Archive for July, 2013

July 27, 2013

a person is an irreducible mystery

So Eve, and the ark, and the queen mother give us glimpses of the great reality that is Mary. She, then, must be our goal as we study her types. For she was and she remains a real, living person; and a person is an irreducible mystery, not the sum of his or her symbols. Paul was moved by the way Jesus was foreshadowed in Adam; but Paul was in love with Jesus Christ. So we must come to know and love Mary herself as she is illuminated by her biblical types. This is not something optional for Christians. It is not something ornamental in the gospel.

From Hail, Holy Queen: The Mother of God in the Word of God by Scott Hahn, pages 90 to 91.

Advertisements
Tags: , , ,
July 24, 2013

he that studies only books

He that studies only men, will get the body of knowledge without the soul; and he that studies only books, the soul without the body. He that to what he sees, adds observation, and to what he reads, reflection, is in the right road to knowledge, provided that in scrutinizing the hearts of others, he neglects not his own.

Caleb Colton quoted at the beginning of chapter five in Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster.

July 24, 2013

all find what they truly seek

Emeth (the noble pagan prince from Lewis’ The Last Battle) describes his encounter with Aslan on the other side of the door:

So I went over much grass and many flowers and among all kinds of wholesome and delectable trees till lo! in a narrow place between two rocks there came to meet me a great Lion. The speed of him was like the ostrich, and his size as an elephant’s; his hair was like pure gold and the brightness of his eyes like gold that is liquid in the furnace. He was more terrible than the Flaming Mountain of Lagour, and in beauty he surpassed all that is in the world even as the rose in bloom surpasses the dust of the desert.Then I fell at his feet and thought, Surely this is the hour of death, for the Lion (who is worthy of all honour) will know that I have served Tash all my days and not him. Nevertheless, it is better to see the Lion and die than to be Tisroc of the world and live and not to have seen him.

But the Glorious One bent down his golden head and touched my forehead with his tongue and said, “Son, thou art welcome.”

But I said, “Alas Lord, I am no son of thine but the servant of Tash.”

He answered, “Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service done to me.”

Then by reasons of my great desire for wisdom and understanding, I overcame my fear and questioned the Glorious One and said, “Lord, is it then true, as the Ape said, that thou and Tash are one?”

The Lion growled so that the earth shook (but his wrath was not against me) and said, “It is false. Not because he and I are one, but because we are opposites, I take to me the services which thou hast done to him. For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him. Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath’s sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him. And if any man do a cruelty in my name, then, though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted. Dost thou understand, Child?”

I said, “Lord, though knowest how much I understand. But I said also (for the truth constrained me), Yet I have been seeking Tash all my days.”

“Beloved,” said the Glorious One, “unless thy desire had been for me thou wouldst not have sought so long and so truly. For all find what they truly seek.”

Then he breathed upon me and took away the trembling from my limbs and caused me to stand upon my feet. And after that, he said not much, but that we should meet again, and I must go further up and further in. Then he turned him about in a storm and flurry of gold and was gone suddenly.

And since then, O Kings and Ladies, I have been wandering to find him and my happiness is so great that it even weakens me like a wound. And this is the marvel of marvels, that he called me Beloved, me who am but as a dog.

This often-quoted passage from C.S. Lewis famously summarizes his thoughts about those pagans who so love truth that they will humble themselves like “dogs under the table” in order to enjoy the crumbs (Matthew 15:22-28).

July 23, 2013

aspiring toward a perfect attentiveness

If all great art is symbolic of a kind of moral plenitude, of conflicting attitudes and impulses explored and worked through toward some ideal clarity, the act of reading is itself a model of ideal human relations, aspiring toward a perfect attentiveness in which emotional possession and intellectual comprehension–what experience conditions us to see and what the text insists we see–inform and alter one another.  Reading well, in other words, is symbolic loving.

A friend quoted the poet Alan Shapiro as writing this. From his essay “The Dead, Alive, and Busy” (1984) published within In Praise of the Impure: Poetry and the Ethical Imagination: Essays, 1980-1991.

July 21, 2013

refusal of that great cross

“This is what I think about it. And you know that I would not tell you a lie. Listen: you are not ready, and such a cross is not for you. What’s more, you don’t need such a martyr’s cross when you are not ready for it. If you had murdered our father, it would grieve me that you should reject your punishment. But you are innocent, and such a cross is too much for you. You wanted to make yourself another man by suffering. I say, only remember that other man always, all your life and wherever you go; and that will be enough for you. Your refusal of that great cross will only serve to make you feel all your life even greater duty, and that constant feeling will do more to make you a new man, perhaps, than if you went there. For there you would not endure it and would repine, and perhaps at last would say: ‘I am quits.’ The lawyer was right about that. Such heavy burdens are not for all men. For some they are impossible. These are my thoughts about it, if you want them so much. If other men would have to answer for your escape, officers or soldiers, then I would not have ‘allowed’ you,” smiled Alyosha.

From The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (Alyosha telling Dmitri what he thinks about the plans that Ivan has made for Dmitri to escape punishment).

July 21, 2013

glad shrieks of the cherubim singing and shouting hosannah

I am perhaps the one man in all creation who loves the truth and genuinely desires good. I was there when the Word, Who died on the Cross, rose up into heaven bearing on His bosom the soul of the penitent thief. I heard the glad shrieks of the cherubim singing and shouting hosannah and the thunderous rapture of the seraphim which shook heaven and all creation, and I swear to you by all that’s sacred, I longed to join the choir and shout hosannah with them all. The word had almost escaped me, had almost broken from my lips… you know how susceptible and aesthetically impressionable I am. But common sense—oh, a most unhappy trait in my character—kept me in due bounds and I let the moment pass! For what would have happened, I reflected, what would have happened after my hosannah? Everything on earth would have been extinguished at once and no events could have occurred. And so, solely from a sense of duty and my social position, was forced to suppress the good moment and to stick to my nasty task. Somebody takes all the credit of what’s good for Himself, and nothing but nastiness is left for me. But I don’t envy the honour of a life of idle imposture, I am not ambitious.

From The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (the devil speaking to Ivan).

July 20, 2013

the tracery of a pattern so subtle

From the prolog of Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino:

In the lives of emperors there is a moment which follows pride in the boundless extension of the territories we have conquered, and the melancholy and relief of knowing we shall soon give up any thought of knowing and understanding them.

…It is the desperate moment when we discover that this empire, which had seemed to us the sum of all wonders, is an endless, formless ruin, that corruption’s gangrene has spread too far to be healed by our scepter, that the triumph over enemy sovereigns has made us the heirs of their long undoing. Only in Marco Polo’s accounts was Kublai Khan able to discern, through the walls and towers destined to crumble, the tracery of a pattern so subtle it could escape the termites’ gnawing.

Tags: ,
July 20, 2013

perhaps the best education

From The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky:

You must know that there is nothing higher and stronger and more wholesome and good for life in the future than some good memory, especially a memory of childhood, of home. People talk to you a great deal about your education, but some good, sacred memory, preserved from childhood, is perhaps the best education. If a man carries many such memories with him into life, he is safe to the end of his days, and if one has only one good memory left in one’s heart, even that may sometime be the means of saving us.

…the cruellest and most mocking of us—if we do become so will not dare to laugh inwardly at having been kind and good at this moment! What’s more, perhaps, that one memory may keep him from great evil and he will reflect and say, ‘Yes, I was good and brave and honest then!’ Let him laugh to himself, that’s no matter, a man often laughs at what’s good and kind. That’s only from thoughtlessness. But I assure you, boys, that as he laughs he will say at once in his heart, ‘No, I do wrong to laugh, for that’s not a thing to laugh at.’

Tags:
July 20, 2013

she kissed him on the nose

More favorite passages from The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis:

“By Caldron Pool,” Chapter One:

“No, no,” said the Ape (whose mind worked very quickly). “It’s a sign the other way. I was just going to say that if the real Aslan, as you call him, meant us to go on with this, he would send us a thunderclap and an earth-tremor. It was just on the tip of my tongue, only the sign itself came before I could get the words out. You’ve got to do it now, Puzzle. And please don’t let us have any more arguing. You know you don’t understand these things. What could a donkey know about signs?”

“The Rashness of the King,” Chapter Two:

The King and the Unicorn stared at one another and both looked more frightened than they had ever been in any battle.

“Aslan,” said the King at last, in a very low voice. “Aslan. Could it be true? Could he be felling the holy trees and murdering the Dryads?”

“Unless the Dryads have all done something dreadfully wrong-” murmured Jewel.

“But selling them to Calormenes!” said the King. “Is it possible?”

“I don’t know,” said Jewel miserably. “He’s not a tame lion.”

“Well,” said the King at last, “we must go on and take the adventure that comes to us.”

“It is the only thing left for us to do, Sire,” said the Unicorn. He did not see at the moment how foolish it was for two of them to go on alone; nor did the King. They were too angry to think clearly. But much evil came of their rashness in the end.

Suddenly the King leaned hard on his friend’s neck and bowed his head.

“Jewel,” he said, “what lies before us? Horrible thoughts arise in my heart. If we had died before today we should have been happy.”

“Yes,” said Jewel. “We have lived too long. The worst thing in the world has come upon us.” They stood like that for a minute or two and then went on.

Before long they could hear the hack-hack-hack of axes falling on timber, though they could see nothing yet because there was a rise of the ground in front of them. When they had reached the top of it they could see right into Lantern Waste itself. And the King’s face turned white when he saw it.

“Mainly About Dwarfs,” Chapter Seven:

The King had his arm on the Unicorn’s shoulder and sometimes the Unicorn nuzzled the King’s cheek with his soft nose. They did not try to comfort one another with words. It wasn’t very easy to think of anything to say that would be comforting. Tirian had never dreamed that one of the results of an Ape’s setting up as a false Aslan would be to stop people from believing in the real one. He had felt quite sure that the Dwarfs would rally to his side the moment he showed them how they had been deceived. And then next night he would have led them to Stable Hill and shown Puzzle to all the creatures and everyone would have turned against the Ape and, perhaps after a scuffle with the Calormenes, the whole thing would have been over. But now, it seemed, he could count on nothing.

“…I’m on your side, Sire: and on Aslan’s. If you can put a Dwarfish sword in my fist, I’d gladly strike a blow on the right side before all’s done.”

Everyone crowded round him and welcomed him and praised him and slapped him on the back. Of course one single Dwarf could not make a very great difference, but it was somehow very cheering to have even one.

“What News the Eagle Brought,” Chapter Eight:

“I see now,” said Puzzle, “that I really have been a very bad donkey. I ought never to have listened to Shift. I never thought things like this would begin to happen.”

“If you’d spent less time saying you weren’t clever and more time trying to be as clever as you could – ” began Eustace but Jill interrupted him.

“Oh leave poor old Puzzle alone,” she said. “It was all a mistake; wasn’t it, Puzzle dear?” And she kissed him on the nose.

Tags:
July 19, 2013

the sort they could both understand

Puzzle looked and felt a good deal better this morning. Jewel, being a Unicorn and therefore one of the noblest and delicatest of beasts, had been very kind to him, talking to him about things of the sort they could both understand like grass and sugar and the care of one’s hoofs.

From The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis in chapter 7, “Mainly About Dwarfs.”

%d bloggers like this: