Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Silence after Communion

43. The faithful . . . as circumstances allow . . . may sit or kneel while the period of sacred silence after Communion is observed.
General Instruction of the Roman Missal

Attending Mass this summer in Honolulu, Peaks Island, Syracuse, Albany, I noticed that this period of silence is often briefly or not at all observed. And even where some of the faithful kneel upon returning to their place after receiving Communion, they always get up and sit when the priest returns to his chair, presumably for his period of sacred silence. I am the only person who stands while Communion is being distributed and then kneels when the priest comes back to his chair. It would be better if the priest also knelt during the period of sacred silence, as he is apparently allowed to do by the General Instruction.


Mao Zedong in his early years in power made his own experiments and coined his own slogans. While he reduced infectious diseases and illiteracy, his Great Leap Forward in economic policy was a leap backward. Agriculture slipped, and in the famine of 1959–1961 close to thirty million people are said to have died. Mao weakened the incentives of a people who traditionally had been noted for their economic energy and stamina.

To travel by train across China in summertime in the mid-1960s was to revisit scenes that belonged to the economic life of the Old Testament: the legs of thousands of men and women turning treadmills that raised irrigation water to a higher level; crowds of laborers standing in the barnyard with wooden flails, threshing the grain from the stalk; people sowing seed by hand; and old woman spending all day caring for a mere three geese; camels carrying their loads, their driver walking alongside. China admittedly operated locomotives, but they were black, puffing monsters of early design. The Soviet Union was dynamic compared to China.

As if to rejuvenate China, Mao set in motion in 1966 the turbulence of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. Beginning with the mayor of Peking, a procession of Communist potentates was deposed. Tens of thousands of comrades and cadres farther down the line were singled out for denunciation. At public meetings those considered as traitors or ideological deviants, whether in economic theory or Western music, were hastily tried and despatched in humiliation to the countryside where they cleaned out the pigpens and drains, or were locked in prisons or shot. Hordes of young people called Red Guards arrived in the big cities, bringing juvenile enthusiasm to the art of persecution. For a time one of the most popular books in the world was “the little red book,” which outlined the thoughts of Mao Zedong.

— Geoffrey Blainey, A Short History of the 20th Century, Chicago, 2006, 295–296.


Monday, August 28, 2006

Savoir se décider

Tout au long de notre vie nous avons de nombreux choix à faire. Les faire est relativement aisé dans la plupart des cas. Ce qui n’est pas facile, c'est d'être fidèles et conséquents avec chacun des choix que nous avons faits. En choisissant Dieu nous avons renoncé à tous les autres &ldquoo;dieux”, en particulier à Mammon. En choisissant un époux ou une épouse, la femme et l’homme renoncent à tous les autres candidats ou toutes les autres candidates possibles, et à toutes les personnes encore plus merveilleuses qui pourront être rencontrées plus tard dans la vie. En choisissant le Christ, on renonce à tous les faux prophètes. En choisissant la vie monastique on renonce à toutes les autres formes de vie chrétienne tout aussi belles et dignes.

Souvent nous voulons avoir la satisfaction d'avoir fait des choix et d'avoir renoncé à certaines choses, mais sans toujours accepter les conséquences de ces choix et en voulant jouir encore au moins de temps à autre de certaines des réalités auxquelles nous avons renoncé. Je crois que la plupart des problèmes psychologiques aussi bien que spirituels que l’on peut rencontrer dans la vie, ainsi que la majeure partie des obstacles à la croissance humaine, proviennent du fait que les personnes veulent s’en tenir, pour une raison ou une autre, aux choix qu’ils ont faits mais sans accepter toutes les conséquences et les exigences de ces mêmes choix. . . .

Et le paradoxe est que la liberté — la vraie liberté — à laquelle tous nous aspirons, n’est atteinte que par ceux qui ont fait un engagement total, d’une nature ou d’une autre, coulant leurs bateaux et brûlant les ponts derrière eux. Ce n’est qu’alors que fleurit la liberté qui nous délivre de l'esclavage et de l'aliénation provenant de notre égoïsme.

— Armand Veilleux, Savoir se décider


Friday, August 25, 2006

Cross Lights 2

Friday, August 18, 2006

“The Key is Rejoicing”

The root “shin, mem, chet” — be happy, rejoice — appears in the parsha seven times, and it is always in the context of the family and the community. You should rejoice in the place your God has chosen, with your sons and daughters, and servants, with the sojourners and with the Levites who have no permanent residence in the land of Israel.

This key phrase is an insight into what Judaism considers to be the true way of serving God. It is a way of life that is imbued with happiness and gratitude. It is sharing your blessings with family, friends and the less fortunate. It is one of the main reasons for the agrarian laws, which guarantee social justice and equality, as well as a partial reason for the rejection of paganism.

A bitter, angry man can only wreak havoc, even more so if he thinks he represents God. Jacques Barzun, the famous historian tacitly described the motive for religious wars: “Be my brother or I will kill you.”

This is exactly the pagan attitude shunned in Re’eh. The Torah warns against the pagan practice of wounding one’s flesh as a sign of mourning or spiritual fervor (Deuteronomy 14:1) and against the horrifying practice of offering one’s offspring as a burnt sacrifice to the gods (Deuteronomy 12:31).

These two practices not only are linked but they are the breeders of religious fanaticism.

— Rabbi Haim Ovadia, “The Key Is Rejoicing”, The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, Aug 18, 2006

Am reading, with O, Tartuffe in Richard Wilbur’s translation. In Act 3, Scene 6, Tartuffe says:

Though the world takes me for a man of worth,
I’m truly the most worthless man on earth.
(To Damis:)
Yes, my dear son, speak out now: call me the chief
of sinners, a wretch, a murderer, a thief;
Load me with all the names men most abhor;
I’ll not complain; I’ve earned them all, and more;
I’ll kneel here while you pour them on my head
As a just punishment for the life I’ve led.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Cross Lights