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invicem sunt

I am blessed to be a witness
Apr 10 '14

There is one saint in the calendar of the Church who has never been associated with the idea of punishment: even justice is alien to her, compared with the ideas of mercy and love. She is the one whom Catholics know as Our Lady.

Yet it is around this figure that the bitterest conflict has always been waged. No statues in Puritan England were more certain to be destroyed than hers, and the same was true in Spain in the 1930s. Ministers in their pulpits may question the divinity of Christ and cause no stir outside a few country rectories — but when the doctrine of the Assumption, which has been established as a feast of the Church for more than a thousand years, is defined as a dogma, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York claim that the division of Christendom has been widened. They believe in the resurrection of the dead — but to suggest that an actual resurrection has already taken place seems to them blasphemous.

No storm was raised when, a hundred years ago, Newman wrote: “Original sin had not been found in her, by the wear of her senses, and the waste of her frame and the decrepitude of years, propagating death. She died, but her death was a mere fact, not an effect; and, when it was over, it ceased to be.”

Temporarily there were other issues: the Protestant churches were worried by the idea of evolution, even the age of the earth was a cause of scandal because it was believed to contradict Genesis. But the conflict of science and religion always passes sooner or later: what remains is this mysterious savage war around the only figure of perfect human love.

What is the explanation? One theologian has explained it, for our generation, as a distrust of the concrete. We are so used to abstractions. Words like Democracy and Liberty can be used in quite opposite senses without arousing attention: they go in and out of our ears like air. So with religious belief. The Supreme Being, the Trinity, The Creator of all things, such phrases may once have excited thought, but they do so no longer. Even the concrete name Christ has become so diluted, into the Great Teacher, the First Communist, and the like, that only a small amount of opposition is raised by the idea that Christ is God — it is rather like saying Truth is God.

But the statement that Mary is the Mother of God remains something shocking, paradoxical, physical.

— Graham Greene, ‘Our Lady and her Assumption’, 1951, in Ian Thomson, ed., Articles of Faith: The collected Tablet journalism of Graham Greene, 19-20. (via thirstygargoyle)

96 notes (via greluc & thirstygargoyle)

Apr 9 '14
In Him He has from eternity bound Himself to each, to all. Along the entire line it holds, from the creatureliness of man, through the misery of man, to the glory promised to man.
— Karl Barth, Dogmatics in Outline (via invisibleforeigner)

11 notes (via invisibleforeigner)

Apr 8 '14
The smallest possible “survival unit,” indeed, appears to be the universe. At any rate, the ability of an organism to survive outside the universe has yet to be demonstrated. Inside it, everything happens in concert; not a breath is drawn but by the grace of an inconceivable series of vital connections joining an inconceivable multiplicity of created things in an inconceivable unity. But course it is preposterous for a mere individual human to espouse the universe—a possibility that is purely mental, and productive of nothing but talk. On the other hand, it may be that our marriages, kinships, friendships, neighborhoods, and all our forms and acts of homemaking are the rites by which we solemnize and enact our union with the universe. These ways are practical, proper, available to everybody, and they can provide for the safekeeping of the small acreages of the universe that have been entrusted to us. Moreover, they give the word “love” its only chance to mean, for only they can give it a history, a community, and a place. Only in such ways can love become flesh and do its worldly work.
— Wendell Berry, “Men and Women in Search of Common Ground,” Home Economics, pages 117-118 (via settledthingsstrange)

3 notes (via settledthingsstrange)

Apr 7 '14
I tell you the more I think, the more I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.
— Vincent van Gogh (via stealthelights)

68 notes (via tenthousandangels & stealthelights)

Apr 6 '14
If music is about the use of time and painting about the use of space, in lyric poems they’re brought together. Image brings space into language (time), which the language then fragments into space.
Charles Simic, from The Monster Loves His Labyrinth: Notebooks (Copper Canyon Press, 2008)

(Source: apoetreflects)

89 notes (via montessorimuse & apoetreflects)

Apr 5 '14
It is the pleasingness of the other’s otherness, the goodness that God sees in creation, that wakes desire to what it must affirm and what it must not violate, and shows love the measure of charitable detachment that must temper its elations; it is only in desire that the beautiful is known and its invitation heard. Here Christian thought learns something, perhaps, of how the trinitarian love of God—and the love God requires of creatures—is eros and agape at once: a desire for the other that delights in the distance of otherness. But desire must also be cultivated; the beautiful does not always immediately commend itself to every taste; Christ’s beauty, like that of Isaiah’s suffering servant, is not expressed in vacuous comeliness or shadowless glamor, but calls for a love that is charitable, that is not dismayed by distance or mystery, and that can repent of its failure to see; this is to acquire what Augustine calls a taste for the beauty of God.

4 notes (via discourseoflove)

Apr 4 '14
In the absence of love, nothing can be sanctified.
Michel Houellebecq (translated by Frank Wynne) (via discourseoflove)

(Source: discourseoflove)

10 notes (via pluckmyfeet & discourseoflove)

Apr 3 '14
We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power…

53 notes (via chasingtailfeathers & kaching)

Apr 2 '14
You have to move gradually from crying outward — crying out for people who you think can fulfill your needs — to crying inward to the place where you can let yourself be held and carried by God, who has become incarnate in the humanity of those who love you in community. No one person can fulfill all your needs. But the community can truly hold you. The community can let you experience the fact that, beyond your anguish, there are human hands that hold you and show you God’s faithful love.
— Henri Nouwen

2 notes

Apr 1 '14

Write it on your heart
that every day is the best day in the year.
He is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day
who allows it to be invaded with fret and anxiety.

Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities, no doubt crept in.
Forget them as soon as you can, tomorrow is a new day;
begin it well and serenely, with too high a spirit
to be cumbered with your old nonsense.

This new day is too dear,
with its hopes and invitations,
to waste a moment on the yesterdays.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson (via sunflower-soul)

120 notes (via sunflower-soul)