I’ve written an article for America magazine on the Judaic roots of animal blessing ceremonies. These will be happening this weekend in churches everywhere, and the weekend after in synagogues. Check it out right here…
Archive for September, 2010|Monthly archive page
One of the religious principles that I live by is this: It’s often okay to simply go ahead and believe. Our modern sensibilities and rationality get in the way of the narrative of who we are—religiously or spiritually. Those amazing things that are told of in scriptures seem too fanciful to be taken seriously. They aren’t true, we might decide, when we apply modern tests. Well…if and when that is the case, I sometimes have to remind myself that truth is not really the point of the narrative.
Similarly, I often feel that I am unable to see miracles because of my own lack of vision. Are we unable to believe in miracles chronicled by others because of our own imaginative deficiencies? Recent theologians have emphasized God’s Providence as entirely hidden, both before and after what we might point to as a miracle. According to this notion, miracles are actually remarkably common. Rather than rigorously question the veracity of someone who claims a divine vision, we might rather wonder aloud: “What is keeping me from experiencing something similar?” Or: “What is keeping me from realizing the wonderment all around me?” If the Spirit of God will help us, and our capacities for doing it are developed, we might be able to see things that we’ve never seen before.
The following prayer of St. Clare illuminates the sort of determination and soulfulness that characterized her life. It is taken from the second letter that she wrote to Agnes of Prague.
Keep Doing What You’re Doing
What you’re doing, may you keep on doing and don’t stop. With swiftness, agility, and unswerving feet, may you go forward with joy and security knowing that you’re on the path of wisdom and happiness. Believe nothing and agree with nothing that will turn you away from this commitment. Nothing should be allowed to prevent you from offering yourself to the Most High in the perfection to which the Spirit of God has called you. Amen.
As some of you know, my next book is an enthusiasm for the King James Bible, being published on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of that translation which has influenced our culture more than any other.
Here’s a tiny taste of the greatness of the KJV, in the form of two of my favorite proverbs about Hope:
* Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life. (Prov. 13:12)
* He that…weepeth…shall doubtless come again…rejoicing. (Ps. 126:5)
My book is titled Verily Verily and is being published by Zondervan on March 1, 2011.
I stumbled across an old Penguin pb from the 1950s of SELECTED ESSAYS by Hilaire Belloc, edited by J. B. Morton. Much of it is ephemeral (just like much of G. K. Chesterton now is), but much is terrific, as well.
In an essay simply titled, “St. Patrick,” he writes this about what he calls “Personality”…
“If there is one thing that people who are not Catholic have gone wrong upon more than another in the intellectual things of life, it is the conception of a Personality….
“The hundred-and-one errors which this main error leads to include a bad error on the nature of history. Your modern non-Catholic or anti-Catholic historian is always misunderstanding, underestimating, or muddling the role played in the affairs of men by great and individual Personalities. That is why he is so lamentably weak upon the function of legend; that is why he makes a fetish of documentary evidence and has no grip upon the value of tradition. For traditions spring from some personality invariably, and the function of legend, whether it be a rigidly true legend or one tinged with make-believe, is to interpret Personality. Legends have vitality and continue, because in their origin they so exactly serve to explain or illustrate some personal character in a man which no cold statement could give.”