Triumph of the Cross

Sunday, March 20, AD 2016

In Hoc Signo Vinces

(This is my regular post for Palm Sunday which I repost each year.  Have a happy and blessed Palm Sunday and Holy Week.)

9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Sion, shout for joy, O daughter of Jerusalem: BEHOLD THY KING will come to thee, the just and saviour: he is poor, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. 10 And I will destroy the chariot out of Ephraim, and the horse out of Jerusalem, and the bow for war shall be broken: and he shall speak peace to the Gentiles, and his power shall be from sea to sea, and from the rivers even to the end of the earth.

Thus did the prophet Zechariah, writing half a millennium before, predict the entry of Christ into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.  How many such glorious entrances into cities have there been over the ages?  Every civilization I am aware of has such ceremonies, either parades in peace time or entrances of conquest or liberation in war time.  The Romans turned this into an art form with their triumphs, with the reminder of the slave to the imperator of  fleeting human mortality: “Respice post te, hominem memento te”.

Few such triumphs have turned into utter disaster as quickly as that of Jesus:  Jerusalem at His feet on Sunday, and Christ dead on a Roman Cross before the sun had set on Friday.  Small wonder that no contemporary historian or chronicler at the time took note.  However some sort of official report probably was filed after the crucifixion.  Writing circa 116 AD, and relying heavily on official records for his history, in regard to the great fire at Rome under Emperor Nero Tacitus states:

“15.44.2. But, despite kindly influence, despite the leader’s generous handouts, despite appeasing the gods, the scandal did not subside, rather the blaze came to be believed to be an official act. So, in order to quash the rumour, Nero blamed it on, and applied the cruelest punishments to, those sinners, whom ordinary people call Christians, hating them for their shameful behaviour. 15.44.3. The originator of this name, Christ, was sentenced to torture by Procurator Pontius Pilate, during the reign of Tiberius, but although checked for a moment, the deadly cult erupted again, not just in Judaea, the source of its evil, but even in Rome, where all the sins and scandals of the world gather and are glorified.”

Tacitus, clearly hostile to the Christians, points his finger at one of the great mysteries of history.  In human terms the Jesus movement was nipped in the bud at its inception.  Yet in less than three centuries the Roman emperor bowed before the cross.  The triumph of Palm Sunday led only to disaster, and the humiliation and death of the cross led to triumph in eternity and here on Earth.

For we Catholics, and for all other Christians, no explanation of this paradoxical outcome is needed.  However there is much here to ponder for non-believers and non-Christians.  In purely human terms the followers of Christ had no chance to accomplish anything:  no powerful supporters, no homeland embracing their faith, cultures, both Jewish and Gentile, which were hostile to the preaching of the Gospels, other religions which were well-established, the list of disadvantages could go on at considerable length.  We take the victory of Christianity for granted because it happened.  We forget how very improbable such a victory was. Even more improbable is that what began on Palm Sunday, the triumph of Jesus, has continued till today in spite of all challenges that two thousand years of human folly could cast up.  How very peculiar in mortal terms!

Let us give the last word to the patron saint of paradox G. K. Chesterton:

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4 Responses to Triumph of the Cross

  • Thanks Donald for this and all you do. Blessings to you and your family.

  • Thank God for your Holy Way.
    I’m so impatient and faltering in many ways, yet you will not abandon me.
    You know my weaknesses, yet you love me.
    You teach forgiveness and I harbor hatred.
    You suffered unimaginable brutality and I complain about the most insignificant annoyances.
    Help me to the foot of the Cross God.
    To keep thee company
    with thy faithful friends
    and Holy
    mother.
    May
    my
    Palm
    offering
    today
    never be used to mock you, torment you, or disgrace you by causing injury to my neighbor.

  • “We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you. Because by Your Holy Cross you have redeemed the World.” A prayer between the Stations of the Cross.
    .
    The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery, The Crucifixion: the following is from a meditation. Desire the grace of final perseverance. Think of the love which filled Our Lord’s Sacred Heart during the three hours’ agony on the Holy Cross; and ask Him to be with you at the hour of death.
    .
    God’s only begotten Son through His life, death, and Resurrection has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life, which far, far exceed all fleeting, earthly joys (from a prayer after the Rosary). Indeed, the Triumph of the Cross.
    .
    St. Dismus, pray for us.

Palm Sunday 151 Years Ago

Sunday, March 20, AD 2016

 

 

It is poor business measuring the mouldered ramparts and counting the silent guns, marking the deserted battlefields and decorating the grassy graves, unless we can learn from it some nobler lesson than to destroy.  Men write of this, as of other wars, as if the only thing necessary to be impressed upon the rising generation were the virtue of physical courage and contempt of death.  It seems to me that is the last thing we need to teach;  for since the days of John Smith in Virginia and the men of the Mayflower in Massachusetts, no generation of Americans has shown any lack of it.  From Louisburg to Petersburg-a hundred and twenty years, the full span of four generations-they have stood to their guns and been shot down in greater comparative numbers than any other race on earth.  In the war of secession there was not a State, not a county, probably not a town, between the great lakes and the gulf, that was not represented on fields where all that men could do with powder and steel was done and valor exhibited at its highest pitch…There is not the slightest necessity for lauding American bravery or impressing it upon American youth.  But there is the gravest necessity for teaching them respect for law, and reverence for human life, and regard for the rights of their fellow country-men, and all that is significant in the history of our country…These are simple lessons, yet they are not taught in a day, and some who we call educated go through life without mastering them at all.

Rossiter Johnson, Campfire and Battlefield, 1884

 

 

 

I have always thought it appropriate that the national nightmare we call the Civil War ended during Holy Week 1865.  Two remarkably decent men, Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant, began the process of healing so desperately needed for America on Palm Sunday, April 9, 1865 at Appomattox.  We take their decency for granted, but it is the exception and not the rule for the aftermath of civil wars in history.  The usual course would have been unremitting vengeance by the victors, and sullen rage by the defeated, perhaps eventually breaking out in guerilla war.  The end of the Civil War could so very easily have been the beginning of a cycle of unending war between north and south.  Instead, both Grant and Lee acted to make certain as far as they could that the fratricidal war that had just concluded would not be repeated.  All Americans owe those two men a large debt for their actions at Appomattox.

Grant in his memoirs wrote, “When Lee and I separated he went back to his lines and I returned to the house of Mr. McLean. Here the officers of both armies came in great numbers, and seemed to enjoy the meeting as much as though they had been friends separated for a long time while fighting battles under the same flag.”

Lee so appreciated the generosity of the terms of surrender given by Grant, that for the remainder of his life he would never allow a word of denigration about Grant to be spoken in his presence.

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3 Responses to Palm Sunday 151 Years Ago

  • Interesting find, Don… so this method of vivid documentary story-telling did not originate with Ken Burns, as I sometimes hear.

    Haven’t watched it all yet, but so far, pretty balanced presentation, with a slight bent in the direction of the victors! Even Vallandigham gets a mention, the Democrat congressman who amazingly was imprisoned for giving speeches critical of the war and of Lincoln, whom he called “King Lincoln.”

    Definitely love seeing Hal Holbrook at Appomattox, just an hour down the road from my house.

  • “Haven’t watched it all yet, but so far, pretty balanced presentation, with a slight bent in the direction of the victors! Even Vallandigham gets a mention, the Democrat congressman who amazingly was imprisoned for giving speeches critical of the war and of Lincoln, whom he called “King Lincoln.””
    Vallandigham was ultimately exiled to the Confederacy. He made his way back into the Union through Canada, after seeking money from Confederate representatives in Canada to buy weapons to set up a Northwest Confederacy, with Lincoln turning a blind eye to his reappearance. He was the moving force behind the peace plank of the Democrat platform in 1864 and was listed by the Democrats as Secretary of War in a McClellan administration. After McClellan repudiated the peace plank Vallandigham withdrew for a time in campaigning for him.

    Vallandigham had a shadowy relationship with the undercover Southern spy group, the Knights of the Golden Circle, later renamed the American Knights. He testified at the trial of several of them in April 1865. While denying that he had joined that organization, he admitted to talking with representatives of the Confederacy in Canada.

    His death in 1871 is a caution to all defense attorneys:

    “Vallandigham died in 1871 in Lebanon, Ohio, at the age of 50, after accidentally shooting himself in the abdomen with a pistol. He was representing a defendant (Thomas McGehan)[citation needed] in a murder case for killing a man in a barroom brawl at the Golden Lamb Inn. Vallandigham attempted to prove the victim, Tom Myers, had in fact accidentally shot himself while drawing his pistol from a pocket while rising from a kneeling position. As Vallandigham conferred with fellow defense attorneys in his hotel room at the Golden Lamb, he showed them how he would demonstrate this to the jury. Selecting a pistol he believed to be unloaded, he put it in his pocket and enacted the events as they might have happened, snagging the loaded gun on his clothing and unintentionally causing it to discharge into his belly. Although he was fatally wounded, Vallandigham’s demonstration proved his point, and the defendant, Thomas McGehan, was acquitted and released from custody (to be shot to death four years later in his saloon).”

  • Oddly coincidental, I just received this post, also dated Palm Sunday.
    ..http://vaflaggers.blogspot.com/2016/03/va-flaggers-re-lee-statue-in.html
    .
    Fascinating stuff on Vallandigham too, Mr. Mac.

Triumph of the Cross

Sunday, March 29, AD 2015

In Hoc Signo Vinces

 

(This is my regular post for Palm Sunday which I repost each year.  Have a happy and blessed Palm Sunday and Holy Week.)

9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Sion, shout for joy, O daughter of Jerusalem: BEHOLD THY KING will come to thee, the just and saviour: he is poor, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. 10 And I will destroy the chariot out of Ephraim, and the horse out of Jerusalem, and the bow for war shall be broken: and he shall speak peace to the Gentiles, and his power shall be from sea to sea, and from the rivers even to the end of the earth.

 

Thus did the prophet Zechariah, writing half a millennium before, predict the entry of Christ into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.  How many such glorious entrances into cities have there been over the ages?  Every civilization I am aware of has such ceremonies, either parades in peace time or entrances of conquest or liberation in war time.  The Romans turned this into an art form with their triumphs, with the reminder of the slave to the imperator of  fleeting human mortality: “Respice post te, hominem memento te”.

Few such triumphs have turned into utter disaster as quickly as that of Jesus:  Jerusalem at His feet on Sunday, and Christ dead on a Roman Cross before the sun had set on Friday.  Small wonder that no contemporary historian or chronicler at the time took note.  However some sort of official report probably was filed after the crucifixion.  Writing circa 116 AD, and relying heavily on official records for his history, in regard to the great fire at Rome under Emperor Nero Tacitus states:

“15.44.2. But, despite kindly influence, despite the leader’s generous handouts, despite appeasing the gods, the scandal did not subside, rather the blaze came to be believed to be an official act. So, in order to quash the rumour, Nero blamed it on, and applied the cruelest punishments to, those sinners, whom ordinary people call Christians, hating them for their shameful behaviour. 15.44.3. The originator of this name, Christ, was sentenced to torture by Procurator Pontius Pilate, during the reign of Tiberius, but although checked for a moment, the deadly cult erupted again, not just in Judaea, the source of its evil, but even in Rome, where all the sins and scandals of the world gather and are glorified.”

Tacitus, clearly hostile to the Christians, points his finger at one of the great mysteries of history.  In human terms the Jesus movement was nipped in the bud at its inception.  Yet in less than three centuries the Roman emperor bowed before the cross.  The triumph of Palm Sunday led only to disaster, and the humiliation and death of the cross led to triumph in eternity and here on Earth.

For we Catholics, and for all other Christians, no explanation of this paradoxical outcome is needed.  However there is much here to ponder for non-believers and non-Christians.  In purely human terms the followers of Christ had no chance to accomplish anything:  no powerful supporters, no homeland embracing their faith, cultures, both Jewish and Gentile, which were hostile to the preaching of the Gospels, other religions which were well-established, the list of disadvantages could go on at considerable length.  We take the victory of Christianity for granted because it happened.  We forget how very improbable such a victory was. Even more improbable is that what began on Palm Sunday, the triumph of Jesus, has continued till today in spite of all challenges that two thousand years of human folly could cast up.  How very peculiar in mortal terms!

Let us give the last word to the patron saint of paradox G. K. Chesterton:

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4 Responses to Triumph of the Cross

  • ” We forget how very improbable such a victory was…”

    Perhaps because the truth is far too uncomfortable to those who seek to be their own gods?

  • In the dark still- ignorant still- and brave
    I hope…. Signed by His Cross and beneficiaries of His Victory

  • Q: Is there any land any tribe or peoples that have not been privileged to the living Word?

    If not, then may He find His servants, His friends, toiling in His vineyard in loving unity with the Holy Spirit. May His Kingdom come and perfectly His will be done. His Triumph finally realized and complete in All of the hearts He has chosen.

  • “We forget how very improbable such a victory was…” because we fit it into a schema. The post-Enlightenment era has been trained to think of secularization as one of those great historical waves. Everyone believed in multiple gods, then everyone believed in one god, and now everyone believes in no god. Progress, right? Sure, we’re not at the point of complete non-belief yet, but we’re headed that way, because history moves inexorably in one direction.

    In truth, the great sweeps of history are steered by the individual as much as the individual is steered by the great sweeps of history. History isn’t a materialist machine; it’s animated by individual souls. All empires are toppled by one man. Of course, the rise of Christianity was due to that Power which the human soul is only an image of.

Triumph of the King

Sunday, March 24, AD 2013

zechariah

(This is my regular post for Palm Sunday which I repost each year.  Have a happy and blessed Palm Sunday and Holy Week.)

“9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Sion, shout for joy, O daughter of Jerusalem: BEHOLD THY KING will come to thee, the just and saviour: he is poor, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. 10 And I will destroy the chariot out of Ephraim, and the horse out of Jerusalem, and the bow for war shall be broken: and he shall speak peace to the Gentiles, and his power shall be from sea to sea, and from the rivers even to the end of the earth.”

Thus did the prophet Zechariah, writing half a millennium before, predict the entry of Christ into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.  How many such glorious entrances into cities have there been over the ages?  Every civilization I am aware of has such ceremonies, either parades in peace time or entrances of conquest or liberation in war time.  The Romans turned this into an art form with their triumphs, with the reminder of the slave to the imperator of  fleeting human mortality: “Respice post te, hominem memento te”.

Few such triumphs have turned into utter disaster as quickly as that of Jesus:  Jerusalem at His feet on Sunday, and Christ dead on a Roman Cross before the sun had set on Friday.  Small wonder that no contemporary historian or chronicler at the time took note.  However some sort of official report probably was filed after the crucifixion.  Writing circa 116 AD, and relying heavily on official records for his history, in regard to the great fire at Rome under Emperor Nero Tacitus states:

“15.44.2. But, despite kindly influence, despite the leader’s generous handouts, despite appeasing the gods, the scandal did not subside, rather the blaze came to be believed to be an official act. So, in order to quash the rumour, Nero blamed it on, and applied the cruelest punishments to, those sinners, whom ordinary people call Christians, hating them for their shameful behaviour. 15.44.3. The originator of this name, Christ, was sentenced to torture by Procurator Pontius Pilate, during the reign of Tiberius, but although checked for a moment, the deadly cult erupted again, not just in Judaea, the source of its evil, but even in Rome, where all the sins and scandals of the world gather and are glorified.”

Tacitus, clearly hostile to the Christians, points his finger at one of the great mysteries of history.  In human terms the Jesus movement was nipped in the bud at its inception.  Yet in less than three centuries the Roman emperor bowed before the cross.  The triumph of Palm Sunday led only to disaster, and the humiliation and death of the cross led to triumph in eternity and here on Earth.

For we Catholics, and for all other Christians, no explanation of this paradoxical outcome is needed.  However there is much here to ponder for non-believers and non-Christians.  In purely human terms the followers of Christ had no chance to accomplish anything:  no powerful supporters, no homeland embracing their faith, cultures, both Jewish and Gentile, which were hostile to the preaching of the Gospels, other religions which were well-established, the list of disadvantages could go on at considerable length.  We take the victory of Christianity for granted because it happened.  We forget how very improbable such a victory was. Even more improbable is that what began on Palm Sunday, the triumph of Jesus, has continued till today in spite of all challenges that two thousand years of human folly could cast up.  How very peculiar in mortal terms!

Let us give the last word to the patron saint of paradox G. K. Chesterton:

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11 Responses to Triumph of the King

  • ” ..still plot how God shall die.”
    So true!
    Same kings. Same outcome.
    Viva Cristo Rey!

  • As I reflect on the situation of first century Christianity vis a vis the Roman Empire, I wonder if the main contender for allegience isn’t the individual as we’ve thought for the past few centuries, but the kings and realms of the earth. Daniel saw the empires of the world finally swallowed up in the Kingdom of God. St. John saw that, too.

  • Jon-
    Maybe both. In scripture man and nation are at times one in the same.
    The blood that soaked the arena made way for the conversion of an Empire.
    Is it possible today?
    I hope so.

  • Phillip, that’s right. God judges individuals and nations. We see him dealing with both levels throughout the scriptural story.

    As to your question, all promises of scripture find their conclusion in the life hereafter if not in this one. That too is true both at the individual and collective levels. It is true for each Chtristian’s life as well as for the nations or the world. Who is to say how much is attained before Christ’s return and how much will constitute the culmination of the kingdom at his coming? I often wonder that. But I have seen enough change at the level of individual lives to know that some things are realized even now.

  • Jon-
    Gods timing is mystery.
    The following site is worth speculation.
    Throughout history eucharistic miracles appear for individuals as well as nations.
    This one in Pope Francis’ backyard is somewhat recent as far as this type of miracle goes.
    http://www.loamagazine.org/nr/the_main_topic/eucharistic_miracle_in_buenos.html

    As for me, I see a miracle every Sunday.

    Enjoy.

  • Yes, God’s timing is a mystery. Well-put, phillip. I don’t doubt God could bring it all about now. I believe he can do anything that’s in keeping with his character. The question always is, does he want to, and if so, when will he do it. As far as the eucharistic thing goes, I’m really not big on the idea of articulating what happens there. I know it’s commemorative, and it also looks forward to Christ’s return. We do it collectively, and it seems there is something spiritual to it, that it’s a mystery to some extent. I don’t want to say it becomes the body and blood of Christ because I’m not sure that makes sense. I don’t doubt God could implement that if he wanted to, but I’m not sure that’s what his Word is sayin to us. And to be truthfully frank, I fear the devil may come at times to reorient us. I worry about apparitions and things of that sort. Garabandal, for instance, concerned me. I have concerns about these things.

  • Jon-
    I appreciate your caution to things supernatural.
    When Jesus was accused of “devil works” after some miraculous healing was accomplished He didn’t cease.
    Nor will He continue to today.
    The world is in great need of healing, and His Word and Spirit will achieve the harvest He wants.
    As baptized adopted brothers in Christ I wish you and your loved ones a joyous Eastertide.
    Blessings Jon.

  • Drivel. This does not hold true for people my age, born in the deep South at the end of the depression into once upper or upper-middle-class families who lost all their money. Because of this, neither of my parents attended college. Both were “college material”. esp. my mother, who was considered “brilliant” by all who knew her and worked with her.

    Also, both of my sons-in-law are from middle-class families, both are educated, and both have pick-ups. One would be considered upper-middle class. They are both Texans.

  • I can only assume EE that you did not mean to post this comment in regard to this post since it seems to be completely unrelated to your comment.

  • TX is number 14 (of 57 states, if you’re a liberal) in the latest US state rankings for “freedom.” ND and SD are 1 and 2.

    I have always beleived that Jesus would have driven a Ford F-150.

  • T-Shaw-
    Thats funny!

    EE –
    ????

    Donald-
    Yup.

Palm Sunday One Hundred and Forty-Eight Years Ago

Sunday, March 24, AD 2013

I have always thought it appropriate that the national nightmare we call the Civil War ended during Holy Week 1865.  Two remarkably decent men, Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant, began the process of healing so desperately needed for America on Palm Sunday, April 9, 1865 at Appomattox.  We take their decency for granted, but it is the exception and not the rule for the aftermath of civil wars in history.  The usual course would have been unremitting vengeance by the victors, and sullen rage by the defeated, perhaps eventually breaking out in guerilla war.  The end of the Civil War could so very easily have been the beginning of a cycle of unending war between north and south.  Instead, both Grant and Lee acted to make certain as far as they could that the fratricidal war that had just concluded would not be repeated.  All Americans owe those two men a large debt for their actions at Appomattox.

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6 Responses to Palm Sunday One Hundred and Forty-Eight Years Ago

  • Mr. McClarey. You are doing them justice by trimming the tree that they planted so many years ago. Thank you!

  • Don McClarey: You ain’t so bad yourself!

    May God grant you and your family with a Holy, Blessed Easter.

    Karl J Wengenroth

  • Thank you Karl. A blessed Holy Week and Easter to you and yours!

  • Thank you for this wonderful information.

    As we all see things through our own personal lenses, and as a different “civil” contention goes on this current holy weeK, in our Supreme Court, my hope that we could be as great and good as those generals and soldiers.

    This statement of U. S. Grant spoke aloud to me: “I knew there was no use to urge him to do anything against his ideas of what was right.”

    This week the Supreme Court talks about marriage on a national level. I hope they can be great enough to carefully discern and good enough do what is right.

  • The end of the war would quite possibly have even gone better if President Lincoln had not been shot. Lincoln’s overriding agenda with the ceasefire was to be far more magnanimous in victory than President Johnson was to prove to be. Whether that would have worked out in reality (as opposed to theory) better of course we will never know. But even with what we got, it could have gone a lot worse if not for the basic decencies of Lee and Grant in the conclusion of hostilities between the two sides.

Fra Angelico and Chesterton on Palm Sunday

Sunday, April 1, AD 2012

 

 

When fishes flew and forests walked

And figs grew upon thorn,

Some moment when the moon was blood

Then surely I was born;

With monstrous head and sickening cry

And ears like errant wings,

The devil’s walking parody

On all four-footed things.

The tattered outlaw of the earth, Of ancient crooked will;

Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,

I keep my secret still.

Fools! For I also had my hour;

One far fierce hour and sweet:

There was a shout about my ears,

And palms before my feet.

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10 Responses to Fra Angelico and Chesterton on Palm Sunday

  • Fra Angelico painted on his knees. There is a shadowy donkey in the background, no doubt, as every artist paints himself into his pictures. Jesus blesses the people, all people, for all time. We were all there, riding the shadowy donkey.

  • I just had my leftist, “social justice” and dearly beloved young nephew to dinner.

    My much-beloved young man has informed me that he is an agnostic who has paid for 2 abortions. I can not stop weepingl His grandparents, my dad and mom, were staunch Catholics who ahhored abortion. Oh,dear Lord, the seeds of our destruction are sown! Oh my Lord, this hurts!

  • Pingback: A poem for Palm Sunday « Blithe Spirit
  • My prayers for you Donna. Why was he telling you this? Was it out of spite, or is he uneasy in his conscience? I assume he knew how you would react, so I am curious as to his motivation. Did his parents raise him without religion? Has this been a family sore point over the years between you and his parents?

    As for your nephew, I would suggest saying this prayer to Saint Monica each day:

    Dear St. Monica,
    troubled wife and mother,
    many sorrows pierced your heart during your lifetime.
    Yet, you never despaired or lost faith.
    With confidence, persistence, and profound faith,
    you prayed daily for the conversion
    of your beloved husband, Patricius,
    and your beloved son, Augustine;
    your prayers were answered.
    Grant me that same fortitude, patience,
    and trust in the Lord.
    Intercede for me, dear St. Monica,
    that God may favorably hear my plea for

    (Mention your intention here.)

    and grant me the grace to accept His Will in all things,
    through Jesus Christ, our Lord,
    in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
    one God, forever and ever.

    Amen.

  • Although not a Catholic, I did find the poem to be profound. As a member of the new Presbyterian Church prayer is important, believing as I do that God is looking over all of us, cares for us, and is there in times of need if only we are willing to share our needs with Him. God is there and will hear our prayers. We must trust in Him as he is the Almighty One.

  • Thank you for the prayer to St. Monica. While I knew the story, I never knew the prayer, but have a similar situation in my own family. Again, thank you.

  • Some, perhaps many, people, may be so taken by the beauty of Fra Angelico’s painting and of Chesterton’s poem that they don’t realize that the painting and poem are the introduction to a fine article “The Triumph of the Will”.

    I did not realize this at first because the two works can stand together as commentary with nothing added. I was also distracted by trying to remember if I’ve seen that painting at San Marco in Florence. Not being sure whether it was at San Marco or somewhere else, I left the site to do a search about the painting, and to read more of Chesterton’s poetry.

    When I returned to experience the poem and painting for a second time, I noticed the small letters spelling “Triumph of the King” on the bottom left of the page, clicked on them, and found the article. Mary De Voe and another reader have commented on the article itself so at least three of us have found it. Perhaps a clickable link saying “This Way to the Egress” or “Click me” is needed? Or perhaps I’m the only dolt who didn’t realize this page was an introduction to an article!

  • Thank you for the prayer, Donald. I apologize for mentioning something so personal in the comments section here. I was so distraught and I don’t have anyone to talk to about it – he told me in confidence and I don’t know if even his parents know.

    Donald,his mom and dad belong to a parish and regularly attend Mass and he was raised in the Faith. Without going into too much detail, I can tell you he has been a very troubled young man since his high school years, when he fell into a bad crowd and got into trouble with pot smoking and drinking. He is a very bright guy (much of our conversation was about our favorite books), but his grades were poor in high school and since then he has gone from one low paying job to another, never employing his intelligence. He is now in his mid-20’s and, from what I know, no longer uses drugs, but has had problems with depression. He seems to have no direction in his life.

    I don’t think he told me to hurt me. I’m inclined to think it was “uneasy conscience” (although he quickly told me that he doesn’t regret it at all, he protested a bit too much)

    The real kicker (which I reminded him of) was that he is adopted. Good thing for him his birth mother didn’t share his view on abortion.

  • Donna, you obviously hate the sin and love the sinner. That comes through. I’m sure your nephew picked up on it. You were a witness for the Faith in both word and deed, and that’s the best possible thing in that situation.

    As for his agnosticism, it could easily be a phase; probably every left-leaning, intelligent young adult goes through it. I know that I was a mess in my mid-20’s, directionless. Keep him in your prayers (I’ll try to remember to do the same) and don’t discount the seed planted in his youth. I’m glad someone brought up St. Augustine, another bright young man who by the grace of God finally got his life in order and became a beacon of truth.

  • “I apologize for mentioning something so personal in the comments section here. I was so distraught and I don’t have anyone to talk to about it – he told me in confidence and I don’t know if even his parents know.”

    Not at all Donna. I am glad that the blog could perform that service. An uneasy conscience can be the first step on a path to amending one’s life. It sounds like he is adrift in life, and when that happens it is all too easy for a person to quickly drift into evil. I assume that he now proclaims that he doubts God’s existence in order to avoid contemplating his sins. In some ways that is a healthier moral state than embracing God and also embracing one’s sins and assuming that one can have both. He is a young man and hopefully has a long journey in this life ahead of him. I trust that he will have many opportunities to turn to God and hopefully take advantage of one of them eventually. Your prayers will help in that process.

Triumph of the King

Sunday, April 1, AD 2012

zechariah

(This is my regular post for Palm Sunday which I repost each year.  Have a happy and blessed Palm Sunday and Holy Week.)

“9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Sion, shout for joy, O daughter of Jerusalem: BEHOLD THY KING will come to thee, the just and saviour: he is poor, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. 10 And I will destroy the chariot out of Ephraim, and the horse out of Jerusalem, and the bow for war shall be broken: and he shall speak peace to the Gentiles, and his power shall be from sea to sea, and from the rivers even to the end of the earth.”

 

Thus did the prophet Zechariah, writing half a millennium before, predict the entry of Christ into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.  How many such glorious entrances into cities have there been over the ages?  Every civilization I am aware of has such ceremonies, either parades in peace time or entrances of conquest or liberation in war time.  The Romans turned this into an art form with their triumphs, with the reminder of the slave to the imperator of  fleeting human mortality: “Respice post te, hominem memento te”.

Few such triumphs have turned into utter disaster as quickly as that of Jesus:  Jerusalem at His feet on Sunday, and Christ dead on a Roman Cross before the sun had set on Friday.  Small wonder that no contemporary historian or chronicler at the time took note.  However some sort of official report probably was filed after the crucifixion.  Writing circa 116 AD, and relying heavily on official records for his history, in regard to the great fire at Rome under Emperor Nero Tacitus states:

“15.44.2. But, despite kindly influence, despite the leader’s generous handouts, despite appeasing the gods, the scandal did not subside, rather the blaze came to be believed to be an official act. So, in order to quash the rumour, Nero blamed it on, and applied the cruelest punishments to, those sinners, whom ordinary people call Christians, hating them for their shameful behaviour. 15.44.3. The originator of this name, Christ, was sentenced to torture by Procurator Pontius Pilate, during the reign of Tiberius, but although checked for a moment, the deadly cult erupted again, not just in Judaea, the source of its evil, but even in Rome, where all the sins and scandals of the world gather and are glorified.”

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  • I never liked poetry, until now.

  • St. Luke 19

    “37 When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:

    “38 “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”

    “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

    “39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”

    40 “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

Triumph of the King

Sunday, April 17, AD 2011

 

zechariah

(This is my regular post for Palm Sunday which I repost each year.  Have a happy and blessed Palm Sunday and Holy Week.)

“9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Sion, shout for joy, O daughter of Jerusalem: BEHOLD THY KING will come to thee, the just and saviour: he is poor, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. 10 And I will destroy the chariot out of Ephraim, and the horse out of Jerusalem, and the bow for war shall be broken: and he shall speak peace to the Gentiles, and his power shall be from sea to sea, and from the rivers even to the end of the earth.”

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Christianity and the Miraculous

Monday, March 29, AD 2010

Today, Palm Sunday, and throughout the rest of Holy Week, we devote ourselves to the central mysteries of our faith as Christians: Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem. The Last Supper, which instituted for us the mystery of the Holy Eucharist. The suffering and death of Christ on the cross. His resurrection on the third day.

These miracles are the very center of our faith. As Saint Paul said, if Christ did not rise from the dead, then our faith is in vain. Or to paraphrase Flannery O’Connor’s use of rather more modern parlance, “If it isn’t true, to hell with it.”

This central miracle, Christ’s death and resurrection, is the miracle which gives our faith meaning and sets it radically apart from the “he was a good man killed by the authorities for standing up for the poor” substitute which some propose. For if Christ was not God, if He did not rise from the dead, if He did not offer to us eternal salvation, then “he was a good man” is no half-way-there substitute. The resurrection is a miracle so unlikely, so scandalous that we must either embrace it wholly or reject Christianity with scorn. The events of Holy Week are not something we can accept half-way, and by accepting them we accept something which goes utterly and completely beyond the natural and predictable world. A miracle.

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  • A very provocative post Darwin.

    So in the spirit of constructive engagement you say you loathe anything as approaching the miraculous as well as biblical literalism.

    Many Catholics, including Father Benedict Groeschel as well as myself don’t believe in coincidences, but in God’s hand in all things.

    How do you explain that Jesus fed thousands with a few loaves with your eisegesis?

    I’ll admit if I misread your posting.

  • I think you may have misread me a bit, Tito. My argument was that while in everyday life I tend not to assume a miraculous explanation for something which could just as well be chance or coincidence (for instance, happening to find a missing set of keys moments after pausing to pray to St. Anthony) I think it’s entirely inappropriate to treat the miracles in the Gospels this way.

    Finding a set of keys is something which happens all the time without the need for miraculous help. Feeding 10,000 people, on the other hand, is not something that “just happens”. Nor is the incarnation of Christ something that “just happens”. Indeed, if we accept that Christ was God, and we accept the Gospels as what they claim to be (an account of Christ’s work on Earth) we have already accepted that the Gospels are about the most incredibly miraculous events possible.

    What I am questioning here is: Why is it that some people accept Christ’s divinity and resurrection, yet then turn around and toss out half the gospels with “oh, well, the feeding of the 10,000 probably wasn’t a real miracle, it’s just a fable for sharing” or “Lazarus probably wasn’t really dead, he was just unconscious” or “Jesus didn’t really walk on water, that’s just mythological language”. This miracles are small potatoes if we accept Christ, and if we accept Christ it seems entirely reasonable to believe the incredible and miraculous things would happen around Him.

    I don’t understand the urge to accept Christ, but then reject (seemingly at random) some of His miracles — as if it is rational to accept Christ but irrational to accept that he really rose from the dead or that he really fed large crowds or walked on water.

  • Thanks Darwin.

    Don’t use me as a barometer to how well your columns are written. I’m better at history than theology comprehension.

  • Well, and given that I wrote it between 11pm and 1am… There’s probably blame to share.

  • Biblical context works best for me. The Gospels are set up as books of testimony, so already I have to go in thinking: this happened, or at least that something major occurred.

    Secondy, there are places in the texts where Jesus is specifically said to be speaking in metaphor. If the author is going to go to that length then why not do us the favor and tell us that his miracles are just literary metaphors?

    While I’m open to the notion that events or ideas could possibly be attributed to Jesus in order to emphasize a theological or historical point, Im no less inclined to take the Gospels at there word.

    After all, these miracles aren’t just abnormal for us, they were abnormal in Jesus’ time; which was not lacking in supply of sceptics either.