✣ Highlights from the week online
I hate fasting, says Fr Ray Blake. “I get grumpy, I always feel cold and then ill, I get headaches and find it difficult to concentrate and consequently I get easily distracted in and from prayer.” St Thomas Aquinas says that among the reasons for fasting are “to raise the mind to contemplate sublime things” – but “it tends to raise my mind to bacon”; and “to make satisfaction for our sins”: which is true, but “I end up sinning, at least against charity, even more.”
Yet even if “the good it does is difficult to perceive”, fasting is worth it. “Fasting for me is an encounter with my own weakness, with my own fragility,” Fr Blake says. “This is really what most forms of Christian asceticism are about. They are concerned with embracing weakness, of actually reducing potency, at least in this world, of accepting the real world where Jesus Christ alone is Lord.”
Celibacy in heaven
Catholics have marriage as an image of heaven, says Eve Tushnet on Patheos: the wedding feast of the Lamb. “But we also have celibacy as an image of the life of heaven, where there is neither marrying nor giving in marriage.” On earth, too, “celibates in our role as community-makers can provide a haven for married Christians, including those who struggle or suffer in their marriages, and for those who hope to marry but haven’t been able to yet.”
Much of Christian literature – Kristin Lavransdatter, Brideshead Revisited, The Brothers Karamazov – takes place “in the shadow of the monastery: the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” Tushnet proposes that we recognise “both marriage and celibate life as images of heaven, where love can be expressed in ways that are equally real, equally intimate, and equally beautiful”.
Glory on the Tube
Joanna Bogle records “something glorious” that happened to her on a crowded Tube train. “My bulky suitcase got in everyone’s way,” and someone asked what was in it. She explained that it was full of books.“‘They’re prizes for a children’s handwriting and artwork thing: children have to write out the Lord’s Prayer. So many just don’t know it today,’ I said, ‘which seems a pity.’
“‘Well, I know it,’ he said, and began, tentatively at first and then with growing confidence: ‘Our Father, who art in heaven…’ Then others joined in, and then others. A chorus of men’s strong voices, rising above the rattle of the train, in the noisy rush hour, in the heart of London, roaring towards Southwark tube station. ‘Give us this day our daily bread … forgive us our trespasses…’ and somehow, suddenly, it was a moment of transcendent glory.”
✣ A new computer game allows you to play the role of a Dominican friar taking on heretics. Passiontide: The Game was created by friars at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington DC and iis presented in the style of early 1990s video games. Players manoeuvre their Domininan friar to collect candles and copies of the Summa Theologica and to make Albigensians disappear by jumping on their heads. The player has to avoid pits of hot lava too. The game, created to promote a Passiontide vigil at the parish of St Dominic in Washington on March 12, can be played at passiontidedc.
✣ The woman crowned as Miss Germany has said she would like to meet Pope Francis. Lena Bröder suggested that maybe he would find the idea interesting as she was an RE teacher. She said she would also like to meet fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld and to discuss child poverty with Chancellor Angela Merkel.
✣ A bishop in the Philippines called on Catholics to boycott two Madonna concerts last week, describing her music as “suggestive” and her clothing as “vulgar”. “Why is the Catholic Philippines the favourite venue for blasphemy against God and the Holy Mother?” Archbishop Ramon Arguelles of Lipa City asked.
✣ The week in quotations
Speaking of a Polish-German war at the synod is a huge exaggeration
Polish Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki
National Catholic Register
Diplomats of the Holy See … don’t give up easily
Archbishop Paul Gallagher
Catholic News Service
[Gay people] are children of God and they must be respected
Archbishop Charles Palmer Buckle
He is inviting us to lower our voices
Ukrainian leader Archbishop Shevchuk on Pope Francis
Catholic News Service
✣ Statistic of the week
Number of hours Cardinal Pell appeared before the royal commission on Sunday
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