Upon signing the Declaration of Independence, Benjamin Franklin urged his fellow delegates to the Continental Congress to hang together, lest they all hang separately. Without unity, there would be no chance of victory. And without victory, the Declaration of Independence would serve not as a legal compact but as a death warrant.
When a Saint bashes you, things must be pretty bad. But when he says you’re not worth the words, they’re definitely worse. And when the Saint in question is an uncontested authority on asceticism—and you’re a monk vowed to live the ascetic life—you’ve pretty much hit rock bottom.
The tragedy of the world is that so many are unloved. Roses always look beautiful and smell sweet, and hence they are a prize to be possessed. Sweetbriar, however, has fragrant leaves, and they are never so fragrant as when it rains. The common people of the world are like these leaves; they have something fragrant about them, particularly when the days are dark and clouded and rain falls in their lives. Anyone can love a rose; but it takes a great heart to love a leaf.
—Archbishop Fulton Sheen
Gardens are boring if they are made up of only one kind of flower, even the most beautiful. A garden is striking only if it has a harmony between all its components: the drabber elements bring out the brightness of color, the different heights complement each other, and the arrangement of smells don’t overpower. Truly great gardens take into account the different seasons of the year and even the phases of the moon. As lovely as the individual plants are in their own right, a garden is made wonderful by the planning and forethought of its gardener.
Dei Verbum, Vatican II’s Constitution on Divine Revelation, says of the Old Testament that its principal purpose was to prepare for the coming of Christ through prophecy and “types” (DV 15). For his own part, St. Thomas Aquinas says essentially the same thing: the Old Testament taught about Christ implicitly through figurative depictions and portrayals. But have you ever wondered if this might be a rather roundabout way of preparing for Christ? If you wanted to teach someone about something, wouldn’t it be easier just to tell them about it straight out, explicitly?
I once heard it suggested that there’s a sort of joke hidden in the Latin original of the Summa Theologiae that didn’t make it into the commonly used English translation: “the proof from authority is the weakest form of proof,” we read in the Benziger edition (I.1.8.2us), and yet we don’t see the words that follow in the Latin text: “secundum Boëtium.” In the original Latin, you see, Thomas argues that the argument from authority is the weakest form of argument on the basis of the authority of Boethius.
While we may certainly savor the irony, two things should be pointed out so as to grasp the real meaning of this assertion.
Perhaps more than any other time of the year, New Year’s reminds us that we’re not sure exactly what we want.
The day has always felt a little out of place. Right when the Christmas holiday is drawing to a close, men of goodwill resume their morning commute, return to their offices, consult their calendars, see that they need a new one, and . . . throw another party! After the magic and the revelry at the arrival of the Christ child, the advent of a new calendar year always seems to pale in comparison.
O gates lift up your heads
Grow higher ancient doors
That the King of Glory may come in
Who is this King of Glory?
The Lord of Hosts,
He is the King of Glory! (Ps 24:7–9)
In this psalm, as in many other Scripture passages, God is described as coming in power and strength to redeem his people from the bonds of slavery and sin. This is the God who spoke with booming voice in the storm cloud to Moses upon Mount Sinai, and the same God who descended in a pillar of fire to consume the offering made by Elijah to shame the false prophets of Baal. In comparison to these dramatic episodes, the Christmas coming of the Christ child seems a bit understated. Can this little babe really be the King of Glory come to save the world? Why not speak to the world as He had done before?
O Key of David and sceptre of the House of Israel; you open and no one can shut; you shut and no one can open: Come and lead the prisoners from the prison house, those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.
When the news reports first broke broadcasting the horrific events of Friday, December 14th at Sandy Hook Elementary School, much of the tragedy remained hidden. As the hours passed, with millions watching the major news networks and countless others reading online, the true depth of the tragedy became more and more apparent. The names of the victims were released, and of the twenty-six persons murdered twenty of them were children, ages six to seven. Considering the sorrow and pain of so many, perhaps it would be best to remain silent.
O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti, attingens a fine usque ad finem fortiter, suaviterque disponens omnia: veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.
Tonight, with Christmas Eve only a week away, the Church’s liturgy intensifies in anticipation for the coming of the Savior. Each evening until then, at the Magnificat, the Church prays one of the O Antiphons, a series of invocations to the Lord, each beginning with one of the titles applied to Him in the Old Testament. The first one, quoted above, is sung at Vespers this evening:
O Wisdom, who hast proceeded from the mouth of the Most High, who reaches from end to end mightily and orders all things sweetly, come to teach us the way of prudence” (cf. Ws 8:1).
The idea of wisdom is not unique to the Scriptures.
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!
The last published book of Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss), Oh, the Places You’ll Go! (1990), is a popular gift for graduating high school and college seniors and for anyone who is about to begin life’s next exciting journey. Great optimism abounds when the doors of the past have been closed and the gateway to future opportunity is in sight. Having achieved a great personal accomplishment, one can emerge with a sense of confidence and even entitlement, feeling empowered to take on the challenges of the world.