Gaudete

Today is Gaudete Sunday in the Roman Church. The name is taken from the first word of the Introit at Mass, which in English reads: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Let your forbearance be known to all, for the Lord is near at hand; have no anxiety about anything, but in all things, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God. Lord, you have blessed your land; you have turned away the captivity of Jacob.” A large portion of the text is taken from St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, which is also the Epistle reading for this day.

Unlike the other Sundays and ferias of Advent, the somber and penitential tones are set aside for one of joyous expectation at the coming of the Lord. A parallel moment of interrupting joy can be found in the Byzantine Rite’s use of the same epistle on Palm Sunday, which looks just past the mournfulness of Holy Week to the Resurrection which triumphs over all.

It is in the Incarnation and Resurrection — not clever sermons, whimsical statements of intramundane comfort, and emotive spiritualism — that Catholics are to find true joy. We are not bound together by our participation in the ecclesial version of the United Nations and the rhetoric of social justice, but by our common faith that the Word of God, the second person of the Blessed Trinity, became a little child, suffered, died, and rose again for the life of the world.

Thoughts on the UVA Fallout

My Google News feed is never short of unsettling stories, ranging from global headline grabbers to more localized luridness, such the trial of a 30-something Catholic high school tutor who had sex with an underage student. As for national stories, there’s the ongoing strife over Michael Brown and Eric Garner’s deaths; anxiousness over a pending Senate report on the CIA and torture; and the fallout over the recent revelation that Rolling Stone’s (RS) article on a brutal gang rape at the University of Virginia (UVA) fell more than a wee bit short of journalistic standards. That revelation in particular has received a polarized response, with those on the Right showing a characteristic lack of tact when it comes to blasting RS and, by extension, the young woman at UVA, Jackie, who may or may not have authorized the publication to go with her story—a story which, whether one sympathizes with her or not, appears to be riddled with factual inaccuracies and implausible statements. The Left, naturally, is in a tizzy, for in their eyes, those who would attack RS and criticize Julie are now “rape apologists” who want nothing more than to keep the booze-filled, empty headed, and ogreish fraternity culture alive and well on campuses across the country. (As an aside, I should note, from personal observation, that the drinking-and-sex atmosphere of college fraternity life is ubiquitous; I can think of a half-dozen examples of sexual predation and rape being conducted by men who would likely be defined as “hipsters” and posture to everyone that they were “feminists,” “Leftists,” “counter-cultural,” etc. I saw similar behavior in punk/hardcore circles in my teens as well.)

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Happy Anniversary Syllabus Errorum

Earlier this year I took Fr. John Hunwicke’s lead by reminding you, dear readers, that here, in 2014, we should take time to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Blessed Pope Pius XI’s Quanta Cura and the Syllabus Errorum. You can find some of my thoughts on the matter in an earlier post, “The Fortnight and the Syllabus.” Rorate Caeli is also getting in on remembering this important moment in the life of the universal Church. Shouldn’t you, too?

Some say that today’s primary festivity, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, is the most misunderstood feast in the Catholic Church. Perhaps. I would like to think Quanta and the Syllabus are among her most misunderstood documents, for there are far too many who fail to comprehend their relevance to us today.

Something Uncomfortable Worth Reading

The Monomakhos web-log is exceedingly silly, even by Orthodox blogging standards, but a recent comment by one Ashley Nevins is worth mulling over. I have some reservations about several of Nevins’s remarks, and I am certainly no fan of his ecclesial orientation. However, Nevins’s comments on the role of shaming in contemporary American Orthodox “spiritual circles” is not entirely off the mark. To give you some background, his son, Scott Nevins, was a monk at the Ephraimite monastery, St. Anthony’s, in Arizona. He committed suicide.

A Note on Capitalism, Socialism, Economics, and Catholic Social Thought

A more detailed post needs to be composed on this topic, but two recent comments on two separate posts tell me that a clarification is in order. Although the terms “capitalism” and “socialism” are bandied about in disparate and imprecise ways, it should be clear to most observers that Catholic Social Teaching (CST) — the magisterial deposit which began to emerge in its modern form in the 19th C. — prescribes neither. In fact, CST is not, in and of itself, a socio-economic “system” or “ideology”; it is, rather, an expression of principles, rooted in reason and revelation, for a just social order directed toward the common good. CST contemplates that different societies at different times will vary with respect their express legal and political makeup. At the same time, CST takes no stand on what, if any, insights might be gleaned from the broad and contentious discipline known as economics. That is to say, CST does not rule out the findings of economic science, though it does not bless any particular paradigm or school as inherently superior to all of the others. If one economic school deserves to triumph, that will only come to light through rigorous reflection, theoretical inquiry, and empirical analysis (though some schools of economics reject this component).

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