Standing in the Solar System

My home was in the path of the total eclipse of 2017.  The hype before the event made us all doubt it could possibly live up to the anticipation—and yet it did.  And how.  Follow this link to read my essay over at The Peregrine Magazine, “Standing in the Solar System”.

Image credit: The Peregrine Magazine
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And now something silly about a goose

[If you like singing the round, “Why Shouldn’t My Goose,” then you will love this post. If you hate silly things like rounds, click away now while you still can.]

Dramatis Personae
A: City slicker and leader of singing group A.
B: Country bumpkin and leader of singing group B.

My Goose, Thy Goose

A: Oy! Watch out! Thou hast mixed up our things!

B: Sorry about that. We’ll just move over to the side.

A: Oy! Thou hast my goose! Continue reading “And now something silly about a goose”

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Following the Mass with the Imagination

At the Foot of the Mountain

At Home

Either the evening or the morning before Mass, I thoughtfully review the Mass readings.  I do not try to spend a lot of time on them, but I want to be familiar with the main points beforehand.

When the time for Mass approaches, I travel through space to the Church building.  All the while I reflect that the Mass itself will be a journey, but not through space:  it will be a spiritual ascent, a journey in thought, love, and grace.  It will be a journey more real than the physical journey to the Church, just as spirit is more real than body.

This is the law of the temple:  the whole territory round about upon the top of the mountain shall be most holy. – Ezek 43:12 Continue reading “Following the Mass with the Imagination”

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Check out the Peregrine Magazine

The same folks that started The Josias have kicked off another journal, The Peregrine.  While the former is about big ideas and its entries are long, the latter is about living out the ideas and its articles are short.

When I saw that Peter Edmund Waldstein of the Sancrucensis Blog had published a lovely reflection on swimming with goggles at The Peregrine, I was reminded of a piece I wrote quite some time ago titled Life in the Cosmos. I sent it in, but unfortunately their word limit meant they could only publish snippets of the original essay.  It’s enough to offer a feel for the topic. Check out the shorter Life in the Cosmos here.

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The Our Father and the Beatitudes

St. Augustine was confident that the Beatitudes are the key to the Sermon on the Mount.  They lay out the goal toward which the entire Christian life—and so, implicitly, the entire Sermon—is ordered, and they describe the person who attains the goal.  When Augustine commented on the Our Father, the model for all Christian prayer, he was similarly confident that the Beatitudes must somehow be the key.  Our prayer should be directed to the goal of our life, right?

“The Conversion of St. Augustine,” by Fra Angelico

In a moment of inspiration, he decided to line up the petitions of the Our Father with the Beatitudes, in order: Continue reading “The Our Father and the Beatitudes”

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Christ on the moral eye

As I prepared for my PEAK classes earlier this month, I was struck by how rich a fare the Sermon on the Mount offers in comparison with the homilies I have heard about it.  One good example is the saying about the speck in a brother’s eye (Matt 7:3-5):

Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

Every homily I have ever heard on this saying reduces it to one simple point:  we tend to notice others’ faults and not our own, so we should pay attention to our own faults instead of the faults of others.

True to the point of truism.  But the Lord’s words are denser than that.  I can spot at least three amazing truths tucked away in this short saying that go beyond the standard homily. Continue reading “Christ on the moral eye”

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The structure of the Our Father

This past week I had the pleasure of teaching high schoolers in Wyoming Catholic College’s PEAK program.  As usual, I used my PEAK stint as an opportunity to learn something new, asking questions to which I had no clear answers, studying issues I had never clarified before.  And as usual, the students taught me.

Photo credit: Wyoming Catholic College
Photo credit: Wyoming Catholic College

For example, one day I wrote the “Our Father” on the whiteboard and asked the students how it is organized.  One pointed out that it falls into couplets: Continue reading “The structure of the Our Father”

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The first-ever translation of this text by Aquinas

One of my projects this summer was editing a translation of part of Book IV of Aquinas’s commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard.  Since “Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard” is a pretty big mouthful, most people just call it the Scriptum.

Beth Mortensen of The Aquinas Institute has done a magnificent job translating this hitherto untranslated text by the Angelic Doctor.  I was tapped to read the whole thing and catch mistakes, but for the most part that just meant reading.

Some of problems I did fix related to an exciting development for the Aquinas Institute.  The Leonine Commission, the group officially tasked by the Church with working critical editions of all of Aquinas’s works, gave us access to their provisional critical edition of the Scriptum.  So in many places we were able to correct our translation by looking at a better Latin text than anything currently in print!

The Aquinas Institute is all about making Aquinas’s works widely available, so in addition to selling the new translation as a physical book they have also made the entire text available online for free.  It’s satisfying to see it go up!

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Why do apples fall?

My last post explored Dr. Baxter’s ingenious quiz, “How Much of a Modernist Are You?”  I would like to delve deeper into the questions raised by Dr. Baxter (and ultimately Charles Taylor) by attempting my own answer of Question 4:

Why does an apple fall to the ground when it detaches from the stem?

  1. The laws of physics teach us that all objects fall to the ground according to gravity.
  2. Gravity, of course, but behind the working of nature we can perceive the “hand” of God, which I mean metaphorically.
  3. The apple longs to return its native place, because the whole universe is infused with desire. Ultimately, the world longs to imitate, to the extent it can, Eternity.

Continue reading “Why do apples fall?”

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Are you a modernist? Take the quiz.

My colleague and friend Dr. Jason Baxter has published a delightful quiz at The Imaginative Conservative to show us how thoroughgoingly modern we all are.  He takes his cue from Dr. Charles Taylor, whose gigantic book on the modern age argues that we live in a “disenchanted” world—all us inhabitants of the North Atlantic region, inevitably, without any choice in the matter.  While our medieval forbears lived in a sacred and magical cosmos, we live in an autonomous, scientific universe. Continue reading “Are you a modernist? Take the quiz.”

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