Quote of the Day, Part II: “Serpentine secularism”

Corpus Christi.jpgPope Benedict XVI has a way with words, but also sound bites (who knew?!), from “the dictatorship of relativism” slogan on the eve of the conclave to this formulation from his homily for the Feast of Corpus Christi:

“Today there arises the risk of a serpentine secularization even within the Church, which can convert into a formal and empty Eucharistic worship, in celebrations lacking this participation from the heart that is expressed in veneration and respect for the liturgy,” he cautioned.


The Pope continued, saying “the temptation is always strong to reduce prayer to superficial and hurried moments, letting oneself be carried away by earthly activities and worries.”

“Serpentine secularism.” Great book title. Wish I’d thought of it.

Zenit has the write-up here.

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posted June 12, 2009 at 8:47 am

Wonderful. I think we all need to be reminded that we need to slow down in the presence of God. That God is not an appointment to be fulfilled but our life force to be honored and respected. In the article that was linked I especially liked “the God of tomorrow” and becoming present today in the Eucharist. Makes me ask myself, am I honoring the God of tomorrow, what God’s will is in the sense of tomorrow?
I know a lot of people have a problem with this Pope…but I have to admit, I love him for just such statements. Something strikes me that he is in constant conversion, and if he is, shouldn’t we all be?

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posted June 12, 2009 at 12:02 pm

He may not have the charisma of a PJP2, but Pope Benedict is a combination of a brilliant mind and a deeply holy disposition. It’s that kind of powerful combination from which we get these kinds of thoughts. We are so blessed to have this saintly man as our leader right now.

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Clare Krishan

posted June 12, 2009 at 1:12 pm

Yup, this whirling dervish thinks he’s got it about right, as he wrote (about a most beloved sacred space, San Clemente) in connection with the same feast:

“…the eternal, futile circling around what is always the same, the vain circular motion of endless repetition, is broken open. The descending Cross is, at the same time, the fishhook of God, with which he reels up the entire world to his height. No longer circling but ascent is now the direction of history and human life. Life has received a destination; it goes with Christ to the hands of God.

image of apse mosaic here:
Klimt may have been inspired by these same glittering celtic scrolls to reinterpret the motive in his Stoclet Frieze, and yet the Holy Father’s visual perspicacity takes the 2-D busy-ness of airy-fairy wishfulfilment and reminds us life is not an artists dream, the mystery is right here in our midst if we but permit ourselves to dwell in the third dimension and become the artisanal co-creators he wills us into being

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Clare Krishan

posted June 12, 2009 at 1:22 pm

David, have you been following the anticipation of the new encyclical Charity in Truth in Rome? I’m hopeful it will continue his rigorous faith and reason teachings, and pull together the classical threads of natural law (aka pagan right reason) to correct the Protestant corruptions of empiricism we see playing out in the global financial crisis. (And where Newt Gingrich et al may feel like a bucket of cold water’s been thrown at ’em and their “politics of pagan crusades” becomes a wee bit passe!, we can pray and hope!!)

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Clare Krishan

posted June 12, 2009 at 1:44 pm

There’s more than poetry in his sound bites, its Wisdom. Many of us anticipate the upcoming social encyclical for a deepening of his teaching on faith perfecting cold reason, as reason chastens blind faith.

“The new social encyclical … can be an instrument to help politics recover its function: that of designing the architectural structures of our social life in the way of justice, freedom, truth and solidarity,” Bishop Giampaolo Crepaldi, secretary of the Justice and Peace council, told Vatican Radio earlier.”

H/T (scroll to foot of thread, ctd next page)
There are those who see liberation in theology:

“Flavio Felice contests Böckenförde’s unrealistic vision of an “angelic economy” as an alternative to a capitalism that is identified with pure lust for gain. And regarding the salvific control of the state over the economy, he points out that the encyclical Centesimus Annus by John Paul II, in paragraph 25, warns against precisely this danger:

“When people think they possess the secret of a perfect social organization which makes evil impossible, they also think that they can use any means, including violence and deceit, in order to bring that organization into being. Politics then becomes a ‘secular religion’ which operates under the illusion of creating paradise in this world.”

There are however those of us in the free market “camp” who see the serpentine meanderings of the financial crisis could fit the bill as easily as Marx’ labor theory of value. And there’s the crux of the matter, the blasphemy of reducing “being” to deterministic quantities in aggregate (GDP as the measure of all things). JPII’s take may be in need of a little polishing, and Benedict could be our man!
“Thomas Aquinas distinguishes three degrees of abstraction:
• The formal object of the 1st degree of abstraction (experimental science) is the sensible. It is the study of the universal nature of physical and sensory phenomena. It abstracts the essence of movement, pressure, light, sound, heat, life, etc.
• The formal object of the 2nd degree of abstraction (mathematics) is quantity. It is the study of the universal nature of things from their quantitative angle. It abstracts the essence of things by using the mathematical relations between quantities.
• The formal object of the third degree of abstraction is being as being. It abstracts the essence of being not in its sensory or quantitative form, but ontologically—reality as it really is. It is the highest degree of abstraction and is based on simple observations requiring neither equipment nor technique but only common experience (being, change, diversity, etc.). The aim of social ontology is “being as being” and not the sensible or measurable side of reality.
Knowledge is a process where the human mind has a creative role in discovery. Contrary to the inductive method, human knowledge is not a process of
impoverishment (Moreau 1976, p. 59) or an attempt to reduce things to the measurable (p. 135). The abstraction of essence lays the foundation for the ability to discover the universality hidden in things.”

Just last week the Hly Father reflected on the human person having the ineffable superabundance of the trinity written in our DNA:
“Borrowing an analogy from biology, we could say that imprinted upon his “genome”, the human being bears a profound mark of the Trinity, of God as Love”
Aquinas citation from
“Apriorism, introspection and the axiom of action: a realist solution” Francois Fachinni” at

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Clare Krishan

posted June 12, 2009 at 1:58 pm

and more on the La Maison Enchantée home of the Stoclet frieze here;

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Your Name

posted June 12, 2009 at 4:35 pm

grow in your prayer,give it more of your time, respect it and carry it to great heights over time.

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Steven W. Sawczuk

posted June 12, 2009 at 4:39 pm

I felt a need to grow in my prayer. so I’d like to plant this seed as a thought to spread out over the soil of all the faithful!

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Phillip Clark

posted June 12, 2009 at 5:17 pm

Don’t always agree with him on all the issues but it’s beautiful statements of eloquence such as these that make me treasure having Joseph Ratzinger as our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. =D
And he’s exactly right, time spent with the Eucharist isn’t just any other time, these moments are the integral and precious of our existance, during these time we adore the Living God and ascend the heights of heaven as much as our minds and senses can comprehend before we see God in His the complete totality of the beatific vision. Thus, I agree with the Holy Father’s reform of the reform concerning the celebration of the Eucharistic Liturgy.
I don’t however agree with his opinions on seeing homosexuality as an “intrinsic disorder…”

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Kenjiro M. Shoda

posted June 13, 2009 at 7:46 pm

“He may not have the charisma of a PJP2″
One contributor stated the above.
My reply is, what good is charisma if it’s empty and just all show and bravado? That was JPII.
Benedict XVI is substance and Catholic tradtion. He is bringing us back to the eternal Truth and tradtions of our Faith….not the “make-it-up-as-we-go-along-anything-goes” Papal Masses and politically correct gestures which bring ringing applause and cheers from the world…but are in reality empty and hollow.

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Your Name

posted June 16, 2009 at 9:12 am

Just as we believe that Jesus is present in the Eucharist let us not forget that we also are present, mind, body and spirit in the Eucharist. His presence is an eternal mystery, our presence is required if we are to fully receive Him.

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