Catholicradical: Where Catholic thought is combined with Catholic Action

Quotes from Catholic philosophical and theological leaders from the past and present. Your comments are encouraged!!!

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Location: Charleston, South Carolina, United States

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

"A Case for Utopia"

The world would be better off if people tried to become better, and people would become better if they stopped trying to become better off. For when everyone tries to become better off, nobody is better off. But when everyone tries to become better, everybody is better off. Everyone would be rich if nobody tried to become richer, and nobody would be poor if everybody tried to be the poorest. And everybody would be what he ought to be if everybody tried to be what he wants the other fellow to be. --Peter Maurin

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Coming Into the Light

God did not make the heavens in his image, nor the moon, the sun, the beauty of the stars, nor anything else which you can see in the created universe. You alone are made in the likeness of that nature which surpasses all understanding; you alone are a similitude of eternal beauty, a receptacle of happiness, an image of the true Light; and if you look up to him, you will become what he is, imitating him who shines within you whose glory is reflected in your purity. Nothing in all creation can equal your grandeur. All the heavens can fit into the palm of God's hand; the earth and the see are measured in the hollow of his hand (Is 40:12). And though he is so great that he can grasp all creation in his palm, you can wholly embrace; he dwells within you, nor is he cramped as he pervades your entire being, saying: "I will dwell in them, and walk among them" (2 Cor 6:16). If you realize this you will not allow your eye to rest on anything of this world. Indeed, you will no longer marvel even at the heavens. For how can you admire the heavens when you see that you are more permanent than they? For the heavens pass away, but you will abide for all eternity with him who is for ever. Do not admire, then, the vastness of the earth or the ocean that stretches out to infinity, for like a chariot and horses they have been given in your charg. You have these elements in your power to be obedient to your will. --st. gregory of nyssa--

I Believe

I believe in the sun even when it is not shining I believe in love even when I cannot feel it I believe in God even when He is silent. anonymous jewish prisoner during the holocoust.

"You Do Not Belong to the World"

To put aside suddenly every motive except this single one, the forming of Christ in our life, is not so easy for ordinary people who are to remain ordinary. The surrender we shall make will ask two hard thing of us staight away. The first of these hard things is that though being wed to the Spirit, we shall receive the gift of understanding. In the world in which we live today, the great understanding given by the Spirit of Wisdom must involve us in a lot of suffering. We shall be obliged to see the wound that sin has inflicted on the people of the world. We shall have X-ray minds; we shall see though the bandages people have laid over the wounds that sin has dealt them; we shall see the Christ in others, and that vision will impose an obligation on us for as long as we live, the obligation of love; when we fail in it, we shall not be able to escape in excuses and distractions as we have done in the past; the failure will afflict us bitterly and always. We shall have, by virtue of this same fift of understanding, far truer values; and we shall be haunted by a nostalgia for divine things, by a homesickness for God which is not eased in this world eben by the presence of God. And in proportion to our understanding we are likely to be misunderstood; the world does not accept Christ's values. The beatitudes are madness to the world. "Blessed are the poor, the mourners, the reviled, the persecuted, the calumniated; blessed are those who hunger and thirst after justice." People who will not compromise with Christ's values are uncomfortable neighbors for mediocrity; they are likely to be misunderstood; they are often hated. --caryll houselander (+1954, was a British mystic, poet, wood carver, and spiritual leader.)

Monday, June 27, 2005

Overcoming the Resistance of the Rich Young Man

When I try to guess what the Lord's intentions may be, I end up with feelings against him, and then I am obliged to return to more humble thoughts. I don't think I am in the right frame of mind to face eternity. I am not rebelling, but I am not accepting things any longer. Most of all, I'm exhausted, and have become somewhat indifferent. I am neither impressed nor moved, and I believe that the conclusion, whatever it may be, will find me rather apathetic. While I still have a good deal of resilience, I'm attached to the world even at this point, and since I can't change my fate, I give it all up and fall asleep, waiting for someone to wake me either down here or up above!... Perhaps it is lack of humility that hardens my heart? I could easily become violent, and at the least contradiction I start up like a wildcat. Pride - the worst of all evils, which keeps us far from the Lord. I have much more reason to be humble, but it is just the opposite. The more I am slapped down, the more I stiffen and cling to the pride which is the source of my courage. "Brother Leo," Saint Francis said, "do you know what perfect joy is? Suppose we go back to the convent and brother porter greets us as if we were shameless rascals, showers us with insults and blows, turns us out into the snow, and leaves us without shelter or food. Well, if we have the strength of soul to think that this brother has treated us as we deserved, and if we praise the Lord for it, this will be perfect joy!" --Jacques Fesch (+ 1957, was a murderer who experienced a profound conversion before his execution in a French prison.)

Sunday, June 26, 2005

The Duty of Hospitality

People who are in need and are not afraid to beg give to people not in need the occasion to do good for goodness' sake. Modern society calls the beggar 'bum' and 'panhandler' and gives him the bum's rush. But the Greeks used to say that people in need are the ambassadors of the gods. As God's Ambassadors you should be given food, clothing and shelter by those who are able to give it. Mahometan teachers tell us that God commands hospitality, and hospitality is still practiced in Mahometan countries. But the duty of hospitality is neither taught nor practiced in Christian countries. That is why you who are in need are not invited to spend the night in the homes of the rich. There are guest rooms today in the homes of the rich but they are not for those who need them. And they are not for those who need them because those who need them are no longer considered as the Ambassadors of God. So people no longer consider hopitality to the poor as a personal duty. And it does not disturb them a bit to send them to the city, where they are given the hospitality of the [shelters] at the expense of the taxpayer. But the hospitality that the [shelter] gives to the down and out is no hospitality because what comes from the taxpayer's pocketbook does not come from his heart. The Catholic unemployed should not be sent to [a shelter]. The Catholic unemployed should be given hospitality in Catholic Houses of Hospitality. Catholic Houses of Hospitality are known in Europe under the name of hospices. There have been hospices in Europe since the time of Constantine. Hospices are free guest houses; hotels are paying guest houses. And paying guest houses or hotels are as plentiful as free guest houses or hospices are scarce. So hospitality, like everything else, has been commercialized. So hospitality, like everthing else, must now be idealized. We need Houses of Hospitality to give to the rich the opportunity to serve the poor. We need Houses of Hospitality to bring the Bishops to the people and the people to the Bishops. We need Houses of Hospitality to bring back to institutions the technique of institutions. We need Houses of Hospitality to show what idealism looks like when it is practiced. We need Houses of Hospitality to bring social justice through Catholic Action exercised in Catholic institutions. We read in the Catholic Encyclopedia that during the early ages of Christianity the hospice (or the House of Hospitality) was a shelter for the sick, the poor, the orphans, the old, the traveler, and the needy of every kind. Originally the hopices (or Houses of Hospitality) were under the supervision of the Bishops, who designated priests to administer the spiritual and temporal affairs of these charitable institutions. The foruteenth statute of the so-called Council of Carthage, held about 436, enjoins the Bishops to have hospices (or Houses of Hospitality) in connection with their churches. Today we need Houses of Hospitality as much as they needed them then, if not more so. We have Parish Houses for the priests, Parish Houses for educational purposes, Parish Houses for recreational purposes, but no Parish Houses of Hospitality. Bossuet says that the poor are the first children of the Church, so the poor should come first. People with homes should have a room of hospitality, so as to give shelter to the needy members of the parish. The remaining needy members of the parish should be given shelter in a Parish Home. Furniture, clothing, and food should be sent to the needy members of the parish at the Parish House of Hsopitality. We need Parish Homes as well as Parish Domes. In the Cathedral of Liverpool there is a Home as well as a Dome. Catholic Houses of Hospitality should be more than free guest houses for the Catholic unemployed. They could be vocational training schools, including the training for the priesthood, as Father Corbett proposes. They could be Catholic reading rooms, as Father McSorley proposes. They could be Catholic InstructionSchools, as Father Cornelius Hayes proposes. They could be Round-Table Discussion Groups, as Peter Maurin proposes. In a word, thdy could be Catholic Action Houses, where Catholic Thought is combined with Catholic Action. --Peter Maurin

The Long View

It helps now and then, to step back and take the long view. The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is beyond our vision. We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God's work. Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the kindom of God always lies beyond us. No statement says all that could be said. No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession brings perfection. No pastoral visit brings wholeness. No program accomplishes the Church's mission. No set of goals and objectives includes everything. This is what we are about: We plant seeds that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces effects beyond our abilities. We cannot do everything, and realizing that gives us a sense of liberation. This enables us to do something and to do it very well. It may be incomplete but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for God's grace to enter and do the rest. We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not messiahs. We prophets of a future not our own. Amen. --Archbishop Oscar Romero

Are we expecting utopia?

Are we expecting utopia here on this earth? God meant things to be much easier than we have made them. Eternal life begins now. "All the way to heaven is heaven, because He said 'I am the Way.' " The Cross is there, of course, but "in the Cross is joy of spirit." And love makes all things easy. If we are putting off the old man and putting on Christ, then we are walking in love, and love is all that we want. But it is hard to love, from the human standpoint and from the divine standpoint, when we are seemingly denied that which we long for the most. "All the way to heaven is heaven, because He said 'I am the Way.' " We remain eminently practical.
---Dorothy Day (paraphrase, mine).

The Catholic Church Today

If the Catholic Church is not today the dominant social dynamic force, it is because Catholic scholars have failed to blow the dynamite of the Church. Catholic scholars have taken the dynamite of the Church, have wrapped it up in nice phraseology, placed it in an hermetic container and sat on the lid. It is about time to blow the lid off so that the Church may once again become the dominant social dynamic force. To blow the dynamite of a message is the only way to make the message dynamic. --Peter Maurin