Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Starting Lent with Father Jaki

For your contemplation today. My suggestion for the members of the Duhem Society this Lent is to read (or re-read) SLJ's The Savior of Science, as we must become better acquainted with the Unigenitus, the Monogenes, the One Whom Pierre Duhem and Fr. Stanley Jaki followed, with heart and mind. What use is it for us to solve every equation under the sun, or annotate every reference with precision - yet lose sight of our Leader?
--Dr. Thursday

...there came those eighteen hours, beginning at about nine in the evening. During all those hours Jesus could not sit down as he was dragged from one court to another. For three hours, roughly from nine to twelve, that preceded his crucifixion, he was mocked and tortured. It was a miracle that he did not die while he was flayed from his shoulders down to his legs and felt pieces of flesh torn out of his body. The fixing of a crown of thorns on his head could have easily made him lose consciousness. Then he was sent to Herod Agrippa who added the crown of insult to his injuries. He became exhausted after the beam on which he was to be crucified had been put on his shoulders covered with wounds. A passerby had to be pressed to help him carry it for the last steps to the spot, ominously called the place of skulls.

As for the pains he suffered while he was nailed on the cross and let hang on it, physiological analysis of what went on in his body defied all imagination. Dr. Barbet, author of A Doctor at Calvary, became so identified with what Jesus suffered on the cross as to become unable to look at a crucifix again. So much about some of the trials Jesus suffered for our sake and suffered them so that we may remain strong in our trials. The Church knows why it insists on crosses with a corpus on it. Those who want crosses without corpus also know, as long as they are honest with themselves, that they obey the dictates of their naturalist theology.

Painkillers have become our most welcome associates. A large assortment of means for reducing excess body weight fills long shelves in our supermarkets. Medical insurance covers the unsightly effects of overeating. Ours is a society where two-thirds are overweight, beginning from childhood. Our Lents include no proper fasting. No place any more for hair shirts, nor for discipline, a word which also means a whip. At any rate, the rod has been banished from schools where students can enter only by passing through electronic gates, lest they carry handguns into the classroom. We Catholics think that for the last four decades ours has become a much deepened and very positive spirituality. We delve into classics on mysticism, though heedless of the greatest mystics' invariable nsistence on the need to mortify the flesh. The mental acrobatics accompanying such self-delusions are breeding mechanisms of trials with which one is not equipped to cope. Truly, it may not be sacrilegious to suggest that instead of praying, "Lead us not into temptation," we should rather pray: "Save us from leading ourselves down the rose path toward an imaginary bliss free of trials, though full of temptations to which we have already given our full assent." The petitions of the Lord's Prayer are a sequential mirror in which we can see, if we are courageous enough, the thick layers of pseudo-intellectual and pseudo-spiritual make up on our faces. May God's mercy save us from taking vice for virtue in the manner of hypocrites. Let us be saved from conforming with a world in which hypocrisy rules!
[SLJ Ours a Dearest Father (commentary on the Lord's Prayer)]

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