Month: February 2004

“In order to arrive at having pleasure in everything, desire to have pleasure in nothing. In order to arrive at possessing everything, desire to possess nothing.” John of the Cross … Read the rest

“I suppose I divide people into two classes: the Irksome and the Non-Irksome. Yes and there are the Medium Irksome and the Rare Irksome.” Flannery O’Connor… Read the rest

Devil’s Feast

Excerpted from my article in the March/April 2001 issue of The Catholic Answer:

The full terror of Jesus’ death is well magnified by looking at it through the prism of diabolic vengeance: Jesus took Satan’s beating. Jesus, Full Being incarnate and therefore Full Goodness incarnate, was assailed by Satan, the anti-being of evil. Satan unleashed his wrath on Jesus, and Jesus stood there, taking it, as Satan flailed away at him, evil unhitched, centered on one man, tearing through him, hurting him any way possible. Everything that deprives a person of the dignity of existence was used against Jesus: Mockery, spitting, nakedness, whipping, cutting, bleeding, public humiliation, carrying one’s own instrument of torture.

Jesus’ excruciating torture, on the physical sphere, is documented by Dr. Barbet in A Doctor at Calvary. The following are just a few highlights of his suffering:

During the beating in the Praetorium, with the skin extremely tender from the suffering in the Garden, he received blows with sticks. The beating bruised his cheek, broke the septum of his nose, and may have produced a serious concussion and broke vessels in the membranes that envelope the spinal cord and brain.

He was later scourged with a flagrum, an instrument consisting of long, thick thongs with lead balls on the end. The thongs cut into the skin and dug the balls into the body, scraping it open. This torture by itself often killed men. Although Hebrew law restricted the strokes to forty, Jesus probably received sixty.

The thorns which comprised his crown were long and very sharp and probably tore the whole head of Jesus, wounding the entire surface of the … Read the rest

“We cannot live without ascribing some meaning to our existence, or act without ascribing some goal to our activity; when philosophy no longer provides men with satisfactory answers to those questions, the only means they still have to escape skepticism and despair are moralism, or mysticism, or some combination of both.” Etienne Gilson… Read the rest

After Forty Days

“Jesus brought Satan to a standstill. He alone was able to stare him down. To the extent that we succeed in looking with Christ’s eyes, we too shall see him; to the extent that Christ’s heart and spirit become alive in us, we shall dominate him. The clever will of course smile at this.” Romano Guardini… Read the rest

A woman wrote to me the other day in response to my article on the f-word. She wrote: “I think most of the seemingly perplexing uses of fuck can be explained in this way: Fuck is an intensifier. It delivers a thought in bold italics, or all caps, as a howl of disaffection or annoyance. It also conveys full approval in a hip way. Other languages have intensifiers, not necessarily four-letter ones.”

I think she’s right. The f-word serves as an intensifier and sometimes quite effectively. It’s the verbal equivalent of the exclamation point in writing.

Problem is, we’re hearing a lot of exclamation points these days, and, as every writer knows, heavy use of the exclamation point is the tool of only the crudest writers. … Read the rest

Silence

“Silence puts man to the test.”

“That is what silence itself is: holy uselessness.”

“The mark of the Divine in things is preserved by their connection with the world of silence.”

“The man who lacks the substance of silence is oppressed by the all-too-many things that crowds in upon him every moment of his life today.”

Max Picard, The World of SilenceRead the rest

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) tended to dislike music. When someone tried to tell him about the merits of a violinist’s performance, Johnson replied, “Difficult, do you call it, sir? I wish it were impossible.” … Read the rest