Yesterday, October 27, was the day Pope Francis specified as a day of prayer for peace. My local parish, unencumbered by desire for moral clarity, invited all parishioners to a noon Mass followed by a special rosary for peace—in the abstract. Refusal to take sides burlesques the famed events of 1571 when Christendom kept churches open and prayed the rosary during the Battle of Lepanto. Yes, Pope Pius V enjoined all Christians to pray. But not for peace. He called them to pray that the Holy League would defeat the formidable Ottoman fleet. Continue Reading
Unraveling the cat’s cradle of Catherine of Siena’s “writings” yields a twisty path into the politics of saint-making. The Saint Catherine of popular imagination is a composite of biography and invention. Glossed by shared cultural assumptions and aims, the hybrid is taken as historic. Idealization and legend are cherished as fact. Referring to Catherine’s productivity as writings is the customary way of naming it. Categorized among medieval women writers, the saint is sometimes depicted at a writing desk with pen in hand. Continue Reading
Fra Filippo’s resplendent Madonna della Cintola, in the previous post, sent me to a favorite passage in The Waning of the Middle Ages. Johan Huizinga‘s portrait of the linchpins of the medieval world—the ideas that bound together religion, art, and literature—has a few things to say about relics. The significance of them to the culture that embraced them is an integral part of medieval civilization.
The distinctly corporeal conception of the saints was accentuated by the veneration of their relics, not only permitted by the Church but forming an integral part of religion.Continue Reading
The Aquinas 101 Team at the Aquinas Institute has a new video series: “What Would it Mean to Prove God Exists?” An introductory blurb invites you in with this:
Everyone agrees that Aquinas’ famous “five ways” are supposed to be proofs of God’s existence. But what does it take to prove something? Is it enough just to persuade or convince the person you’re talking to? Or does proof require something more? For St. Thomas the answer is clear. Proof requires something else.Continue Reading
We are a symbol-minded species. We create symbols and live by them. They pervade our assumptions and suggest to us ways to express and apply them. In religion—as in mathematics—symbols enable us to consider and reflect. In that sense, the Nativity crèche both charms and instructs. It is a conventional way to symbolize the Incarnation. Every year while my children were young, the traditional tableau spread out under the Christmas tree. Mary and Joseph waited for midnight when the infant would be placed in a manger filled with real straw. Continue Reading