Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Frorm Oxford, England

I am here at Oxford taking part in the C. S. Lewis Foundation's "Oxbridge" conference. It has been a very rewarding experience, and the people are lovely. The setting, as you can imagine, is stunning. Here is a photo I took of a painter, Richard Pryke, himself a graduate of Keble College Oxford, painting a view of Keble College where I am staying for the conference.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


C. S. Lewis:
A man performing a rite is not trying to make you think that this is his natural way of walking, these the unpremeditated gestures of his own domestic life. If long usage has in fact made the ritual unconscious, he must labour to make it look deliberate, in order that we, the assistants, may feel the weight of the solemnity pressing on his shoulders as well as on our own. Anything casual or familiar in his manner is not 'sincerity' or 'spontaneity,' but impertinence. Even if his robes were not heavy in fact, they ought to look heavy.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


“It is the nature of a vocation to appear to men in the double character of a duty and a desire. . . . To follow the vocation does not mean happiness: but once it has been heard, there is no happiness for those who do not follow.” – C. S. Lewis

Monday, July 21, 2008


"We know a lot more about how little we know of the universe than did previous generations." Ralph McInerny

Friday, July 18, 2008

My self-indulgence

My newest granddaughter's big sister and her father.

Commentary on Contemporary Developments

"The devil has landed in a furious rage, for he knows his time is short." Rev. 12:12

Hans Urs von Balthasar:
[Christ] taught "differently than the scribes," with an authority never before encountered, even though he taught nothing different from the scribes. The scribes serve the authority of the law that they expound. The tone of Jesus' preaching makes clear that he is the master of the law he explains. . . . For that reason it seems to the listeners, who, after all, are hearing an exposition of words very familiar to them, as if "a completely new teaching is being proclaimed" (Mk 1:27).

Now, when Jesus' "completely new teaching" sounds forth, a completely new head rears itself, that of the apocalyptic beast. The Word has reached the demon, has called it by its name. . . .
Balthasar makes mention of these things in the context of Jesus' first preaching in Mark's Gospel, which occurred after he cast a demon out of a man possessed. Balthasar observes:
. . . in the story of this healing, the demon must depart, but not before he displays himself in a farewell seizure of his victim. According to the Church Fathers, all the persecutions of the Church since the time of Christ are part of this tantrum thrown by the devil on his way out: the head of the serpent has been crushed underfoot, but the body thrashes about in a desperate wrestling with itself.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

On Liberty and Guilt . . .

"Humanity is a marvel," wrote Henri de Lubac, "wounded yet indestructible, which finds the meaning of its liberty in the confession of its guilt." Alas, however, he elsewhere observes:
Following another avenue of escape, which seeks its justification in a grandiose theory, there are those who wish to recognize only collective sin, "objectivized" sin, "social" sin, i.e. the sin committed by others. A universe is constructed where evil is everywhere denounced, but now where admitted; where it is always endured, never committed. By thus "transferring the evil which is in man to the evil in the structures" -- called "structures of sin" -- one is led, in addition, to the idea that man is essentially good, and that it is only society which corrupts him, and that he has no need of conversion of heart.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse . . .

To paraphrase T. S. Eliot's J. Alfred Prufrock:
No! I am not a Weblogger, nor was meant to be;
Am an itinerant scribe, one that will do
To quote a passage, and turn a phrase or two,
Trying not to mince, nor to be too Sunday school,
Deferential, glad to be of use . . .
And so on.

This being more or less the case, please do not mistake this blog entry for a serious revival of this moribund blogsite. It is an experiment almost certainly doomed to fail; the kind of thing one does on a lovely midsummer morning after the second cup of coffee, knowing full well that the circumstances that occasioned it are not likely to be replicated on a regular basis, making the experiment a likely cause of future embarrassment. Nonetheless . . .

Once we post the Emmaus Road Initiative schedule for 2008-2009 -- a schedule even more daunting than lasts year's schedule -- it will be perfectly clear that I will have precious little time to devote to this blog. But it occurs to me that I just might be able to post a thought or two -- "to quote a passage or turn a phrase or two" -- and in this way keep a small conversation going with those interested in the work of the Cornerstone Forum.

If you're on your second cup of coffee, or otherwise feeling experimental, feel free to subscribe to feeds from this blog or stop by again when you're in the neighborhood. If all you find is a stale blog entry, murmur a little prayer for me, for it will be indicative of a very busy schedule, nothing more.

In appreciation for your having stopped by today, here's a bon mot from Hans Urs von Balthasar:
We must not imagine that we can make the entry into a heavenly Jerusalem with a waving of palms and seated on the gentle ass of evolution.