Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

Here's to more contemplation, a quieter heart, and sincere love of wisdom in 2008! Hail to all philosopher moms, dads, and progeny!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Feast of the Holy Family

Happy Feast of the Holy Family, the "living image of the love of God." I love this image, above, because (a) the blue is so vibrant and (b) Joseph seems to be whacking a tree with a large stick in the background. Now, I understand he is merely harvesting figs or grapes or something, but couldn't he also be venting some angst? After all, he is fleeing into Egypt with the world's only Perfect Woman and Perfect Infant. Perhaps he took great delight in just whaling away on fig trees from time to time...

On a serious note, here is Benedict XVI's address at the Angelus from last year's feast.

It is a lovely rest for the heart today. After contemplating all the brokenness of our own families this Christmas time--with the family reunions, parties, squabbles--I need so much to rest in the image of a family perfectly surrendered to the Creator. Silent, obedient Joseph, the wondering heart of Mary, and the little God-made-man in their arms. Alleluia. God is with us.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

On fleshiness

Merry Christmas!

I've been pondering the imponderable mystery a little bit here and there: that the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.

Christmas with a two-year-old and a large, pregnant middle is very fleshy. Most of the time is devoted to calming the born child and feeding the unborn child, delighting in both. It's a high-stimulation situation. I am very much aware of (a) my own body and (b) my subsequent inability to concentrate on anything for more than three minutes.

So, it is with great thanks and an incomparable sense of lowliness that I turn every so often, for about ten seconds, to the infant logos, the Word in flesh. I am grateful that the Truth is not the answer to a logic problem; nor is it the concluding sentence of a long philosophical discourse. The Truth is a person. His concrete, fleshy presence is my heart's desire. And even a pregnant, ex-academic, exhausted, hungry, moody mother of two can rest in a presence. My brain can't wrap around any deep reflections this Christmas, but my whole being can be in the presence of the Word made flesh. Alleluia. His mercy is beyond all telling!

"We come together as the Church to learn how to recognize the fact of this Presence, and to witness to it in any circumstance of life, especially when there are no answers. Jesus Christ is the way to the Answer. In him, way and answer coincide." ~Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete

Friday, December 21, 2007

O Oriens

O Oriens: “O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.” Isaiah had prophesied, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shown."

The Philosopher Mom is signing out of the blog for the rest of Advent. May your Christmas be holy and blessed! Veni, Emmanuel!

Monday, December 17, 2007

O Sapientia

Today begin the O Antiphons--the last days leading up until Christmas. Fr. William Saunders has a good explanation of them here. They are different titles for the coming Christ invoked during these days before the Magnificat at evening prayer.

Today is O Sapientia--"Come, O Wisdom!"

O Sapientia: “O Wisdom, O holy Word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care. Come and show your people the way to salvation.” Isaiah had prophesied, “The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord, and his delight shall be the fear of the Lord.” (11:2-3), and “Wonderful is His counsel and great is His wisdom.” (28:29).

Friday, December 14, 2007

Christ comes!

Since the first half of Advent is the time of waiting for Christ's second coming, I thought this whimsical poem apt. It hails from "Dappled Things."

An English Apocalypse
The end of all things will be on Wednesday afternoon
After tea.

Mr Peterson, in his second best charcoal suit
will be accosted by Caphrael, a Prince of Hell
(who will be recognisable by the smell of old eggs)
Mr P. will cry “Bugger me” and drop his briefcase.

Death, War, Famine
and the other member of the band
(you know the one, his name escapes me)
Will run amok in Camden market
And overturn three stalls of leather goods
And upset some arrangements
Of ersatz Gucci handbags.

A Tube driver
Aghast for all the strange apparitions
And in a foam-fuelled frenzy
will lose control
And drive his Piccadilly train
Very slowly
From Holborn to King’s Cross
London Underground will announce delays
Due to a power outage at Liverpool Street.

Leviathan, in full sea monster regalia
Will arrive five minutes behind schedule
And eat Tower Bridge

The dead will rise in Smithfield
Angels will be seen in Highbury
Hellfire will rain on a third of Bloomsbury
Bloody hail over Hyde Park
A six-point earthquake in the City
All in all, London will experience more chaos than is typical for
teatime on Wednesday.

Then will come the end, and suddenly:
The Son of Man coming on all the clouds of heaven.
The cherry red doubledeckers will burn like paper models
Before Christ the Tiger.

—Gabriel Olearnik

I'm not sure about "Christ the Tiger." It seems a little inconspicuous here. But I like the understatement in the poem--very British.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Books on sale!

Loome Antiquarian Booksellers is closing its doors forever on December 31. This is sad. Even sadder, however, will be the fate of their "tens of thousands" of books if you don't buy them.

See this video to find out what happens to abandoned old books.

The good news is: you can spend your Christmas money on rare, philosophical, theological, historical, or prayer books at 25-90% off the original price!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Dec. 12

Patroness of the Americas

An elderly Indian man named Chuauhtlatoczin ("Juan Diego" in Spanish) had a vision of Mary, the mother of Jesus, at Tepeyac, a squalid Indian village outside of Mexico City, 467 years ago. Mary directed Juan Diego to tell the bishop to build the church in Tepeyac. The Spanish bishop, however, dismissed the Indian’s tale as mere superstition. He asked that he bring some sort of proof, if he wanted to be taken seriously. Three days later, the Virgin Mary appeared again and told Juan Diego to pick the exquisitely beautiful roses that had miraculously bloomed amidst December snows, and take them as a sign to the bishop. When the Indian opened his poncho to present the roses to the bishop, the flowers poured out from his poncho to reveal an image of the Virgin Mary painted on the inside of the poncho. That image hangs today in the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City and is venerated by thousands of pilgrims from all over the world.

Remember, O most gracious Virgin of Guadalupe, that in your apparitions on Mount Tepeyac, you
promised to show pity and compassion to all who, loving and trusting you, seek your help and protection.
Accordingly, listen now to our supplications and grant us consolation and relief. We are full of hope, that
relying on your help, nothing can trouble or affect us. As you have remained with us through your admirable
image, so now obtain for us the graces we need. Amen.
Clear star of the morning
In beauty enshrined!
O, lady make speed to the
Help of mankind.
~Pope John Paul II's Prayer to our Lady of Guadalupe, visit to Mexico City 1979

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A little giggle

If only this were so!

Mr. President

Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts and candidate for president of the USA, recently gave his "here I stand" speech on being Mormon and being American. Many, including Peggy Noonan and Richard John Neuhaus, were impressed. I was pretty impressed, too--much more impressed with Romney than with my own faith's candidates.

Romney boldly embraced his faith. “Some believe,” he said, “that such a confession of my faith will sink my candidacy. If they are right, so be it.” While the president of the USA serves peoples of all faiths and beliefs (or, presumably, non-belief), he will not compromise his own convictions or distance himself from his church. While I'm no rabid fan of Mormonism, I've got to admire the guts. Romney displays a lot more guts in the arena of fidelity than, say, JFK or Dukakis or Pelosi, some fellow Catholics. I wouldn't mind a man of character and fidelity in the White House, even if his religion is not my own. (That is not an endorsement. Just a matter of fact. He's eligible in my book.)

Others, however, have not been so impressed. How could he make a speech on religion in America without mentioning the, um, non-religious? The just ran an article on America's atheists and non-religious--one of the fastest-growing belief-groups in the country, currently numbering about 30 million--and the neglect and even persecution they feel in the public square. Could Americans ever elect an atheist to a high public office?

An interesting question. I wonder if it is bigotry to say one wouldn't vote for an otherwise qualified candidate. On the other hand, given sound policies, good moral character, and electability... perhaps I would vote for Senator Atheist before I ever voted for Senator Dukakis.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Word of the Day

som-ni-fer-ous--adj.--bringing or inducing sleep, as in drugs or influences.

Or, as in two-year-olds.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Two Masses this weekend

Yes, tomorrow is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. It is also a holy day of obligation /opportunity even if it falls on a Saturday. You get to go to Mass twice this weekend!

The image to the left is kind of neat: I've never seen a painting of "St. Anne conceiving the Virgin Mary in her womb."
It is in the Chartreuse Museum in Douai, France.

(Nota Bene: St. Anne could indeed have been praying in the synagogue while conceiving Mary, since conception usually occurs a few hours or even days after the nuptial embrace.)

Thanks to Danielle Bean for the "Saturday" obligation thread!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Christ, True Philosopher

So, for various reasons (most of them 2-years-old), I have not read Benedict XVI's new encyclical through yet. I have read 7 sections. But what I have read is great.

It is particularly great Advent reading. The first sections describe, through the story of St. Josephine Bakhita (an African slave-become-nun) and the lives of the earliest Christians, the way in which the world changed when God became man and dwelt among us. Benedict compares the way in which the Romans and even the Greeks experienced the world to the way we experience it today: the world is governed by fixed laws of nature, there is nothing personal to guide the stars or planets, it is a great machine to be feared and respected.

Not so! says Christ. Not so! echoes Benedict:

"Heaven is not empty. Life is not a simple product of laws and the randomness of matter, but within everything and at the same time above everything, there is a personal will, there is a Spirit who in Jesus has revealed himself as Love." (Section 5)

Then he turns to early Christian art:

"The sarcophagi of the early Christian era illustrate this concept visually—in the context of death, in the face of which the question concerning life's meaning becomes unavoidable. The figure of Christ is interpreted on ancient sarcophagi principally by two images: the philosopher and the shepherd. Philosophy at that time was not generally seen as a difficult academic discipline, as it is today. Rather, the philosopher was someone who knew how to teach the essential art: the art of being authentically human—the art of living and dying." (Section 6)

Yes! That is why we are philosophers! Or, rather, that is why we are students of philosophy. We want to learn how and to actually become "authentically human."

He continues:

"To be sure, it had long since been realized that many of the people who went around pretending to be philosophers, teachers of life, were just charlatans who made money through their words, while having nothing to say about real life. All the more, then, the true philosopher who really did know how to point out the path of life was highly sought after. Towards the end of the third century, on the sarcophagus of a child in Rome, we find for the first time, in the context of the resurrection of Lazarus, the figure of Christ as the true philosopher, holding the Gospel in one hand and the philosopher's travelling staff in the other. With his staff, he conquers death; the Gospel brings the truth that itinerant philosophers had searched for in vain. In this image, which then became a common feature of sarcophagus art for a long time, we see clearly what both educated and simple people found in Christ: he tells us who man truly is and what a man must do in order to be truly human. He shows us the way, and this way is the truth. He himself is both the way and the truth, and therefore he is also the life which all of us are seeking. He also shows us the way beyond death; only someone able to do this is a true teacher of life." (Section 6)

That should keep your minds and hearts humming at least until the second week of Advent. Seriously consider making Spe Salvi you Advent reading for this year--we wait in joyful hope! That is true wisdom.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Veni, veni, Emmanuel

Welcome to the beginning of the new year. It begins in quiet, stillness, and waiting for Jesus Christ, "the center of the universe and of human history."

Here is a link to some Advent resources. Have a blessed season.