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  Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

The Theory of Reminiscence

The theory of Reminiscence replies that knowledge of the perfect Forms, and indeed all knowledge of truth and reality, is at all times present in the soul itself. The knowledge is there, but latent and unconscious. What is called ‘learning,’ or the discovery of truth, is the recollection of this latent knowledge, raised to the level of consciousness. The soul is guided in the search by its own dim vision of a truth that is always present, needing only to be seen more clearly, and coordinated with other parts of the whole system of Truth. Also, if knowledge is at all times present to the soul, the soul must be immortal and independent of the body and its senses. It has seen all truth in some former state of existence before it came into the body. The truth has been forgotten, but it is stored in a memory from which it can be recovered. This memory is not what we commonly call the memory, not a register of the experience which flows in, during this bodily life, through the channels of sense. Its contents are impersonal, the same in all human beings, and they have never been extracted or distilled out of sensible experience.

—F.M. Cornford

  Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

The Movement of Life

For all that—to go back to our main point—this biological science is inspired, no less than Platonism, by the idea of aspiration. The complete Form is an end, not only in the sense that it is the last stage of a process of development, but also in the sense that it is a ‘good’ or perfection; and the movement of life towards its realization is like the movement of human desire towards the goods we wish for. Biology is the field in which the apparatus of concepts we have reviewed—Aristotelian Form and Matter, the actual and the potential—is most at home and most illuminating. And it might be expected that Aristotle, having ousted from this field the unnecessary hypothesis of a divine creator and his model, would complete his system without requiring a God of any sort. But when he passes beyond biology to the whole range of physical science, he cannot dispense with a God; and this God is precisely the ultimate goal of aspiration. So deeply is this idea rooted in Aristotle’s mind that it is invoked to account for all motion and change in Nature. The cause or reason, not only of the movement of life, but of all movement whatsoever, is to be found, not in the beginning, but in the end. In relation to the world as a whole, the name for that end is ‘God’—the pure and supreme Form, which moves all things, not by mechanical impulsion, but by attraction, as the object of desire.

—F.M. Cornford

  Sunday, April 12th, 2015

In my deepest wound I saw Your glory, and it dazzled me.

—St. Augustine

mary

  Saturday, April 11th, 2015

Mother Mary

Calm our fears, have mercy.


  Friday, April 10th, 2015

It is a deep spiritual practice simply to be a witness to beauty.

—Catherine Foote


  Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

The Prayer of Blessed Cardinal Newman

God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good. I shall do his work. I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place while not intending it — if but I keep his commandments and serve Him in my calling.

Therefore I will trust Him. Whatever, wherever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness shall serve Him; In perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him; If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him…

He may prolong my life, he may shorten it; He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends; He may throw me to strangers, he may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide the future from me — still He knows what he is about.

O Adonai, O Ruler of Israel, Thou that guidest Joseph like a flock, O Emmanuel, O Sapientia, I give myself to Thee. I trust Thee wholly. Thou art wiser than I — more loving than I myself.

Deign to fulfill Thy high purposes in me whatever they be — work in and through me. I am born to serve Thee, to be Thy instrument. Let me be Thy blind instrument. I ask not to see — ask not to know — I ask simply to be used.


  Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

Anamnesis

In philosophy, anamnesis is the concept in Plato’s epistemological and psychological theory that humans possess knowledge from past incarnations and that learning consists of rediscovering that knowledge within us.

In Christianity, it is a liturgical statement in which the Church refers to the memorial character of the Eucharist and/or to the Passion, Resurrection and Ascension of Christ. It has its origin in Jesus’ words at the Last Supper, “Do this in memory of me.”

In a wider sense, Anamnesis is a key concept in the liturgical theology: in worship the faithful recall God’s saving deeds. This memorial aspect is not simply a passive process but one by which the Christian can actually enter into the Paschal mystery.


lentenrose

  Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

Lenten Rose

I noticed this helleborus today gracing the grounds of the Waterfront Activity Center.


  Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

Moral Autonomy

Socrates said that he knew nothing could be taught to anyone else. At the same time he declared that human perfection lies in the knowledge of good and evil. Why cannot this knowledge be taught, like knowledge of other kinds? Because all that another person can teach me is that such and such things are believed to be good, such and such actions are believed to be right, by some external authority or by society itself. Information of this sort can be conveyed by instruction; indeed, it forms the whole substance of moral education as commonly practiced. But it is not what Socrates called knowledge. I shall not know that this or that is good or right until I can see it directly for myself; that knowledge will put out of court what I am told that other people believe or think they believe. Knowledge of values, in fact, is a matter of direct insight, like seeing that the sky is blue, the grass green. It does not consist of pieces of information that can be handed from one mind to another.

—F.M.Cornford

  Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

Spiritual Formation

Is there some one end of life that is alone worthy of desire?

Now it would not be hard to convince a tradesman that money is not an end in itself. He would agree that he wants money for the sake of something else that he might call pleasure or happiness. And a doctor might admit that health is valuable only as a condition of happiness. In that way human happiness emerges as a common end, to which other aims are subordinate. But what is happiness? From Socrates’ time onwards, this was the chief question debated by the Schools. The philosophers saw that mankind might be roughly classified under three types, according as they identified happiness with pleasure, with social success, honor, and fame, or with knowledge or wisdom. The debate turned on the relative claims of these three main objects of pursuit. Could any one of them by itself constitute happiness, and if so, which one? Or were they all constituents in a perfect life; and, if so, how were they to be related to one another? We are now concerned with Socrates’ solution of this problem.

Socrates held that happiness was to be found in what he called the perfection of the soul — ‘making one’s soul as good as possible’ — and that all other ends which men desire were strictly of no value in themselves.

—F.M.Cornford

  Monday, March 30th, 2015

If there is no sin in this world there is no God in heaven.

—Flannery O'Connor

  Monday, March 30th, 2015

4/14/47

I must write down that I am to be an artist. Not in the sense of aesthetic frippery but in the sense of aesthetic craftsmanship; otherwise I will feel my loneliness continually—like this today. The word craftsmanship takes care of the work angle & the word aesthetic the truth angle. Angle. It will be a life struggle with no consummation. When something is finished, it cannot be possessed. Nothing can be possessed but the struggle. All our lives are consumed in possessing struggle but only when the struggle is cherished & directed to a final consummation outside of this life is it of any value. I want to be the best artist it is possible for me to be, under God.

I do not want to be lonely all my life but people only make us lonelier by reminding us of God. Dear God please help me to be an artist, please let it lead to You.

—Flannery O'Connor

  Monday, March 30th, 2015

The Desire for God

To maintain any thread in the novel there must be a view of the world behind it & the most important single item under this view of [the] world is conception of love—divine, natural, & perverted. It is probably possible to say that when a view of love is present—a broad enough view—no more need be added to make the worldview.

Freud, Proust, Lawrence have located love inside the human & there is no need to question their location; however, there is no need either to define love as they do—only as desire, since this precludes Divine Love, which, while it too may be desire, is a different kind of desire—Divine desire—and is outside of man and capable of lifting him up to itself. Man’s desire for God is bedded in his unconscious & seeks to satisfy itself in physical possession of another human. This necessarily is a passing, fading attachment in its sensuous aspects since it is a poor substitute for what the unconscious is after. The more conscious the desire for God becomes the more successful union with another becomes because the intelligence realizes the relation in its relation to a greater desire & if this intelligence is in both parties the motive power in the desire for God becomes double & gains in becoming God-like. The modern man isolated from faith, from raising his desire for God into a conscious desire, is sunk into the position of seeing physical love as an end in itself. Thus his romanticizing it, wallowing in it, & then cynicizing it. Or in the case of the artist like Proust of his realizing that it is the only thing worth life but seeing it without purpose, accidental, and unsatisfying after desire has been fulfilled. Proust’s conception of desire could only be that way since he makes it the highest point of existence—which it is—but with nothing supernatural to end in. It sinks lower & lower in the unconscious, to the very pit of it, which is Hell. Certainly hell is located in the unconscious even as the desire for God is. The desire for God may be in a super consciousness which is unconscious. Satan fell into his libido or his id whichever is the more complete Freudian term.

Perversion is the end result of denying or revolting against supernatural love, descending from the unconscious superconsciousness to the id. Where perversion is disease or result of disease, this does not apply since no free will operates. The Sex act is a religious act & when it occurs without God it is a mock act or at best an empty act. Proust is right that only a love which does not satisfy can continue. Two people can remain “in love”—a phrase made practically useless by stinking romanticism—only if their common desire for each other unites in a greater desire for God—i.e., they do not become satisfied but more desirous together of the supernatural love in union with God.

—Flannery O'Connor

  Monday, March 30th, 2015

Cream

The English name for the fat-rich portion of milk, like the French word from which it derives, has associations that are startling but appropriate to its status as a textural ideal.

Before the Norman Conquest, and to this day in some northern dialects, the English word for cream was ream, a simple offshoot of the Indo-European root that also gave the modern German Rahm. But the French connection introduced a remarkable hybrid term. In 6th-century Gaul, fatty milk was called crama, from the Latin cremor lactis, or “heat-thickened substance of milk.” Then in the next few centuries it somehow became crossed with a religious term: chreme, or “consecrated oil,” which stems from the Greek word chriein, “to annoint,” that gave us Christ, “the anointed one.” So in France crama became creme, and in England ream gave way to cream.

Why this confusion of ancient ritual with rich food? Linguistic accident or error, perhaps. On the other hand, anointing oil and butterfat are essentially the same substance, so perhaps it was inspiration. In the monastic or farm kitchens of Normandy, the addition of cream to other foods may have been considered not just an enrichment, but a kind of blessing.

—Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking

  Monday, March 23rd, 2015

i thank You God for most this amazing

day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any—lifted from the no
of all nothing—human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

—e.e.cummings