Archive for April, 2005

UPDATE #2: If you scroll way down in the comments on the Church Renewal thread linked below–like 150 comments or so–as of right now, app. 9:30 CDT, it’s near the end–there is a great post by Rod Dreher of the Dallas Morning News which could have come straight out of CetT.

Thanks to the reader who noted that the Adam Smith link was wrong. It’s fixed now.

Hardly a day goes by that I don’t see something on Amy Wellborn’s blog, Open Book, to which I consider posting a link here. I usually don’t do it, partly on the grounds that I figure a lot of C&T readers are also Open Book readers. But there are two discussions going on there now which I think are particularly apropos:

The Next Pope and Adam Smith. You can guess the drift of this one, I think, and there is a lively discussion going on, although as so often happens when this subject comes up there is a tendency for the anti-capitalist side to dwell on abstractions and for the pro-capitalist side to minimize the serious problems of capitalism-as-we-know-it. (Exhibit A: the entertainment industry.)

Did Church Renewal Happen? During the papacy of John Paul II, that is. How to reconcile the glory of  the pope’s thought and personal witness with the unsatisfactory state of Catholic life in general? My opinion: renewal began. It has quite a long way to go.

Maclin Horton

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Journalists Baffled by Commutative Property

In trying to come to grips with the teachings of John Paul II, it sometimes seemed that most of the journalists of the world
had more or less simultaneously uttered a great cry of “We
don’t get it!”

–Maclin Horton

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I read two things today that, taken together, provide considerable food for thought. I would really love to hear some reader discussion on the topic.

Item one: this Baltimore Sun story about John Paul II’s home town, Wadowice. The current parish priest where Wojtyla was baptized laments the state of Poland after Communism: "We in Poland have opened up to Western culture, and it is destroying the church."

Item two: this National Review Online piece by John Derbyshire, a retrospective and evaluation of the late Pope’s life and times. Those of you who can’t abide NR (if any are present), please hold your fire, and don’t react too hastily without reading the whole piece. Derbyshire is a non-Catholic, a sort of old-school Anglican, but sympathetic to the Pope and most of that for which he stood–what I think of as a temperamental conservative. Here is his key idea: "..the real culprit [in the decline of orthodox religion] is the irresistible appeal of secular hedonism to healthy, busy, well-educated populations."

This is something I’ve given a lot of thought to. Those of us who are more or less traditionalist Catholics argue a lot about the baleful influence of various philosophical and political parties: "It’s the liberals." "No, it’s the conservatives." "No, it’s the neo-cons." "It’s the Enlightenment." "It’s Protestantism." "It’s Darwin." "It’s Europe." "It’s the USA." "It’s Marx." "It’s capitalism." "It’s Thomism." "It’s Vatican II." Etc.

But I am more and more inclined to believe that we are up against something more fundamental, and Derbyshire is onto it: if people have wealth and freedom, they will abuse it. Like those (legendary?) rats who dosed themselves with cocaine till they died, they will most likely abuse it until it is taken from them.

(Now I’m being pessimistic.) Of course it’s possible in principle for more than a minority to turn away from decadence when it’s freely available, but is it likely to happen?

Like I said, I would really love to hear what other people think about this.

Maclin Horton

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A Captain for the Storm

I really don’t have much to say about the papacy of John Paul II that hasn’t already been said by other people. This is more about the sudden shock of realizing that we are without him (I started to call it Enough About the Pope–Let’s Talk About Me) and what it could mean for the Church if he is followed by a much lesser man.

Maclin Horton

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On the Passing of John Paul II
I heard the news when I got off work and turned on the radio. My initial
reaction, while emcompassing sorrow, was a sort of surge of exhiliration and
gratitude: this Pope had served long and well; he had taught us in his strength
and in his weakness, and now had entered glory.
Still, every time the radio announcer would say "This is a special report
on the death of Pope John Paul II" I would choke up at the words "the death of
Pope John Paul II". Death at any time seems unreal to the living, but if any man
seemed larger than death, it was Karol Wojtyla.
So far as I know, the term "Pope John Paul the Great" first appeared in the
pages of Caelum et Terra, over ten years ago. If others had used the
term before that I was unaware of it when I wrote the words, and am unaware of
it now. It has since become a commonplace, even among those who differ radically
on the meaning of his pontificate, and now more than ever it seems impossible to
overestimate the importance of this man and of his effect on the Church and the
John Paul II was a gift of God to the Church. He came at a time of crisis
and confusion and weakness, seeming to stride purposefully, jaw set, eyes afire,
into his pontificate. He was at that time youthful and strong, an athletic and
handsome man whose personal vigor seemed to shake the Church out of its slumber.
Maclin Horton, writing at that time, called him "one of God’s true knights", and
this captured the way that the Polish Pope had restored the romance to
Catholicism. Poet, playwright, philosopher, mystic, worker, athlete: this was a
whole man if ever there was one.
I cannot begin to chronicle here his achievements; suffice it to say that
he, more than any living soul, is responsible for the reinvigorated Church of
our day, and that this was accomplished not only by sound teaching and wise
leadership, but by the strength of his personality, which touched countless
souls around the world. I will be writing in the coming weeks about how this one
remarkable man affected my life, and I am sure most of you have your own stories
to tell.
So he has passed, on the eve of Divine Mercy Sunday, at the end of Bright
Week. The Divine Mercy devotion was already associated with John Paul ll; it was
he who canonized St Faustina, the Polish visionary who began the devotion, and
it was he who promoted its spread to the wider Church. With its evocation of
Eastern Christian spirituality, its repeated "have mercy", and the final Thrice
Holy Hymn ["Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us"] the Divine
Mercy chaplet seemed to express John Paul’s hope of reunion between the Churches
of East and West. Now the feast and the devotion are forever tied to the
ministry and the memory of Pope John Paul II.
There will be other popes, hopefully other good and holy men, but I doubt
any of them will ever be "Holy Father" to me the way this man was.
And here in Ohio, there was an April snowstorm as I made my way home, and
the brown earth and still-bare trees were slowly covered in white, like the
Mercy of God.
For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the
whole world.
Pope St John Paul the Great, pray for us.

Daniel Nichols

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Weep For Yourselves

But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.
                 –Luke 23:28

Or, as a more humble source has it, you don’t miss your water till your well runs dry. Let us pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance on those who will choose this great man’s successor.

Maclin Horton

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