Thursday, April 30, 2009

Oswald Chambers, April 29, The Graciousness of Uncertainty

"It doth not yet appear what we shall be." 1 John 3:2

Naturally, we are inclined to be so mathematical and calculating that we look upon uncertainty as a bad thing. We imagine that we have to reach some end, but that is not the nature of spiritual life. The nature of spiritual life is that we are certain in our uncertainty, consequently we do not make our nests anywhere. Common sense says - "Well, supposing I were in that condition . . ." We cannot suppose ourselves in any condition we have never been in. Certainty is the mark of the common-sense life: gracious uncertainty is the mark of the spiritual life. To be certain of God means that we are uncertain in all our ways, we do not know what a day may bring forth. This is generally said with a sigh of sadness, it should be rather an expression of breathless expectation. We are uncertain of the next step, but we are certain of God. Immediately we abandon to God, and do the duty that lies nearest, He packs our life with surprises all the time. When we become advocates of a creed, something dies; we do not believe God, we only believe our belief about Him. Jesus said, "Except ye become as little children." Spiritual life is the life of a child. We are not uncertain of God, but uncertain of what He is going to do next. If we are only certain in our beliefs, we get dignified and severe and have the ban of finality about our views; but when we are rightly related to God, life is full of spontaneous, joyful uncertainty and expectancy.

"Believe also in Me," said Jesus, not - "Believe certain things about Me." Leave the whole thing to Him, it is gloriously uncertain how He will come in, but He will come. Remain loyal to Him.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Some Notes on the French

We are witnessing a unique moment in history, a time when a people will choose to destroy its unique and unrepeatable nation through consumerism and an embrace of the culture of death. For those who are unaware, France is like other European states in that traditional families, if they have any children at all, have very small families. It is on a long-term path to destroy its own gene pool, race, and civilization.

This moment is very unusual in that for the first time in history a people is freely choosing to commit genocide by failing to reproduce. Normally, this action is forced by an oppressor who uses violence and murder to destroy a race. Never in history have a people freely consented to their own genocide. The French are choosing to not have children so that they can more freely pursue a lifestyle defined by materialistic factors alone. European nihilism produces an internal disruption so deep that it can prevent the French from perceiving this tragedy. The destruction of the French people is accepted as a responsible and ethical way to gain happiness.

And yet, the immigrants who come to France are pursuing traditional practices by honoring their marriages and families and having many children. The problem is not that France is becoming African or Arabic, this reality would be equally damaging in any nation. I am happy that the immigrant families are having children, but this issue is not geopolitical, it is existential. This drama is a tragedy no matter where it is played.

While this reality is for the most part ignored by our secular media and it does not receive much space in our Catholic journals, it is something that deserves our attention. It also serves to illustrate that the words of Cardinal Schönborn, “The time of Christianity in Europe is coming to an end.” The dualism that emerges in post-Christian Europe relies on the contraceptive mentality so deeply that it is leads to a self-inflicted genocide.

This devastation reveals the ruins of the inner-life in contemporary European man. We live in unusual and unique times where we are witnessing something that a generation ago would have been thought impossible. And we are silent as though it were a normal event.

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For an interesting report on the culture of death in Japan, see Michael Ciben’s article in February’s New Oxford Review.

A Catholic Judgment on Notre Dame

It is difficult to comprehend the invitation Notre Dame has extended to President Obama to deliver the commencement speech and receive an honorary doctorate in law when he is a clear advocate of the culture of death. While there are many people condemning the invitation for moralistic reasons, but there are much deeper concerns.

This invitation is a sign of a deep loss at Notre Dame. It is becoming more a part of a post-Christian society and adopting a methodology that imposes a dualistic worldview. The possibility of an encounter with Christ, of living a new life as a result of this encounter is diminished. This is a grave issue that threatens our way of life in the university and in society.

In case you have not had a chance to read it, the CL judgment on the situation in ND is beautiful and observes the depth of the interior destruction this invitation represents. It talks about ND having to begin again and compares the crises to the fire that destroyed the university in 1879.

Here is the text:

A New Commencement

Dame’s invitation to President Obama to deliver the Commencement address and to receive an honorary degree unleashed a wide controversy and provoked violently opposed reactions among all who look upon this University as a sign of the ideal of Catholic higher education. The community finds itself divided and confused, and the integrity of the University’s educational mission is being challenged. On such an occasion, with great urgency we feel the need to take hold of the reasons for which such an institution exists.

What is the meaning of Christian education, and even more fundamentally what is Christian life today? How do we live today the fruitful faith that led a handful of French missionaries a century and a half ago to found a tiny college on the shore of Saint Mary’s Lake—where before there was nothing—with the firm conviction that the school “will be one of the most powerful means for doing good in this country”? How is that connection between faith and life present as the impetus for our work in the university and in society?

For us faith is not an ethical code nor an ideology but an experience: an encounter with Christ present here and now in the Christian community. Christian faith gives us a freedom and a passion for living that express themselves above all in the form of questions as we face reality, and an inexhaustible openness to everything human. Political and ethical categories do not define us; our life springs from belonging to a fact, to a story begun and carried forward by an exceptional Presence in human history. Over the course of two millennia, that Presence has inspired innumerable initiatives that have educated men and women, including the University of Notre Dame. We cannot limit our thirst for truth and our desire to enter into a genuine relationship with reality; we want certainty about its meaning in its totality. We need a place where faith and reason are not enemies, where their unity launches us on a path of knowledge that is fearless, open, and free.

An invitation to a Catholic university – an invitation to anyone, especially to the President of the United States of America – should be an invitation to encounter that history, that method of relating to reality, and that experience of life and freedom.

What then is at stake in this Commencement Day? Much more than merely defending values — even the most sacred — or affirming a Catholic institution’s “openness” to the world. At stake is our hope for the future of the university and the future of society.

For us hope begins from the recognition that with Christ we discover a new way to live life, to study, to do research, to be involved in politics and economics, to work in the world. In commencing from that Presence, we live hope not merely as a sentiment, a dream, or a project of power but as a certainty for the future that springs forth from an experience happening now.

With the certainty of faith that Father Sorin had after Notre Dame burned to the ground in 1879, let us recognize at the end of each day that we “built it too small … so, tomorrow, as soon as the bricks cool, we will rebuild it, bigger and better than ever”.

Communion & Liberation