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Monday, February 17, 2020

Getting Real About the Anglosphere

From Law & Liberty
By Samuel Gregg

Brexit was always about far more than arguments concerning Britain’s membership in the European Union. The debates surrounding the 2016 referendum and the 2019 General Election surfaced deeper, longstanding issues like the role of judicial review in Britain’s constitution as well as national sovereignty’s place in international law. One prominent question now is whether Brexit has opened up possibilities for rethinking the Anglosphere as a geopolitical actor.
Several writers have pointed out that the combined GDP of America, Britain, Canada, and Australia is twice as great as China’s. These nations’ legal, economic, and political cultures also have more in common with each other than with most continental European countries. In some cases, specific security and treaty arrangements, such as the Five Eyes Agreement and the ANZUS Treaty, bind particular Anglosphere nations together.
Brexit certainly has created space for what I’ll call “core” Anglosphere nations to consider how they might deepen some of their ties in ways that reinforce existing linkages. But any serious reflection upon these opportunities requires preliminary assessment of the very real obstacles to forward movement in this area.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Homily of His Holiness Benedict XVI on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord


St. Peter's Basilica
Thursday, 2 February 2012

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, 40 days after the birth of Jesus, shows us Mary and Joseph who, in obedience to the Law of Moses, go to the Temple in Jerusalem to offer the child, their first born son, to the Lord and to redeem him through a sacrifice (cf. Lk 2:22-24). It is one of the cases in which liturgical time reflects historical time, because today actually marks 40 days after the Solemnity of the Birth of the Lord. The theme of Christ the Light, that is a feature of the cycle of the Christmas festivities and culminates in the Solemnity of the Epiphany, is taken up again and extended in today’s feast.

The ritual act of Jesus’ parents, which takes place in the humble, hidden manner characteristic of the Incarnation of the Son of God, finds a unique welcome in the elderly Simeon and the Prophetess Anna. By divine inspiration they recognize the baby as the Messiah foretold by the prophets. In the meeting of the elderly Simeon and Mary, a young mother, the Old and New Testaments converge in a wonderful way in the thanksgiving for the gift of the Light which shone in the darkness and prevented it from prevailing: Christ the Lord, the light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel (cf. Lk 2:32).

The Day of Consecrated Life is celebrated on the day on which the Church commemorates the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. In fact this Gospel episode to which we are referring is a significant icon of the gift of one’s life by those who are called to present anew in the Church and in the world, through the evangelical counsels, the characteristics of Jesus, virgin, poor and obedient, the Consecrated of the Father. In today’s feast we therefore celebrate the mystery of consecration: the consecration of Christ, the consecration of Mary, the consecration of those who place themselves in the sequela of Jesus for love of the Kingdom of God.

According to the insight of Bl. John Paul II, who celebrated for the first time in 1997 the Day dedicated to consecrated life, it establishes specific goals. First, it seeks to respond to the need to give praise and thanks to the Lord for the gift of this state of life which belongs to the sanctity of the Church. Today, the prayer of the entire Community is dedicated to every consecrated person, giving thanks to God the Father, giver of every good, for the gift of this vocation, and once again invoking him with faith. Moreover, this occasion offers the opportunity to appreciate increasingly the testimony of those who have chosen to follow Christ through the practice of the evangelical counsels by promoting understanding and appreciation of the consecrated life within the People of God. Finally, the World Day for Consecrated Life is meant, above all for you, dear brothers and sisters who have embraced this state in the Church, to be a precious occasion to renew your commitment and rekindle the feelings that inspired and continue to inspire the gift of yourselves to the Lord. Let us do this today, this is the commitment you are called to realize every day of your life.

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical CouncilI announced — as you know — the Year of Faith, which will begin this October. All the faithful, and in a special way the members of Institutes of Consecrated Life, have welcomed this initiative as a gift, and I hope that they will live the Year of Faith as a favourable time for interior renewal, of which there is always need, with a deepening of the essential values and needs of their own consecration. In the Year of Faith you, who have welcomed the call to follow Christ more closely through the profession of the evangelical counsels, are invited to increasingly deepen your relationship with God. The evangelical counsels, accepted as an authentic rule of life, strengthen faith, hope and charity, which unite one to God. This profound closeness to the Lord, which must be the priority and characteristic point of your existence, will lead you toward a renewed adherence to Him and will have a positive influence on your special presence and on the form of your apostolate among the People of God, through the contribution of your charisms, in fidelity to the Magisterium, to be witnesses of faith and grace, credible witnesses for the Church and the world today.

The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, with the means it deems appropriate, will suggest guidelines and will do its utmost to encourage this Year of Faith to be, for all of you, a year of renewal and of fidelity so that all consecrated men and women may enthusiastically engage in the New Evangelization. As I extend my cordial greetings to the Prefect of the Dicastery, Archbishop João Braz de Aviz — whom I wish to include among those I will create Cardinals in the next Consistory — I gladly take this joyful occasion to thank him and his co-workers for the precious service they render to the Holy See and to the entire Church.

Dear brothers and sisters, I also thank each one of you for having wished to participate in this Liturgy, which, also thanks to your presence, is distinguished by a special atmosphere of devotion and recollection. I wish you every good on the journey of your religious Families, as well as for your formation and your apostolate. May the Virgin Mary, disciple, servant and Mother of the Lord, obtain from the Lord Jesus that “all who have received the gift of following him in the consecrated life may be enabled to bear witness to that gift by their transfigured lives, as they joyfully make their way with all their brothers and sisters towards our heavenly homeland and the light which will never grow dim” (John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Vita Consecrata, n. 112). Amen.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Road Trip to Oberlin

Life goes on after the Gibson’s Bakery town–gown fiasco last year.

By Michael Cook

We are two hours removed from Pittsburgh as we roll into the small town of Oberlin, Ohio. It’s a gray day in early January. There’s a chill in the air, and few people are about. Students at the college make up half the population here, and most of them are away for winter break. As I look upon this quiet scene, I find myself thinking about the North Star.

In the years leading up to the Civil War, slaves fleeing the South for Canada used the North Star as their beacon and guide. The town of Oberlin served as an important stop along the Underground Railroad.

I am thinking, also, about Jason Molina, who graduated from Oberlin College in 1996. The songwriter was so captivated by the North Star that he used the image repeatedly in his lyrics. Molina died at an early age, but not before creating an extensive and admirable body of work. For my money, Molina’s song catalog may well be the most worthwhile thing to emerge from Oberlin College in the past 25 years.

I interrupt my reveries to ease into a parking space alongside Tappan Square. It’s a bit early to check into the Hotel at Oberlin — the college’s new, ultra-green, and LEED-certified hostelry — which is situated just down the block, facing the square. In a sense, everything in Oberlin faces Tappan Square. This is where town and gown converge, and where woke culture routinely confronts Western civilization.

The first stop on our itinerary is Gibson’s Bakery, the sixth-generation family-owned business that sued Oberlin College for defamation and other torts and was awarded damages (including attorney fees) in excess of $30 million. Throughout the litigation, the college maintained a stubbornly imperious posture, and now, with the interest clock running, it has hired additional attorneys to file an appeal of the judgment. The president of the college, Carmen Twilley Ambar, insists that the trial verdict is merely “one step” in what “may turn out to be a lengthy and complex legal process.”

Read more at The American Spectator >>

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Father Rutler: The Power of Silence

Father George W. Rutler
Precisely one year ago in the Italian town of Cremona, there was an imposed silence by order of the local government for eight hours a day, six days of the week for five straight weeks. The purpose was to allow the pristine recording by highly technical equipment of sounds played on the 1700 Antonio Stradivari “Stauffer” cello, the 1727 Antonio Stradivari “Vesuvius” violin, a 1615 “Stauffer” viola by Girolamo Amati, and the 1734 “Prince Doria” violin by Guarneri del Gesù. Cremona’s most famous luthier, of course, was Stradivari, and no one knows how many centuries from now such instruments as the Stradivarius violins can survive.
   It is harder to make silence than noise. Because of modern cacophony, especially in what passes for music in the form of amplified “rock” sounds, young people are growing increasingly deaf. In urban areas, silence is so uncommon that one becomes suspicious of silence, rather like the dog that did not bark in Arthur Conan Doyle’s “Silver Blaze” detective story. Sherlock Holmes said that it was Dr. Watson’s “great gift for silence” that made him so useful.
   Satan and his evil spirits are noisy. Jesus told an evil spirit to be silent (Mark 1:25). The Greek Φιμώθητι (Phimōthēti) simply means “Shut up!” Our Lord always was precise. So should we be, in order to hear God. “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
   The surrealist poet Dame Edith Sitwell said, “My personal hobbies are reading, listening to music, and silence.” She might have benefitted arts and letters had she been silent more often. But, after all, she eventually made her Profession of Faith at the Farm Street Church in London with Evelyn Waugh as her sponsor. Neither was famous for reticence, but they did profit from moments of quietude. Those who do not think deeply will not understand how painful it is to those who have powers of concentration, to be interrupted by frivolous chatter.
   Saint Anthony helped to change the world by isolating himself in a desert. This is why retreats in one form or another are crucial, for a retreat is actually a frontal attack on the noisy Anti-Christ. The pope himself recently said that folks should put down their iPhones and listen to silence, which has a sound of its own. When Barnabas and Paul spoke at the Council in Jerusalem, “All the people kept silent . . .” (Acts 15:12). We can be thankful that they did not have cell phones.
   God will not have to shout at us if we do not “harden our hearts” (Hebrews 3:15). Instead, as with Elijah, “. . . the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still, small voice” (1 Kings 19:11-13).

Faithfully yours in Christ,
Father George W. Rutler