Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Christianity and Stoicism: do Stoics have more fun?

– Some Christian thinkers have regarded Stoicism as a kind of delusion; others –Simone Weil, for instance – see it as expressing a deep piety which makes it the closest of all philosophies to Christianity. Who’s right?
It depends on which aspects of Stoicism you’re concentrating on. There’s definitely a very profound piety in traditional Stoicism, and to a large degree Stoicism and Christianity are very sympatico. Both seek to situate the human person within a larger, divinely ordained context. Both promote the cultivation of virtue — and identify a lot of the same behaviours as virtuous or vicious. Both seek to free the person from enslavement to appetites and passions. And there does seem to have been a certain amount of mutual respect between Christians and Stoics, at least for a while. Epictetus, for example, speaks with great admiration for the “Galilean” martyrs, and uses them as an example of how it’s possible to have interior freedom even in the face of death. And of course the notion of apatheia was very important in a lot of the writings of the Church Fathers, especially in the East.
But then, there were significant persecutions of Christians under the Stoic emperor Marcus Aurelius — basically because Stoicism sees the social order in this world as the higher good towards which individual human life is ordered, whereas Christianity looks towards the eschatological transformation of society in the Communion of Saints. Also, God in Stoicism is imminent, whereas God in Christianity is a transcendent Being who becomes immanent through the Incarnation. And Stoicism posits human perfection through moral effort and self-discipline, whereas Christianity promises salvation through grace. So there are these very fundamental differences as well.

Read all here in Catholic Authenticity

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Francis: True defenders of doctrine are not those who uphold its letter

From Pope Francis address to the synod of the family
The Synod experience also made us better realize that the true defenders of doctrine are not those who uphold its letter, but its spirit; not ideas but people; not formulae but the gratuitousness of God’s love and forgiveness. This is in no way to detract from the importance of formulae, laws and divine commandments, but raather to exalt the greatness of the true God, who does not treat us according to our merits or even according to our works but solely according to the boundless generosity of his Mercy (cf. Rom 3:21-30; Ps 129; Lk 11:37-54). It does have to do with overcoming the recurring temptations of the elder brother (cf. Lk 15:25-32) and the jealous labourers (cf. Mt 20:1-16). Indeed, it means upholding all the more the laws and commandments which were made for man and not vice versa (cf. Mk 2:27).

Saturday, October 24, 2015

As bishops of the church we ask people for forgiveness

From the German speaking group of bishops report on the third part of the working document in the synod:
Here, a confession was important to us: wrongly understood efforts to uphold the Church’s  teachings time and again led to hard and merciless attitudes, which hurt people, especially single mothers and children born out of wedlock, people living together before or in place of marriage, homosexually oriented people and divorced and remarried people. As bishops of our Church we ask these people for forgiveness.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Natural and supernatural Joy

Suffering, on the natural level, is always opposed to natural joy. There is no opposition between natural suffering and supernatural joy. Joy, in the supernatural order, is simply an aspect of charity. It is inseparable from the love that is poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Ghost. But when sanctity is not yet mature, its joy is not always recognisable. It can too easily be buried under pain. But true charity, far from being diminished by suffering, uses suffering as it uses everything else: for the increase of its own immanent vitality. Charity is the expression of a divine life within us, and this life, if we allow it to have its way, will grow and thrive most in the very presence of all that seems to destroy life and to quench its flame. A life that blazes with a hundredfold brilliance in the face of death is therefore invincible. Its joy cannot fail. It conquers everything. It knows no suffering. Like the Risen Christ, Who is its Author and Principle, it knows no death. 
From Thomas Merton in his essay on St John of the Cross. 

Friday, August 7, 2015

St. Thérèse of Lisieux: Are we all equal in heaven?

That's what St Thérèse of Liseaux, a Doctor of the Church, has to say. 

You knew all my intimate thoughts and cleared up all my doubts. I once told you how astonished I was that God does not give equal glory in heaven to all His chosen. I was afraid they were not at all equally happy. You made me bring Daddy’s tumbler and put it by the side of my thimble. You filled them both with water and asked me which was fuller. I told you they were both full to the brim and that it was impossible to put more water in them than they could hold. And so, Mother darling, you made me understand that in heaven God will give His chosen their fitting glory and that the last will have no reason to envy the first. By such means, you made me understand the most sublime mysteries and gave my soul its essential food. —St. Thérèse of Lisieux, The Story of a Soul. (New York: Double Day, 2001) 20.

You can find some quotes here. Or read the full Story of the Soul. It is very good. 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

How does the body of Christ taste (theological fun)

This is some theological fun from barefood and pregnant
Sienna: “Mom, can you tell me what the Blood of Christ tastes like, since I’ve never had it before?”

Me: “It tastes like wine. Just like the Body of Christ tastes like a cracker, even though it’s become the actual Body of Christ.”

The Ogre: “That’s just because Mom’s a sinner, sweetie. When I drink it, it tastes like blood.”