Non abbiate paura

One way in which Christ brings peace is by conquering fear:

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” (John 20:19)

Fear is contrary to peace because one cannot be tranquil as long as one expects to suffer the privation of the good. But the Pascal Mystery removes any cause for fear of any created thing; tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, and death itself (cf. Romans 8:35) are no longer fearful because Christ has transformed them by His passion, death, and resurrection into the means by which we are united to His sacrifice and brought to ultimate triumph. Continue reading

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Mayerling

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In the Vienna Woods near Stift Heiligenkreuz is the Carmel of Mayerling. Mayerling was the sight of the hunting lodge in which Archduke Rudolf of Austria, only son of the Emperor Franz Josef, died in tragic circumstances on January 30th, 1889. The Emperor gave the lodge to the Carmelites, and had it re-modeled into a convent with a beautiful little neo-gothic church, with the high-altar at about the spot where the Archdukes bedroom had been.

Today the Carmel Mayerling has an exemplary observance, and several novices. Nor do they neglect the duty of praying for the poor Archduke. On January 30th, 125 years after the tragedy, there was a solemn requiem in the convent church celebrated by the Abbot of Heiligenkreuz. Here are some photos:

The guest-house of the Carmel in Mayerling is used to house a group of students of the Theological Faculty (Hochschule) in Heiligenkreuz. On January 22nd the Archbishop of Vienna, Christoph Cardinal Schönborn came to Mayerling to visit both the nuns and the students. January 22nd is the Cardinal’s birthday, so it was a rather celebratory visit. He met with the nuns first (as a cardinal of the Holy Roman Church he was allowed into the enclosure), and then celebrating Mass, preaching a rather moving sermon on hardness of heart. Here are some pictures of the Mass:

After Mass he ate supper with the students:

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James Fenimore Cooper on the Effects of Love of the Common Good

Although I have serious objections to the political principles of the American Revolution, I nevertheless find much to admire in the love of the common good which the revolutionaries showed. Matthew Peterson has recently written a fascinating study of how that love was manifested in the debates on the American Constitution. I was reminded of this recently, when listening to a lecture by Duane Berquist in which he quotes the following lines from James Fenimore Cooper’s The Spy:

Many years since, the writer of this volume was at the residence of an illustrious man [presumably John Jay], who had been employed in various situations of high trust during the darkest days of the American Revolution. The discourse turned upon the effects which great political excitement produces on character, and the purifying consequences of a love of country, when that sentiment is powerfully and generally awakened in a people. He who, from his years, his services, and his knowledge of men, was best qualified to take the lead in such a conversation, was the principal speaker. After dwelling on the marked manner in which the great struggle of the nation, during the war of 1775, had given a new and honorable direction to the thoughts and practices of multitudes whose time had formerly been engrossed by the most vulgar concerns of life, he illustrated his opinions by relating an anecdote, the truth of which he could attest as a personal witness.

Against the American Revolution

Venuleius of Ius Honorarium has posted a mixture of praise and contempt for Christopher Ferrara’s polemics against “Americanism.” I haven’t read Ferrara’s book, but I can guess what it’s like; after all, in my undergraduate days in the USA I was in the business of quoting Diuturnum Illud and Notre Charge Apostolique to bash the founding principles of that proud republic. Venuleius gives Ferrara qualified praise for slamming John Courtney Murray-style attempts at showing that the American founding principles are the cat’s meow, and ought to be adopted root and branch by Catholic social teaching. But Venuleius argues that Ferrara overstates the evils of the American project: Continue reading

Archduke Otto of Austria, 1912-2011

Yesterday I was in Vienna for the funeral of His Imperial and Royal Highness, Archduke Otto of Austria, Royal Prince of Hungary etc., eldest son and rightful heir of Bl. Charles of Austria, the last Emperor of Austria and Apostolic King of Hungary.

Requiem fŸr Otto v. Habsburg; mit Kardinal Christoph Schšnborn & al.

One of the the most striking things about the solemn and elaborate ceremony was how joyful it was. From whence came that joy? What could be more calculated to plunge us once again into all the piled-up sadness of the 20th century – that most ruinous of all periods in the history of Central Europe – than the funeral of the head of the House of Austria who lived through practically all of it? Otto von Habsburg was still a child when the the World War shattered the “clay pot” of Austria-Hungary into dozens of unstable fragments, but he was then quite an active behind-the-scenes player in the following decades which saw the Anschluss, the Second World War, the establishment of Marxist dictatorships in almost all of the former crown lands, and the astonishing spiritual and moral decline of the West. Continue reading

Pontificate of Hope

The author's first encounter with Bl. Pope John Paul II

My confrere Pater Johannes Paul and I went to Rome with a group of pilgrims for the beatification of Pope John Paul II. It was tremendously moving and all that sort of thing, but the trip was also kind of exhausting and so I actually fell asleep during the sermon at the Beatification Mass. Reading the sermon when I got back, I was struck by the following passage, in which Pope Benedict gives a remarkably pithy summary of the center of his predecessor’s teaching: Continue reading

Mourinho and Alcibiades

I have often been struck by the similarities between the graceful, lisping, robe-trailing, genius Alcibiades and Jose (“The Special One”) Mourinho. Recently it occurred to me that I could not be the only one to have noticed the resemblance, and sure enough Google uncovers this parallel life. They could have fleshed the parallels out a lot more of course. One thinks of Alcibiades switching his allegiance to Sparta and Mourinho leaving Chelsea etc. Plutarch writes the following of Alcibiades:

He had great advantages for entering public life; his noble birth, his riches, the personal courage he had shown in divers battles, and the multitude of his friends and dependents, threw open, so to say, folding-doors for his admittance. But he did not consent to let his power with the people rest on anything, rather than on his own gift of eloquence.

Mourinho also had great advantages entering “public life,”  but it is probably true that his power with the “people” rests as much on his eloquence and Selbstdarstellung as on the fact that he is arguably the greatest football manager of all time.

I wonder what in Mourinho’s makeup would correspond to Alcibiades’ devotion to Socrates. Perhaps that kind of ability to recognize true nobility is found in Mourinho’s religion: “I pray a lot. I am Catholic, I believe in God. I try to be a good man so He can have a bit of time to give me a hand when I need it.” The motive is maybe a bit ulterior…