Anyone who has grown up with siblings likely knows the truth of the saying that those who are closest to us are oftentimes the ones who can hurt us the most. For some reason, people can be incredibly cruel in the way they treat those closest to them, and sometimes this is most clearly illustrated with young siblings. Children can get quite upset when their siblings or friends do something to hurt them, often rendered inconsolable. How many times have parents heard the phrase “I’m never going to speak to her again!” Often in the midst of these small (or sometimes considerable) crises, the call to love our neighbors becomes a point beyond consideration. Yet, it is precisely situations like these that can help us learn to love even those who commit unspeakable deeds of evil against us.
An old man’s cold prediction of a sword thrust through her heart; a rough journey to Egypt with her newborn; losing her boy on the road from Jerusalem to Nazareth; meeting her bloodied son on the road to Calvary; watching him die; a gratuitous lance in his side; the laying of his lifeless body in a tomb: Mary’s sorrows – at least the seven ones traditionally associated with her which the Church remembers today as the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. There were – no doubt – other sorrows. From the moment Simeon prophesied the sword, it must have lingered in her imagination. Sometimes she felt the blade pierce her, which is why these sorrows are often portrayed as seven daggers in her heart. Other times her eye caught its flash, reminding her that she would not escape unscathed from her son’s destiny. She was playing a part. This sense of looming danger must have been a source of distress for Mary.
Today the Church celebrates the Holy Name of Mary, yet another Marian feast day. At times it might seem that the Church goes overboard with all these days dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. After all, the memorial of the Holy Name of Mary is only an optional memorial. Why even celebrate these little Marian feast days? Don’t the great Marian feasts like the Assumption and the Immaculate Conception provide sufficient Marian devotion in the liturgy?
Man and woman are made in the image of God, and yet one constant temptation is to see in others not an image crafted by God but an idol crafted by ourselves. What do I mean by this? It is dangerously easy to harbor misapprehensions and faulty judgments concerning other people we interact with—or, at times more perilously, other people we don’t interact with. In either case, whether through an awkward half-awareness or through a notional familiarity which leaves unquestioned unflattering impressions, we can go on for tremendous lengths of time without taking or having the opportunity to correct our misunderstandings of another person. When this happens, we have made a sort of idol of our fellow—we have developed a habitual mode of conceiving of this person that does not respect his or her true identity and authentic image.
Riding the metro this summer, I saw some young men with t-shirts that proclaim: “Obey.” Presumably (and here I speculate), it’s a sarcastic jab at supposedly traditional and conservative values, a statement just as likely to come from someone who would proclaim, “question authority!”
This leads me to wonder: what do these young men think when they pass someone– like myself– in garb which symbolizes a very traditional kind of obedience? As all the world knows, we practice a very particular kind of authority to a very crusty, old institution. “I, Brother John, make profession and promise obedience…”
Today in the reading at Mass, in the course of chastising the Corinthians for bringing their petty disputes before the judgment of nonbelievers, St. Paul suddenly averts to the end of time and asks, “Do you not know that we will judge angels?” (1 Cor 6:3).
“No, St. Paul, I did not know that,” is a response, I imagine, many Christians today would give. As for the Corinthians, the prerogative seems to have slipped their minds. But Paul had not forgotten. He saw mundane matters in light of the angels—in this case, in light of the angels dwelling in darkness. St. John Chrysostom teaches that the angels Paul is referring to are the angels that are also called demons, the fallen angels, about whom St. Peter said, “God . . . cast them into hell and committed them to pits of deepest darkness to be kept until the judgment” (2 Pet 2:4).
Today on the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary we conclude our series on the monastic life of Dominican nuns.
St. Dominic in 1206,brought together a group of women in Prouille, France to take up a life of prayer, penance, and silence ten years before the official founding of the Order of Preachers. These, the first nuns of the Order, followed St. Dominic’s guidance and spent their lives praying for the success of his apostolate, as they still do for the sons of St. Dominic throughout the world. As part of its 800th anniversary celebration between 2006 and 2016, the Dominican Order has reflected on the theme “Mary: Contemplation and the Preaching of the Word.” In 2013 we launched the project of profiling all 18 Dominican Monasteries (including daughter houses) under the Master of the Dominican Order found in the United States. We also ran a feature on our Canadian nuns.
Today is Mother Teresa’s feast day. While her writings and her example continue to inspire many, a far greater fact is that her work continues today, in the lives of her sisters, the Missionaries of Charity. With every smile they give and every person they take in, they carry out God’s plan for the poor of the world which only began with Mother, but which continues in the same work and same spirit to this day.
If there is one thing that it would be safe to say that everyone desires, other than his or her own happiness, it would be the goal of world peace. From people who express their hope for peace on their bumper stickers, to an NBA basketball player who incorporates it into his name, to contestants striving for the lofty title of Miss America, many delight in expressing their hopes for universal harmony. Those who support a particular war usually do so because they see it as the means of establishing a future peace, and even the most twisted mind thinks that his tyrannical actions will bring about some warped view of concord and order. In some way or another, every human being has some wish for world peace.
When technologically illiterate types speak about computers, tablets, and smartphones, the results can be hilarious. Definite articles are interspersed liberally (The Google, The Facebook, etc.), virtual realities are given locative characteristics (“The files are inside the computer.”), and jokes fall flat (Note: Memes are not universally appreciated). With the candid admission that I can probably be grouped among such a caricatured class of old souls, here are some thoughts on why computers may be unintelligible.