mercoledì, settembre 30, 2009

Un aforisma al giorno - 130

Un aforisma al giorno - 130: "
'Uno dei grandi svantaggi della fretta è che porta via tanto tempo'.

(Gilbert Keith Chesterton)

martedì, settembre 29, 2009


Oggi la mia cara nonna ha compiuto 100 anni!

Parabola degli sposi che partono insieme

Parabola degli sposi che partono insieme: "

“Ci piacerebbe andarcene insieme” diceva qui – in un post del 24 settembre – Antonio Thellung anche a nome della sua Giulia. Quelle parole mi hanno spinto a cercare una cartellina nella quale avevo raccolto storie di “sposi” che partono insieme. La più antica riguarda la più famosa di queste coppie avvenurate: Giorgio Amendola muore a Roma, di malattia, il 5 giugno 1980 a 73 anni e lei, Garmaine Lecocq, se ne va poche ore dopo. Gli altri casi sono recenti. 23 agosto 2005: a Ferentino, Frosinone, Alberto Celani muore appena rientrato in casa dal funerale di Anna Maria, che aveva sposato 70 anni prima. 9 maggio 2006: Maria Cristina Di Maria segue il marito Giovanni Maselli a meno di mezz’ora. Avevano tutti e due 93 anni. 28 aprile 2008: a Ponteranica, Bergamo, Ugo Mafessoni e Annalisa Saviori, stessa età, lei a ruota di lui. 15 agosto 2008: a Casnate con Bernate, Como, Liliana Durio e Gianfranco Pirovano, 80 lui e 74 lei, che se ne va appena sepolto lui. 14 ottobre 2008: festeggiate le nozze d’oro, Giovanni Napoli viene ricoverato e Maria Ausilia Piras muore per un attacco di cuore senza sapere che lui è appena spirato. 24 agosto 2009: a Genova Giovanni e Liliana Buscaglia, 94 e 89 anni, vengono trovati a terra, lui caduto e lei morta mentre lo soccorreva. In sei dei sette casi è lei a seguire lui.


lunedì, settembre 28, 2009

Interview with the custodian of Newman’s Littlemore: ‘a place so important in the history of English Christianity’

Interview with the custodian of Newman’s Littlemore: ‘a place so important in the history of English Christianity’: "
The College at Littlemore

The College at Littlemore

We’re delighted to publish a new interview with Sister Mary Dechant F.S.O., custodian of ‘The College’ at Littlemore near Oxford, as the anniversary approaches of John Henry Newman’s reception there into the Catholic Church on 9 October 1845. This interview between Sister Mary and the Cause, which is also being posted by Catholic Online and Independent Catholic News, illuminates the history of Newman’s conversion and its message for the contemporary Church:

What was the original connection between John Henry Newman and Littlemore?

Newman was appointed Vicar of St Mary the Virgin, the University Church of Oxford, in 1828. Littlemore, on the outskirts of Oxford, had been part of the parish of St Mary’s for many centuries. So Newman became Vicar of Littlemore, too. Although a celebrated intellectual with a weighty load of teaching, he loved to take care of his parishioners, and visited the small and hitherto rather neglected hamlet of Littlemore several times a week. He built a church for the village, St Mary and St Nicholas, in 1835-6 and a school in 1838. He remained Vicar of St Mary’s and of Littlemore until September 1843 when he resigned his ministry as his doubts about the validity of the church of England had become too strong.

When did he move there permanently? Why?

Newman moved to Littlemore in April 1842 to create a place of prayer and study. In 1841 he had published Tract 90 in which, in a series of scholarly arguments, he tried to reconcile the 39 articles of the church of England with Catholic Christianity. The result was intense conflict both in the University and among the Anglican bishops. Newman realised that he had to find an answer to the pressing question: was his position wrong or was the church of England in schism? So at Littlemore he rented the ‘Cottages’ in College Lane which had been a stage post for coaches. He converted the buildings for his needs. The former stable was transformed into his library and the granary into several cottages where he and some friends could share a life of study, prayer and penance. He called the building ‘the house of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Littlemore’.

It’s well known that it was at Littlemore that Newman converted to the Catholic Church. Tell us more about that.

Newman and his friends at Littlemore shared one desire: to find the truth so as to serve God better. They had all been brought up in the church of England but had become less and less convinced that it was the true Church of Christ. For Newman this process was particularly difficult considering the great intellectual and spiritual influence he had exercised in the church of England. He knew that a decision to leave Anglicanism would have consequences for many other people. After years of prayer, fasting and study he saw clearly that the Roman Catholic Church was the same Church as the Church of the apostles and the early Christians. He knew in conscience that he had to join it if he wanted to be saved. God’s Providence helped by sending him the Passionist Blessed Dominic Barberi. The two had met him briefly in 1844 and Newman had been impressed by his holiness. When Newman had made up his mind to be received into the Church in October 1845 he heard that Blessed Dominic would be travelling through Oxford. Via their mutual friend John Dobrée Dalgairns Newman asked the Passionist priest to call in at Littlemore. When Dominic Barberi arrived late in the evening of 8th October, soaking wet from his journey, Newman did not hesitate one moment, knelt down in front of him, and asked him for reception into the Church. He then began his general confession which he had prepared in the previous days and which lasted for several hours. The rite of reception, including conditional baptism, took place in the chapel next to Newman’s private room on the evening of 9th October. Two of his friends, Richard Stanton and E. S. Bowles, were received at the same time. Newman never regretted his decision. Not only in the Apologia, but also in many letters, he witnesses to the interior peace that always accompanied him as a Catholic, despite the well known fact that he was not spared difficulties not only from outside the Church but also within it.


Plaque at the Entrance to the College

Tell us about your Spiritual Family of The Work – and how did it come to be involved with Newman and Littlemore?

The Spiritual Family of The Work began in Belgium in 1938. Mother Julia Verhaeghe, our Foundress, was inspired by the letters of St Paul. She was God’s instrument in bringing a new charism to the Church. Her foundation received Papal Recognition as a ‘Family of Consecrated Life’ in 2001. Our first task is to grow in unity with the Triune God and with each other, to live in trusting faith, firm hope and sincere love in the strength of the sacraments and a life of prayer. We are called to reflect the beauty of the Church as the Family of God. We are ready lovingly to serve the Church in the ways God’s Providence leads us. We do not have a specific apostolate and exclude none.

Mother Julia did not know about Newman when the community started. In the 1960s a priest advised her to read a Newman anthology. She was very impressed by it and recognised in Newman a kindred spirit. In the early 1970s she asked our Sr Lutgart Govaert to do her doctorate on Newman’s Mariology. Step by step Mother Julia recognized that it was God’s will that The Work should help to make the special gift of John Henry Newman’s love for Christ and his truth fruitful for the Church in our times. In the Holy Year 1975 The Work organised a Newman Symposium. In preparation, we made personal contact with The Oratory, with many Newman scholars internationally, with the Hierarchy of the Church, and with students and scholars of the universities and seminaries of Rome. At that time Newman was almost forgotten in academic circles in Rome, something which is hard to imagine today. The Symposium helped to inspire students at the Roman Pontifical Universities to study him and it helped to banish the prejudice that Newman was not valued in Rome. As a follow up to the Symposium, the Pope requested a Newman Centre to be set up at our Roman house on the Via Aurelia. Gradually students and scholars started to frequent the quickly growing library; a lively correspondence developed with scholars and friends of Newman all over the world, and the Centre became a place of meeting and Christian fellowship. In 1976, Sr Lutgart was sent to England, where she worked at the Birmingham Oratory for five years and helped to set up the Friends of Cardinal Newman. So far five doctoral dissertations and five licentiate and Masters dissertations have been written by priests and Sisters of Spiritual Family of The Work.

Newman’s life and writings have been an extraordinary gift to Christianity. The theologian, philosopher and teacher penetrated the mysteries of our faith, explored its relations to human reason and presented with unequalled force the obligations it lays upon us in our lives.

In 1986 the Fathers of the Birmingham Oratory asked if Sisters of our Family could come to live at Littlemore to help run The College and welcome its visitors. Since then much has developed on the spot which was so dear to Newman. Littlemore has become again a place of prayer and study. Together with Littlemore, The Work has also set up Newman Centres in Bregenz (Austria) and Budapest (Hungary), with specialised Newman libraries containing rare items not easily found elsewhere. Students and scholars from all continents have been assisted in their researches into Newman. In Littlemore we offer Newman scholars and friends accommodation in our guest rooms.

We have published various books on Newman and have given many talks on his life and writings; two of our Sisters taught courses Newman at the Pontifical University Urbaniana in Rome. Every year we produce a Newman Newsletter and send it out in four languages. We have a website with a continually updated Newman bibliography which is frequently visited by Newman scholars and friends.

The Blessed Sacrament exposed in Newman's Chapel at Littlemore

The Blessed Sacrament exposed in Newman's Chapel at Littlemore

Newman’s scholarship was always intimately linked to his life of prayer. From the very beginning of our Newman work, scholars studying in the Newman library in Rome have loved to join the prayer of the community. Wherever we are and by worldwide communication, we encourage people to turn to Newman for his intercession for their intentions and to join the many who pray to God for Newman’s Canonisation.

What kinds of visitors do you get at Littlemore today?

At Littlemore we experience how much Newman is loved and known all over the world. Visitors come from the five continents. Many of them are Catholics, but not exclusively. Newman appeals deeply to non-Catholic Christians as well. The visitors come alone or in groups. We offer them a guided tour in the former library, which now – besides the excellent collection of books, gathered with the help of many Newman Friends – contains a permanent Newman exhibition, offering us the opportunity to narrate Newman’s life. A high point is the visit to Newman’s bedroom and to his chapel in which the Eucharistic Lord has been present since 1990. Smaller groups often have the privilege of celebrating Mass in the chapel. We are willing to show visitors the Anglican parish church, St Mary and St Nicholas, built by Newman, and other sites at Littlemore of Newman interest. If groups wish, we guide them to the main sites associated with Newman in Oxford: St Mary’s, and Newman’s two colleges, Trinity and Oriel. At Littlemore eight rooms are available for guests coming for private retreats, for study or simply to gain new strength from being in this place of peace.

We aim to live up to Newman’s motto cor ad cor loquitur, be it in our daily care for Littlemore and its gardens, in the upkeep of this place which is so important in the history of Christianity in England, or in our welcome to those who come to pray, to visit or to stay. In the same spirit we also offer special events throughout the year, for example the annual Newman pilgrimage, the annual Newman Night Walk from Oxford to Littlemore on the evening of 8th to 9th October, organised together with the Oxford Oratory, Forty Hours of Prayer before Lent etc. For almost two decades the Cor ad Cor group has met monthly for an evening of reading and discussion and for Eucharistic Adoration in Newman’s chapel. We are also involved in the local Catholic parish in all kinds of ways (catechesis, musical help with liturgical celebrations, organisation of days of prayer, visiting the elderly at home etc.) and keep in contact with people from many different backgrounds whom we seek to help in their lives of faith. We are privileged to be able to be the guardians of this place of grace, where Newman “found an answer to his prayers” (Letters and Diaries of John Henry Newman Vol 11, p. 133) on behalf of the Birmingham Oratory.

What, in the end, is the message of Littlemore?

Above all, Littlemore helps us to understand the profound connections in Newman’s life between study, prayer and love for the people of God. This is the key to understanding his conversion. Nowadays, many people desire to separate charity from truth. Newman, by contrast, teaches us the intimate connection between the Christian life of the mind, pastoral charity and friendship with each other and with God. To divorce his intellectual work from his life, both as an Anglican clergyman and then as a Catholic priest, is to misunderstand the unity of his personality, perfected by grace, and his profound importance for our times.

10th October sees the annual pilgrimage to Littlemore commemorating the anniversary of Newman’s conversion. Mass (at the Catholic parish church, opposite the College) is at 12 noon, celebrated by Bishop Philip Boyce of Raphoe, Ireland. For details of other events, including the night walk on 8 October, see here.

For more information on Littlemore and the International Centre of Newman friends, click here.

To read Pope Benedict XVI’s words about Newman and his conversion on 6 September, click here.

To read an interview with the Editor of Newman’s Letters and Diaries, click here.


sabato, settembre 26, 2009

I caduti di Kabul e il cuoco di Cesare

I caduti di Kabul e il cuoco di Cesare: "

di Franco Cardini

Se lo domandava molto tempo fa il vecchio Bertolt Brecht: Giulio Cesare ha conquistato tutta la Gallia: ma non aveva nemmeno un cuoco? Gli fece eco, anni più tardi, il nostro Lucio Dalla in Itaca: “Capitano, che hai negli occhi – il tuo splendido destino – pensi mai al marinaio – a cui mancan pane e vino? – Capitano, che hai trovato – principesse in ogni porto, – pensi mai al rematore – che sua moglie crede morto?”. È una bella canzone, questa di Dalla: un po’ vecchia ormai, ma adatta a chi corre l’avventura in paesi lontani. Chissà se la conoscono, i nostri parà in Afghanistan. Fra l’altro, farebbe molto al caso loro: e al nostro. Lo dico perché anch’io ho seguito, il 20 settembre, il rientro dei nostri ragazzi caduti. Sono un vecchio ex ufficiale d’aeronautica, i parà li conosco e li amo. Quelli, poi, avrebbero potuto per età essere miei figli. E avrei potuto essere nonno di Simone Valente, il bambino di due anni figlio del sergente maggiore Roberto: uno dei sei tornati a casa forse proprio secondo la descrizione di un altro nostro poeta e musicista, Fabrizio de André, le salme avvolte nelle bandiere “legate strette perché sembrassero intere”. I politici e i loro gregari gestori dei mass media, che – ne siano consapevoli o no – ce li hanno sulla coscienza, si sono sgolati chiamandoli “vittime”, “eroi”, “martiri”. No: niente di tutto ciò. Un soldato che cade durante un combattimento o un incidente di guerra è, appunto, un caduto: non è una “vittima”, perché tale appellativo spetta agli inermi, agli indifesi che avrebbero dovuto restare estranei ai fatti d’arme, laddove i soldati stanno in uniforme e in armi perché di tali fatti sono coprotagonisti. Non è né un “martire”, né un “eroe” perché, al di là della retorica facile perché gratuita, tali termini spettano a chi in qualche modo ha compiuto qualcosa di straordinario e di esemplare. E i sei parà, strettamente parlando, non sono caduti nemmeno nell’adempimento del loro dovere, in quanto erano in Afghanistan per una loro libera volontaria scelta. Essi sono caduti nell’esercizio delle loro funzioni, facendo il loro lavoro: in una circostanza tragica, ma che faceva parte purtroppo della loro condizione professionale. E che ne facesse parte ciascuno di loro lo sapeva benissimo. Poiché il loro lavoro aveva ed ha una valenza pubblica, onoriamoli. Ma non infanghiamone la memoria contaminandola con la retorica. Per un soldato, la morte – lo diceva benissimo José Antonio Primo de Rivera, che lo provò con i fatti – “è un atto di servizio”. Ecco perché è grottesco che il ministro La Russa dichiari che quei parà sono morti “per la Patria”. In Italia, se si vuol restare fedeli alla Costituzione le armi s’imbracciano soltanto per difendersi; e il teorema della “difesa preventiva”, secondo il quale l’occupazione dell’Afghanistan servirebbe a tutelare le nostre città e le nostre case dalla possibilità di attacchi terroristici, prima di essere infame è ridicolo. La guerra al terrorismo si fa con l’intelligence, con l’infiltrazione e soprattutto con l’eliminazione delle ragioni sociali e politiche suscettibili di far guadagnare simpatie ai terroristi: non con i bombardamenti aerei e con i carri armati. L’occupazione dell’Afghanistan ha avuto tra le sue conseguenze quella di diffondere a macchia d’olio il terrorismo e la simpatia per esso. Lorsignori hanno mandato i nostri soldati a morire per far piacere alla superpotenza statunitense e nel nome di un demenziale teorema geopolitico; ed essi hanno accettato il rischio, al di là delle varianti personali, perché ciò faceva parte della loro condizione professionale. Il che non vuol affatto dire che i nostri ragazzi siano morti invano: al contrario. Quando a troppi italiani sarà caduto dagli occhi il malefico velo della propaganda che ora intralcia loro la vista, apparirà chiaro che quelle vite sacrificate sono state altrettanti passi sulla via della pace e della giustizia: la quale passa per forza attraverso il riconoscimento che l’avventura in Afghanistan è stata tanto infame quanto assurda. E non è meno grottesco Umberto Bossi, quando ammettendo di aver votato per mandare in Afghanistan i nostri soldati, precisa che non aveva alcuna intenzione di “mandarli a morire”. Non so se Ella abbia fatto il soldato e ignoro quanto Ella sappia di storia, Signor Ministro: ma lasci che Le confidi in un orecchio un piccolo segreto. In guerra ci si muore. D’altronde, la gaffe di Bossi è comprensibile. Ma proprio questo la rende più repellente. Le guerre in Iraq e in Afghanistan, come troppi conflitti che oggi insanguinano il mondo dalla Palestina all’Africa, vedono confrontarsi forze armate “regolari” e superarmate contro avversari in condizione militarmente inferiore, a parte le vittime civili e i caduti sotto “fuoco amico” e a causa di “danni collaterali”, che in genere si degnano appena di una distratta menzione. È sottinteso che molti pensano che, in una guerra del genere, i “nostri” data la loro superiorità militare siano invulnerabili e che il morire tocchi solo agli altri. Così come nessuno storico si è mai piegato sui problemi e magari i dolori del cuoco di Cesare, che pure era in fondo un uomo come lui e come noi, assistiamo oggi a una terribile ingiustizia, che aggiunge all’orrore del sangue versato l’offesa del disprezzo e della noncuranza. Dei nostri sei parà, anche se a pochi giorni dal loro sacrificio essi stanno già purtroppo entrando nell’oblìo (sono queste le regole della società-spettacolo), finché facevano notizia ci hanno detto tutto: ne abbiamo visti i volti, ne abbiamo letti i profili biografici, ne conosciamo i nomi e quelli delle loro mogli, delle loro fidanzate, dei loro figli. Qualcuno di loro avrebbe forse preferito un po’ più di riserbo, di silenzio: di pudicizia. Ma in fondo è forse giusto che sia stato così: erano soldati del nostro esercito, gente nostra. I prossimi, gli affini, i familiari ci sono ovviamente e naturalmente sempre più cari di chi ci sta più lontano. Ma non sarebbe né umano, né cristiano continuar a ignorare le vittime degli “altri”, a tenere nell’ombra e nel silenzio quelli “dell’altra parte” (se è un’altra parte: e non lo è, perché con loro non siamo in guerra, e comunque perché condividiamo con loro la condizione umana, la vera patria comune): come le decine di poveri afghani, fra cui donne vecchi e bambini, trucidati non troppi giorni fa da un barbaro disumano e inutile attacco aereo mentre cercavano di alleviar la loro miseria drenando un po’ di benzina da un camion sventrato. Era “complicità col terrorismo”, quel povero gesto? Era un “atto di guerra”, d’una guerra non dichiarata, quella strage barbarica, che teneva dietro a un numero ormai spaventosamente alto di analoghe stragi tutte impunite? Ed è umano, è degno della “nostra civiltà occidentale”, continuar a trattare come dei semplici numeri tutti i poveri morti che giornalmente affollano le cronache distratte di quelle guerre lontane – in Afghanistan come in Iraq, come in Palestina, come in Africa, come nel sud-est asiatico, come nell’America latina, anzi che sovente vengono taciuti del tutto perché “non fanno notizia”? Ecco: umanità e giustizia vogliono che anch’essi facciano al contrario notizia; che cessino di essere aridi e anonimi numeri su un bollettino o su una statistica. Perché pesano sulla nostra coscienza. E sono un peso intollerabile soprattutto per noi che all’insensata e infame avventura afghana siamo sempre stati contrari, e nondimeno non siamo riusciti a fermarla. Mi chiedo: esiste chi possa raccogliere queste righe e farle proprie? Ed esiste in Italia un giornale che abbia il coraggio di dedicar alle vittime afgane innocenti ogni giorno sei brevi necrologie, tante quanti erano i nostri parà caduti? Sarebbe necessario e doveroso specchiarsi in quei volti, imparar a fare i conti con chi è morto anche per colpa del nostro silenzio e della nostra acquiescenza; con quelli della cui uccisione siamo stati complici, e lo abbiamo fatto a cuor leggero perché erano “lontani”, perché erano “diversi”, perché non hanno nessuno che li difenda e ne rivendichi la memoria e il rispetto. Dovremmo meditare sulle loro sembianze e sulla loro vite spezzate, noialtri che non riusciamo a opporci abbastanza efficacemente alle canaglie nostrane, ai mascalzoni che con arroganza ci vanno ripetendo che invadere un paese altrui e bombardare degli inermi da duemila metri è un normalissimo – e perfino “eroico” – atto di guerra per quanto la guerra non sia dichiarata, mentre difendere la propria terra con le armi di cui dispone un popolo che non ha né aerei, né elicotteri, né missili aria terra, né mezzi corazzati, è un atto “infame” e “vile”.


venerdì, settembre 25, 2009

Quattro premesse per una condivisione possibile

Una ventina di docenti di filosofia di varie università italiane hanno sottoscritto un breve documento per una legge sul testamento biologico che sia equilibrata e rispettosa dei diritti della persona.
E' possibile leggere il testo e quindi aderirvi o criticarlo al seguente indirizzo Internet: <>

Caputo reviews Monstrosity of Christ

Caputo reviews Monstrosity of Christ: "

John D. Caputo reviews Slavoj Žižek and John Milbank’s The Monstrosity of Christ: Paradox or Dialectic?

Materialism just isn’t what it used to be. Nowadays everyone wants to be a materialist, even the theologians, while the materialists want to look like they lead a spiritual life. The battle that is joined today is no longer between materialism and idealism, or hard-nosed Newtonians and far out spirit-seers, but between “materialist materialism” and “theological materialism”, between crude soulless materialism and materialism with spirit, a materialism of the spirit, a religious materialism (93). “Materialist materialism is simply not as materialist as theological materialism”, says John Milbank, the leading Anglo-Catholic theologian of the day, in this published debate with Slavoj Žižek, a Lacanian neo-Marxist writer and something of a Slovenian philosophical sensation in the Anglophone world (206). Theological materialism goes back to Christology, the materialism of the Logos made matter, in which matter really matters. Žižek would agree, but he would stand this statement on its head in a resuscitated and refashioned neo-Hegelian death of God theology. The debate that unfolds is strikingly Christological, in which both parties agree that Christianity is the absolute truth (Hegel), where Milbank takes his Christology straight up (treating Žižek’s as a “counterfeit”) and Žižek takes his on the rocks (treating Milbank’s version as “imaginary” (153, 245). The book is a splendid condensation and cross section of a contemporary debate between writers who seek to position themselves beyond the postmodernism or poststructuralism that dominated the last few decades of European thought. Whatever one thinks of the views of Milbank or Žižek, we may be very grateful to editor Creston Davis for crafting such a first rate exchange.

rest of the review


Kersi di Mumbai, lo zoroastriano convertito da Padre Pio

Kersi di Mumbai, lo zoroastriano convertito da Padre Pio: "di Nirmala Carvalho

Kersi Francisco Pio Mistry a 25 anni incontra il santo di Pietrelcina e decide di farsi cristiano. Chiama Padre Pio la “mia Stella di Betlemme”. A S. Giovanni Rotondo, nella cella del santo, è ancora appeso il crocifisso che Kersi ha regalato al santo frate.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - “Per l’inspiegabile misericordia di Dio ho avuto l’incredibile privilegio di essere un buon amico di Padre Pio”. Kersi Francisco Pio Mistry ha 71 anni. Proviene da una famiglia di parsi, devoti zoroastriani. Sin da piccolo è stato introdotto dalla madre ai testi sacri dell’Avesta. La sua casa paterna, nel centro di Mumbai, sorge affianco al principale tempio cittadino delle religione di Ahura Mazda. Per anni lo ha visitato con assiduità, recitandovi le tre orazioni giornaliere e raccogliendosi dopo il tramonto per pregare Dio in silenzio .

Kersi non immaginava che la risposta alle sue preghiere sarebbe venuta volando a migliaia di chilometri da Mumbai, in Italia a San Giovanni Rotondo.

Oggi Kersi racconta: “La prima volta che ho sentito parlare di Padre Pio era il 1963. Una mia insegnante di tedesco era andata in Italia ed era tornata con un libro su di lui. Avevo studiato in scuole e college cattolici, ma non conoscevo nulla della fede cristiana a parte il fatto che in tutte le classi era appeso un crocifisso e sapevo che Cristo era morte in croce”.

Quando l’insegnante gli da il libro sul frate di Pietralcina, Kersi ha già 25 anni. Lo legge e rimane colpito: “Non potevo credere che nel nostro mondo moderno potesse esistere una persona capace di vivere in quel modo”. Intanto, la madre a cui egli è molto legato, è malata. Lo scoperta di Padre Pio, la situazione familiare e il desiderio di trovare risposta alle domande che ogni giorno rivolge a Dio, nel tempio di Mumbai, lo spingono a partire.

Kersi arriva in Italia nel dicembre del 1963 e con un gruppo di amici americani visita Roma. Poi parte verso San Giovanni Rotondo. “Avevo preso alcuni souvenir da portare in India - racconta - ed anche un crocifisso, lungo 15 centimetri, intagliato a mano. Lo volevo dare a Padre Pio”.

Quando arriva a San Giovanni Rotondo, Padre Pio è molto provato nel fisico e la mattina si presenta ai pellegrini accompagnato da due frati che lo sorreggono. Kersi riesce ad avvicinarlo, mostra il crocifisso, ma il frate non capisce che è un regalo e viene portato via lasciando il ragazzo con in mano il suo dono. Nella tarda mattinata però il gruppo di amici ottiene un’incontro privato con Padre Pio nel monastero. “A quel punto - racconta Kersi - la mia testardaggine ha avuto di nuovo il sopravvento. Tiro fuori il crocifisso e lo offro a Padre Pio chiedendo al mio amico Jack di dirgli di mia madre e spiegargli che era un regalo. Padre Pio mi fissa di nuovo dritto negli occhi e mi fa un sorriso stupendo, pieno di amore, come per dirmi 'Piccolo mascalzone’”.

Quando nel 1978 Kersi torna a San Giovanni Rotondo per visitare la tomba di Padre Pio ha il privilegio di entrare nella cella del futuro santo e con suo grande stupore scopre che il frate aveva appeso il crocifisso proprio sopra il suo letto.

Oggi Kersi chiama Padre Pio la sua “stella di Betlemme”. I tre re magi hanno seguito la cometa per arrivare a Betlemme; lui ha seguito il santo frate cappuccino per arrivare a Gesù. Da notare che la tradizione pensa che i tre re magi fossero proprio zoroastriani (persiani).

“L’incontro con padre Pio [del 1963] mi ha spinto a desiderare di dedicare la mia vita a servire Dio”, racconta oggi Kersi. Il cammino alla conversione però è stato tormentato. Chiede aiuto ad un prete della Cattedrale del Santissimo nome di Gesù di Mumbai, ma a un patto: “Che non cerchi di spingermi alla conversione”. Per sei giorni alla settimana Kersi va a lezione dal sacerdote per conoscere la fede cristiana. “Ma c’era un punto che non riuscivo a risolvere: non potevo credere che Dio si fosse fatto uomo. Lo capivo con la testa, ma non con il cuore”. Lunghi mesi di battaglie interiori, “ma la mia ricerca era sincera ed un bel giorno ho sentito nel profondo del mio cuore che Gesù era la verità ultima e che non c’era nulla di drammatico nel cambiamento del mio cuore”.
Kersi decide di battezzarsi il 3 ottobre 1964, allora festa di Santa Teresa di Lisieux, e vuole che sia Padre Pio a farlo anche perché desidera fargli conoscere sua madre. Arriva in Italia ma il frate è troppo provato nel fisico. E così il 4 di ottobre a Roma, in una cappellina dedicata a San Francesco di Assisi, il giovane indiano di Mumbai diventa Kersi Francesco Pio Mistry. In onore del suo “buon amico” ha scelto per sé il nome di battesimo e di professione religiosa del santo.


mercoledì, settembre 23, 2009

Il Papa in Inghilterra per la beatificazione di Newman!

Per chi non legge l'inglese, i due articoli qui sotto si riferiscono a voci insistenti riguardanti una visita del Papa nel Regno Unito in occasione della beatificazione del cardinale Newman.
La beatificazione era stata precedentemente annunziata per il 2 di maggio, a Birmingham, ma pare che ci siano ancora incertezze riguardo la data. Ci sono almeno due grandi difficoltà, una è il luogo dove ospitare la cerimonia e l'altra è il numero di Oratoriani inglesi, troppo piccolo per farsi carico dell'organizzazione.
Vi terrò aggiornati.

Coming 2010: B16 to UK?

Coming 2010: B16 to UK?: "Citing unnamed sources, London's Times reports that Pope Benedict will visit Britain late next year:
The Holy See will announce soon the first papal visit to Britain since Pope John Paul II made a pastoral visit in 1982.

The historic event will overshadow even the triumphant visit of Pope John Paul II, which almost did not take place at all because of the Falklands War.

During his time in the country, expected to take place in September next year, Pope Benedict will have a meeting with the Queen, Supreme Governor of the Church of England and will be accorded the full panoply of a state visit. It is possible the Pope will also stay with the Queen at Buckingham Palace.

Gordon Brown extended a formal invitation during a private audience in February and preparations have been under way for some time.

A draft itinerary is understood to include London, Birmingham, Oxford and Edinburgh.

As part of the visit next year Pope Benedict XVI is not expected to visit Northern Ireland, according to British officials.

It is thought he will visit Ireland on a separate occasion.

One issue likely to be central to the celebrations will be the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman, a ceremony that could take place with Benedict in Birmingham, where Newman founded his Oratory.
While Benedict has not presided at a beatification ceremony since returning the penultimate step to sainthood to the local churches shortly after his 2005 election, the pontiff's devotion to the 19th century cardinal-convert is well known.

Intriguingly enough, while an early July leak reported that Newman's beatification had been scheduled for next 2 May in Birmingham, a formal announcement to that end remains conspicuous by its absence.



Pope Benedict XVI set to come to the UK

Pope Benedict XVI set to come to the UK: "The reports come after the Pope earlier this year cleared the way for the beatification of the Venerable John Henry Newman, to take place in late May or ...

Chesterton's Political "Party"?

Chesterton's Political "Party"?: "People often wonder what Chesterton's political party was - or would be. There are times when he is very 'conservative' - others where he is very 'liberal'... as we now use those terms. But this is not that kind of a post. It is really very short, and not even argumentative. You see, when I was hunting up some details about word use for my previous posting about semicolons, I found I had done another little study of 'proper names'... and I happened to stumble on a very long series of words, and wondered what it meant. It turned out to be Chesterton's name for his own political party, and you will enjoy learning what it is:
...the sort of expression which it would be necessary for the happy crowd to cry with one voice, if it elected me to Parliament. I am a Radical Nationalist Anti-Imperialist Anti-Collectivist Distributivist Christian Social Democrat. I am all that; and there are about three more of me. But my party, though of a wisdom and virtue vastly superior to all others, has not reached the stage which distracts it with the temptations of power and patronage. And my revolutionary movement has at present no axe to grind, not even the axe of the guillotine.
[GKC ILN July 16 1921 CW32:205]
This is a nice little tricky tongue twister to memorise, and once you have mastered GKC's famous poem called 'Plakkopytrixophylisperambulantiobatrix' (to be found in The Coloured Lands) you can go for this one next.

Note: I typed that word in from memory - it was NOT cut-and-pasted. It also can be sung to that 'Poppins' song, if you like that sort of thing. It is also four letters longer, and you will sound even more precocious if you learn to say it. Hee hee. Tea parties on the ceiling, I tell you.... Innocent Smith having picnics on the roof!

martedì, settembre 22, 2009

For your consideration...

For your consideration...: "Startling as it may appear, there have been in this century quite a few first-rate astronomer-cosmologists who professed themselves to be solipsists or at least idealists in the Kantian sense. They were never so consistently idealist as to miss an opportunity to clamor for better and bigger telescopes, although they seized on any opportunity to reduce stars to a mere sensation on their retinae.[26] Chesterton not only was immune to such philosophical bungling, but he was also the first-rate philosophical cosmologist who instinctively made the proper improvement right there where some of the best philosophers went wrong in cosmology. I doubt that Chesterton ever read Book Lambda of Metaphysics, where the pantheist Aristotle roundly declared that the universe is a house without a master, or an army without a commander.[27] Chesterton's universe explicitly had a captain and a 'divine captain' at that, and this is why it had a Flag.[28]

[SLJ Chesterton a Seer of Science 98]

Here are the relevant footnotes:

[26] As argued by Professor William H. McCrea during a conference on 'Cosmology, History and Theology' at the University of Denver, November 5-8, 1974. He was considerably taken aback by my question, whether the wall facing him was also a mere sensation on his retina.

[27] Aristotle, Metaphysics, 1074b-75b. Such was both the capstone and very source of that cosmic necessitarianism which put science into a straitjacket for
almost two thousand years; that is, until some basic points of Aristotelian cosmology wore rejected by medieval Scholastics, guided by the dictates of their Christian faith in creation out of nothing and in time.

[28] This is the argument of ch. 5, 'The Flag of the World,' in [GKC's] Orthodoxy.

Why The Church Opposes IVF…

Why The Church Opposes IVF…: "

… among other reasons, it leads to situations like this:

“A pregnant woman has spoken of her pain at having to give up the IVF baby with which she had been mistakenly impregnated.

Mother-of-three Carolyn Savage was trying to have a fourth child through IVF, and was overjoyed to find she was pregnant again.

But just two months into the pregnancy, doctors told her husband Sean that the child his wife was carrying was not their own.

The nightmare mix-up means that eight-months pregnant Carolyn, and husband Sean, will have to hand over the baby boy when she gives birth in just two weeks.”

Read here from the Daily Mail (caution — some material on the site is not family friendly.)

See here and here for more on Church teaching on IVF.


lunedì, settembre 21, 2009

Belatedly, Egypt Spots Flaws in Wiping Out Pigs

Belatedly, Egypt Spots Flaws in Wiping Out Pigs: "When the government killed all the pigs in Egypt this spring in an attempt to combat swine flu, it was warned that Cairo would be overwhelmed with trash. Now, it is.


Card. Bagnasco alla CEI: la prolusione completa.

Card. Bagnasco alla CEI: la prolusione completa.: "

CEI: CONSIGLIO PERMANENTE - Guadagnare in serenità
La prolusione del card. Bagnasco

Venerati e amati Confratelli,
per crucem ad lucem: questa incontrovertibile e consolante regola della vita cristiana ha segnato con inopinata evidenza pubblica gli esordi del nuovo anno pastorale: è ancora vivo in noi infatti un passaggio amaro che, in quanto ingiustamente diretto ad una persona impegnata a dar voce pubblica alla nostra comunità, ha finito per colpire un po’ tutti noi: la gravità dell’attacco non può non essere ancora una volta stigmatizzata, come segno di un allarmante degrado di quel buon vivere civile che tanto desideriamo e a cui tutti dobbiamo tendere. La telefonata che il Santo Padre ha avuto la bontà di farmi, per raccogliere notizie e valutazioni sulla situazione contingente, e le parole di grande benevolenza che egli ha riservato al nostro impegno, ci hanno non poco confortato. Seguendo la sapienza della Croce, liberi da interpretazioni estranee alla logica della Chiesa e nel rispetto delle persone, tutto acquista una prospettiva diversa, e le tribolazioni – che pur non cerchiamo – diventano il germe misterioso di salvezza e di bene già in questa vita e poi per l’eternità. Questa consapevolezza, che è fonte di consolazione, non va però equivocata: la Chiesa è in questo Paese una presenza costantemente leale e costruttiva che non può essere coartata né intimidita solo perché compie il proprio dovere: «Quando i cristiani sono veramente “lievito”, “luce” e “sale” della terra, diventano anche loro (...) “segno di contraddizione”» (Benedetto XVI, Omelia nella Basilica di San Bartolomeo all’Isola Tiberina, 7 luglio 2008). La coerenza tra la fede e la vita è tensione che attraversa e invera il cristianesimo, ed è in un certo qual senso la misura della sua sincerità: su questo davvero non possiamo accettare confusione, tanto meno se condotta con intenti strumentali o per perseguire obiettivi che nulla hanno a che fare con un rinnovamento complessivo della società in cui viviamo. Non ci manca peraltro la fiducia che, «facendo la nostra piccola parte, nella fedeltà alla vocazione che ciascuno ha ricevuto, contribuiremo a rendere diritte le vie del Signore e a salutare l’alba del suo Regno» (Benedetto XVI, Discorso sul monte Nebo, 9 maggio 2009). In questo orizzonte di fede, la Chiesa respira sempre – in qualunque circostanza – l’aria luminosa, serena e corroborante della Pasqua.
Ci ritroviamo come Vescovi del Consiglio Permanente per la nostra consueta sessione autunnale: temi importanti attendono il nostro esame collegiale e per questo invochiamo anzitutto lo Spirito che, mentre ci assiste nell’esercizio delle nostre responsabilità, ci abilita a quel discernimento sapienziale che è condizione per compiere le scelte più adeguate ai bisogni spirituali e morali - bisogni antichi e nuovi - del nostro popolo. Non ci lasceremo guidare da qualche «piccola finestra» del dettaglio, del pregiudizio o dell’incertezza, «ma dalla grande finestra che Cristo ci ha aperto sull’intera verità, guardiamo il mondo e gli uomini e riconosciamo così che cosa conta veramente nella vita» (Benedetto XVI, Omelia per le Ordinazioni episcopali, 13 settembre 2009). È questa «grande finestra» sull’eterno che ci dona prospettiva, impedisce qualsiasi ripiegamento, dilata la mente e il cuore per continuare con fiducia la missione stessa del Signore Gesù; ci induce nel contempo ad accogliere le sfide inedite della presente epoca. Guardare insieme da questa «finestra» significa servire l’uomo con gli occhi di Dio e ad un tempo gustare sempre meglio la grazia e la responsabilità della nostra comunione con il Successore di Pietro e tra noi. Vogliamo da subito esprimere il nostro profondissimo cordoglio per i sei soldati italiani caduti in Afghanistan, vittime di un attentatore suicida. Altri quattro soldati sono risultati gravemente feriti. Oltre a questi, com’è noto, sono morti una decina di civili afgani e una cinquantina sono rimasti a loro volta feriti. Non è esagerato parlare di strage, tanto più assurda se si pensa ai compiti assolti dalla forza internazionale che opera in quel Paese e allo stile da tutti apprezzato con cui si muove in particolare il contingente italiano. Non è un caso che questo lutto, com’era successo per la strage di Nassiriya, abbia toccato il cuore dei nostri connazionali, commossi dalla testimonianza di altruismo e di dedizione di questi giovani quasi tutti figli delle generose terre del nostro Sud. E per questo il nostro popolo si è stretto alle famiglie dei colpiti con una partecipazione corale al loro immane dolore. Anche noi ci uniamo ai sentimenti prontamente espressi dal Santo Padre, e preghiamo il Signore perché conceda il premio eterno a questi fratelli defunti, la pronta guarigione ai colpiti, forza e consolazione ai parenti.

Continua a leggere Card. Bagnasco alla CEI: la prolusione completa....


Figli di un Dio in evoluzione [La giornata]

Figli di un Dio in evoluzione [La giornata]: "

In America intellettuali laici hanno iniziato un dibattito su Dio, finito in questi giorni sulle pagine del Wall Street Journal. Il saggista Robert Wright ci spiega la sua concezione "evolutiva" del fenomeno religioso

Con il suo nuovo provocatorio libro, “The Evolution of God” (Little, Brown & Company, di prossima uscita in Italia per i tipi di Newton Compton), Robert Wright offre uno sfumato contrappeso intellettuale alla recente invasione di libri sul tema del contrasto tra fede e ragione che tendono a polarizzare il mondo tra credenti e non credenti.

Continua sul sito del


domenica, settembre 20, 2009

#22356 - Amazing multi-media art from Kevin Van Aelst

#22356 - Amazing multi-media art from Kevin Van Aelst: "

Amazing multi-media art from Kevin Van Aelst

(Want more? See and"

Podcasting Update

Podcasting Update: "If you haven't checked out the website lately, go here and you can see that I've now got three podcasts up! I'm getting some good feedback, and I hope you're listening, too.

venerdì, settembre 18, 2009

on the feast of St. Robert Bellarmine

on the feast of St. Robert Bellarmine: "
For today's feast of St. Robert Bellarmine - something to think about.

It is not an easy topic, but it is worth our careful study. And let us ever be on guard against pride! St. Robert Bellarmine, pray for us.

--Dr. Thursday

Conflicts cast long shadows. The shadows are indeed very long when the conflicts take place at a sensitive juncture. Adolescents are wont to harbor lifelong grudges against their elders who failed to show them proper understanding. Such an adolescent was science as it first sensed its future strength through the genius of Galileo. This is not to suggest that even a full understanding on the part of the Church would have been enough to help Galileo control his hubris which equaled his genius.

On a cursory look it may be said, and unfortunately this has been done all too often, that the Church of Urban VIII and Bellarmine understood Galileo's science much better than Galileo did. Both those churchmen, and many others after them, took exception to the realism with which Galileo asserted the heliocentric ordering of planets. According to them the heliocentric theory, or any physical theory for that matter, was nothing more than a convenient ordering of data with no intrinsic bearing on reality.

Such a view, a rather agnostic one, about the relation of physical theory to the physical universe was already two thousand years old by the time Galileo was taken to task by his ecclesiastical judges. They were fully aware of the venerable ancestry of that view which received its first memorable formulation in Plato's Timaeus, where science, or rather scientific theory, is spoken of as a technique to 'save the phenomena.' In particular, the technique was understood to be a mathematical or geometrical formula which accounted for the succession of celestial events, such as the periods and relative positions of planets, with no pretension as to the cause or physical nature of those movements and bodies. The same ecclesiastics were also aware of the renewed popularity which that view of science enjoyed during the century preceding Galileo. The heliocentrists - Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo - were a distinct minority inasmuch as they asserted a one-to-one correspondence between a particular geometrical ordering of data and physical reality.

A little-noted consequence of the opposite or purely formalist majority view was that its proponents had to speak of the true knowledge of the structure of the universe as being the sole privilege of the Creator. Galileo did not misrepresent the convictions of Urban VIII, who granted him several private audiences around 1623, when half a dozen years later he put that agnostic view about the cosmos into the mouth of Simplicius, the representative of the Pope's views on physical science in Galileo's ill-fated Dialogue.

It was rather ironical that a purely formalistic and quasi-agnostic view about physical science (and by implication a quasi-agnostic view about the cosmos) should have been voiced by leading churchmen. Eager to please the fashionable philosophical skepticism inherited from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, they failed to realize that the dogma of the Word become Flesh committed them to a thoroughgoing and universal realism. No less should they have been committed to that realism by the age-old Christian conviction that the entire visible realm or cosmos is a clear and compelling basis for the recognition of the Creator. To make the irony complete, it was Galileo and not Bellarmine who quoted Jerome and Augustine to the effect that biblical references to the sun's motion and to the earth's immobility may be a mere registering of appearances. Almost a hundred years after Luther, leading Catholic churchmen felt that they should battle him on grounds - biblical literalism - chosen by him. With such a strategy, theirs could only be momentary victories, at times Pyrrhic, but hardly the winning of the entire campaign.

[SLJ 'Science for Catholics' in Catholic Essays, 1-3]

Under the impact of Luther's invocation of the Bible as the ultimate arbiter in matters of faith, Catholic theologians moved away from the freedom with which they greeted, while Luther was still alive, the presentation of the Copernican system to a gathering of cardinals in Rome in 1533. Copernicus had no fear of dedicating his book to Pope Paul III himself. Two generations later, defenders of Catholic faith, Jesuits in an ever larger number, were wont to take the view that nothing is more effective than to vanquish the opponent with his own weapons, that is, on his own chosen battlefield. It was still to be realized that such a strategy may win spectacular battles but never the war. Practically nobody remembers that Luther called Copernicus a fool and categorically endorsed, as did Calvin, the literal meaning of Joshua's miracle. Everybody remembers the debacle of that Catholic strategy which did not permit the taking of a sufficiently detached view of the proper merit of that passage in the Book of Joshua and other relevant passages of the Bible.

To Bellarmine's credit he saw something of the dangers of that strategy and, partly because of this, displayed an equitable and dignified attitude toward Galileo. The latter had already made the case further complicated when in a major essay, widely circulated in manuscript copies, he tried to play the biblical theologian. He did so partly by quoting Jerome and Augustine to the effect that a literal sense of biblical passages about the earth's immobility was not necessarily the only possible interpretation. Unknown to the readers of that essay he had received plenty of help in that excursion of his into theology from his best student, Benedetto Castelli a monk of Monte Cassino and the foremost expert in Italy on hydraulic engineering. Theologians, then as now, were a professional group which like any other such group does not like to be instructed by an outsider, who is by definition a 'layman' with respect to that group. This is also true of the group known as scientists, a group all too ready to philosophize and theologize and all too resentful when taken to task on that score.

A relatively unimportant part of the Galileo story is Galileo's success in obtaining imprimatur from the Roman Inquisition which included the Pope's own theologian, a Dominican. The story is a series of inattentions and shadow boxing. Once the book was printed, one shadow at least quickly became a menacing reality. Any modestly informed reader could easily see that Galileo was for all practical purposes mocking the very pope whom he needed as his most powerful protector, and who might have sided with Galileo but for the latter's hubris.

The rest is anticlimactic. With a pope so desirous of the applause of intellectuals and deeply hurt in his pride, the wheels of the legal process against Galileo could not be stopped, not even slowed down. In vain did Galileo argue that he was never shown a document (the codicil added unbeknownst to Bellarmine to the dossier in 1616) forbidding him to write on heliocentrism. By 1632 Bellarmine had been dead for eleven years and the codicil was as genuine in form at least as the rest of the dossier. It was impossible to ask Urban VIII, member of the commission of 1616, whether the commission was responsible in any sense for that codicil. A court whose sympathies Galileo had lost by his reckless tactic against the pope could but let the logic of law, not always an enlightened logic, take its course.

[SLJ 'The Case for Galileo's Rehabilitation' Ibid 29-31, 34-35]

giovedì, settembre 17, 2009

IOT: St Thomas Aquinas 17 Sep 09

IOT: St Thomas Aquinas 17 Sep 09: "Melvyn Bragg discusses Thomas Aquinas, the 13th Century saint, theologian and philosopher whose ideas remain at the heart of the Catholic Church today. A rebel and radical, he transformed the orthodoxy of the medieval church, by bringing faith and reason together. With John Haldane, Annabel Brett and Martin Palmer"

A Modena, le frontiere della filosofia

A Modena, le frontiere della filosofia: "
Corriere della Sera

... da venerdì prossimo e sino a domenica ritorna la nona edizione del Festival Filosofia, forte delle 130 mila presenze raccolte l'anno passato. ..."

The Practice of Domination in Everyday Life

The Practice of Domination in Everyday Life: "

Amidst the many images of hostility, conflict, and destruction that come out of the occupied territories in Palestine, this one is truly shocking.


The photo appeared on page A8 of the morning edition of the New York Times with this caption: “Tinderbox In Hebron, a Jewish settler threw wine at a Palestinian woman.  The city is a center of tensions between settlers and Palestinians.”  The complete set of images, which included a photo on page 1 of an Israeli child being bathed and three other photos on page 8 labeled “Veneration,” “Remembrance,” and “Preparation,” clearly favored the Israeli settlers.  Even so, the photo above gives the lie to the myth of taming the frontier in the Holy Land.

But why does it shock?  He is not hitting her, and surely spraying her is less of a crime than, say, razing a house with a military bulldozer.   Or blowing up a bus with a suicide bomber.  Since there is violence enough on both sides, why make so much of a minor incident of teenage insolence?

I think that there are at least three reasons for the photograph’s impact.  One is that it reveals what is rarely shown: the small acts of personal viciousness and humiliation that make up the practice of domination in an occupied land.  Second, it is clear that both the boy’s aggression and the woman’s protective reaction are often-practiced, habitual responses.  Were he taunting an older woman for the first time, he would be likely to look much more ragged, uncoordinated, and either furtive or overly demonstrative.  Instead, he could be a figure out of Whitman: throwing his weight around without breaking stride, a figure of youthful grace on the city street.  Likewise, she isn’t being caught by surprise.  Her head is already turned, her body hunched against the impending blow.  She’s been through this before, and she’s learned that direct confrontation is not an option.  This may be her neighborhood, but it’s his street.

The third dimension of the photograph’s power derives from its capacity for analogy.  Look at the woman’s coat and hat, and at the Star of David scrawled on the storefront; she could be in the Warsaw ghetto, and all it takes is a change of costume to see him as a German soldier.   Or they could be an African-American woman and a young cracker in the Jim Crow South, or any other tableau that depicts the small details of domination.  One picture isn’t enough to nail down such comparisons, but it should make you think of them.

Photograph by Rina Castelnuovo/The New York Times.  The accompanying story is here.  Note that the caption at the online slide show is less vague than in the paper edition: “A settler tosses wine at a Palestinian woman on Shuhada Street in Hebron. The approach of some settlers towards neighboring Palestinians, especially around Nablus in the north and Hebron in the south, has often been one of contempt and violence.”


mercoledì, settembre 16, 2009

Gulisano su Marshall

Gulisano su Marshall: "
Qui trovate l'articolo che Paolo Gulisano dedica dalle colonne dell'Osservatore Romano del 15 settembre al grande Bruce Marshall, l'autore de Il Miracolo del Padre Malachia, Tutta la Gloria del Profondo e altri grandi successi.


Parabola della busta paga perduta e ritrovata

Parabola della busta paga perduta e ritrovata: "

Trent’anni addietro ho conosciuto Augusto, un uomo avanti negli anni che dalla sofferenza aveva imparato la bontà. Quando nacque fu abbandonato sugli scalini di una chiesa dell’urbinate. Lo raccolse una famiglia che lo tenne con sé nove anni ma poi gli disse che non poteva restare ancora perché avrebbe acquisito gli stessi diritti dei figli. Fu preso a “garzone” da un’altra famiglia. Cresciuto domandò in giro da chi fosse nato. C’è sempre chi lo sa e Augusto si presentò a quella che gli fu indicata e chiese: “Sei tu mia madre?”. La mamma, forse per vergogna, rispose di no.

Augusto trovò un lavoro a Milano. La mamma vicina a morire lo cercò, ma nessuno sapeva dove egli fosse e non poté liberarsi di quella verità. Il figlio guadagnò bene, si sposò e tornò a vivere dalle sue parti.

“Una sera – è lui che racconta – tornavo a casa in bicicletta. Pioveva e stando curvo sotto l’acqua vidi per terra una busta che raccolsi: era una busta paga con dentro il denaro e il nome sul davanti. ‘Domani gliela porto – mi dissi – ma ora sono tutto bagnato’. Arrivato a casa pensai: ‘Chissà quello quanto soffre’. Girai la bicicletta, mi diressi verso la via segnata sulla busta e suonai il campanello.

Mi aprì la moglie. ‘Mio marito non c’è’ mi disse. ‘Non è vero che non c’è, suo marito si è buttato nel letto perché ha perduto la busta paga’, risposi. ‘E lei come lo sa?’. ‘Eccola qui!’. Allora mi fecero entrare in casa e mi prepararono una frittata con delle salsicce per fare festa con me.


martedì, settembre 15, 2009

G. K. Chesterton on Dan Brown: The Interview

G. K. Chesterton on Dan Brown: The Interview: "

G. K. Chesterton on Dan Brown: The Interview | Carl E. Olson | Ignatius Insight | September 14, 2009

G.K. Chesterton, the famed British journalist, author, apologist, and wit recently sat down (in the form of his books, as he was not physically available) with Ignatius Insight editor Carl E. Olson and discussed the best-selling novelist Dan Brown—whose new novel, The Lost Symbol, is released September 15—and the importance and place of good and bad fiction.

Ignatius Insight: I was somewhat surprised to learn that you haven't been entirely negative about Dan Brown's novels, including The Da Vinci Code.

Chesterton: My taste is for the sensational novel, the detective story, the story about death, robbery and secret societies; a taste which I share in common with the bulk at least of the male population of this world. There was a time in my own melodramatic boyhood when I became quite fastidious in this respect.
I would look at the first chapter of any new novel as a final test of its merits. If there was a murdered man under the sofa in the first chapter, I read the story. If there was no murdered man under the sofa in the first chapter, I dismissed the story as tea-table twaddle, which it often really was. But on the whole I think that a tale about one man killing another man is more likely to have something in it than a tale in which, all the characters are talking trivialities without any
of that instant and silent presence of death which is one of the strong spiritual bonds of all mankind. I still prefer the novel in which one person does another person to death to the novel in which all the persons are feebly (and vainly) trying to get the others to come to life. [1]

Ignatius Insight: Are you saying, then, that you believe something good can be found in Brown's novels?

Read the entire interview...


Ma non è cristiano il 'dio' dei mafiosi

“Ma non è cristiano il ‘dio’dei mafiosi”
Intervista ad Augusto Cavadi su “Avvenire” di oggi (15 settembre 2009)

Un Dio onnipotente ma non misericordioso, trascendente ma lontano dall’uomo, inaccessibile se non grazie all’intercessione di dubbie figure di mediatori qualificati: più un ‘padrino’ che un Padre. Ecco il volto di Dio disegnato dai boss, capaci di sostituirsi a lui senza mai negarlo formalmente, e di proclamarsi [...]"

Continua qui.

lunedì, settembre 14, 2009

In Memoriam, Pierre Duhem. R.I.P. September 14, 1916

In Memoriam, Pierre Duhem. R.I.P. September 14, 1916: "
Today, September 14, as the Church recalls the Triumph of the Cross, we of the Duhem Society recall the day in 1916 when Pierre Duhem entered eternity.

Requiem aeternam dona ei Domine.
Et lux perpetua luceat ei.
Requiescat in pace.
Anima ejus et animae omnium fidelium defunctorum per misericordiam Dei requiescant in pace.

--Dr. Thursday

Duhem was unique among modern scientists with his penetrating insights into the method of the exact sciences, and in particular of physics, both on the conceptual level and along the vast and broad front of its use in history. In fact he did, what historians and historians of science were supposed to have done long ago: He discovered the true origins of Newtonian physics. That those origins are steeped in a culture, the Middle Ages, which for many is still the classic embodiment of obscurantism, could have but served as lèse majesté. But as if insult were to be added to injury, Duhem also spelled out the fact, with a vast and most original historical research that those origins are intimately connected with Catholic dogmas, such as the creation out of nothing and creation in time.

Catholics, because it is for them above all that this essay is written, should now pause. They are, of course, utterly mistaken if they expect Catholic facts to prevail in secularist consciousness. Duhem or not, the academic milieu, to say nothing of its journalistic overspill, will continue in the merry belief that science had forever disposed of the possibility and fact of Revelation, especially as given in Jesus Christ, the only LORD. It is on that merry belief of theirs that rests the basic dogma of secularism, namely, that man is his own master, accountable to no one on this earth, let alone above it.

Against such a milieu, which threatens him with continual malaise and periodic suffocation, the Catholic needs a solid antidote. It cannot consist of bad poetizing in good prose about a 'divine milieu,' to say nothing of a 'cosmic Christ' who cannot be a Redeemer and Savior because, in the alleged absence of original sin, nothing serious remains for Him to do. The solid antidote can only consist in rigorous thinking and mastery of incontestable facts. It is these that Duhem provided in the teeth of an at times ferocious opposition and against extraordinary odds. He coped with them because he lived his Catholic faith in a measure that was far beyond ordinary.

It was Duhem's deep conviction that Divine Providence rules everything (he would have had only contempt for the glorification of chance in terms of a widespread misinterpretation of quantum mechanics). It may not therefore be presumptuous to think that the same Providence determined this Introduction to be written around the time, September 28, 1990, the hundredth anniversary of Duhem's wedding to Marie Adèle Chayet in Saint Sulpice, Paris. The excruciating blow, which he suffered when his wife passed away in her second and unsuccessful childbirth after less than two years of a most happy marriage, Duhem bore for the rest of his life with deep resignation in God's inscrutable though providential will. The pain he had always felt on account of having lost his beloved wife may have heavily contributed, in addition to unrelenting hard work and intestinal rheumatism, to the gradual weakening of his heart. But long before he was felled by a fatal heart attack on September 14, 1916, he must have been able to scrutinize the ways of divine Providence. Had he not been destined to live a solitary life, he could not have made the search for scientific truth (catholic as well as Catholic) the sole purpose of his heroic life.
[SLJ, from the introduction to Scientist and Catholic: Pierre Duhem, 9-10, emphasis addded]

Il walfare state degli irlandesi

Dal blog di Mara


Il welfare state degli irlandesi

Lunga chiacchierata ieri con un giovane amico che lavora in Irlanda: insegna filosofia in un college irlandese, visto che in Italia niente e nessuno gli farebbe vincere un modesto concorso da ricercatore.

Inevitabili i paragoni fra Irlanda ed Italia. Più alta la qualità degli studenti e dei professori italiani – dice Angelo - visto che oltretutto in Italia la filosofia si insegna nei licei, al contrario che in Irlanda, dove i ragazzi ne conoscono qualcosa solo attraverso qualche cenno ricavato dai corsi di religione.

Inevitabile la mia domanda: ma come funziona lì l’insegnamento della religione cattolica? La risposta mi lascia a bocca aperta: in Irlanda l’80-90% dei giovani frequenta le scuole cattoliche, dove ovviamente si studia anche religione.

Lo Stato irlandese praticamente non fornisce un servizio scolastico, se non in minima parte. Vanno nelle scuole cattoliche (e protestanti) non solo i ragazzi delle famiglie religiose, ma anche di quelle che non danno alcuna importanza all’appartenenza religiosa, cioè la maggioranza, visto che la secolarizzazione è arrivata anche in Irlanda. La stessa cosa accade per la sanità. Alcuni cristiani stanno cominciando a chiedersi se faccia parte della missione della Chiesa erogare alla popolazione tutti questi servizi (non ho chiesto nulla sul finanziamento, anche se immagino sia prevalentemente a carico delle famiglie, con qualche contributo dello Stato).

Continua qui.

Leggere nuoce all'ambiente

Leggere nuoce all'ambiente: "
(Gurrado per Il Foglio)

Ultime notizie: i libri inquinano. A parità di contenuti un volume cartaceo nuoce all’ambiente 78 volte di più del suo omologo in formato iBook, stando a una ricerca compiuta nel 2003 da un lunatico americano e che in Inghilterra è stata del tutto ignorata fino alla settimana scorsa. Per un caso fortuito l’hanno ripescata esattamente nei giorni in cui infuria il dibattito sull’istituzione della superbiblioteca virtuale Google Books, capace in teoria di contenere ogni volume stampato sulla faccia della terra e in pratica di sfaldare l’oggetto-libro squacquerandolo in infinite copie disponibili ovunque ma di fatto inesistenti.

Mezzo milione dei libri finora scannerizzati (scansiti? scannati?) da Google proviene dalla Bodleian Library, biblioteca centrale dell’università di Oxford che col tempo ha preso il sopravvento e di fatto coordina tutte le altre, che siano delle varie facoltà o dei college. Sarah E. Thomas, la nuova direttrice della Bodleian chiamata appositamente dal Massachusets, ha prodotto un piano di sviluppo a breve termine che culmina in questo finale travolgente: “Google, digitisation and e-resources”. Nella propria pagina web la Thomas ci tiene a specificare che la quasi totalità dei volumi digitalizzati risale al Settecento e all’Ottocento, ma è facile prevedere l’andazzo generale.

Lo conferma quanto recita il secolare giuramento bodleiano, oggi ricopiato su ogni postazione delle sale di lettura e perfino acquistabile in formato-asciugamano: “M’impegno solennemente a non trafugare dalla biblioteca, a non sottolineare, a non danneggiare, etc., alcun tipo di volume; e a non introdurre nella biblioteca alcun tipo di fuoco o fiamma, etc.”. Ancor oggi ogni volta che entro o esco nella Bodleian la mia borsa viene superficialmente perquisita dall’usciere. Quando esco posso capire: vuole evitare che io mi porti distrattamente a casa l’Hypnerotomachia Poliphili. Ma all’entrata? Si accerta che nella mia borsa non si celi una fiaccola o un archibugio? Per quanto il giuramento non proibisca di inghiottire i volumi né di impiccare i bibliotecari, è plausibile che la tradizionale considerazione dei lettori quale costante minaccia per le biblioteche porti alla progressiva sottrazione dei libri dalle loro zampe, travestita da diffusione universale dei loro omologhi virtuali: fino a ottenere il risultato ideale che tutti possano usufruire della biblioteca stando fermi a casa propria, con o senza fuoco e fiamme.

Io studio l’Illuminismo quindi ammetto che mi torna comodo poter cercare una citazione da, che so, il Recueil Nécessaire stampato ad Amsterdam nel 1768 senza dover muovere le mie pregiate terga dalla scrivania dell’ufficio. Infatti ho causato degli svenimenti quando mi sono presentato alla biblioteca di lingue e letterature straniere chiedendo imperiosamente di portarmi il volume consultabile online. Al bancone dei prestiti non ci si capacitava del fatto che uno potesse lasciarsi andare a simili eccessi, ovvero dover camminare invece di star seduto e voler toccare ciò che potrebbe limitarsi a guardare. Senza calcolare, presumo, l’impatto ambientale della smania di aprire un libro che inquina 78 volte di più del suo omologo virtuale.

Per avere ragione ho dovuto brandire la tessera magica di cui sono stato dotato, che reca scritto “University staff” e mi consente di transitare gratuitamente sui prati dei college, quindi figuriamoci far apparire un libro raro. Mentre una stagista viene mandata a recuperarlo dal caveau, cerco di spiegare il problema ai bibliotecari senior: lo stampatore del Recueil, Marc-Michel Rey, ha concepito il suo prodotto come volume e non come online resource. Doveva circolare di mano in mano e non di occhio in occhio. Per fare un lavoro che garantisca la filologia minima è bene che io guardi il volume come un oggetto tridimensionale per capire com’è stato materialmente composto. Trattandosi di un Recueil non è neanche peregrino immaginare che raccolga sotto un’unica rilegatura più o meno raffazzonata pezzi di libri diversi, magari clandestini. Indubbiamente potrei compulsare ogni singola pagina virtuale della versione online per scoprire eventuali discrepanze grafiche ma così, oltre a rovinarmi gli occhi 78 volte di più che col suo omologo cartaceo, non capirei la qualità della carta né il suo effettivo stato di conservazione. Non si può ridurre un libro a ciò che c’è scritto dentro.

Al giorno d’oggi Marc-Michel Rey si trova in avanzato stato di decomposizione, essendo morto nel 1780. Quando ha stampato e rilegato il Recueil Nécessaire intendeva produrre qualcosa che gli sopravvivesse e costringesse la gente a spostarsi fino a Oxford o a Parigi o dove necessario per poter prendere in mano il risultato della sua perizia tecnica, del suo sudore e della sua pazienza. Non voleva finire su internet, voleva che duecentocinquant’anni dopo le mie mani toccassero le sue.

domenica, settembre 13, 2009

50 Extraordinary Churches

50 Extraordinary Churches: "
I don't like all of them but this is an amazing photo collection of striking edifices built forth glory of God: 50 Most Extraordinary Churches of the World The above image is of Las Lajas Cathedral which was built in 1916 inside the canyon of the Guaitara river where, according to local legend, the Virgin Mary appeared.

giovedì, settembre 10, 2009

Un aforisma al giorno - 126

Un aforisma al giorno - 126: "'Gli enigmi di Dio sono più soddisfacenti delle soluzioni dell'uomo'.

Gilbert Keith Chesterton, G.K.C. as M.C.

mercoledì, settembre 09, 2009

La Ballata del Cavallo Bianco, Raffaelli Editore. Inedito assoluto in Italia.

La Ballata del Cavallo Bianco, Raffaelli Editore. Inedito assoluto in Italia.: "

Pagine: 188
Formato: 12,5x17
ISBN: 978-88-89642-85-6
Anno: 2009

Prezzo: € 15,00

Titolo: La ballata del cavallo bianco

A cura di Annalisa Teggi Introduzione di Marco Antonellini Poesia contemporanea n. 39


Chesterton on Newman

Chesterton on Newman: "

From G. K. Chesterton's The Victorian Age of Literature, first published in 1913:

This is no place for estimating his theology: but one point about it does clearly emerge. Whatever else is right, the theory that Newman went over to Rome to find peace and an end of argument, is quite unquestionably wrong. He had far more quarrels after he had gone over to Rome. But, though he had far more quarrels, he had far fewer compromises: and he was of that temper which is tortured more by compromise than by quarrel. He was a man at once of abnormal energy and abnormal sensibility: nobody without that combination could have written the Apologia. If he sometimes seemed to skin his enemies alive, it was because he himself lacked a skin. In this sense his Apologia is a triumph far beyond the ephemeral charge on which it was founded; in this sense he does indeed (to use his own expression) vanquish not his accuser but his judges. Many men would shrink from recording all their cold fits and hesitations and prolonged inconsistencies: I am sure it was the breath of life to Newman to confess them, now that he had done with them for ever. His Lectures on the Present Position of English Catholics, practically preached against a raging mob, rise not only higher but happier, as his instant unpopularity increases. There is something grander than humour, there is fun, in the very first lecture about the British Constitution as explained to a meeting of Russians. But always his triumphs are the triumphs of a highly sensitive man: a man must feel insults before he can so insultingly and splendidly avenge them. He is a naked man, who carries a naked sword. The quality of his literary style is so successful that it succeeds in escaping definition. The quality of his logic is that of a long but passionate patience, which waits until he has fixed all corners of an iron trap. But the quality of his moral comment on the age remains what I have said: a protest of the rationality of religion as against the increasing irrationality of mere Victorian comfort and compromise.

How little things change. That final sentence could easily be re-written today as: "But the quality of his moral comment on the age remains what I have
said: a protest of the rationality of religion as against the
increasing irrationality of mere modern/American comfort and compromise."

Newman's miracle (July 6, 2009)
Cardinal Pell on Cardinal Newman, truth, and conscience (August 12, 2009)
If you're going to quote Newman, quote him correctly... (April 15, 2009)

Related Books from Ignatius Press:
Parochial and Plain Sermons, by John Henry Newman
Prayers, Verses, and Devotions, by John Henry Newman

Literary Giants, Literary Catholics
, by Joseph Pearce

Literary Converts
, by Joseph Pearce
Classic Catholic Converts, by Fr. Charles Connor


martedì, settembre 08, 2009

SLJ: for Mary's Birthday: the Tree and the Rock

SLJ: for Mary's Birthday: the Tree and the Rock: "
Happy Feast of the Birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary!

--Dr. Thursday

In the very moment when the maiden in Nazareth heard the words that the Holy Spirit would come upon her and the power of the Most High would “overshadow” her, she could at first be but “deeply disturbed.” The phrase, “to be overshadowed,” was a euphemism for the act whereby man makes woman pregnant. But since she “knew no man,” a euphemistic declaration on her part that she was to remain a virgin, she had to be assured that the child was not to be conceived in a human way. The child was to be a “holy offspring,” indeed the Son of the Most High himself. Once she assented by saying, “Let it be done according to thy will,” God's greatest conceivable intervention in history, human and cosmic, was accomplished: Jesus was conceived in the womb of “the virgin called Mary.”


The miracle in question has another aspect, which is much more scientific than psychology can ever be. In an age that probes deep into the range of what genes are responsible for, the biological origin of Jesus gives a startling twist to the psychological miracle he still is, which, of course, never bothered most of those who took him for the natural son of Joseph. Most of those who were impressed by that miracle held on to the faith, held by the Church from the earliest times, that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. They had no use for talking around this and other biblical miracles by taking any unusual event for a “sign” and justifying this as the Hebrew way of disinterest in miracles, properly so-called. For already Justin Martyr, a convert from Judaism, warned his antagonist Trypho, a Jew, that if a “sign” is worthy of a prophet, it has to be more than an unusual event, it strictly has to transcend nature. ... The miracle of Mary having conceived by the Holy Spirit had to be admitted, so argued Justin Martyr, if the Bible was to remain a sensible text about what constitutes a sign in the Bible.
[SLJ Bible and Science 175, 177-8]

Never an easy process, the birth to nationhood was particularly difficult for the Israelites. The Canaanite tribes presented ever-new problems while the strategy of Moses demanded ever-new faith in Yahweh as the only Rock. At times their faith was so weak as to let the ark fall into the hands of the Philistines. It was not entirely an act of faith when the people wanted to have a king, the symbolic assurance of finally becoming a nation. That their request for a king did not turn into a self-defeating strategy was largely due to the presence of Samuel, from his birth on a symbol of the Mosaic strategy pivoted on Yahweh as its sole strength. Samuel was the child of Hannah, long-barren wife of Elkanah. On offering her son to Eli, the chief priest at Siloh, for service at the tent of Yahweh, Hannah spoke words which showed how Moses' farewell had become a part of the religious folklore. A thousand years later, Mary, the daughter of Annah, was to voice, in much the same words, her gratitude for the marvels done to her by the Lord. The strategy of Yahweh, the Rock, was valid for the people as well as for Hannah, a handmaid as low by appearance as Mary was to be:
My heart exults in the Lord; my horn is exalted in my God.
I have swallowed up my enemies; I rejoice in my victory.
There is no Holy One like the Lord; there is no Rock like our God (1 S 2:1-2).

Mary must have had these words in mind as she continued, like Hannah, to declare that the strong would be humiliated, the fat would go hungry, the hungry would be well-fed, and the poor would be seated with the rich: for the pillars of the earth are the Lord's and this is why the horn of his anointed will be exalted.
Hannah's anticipation of Mary's Magnificat was all the more proper since Hannah's son, Samuel, played a crucial role in turning the people into a nation by anointing Saul as king. Samuel's God-given authority as a judge and prophet was also the basis for transferring the office of king from Saul to David, the shepherd boy. With David, the most momentous advance was made toward the specific fulfillment of the promises of the covenant. From David's loins was to be born Israel's ultimate Shepherd, leading the people to the fountain of redemption.
Like any great advance, the one tied to David's role was also an advance on rocky grounds. Saul was far from ready to yield. A life-and-death struggle ensued between the two, its tensions never fading from David's memory. On singing his final song of thanksgiving, his escape from Saul's hands became the symbol for all the cases when Yahweh had become for him the Rock of refuge:
O Lord, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer,
my God, my rock of refuge!
My shield, the horn of my salvation,
my stronghold, my refuge,
My savior from violence, you keep me safe.
'Praised be the Lord,' I exclaim,
and I am safe from my enemies. (2 S 22:24)

Since the trials of David were like so many thunderstorms and violent earthquakes, he could fittingly refer to God as the unshakable rock of safety:
For who is God except the Lord?
Who is a rock except our God?...
The Lord live! And blessed be my Rock!
Extolled be my God, Rock of salvation! (2 S 22:32, 47)
Such was the God who showed kindness to David and was to show the same kindness to his posterity forever, a prospect worthy of the finest outburst by one of history's greatest poets. That it was not a momentary outburst on his part can be grasped from the manner in which it was inscribed into the Second Book of Samuel:
These are the last words of David:
The utterance of David, son of Jesse;
the utterance of the man God raised up,
Anointed of the God of Jacob,
favorite of the Mighty One of Israel.
The Spirit of the Lord spoke through me;
his word was on my tongue.
The God of Israel spoke;
of me the Rock of Israel said
'He that rules over men in justice,
that rules in the fear of God
Is like the morning light of sunrise on a cloudless morning.' (2 S 23:14)
In view of the absolute solidity of the promise of a God who is Rock, David could but envision the future as firmly secured:
Is not my house firm before God?
He has made an eternal covenant with me set forth in detail and secured. (2 S 23:5)

[SLJ And On This Rock 57-60]