Monday, April 30, 2012

May is Mary's Month


  • May Magnificat

    • MAY is Mary's month, and I
      Muse at that and wonder why:
      Her feasts follow reason,
      Dated due to season-

      Candlemas, Lady Day;
      But the Lady Month, May,
      Why fasten that upon her,
      With a feasting in her honour?

      Is it only its being brighter
      Than the most are must delight her?
      Is it opportunest
      And flowers finds soonest?

      Ask of her, the mighty mother:
      Her reply puts this other
      Question: What is Spring?-
      Growth in every thing-

      Flesh and fleece, fur and feather,
      Grass and greenworld all together;
      Star-eyed strawberry-breasted
      Throstle above her nested

      Cluster of bugle blue eggs thin
      Forms and warms the life within;
      And bird and blossom swell
      In sod or sheath or shell.

      All things rising, all things sizing
      Mary sees, sympathising
      With that world of good,
      Nature's motherhood.

      Their magnifying of each its kind
      With delight calls to mind
      How she did in her stored
      Magnify the Lord.

      Well but there was more than this:
      Spring's universal bliss
      Much, had much to say
      To offering Mary May.

      When drop-of-blood-and-foam-dapple
      Bloom lights the orchard-apple
      And thicket and thorp are merry
      With silver-surfed cherry

      And azuring-over greybell makes
      Wood banks and brakes wash wet like lakes
      And magic cuckoocall
      Caps, clears, and clinches all-

      This ecstasy all through mothering earth
      Tells Mary her mirth till Christ's birth
      To remember and exultation
      In God who was her salvation.

      Gerard Manley Hopkins

Chen Guangcheng and the Real War on Women and Girls - in China




Experts are calling Chen's escape to the US Embassy in Beijing the biggest US/China story since 1989. Spread the word and help Chen find freedom!
www.huffingtonpost.com
With the eyes of the world watching, China must allow Chen and his family to live in freedom. Critically, the nation must also heed widespread calls to repeal the One-Child Policy, whose victims are largely voiceless.

www.huffingtonpost.com
Chen needs to be protected no matter what by U.S. officials, and the war on women in China (and in other nations around the globe) is the only real conflict against womanhood that should be distracting Americans in this election year.

Cohabitation and Commitment





We have talked a fair bit on this website about cohabitation. Indeed, the custom of living together before marriage is now so widespread, and problematic, that even the New York Times recently carried a warning about its downside.


Young people, however, are going to take a lot of convincing that it is not the best way to prepare for marriage. Perhaps that's why the video above, posted on YouTube by someone called PastorPope, takes the viewer by the scruff of the neck and forces him/her to look at the sub-text of the cohabitors' contract.


Yes, it's a bit brutal, but maybe a wake-up call for some...
Thanks to Jennifer Minicus for passing this on.

click here to read whole article and make comments

The above is reposted here from the MercatorNet blog Family Edge.  



For contrast, consider the following, attributed to Goethe.  (The Goethe Society says "it is partly by Goethe, in a way."}

It helps explain the evidence that attitude of bride and groom to marriage is a key determinant of the longevity of the marriage.  In a culture where cohabitation and unilateral, no-fault divorce are normal and common, marriage itself is weakened and seen, to varying degrees, as provisional from the start.  Sadly, the high divorce rate is not just a fact but also reason for weak commitment and a kind of social self-fulfilling prophecy.


"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back-- Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now." 

For a profound philosophical treatment of the issues, see the book by Karol Wojtyla (later John Paul II), Love and Responsibility.)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Debt, Gift, and Sacrifice in the Hunger Games

Apr 27, 2012
James R. Rogers

The book, The Hunger Games, is of course better than the movie. The book’s story moves with the internal dialogue of the teen protagonist, Katniss. In contrast, the film’s story moves along through events external to Katniss. As a result of this shift, the film throws away our window into Katniss’s mind and, significantly, into her moral psychology, both of which are by far the most engaging part of the book (and the entire trilogy of books for that matter).

One theme predominates in the book, and it’s self sacrifice. But there’s an arresting twist in how author Suzzane Collins develops the topic. The dramatic movement in the book rotates more around the willingness to receive a gift of sacrificial love from others than it concerns the giving of that gift. 

Fr. Barron - Additional Commentary on "Bully" and Male Initiation

Friday, April 27, 2012

Fr. Barron on Bullying and the Transition from Boy to Man

Drawing on the work of Leonard Sax in discussing the documentary film Bully, Father Robert Barron makes some suggestive connections between male bullying and other current social phenomena:  the slacker dude or unmotivated, underachieving young man; the loss of traditional ways of managing the transition from boy to man through initiation rituals and ordeals; the key importance for healthy male development of mentoring by mature men.  You can only say so much in a video clip, but there seems to be a clear connection between all this and the general disappearance of a socially approved life-script for young men, involving settling down through marriage and fatherhood, the acceptance of the adult male responsibility to protect that comes with it.  The contraceptive culture, the separation of sex from marriage and both from children, the erosion - in many communities amounting to collapse - of marriage, all this amounts to a Fatherless America, as David Blankenhorn called it, the intergenerational blight resulting from the abandonment of fatherhood as a social role - a role that marriage, traditionally and universally, had defined.

Fr. Barron posts this clip on the Word on Fire site - notice his jacket with the logo, soon to appear in the site's store?  (I'll buy one.)  The video raises two questions.  First, how do we know there is a causal link between the ancient phenomenon of bullying and the modern loss of initiation/transition rites and adult male mentoring for young men?  Has bullying become worse since the collapse of traditional patterns of transition to adulthood?  Or is it a matter of increased sensitivity to an age-old problem?  I suspect there is a link, even though I would not expect it to be demonstrated in a short video clip.

One learns to be manly in part by having it taught and modeled by real older men with manly virtues.  The word virtue, after all, is linked etymologically to manhood.  But naming unmanly actions must everywhere be one way boys learn to be manly.  Developing the virtue of courage must involve learning to distinguish the many ways of acting not with courage but with either cowardice or recklessness.  It is no accident that the vocabulary of vice is infinitely more rich and varied than that of virtue.  One of the difficulties is that teasing, like gossip, is an easily abused but probably universal method of establishing and enforcing social norms, in this case, of manliness.  This is what makes it so easy to minimize the problem of bullying as just a part of growing up.

Teasing,  like gossip, is a method of establishing and enforcing social norms, in this case, of manliness.  One learns to be manly in part by having it taught and modeled by older and wiser men with manly virtues.  The word virtue, after all, is linked etymologically to manhood and the universally honored virtue of courage has its greatest example in valor in war - though accountants need the same virtue to maintain their integrity in face of demands to go along with a fraudulent accounting treatment, as Pakaluk and Cheffers point out in their excellent Aristotelian text on Accounting Ethics.  

The great advantage of traditional and responsible initiation rituals - as opposed to hazing in fraternities - is that they provide a challenging but not gratuitously cruel way of managing the social transition from boy to man.


A second point is raised by a contributor to the Word on Fire combox, Connie O., who asks,
"What about the other 50% of bullies? The Mean Girls? What advice do you have regarding them? Or does the movie dismiss them too? Its every bit as bad as what the boys do."

I don't know if there are reliable comparative statistics, but certainly there are examples of girls being driven to despair and suicide by cyber-bullying.   To the extent that this kind of bullying is new in scale and scope, one might point to the breakdown of the traditions and customs that guided girls from adolescence to womanhood.

Contraception and the sexual revolution have changed the nature of the sexual marketplace for the young, to the great disadvantage of young women.  With the demise of the shotgun wedding, girls can no longer hold out for marriage or at least its promise as the condition of sexual intimacy.  They have become more sexually aggressive in competing with each other for male attention, especially in college where men have become a relatively scarce commodity and with the rise of the slacker dude, a good man is harder than ever to find.

In sexual behavior as in career path and so much else, the 'gender neutrality' celebrated and promoted by sexual revolutionists has everywhere promoted male patterns of behavior - and the defeat of biological and social obstacles to them - as the norm for girls.  (For an interesting discussion of this phenomenon in social policy terms, see Neil Gilbert's A Mother's Work: How Feminism, the Market, and Policy Shape Family Life and my review of it on this blog and on amazon.com.)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Gender Craziness


Good article on gender craziness in Canada and even more, Sweden, where the drive to thwart nature and humanity pervades the whole society. 
Some good Aristotelian questions: "Does nature, itself, provide limits? Should we attempt to surpass them? ... Is maleness and femaleness a natural limit that actually facilitates human flourishing? Here we come to an interesting point. Could it be that living within certain limits is a key to happiness? Could it be that our modern denial of limits (an impulse that lies at the heart of modern liberalism) is the royal road to misery and a life of perpetual self-righteous offense?"


www.frontporchrepublic.com
In the spring of 2011, articles began popping up about a couple in Toronto who were refusing to publicly reveal the gender of their baby. They named the child “Storm” and committed themselves to raising Storm without the oppressive expectations…

Ross Douthat - Bill Moyers

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Gay opposition to same-sex marriage

There is no homogeneity among gays about same-sex marriage.  Some support it because they see it as a good for individuals and society and believe same-sex couples should have equal access to it.  Others support it because they see marriage as harmful for individuals and society and believe that extending marriage to gays undermines marriage as a social institution.  Some apparently smaller number oppose same-sex marriage because they see the arguments for it as contradictory and in principle misguided (e.g., if favorable public opinion is an argument for same -sex marriage, was public opposition to the idea until a decade or two ago a good argument against it throughout history?).  


They oppose it for the same reason that some advocates of SSM support it, that the whole concept of same-sex "marriage" negates marriage as it has been understood traditionally.  In that traditionally and, until yesterday, universally agreed definition understands marriage as socially approved sexual intercourse between a man and a woman such that any children that result from those conjugal relations belong - legally, emotionally, socially - to the two parents who made them.  From this perspective, the importance of marriage - and the state's interest in it as a public institution - is that it acknowledges the right of all children where possible to the care, support, and love of the two parents who made them.  Marriage is thus, and was always understood as society's most pro-child institution, deserving the recognition, support, and protection of the state for that reason.  It creates and sustains fatherhood as a social role with socially and legally recognized rights and responsibilities.  (Look at the plight of children and their mothers in communities where marriage has collapsed.)  It protects the best environment for children to grow up in - as evidenced by a mass of findings about educational and life prospects, health, mental health, delinquency, etc., even controlling for income and other selection effects.  And it respects the fundamental natural right of children to their own parents, as recognized in the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Child.  


Marriage rests, as the above definition indicates, on a particular sexual act and was understood as not being valid unless and until consummated.  The point was understood to be that only one sexual act has in principle the capacity - not realized for contingent reasons every time or in every couple - to generate new life.  Not every sexual act or even every marriage produces a child, even though the necessary conjugal act is performed, but every child has two parents who did perform that act and generated new life thereby.  (Yes, there are cases of IVF and children deliberately deprived of their fathers by use of anonymous sperm donation, but these are outliers, not the central case that defines the institution.)


The column below, from MercatorNet's Conjugality site, does not make all these arguments, but it does recognize the fundamental move involved in same-sex "marriage" as in the sexual revolution more generally - the subordination of the interests and rights of children to the desires and freedoms of adults.  It is a recognition of truth that requires courage and integrity in face of the forward "march of an increasingly cavalier and triumphalist liberalism."


At risk: the right of a child to both a mother and a father

Intellectual dishonesty and shallowness in the arguments for bringing gay civil unions within the legal definition of marriage were laid bare last week in Dublin’s Irish Times by an opinion writer who professes same-sex orientation himself.  RichardGay opposition to same-sex marriage Waghorne, who also writes for the Daily Mail, took issue with “a number of self-contradictory or inaccurate arguments” advanced earlier in the week by Irish gay-campaigner, Kieran Rose. All of Ireland's main political parties have now adopted plans to legislatie for a redefinition of marriage laws to facilitate gay unions being recognised as such. However, the hurdle of Ireland's written constitution would have to be overcome by the legislature before any such changes could be enacted.

The first fallacy exposed by Waghorne was the resort to public opinion data showing majority support for the introduction of gay marriage. While he did not question the accuracy of the data he pointed out that public opinion is, however, no more conclusive a reason to legislate for gay marriage today than hostile opinion was good reason to delay law reform concerning homosexuality decades ago.

“Gay activists retrospectively give false legitimacy to the criminalisation of homosexuality in Ireland until 1993 by adducing opinion polling to a debate requiring resolution by reference to the common good. If majority opinion today is good cause to introduce gay marriage, it must have been similarly good cause for the profound imprudence of the law until two decades ago.
“That this is absurd betrays not only a shallowness discernible in the case for gay marriage but also what has to be identified as a degree of intellectual dishonesty.”

He also exposes the self-contradictory weakness in the gay lobby’s argument that the Irish public desires the introduction of gay marriage while at the same time moaning about the Irish public harbouring a dangerous degree of homophobia.

Waghorne adds his voice to a growing list of people with same-sex orientation – Ben Bradshaw and Matthew Parris in Britain, for example – who do not support this campaign. “As for claims raised in the name of the gay community,” he says, “I would prefer if someone with whom I share nothing but sexual orientation did not use that rather uninteresting fact to raise in my name political claims I and others do not share.”

The gay lobby, Waghorne says, is arguing the case for the right to marry on the basis of it being a “human right”. This is for him no more than an assertion - and a weak one at that.  He points out that  France’s supreme court has found that no discrimination is implied in the distinction between marriage and partnership provisions and that the European Court of Human Rights has found there is no right to gay marriage in the European Convention on Human Rights and this does not amount to discrimination.

“In considering gay marriage, it is essential to see treating different situations differently in no way constitutes discrimination”, he says. He then points out that the natural right of children far out-trumps, the recently invented rights of the liberal establishment.

“What is more fundamental here,” he writes, “is the co-option of human rights language by an increasingly hegemonic strain of intolerant liberalism. Whereas the ‘right to marriage’ as pertaining to couples of the same sex is a recent invention, the right of a child to both a mother and a father where possible is not.

“The reason for opposing the unnecessary elevation of civil partnerships to the notional status of marriage is that marriage then loses its nature as the one institution supported by society because it is the family form which on average gives a child the most advantageous upbringing.

“It is agreed by most that civil partnerships mostly suffice in practical terms for same-sex couples. Altering the focus of marriage from children to relationships disadvantages future generations to no more necessary end than the further march of an increasingly cavalier and triumphalist liberalism.”



Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Cohabitation - It's Not the Same


One of the most pervasive myths about cohabitation, as I learned from the indignant reactions of graduate social work students to my introduction of the research evidence to the class, is that it is functionally as well as morally the equivalent of marriage.

"We don't need no piece of paper. From the city hall. Keeping us tied and true," as the Joni Mitchell song had it  It was a view in which they were so highly invested - for whatever personal or ideological reasons - that no amount of reason or evidence would shake it.


Here MercatorNet critiques an article from the New York Times that recognizes at least some of the downside of cohabitation.  Being the NYT, of course, it does not quite go so far as to endorse marriage.


Sliding versus deciding: the risks of cohabitation

moving in
Wonders will never cease! The New York Times has published an article pointing out the risks of cohabitation. Here we were, thinking that there was no downside to contemporary coupling when all the time a slippery slope was opening up.
The popular belief that moving in together before marriage is a good way to avoid divorce is simply not borne out by the facts, warns psychologist Meg Jay.

Couples who cohabit before marriage (and especially before an engagement or an otherwise clear commitment) tend to be less satisfied with their marriages -- and more likely to divorce -- than couples who do not. These negative outcomes are called the cohabitation effect.
Haven’t we all seen it? Dr Jay cites the case of a client, Jennifer, who lived with her boyfriend for four years and then married. Less than a year later she was looking for a divorce lawyer, dreadfully upset and wondering why the marriage didn’t work. It seems she wanted marriage and, after a few years amassing common property, dogs and friends it was too difficult to break up. Besides, they were then in their early 30s.
That story illustrates the “sliding, not deciding” process that commonly leads to cohabitation in the first place: dating, sleeping over at each other’s place, moving in together because it’s cheaper and more convenient -- not because there is a commitment to each other. But set-up and switching costs can be high and it is much more difficult to “slide” out of such a relationship.
Couples bypass talking about why they want to live together and what it will mean.
WHEN researchers ask cohabitors these questions, partners often have different, unspoken — even unconscious — agendas. Women are more likely to view cohabitation as a step toward marriage, while men are more likely to see it as a way to test a relationship or postpone commitment, and this gender asymmetry is associated with negative interactions and lower levels of commitment even after the relationship progresses to marriage. One thing men and women do agree on, however, is that their standards for a live-in partner are lower than they are for a spouse.
Note that last sentence. And this:
I’ve had other clients who also wish they hadn’t sunk years of their 20s into relationships that would have lasted only months had they not been living together. Others want to feel committed to their partners, yet they are confused about whether they have consciously chosen their mates. Founding relationships on convenience or ambiguity can interfere with the process of claiming the people we love. A life built on top of “maybe you’ll do” simply may not feel as dedicated as a life built on top of the “we do” of commitment or marriage.
Well said. Unfortunately, Dr Jay does not take the next step and say, “Don’t do it!” Instead, she says she is neither for nor against cohabitation, which, she believes, is “here to stay”. In a piece of advice reminiscent of the “safe sex” mantra which came in with the AIDS era, she suggests that young adults can “protect” their cohabitating relationships from the “cohabitation effect”.
It’s important to discuss each person’s motivation and commitment level beforehand and, even better, to view cohabitation as an intentional step toward, rather than a convenient test for, marriage or partnership.
It also makes sense to anticipate and regularly evaluate constraints that may keep you from leaving.
It’s a pity she could not simply make a plug for marriage, neat. But then, maybe she would not get published in the Times.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Britain's Christians are being vilified, warns Lord Carey

     According to the Daily Telegraph, Lord Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury says worshippers are being “vilified” by the state, treated as “bigots” and sacked simply for expressing their beliefs.
     In a written submission to the European Court of Human Rights before a landmark case on religious freedom, the former leader of more than 70 million Anglicans warns that the outward expression of traditional conservative Christian values has effectively been “banned” in Britain under a new “secular conformity of belief and conduct”.  
     His comments represent one of the strongest attacks on the impartiality of Britain’s judiciary from a religious leader.
     He says Christians will face a “religious bar” to employment if rulings against wearing crosses and expressing their beliefs are not reversed.
     Lord Carey argues that in “case after case” British courts have failed to protect Christian values. He urges European judges to correct the balance.
     The hearing, due to start in Strasbourg on Sept 4, will deal with the case of two workers forced out of their jobs over the wearing of crosses as a visible manifestation of their faith. It will also take in the cases of Gary McFarlane, a counsellor sacked for saying that he may not be comfortable in giving sex therapy to homosexual couples, and a Christian registrar, who wishes not to conduct civil partnership ceremonies.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Fr. Barron comments on Andrew Sullivan's Non-Threatening Jesus



See Fr. Barron's article on Sullivan and the attempt from Jefferson on to render Jesus harmless and non-threatening as a kind of first-century Deepak Chopra HERE.  So typical of Newsweek and the MSM to offer such a secularized, privatized, desacralized account of Jesus at Easter, when Christians all over the world celebrate--as does the New Testament prior to Jefferson's taking a razor to it--the Resurrection of the Son of God.  Fr. Barron rightly mocks the offering of this warmed over 18th century reading as if it were edgy and daring, rather than just spiritually tone-deaf.

Monday, April 9, 2012

How to do an opinion survey - Yes, Prime Minister


[National Service existed as peacetime military conscription in the UK.  Males at 18 yo were required to do 2 years' national service in one of the armed services.  It was phased out in 1960.  It was like the requirement in the U.S. that males register at 18 yo with the Selective Service System, except that in the UK all such (non-exempt) males actually served as opposed to being eligible for the draft.]

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Sudan Bombing African Christians Back to the Stone Age

In Sudan, 500-700,000 Christians have been told to pack up and leave by April 8 or they’ll be treated as foreigners.  Is there a responsibility to protect?


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Exsultet - Liturgie de la Lumiere - Happy Easter!


I love this version of the Easter Proclamation, Exsultet, from the Easter Vigil, 2008, at the Basilique-Cath├ędrale Sainte-Marie et Sainte-R├ęparate de Nice, France.  So I am reposting it from last Easter.



The Easter Vigil liturgy is the most beautiful liturgy in the Roman Catholic Church. This walks through the Easter Vigil, and includes the words to the Exsultet:


http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/activities/view.cfm?id=1043

For more information about the Exsultet and its history, see::

http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=6341

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Allegri - Miserere


A setting of Psalm 51 composed during the reign of Pope Urban VIII.

The Measure of the World - John Henry Newman

A great number of men live and die without reflecting at all upon the state of things in which they find themselves. They take things as they come, and follow their inclinations as far as they have the opportunity. They are guided mainly by pleasure and pain, not by reason, principle, or conscience; and they do not attempt to interpret this world, to determine what it means, or to reduce what they see and feel to system. But when persons, either from thoughtfulness of mind, or from intellectual activity, begin to contemplate the visible state of things into which they are born, then forthwith they find it a maze and a perplexity. . . .Why it is, and what it is to issue in, and how it is what it is, and how we come to be introduced into it, and what is our destiny, are all mysteries.

In this difficulty, some have formed one philosophy of life, and others another. Men have thought they had found the key, by means of which they might read what is so obscure. Ten thousand things come before us one after another in the course of life, and what are we to think of them? what colour are we to give them? Are we to look at all things in a gay and mirthful way? or in a melancholy way? in a desponding or a hopeful way? Are we to make light of life altogether, or to treat the whole subject seriously? Are we to make greatest things of little consequence, or least things of great consequence? Are we to keep in mind what is past and gone, or are we to look on to the future, or are we to be absorbed in what is present? How are we to look at things? . . .Such is the need felt by reflective minds. Now, let me ask, what is the real key, what is the Christian interpretation of this world? What is given us by revelation to estimate and measure this world by? The event of this season – the Crucifixion of the Son of God. . . .
But it will be said, that the view which the Cross of Christ imparts to us of human life and of the world, is not that which we should take, if left to ourselves; that it is not an obvious view; that if we look at things on their surface, they are far more bright and sunny than they appear when viewed in the light which this season casts upon them.
But again; it is but a superficial view of things to say that this life is made for pleasure and happiness. To those who look under the surface, it tells a very different tale. The doctrine of the Cross does but teach, though infinitely more forcibly, still after all it does but teach the very same lesson which this world teaches to those who live long in it, who have much experience in it, who know it. The world is sweet to the lips, but bitter to the taste. . . .Therefore the doctrine of the Cross of Christ does but anticipate for us our experience of the world.

            John Henry Newman by Jane Fortescue Seymour, c. 1875
__________
This being the case, the great and awful doctrine of the Cross of Christ, which we now commemorate, may fitly be called, in the language of figure, theheart of religion. The heart may be considered as the seat of life; it is the principle of motion, heat, and activity; from it the blood goes to and fro to the extreme parts of the body. It sustains the man in his powers and faculties; it enables the brain to think; and when it is touched, man dies. And in like manner the sacred doctrine of Christ's Atoning Sacrifice is the vital principle on which the Christian lives, and without which Christianity is not. Without it no other doctrine is held profitably; to believe in Christ's divinity, or in His manhood, or in the Holy Trinity, or in a judgment to come, or in the resurrection of the dead, is an untrue belief, not Christian faith, unless we receive also the doctrine of Christ's sacrifice. . . .
_____________________
One more remark I shall make, and then conclude. It must not be supposed, because the doctrine of the Cross makes us sad, that therefore the Gospel is a sad religion. The Psalmist says, “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy;” and our Lord says, “They that mourn shall be comforted.” Let no one go away with the impression that the Gospel makes us take a gloomy view of the world and of life. It hinders us indeed from taking a superficial view, and finding a vain transitory joy in what we see; but it forbids our immediate  enjoyment, only to grant enjoyment in truth and fulness afterwards. It only forbids us to begin with enjoyment. . . .
And thus, too, all that is bright and beautiful, even on the surface of this world, though it has no substance, and may not suitably be enjoyed for its own sake, yet is a figure and promise of that true joy which issues out of the Atonement. It is a promise beforehand of what is to be: it is a shadow, raising hope because the substance is to follow, but not to be rashly taken instead of the substance. And it is God's usual mode of dealing with us, in mercy to send the shadow before the substance, that we may take comfort in what is to be, before it comes. Thus our Lord before His Passion rode into Jerusalem in triumph, with the multitudes crying Hosanna, and strewing His road with palm branches and their garments. This was but a vain and hollow pageant, nor did our Lord take pleasure in it. It was a shadow which stayed not, but flitted away. It could not be more than a shadow, for the Passion had not been undergone by which His true triumph was wrought out. . . .
They alone are able truly to enjoy this world, who begin with the world unseen. They alone enjoy it, who have first abstained from it. They alone can truly feast, who have first fasted; they alone are able to use the world, who have learned not to abuse it; they alone inherit it, who take it as a shadow of the world to come, and who for that world to come relinquish it.

John Henry Newman (1801-1890) was made a cardinal by Leo XXIII in 1879 and beatified by Benedict XVI in 2010. He was among the most important Catholic writers of the last several centuriesThese are excerpts from Cardinal Newman’s sermon for the Sixth Sunday of Lent, “The Cross of Christ: The Measure of the World.” The full sermon may be read here. 


© 2012 The Catholic Thing. All rights reserved. For reprint rights, write to:info@frinstitute.org
Reposted here with permission from The Catholic Thing, April 1, 2012