Thursday, October 28, 2004

An Opportunity for Chicago-area Readers

What is the connection between Liturgy, Sacraments, Icons, Scripture, Dating, Marriage, Celibacy, Family, Happiness and every issue of Sexual Morality?


The Chicago Chapter of Theology of the Body International Alliance (TOBIA) invites you to discover this connection and much, much more by being a part of the first of many, Theology of the Body study groups to take place around Chicagoland.




Chicago Theology of the Body Study Group I

Serving the North/Central Region


When:  Every other Monday evening November 1, 2004 – March 14, 2005

(specific dates will be announced)


Time: 7:00PM – 8:30PM


Place: Tom & Cathleen Masters Home

625 Clarence

  Oak Park, IL  60304




Chicago Theology of the Body Study Group II

Serving the South/West Region


When:  Every other Monday evening November 8, 2004 – March 21, 2005

(specific dates will be announced)


Time:  7:00PM – 8:30PM


Place:  Annunciation Byzantine Catholic Church

14610 Will-Cook Road

Homer Glen, IL  60491




The cost for this ten (10) session study group is $20 for materials, which includes a 10 disc CD set of Christopher West’s Naked Without Shame seminar series along with the accompanying study guide.  Payment and distribution of all materials will take place at the first study session.  For more information or to register for either of these groups please call 708-645-0762 or send an email to and include your Name, Phone Number, and the Group you will be attending.  Upon registration you will receive a listing of the specific dates for the study group you specified as well as location directions.

My neat new book

Recently Hackett has published a translation of Basil Tatakis' unparalleled work on Byzantine philosophy, a topic that I have been becoming more and more interested as I have moved into the practice of Eastern Christianity. In the Byzantine Empire, there was never a break between Hellenic culture and philosophy and Christianity. It therefore supplies an interesting example to study, quite different from the way things developed in the West. I happen to think that the exaggerated autonomy of philosophy and theology of the scholastic West was the beginning of the end of clear thinking. Such a separation never happened in the East. It's an interesting alternative philosophical history.

I'll let you know of juicy bits as I read.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004


So, I was attending Mass (Roman) at a local chapel Monday, when I heard something odd in the psalm: "Happy are they. . . ." Now, I recognized it as Psalm 1, which is singular, not plural: "Blessed is the man. . . ." What was going on? I was under the impression that the practice of inclusivizing texts by changing singular references to plural wasn't allowed, and that the revised psalter of the New American Bible had been (rightly) rejected. Had the new Lectionary been ruined somehow? Had Rome backed down from Liturgiam Authenicam?

But all my worries were for nought. I went up this morning and took a look at the lectionary, and found that it was the unauthorized Canadian lectionary from 1994. The good news is that Rome hasn't screwed up the psalms. The bad news is that the chapel is using an unnapproved lectionary. In charity, I am going to blame the previous regime.

If I were a holy man

I would spend the night before the election at church praying to God for our nation.

There's an adoration chapel not to far from our house--maybe I'll tuck the wife and kid in, and drive over there for a while on Monday.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

What it is like to be pro-life

One has the conviction, born of faith, reason, or both, that humans ought not to be killed in the womb. One comes to believe that such an action would be the killing of the innocent human life, and hence is a crime where the blood cries out to heaven, much as the blood of Abel cried out against Cain. Further, this crime is committed 4000 times a day in the United States.

But, those who hold this conviction are told that it is extreme, that it is out of the mainstream, and therefore a position to be abandoned. Note that rarely, if ever, are we pro-lifers debated on the issues. Who could win such a debate with us, without being forced to acknowledge that according to their principles, no-one has any rights at all? (See my Socratic Dialogue, linked on the sidebar.) Mother Theresa used to say that if we can kill the child in the womb, I can kill you, and you can kill me. She's absolutely right.

No, we are not debated, but are called names and silenced. Why? Because ours must be a prophetic voice against our own beloved country, and no country loves prophets. Prophets speak uncomfortable truths, and the uncomfortable truth is that the United States of America is morally on par with the great evil empires of old. What Atilla or Tamurlane ever killed 1.5 million a year? What Hitler or Stalin murdered as cleanly and quickly as we do?

We should have a debate on the issue of human dignity and the protection of life. Such a debate has not occurred solely because the opposing side is afraid that we will win, and, more than fearing loss, they fear repentance. What amount of penance, what national sackloth and ashes would be required to make up for 1.5 million deaths a year? It is fear of repentance, not fear of losing reproductive freedom, that drives the continuing legality of abortion. To change now would be to admit that we as a nation were wrong, and not only that we were wrong, but that we were monstrous.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

The Gap

I've found out something in my 33 years of life, especially the 14 years in which I've been trying to live a good Christian life. Here it is: Prayer always works against temptation. If you are being severely tempted, to anger, to lust, to despair, to whatever your particular vices are, prayer will always work. Say "Jesus, help me," or "Holy Mother of God, save me" or "St. Michael the Archangel. . ." and God will send help. It's true. It always works.

So, why do I still sin? (And I do still sin.) What happens? I can feel the temptation coming on, coming on like a freight train. I know, intellectually, that if only I begin to pray, the temptation will pass by without harm. But I don't pray. Why? There's some sort of gap between the recognition that prayer will save me, and the actual act of praying. That gap is so small, and yet feels like the Grand Canyon. To go from the state of tempted-not-praying to redeemed-from-temptation-by-praying is the most difficult thing in the world. I could run a marathon easier than I could do this.

Obviously, the answer is never to allow myself to get into the state of not-praying. I must take St. Paul's advice and pray without ceasing. St. John Chrysostom says somewhere that it is impossible to sin while one is praying--I need, therefore, to pray all the time, if I want to be freed from sin.

Please pray that God will teach me how to pray, and will replace my stony heart with a real heart that constantly calls out to God.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

If I don't ever post, people won't ever read. . .

I've been very busy, and so haven't had much time for the blog. But, to tide you over (especially since the Old Oligarch is swamped too), here's a juicy thought:

The only heresy today is the heresy that there is no heresy.


Saturday, October 16, 2004

Free Ukrainian Liturgical Music

I stumbled across a website recently called Magnatune, a record label that publishes music mostly via the internet. They seem to specialize in early music, but have a variety of other genres as well. I was drawn to the site because of the recordings they have from the Monks and Metropolitan Choirs of Kiev-Pechersk Lavra.

Magnatune is neat because they allow you to listen to the music via streaming MP3's or WMA's before you buy. You can listen to the entire album whenever you want, as much as you want, if you have high-speed internet. If you choose to buy the album, you pay them as much as you want to pay them (I paid 8$), half of which goes to the artist. Then you get to download MP3's or CD-quality WAV's or FLAC's. I did that with the Russian Orthodox Chants album, which I burned to a CD I can take in my car.

They have several recordings of Byzantine music; I will probably buy them all. Even if you don't buy them, you can listen. Click here for some beautiful music.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Where have I been?

I've been here. Wow. What a wonderful place. I didn't want to leave, except that Mrs. Athanasius and Macrina (not their real names) weren't there.

Many things impressed me, but in particular the mood of contemplation on campus. Part of this has to do with having very smart students who care about ideas (is there anything better than bright kids discussing Aristotle at the breakfast table?), but part also has to do with the rules they've adopted. Television is not allowed on campus. Movies cannot be watched unless they are cleared by the prefect, and may not be watched in one's dorm room (no VCR's or DVD's in the room). Opposite sexes must stay out of each other's dorms. Most importantly, the internet is not allowed anywhere on campus except in the library, and the terminals are kept limited. See, the internet, the movies, and television none of them contribute to contemplation. In fact, they actively oppose it. Contemplation requires peace and quiet in order that one may engage in wrestling with truth. Noise must be minimized. It sounds wonderful--time to read, think, and pray.

I've been inspired by this model of life and am going to adopt it myself. We already severely limit television time in our house to workouts and weekends, and have gotten rid of cable. But I'm giving myself an additional rule, since I tend to sit on the internet all day and night: when at home, my internet time shall be limited to 1/2 hour, with a minimum two-hour limit before I can dial up again. I even got a shiny new egg timer to help me keep track.

So, if you see two posts from me on a Tuesday or Thursday separated by less than 2 hours but more than 1/2 hour, you'll know I broke my rule. Scold me accordingly.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Byzantine Catholic Radio!

A new Byzantine Catholic radio show has begun, "Light of the East," starring Fr. Thomas Loya (who happens to be my pastor). The show aims to fulfill the pope's call that Roman Catholics learn about the eastern half of Christianity. Fr. Tom will explain our spirituality, liturgy, iconography, music, and theology, showing how the East and West mutually enrich each other. He will explain how life in Christ is really divinization, the conformity of man to God. He'll explain how all of this relates to the Theology of the Body. There will be dynamic, orthodox testimony about the power of the Resurrection to transform the world. There isn't any show like it.

"Light of the East" is broadcast on AM 820 in Chicago every Sunday at 11:30AM. Don't live in Chicago? No problem! A version of the show will be archived at the parish website. Go here to listen to the show. Really. I mean it. Go listen now!

Tell your friends!

Monday, October 04, 2004

Happy St. Francis Day

Here's a quote about St. Francis from St. Josemaria Escriva:

To defend his purity, Saint Francis of Assisi rolled in the snow, Saint Benedict threw himself into a thorn bush, Saint Bernard plunged into an icy pond... You..., what have you done?

I hate that quote. But not because it's false; because it's hard.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Karl-er-Athanasius' one word Bioethics Course


That's all you need to know. It's akin to Disputations' all-purpose response: "Have you tried prayer and fasting?" Watch how it works:

Can we artificially inseminate?


Can we fertilize eggs in a petri dish?


Can we freeze the leftover embryos in liquid nitrogen?


Can we destroy the embryos in order to extract stem cells?


Is contraception ok?


How about cloning? Can we clone humans?


Even if we promise not to let them live? That's the New Jersey option.


How about euthanasia?


Can we take feeding tubes out of patients who aren't dying, so that they die?


See how easy this is? One word. That's all you need.