Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Marcus Aurelius Statue in Asia Minor

Via the Telegraph:

The 15-foot statue was originally located in the frigidarium, the coldest and largest room in the Roman baths at Sagalassos, where two other statues have already been found.
Archaeologists now believe the frigidarium contained a gallery of large imperial statues running around its long walls, offering a treasure trove of antique images.
Marcus Aurelius, who was portrayed by Richard Harris in the 2000 film Gladiator, ruled from 161AD to 180AD and won fame for his standing as a Stoic philosopher, as well as for his wise governance of the empire.
Sagalassos, high in the western Toros mountains in the south of the country, was destroyed by an earthquake between 540AD and 620AD, bringing down the baths and filling the cross-shaped frigidarium with rubble.
The large fragments of the statue began to be uncovered on 20 August, when a pair of giant marble legs, broken above the knee and clad in army boots of lion skin, tendrils and Amazon shields, emerged from the debris.
A delicately carved three-foot head, with bulging eyes and ruffled beard, was uncovered next, followed by a five-foot-long right arm bearing a globe.
Meanwhile, in Rome, Fr Philip is settling in and waiting for his medication (!) to arrive from the States:
I noted my disappointment to the current vicar of the house, and he said in a bored tone, "Oh, well, the postman said we had too much mail stacked up, so he will deliver it a little each day." I was just a little stunned at this. . .yes, I'm slowly learning that efficiency and customer service in Italy are not high priorities. I said, "I wonder if the post office could give our postman a larger truck." The vicar, a veteran of Italian living, replied, "No need. He will bring a piece or two at a time." I wondered aloud if I could go to the post office and claim my mail. This caused some gnarled faces at the table. I could almost see their brains trying to wrap themselves around the idea of direct action. The conclusion: "No. Where would you go? They would not give it to you."

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Literary/Historical Question

I was re-reading on of CS Forester's Hornblower novels (The Happy Return) when I came across the following passage:
But Hornblower could give no vent to the flood of protest which was welling up within him. His cautious mind told him that a mad-man in a ship as small as the lugger must of necessity be chained to the deck, and his conscience reminded him uneasily of the torments he had seen el Supremo inflict without expostulation. This Spanish way of making a show out of insanity and greatness was repulsive cnough, but could be paralleled often enough in English history. One of the greatest writers of the English language, and a dignitary of the Church to boot, had once been shown in his dotage for a fee. There was only one line of argument which he could adopt.
'You are going to hang him, mad as he is?' he asked. *With no chance of making his peace with God?'
The Spaniard shrugged.
'Mad or sane, rebels must hang. Your Excellency must know that as well as I do.'
Who was this writer and 'dignatary of the Church' who comes to Hornblower's mind? I know that Jonathan Swift was a writer and clergyman, and that his mind went in old age, but I've never heard of him being 'shown in his dotage for a fee'. Was it someone else?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Mary as the Pattern of the Church in its Perfection

I take a certain (possibly perverse) pride in the fact that my library contains more books by Hugo Rahner SJ than his more famous brother Karl. On this feast day I always draw upon the former's Our Lady and the Church because the feast of the Assumption seems to me the clearest proof of his maxim that 'what is said in the widest sense of the Virgin Mother the Church, is said in a special sense of the Virgin Mary. And what is spoken of the Virgin Mother Mary in a personal way can rightly be applied in a general way to the Virgin Mother the Church.' The Preface of the Feast Day reminds us that by being taken up into Heaven, Mary is the 'beginning and pattern of the Church in its perfection.' It therefore seems apt to post the quotation from Pseudo-Caesarius with which Rahner closes his book:
Let the Church of Christ rejoice, for she like Mary has been graced by the power of the Holy Spirit and has become the mother of a divine child. Let us once more compare these two mothers: each of them through giving birth strengthens our faith in the child of the other.
Upon Mary came in mysterious stillness the shadow of the Holy Spirit, and the Church becomes a mother through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at baptism.
Mary without blemish gave birth to her son, and the Church washes away every blemish in those she brings to birth.
Of Mary was born He who was from the beginning, of the Church is reborn that which from the beginning was nothing."

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Thursday, August 07, 2008

The priest as vampire...

I'm not sure if there's anyone around still reading this - I've been on somewhat of an extended hiatus - but Seraphic's written something that I must link to:
I think the Church is full of priests, seminarians and men-who-want-to-be-priests who are emotional vampires. I think there are dozens (if not hundreds, if not thousands) of men in orders who, having "given up" women subsequently latch onto women for tea and sympathy. And this is fine if those women have busy, happy lives and--dare I say it--more important men in those lives. The women who get into emotional trouble are the Single women who are delighted, absolutely delighted at the male attention. A lot can go wrong.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not anti-clerical. And when I die, I hope I am reciting the Nicene Creed. But I have been dealing, on an adult level, with priests since I was 14 years old and the idiot associate pastor of my parish dissolved my youth group. And, come to think of it, I have been dealing with self-absorbed young Catholic men just as long. On my Confirmation Day, when the Archbishop clapped his heavy hand on my shoulder (a nice subsitute for the traditional reminder-of-martyrdom slap of the old days), he might have been saying, "Tough row to hoe, Seraphic. Get tore in."
Please read the whole thing, as it's hard to do justice to this piece with a brief quotation. It all makes very interesting reading for priests and layfolk alike.