Ha Jolly Ha

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Catholic Understanding of Conversion

Last evening I attended a most interesting lecture on "conversion" in the Rule of Benedict. It was very edifying, particularly as I - quite coincidentally - returned to that text this month for my first entirely non-academic reading. By entirely non-academic, I mean that I approached it primarily as a spiritual work, rather than as a spiritual work which was fodder for exams and papers.

The speaker, a professor of Classics and a Benedictine oblate, compared the Protestant notion of conversion with St. Benedict's use of the term conversatio in his Rule. We began with readings from Luther, Calvin and Wesley, whose "conversion" accounts are characterized by a sudden, interior perception (or feeling at least) of complete change wrought in their soul, a change which anoints them for holy work. In contrast, St. Benedict uses conversatio to describe a program for holiness, the ongoing journey of the soul, the great reditus to God. The Rule is a collection of recommendations for those who embark upon that pursuit of holiness. As such, it has significance for the laymen as well as the monk.

Our speaker identified four key aspects of the program:

A) Peace through strife. The tranquility of order(Augustine) is achieved through battle - both a physical struggle with the world and a spiritual violence within our fallen souls.

B) A sound understanding of human nature. The Rule provides very thorough, practical guidelines for a life of strident discipline and prayer, yet it makes merciful provision for human weakness, and recommends a prudent flexibility. The goal of the Benedictine program is charity and wisdom, and at times it must adapt to serve them better.

C) The importance of enclosure, of self-sufficiency. If you wish to escape the distractions of the world but you are not yet fit to do battle alone (as a hermit), you should live in a community which can provide for your needs while sheltering you from the world. [Our speaker pointed out the dangers of the internet in this regard - it is an infinite breach in the wall, a limitless opportunity for distraction from the world, if you do not take strong measures to place limits on yourself.]

The 2nd and 3rd aspects, especially, reveal the wisdom of the Benedictine tradition concerning the spiritual life - grace builds upon nature. We must be attentive to the physical arrangement of our lives before we can hope to achieve success ordering ourselves spiritually.

D) Most importantly, the clear governing role of the Abbot. To give up your will is fruitless, unless you subject it to a higher authority.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Atheism of Economics

This from Mr. Stork, at Caelum Et Terra:

Perhaps the best summation of the commercial republic can be found in the Argentine writer, Julio Meinvielle, in his book, From Lamennais to Maritain.[iii]

We might also point out that a society under the banner of Money, such as the Anglo-American commercial society, or under the banner of Work, such as Soviet Russia, will be structurally atheistic; for even though the merchant and the worker may believe in God, they do not believe in Him in their capacity as merchant or worker but just as private persons; that is, because they are more than just merchants or workers. For that very reason, a society which exalts Money or Work as the supreme value of life is necessarily atheistic as a society.

A Definition

People always ask for a definition of Distributism. From Dr. William Fahey's preface to The Church and the Land:

"Distributism may be described as a social disposition held by those who emphasize life as lived out in a local community."

Friday, March 09, 2007

Brethren of Valaam

Most terribly exciting news (for those who enjoy Eastern chant):

You can download all kinds of music here.

EDIT Be sure to listen to the track "Behold the Bridegroom Comes" from the cd titled similarly.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Seasonal Music Recommendation

Tenebrae Factae Sunt by Ingeneri

Superflumina Babylonis by Palestrina

Miserere Mei by Allegri

O Vos Omnes by Victoria