RIP - William F. Buckley, Jr.
Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis. Requiescant in pace.
Essential thinking for reading Catholics.
One of my fave Cardinals, His Eminence Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio, SJ has just issued his Lenten homily online. It seemed to be a good one, and so here it is. (Translation, emphasis and comments mine.)
The Church Yes! He said The Church! This guy gets it! sends us forth, on the way to an encounter with Jesus, the only road that has constancy, the only valid way that takes me to meet my Lord, He who gives sense to life. Starting upon this road today makes us participate in an act, a message and an admonition.
The act: we are all going to receive ashes on our heads to indicate what we are. At the end of [our] years -- some more, some less -- we all finish the same way: by turning into ash. And yet, a voice inside tells each of us: "You were born for other things, not just to turn to ashes." You were born for an encounter, for a fulfillment of the heart that is the encounter with Jesus. And today, upon receiving the ashes that carry this meaning, each of us is should ask [himself]: "What do I seek in life?"
What do I seek? Do I seek an encounter with Jesus that is going fulfill me, that gives me the only happiness that cannot be lost? Or am I goofing around? [Literally, "doing 'the turkey trot'." It's an Argentinism with no direct equivalent...just let it go.] Am I mired in superficiality? "Father, it's that everyone is like that. One cannot go against the [social] current..." It's true, at times the environment takes you down. Not long ago, I read a fable written by a monk. He wrote that some boys were climbing a mountain and they found an eagle egg and they brought it home. When they saw that in their coop there was a turkey incubating her eggs and they put the eagle egg under the turkey with the other eggs. Then, all the eggs hatched. The hatchlings all started equals but as they grew, they began to become different. When they began to have some measure of autonomy the turkeys splashed around the water and eaglet was among them even though he did not know how to play in the water; and each time he saw an eagle fly [overhead], he felt something inside him pulling him skyward but he couldn't go...he was among the turkeys. He was acting like a turkey. Are you? You who has the vocation of an eagle, of an encounter with Jesus...for what do you live? For mundane things? To keep up appearances? We all have been called by God to serve Him via different vocations, let's honor those vocations.
Let's all think about it, because it's a message for all of us. The ash puts this question to us: Do you wish to fly to the message of Jesus, already starting to live in fullness or do you wish to live like a turkey, in superficiality? That is the meaning of this act. Friendship with the world is enmity with God, yes?
Also the Church puts a message before us. St. Paul, in the Second Reading says: "Therefore I entreat you, in name of Christ -- that's nice…he says "please" -- allow yourself to reconcile with God." Each one of us has to encounter the Lord more, [as] we are all sinners. Please, if there is anyone [here] who is not a sinner, raise your hand so we can give you a prize. We are all sinners. All. And we need to reconcile with Jesus that one thing we all know has to be reconciled: an injustice, a hatred, an envy, an aggression, a rupture...you know it and God knows it. Admit with contrition what you have done wrong and allow God's grace to repair your brokenness. But St. Paul, seemingly on his knees, asks us: "Look, if you're a Christian allow yourself to reconcile with God!" This is a good time to allow yourself to reconcile with God! The time we spend on this road toward encountering Jesus is going to end at Easter when we sing that Alleluia filled with joy. Because there is our triumph. Not on election night.
Allow yourself to reconcile with God. That is the message. The act is in [imposition of] ashes and the message is "let's allow ourselves to reconcile with God".
And the admonition? The admonition is the one Jesus gives us in the Gospel: "Look, don't be a hypocrite, live like you are supposed to." God has placed His commands, not suggestions, and given His Church teaching authority to convey them and we are to try to adhere to them. If you are sinful, the Lord tells us, do what every sinner ought do: break down your [hard] heart and be converted. Pray more, make penance (such as depriving yourself of something you like or something superfluous), help others, give alms, perform acts of charity. His Eminence is exactly right, reminding us that we are our brother's keeper and Christ has enjoined us, as individuals, to look after those less fortunate. Do not live for you, because notice that sin, at the bottom [of it all], is grounded in selfishness. When we live in a situation of sin, we live centered in ourselves. We become the type of man or woman who instead of being called John, Peter, Mary, Antonia is called "me-myself-and-I." That is what the world teaches us, to be "me-myself-and-I." [To those who live] centered in oneself, in selfishness or "for me," Jesus says: "No. Pray. Open your heart to God. Open your heart to your brothers and give alms. You deprive yourself, that you can give alms. Spend your time visiting your sick brother, accompanying someone in solitude who needs it. Do not you live for you."
Today we start on this road with an act, a message and an admonition. The ash is the act; allow yourself to reconcile with God is the message and the admonition is more prayer and more penance. More service to others. Let us open our heart to the service of others.
I ask the Virgin to accompany all of us down this road; this road of reconciliation with Jesus and of encounter with Jesus, which is the most marvelous thing that can happen in our lives. When we encounter the Lord, our heart is broadened, is made greater, it becomes more generous and is capable of giving to the others instead of harvesting for itself.
May the Virgin help us to understand selfishness does lead anywhere. That vanity and keeping up appearances do not get us anywhere and only leads to ashes. And, if service to others makes us great -- as does adoration of God !!!-- this clears our path for that encounter with Jesus, a thing I ask for you and for me as we begin Lent.
May be it thus.
Following is my translation of the address given by B16 at the Audience with the GC35 Jesuits. I am not a professional (or even a serious amateur) translator, just a Society of Jesus-lovin' fool with an Italian (okay, Sicilian) grandmother. If you think I have made a mistake in here somewhere, let me know. It's a bit rough, because Italian (moreso than Spanish or Latin) really doesn't lend itself a coherent literal translation; there'll be a lot of [brackets] and "dynamic equivalence" going on. You've been warned.
My emphases and comments.
AUDIENCE WITH THE PARTICIPANTS IN THE GENERAL CONGREGATION OF THE SOCIETY OF JESUS (JESUITS)
At morning's end, the Holy Father Benedict XVI received in audience the participants in General Congregation 35 of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and gave the speech that follows:
ADDRESS OF THE HOLY FATHER
Dear Fathers of the General Congregation of the Society of Jesus,
I am happy to be gathered [with you] today while the labors which you are undertaking enter into their conclusive phase. I thank the new Superior General, Father Adolfo Nicolás, who is to be the interpreter of your feelings and of your desire to address all the attentions the Church places in you, as I spoke in the message directed to Rev. Father Kolvenbach and -– through him -– to all of the Congregation at the beginning of your efforts. Once again, I thank Father Peter-Hans Kolvenbach for the precious service of his governance to your Order for almost a quarter of a century. I salute also the members of the new General Council and the Assistants who will help the Superior General in the very delicate !! task of guiding your Society in its religious and apostolic aspects.
Your Congregation takes place during a period of great social, economical and political changes; of emphatically ethical, cultural and environmental problems, of conflicts of every sort; but also during a period of more intense communications between peoples, of new possibilities of knowledge and dialogue, of deep aspiration to peace. These go to the core of the Catholic Church and its capacity to announce to our contemporaries the Word of hope and of salvation. I myself wish, so deeply, the whole Society of Jesus would live -- thanks to the results of your Congregation -- with renewed vigor and fervor the mission for which the Spirit [has] inspired the Church and which, for more than four centuries [has blessed the Society] with extraordinary apostolic fruitfulness. I want today to encourage you and your brothers to continue on the road of this mission, in full faithfulness to your original charism, in the ecclesial and social contexts that have come to characterize the beginning of this millennium. As my Predecessors told you many times, the Church needs you, counts on you, and continues to look upon you with trust, in particular to reach those physical and spiritual places where others have not arrived or have difficulty in arriving. i.e. "Only Jesuits can do what the Jesuits do" The words of Paul VI are to remain engraved in your hearts: "Wherever in the Church you have been, either in the most difficult fields and in their vanguard, or at the crossroads of ideologies in the social trenches, or at the forefront [literally "at the confrontation"] between the burning needs of man and the perpetual message of the Gospel, there have been Jesuits." (3 December 1974, to General Congregation 32) This was a bit rough to translate...
Like the Formula of your Institute says, the Society of Jesus first of all is founded "for the defense and the propagation of the faith." Let us be mindful of exactly who has the authority to define what that faith is In a time in which new geographic horizons opened themselves, the first companions of Ignatius made themselves available to the Pope himself because "he sent them wherever he judged it to be for greater glory of God and help of the souls" Interesting set of priorities, yes? (Autobiography, n. 85). Thus you were sent off to announce the Lord to peoples and cultures that did not know Him yet. There is one such traveler with a courage and a zeal that remain an example and inspiration to this day: the name of St. Francis Xavier is the most famous of all, but how many other would [have done the same] if [they] could do it! Today there are people who do not know the Lord, or who do not know Him well, who do not know to recognize Him as the Savior; these [people] are greatly distant, not from the geographic point of view but, rather, from the cultural one. That is, engagement with the culture is supposed to produce a change in the culture. It is not the seas or large distances that are the obstacles challenging those who proclaim the Gospel, much more [of an obstacle is] the boundary of continuing in an erroneous or superficial view of God and of man Was that was a little bonus for Fr. Sobrino?, which interposes itself between human faith and human knowledge, faith and modern science, faith and striving for justice.
So the Church has urgent need of persons of solid and deep faith, of serious culture and of genuine human and social sensibility, of religious and priests who dedicate their life to be on this boundary witnessing and to helping to understand that in you inhabits a deep harmony of faith and reason, between Gospel spirit, thirst for justice and labor for peace. Only this way will it be possible to make known the one true Lord to so many for whom today He remains hidden or unrecognizable. To this the Society of Jesus ought dedicate itself preferentially. Which is to say "bring Christ -- sacramentally -- to those who do not know Him or know Him fully." Faithful to its best tradition, it is to continue forming with great care its members in [both] knowledge and in virtue, without [stooping] to content itself with mediocrity, because the task of confrontation and conversation within the very diverse social and cultural contexts and [given] the different outlook of the world today is most difficult and laborious. And this search for quality and human solidity, [both] spiritual and cultural, should also characterize all the complex formative activity and education of the Jesuits, towards all manner of persons wherever you find them.
In its history, the Society of Jesus has lived extraordinary experiences of proclamation and encounters between the Gospel and the cultures of the world –- all one has to do is think of Matteo Ricci in China, of Roberto De Nobili in India, or the "Reductions" of Latin America. You are rightly proud of this. Today I feel the duty of exhorting you to place yourselves again on the path of your predecessors with as much courage and intelligence, Is it just me, or does this sound a lot like "get back on track?" but also with as much profound motivation of faith and passion for serving the Lord and His Church. Nevertheless, while you seek to recognize signs of God's presence and work in every place in the world, even outside the confines of the visible Church, while you strive to build bridges of understanding and dialogue with those who do not belong to the Church or have difficulty accepting its positions and messages, you must at the same time loyally accept the fundamental duty of the Church to adhere totally to the Word of God, and of the charge of the Magisterium to preserve the truth and the unity of Catholic doctrine completely. This is as clear as can be: in all you do, you are to remain 100% on board...no "doctrinal diversity" need apply. This is valid not only for the personal efforts of the individual Jesuit: since he works as a member [literally "a limb"] of an apostolic body, you also have to be mindful [literally "be attentive to"] your works and institutions preserve always [that] clear and explicit identity, because the goal of your apostolic activity is not to remains ambiguous or dark, and because many other people share your ideals and wish to unite themselves to you effectively and enthusiastically, collaborating with your efforts to be of service to God and man. Pay attention to what you do and say, because others are also paying attention to you...and we don't want people wandering off in the wrong direction.
As you well know from having completed many times, under the guidance of St. Ignatius in the Spiritual Exercises, the meditation "of the two flags," our world is a battlefield [Literally "a theater of combat"] between good and evil, and you have been [witnesses to] the work of potent negative forces, which have caused dramatic situations of the spiritual and material servility in our contemporaries against which you have, time and again, declared to want to fight, striving in service to the faith and the promotion of justice. Such forces demonstrate themselves today in many ways, but are particularly evident through cultural tendencies that often come to dominate, like subjectivism, relativism, hedonism, and the practice of materialism. For this reason I have asked your renewed efforts to promote and to defend Catholic doctrine "those neuralgic points of doctrine under heavy attack today from secular culture," some of which I gave as examples in my Letter. The issues of the salvation of all of the men in Christ, of sexual morality, of marriage and of the family, today are continually debated and put in doubt, are deepened and clarified in understanding within the context of contemporary reality, but only by preserving the harmony with the Magisterium which avoids provoking confusion and disconcerting the People of God. Let me repeat: What the Magisterium says, goes. Always.
I know and I understand well this is an especially sensitive and troubling point for you and for many of your brethren, above all for those involved in theological research, in interfaith dialogue and in dialogue with contemporary culture. For this very reason I have invited you previously and invite you again today to reflect how to recover [literally, "find again"] the fullest sense of your characteristic "fourth vow" of obedience to the Successor of Peter, which does not consist solely of a readiness to to be sent off on mission to distant lands, So let's not hear any more about how the 4th Vow is only that mission thing but also -– in the most genuine Ignatian spirit of the "think [literally "feel" or "sense"] with the Church and in the Church" – "to love and to serve" the Vicar of Christ on Earth with that "effective and affective" [literally, "real and affectionate"] devotion which ought make of you of his precious and irreplaceable collaborators in his service for the universal Church. Nobody can hold a candle to you guys when you proceed according to the desires of Christ's earthly representative.
At the same time I encourage you to continue and to renew your mission among the poor and with the poor. They are not lacking, unfortunately, for new causes of poverty and of marginalization in a world marked with serious economic and environmental imbalances, of processes of globalization guided more from egotism this is often mistranslated as "individualism" which ain't the same thing than from solidarity, of devastating and absurd armed conflicts. As I reminded the Latin American Bishops gathered at the Sanctuary of Aparecida, "the preferential option for the poor is implicit in the Christological faith in that God, for us, made Himself poor, to enrich us with His poverty (II Cor 8:9)". Therefore, it is natural for those who really want to be companions of Jesus, to really share that love for the poor. For them, this option for the poor is not ideological so enough about those ideas, m'kay?, but is born of the Gospel. Innumerable and dramatic are the situations of injustice and poverty in the world today, and if it is necessary to strive to understand and to fight its structural causes, it is also necessary to fight, in the heart of the man, the deep roots of evil, the sin that separates it from God, there are no sinful structures without sinful people to create, run and staff them without forgetting to meet the more urgent needs in the spirit of Christ's charity. Recalling and developing from one of the last of the farsighted intuitions of Father Arrupe, your Company continues to pledge itself in a praiseworthy manner in the service of the refugee, who often are the poorest among the poor and who need not only material help, but also [help] in that most deep spiritual, human and psychological venue that is proper to your service. The preferential option for the poor means the purpose of meeting their material needs is so that you may meet their greater, i.e., spiritual needs
I invite you to pay specific attention to the preservation of the ministry of the Spiritual Exercises which, from your beginnings, has been characteristic of your Society. The Exercises are the source of your spirituality and the mother of your Constitutions, but are also a gift the Spirit of the Lord has given to the whole Church: it is up to you to continue to use this precious and effective tool for the spiritual growth of souls, for their initiation to prayer, for meditation in this secularized world where God belongs. In the past week I also made progress in the Spiritual Exercises, along with one of my closest collaborators of the Roman Curia, under the guidance of your outstanding brother, Card. Albert Vanhoye. In times like these, in which [we see] confusion and multiplicity of messages, the speed of change and circumstances makes it especially difficult for our contemporaries to put order in their own lives and [makes it difficult] to answer decisively and with delight the call the Lord makes to everyone, [in times like these] the Spiritual Exercises represent a path and a particularly beautiful method of knowing His will and putting it into practice. So, while you may tweak around the margins, the Spiritual Exercises are, and are to remain, a pathway to Christ. Only. This ain't yoga, people.
In this spirit of obedience to the will of God, to Jesus Christ, which also becomes humble obedience to the Church, In case anyone showed up late: you cannot be obedient to Christ without being obedient to His Church. This is being repeated for a reason. There may be a quiz later. I invite to continue to completion the labors of your Congregation, and I join you in the prayer taught by St. Ignatius at the conclusion of the Exercises -– a prayer that always seems to me too great, to the point that I almost do not dare to say it and which, nonetheless we ought always repeat. "Take, O Lord, and receive my entire liberty, my memory, my understanding and my whole will. All that I am and all that I possess You have given me. I surrender it all to You to be disposed of according to Your will. Give me only Your love and Your grace; with these I will be rich enough, and will desire nothing more." (EX 234).
[This had been stuck in my draft pile--waiting for pictures, I guess--but here it is.]
I realize a lot of people have given up chocolate for Lent and, sometimes something happens calling for a celebratory dessert. Fear not, the answer is Flan. Now, not everyone may have an idea of what the deal is with flan. The French tried (and failed) to appropriate it and rename it "creme renversee" or "creme caramel" but Flan it is.
It's basically a baked custard, firmer than a creme brulee (lacking the latter's caramel exoskeleton, it'd have to be) and with a less eggy/more milky flavor profile.
This was originally a Spanish dessert, but as it spread throughout the Empire, local variations evolved. I know Mexico has its variation, as does Argentina and they are all as similar as first cousins. The version from Cuber relies on "convenience products" borne of a then-close association with the USA and the necessities of a tropical climate where dairy and eggs spoiled quickly (that's why you'll never see a recipe that has an imbalance of yolks and white...too much waste). For example, in Spain, they'd never use anything other than fresh whole milk, etc.
I'll post mo' pictures, but here's the dead-easy recipe.
Flan (in the style of Cuber)
¼ c. sugar
1 can of condensed milk (lowfat or fat free is fine)
1¼ c. of milk (anything that is NOT SKIM milk will also work: whole milk, evaporated milk in any -- even fat free! -- variation, lowfat...just not fresh skim milk)
4 large eggs (or 2 eggs and 3 whites)
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
Take a soufflé dish, scatter the sugar evenly over the bottom and place in the oven at 325F (___C) until the sugar has caramelized to the color of pale honey, toss in the freezer to set caramel. If your dish isn't tempered to handle the temperature shock -- or if you don't want to discover it isn't the hard way -- you may use a saucepan to melt/caramelize the sugar and then pour the caramel in the dish, rolling it around to coat the bottom evenly. Set aside.
Empty the condensed milk into a mixing bowl, scraping the inside as clean as possible. Add the milk to the empty can, to rinse off what you can, and then add to the bowl. Add your eggs, and mix thoroughly...do not incorporate air into this. Stir in vanilla.
Pour custard mix into soufflé dish. Place dish in a roasting pan and fill with water. Turn oven to 300F and bake for about 60-70 minutes, until the center is wobbly. Remove and refrigerate until chilled (figure 3 hours). Run a damp boning knife along the edge and invert to unmold.
Using evaporated milk over fresh will give a bit more depth of flavor, fresh milk will make it taste lighter. Same applies to the ratio of yolks to whites. Using extra whites will make the flan firmer, but less eggy. I like using skim evaporated milk and whole eggs. You do whatever. You may also make this in individual ramekins which makes for a more posh presentation, but is a greater PITA in unmolding. Oh, and baking time drops to +/- 45-50 minutes.
The most important thing in making flan is keeping an eye on the time/heat in baking. You can tell you did it right if there are no bubbles or "eyes" in the body of the custard. If you get these, the texture will suffer some (its mouthfeel will be a touch gritty; the more bubbles, the grittier) but it will taste fine. Just adjust the time/temperature accordingly. When in doubt, it's better to bake these sorts of things low and slow.
This ain't a race, people.
As you have read throughout this blog and others of a similar cut to their jib, there have been some times where, lamentably, Jesuit universities and colleges have decided to fund* and produce such fare as the Vagina Monologues or host such profane and mysogynist recording stars which promote generally dysfunctional and specifically anti-Catholic values as Ludacris.
There are some people who have greeted these news, especially in the case of the all-pervasive -- no, really, you can't get away from them -- Vagina Monologues, with no small measure of dismay. Indeed, we are confident to say those who have greeted these news with dismay have afforded the presidents of these Jesuit universities and colleges great opportunities to offer up the pain of a headache for the release of souls in Purgatory. To say nothing of adding to the coffers of pharmaceutical companies which manufacture analgesics which, by now, must be achoke with cash.
However, it strikes me that in continually making decisions which upset a great many of their donor base (parents and alumni, say) they are making things difficult for themselves. Each fresh announcement (the Transgender Blasphemy Parade, the Gangsta Rap Divine Office, the Dissident Plaster Casters Symposium, the Serial Rapist Papier Mache Figurine Exhibition** or whatever) brings a fresh wave of derision, in turn bringing a fresh wave of headache for the administration.
So, being the Jesuit-educated MBA-type I am, I put my considerable gifts for strategic thinking to work. Why not, thought I, consolidate all of these controversies? This means only one volley of complaints is to be fielded and explained with only one uncomfortably pained rhetorical jeteé and voilá!, the antagonists are but a spent force.
Bloody clever, thought I. And so, to aid our friends who afford college students such options, I suggest:
AMDG, of course.
* Nobody is griping about studying them or reading them or acting them out within the context of a classroom discussion. We're talking about subsidizing their production and promoting same.
** Relax, I made those up.
The lovely and gracious Karen has noted with some alarm the joyful noise made unto a pro-abortion candidate for President (who has been a U.S. Senator for exactly three years and a month) by some assorted Jesuits and/or affiliates, without much in the way of an explanation regarding where the Senator stands well afield of Catholic teaching. A few examples of this can be found here and here and, most recently, here. I must confess my concern that we'll see more such highlights as time wears on. We can only hope that correction from above will ensue.
It bears noting that Sen. Obama, y'know, doesn't exactly call attention to his (abysmal and untenable and indefensible and, truth be told, intellectually vacant) views, positions and voting record and those in his thrall make no effort to discern same. Quite the opposite, he "says nothing better than anyone." Alas, I'm not sure the information would matter to his claque if they had it, although in all charity -- sadly, NOT my default personality trait -- I must afford them some hope as re. being open to reason.
Thinking back of my halcyon Wilderness Years, I remembered a song that, frankly, encapsulates the I-don't-know-how-to-quit-you sentiment that has threatened me with acute glycemic shock and nausea of late.
...the General Congregation [should] reaffirm, in the spirit of Saint Ignatius, its own total adhesion to Catholic doctrine, in particular on those neuralgic points which today are strongly attacked by secular culture, as for example the relationship between Christ and religions; some aspects of the theology of liberation; and various points of sexual morality, especially as regards the indissolubility of marriage and the pastoral care of homosexual persons.
Pressed as to whether the Jesuits see accepting official church teaching on the specific points mentioned in the pope’s letter as a matter of obedience, Smolira said, “I’m not sure it’s a matter of obedience, and I’m not sure that’s the best way of couching the issue.”
Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, there came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he reclined at table. But when His disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, "To what purpose is this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor." When Jesus heard this, He said unto them, "Why trouble ye the woman? She hath wrought a good work upon Me. For ye have the poor always with you; but Me, ye have not always. For in that she hath poured this ointment on My body, she did it for My burial. Verily I say unto ye: Wheresoever this Gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.
If Catholics do not recover and strengthen a clear Catholic identity, one that is coherent in teaching and practice and in continuity with our past, then we cannot make the contribution the Lord commands her to give to the world. In the ever secularizing, relativizing world, solid clear Catholics are being marginalized, while the squishy amorphous sort are being allowed to stick around as tokens in public discourse. We need renewal of our identity so that we can understand well who we are and live our lives in keeping with that identity (this is the ad intra dimension). Only in this way can we have something vital and effective to contribute to the world at large (this is the ad extra dimension).