27 September 2011

Pope Has Great Insight - (Water Remains Wet)

The ever more youthful Pope included this in his address to German seminarians:

"We all know that Saint Peter said: “Always be prepared to make a defence to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you” (1 Pet 3:15). Our world today is a rationalist and thoroughly scientific world, albeit often somewhat pseudo-scientific. But this scientific spirit, this spirit of understanding, explaining, know-how, rejection of the irrational, is dominant in our time. There is a good side to this, even if it often conceals much arrogance and nonsense. The faith is not a parallel world of feelings that we can still afford to hold on to, rather it is the key that encompasses everything, gives it meaning, interprets it and also provides its inner ethical orientation: making clear that it is to be understood and lived as tending towards God and proceeding from God. Therefore it is important to be informed and to understand, to have an open mind, to learn. Naturally in twenty years’ time, some quite different philosophical theories will be fashionable from those of today: when I think what counted as the highest, most modern philosophical fashion in our day, and how totally forgotten it is now ... still, learning these things is not in vain, for there will be some enduring insights among them. And most of all, this is how we learn to judge, to think through an idea – and to do so critically – and to ensure that in this thinking the light of God will serve to enlighten us and will not be extinguished. Studying is essential: only thus can we stand firm in these times and proclaim within them the reason for our faith. And it is essential that we study critically – because we know that tomorrow someone else will have something else to say – while being alert, open and humble as we study, so that our studying is always with the Lord, before the Lord, and for him."

Imagine being 23 or 24 and being given this as your marching orders!

26 September 2011

Language, Truth, And ... Logic?

It's odd how Catholic Hierarchies all over the English-speaking world are hitting out hard to proclaim that "marriage means the union of a man with a woman": not odd because there is some problem with the proposition, but odd because there is another linguistic battle in which they rolled over.

"Priest" only has one meaning: it is a man who is ordained to offer sacrifice.  In the Christian Church, "priest" is used to describe the man who, called by God, is ordained to be able to re-present Christ's sacrifice on Calvary.

"Priest" describes a big ask: it's limited to men; few are called, and fewer answer the call.  Those who do so are changed irrevocably; they're not just men any more: they're priests, men who are more than men, men who are set apart from other men.

So why has the term "women priests" been accepted as the premise on which the debate about the ministerial role of women should be conducted?  Women in other denominations can be ministers, vicars, clergy, reverends, but they can't be priests.  (My guess, by the way, is that few of the women who are in orders would actually believe that they have been ordained to offer a sacrifice anyway.)  Opposition to the idea of "women priests" isn't about being "anti-woman", any more than opposition to the idea of male mothers is about being "anti-man".  But the pass has been sold.

I animadvert from time to time on the subject of the education of the members of our Hierarchy: whether they have been intellectually formed to take on the secular opposition to what we believe in.  I wonder if they have also been taken in by counsellors: by people who are far more aware than they are about what words mean, and where they lead.

25 September 2011

Brief Foray Into Politics

Is Herman van Rompuy serious?  
In his speech as "President of Europe" (or whatever he actually is) to the United Nations General Assembly he said:

"Because last year, something important happened in a part of the world very close to us, in Northern Africa and the Arab world. Peoples of the Arab world are looking for democracy, for freedom, for justice. In some countries they achieved it, in other countries they are involved in reform processes. So this is really something astonishing. The world is more and more moving in the direction of democracy. And we are the fatherland, or the motherland of democracy. So the EU is very glad with that kind of evolution. And where we can, we help, as we did in Libya. We did it via our Member States, via the EU as the EU, even militarily. We helped to bring Kadhafi down, and give full support to the democratic forces in Libya."

15 September 2011

Back Up - And Backed Up

In a house where there are more laptops than people (never mind the PCs) the various means by which and states in which IT systems die become more familiar.

My sympathy for Fr Blake is the greater because I had to learn the hard way why backing up is so important: in my case it was losing four years' worth of photos.

Buy memory!  It is the muggle equivalent of the Pensieve.

It took less than an hour to remove the old PC and install this new PC, all the peripherals, and a decent anti-virus system.  Within two days I had reloaded all of the software as well.  How different the world is from the 1990s!

10 September 2011

Temporarily Off Net

The PC was badly messed up by the hackers: open ports, a botnet driver installed in the recovery partition, and a new email account whose password I couldn't access.

I got to the point where I decided that trying to lock down a five year old XP Media Professional PC was probably going to be more trouble than it's worth, and as I don't want to make my laptop my prime means of accessing the internet, I've bought a new desktop and will begin the installation process tomorrow, assuming that I can complete all of the backup processes tonight.

What did we do before computers?

09 September 2011

Get The Tablet That's Right For You!

That was the title of the e-mail waiting in the queue.

I thought: a few years after the Oldmeadow affair, once things had settled down a bit: Graham Greene and Evelyn Waugh both in their pomp; Douglas Woodruf adding a bit of editorial tone.  Orthodox Dominicans dazzling us with theology; Jesuits providing a home for Fr Martindale; Ronnie Knox showing what an Ordinariate might aspire to, given that the mainstream Romans can't.

Before the war or after?  Hard to decide.  Before the Holy Week reforms, but probably during the Pontificate of Pius XII is my best bet, so say 1947 to about 1952.

Fantasy of course: the e-mail was from The Carphone Warehouse, and the Tablet on offer is a tablet.

At least it wasn't The Suppository.

08 September 2011

Tiaras, Etc

(Here's one I posted over at the Guild)

It's taken me quite a while to shake off my wish for a Papal Coronation, or at least for the Pope to wear a tiara. There is something about the triple crown that speaks of a more muscular Catholicism: a Catholicism which faces up to the world, at least, but looks as though if the flesh and the Devil want a go, then we're ready.

The fact of JPs I and II doing without Coronations, and settling merely for Inaugurations felt a bit wet. It was a though a dimension of the Pontificate had been sacrificed merely to give a good impression; as though the "temporal rule" bit was being somehow downplayed, merely to act in harmony with the spirit of the age.

Benedict XVI's decision to remove the tiara from his arms and to replace them "merely" with a mitre is actually a much richer and more symbolic gesture, and one which situates the Church in the new Millennium. The Church needed to develop its independence through the Papal States in the Middle Ages so that the Papacy and the Church did not become prisoner or vassal of the Emperor or some lesser monarch. But the independence became an end in itself, and the revenues accruing to the States became an end in themselves to a succession of Popes. Their capture by Garibaldi in 1870, and the "imprisonment" of the Pope until the time of the Lateran Treaty in 1929 seemed like a disaster, but was in fact the start of an era of liberation. The Vatican City State might look odd, but showed how the Papacy could maintain its independence during the Second World War. In more recent years, it has ceded many of the trappings of statehood - such as a completely independent police force - because its independence is guaranteed.
Thus the logic of the abolition of the tiara: the Pope doesn't need the trappings of authority any more. He is the Bishop of Rome, and his curia can work independently of Italian civil authority, as long as it behaves honestly.

And this leads me on to the title of Patriarch of the West. I must admit to having been mystified when the Pope stopped using the title, but in the light of his renunciation of the tiara, things become clearer. The Petrine Ministry is exercised by the Bishop of Rome, and any title which appears to outrank, rather than complement, the title of Bishop of Rome has to go. His Primacy goes with his See and nothing else. To use the title of Patriarch might in some way detract from or dilute the fact that as Bishop of Rome, he has all the title and authority he needs.

This is not to detract from the title of Patriarch as used in the East - I think that in taking this decision the Pope's mind, for once, was not on the East. It was more on liberating Catholics from thinking of the Papacy in terms of temporal authority so they could concentrate on what the Petrine Ministry has to offer the twenty-first century.

03 September 2011

Outnumbered: Very Funny, But ...

The new series of Outnumbered began last night and didn't disappoint, or at least not us: the anarchic fantasy of a boy which ends up with specially trained badgers whose job it is to make sure that people who are buried actually are dead; or a girl (pictured left) who wants to wear a party frock to a funeral because she has been told that the "celebration of his life" is fundamentally a happy occasion.  It is the funniest thing on, at the moment.

At its heart, however, is the great vacuum produced when God is replaced by relativism.  The writers pick out perfectly a world in which everybody defines and constantly redefines the world and relationships in terms of what suits them at the time, and in which social obligations are thought of in terms of what others owe us instead of what we owe them.

A perfect picture of what the urbanised part of this country is, to a large extent, like: pagan, rather than godless; capable of casting bread on the waters, but not necessarily disinterestedly; "dementors in Per Una" as Rita so perfectly described them.

Rita, at least, has found somewhere this tide hasn't reached, at least not yet.  But I must admit that where I am it feels like a tsunami, and there doesn't seem to be much high ground left.