Posted tagged ‘Benedict XVI’

The Holy Father’s general intention for the month of May

May 3, 2008

That Christians may use literature, art and the media to greater advantage to favour a culture which defends and promotes the values of the human person.

Please pray for this, and for the Holy Father’s monthly intentions in general. (For a list, see here).


The importance of culture

April 30, 2008

Much of the reason behind this blog is to help remind fellow Catholics of the rich cultural heritage we have (often at the same time as I learn about it and gain more and more appreciation for it). But why is this cultural heritage important? What does culture have to do with faith?

Let’s consider Ireland and Poland for a minute. Of European countries, these are by far the highest in percentage of practicing Catholics. Why do you think that is? At the same time, the picture doesn’t look particularly good. They are going the way of the west.

The people of Ireland were under the yoke of England ever since the only English Pope authorised the invasion of Ireland by the Normans. More importantly for this discussion, the Irish suffered even fiercer oppression after the Protestant reformation, with the refusal to submit to heresy. Being Irish in many ways became synonymous with being Catholic. A culture of Catholicism (and Gaelic football) rose up. Now I know I’m oversimplifying things here, but such is the nature of a blog.

Let’s just think about Polish history this past century; I don’t want to get into the Polish-Lithuanian kingdom. Facing the threat first from Nazis, and then from the communists, the main way to hold on to Polish identity was to cling to the Catholic faith. And just like Barack Obama, I mean cling in a very good way. In order to survive in a world brutally opposed to your faith, you must express it inside and out. It must envelop your whole life. Pope John Paul II knew this in his early attachment to resistance theatre. Polish poetry and theatre were predominantly Catholic, and in this way, their faith and their way of life flowered in the spiritual desert of 20th Century Poland.

The challenges confronting us require a comprehensive and sound instruction in the truths of the faith. But they also call for cultivating a mindset, an intellectual “culture”, which is genuinely Catholic, confident in the profound harmony of faith and reason, and prepared to bring the richness of faith’s vision to bear on the urgent issues which affect the future of American society.

Pope Benedict XVI

Ars Papa

April 28, 2008

From the Pope’s remarks at the end of a concert celebrating the third anniversary of his pontificate. 

But authentic art, like prayer, does not alienate us from the reality of every day, but rather enables us to return to our routine in order to ‘irrigate’ it and make it sprout to bear fruits of goodness and pace. 

The masterful itnterpretations which we have just heard also remind us of the value and universal importance of the artistic patrimony. I think especially of the younger generations, who by coming close to such patrimony, may always draw new inspiration to construct a world of justice and solidarity, by appreciating, in the service of mankind, the multiform expressions of world culture. 

I am also thinking of the importance that education must give to authentic beauty in the formation of young people. Art in its entirety contributes to refine their spirit and to orient them towards building a society that is open to the ideals of the spirit.

From the Papa Ratzinger Forum. See the complete text of the speech there.

Hawthorne and the Pope

April 27, 2008

As pointed out by the commenter Dan over at Amy Welborn’s blog, the pope extensively paraphrased some imagery from Nathaniel Hawthorne, the American anti-transcendentalist writer (the imagery is well worth a read). Now Hawthorne is much better known for stories that are haunted with the past of American puritanism, and his novels and stories are not really Catholic, but did you know his daughter who converted to Catholicism is a candidate for sainthood?  And the process was started by Cardinal Egan. Here’s an interesting piece on sainthood by the New York Cardinal.

Read more about Rose Hawthorne (Sister Alphonsa) here. If you really want to do some digging, Rose Hawthorne has some poetry available in the Project Gutenberg.  I leave you with this childhood glimpse of Catholicism from her “Memories of Hawthorne”: 

Through the streets of Rome trotted in brown garb and great unloveliness a frequent monk, brave and true; and each of these, I was led by the feminine members of the family, to regard as a probable demon, eager for my intellectual blood. A fairer sight were the Penitents, in neat buff clothes of mon-astic outline, their faces covered with their hoods, whose points rose overhead like church steeples, two holes permit-ting the eyes to peep with beetle glistenings upon you. They went hurryingly along, called from their worldly affairs; and my mother imparted to me her belief that they were some-what free of superstition because undoubtedly clean. Some-times processions of them chanting, came slowly through the city, bearing the dead to burial. I did not know then, that the chanting was the voicing of good, honest, Bible-derived prayers; I thought it was child’s play, useless and fascinating. In the churches the chanting monks and boys impressed me differently. Who does not feel, without a word to reveal the fact, the wondrous virtue of Catholic religious observance in the churches? The holiness of these regions sent through me waves of peace (376—77).