Thursday, September 24, 2009

Kursk Icon Homecoming

KURSK, September 23 (RIA Novosti) - The head of the Russian Orthodox Church on Wednesday led a procession through the city of Kursk, 300 miles south of Moscow, to celebrate the arrival of a miracle-working icon from the United States.

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia carried the icon, called the Kursk Root Icon of Our Lady of the Sign, through the streets, where it was welcomed by over 30,000 people - almost 10% of the city's population.
Amazing. Over 70 yrs of Communist dedication to the destruction of Christianity and look how the people still remember their historic icons. It's like they're welcoming back a real human being, a long-lost family member -- icons as "hypostatic representations" of living saints. It's enough to make you forget it's 2009.

Orthodoxy's making a strong comeback because former Soviet bloc peoples have actual memory and knowledge of the reality of secularist atheism. So they're tired of mucking around with anti-Christian nonsense. We in the West haven't a clue, so our secular atheists get away with calling Christianity a joke and we Christians just pretty much play along slackjawed for lack of a better idea.

The eastern bloc peoples at least have had a full-bodied Orthodoxy to fall back on after Communism collapsed. What will we in the West have after our secular atheism collapses? Protestantized milquetoast Christianity that can barely remember anything older than the last census.

Do we Catholics have a national bishop like Kirill venerating with great dignity an old miracle-working icon (of all things in this technocentric world) with his people? No, instead, the closest we got is McCarrick venerating the dead ass of a virulently pro-choice Catholic aristocrat (RIP, Teddy), musing effeminately with the language and tone of Oprah and Obama about love, compassion, forgiveness, and social justice. Or Mahony venerating his corporate lawyers, his precious bodily fluids (aka, archdiocesan assets), and his demotic immigration hobbyhorse.

I really don't get triumphalistic Catholics. How can one have eyes wide open and not see that the future of Christianity belongs to the Orthodox and possibly a Catholic Church that has repented of its own abandonment of the Patristic sensus fidelium? It's up to Orthodox to bring it back home for us Western Christians.

HT: ROCOR United

Peters on Burke on the Catholic Funeral of the Year

Finally, canonist Ed Peters replies to the recent controversial Burke comments about Ted Kennedy's Catholic funeral. Frankly, I'm a little disappointed. I was hoping he'd address the overwhelming majority of the people at that InsideCatholic dinner who went home convinced that Burke was voicing authoritative, unequivocal opposition to Ted Kennedy's Catholic funeral and participation therein by Catholic prelates. Instead, Peters' treatment is a highly lawyerly and defensive piece of academic legerdemain that misses the forest for the trees.

Peters seems more interested in avoiding the appearance of conflict between his original post on the EMK funeral and the statements of canon law's top dog (which have yet to be released as a full transcript). This is standard lawyerthink: present your position as humbly conforming with a higher authority. So Peters starts out punching at a red herring popular with the dissenting Catholic left: Burke said "the Church erred." But it's a strawman issue that distracts from what conservative or orthodox Catholics have been wrestling with in the wake of the EMK funeral.

It's fine to point out the obvious: Burke never said the Church erred, but that hems around the question of whether Burke was communicating his opposition to episcopal blessing bestowed upon EMK. Clearly, Deal Hudson at Crisis Magazine thought Burke to be opposed. And I'd bet Raymond Arroyo felt nothing but smug vindication by Burke. Pro-life websites are now explicitly claiming Burke (who is their current incarnation of the Code of Canon Law) condemns granting Catholic funeral rites to pro-choice Catholics like EMK (here, here).

But Peters doesn't really address this beyond acknowledging "how the people are confused." Instead he cleverly spins Burke's comment on public signs of repentance as prescriptive, rather than descriptive of the law. For Peters, Burke was simply stating his advocacy of future amendments to the Code or canonical jurisprudence. The takeaway, however, for most has been that Burke's opposition to Catholic funerals for pro-choice Catholics is descriptive of the current state of canon law (ius vigens). Peters waves us off from finding in Burke's speech any criticism or opposition to his brother bishops (or Peters) who signed off on the funeral. I seriously doubt anyone left the dinner with anything close to this interpretation in mind. Peters may or may not be right on Burke's actual intentions, but it ignores the fact that Burke never stated that he "wants to see canon law come to require 'public signs of repentance'" in the future; and thus it's just as speculative as David Gibson's claim that Burke condemns O'Malley & McCarrick's participation in EMK's funeral (which is tellingly similar to what Arroyo, et al, are saying as well).

Sure, Peters can argue that he's a canonist and this is precisely what canonists do. But I'd counter that his audience is not primarily academic. Hands down, Peters is the premier canonist for the Catholic blogosphere. At the end of the day, Peters is completely in the right on the canonical merits of EMK's funeral. I just wish he were a bit more honest about what Burke actually did say and how it gave fuel to more, not less, confusion.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Rush of Blood

Illusion acts in one way, and God in another -- God the illimitable Master of man, who was and is now their Creator. He who created and re-creates, does He not remain always the Creator? Therefore, beloved brother, listen how the action of illusion differs from divine action. Illusion, when it approaches man in thought or in dream, in some subtle idea, by some apparition which can be seen with the physical eyes, or by a voice from on high heard by the physical ears, never approaches as an absolute master, but comes as a charmer who seeks acceptance by man, and from his acceptance gains power over him. The action of illusion inside or outside man is always action from without; it is open to man to repel it. Illusion is always met at first by a certain doubt in the heart: only those whom it has conquered decisively accept it without question. Illusion never unites a man who is divided by sin, it does not stop the upsurge of blood, does not lead the ascetic to repentance, does not make him small in his own eyes; on the contrary it fires his imagination, encourages the rush of blood, brings him to a certain tasteless, poisonous enjoyment, and flatters him insidiously, inspiring him with self-conceit and establishing in his soul an idol -- 'I'.

Bishop Ignatii Brianchaninov, from The Art of Prayer, p. 147.