Many Mansions

Te Deum is the great thanksgiving hymn of the Church, highly appropriate in Eastertide as well other seasons of triumph. Traditionally ascribed to St. Ambrose of Milan (340-397), it strikes me as a joyful extension of the Gloria—more didactic, but every bit as exultant in the greatness of our God. By detailing the ranks ofContinue reading “Many Mansions”

Accepting the Gift of Happiness

The lawgiver shall give a blessing, They shall go from virtue to virtue: The God of gods shall be seen in Sion. Psalm 83:8 In Plato’s Gorgias, the ambitious Callicles accuses Socrates of turning human life upside down with his teaching that happiness consists in a life of virtue. To our fallen, grasping souls, itContinue reading “Accepting the Gift of Happiness”

Knowing the Lord

It is the “first day of the week,” and the first day of our Lord’s resurrected life (Lk. 24). Two of his disciples are walking on the road, “reason[ing] with themselves,” “and are sad” in their reasoning. It is fitting that Christ appears to them in earnest discourse, for Christ himself is the Logos (Reason)Continue reading “Knowing the Lord”

His Victorious Might

According to the Apostle’s Creed (see also 1 Peter 4:6 and Ephesians 4:9), the first thing Christ does after his crucifixion is to visit the realm of the dead. In anticipation of his resurrection, however, he does not intend to stay as their guest. Rather, he comes to liberate those destined to share in hisContinue reading “His Victorious Might”

With Eyes Alone

And the Lord turning looked on Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, As he had said: Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And Peter, going out, wept bitterly. Luke 22:61-62 Peter, whom Christ has proclaimed the rock upon which his Church is founded, denies his Lord before the servantsContinue reading “With Eyes Alone”

Gaining Mastery of the World

St. Catherine of Sienna’s Dialogue with Christ begins with a question precisely opposed to the one  most of us would think of asking: “What can I do to suffer for you?” In response, Jesus affirms the generosity of her desire, but proceeds to instruct the saint on the true nature and value of Christian suffering.Continue reading “Gaining Mastery of the World”

Leaping with the Lord

Behold, he comes leaping upon the mountains, skipping over the hills. Canticle of Canticles 2:8 In the midst of Passiontide, during which we contemplate our Lord’s sacrifice of the human nature he had adopted thirty-three years (and nine months) prior, we pause to celebrate the joyful day that made that sacrifice possible. By the AnnunciationContinue reading “Leaping with the Lord”

Two Princes

Machiavelli’s Prince is rife with recommendations that its presumably power-hungry readers employ treachery and violence to achieve their selfish ends. Amidst all the murder and mayhem, there is perhaps no more chilling passage than one in which Machiavelli explains what limits do (and do not) apply to such villainy. Cautioning princes not to render themselvesContinue reading “Two Princes”

All I Want is Love

Our Lord, speaking to St. Catherine of Sienna, comments on the unity of all virtues in the “greatest of these”—charity: Since love of neighbor has its source in me, the more the soul loves me, the more she loves her neighbors. Thus it will be evident that you have me within your soul by grace,Continue reading “All I Want is Love”

O Lord, Our Lord!

The opening of Bach’s Johannes-Passion plunges us into the midst of Christ’s violent death. The swirling strings and plaintive winds establish an air of helpless distress. The first word, “Herr!” (Lord!), is a cry for help. Its repetition and extension into the slightly longer “O Lord, our Lord!” only accentuates the state of extreme crisis.Continue reading “O Lord, Our Lord!”