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ST. THEODORE THE STUDITE: ORDER, OBEDIENCE, RENUNCIATION
VATICAN CITY, 27 MAY 2009 (VIS) - In this morning's general audience, the Pope continued with his series of catechesis on the great writers of the Eastern and Western Church in the Middle Ages, turning his attention today to St. Theodore the Studite.
Addressing more than 15,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square, the Pope explained how St. Theodore was born in the year 759 "to a noble and religious family". At the age of twenty-two he embraced the monastic life in the monastery of Sakkudion but, because of his opposition to the adulterous marriage of the emperor Constantine VI, was exiled to Thessalonika in 796. He was able to return to Sakkudion the following year thanks to the intervention of the empress Irene, who also encouraged the saint to move to the monastery of Studios in order to evade the incursions of the Saracens.
St. Theodore "became the head of the resistance against the iconoclast emperor Leo V the Armenian". This again led "to his being exiled in various places in Asia Minor. Finally he was allowed to return to Constantinople, but not to his monastery". He died in the year 826.
"Theodore stands out in Church history as one of the great reformers of monastic life", said Pope Benedict, "and, alongside Patriarch St. Nicephorus of Constantinople, as a defender of sacred images during the second stage of iconoclasm".
The saint also emphasised "the necessity for order and submission on the part of his monks ... so that the monastery could go back to being a truly organic community, a real family or, as he said, a true 'Body of Christ'". This was because persecutions had forced the monks to disband.
The Holy Father went on: "One of Theodore's basic convictions was that monks, more than others, have a commitment to observe Christian duties with greater rigour and intensity in order to offer a sign, an indication, to all Christians. This is why they make a special profession, ... almost a 'new Baptism'".
"The commitment to poverty, chastity and obedience", said the Pope, "distinguishes monks from those who live in the world". Yet personal poverty, "an essential element of monasticism, also shows the rest of us a way to follow. The renunciation of private property, freedom from material things, sobriety and simplicity have radical validity only for monks, but the spirit of such renunciation is the same for everyone. We must not depend upon material things, we must learn renunciation, simplicity, austerity and sobriety. Only in this way can a united society develop and the great problem of poverty in this world be overcome".
"The main forms of renunciation are those imposed by obedience", which St. Theodore "describes as the 'martyrdom of submission'". In this context the Holy Father noted how "the social fabric cannot function if each exclusively follows his or her own path. ... Legality - in other words, submission and obedience to the rules of the common life and the common good - is the only thing that can heal a society, and ego itself, from the pride of being at the centre of the world".
"For Theodore the Studite, one important virtue - equal to the virtues of obedience and humility - was 'philergia', that is, love for work. ... He did not, then, allow monks, under the pretext of prayer or contemplation, to dispense themselves from work, which is in fact the means to discover God".
Benedict XVI also highlighted how St. Theodore was "the spiritual father of his monks", always ready "to listen to the confidences of everyone. He also gave spiritual advice to many people outside the monastery".
Theodore's Rule, "known by the name of 'Hypotyposis'", was codified shortly after his death and "adopted with a few modifications on Mount Athos, ... It remains", noted the Pope, "highly relevant".
The Holy Father concluded by warning of the "numerous perils that today threaten the unity of the shared faith and push us towards a dangerous kind of spiritual individualism. It is necessary to work to defend and develop the perfect unity of the Body of Christ, a unity in which the peace of order and sincere personal relationships in the Spirit can come together harmoniously".
"Weaving a Profound Dialogue between West and East": On Matteo Ricci, S.J. | Anthony E. Clark | May 27, 2009 | Ignatius Insight
After two years of frenzied media interest in the Beijing
2008 Olympics and China's meteoric economic growth,
the Church will turn its attention next year, 2010, to the most famous
Westerner who ever lived inside the Great Wall, the Jesuit missionary Fr.
Matteo Ricci, S.J. (Li Madou, 1552-1610).
Pope Benedict XVI has asked the
bishop of Macerata, Italy, Claudio Giuliordi, to prepare for a Jubilee Year in
honor of the four-hundred-year anniversary of Ricci's death; Ricci died on May
11, 1610, at his small church in Beijing's busy Xuanwu district. His impact on
China was so great that after his death the Ming (1368-1644) ruler, Emperor
Wanli (r. 1563-1620), gave imperial land in Beijing to the Jesuits for his
burial. Fr. Ricci was the first non-Chinese ever allowed to be interred inside
the Middle Kingdom. His tomb at the Zhalan Cemetery, located today in the
campus of the Beijing Communist Administrative College, is an actively visited
sight in China's capital, and when Chinese Catholics pass his statue at
Beijing's South Cathedral, they bow and offer him a short prayer.
In China, Matteo Ricci is hailed
as the Western world's greatest "foreign guest" to China for his contributions
to Chinese science, cartography, calendrics, mathematics, and philosophy. While
China's list of accolades does not generally include an appreciation for
Ricci's religious beliefs, the Church remembers him as the "father" of the
China mission, one of the founders of Catholic apologetics, a controversial
accomodationist, and one of history's most brilliant thinkers.
One thing is certain, in the
fields of Sinology, map making, mission history, Sino-Western relations,
linguistics, and Chinese history, among the first and most significant names
conjured will be Matteo Ricci; his legacy in world history is enormous, even if
too often overlooked or underappreciated.
So concludes Michael Novak in a just-posted piece on National Review Online that examines "five crucial facts of which L’Osservatore Romano seems — like a blind observer of faraway events — completely ignorant" regarding President Obama's recent appearance at Notre Dame.
From an Associated Press report about Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo, "who last month admitted fathering a
son conceived while he was still a bishop, says celibacy vows taken by
Roman Catholic clerics are 'imperfect.'":
Celibacy "is a personal option of faith required by the Catholic
church," but everything humans do is flawed, the president said in an
interview published Sunday by Argentine newspaper Clarin.
believe that only God is perfect, and everything a human being does is
imperfect," he added. "Therefore celibacy is also an imperfect question
for a man or a woman."
Lugo added that he is slowly adapting to fatherhood.
is a responsibility, a learning experience, a new kind of relationship
with this person, and also it takes time to dedicate yourself to it,"
Well, yes, he does seem to have an issue with dedication. And with basic Catholic teaching. The notion that "everything a human being does is
imperfect" is decidedly not Catholic; it sounds much more like something from Luther or Calvin.
Jesus, you might recall, said, "You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matt. 5:48). The Catechism, remarking on those words, states: "All Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity. All are called to holiness..." (par. 2013). It then quotes from Lumen Gentium:
In order to reach this perfection the faithful should use the strength dealt out to them by Christ's gift, so that . . . doing the will of the Father in everything, they may wholeheartedly devote themselves to the glory of God and to the service of their neighbor. Thus the holiness of the People of God will grow in fruitful abundance, as is clearly shown in the history of the Church through the lives of so many saints" (par. 40). Those saints, we read elsewhere, "have been pleasing to the Lord because they willed his will alone (par. 2827).
You might think a bishop would have a rudimentary grasp of Catholic doctrine, not to mention basic Christian morality. But, hey, nobody's perfect, right? Oh, nevermind—we just dealt with that question...
If he was not a rebel, Philip was nevertheless a reformer. So were all the saints of his age. The sixteenth century was such a crisis in the history of religion that you could not be sensitized to its atmosphere without becoming either a rebel or a reformer, or both at once. And because Rome was, then as always, the capital of our fortunes, the cleaning-up process must needs begin at Rome. Even in the Middle Ages, they told the cynical story of a Jew who had been converted to Rome, and explained, in answer to his questioners, that the Catholic religion must be true if it could survive so much of corruption in high places as this. And the Renaissance, that splendid rediscovery of the classical tradition, that splendid flowering of scholarship and of the arts, only served to debase the lives and the thoughts of many among those who were influenced by it. A city that is built on a mountain-top, our Lord warns us, cannot be hidden; and it is in the same context that he uses the words of my text, “If salt loses its taste, what is there left to give taste to it?” Salt of the earth, it was for Rome to save the world from corruption; when Rome itself was corrupt, what was to be done with it? That was the problem which faced the saints of the Counter-Reformation, and St Philip in particular.
I say, St Philip in particular, because God raised him up to be, in a special sense, the Apostle of Rome. All the great founders of religious institutes have made their way to Rome, as St Ignatius did, because it would give them the necessary leverage for doing good in other parts of Christendom. St Philip made no calculations of that kind; he made no calculations of any kind. He drifted to Rome because that was God’s will for him; and he set about spreading abroad the love of God there, not because he thought it was a very wicked place; he would have done the same anywhere else. Only, that was just what was wanted. When a fire is in danger of going out, you will do no good aiming your bellows now at this point, now at that, blowing furious blasts at the struggling flames which only need that to extinguish them. No, you must find out first of all, by a series of experiments, which is the real focus which responds to your efforts, and then keep on fanning that one spot, always the same spot quite gently, quite patiently, till the fires spreads all round. Rome is the heart and focus of Christendom; and Philip could not have done better service to his Master than by fanning the dull embers that seemed so unresponsive, there in Rome.
But it would be grossly unhistorical to suggest that his was a lonely protest. On the contrary, he lived under a series of reforming popes; he was the contemporary and the friend of St Charles Borromeo, who did more than any other man to restore Church discipline in accordance with the canons of Trent. Everywhere bishops were being told to put their sees in order; the luxury of the Papal court was being repressed, the Holy Office was bringing to light those strange aberrations of doctrine which an age of restless intellectual activity had allowed to creep in. Meanwhile, St Ignatius and his companions were holding up to the world an incomparable example of organization and discipline. What need, we are tempted to ask, for a Philip as well?
The USCCB has a page with information about some of the priests being ordained in 2009. There is also a "Class of 2009 Report" (PDF), which has a bunch of data and analysis based on surveys of 310 ordinands. It contains the following information:
• The average age of ordinands for the Class of 2009 is 36. More than half (57 percent) are between the ages of 25 and 34. This is approximately the same as it was in 2008 and consistent with the average age of ordination classes for the last five years.
• On average, diocesan ordinands lived in the diocese or eparchy for which they will be ordained for 17 years before entering the seminary. Religious ordinands knew the members of their religious institute an average of six years before they entered the seminary.
Background and Country of Origin • Seven in ten responding ordinands (72 percent) report their primary race or ethnicity as Caucasian, European American, or white. Compared to the adult Catholic population of the United States, ordinands are more likely to be of Asian or Pacific Islander background (11 percent of responding ordinands), but less likely to be Hispanic/Latino (12 percent of responding ordinands). Compared to diocesan ordinands, religious ordinands are less likely to report their race or ethnicity as Caucasian/European American/white.
• One-quarter of ordinands were born outside the United States, with the largest numbers coming from Mexico, Vietnam, Poland, and the Philippines. Religious ordinands are slightly more likely than diocesan ordinands to be foreign-born. On average, responding ordinands who were born in another country have lived in the United States for 13 years.
• Most ordinands have been Catholic since birth, although one in ten (10 percent) became Catholic later in life. Four in five (80 percent) report that both of their parents are Catholic and one-third (36 percent) have a relative who is a priest or a religious.
Abortion and Ideology | Raymond Dennehy, University of San Francisco | Ignatius Insight
A survey of the justifications advanced by scientists,
philosophers, and other members of the elite class, such as judges, to justify
the legalization of induced abortion reveals that they have abandoned rational
inquiry in favor of ideology. For although their arguments have the trappings
of the objectivity of scientific method and other marks of rational inquiry, it
is clear that they subvert reason and manipulate evidence to actualize an ideal
that they perceive to be above all rational criticism. This enslavement to
ideology is but a reenactment of what happened in Nazi Germany and Soviet
Russia to the detriment of science and philosophy, not to mention the degradation
of human life.
Sophistical Arguments for Abortion
Two months after the U.S. Supreme Court rendered its
decision in Roe v. Wade, when
the public debate on abortion was white hot, a political cartoon appeared in
the editorial section of what is now called TheSan Jose Mercury News, depicting two departed souls standing on a cloud
and sporting the obligatory wings. All about them tiny fetuses, also sporting
wings, were standing. One of the souls says to the other: "Fetus, Fetus. I
never knew so many kids named 'Fetus' in all my life."  A couple of days
later, the paper printed a letter to the editor from a representative of a
local feminist group complaining about the cartoon's "insensitivity to women
who have had abortions." A plausible interpretation of the cartoonist's motive
is that, rather than intending to bruise anyone's feelings, his aim was to
caricature what was then the recent entry of "fetus" into everyday language as
a replacement for the term, "unborn baby." Thereby hangs a tale.
The success of the proabortion movement depended on
diverting the public's attention from the fact that induced abortion is the
direct killing of an innocent human being. Replacing "unborn baby" with "fetus"
was a good start, for the latter term is sufficiently abstract to deflect
public consideration from the homicidal consequences. But changing the public's
thinking about abortion would require more than making "fetus" the preferred
term in everyday discourse. It would also be necessary to spread a fog of confusion
over the positions of science on the status of the fetus. Bernard Nathanson
writes that, before his conversion from proabortion advocate to champion of
human life, he and his colleagues worked hard to convince people that it is
impossible to determine when human life begins by insisting that it is a moral,
theological, or philosophical question, not a scientific one.  Read the entire article...
Was there ever time that you
fell away from the practice of your Catholic faith? If so, what drew you back?
Paradoxically, though I disliked
school, I was captivated by the Catholic religion. We went to Mass every day of
the week and twice on Sundays and also attended vespers and Benediction in the
I was particularly moved by the
veneration of the Blessed Sacrament during Benediction. I accepted then that it
was the body of Christ and continue to believe so today. Though my Catholic
praxis has at times been poor, I have never doubted.
Were there any ways that your
parents influenced or supported your desire to write?
My father certainly encouraged me to
write, but he felt that the novel had reached the end of the road in the work
of Henry James.
He was also emphatic that it was
impossible for a literary writer to make a living with his pen, and so, after graduating
from university, I began work as a publisher. I quickly found it irksome to
work on other people's work when I was itching to write books of my own. Thus,
much to my father's distress, I gave up my job and began writing.
In what ways does your present
novel reflect reality and in other ways depart from it?
I like to think that The
Death of a Pope is grounded in both social and psychological
reality. The older characters belong to different wings of the Church — but the
younger ones, in particular, my heroine, Kate Ramsey, though raised as a
Catholic, has succumbed to the skepticism and relativism that prevails in
Would you be the same writer
that you are today without your faith? How does your faith influence your
When I started to write my first
novel, I did not consider myself a Catholic novelist and certainly had no
intention of using fiction to propagate the faith. I was much more interested
in history, politics, sex and love.
However, one's characters have a way
of taking on a life of their own and behaving in ways that one has not
anticipated; when I came to my third novel, Monk Dawson, the
first part of which was loosely based on my school days at Ampleforth, I found
that my hero, after failing as a Benedictine monk and secular priest and
falling into a dissipated way of life, ended up as a Trappist.
The themes of the novel written 40
years ago — the competing claims of social work and prayer in a priestly
vocation — have echoes in my present novel, The Death of a Pope.
David L. Schindler is Provost/Dean and Gagnon Professor of Fundamental Theology at the Pontifical Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family; he is also editor ofCommunio (English edition). He is, in my estimation, one of the leading Catholic theologians and thinkers in the English-speaking world (he has also, over the years, edited and translated several books published by Ignatius Press). He has just posted a piece on HeadlineBistro.com (a Knights of Columbus news site; ht: CNA), about Christopher West's recent interview on ABC's "Nightline" program and the many reactions to that piece and West's teachings about Pope John Paul II's "theology of the body":
Let me stress that I agree with those who vigorously defend West’s
intention of fidelity to the Church. Certainly he has had positive
results in drawing many Catholics into a deeper understanding of their
faith. As for myself, I do not initiate anything about West in my
classes, but only respond when asked a question. Then I begin by
emphasizing West’s intention of orthodoxy. As I have often put it, "he
would throw himself in front of a bus for the Church." It is important
to understand, however, that good will is not synonymous with sound
thought; and I must say, not without reluctance, that West’s work seems
to me to misrepresent in significant ways the thought of John Paul II.
What, then, are the objections to West’s theology?
First, West misconstrues the meaning of concupiscence, stressing
purity of intention one-sidedly when talking about problems of lust.
When I first pointed this problem out to him several years ago, his
response was that he refused to limit the power of Christ to transform
us. My response is that concupiscence dwells "objectively" in the body,
and continues its "objective" presence in the body throughout the
course of our infralapsarian existence; and that we should expect
holiness to "trump" temptations or disordered tendencies in the area of
sexuality exactly as often as we should expect holiness to "trump" the
reality of having to undergo death.
Second, West has an inadequate notion of analogy. He conceives love
in a reductive bodily-sexual sense, then reads the Christian mysteries
as though they were somehow ever-greater and more perfect realizations
of what he emphasizes as key in our own experience, namely, sex.
But sex is not even the most important part of human love, let alone
the key to the Christian mysteries–the Eucharist, for example. Missing
in West’s work is an adequate idea of the radical discontinuity (maior dissimilitudo
) between the divine love revealed by God–and indeed the (supernatural)
love to which we are called–and sexual love or intercourse. To be sure,
the spousal love between man and woman is central in man’s imaging of
God, and the gendered body and sexual relations are an integral sign
and expression of spousal love, which also includes what John Paul II
calls all the other manifestations of affection. However, as Joseph
Ratzinger says, it is only because man has a capacity for God that he
also has a capacity for another human being. The former indicates the
“content,” the latter the “consequence,” of man’s likeness to God.
In the end, West, in his disproportionate emphasis on sex, promotes
a pansexualist tendency that ties all important human and indeed
supernatural activity back to sex without the necessary dissimilitudo.
The Mind of Knox | Preface to The Wine of Certitude: A Literary Biography of Ronald Knox | David Rooney | Ignatius Insight
The English Catholic literary revival had already been thriving for almost
three-quarters of a century when Ronald Knox, fourth son of the Anglican Bishop
of Manchester, was received into the Roman communion on September 22, 1917. It
had begun with the conversions of the clergymen John Henry Newman and Henry
Edward Manning, both later to become cardinals, and the layman William George
Ward, whose son and granddaughter would carry on the apostolate of the pen, the
former through books and essays, and the latter primarily as cofounder with her
husband of the most famous Catholic publishing house of the twentieth century.
In the early 1900s, that world of letters was the domain of Hilaire Belloc and
G. K. Chesterton (though Chesterton's formal entry into the Church wouldn't
come until 1922), and of the prolific but short-lived novelist Robert Hugh
Benson, himself the convert son of an Archbishop of Canterbury. It was a world
in which many well-educated men and women had come to see the Church of England
as insufficiently countercultural in the face of materialism, agnosticism, and
alternating moods of self-pride and despair, and who then saw in Rome a
constancy and a consistency betokening a sure guide to the meaning of the
Gospel message. There were converts among scientists, among historians, among
novelists, even among actors, and the impression they produced, especially
during the decades of Knox's prominence (the 1910s through the 1950s) was
fortifying to those already in the Church, encouraging to those thinking about
conversion, and vaguely alarming to those who retained the prejudice against
Rome so thoroughly inbred in the nominally tolerant, vestigially Protestant culture
that dominated the printed and spoken media.
Children between the ages of 4 and 10 are being "educated" about "diversity" and "tolerance" in the form of an exhibit that includes a photo and description of a "trans-gendered" person. Some parents are confused and upset, and wonder why their first-grader isn't being taught how to spell and why their third-grader still cannot read but knows being "queer" is a beautiful and natural thing. School officials insist it has nothing to do with sex, but is about "respect," and lecture the confused parents through media interviews about the need for children to learn "acceptance." The thinly veiled suggestion is that if parents don't go along with said approach, they are likely homophobic and intolerant. Surprise!
Meanwhile, the "community" group sponsoring the exhibit is an ultra-left-wing organization that promotes "queer art", works to "expose and challenge overt bigotry and institutionalized oppression through education, cultural work, and activism," "works against racism, homophobia and anti-Semitism," seeks "to advance safety and respect for LGBTQ students, staff and families in the Springfield public schools," and is supported by groups such as the ASTRAEA Lesbian Foundation, which describes itself as "a dynamic global foundation providing critically needed financial support to lesbian-led, trans, LGBTI and progressive organizations." The school administrators claim they are completely "neutral" about the exhibit, while making it known how non-neutrally wonderful and necessary it is.
And yet, oddly enough, despite high levels of "tolerance" and "respect"—and spending around $9,000 per student per year—Oregon "ranked 38 out of 50 in the 2005-06 school year in the 'Smartest State' rankings, based on Morgan Quinto's 'Education State Rankings 2005-06.' Quinto rated states based on 21 factors including class size, student achievement, and personal attention from teachers." (Oregon drops two spots, to #40, in the 2006-07 rankings.) On the plus side, in "the 2006-07 school year, Oregon had and average of 20 students per classroom, which is well above the national average."
Hmmm...perhaps the Oregon public school system should adopt this slogan: "Smal klasses equill smallar Eye Q's!"
Here, then, a little advice for the tough guys: Save the big guns for the big issues. Don’t try to die on every hill; the hills are crowded already and you only have so many lives to lose. Be courteous wherever possible (Col. 4:6). Drop the rhetorical bombs and launch the satire missiles only as a last resort. Be patient with those who really want to understand (2 Tim. 2:25). And remember, it’s ok to have an unarticulated thought (Prov. 18:2).
And for the tender ones: Dare to not qualify. Don’t pad your criticisms with fluff praise (Gal. 1:10). If you have affirmations of substances, go for it. But don’t be a self-protective flatterer. Don’t be afraid to be misunderstood. Don’t soften a needed jab of logic. And when you get an ad hominen right hook, don’t take it personally (1 Cor. 4:3–4).
And for everyone: please, please argue with actual arguments. Don’t just emote or dismiss the other side with labels. Explain why your side makes more sense. Try more persuasion, less pouting (2 Cor. 5:11). Give reasons, not just reactions (Acts 18:19).
Here’s hoping against hope that thinking adults, Christians especially, can sustain meaningful discourse without resorting to name-calling or cowardly equivocation. Christ calls us to love, which is something entirely different than being a jerk or playing it safe. A.W. Tozer got it right: “The kingdom of God, has suffered a great deal of harm from fighters—men who would rather fight than pray; but the kingdom of God has also been done great harm by men who would rather be nice than right.”
... who ignore the lived experience of flesh-and-blood people in our
pursuit of principle. It is now argued that the Supreme Court's abortion
decisions must be accepted regardless of their invalidity, simply because they
have been in place long enough to become a basis for later legal developments.
That from a well-known and controversial Cardinal, the former Archbishop of Chicago, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, in this 1988 statement. How ironic, and sad, that the argument rebutted by the Cardinal is still being used by so many, including some Catholics, who insist that attempting to overturn "Roe v. Wade" is not only improbable, but surely a waste of time.
And then there is this, from a statement made by Cardinal Bernardin before the Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights of the House Committee on the Judiciary on March 24, 1976 (ht: Mirror of Justice blog):
Are you shocked that Kris Allen won and Adam Lambert lost?
(If you don't know what I'm talking about, well, I respect your ability to ignore American pop culture. I really do.)
There are all sorts of theories about the big upset, including the sad but predictable claim that Lambert lost because he is androgynous, over-the-top, homosexual, and—huh?—Jewish.
Others are wondering, "what does it say about America when the bland, vanilla coffee-house guy wins over the more talented, stylish, flamboyant (OK, gay, maybe) favorite?"
Really now, let's not try to get so deep about something so shallow. (Never mind that I haven't always followed that advice.) "American Idol" is a mainstream show produced for folks who are tend to like mainstream, straight-ahead pop music.
Anyhow, I knew that Kris would win, even though I only heard him sing a couple of times. I told my in-laws, who have watched the show faithfully this season, that he would win. Why? Because he's from Arkansas. He's from the South. It's that simple. Consider the winners of the past seven "American Idol" seasons:
#1: Kelly Clarkson: From Fort Worth, Texas. #2: Ruben Studdard: From Birmingham, Alabama. #3: Fantasia Barrino: Born and raised in High Point, North Carolina. #4: Carrie Underwood: Born in Muskogee, Oklahoma, and raised in Checotah, Oklahoma. #5: Taylor Hicks: Born in Birmingham, Alabama, and raised in Hoover, Alabama. #7: David Cook: Born in Houston, Texas, and raised in Blue Springs, Missouri, and currently lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. #8: Kris Allen was born in Jacksonville, Arkansas and lives in Conway, Arkansas
The semi-anomaly is Jordin Sparks, the winner of Season #6. Sparks was born in Phoenix, Arizona. Arizona is a southern/southwestern state, of course, but not part of "the South." But it was close enough, because the other finalist, Blake Lewis, was born in Redmond, Washington, and grew up in Kenmore, Washington. The poor beat-boxing guy didn't have a chance.
What is it, then, about the South that produces so many "American Idol" winners? This, readers, is a deep and abiding question, surely one that will haunt your days and nights. Or maybe not. Meanwhile, I'm going to get back to listening to my sister's most recent album. She'll never, I'm certain, appear on "American Idol," nor is she from the South, but she'll always be a winner in my book.
The Image of Man Has Been Raised Up: On the Feast of the Ascension | Carl E. Olson | May 21, 2009
"You ascended into glory, O
Christ our God, and You delighted the disciples with the promise of the Holy
Spirit. Through this blessing, they were assured that You are the Son of God,
the Redeemer of the World."
—Troparion for the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, Feast of the
Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ
"Christ's Ascension is therefore not a spectacle for the disciples but an event
into which they themselves are included. It is a sursum corda, a movement toward the above into which we are all called.
It tells us that man can live toward the above, that he is capable of attaining
heights. More: the altitude that alone is suited to the dimensions of being
human is the altitude of God himself. Man can live at this height, and only
from this height do we properly understand him. The image of man has been
raised up, but we have the freedom to tear it down or to let ourselves be
raised." — Joseph Ratzinger, from Images of Hope: Meditations On Major
Feasts (Ignatius Press, 2006)
"As he blessed them he parted from them and was taken up to heaven." (Lk 24:51)
With these simple, matter-of-fact words, Luke describes the Ascension
expressed even more concisely in the Creed: "He ascended into heaven."
event is so important for Luke that the Acts of the Apostles opens with
description of the same event. As the disciples looked on, Luke
records, Jesus "was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight"
(Acts 1:9). Mark's account, heard today, is equally direct and
succinct: "So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them,
was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God"
He spoke with CNA by phone in a Monday interview, explaining that
several different experiences helped inspire “The Death of a Pope.”
The novel’s opening trial scene, for example, resulted from his
witnessing a trial at England's Central Criminal Court, commonly called
the Old Bailey.
Read explained he was also very struck by the “hatred” that some
people have for the Catholic Church and the rise of the “secular
spirit” particularly evident in Britain and Europe.
Some people use advocacy for condoms in the African AIDS crisis as a
“stick with which to beat the Church,” he added, noting that he noticed
progressive Catholics thought the Church would change with a new Pope.
These elements combined to form his story about the ex-Jesuit,
ex-liberation theologian on trial in London. Read told CNA he wanted to
write a novel that was a good story about terrorism, but in a way that
served to highlight the phenomenon of liberation theology and its
contrast with what he called “the more supernatural and sacramental
appreciation of what the Catholic Church is about.”
CNA, noting that Read’s book derives dramatic energy from
factionalism in the Catholic Church, asked what his novel says about
the present state of the Church.
“The Catholic Church is divided. I’m not one to cast aspersions on
other people’s good will, but I do think that after Vatican II a large
number of Catholics sort of took a few phrases from ‘Gaudium et Spes’
and elevated them into a kind of social ideology.”
He said this was particularly true in South America and El Salvador, and among some Jesuits in North America.
Read explained that he had once written about El Salvador on the
anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero. In his
interviews for the story, he found that “progressive, revolutionary,
Marxist Catholics” had taken control and enacted what was “almost a
persecution” of traditionalist Catholics.