Loving God: August 2002 Archives

On God's Love


This is from a little book I found online at CCEL, listed only as being by a "Bishop Ullathorne. I would welcome more information on this person, and if anyone knows where I could find more of him online, I'd greatly appreciate that information as well.


There is no master so large-minded, so generous, or who is so well acquainted with you and your requirements, as God; no father so loving and bountiful; no friend so free from all jealousy; none who so completely loves you for your greater good. Whilst there is no tyrant so narrow-minded, so proud-hearted, so exacting, so suspicious, so utterly bent on keeping you to your own littleness, as the one we all know so well, of whose tyranny we have had such bitter experience, and who goes by the name of Myself. Yet God or yourself you must choose for your master.

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The Prayer of Silence


Different book this time:

Meditations Before Mass Romano Guardini

Stillness is the tranquility of the inner life; the quiet at the depths of its hidden stream. It is a collected, total presence, a being "all there," receptive, alert, ready. There is nothing inert or oppressive about it. . . .

"Congregation," not merely people. Churchgoers arriving, sitting, or kneeling in pews are not necessarily a congregation; they can be simply a roomful of more or less pious individuals. Congregation is formed only when those individuals are present not only corporally but also spiritually, when they have contacted one another in prayer and step together into the spiritual "space" around them; strictly speaking, when they have first widened and heightened that space by prayer. Then true congregation comes into being, which, along with the building that is its architectural expression, forms the vital church in which the sacred act is accomplished. All this takes place only in stillness; out of stillness grows the real sanctuary.

While this is undoubtedly true of mass (and one of the reasons I tend to impatience for people who wander in with a hale-fellow-well-met attitude) it is doubly true of all prayer. Prayer is encased in a house of silence. Outside of silence, prayer becomes just more roaring against the sound of the rushing wind of culture. That is not to say that God does not hear it, because of course He does. However, it is not the kind of praise that rises like an incense to the throne of heaven.

For prayer to be truly pleasing to God it must be of the sort that makes one completely present to God. Such prayer is not acquired in the short run, and ultimately its final stage is not acquired at all. However, one must dispose oneself to receive the gift of infused contemplation. One of the ways of doing so is to practice this "prayer of silence." In addition, the prayer offers the person praying innumerable benefits stemming from a "mental vacation from the world." It "recharges the batteries" and makes one more capable of coping with what occurs in everyday life. It helps one to experience the presence of God in all of life's activities. It helps one to empty oneself to be filled with the Holy Spirit. In short, it opens the doors to greater levels of prayer..

But it isn't easy, and it isn't a short road. It may take years, perhaps decades. But, as with the bloom of the Century Plant, it is both spectacular and worth waiting for. In the prayer of silence, we take the first steps toward becoming like our grand model of prayer, the Holy Mother of God. We learn to "ponder these things in our hearts" and to derive from them great joy and peace. The prayer of silence, it would seem to me, is one of the most effective tools on the road to lifestyle evangelism because it causes a fundamental change in the person who is doing it consistently. From agitated and worried to peaceful and trusting, the prayer of silence changes lives.

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From Office of Readings:

Jesus goes before us to show us the way, both up the mountain and into heaven, and --I speak boldly--it is for us now to follow him with all speed, yearning for the heavenly vision that will give us a share in his radiance, renew our spiritual nature and transform us into his own likeness, making us for ever sharers in his Godhead and raising us to heights as yet undreamed of.

Let us run with confidence and joy to enter into the cloud like Moses and Elijah, or like James and John. Let us be caught up like Peter to behold the divine vision and to be transfigured by that glorious transfiguration. Let us retire from the world, stand aloof from the earth, rise above the body, detach ourselves from creatures and turn to the Creator. . .

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The Fractal Feast

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I mentioned in the very first of my blog impressions that I was interested in fractals. More than interested, much of my dissertation centered about fractals and non-linear dynamics. So, while I'm no expert, I do like them and so I thought I'd tell you about the most perfect (and my favorite) fractal--the Eucharist.

This is not meant as sacrilege, nor even as metaphor. God thought and imagined the fractal before we could ever name it, and little wonder that He should use it. What precisely is a fractal? Well, there are lot's and lot's of possible definitions--"a geometric figure with a non-integral dimension," for example. There are more technical definitions, and there are more informal definitions. For my purposes, I've settled on the midground definition of "an object or figure that exhibits self-similarity." Now admittedly, this is loosely true of all fractals and only completely true of perfect fractals. A perfect fractal would be exactly the same at whatever magnification you viewed it. Let me see if I can explain. Take an equilateral triangle. Now, from each of the three side, draw another equilateral triangle with base exactly one-third the length of the original base (however, in your drawing, you will exclude or erase the portion of the original base that is now "covered" by the new triangle. (You now have figure that looks a bit like a six-pointed star.) Now from each of the sides of the new figure, draw a new equilateral triangle with base one-third the length of the second, one-ninth the length of the first. I think you get the idea.

Consider now the Eucharist. It is the complete body and blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. You cannot get a "part of the body" or "some of the blood" or a "portion of the divinity" or a "fragment of the soul." In consuming the Eucharist we receive the complete Savior. Now, on some occasions, the priest may have to break a host in order to assure that there is enough for everyone. Does this broken host represent a part of the body of Christ. When he breaks it, do we only receive the body and not the blood, or the soul and not the divinity? Or do we receive half of each? No. We all know that no matter how small the fragment of the host, so long as it has been properly consecrated, it contains the fullness of the body and blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ. In fact, this is true down to the smallest possible fragment that could still be recognizable as bread (probably not true on an atomic level, although I'll leave that speculation to quantum physicists and others better qualified than me). But certainly, so long as the material is still recognizable as bread, it is the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. (This is why some of the cleansing techniques I have seen in some churches approach blasphemy. It is also why the plumbing used in the sacristy to wash the vessels of Mass was (at least in the past) grounded--that is, not channeled into a sewer system. If we are at all serious about our faith, this should still be mandatory, but I don't know if it is.)

Everything written above about the consecrated host is also true of the consecrated wine. The smallest sip contains the exact image of the entire cup. There is no fragment of God that we receive. Indeed, the Eucharist is the perfect fractal, retaining to the smallest detail the exact image of Jesus Christ to all who consume it. It is awe-inspiring to contemplate this essential mystery of the Eucharist. It is the perfection of God's plan and in it one could read a message of Divine Love. No matter how little you receive, you receive all there is to receive. In this sense, the Eucharist is a perfect fractal feast. The person of God is complete in every part of every element, down to the smallest recognizable fraction of that element. This mystery deepens as you think about it and it leads you into an understanding of the pervasiveness of God. He is all in all in all. In everyone who consumes the Eucharist, every portion of that person (the entire person) is divinized by contact and intermingling with the Divine. And there is no end to this. As once said, in saecula saeculorum.

Of course, all of this is speculation and metaphor, and if incorrect in any way, I gladly accept all correction. Thanks.

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More about the Rosary


I must first say that I find much of what goes on at Disputations is well beyond my immediate ken. But I profoundly admire the spirituality and understanding that seems to come from the site. Continuing an extremely fruitful strain on the Rosary:

The goal of the Christian life is perfection in Christ. Praying the Rosary is a tremendously effective aid to achieving this goal, but it doesn't work by magic. If it is not helping you to become perfect in Christ -- although, as I've written before, it takes some time and effort to be sure about this -- then don't pray it.

Insight like this will keep me going back to Disputations even when posts like this make my head spin:

St. Thomas Aquinas, taking up the question of whether contemplation is the cause of devotion, considers this objection:

[I]f contemplation were the proper and essential cause of devotion, the higher objects of contemplation would arouse greater devotion. But the contrary is the case: since frequently we are urged to greater devotion by considering Christ's Passion and other mysteries of His humanity than by considering the greatness of His Godhead.

Yes, I know, it's merely a matter of applying myself. But I must confess a certain sympathy for the woman described in Chesterton's biography, St. Thomas Aquinas:

A lady I know picked up a book of selections from St. Thomas with a commentary; and began hopefully to read a section with the innocent heading, "The Simplicity of God." She then laid down the book with a sigh and said, "Well, if that's His simplicity, I wonder what His complexity is like."
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Art and God


In a comment to a post on the Catholic Novel Dylan comments:

TS O'Rama has raised the question of whether loyalty to art & loyalty to God is a zero-sum game. We can't serve them both with equal fervour. Hmm. I know what he's getting at: we can't make art equal in valence to God, but I don't think it's a zero-sum game. Neither does (if we can judge from his Letter to Artists) Papa.

No, it isn't a zero-sum game because, if one approaches the whole thing correctly one serves God through one's art. It isn't as though one is loyal to one's art in opposition to God--after all, beauty comes from God. The properly aligned Christian artist regards his art as a gift given and returned to God. God expects artists to use their talents to better humankind. (I direct your attention to the parable of the three servants and the "talents"). Art can become an object of worship, but a proper orientation toward art views it as a means of expressing relationship with the Creator. I do not "worship" a Monet for the art, but I am brought a "momentary taste of being from the well amid the waste" in the medium of the Creator-inspired piece of art. Thus "Impression Sunrise" isn't about a canvas but about the supreme artistic vision given by God to one of his creatures to convey to the whole world.

I look at examples like C. S. Lewis and other writers who dedicated much of their writing to the exaltation of the Creator. This is what Art is about. Art is a medium, not an end. It's products are humanly made, often divinely infused creations. They are, at their best, participations with the Creator God in the act of creation.

As a result, works that are not overtly Christian can be read by Christians to their own great profit. For example, the Drayton Sonnet I placed here at the beginning of the day is not overtly Christian, but it can be read by Christians in a way that brings them closer to God. This is because Art is a good given by the Creator for the benefit of His creation. It is good inasmuch as it reveals Him to those who are looking. It is worthwhile inasmuch as it improves the devotional life of those who look upon it.

No, properly construed art is not an end, but it is a means of serving the Creator.

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Loving God category from August 2002.

Loving God: July 2002 is the previous archive.

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