multitudes

and, often enough, in his own embarrassing
circle of intimates. Even now, he could see
these where they slept, sprawled upon their robes or wrapped

among the arching olive trees. Still, something new,
unlikely, uncanny was commencing as he spoke.
As the divine in him contracted to an ache,

a throbbing in the throat, his vision blurred, his voice
grew thick and unfamiliar; his prayer — just before
it fell to silence — became uniquely earnest.

And in that moment — perhaps because it was so
new — he saw something, had his first taste of what
he would become, first pure taste of the body, and the blood.

April 12, 2012

a few lilies blow


A nun takes the veil

    I HAVE desired to go
      Where springs not fail,
To fields where flies no sharp and sided hail
    And a few lilies blow.

    And I have asked to be
      Where no storms come,
Where the green swell is in the havens dumb,
    And out of the swing of the sea.

By Gerard Manley Hopkins.

April 9, 2012

I admire it and rejoice in it

Italian humanist Coluccio Salutati remarks on the reading of Virgil, around the year 1378:

I have dwelt upon this at such length that you may not suppose the reading of Virgil to be a mere idle occupation if one is willing to take the right view of it and to separate the wheat from the tares. Not, indeed, that I believe one should look there for the teachings of our faith or for the Truth; but as Seneca says of himself, I go over into the enemy’s camp, not as a guest or as a deserter, but as a spy. I, as a Christian, do not read my Virgil as if I were to rest in it forever or for any considerable time; but as I read I examine diligently to see if I can find anything that tends toward virtuous and honourable conduct, and as I run through the foreshadowings of his poetry, often with the aid of allegory and not without enjoyment, if I find something not compatible with the truth, or obscurely stated, I try to make it clear by the use of reason. But, when it is my good fortune to find something in harmony with our faith, even though it be wrapped up in fiction I admire it and rejoice in it, and, since our poet himself thought it well to learn even from an enemy, I joyfully accept it and make a note of it.

From “In Defense of Liberal Studies” by Coluccio Salutatio in The Portable Medieval Reader (Penguin, 1977, page 612).

April 6, 2012

without presuming to tell them how to use it

Aristotle’s education assumed his students’ future leisure and taught them how to use it, the modern educator—assuming the psychological enslavement of the proletariat—would teach his students how to acquire more leisure without presuming to tell them how to use it.

From Norms and Nobility by David Hicks, pages 76.

April 6, 2012

they must fail to excite

The inability of the present generation of young people to read, write, and think is only a symptom of our departure from dialectical learning, but it is everywhere being treated as the disease itself. So long as these skills are valued only for utilitarian ends, such as those delineated by Mao, they must fail to excite in our youth the efforts necessary for their mastery. Not until we once again recognize and articulate the transcendent value of sound thinking, wide reading, and lucid writing will our students respond to their lessons enthusiastically.

…The pedagogical avoidance of dialectic and dogma and of whatever touches man in his individual and religious domains forfeits the possibility for a truly classical education. Whereas Socrates’ dialectic embraced the whole and encouraged a struggle between the normative and utilitarian and between the dialectical and the analytical, modern ideology declares the struggle ended by peremptorily deciding the issue in favor of the utilitarian and analytical.

From Norms and Nobility by David Hicks, pages 75-76.

April 4, 2012

the way things were shaping up

YHWH’s Image

And YHWH sat in the dust, bone weary after
days of strenuous making, during which He,
now and again, would pause to consider the
way things were shaping up. Time also would
pause upon these strange durations; it would
lean back on its haunches, close its marble
eyes, appear to doze.

But when YHWH Himself finally sat on the
dewy lawn—the first stage of his work all but
finished—He took in a great breath laced with
all lush odors of creation. It made him almost

As He exhaled, a sigh and sweet mist spread
out from him, settling over the earth. In that
obscurity, YHWH sat for an appalling interval,
so extreme that even Time opened its eyes, and
once, despite itself, let its tail twitch. Then
YHWH lay back, running His hand over the
damp grasses, and in deep contemplation
reached into the soil, lifting great handsful of
trembling clay to His lips, which parted to
avail another breath.

With this clay He began to coat His shins,
cover His thighs, His chest. He continued this
layering, and, when He had been wholly
interred, He parted the clay at His side, and
retreated from it, leaving the image of Himself
to wander in what remained of that early
morning mist.

By Scott Cairns from Recovered Body.

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