Sunday, July 07, 2002

Kairos is taking a real, honest-to-goodness vacation this week. I will be bringing a laptop, but I'm not at all sure I'll be doing any posting. To keep new readers occupied until my return in a week, I'm posting some link below to some older blogbits that I particularly liked, and that you only would have found by poking around in the archives.

For Monday, Prayer.

For Tuesday, Forgiveness.

For Wednesday, a follow-up to forgiveness.

For Thursday, Confession, part 1.

For Friday, Confession, part 2.

For Saturday, something to be added to Kathy Shaidle's "Bulging 'Why people have stopped going to church' file".

For Sunday, a response to Confession parts 1 and 2.

Meanwhile, check in during the week,a s I may well get motivated to post from the Maine coast. Peace!
Rise, Ye Children of Salvation

Rise, ye children of salvation,
All who cleave to Christ the Head;
Wake, awake, O mighty nation,
Ere the foe on Zion tread;
He draws nigh, and would defy
All the hosts of God most high.

Saints and martyrs long before us
Firmly on this ground have stood;
See their banner waving o’er us,
Conquerors through the Savior’s blood.
Ground we hold, whereon of old,
Fought the faithful and the bold.

Fighting, we shall be victorious
By the blood of Christ our Lord;
On our foreheads, bright and glorious,
Shines the witness of His Word;
Spear and shield on battlefield,
His great Name; we cannot yield.

When His servants stand before Him
Each receiving his reward,
When His saints in light adore Him,
Giving glory to the Lord;
“Victory!” our song shall be
Like the thunder of the sea.
Sunday Intentions

For Dave's nephew and my wife's cousin Sue. For those who need strength to bear their crosses. For the repose of the soul of Trina Persad, for Fr. Jim's cousin, Emily's goddaughter, mothers who choose life, especially those who choose adoption, Karin, Elizabeth, Sarah, Randy, Deb, Roger, Corey, Michael, and the anonymous ones as well.

Saturday, July 06, 2002

A Story

There once was a family with two sons. One son was dutiful and obedient, while the other was rebellious and difficult. The parents tried to teach him the rules, but he would not obey.

As the rebellious child grew older and began to think himself wiser than his parents, he became even more difficult. He took to treating people poorly, fornicating freely, and even cheating friends out of their money.

His parents were at a loss, and so they asked his brother to help him: maybe the rebellious son would listen to someone who was more like him, and less like a parent. The brother agreed, and set out to find his troublesome brother and talk to him.

It happened at this time that the difficult son was in bar. Though his parents had tried to teach him not to drive drunk, he often did. They had told him they would come get him, no matter where he was, or pay even an expensive bill for a cab, if only he wouldn't do this thing that put his life so at risk. At various times, they threatened to withhold other financial support, sent him to treatment programs, and did all a parent can do for a child to make him stop. But the sad truth was, the boy was the kind of alcoholic who revels in his drunkenness.

The dutiful son found his brother in the sort of dark, anonymous bar he usually drank at, surrounded not by friends or even companions, but only other drunks. He spoke to his brother, alternating between a stern tone and an affectionate one, trying to convince him to change his path. The rebellious brother simply got angry at this interference, and stormed out, heading for his car. His brother stopped him, and demanded the car keys, and they wound up in a fistfight. After realizing the futility of the fighting, the good son stopped demanding his brother's keys, but insisted that he was going to ride with his brother, at least to try to get him home safely. The troublesome son, realizing that this was the easiest way to be done with the fight and rid of his brother, agreed.

On the way home, the difficult child drove too fast and spun out on a wet patch. His brother was ejected from the car and killed. He remained inside it for the fire that took his life too.


A giant obstacle for many non-believers is the idea that God chooses who is saved and who isn't. To them, Salvation is an arbitrary action of a perverse ruler, and so, patently false. If it were so, I too would reject it.

But Salvation is really a path, and walking it is really a choice. God as Father has told us what the path is, spent millennia begging us, cajoling us, threatening us--doing all the things any parent does--to get us to stay on the path. Finally, he sent us Himself in the person of His Son, that we might hear the message from a brother who is like us, and like Him. That Brother stands next to us every day, offering his hand, asking for the keys to the car.

Ultimately, it is up to us to hand over the keys, to take the path that gets us home safely. But God will not make us do what He wants: that would violate the rules he established, that every parent establishes. He will teach us what we need to know, holding our hands at first, but gradually letting us walk on our own.

God does not choose who will be saved and who will not anymore than the parents in the story chose to let their son die. As they sent their other son out to help, so Christ was sent to help us find the Way. The parents did everything possible to ensure their son lived, but he chose not to. So it is with Salvation.
Saturday Intentions

For Dave's nephew and my wife's cousin Sue. For those who need strength to bear their crosses. For the repose of the soul of Trina Persad, for Fr. Jim's cousin, Emily's goddaughter, mothers who choose life, especially those who choose adoption, Karin, Elizabeth, Sarah, Randy, Deb, Roger, Corey, Michael, and the anonymous ones as well.
Joy and Triumph Everlasting

Joy and triumph everlasting
Hath the heav’nly Church on high;
For that pure immortal gladness
All our feast days mourn and sigh:
Yet in death’s dark desert wild
Doth the mother aid her child;
Guards celestial thence attend us,
Stand in combat to defend us.

Here the world’s perpetual warfare
Holds from heav’n the soul apart;
Legioned foes in shadowy terror
Vex the Sabbath of the heart.
O how happy that estate
Where delight doth not abate!
For that home the spirit yearneth,
Where none languisheth nor mourneth.

There the body hath no torment,
There the mind is free from care,
There is every voice rejoicing,
Every heart is loving there.
Angels in that city dwell;
Them their King delighteth well:
Still they joy and weary never,
More and more desiring ever.

There the seers and fathers holy,
There the prophets glorified,
All their doubts and darkness ended,
In the Light of Light abide.
There the saints, whose memories old
We in faithful hymns uphold,
Have forgot their bitter story
In the joy of Jesus’ glory.

Friday, July 05, 2002

One of the few readers of the Kairos blog who actually knows me as a live human being (as opposed to an anonymous blogger/email presence) wrote me a pretty stern letter. I can't do a lot about part of what she was upset about, me being me, and she being she. But part of her upset was about what I thought was mainly a humorous post, but which she didn't find funny. I intended no harm by it, but my sense of humor is not everyone's, and it would seem an act of truly sinful Pride to insist that I leave up something that matters not a lick to me in a substantive sense when it hurts a friend. Unfortunately, I do care about the other parts that upset her, and think they matter enough to leave them be. But I publicly withdraw as much as I can.
Prayer Intentions

For Dave's nephew and my wife's cousin Sue. For those who need strength to bear their crosses. For the repose of the soul of Trina Persad, for Fr. Jim's cousin, Emily's goddaughter, mothers who choose life, especially those who choose adoption, Karin, Elizabeth, Sarah, Randy, Deb, Roger, Corey, Michael, and the anonymous ones as well.

Wednesday, July 03, 2002

Thursday Intentions

For a just peace in the world, for Dave's nephew and Emily's goddaughter. For Karen's disabilities and the anniversary of her pledge. For all those who need mercy, and those who have the opportunity to be merciful. For the citizens of the United States, and for her men and women under arms, that God will offer them comfort and consolation as they fight on distant shores.
Thursday is the day we in the US celebrate our independence from Great Britain. The date itself is somewhat odd. John Adams, who died July 4 1826, on the 50th Anniversary of Independence Day (within hours of his friend and political nemesis Thomas Jefferson), always believed that July 2 was the proper date, that being the day debate on the Declaration of Independence concluded. And the political event of declaring independence in 1776 was not fulfilled on the battlefield for many hard, dangerous years after. But nevermind all that. Tomorrow is the birthday of my birthplace.

I find it very difficult to express just how I feel about this country. People who know me well know how much I love my country, but I think most would be surprised to know just how choked up I can get during the Nationa Anthem at a ballgame, or how near to tears I come every time I hear America the Beautiful. Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address positively makes me cry, for the perfect encapsulation of the American ideal.

What makes it hard to express is that my love is unconditional. Not, "my country, right or wrong"--but for all its faults my country is after all mine. The people who look at all the bad things the US has done and conclude that the US is the worst thing ever to happen to the world have not looked very closely at any of the other countries. Or, more likely they have, and they resent, in spite of some truly hideous stains on our honor, that we have managed to rise above the worst things we have ever done, to do some great things too. They are the sort who run around, declaring "I'm as good as you!" when what they want you to understand is you are as bad as they.

The sly snickering in Europe and Asia whenever an American talks of good and evil is all the proof that those nations--or at least their leaders and intellectuals--are most definitely not as good as we. The fact that the wealthiest, most powerful nation in the history of the world still thinks about and honestly believes in objective Good and objective Evil, while the inventors of Dachau and Auschwitz, the murderers of kulaks and Falun Gong, mock and sneer and in gleeful moral torpor gives the lie to their smug disdain.

This country has flaws surely, even still. We carry a big stick, but we are not always careful about where we wave it, or how softly we speak. We worry too much about money, and we are too apt to believe that other people are just like us. We are the most successful multi-racial society ever, and yet we are obsessed with "race." We are inconstant, and often tempted by our older brothers' moral lethargy.

But as Eugene McCarthy noted, we can choke on a gnat, but we swallow tigers whole.

This nation enslaved hundreds of thousands of blacks, stolen from their homes and given over to a horrific life and death. But then we sacrificed hundreds of thousands of young free men's lives to free a people that no one else in the world cared about: not the blacks in Africa who captured and sold them, not the slave traders who transported them, and certainly not the people who 75 years later were putting their neighbors onto trains bound for gas chambers so they could steal their art and live in their houses.

And so, Gentle Reader, I conclude. If you live here, fly your flag proudly this July 4th. If you are not American, please come visit us, and so discover that much of what you have read about us is true, and even more false. We are a kind and generous people, rougher, less refined than our European cousins, egotistical and paradoxically humble. If you visit us with an open mind, you will surely leave with an open heart.

God bless you, and God bless America.
America the Beautiful

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine ev'ry flaw,
Confirm the soul in self control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!

America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam,
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!
God Bless America

While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,
Let us swear allegiance to a land that's free,
Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,
As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer:

God Bless America.
Land that I love
Stand beside her, and guide her
Thru the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies ,
To the oceans, white with foam
God bless America
My home sweet home.

God Bless America,
Land that I love
Stand beside her,
And guide her,
Through the night
With the light from above,
From the mountains,
To the prairies,
To the ocean,
White with foam,
God bless America,
My home sweet home.
God bless America,
My home sweet home.
My Country ’Tis of Thee

My country, ’tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing;
Land where my fathers died,
Land of the pilgrims’ pride,
From every mountainside,
Let freedom ring!

My native country, thee,
Land of the noble free,
Thy name I love;
I love thy rocks and rills,
Thy woods and templed hills;
My heart with rapture thrills,
Like that above.

Let music swell the breeze,
And ring from all the trees,
Sweet freedom’s song;
Let mortal tongues awake;
Let all that breathe partake;
Let rocks their silence break,
The sound prolong.

Our fathers’ God, to Thee,
Author of liberty,
To Thee we sing;
Long may our land be bright
With freedom’s holy light;
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God, our King.
Thursday Blogging is up on Wednesday night.
Additional intention

Those of you who enjoy Kairos' daily hymn selection have Dave Pawlak to thank, at least in large measure. Roughly 3 in 4 hymns in recent weeks are here as a result of his efforts. He has asked for prayers for his nephew, so please keep him in mind.
In the interest of not freaking everybody out with a really long post, I have buried my follow-up on the NTSB/the Scandal down a bit lower on the page. Click here if you are interested.
I am pleased to announce that Eve Tushnet has posted results from her "rewritten literature" contest, and that Your Humble Correspondent has placed rather highly.
The Cross, continued

I’m breaking a self-imposed rule here by referring to two other bloggers in the same day. (It’s not that I don’t like the other bloggers: some of them have even become email penpals of a sort. I just don’t like reading blogs that are nothing but blogs on other blogs, and so I try very hard not to write one.) Emily Stimpson has responded (it's a multi-post post, so scroll down a little) on her site to my comments, and asks a good question that needs a reply. Plus, she’s traveling to her goddaughter’s baptism, so I can reply without generating a response, and so win. Winning is important.

Emily quoted from my conclusion, then wrote:

I agree with a point. I think that many of the sufferings that we endure are just the natural consequences of a fallen world, and that when we embrace those sufferings as Christ embraced the cross, we grow in holiness. But is that always the case? The Lord, knowing us more intimately and more deeply than we know ourselves, knows exactly what each of us needs to be saved and sanctified. Does He never present us with crosses designed by Him for just those purposes? I'm not certain what the answer is, but would love to hear your thoughts.

I still think the answer is no. The irony of Evil is that it must use the stuff of the world, the good, natural stuff that God created, to tempt and corrupt us. And it always, automatically, hones in with an unerring precision on our fundamental weaknesses as the means of doing so. The only thing needed for us “to be saved and sanctified” is the grace and strength to overcome those weaknesses. Christ does not have to design the Cross for us; Wormwood will do that for Him. And then, if we are open, Christ will use all Wormwood’s machinations against him, “And we shall be saved.”

A few days ago I wrote about how airline crashes have “causes” much more complex than what you read about in the paper, and how the NTSB looks always at the whole system, not just the proximate cause of a particular accident. I promised you information about those investigations in the hopes of generating ideas for an appropriate response to the Church Situation. Herewith, my follow-up.

The National Transportation Safety Board is an independent agency of the federal government, and though it is best known for handling investigations of airline disasters, it also investigates private plane crashes, the railway system, highways, marine incidents, and pipelines and other hazardous material delivery systems. Board members are political appointees, nominated by the President to serve a five-year term. They are not subject to removal except for cause, and, unlike other appointees in many agencies, invariably bring a background in government and industry that makes them highly expert from the day they start on the job. The five-year term helps ensure that appointees will vary from administration to administration. THE NTSB is not an arm of the Transportation department, cannot make regulatory changes, and has no enforcement powers (with slight, irrelevant exceptions).

When an airplane suffers “major damage” in an accident, the NTSB sends an investigative team to the site right away, to determine the causes. The “go-team” varies in size and configuration depending on many factors, but it generally includes the same types of people. First, the team is headed by an NTSB employee, a highly trained expert in accident investigation and managing a team of people with competing interests. Other, more junior experts from the NTSB are also assigned as cases demand. Generally speaking, the more visible the incident—i.e., the more deaths—the more likely the team will get a lot of resources.

Other members of the team usually include representatives of the airframe and engine manufacturers, the involved airline, law enforcement (at least until criminal causes have been ruled out), and other government agencies as necessary (for instance, the FAA, air traffic controllers, forensic pathologists, explosives specialists, etc.). Of late, the FAA and NTSB and airlines have also been making staff available to families of victims, though to the best of my knowledge there is no formal role for families in the investigation.

It may seem a conflict of interest to include the airline and manufacturers in the investigation. After all, each of them has a vested interest in blaming one of the others, in order to avoid potential civil liability. But their expertise is absolutely critical: no one knows the systems like the people who built it, and no one can explain the procedures better than the airline that wrote them. And the competing interests of the three parties generally have the effect of keeping everyone honest. Attempts at concealment by one are sure to be revealed by the others if discovered.

The investigation itself involves recovering every possible speck of the wreckage, every possible body and piece of luggage, first and foremost. Then interviews with everyone who had anything to do with the flight: surviving crew and passengers, ATC personnel, the maintenance crew that last worked on the plane, even gate attendants and catering staff can be interviewed in some cases. The last flight crew to use the plane before the crash also gets interviewed. Witnesses on the ground, surviving videotape, etc. etc. The data collected is massive and exhaustive. (Look here for the report on TWA 800, but be warned: it is a very large PDF file.)

At the end of the gathering, public hearings are held to examine the data and make the best possible judgments about what went wrong, both immediately, and systemically, to allow the crash to happen. Because the NTSB has no enforcement powers, and cannot even mandate but only recommend safety changes, the people involved are able to be more honest. And, with only very narrow exceptions, the data in an NTSB report cannot be used as evidence in a civil or criminal proceeding.

There are many possible pitfalls to attempting to create an NTSB-like investigation of the current Scandal. But only an honest assessment of the many complex factors that led to it, interwoven and horrifically tangled as they are, can lead us back out of it. Prayer, living the Gospel, practicing what we teach: these are all essential prerequisites, without which any attempt at repairing the damage will surely fail. But they are not sufficient, because by themselves they do not root out the problems any more than Air Florida could fix its icing procedures and be sure of not having another accident. The old cliché about “an accident waiting to happen” inspires the NTSB to exhaustive work. But writing a policy on sexual abuse, or kicking gay men out of the seminaries, or any other solution mooted right now addresses only a single aspect of the problem, which guarantees that something bad will happen again, sooner rather than later.
Wednesday Intentions

For those who need strength to bear their crosses, For the repose of the soul of Trina Persad, for Fr. Jim's cousin, Emily's goddaughter, mothers who choose life, especially those who choose adoption, Karin, Elizabeth, Sarah, Randy, Deb, Roger, Corey, Michael, and the anonymous ones as well.
For Thee, O Dear, Dear, Country

For thee, O dear, dear country,
Mine eyes their vigils keep;
For very love, beholding
Thy happy name, they weep.
The mention of thy glory
Is unction to the breast
And medicine in sickness
And love and life and rest.

O one, O only mansion,
O paradise of joy,
Where tears are ever banished
And smiles have no alloy!
The Lamb is all thy splendor,
The Crucified thy praise;
His laud and benediction
Thy ransomed people raise.

With jasper glow thy bulwarks,
Thy streets with emeralds blaze;
The sardius and the topaz
Unite in thee their rays;
Thine ageless walls are bonded
With amethyst unpriced;
The saints build up thy fabric,
The cornerstone is Christ.

Thou hast no shore, fair ocean;
Thou hast no time, bright day,
Dear fountain of refreshment
To pilgrims far away!
Upon the Rock of Ages
They raise thy holy tower;
Thine is the victor’s laurel
And thine the golden dower.

O sweet and blessèd country,
The home of God’s elect!
O sweet and blessèd country,
That eager hearts expect!
Jesus, in mercy bring us,
To that dear land of rest;
Who art, with God the Father,
And Spirit, ever blest.

Tuesday, July 02, 2002

The Armor of God

I posted on Saturday about the Armor of God, in Ephesians. But that post has been buried, during some days of very light visitation, and so I offer a link to read it, for the regular readers who may have missed it.
The Cross

Emily Stimpson wrote a very good piece about the Burden of the Cross last week, which is here. I essentially agree with what she wrote, but it is incomplete, and there’s one potential error in that incompleteness (though Emily is much too smart, not to mention orthodox, to mean or intend that error).

For Emily wrote only about the sort of cross that most would think obvious: the disease, or the hard job, the challenging family, the disordered personality. These are all the burdens of life that each of us sees and recognizes as the difficulties we must bear. But there is another kind of Cross to bear, and it is much more invidious in many ways, and it afflicts Americans and Westerners disproportionately. It is the Cross of Contentment.

It is comparatively easy for a person who is sick (at least one of deep faith) to say “God, I can’t do this without you. Please heal me, or at least give me the strength to endure.” It is much harder to recognize a problem in having a good job, two cars, 3.2 kids and a dog, down the street from the park where your kid’s little league team plays. Many people would even say that’s a Cross they would willingly bear.

But it is so very much harder to remember one’s duty to others when one is flying along fat, dumb, and happy (as the airline pilots say) than when one is also suffering. Few things are more corrosive to the soul than basic contentment and self-satisfaction when they go unchallenged. The Cross of the Content is simply the burden to remember that others have it not nearly so good, and that is a difficult burden indeed when one rarely sees those others.


The error that is to be avoided is the notion that Christ chooses the Cross for us. When Christ tells us, as on this past Sunday, that we must take up our Cross and follow Him, he is not telling us He has made us a Cross, but instead acknowledges that Crosses are endemic to the fallen world. God does not, so far as I can tell, pick out suffering for us that we might desire Him more. It would be a strange God indeed who suffered Munchausen-by-Proxy disease. God could just as easily cause us to desire Him directly as cause the things that make us desire Him. Even in the Book of Job, the Adversary (Satan) chooses the Crosses as means of testing Job, though God does inflict them.
Tuesday Intentions

For those who need strength to bear their crosses, For the repose of the soul of Trina Persad, for Fr. Jim's cousin, Emily's new godchild, mothers who choose life, especially those who choose adoption, Karin, Elizabeth, Sarah, Randy, Deb, Roger, Corey, Michael, and the anonymous ones as well.
Jerusalem the Golden
Jerusalem the golden, with milk and honey blest,
Beneath thy contemplation sink heart and voice oppressed.
I know not, O I know not, what joys await us there,
What radiancy of glory, what bliss beyond compare.

They stand, those halls of Zion, all jubilant with song,
And bright with many an angel, and all the martyr throng;
The Prince is ever in them, the daylight is serene.
The pastures of the blessèd are decked in glorious sheen.

There is the throne of David, and there, from care released,
The shout of them that triumph, the song of them that feast;
And they, who with their Leader, have conquered in the fight,
Forever and forever are clad in robes of white.

O sweet and blessèd country, the home of God’s elect!
O sweet and blessèd country, that eager hearts expect!
Jesus, in mercy bring us to that dear land of rest,
Who art, with God the Father, and Spirit, ever blessed.

Brief life is here our portion, brief sorrow, short lived care;
The life that knows no ending, the tearless life, is there.
O happy retribution! Short toil, eternal rest;
For mortals and for sinners, a mansion with the blest.

That we should look, poor wanderers, to have our home on high!
That worms should seek for dwellings beyond the starry sky!
And now we fight the battle, but then shall wear the crown
Of full and everlasting, and passionless renown.

Monday, July 01, 2002

A Chain of Events

When Air Florida Flight 90 crashed into the 14th Street Bridge 20 years ago, killing all but 6 passengers seated in the tail, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) began an investigation that lasted months. It interviewed witnesses on the ground at National Airport, on the streets near the bridge, the surviving passengers. It examined the Flight Data Recorder and the Cockpit Voice Recorder and radar information. It talked to the people who made the plane and the people who maintained it. It talked to employees and officers of Air Florida. It was, as they say, an "exhaustive" investigation. If you read newspaper accounts of the final report, you would probably believe that the NTSB concluded that the crash was caused by "icing on the wings and airframe." The plane had been deiced but then waited a long time--almost an hour--in the snow and slush, and had gotten a fair coat of ice on it.

But if you have ever read an NTSB report, you know it said a great deal more than that. I have had a pilot's license for about 6 years, and so I, like most pilots, pay an extraordinary amount of attention to such things. If you pick up any copy of "Flying" magazine at the airport newsstand, towards the back you will see a summary of reports on 5-10 accidents, and a column, called "Aftermath" that dissects some particular accident in great detail, so as to teach other pilots about mistakes that can kill them.

In the case of AF 90, the NTSB concluded a number of things. (I'm quoting from memory here, so may have a few details slightly wrong. Bear wih me). The NTSB found that AF did not keep particularly good maintenance records. AF's pilots were generally made "Captain" with fewer hours than the industry average, and its planes were older than average. It found that its Flight department met FAA requirements, but wasn't especially interested in exceeding minimum requirements.

In the sequence of events leading up to the crash, the weather was extremely cold--around -5 C--and the airport was closed for 45 minutes or so to plow the runway. Incredibly, during the pretakeoff checklist, the pilot and copilot called out that the anti-icing equipment was turned "off" but neither remedied the situation. The captain tried to use the exhaust of a plane in front of them to deice, to save time, but that just moved the ice around. After 30 minutes, he was supposed to request a new deicing, but the flight was already delayed an hour and a half because of the airport closure. The copliot noticed a problem with one of the engine gauges, but was too intimidated by the prospect of correcting his captain (he had requested not to fly with him any more) and so didn't take decisive action. During the takeoff, even when the plane started to descend, neither man advanced the throttles to full power, either believing them already generating max thrust because of the faulty gauge (which malfunctioned because of ice) or responding the way their airline had trained them, to resist full power for fear of giving passengers an unnnecessarily bumpy ride. Less than a minute after take off, the plane hit the bridge and sank into the Potomac, allowing only 6 passengers to escape and be rescued by helicopter and the heroics of a few people who dove into the freezing water to save them.

Why do I tell you any of this?

Well, in spite of the "cause" being identified as "icing" the report makes it clear, as it does in virtually all aircraft accidents, that the actual cause was a chain of events, and that breaking the chain at any point probably would have prevented this particular accident, but only understanding the chain will prevent future ones. This is the single most important reason that US airlines have such an unbelieveably good safety record. The NTSB is not content with "icing" as an explanation.

So, too, then, with the Situation in our Church. Many people are suggesting a cause for it, but the proximate cause of an event is not the whole story. The chain of events in this case stretches back decades, and probably includes many of the things suggested by bloggers and the media alike. But "media bias", "ephebophiles", "clericalism", "gays in the priesthood", "sexual libertines", "Vatican II", "heterodoxy" and all the other things put forward are not by themselves sufficient cause. If we want to prevent further problems, it will take so very much more than addressing one or two of these items. Breaking the chain at any one point will stop the present Situation. Fixing every link in it is the only way to prevent future problems. How to form an NTSB-like team to investigate and draw conclusions is way beyond my meager powers to offer.

But I can tell you what makes the NTSB work, in the hopes that the smart folks out there can use that knowledge to suggest the right mix of people to examine and investigate. That will be the subject of a post later today or tomorrow.

Sunday, June 30, 2002

Sunday Intentions:

Amy's son Joseph, Fr. Jim's cousin, mothers who choose life, especially those who choose adoption, Karin, Elizabeth, Sarah, Randy, Deb, Roger, Corey, Michael, and the anonymous ones as well.
Eternal Glory of the Sky

Eternal Glory of the sky,
Blest Hope of frail humanity,
The Father’s sole begotten One,
Yet born a spotless virgin’s Son!

Uplift us with Thine arm of might,
And let our hearts rise pure and bright,
And, ardent in God’s praises, pay
The thanks we owe him every day.

The day-star’s rays are glittering clear,
And tell that day itself is near:
The shadows of the night depart;
Thou, holy Light, illume the heart!

Within our senses ever dwell,
And worldly darkness thence expel;
Long as the days of life endure,
Preserve our souls devout and pure.

The faith that first must be possessed,
Root deep within our inmost breast;
And joyous hope in second place,
Then charity, Thy greatest grace.

All laud to God the Father be,
All praise, eternal Son, to Thee;
All glory, as is ever meet,
To God the holy Paraclete.

Saturday, June 29, 2002

From the Letter of Paul to the Ephesians, 6:10-20

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

Important words in the present world--both within the Church, as we must recognize the Situation for what it truly is, and in the wider world, where Evil stands naked before us, eager to tear us down. We can only really lose, however, if we choose to fight Evil solely on the ground it has chosen. If we fight in a material way--with policies and committees, with soldiers and rifles--we can hope at best for a draw. But if we fight not only materially, but spiritualy, if we gird our loins with the Word of God, as the King James version puts it, we cannot lose--literally, we are not able to lose if we follow the Law.

I'm as hawkish on Osama and Iraq as the next guy, moreso than many, in fact. But the World is only one front in the war, and we should never forget who it is we are really fighting. The strange thing about the present war is how plain the Darkness is about its nature. It makes not even a pretence of being good, as Communism did. It does not even offer its supporters Lebensraum. It stands in front of us, in all its Hideous Glory, promising only winter, fire and steel. It is so blatantly Terrible, it promises death not only to its enemies but to its advocates, and they rejoice in the offer.

This can only be, because collectively we have stopped believing in evil at all. The greatest trick the Devil has ever played on mankind was not offering us the Knowledge of Good and Evil, but in convincing us to deny it. We in the West no longer know our own story, and so we no longer tell it, and cannot use it to evaluate our adversary. Evil can rise up as plain as day and we see it as a "simplistic" trick of the light. President Bush seemed so masterful in October and January, precisely because for a short time we recognized the Enemy. But as normality and security have returned, he has seemd to stumble, because we no longer see what he sees. We stand today as Peter on the night of Jesus' arrest, having known the Good, and known it for what it was, but denying It in the hope of material safety.

We must confront the evil that would use Christ's Body to harm children, and Christ's children as weapons against others. We must do so not only in Dallas and Bagdhad, Boston and Tora Bora, but in our hearts. "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."

Friday, June 28, 2002

Obviously, if you missed it, I'm back. And my hand is getting better. Thank you to al the readers who checked in even while I was away. It's remarkable.
Friday's Intentions:

We must pray, every day. It's as important to our spiritual health as drinking water is to our physical. And the effects of not doing either are comparable. When you get dehydrated the symptoms start out mild but get worse the longer it goes on. First, you get a little tired, maybe a headache (a nurse once told me dehydration causes more than half of all headaches. Bet the makers of Tylenol will sue me now!). Then you can get dizzy, disoriented, irritable. Next comes vomiting and severe pain, hallucinations. Then your kidneys and other organs shut down, and finally, comes death. Interestingly, when the kidneys shut down, you have to revive a person with waer very slowly. At that stage, suddenly trying to take in a lot of water can kill a person just as surely as withholding it entirely.

The spiritual symptoms of de-pray-ation are very similar. No real harm done at first, just a little out of balance, and you can easily restore the balance very quickly. But if you don't, soon you get a spiritual hurt, that you try to chase away with spiritual analgesics, like money or lust. Those mask the symptoms for a bit, but don't address the root cause. But soon you begin to be angry at the cuase of your pain (the lack of prayer) and imagine that it is the fault of a God you no longer acknowledge. Your spiritual self begins to shut down, and you risk death. Here, too, trying to do too much at once can be as bad as not doing anything. We have all seen sudden, glorious conversions that burn out just as quickly and just as suddenly.

The solution to dehydration is to drink water regularly, and to cut back on or avoid entirely diuretics like caffeine and alcohol. And when you do partake of the diuretics, you have to drink more water, not less.

In the spirit it is the same. Pray daily to keep your system clear. When you participate in a spiritual "diuretic"--whatever worldly attachments you have can be thus--you need to respond with more prayer, not less.

I am condemning neither coffee nor wine (two of my favorite beverages) nor worldly attachments. Christ's first miracle was the provision of wine for a party, and he has commanded us to live in the world, and t do our best by it while we do so. But I am telling you that anything done Intemperately must be met with a deliberate and careful response as a counterbalance. Newton's Laws of Motion (an equal and opposite reaction to every action) and the Asian concept of Yin and Yang say essentially this same thing.

Therefore, today's intentions are for all those in need of praying, that sufficent Grace might be granted them to turn them back to a spiritual renewal, and a balancing out of the forces that drive them from prayer.
Eternal Father, Strong to Save

Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who biddest the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

O Christ! Whose voice the waters heard
And hushed their raging at Thy Word,
Who walked on the foaming deep,
And calm amidst its rage didst sleep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

Most Holy Spirit! Who didst brood
Upon the chaos dark and rude,
And bid its angry tumult cease,
And give, for wild confusion, peace;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

O Trinity of love and power!
Our family shield in danger’s hour;
From rock and tempest, fire and foe,
Protect us wheresoever we go;
Thus evermore shall rise to Thee
Glad hymns of praise from land and sea.

Sunday, June 23, 2002

Posting will be erratic the next few days. I will be traveling, but expect to be able to do some posting, though probably not at my usual 8-9am and noon EDT timeslots. I will post something of substance this evening.
Today's intentions: Those who cannot forgive, Q and all the persecuted Christians of China, the people of Cuba, Mothers who choose life, especially those who choose adoption, Randy, Deb, Roger, Corey, Michael, and the anonymous ones as well. Please keep travelers in mind as well.
Thank you for the kind words and thoughts. I cut a finger on one hand deeply enough to require several stitches and a strong antibiotic. It should be fine in a few weeks.
Lead, Kindly Light

Lead, kindly Light, amid th’encircling gloom, lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home; lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.

I was not ever thus, nor prayed that Thou shouldst lead me on;
I loved to choose and see my path; but now lead Thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will. Remember not past years!

So long Thy power hath blest me, sure it still will lead me on.
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till the night is gone,
And with the morn those angel faces smile, which I
Have loved long since, and lost awhile!

Meantime, along the narrow rugged path, Thyself hast trod,
Lead, Savior, lead me home in childlike faith, home to my God.
To rest forever after earthly strife
In the calm light of everlasting life.

Saturday, June 22, 2002

“One of the most unforgettable bishops in New York’s history electrified the large audience in the Bronx at his inaugural speech half a century ago. He had been preceded by a typical ‘brick and mortar’ administrator, fundraiser, organizer and ‘nice guy.’ But the new bishop announced, ‘I am here for one reason and one only. Everything I do for you will have one single aim: to save your souls.’

“The only justification for every dollar raised, every bible of hymnbook printed, every speck of dust swept up from under every pew, is salvation. That is the business the church is in.

“The church also seems to be in the social service business, the counseling business, the fundraising business, the daycare business—dozens of the same worthy businesses as the secular world is also in. Why? What justifies these things? The church’s ultimate end for all these things is different from the world’s end; it is salvation. This is its distinctive ‘product.’

“Why put out a product that is just the same as other companies’ products already on the market? Why would anyone expect such a product to sell? That’s why modernist or liberal Christianity, charitable as its services are, is simply not selling. The only reason for any of the church’s activities, the only reason for the very existence f the church at all, is exactly the same as the reason Jesus came to earth: to save poor and lost humanity. The church, after all, is in the same business as its Head. When the body runs in a different direction from its Head, it is like a chicken with its head cut off: it goes nowhere and quickly dies.”

—Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli, Handbook for Christian Apologetics pp. 316-17
Intentions: Please pray for the victims of an earhquake in Iran, for the people of Israel, for Karin, my sisters, and for me. I hurt my hand rather badly last night.
Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring

Jesu, joy of man’s desiring,
Holy wisdom, love most bright;
Drawn by Thee, our souls aspiring
Soar to uncreated light.
Word of God, our flesh that fashioned,
With the fire of life impassioned,
Striving still to truth unknown,
Soaring, dying round Thy throne.

Through the way where hope is guiding,
Hark, what peaceful music rings;
Where the flock, in Thee confiding,
Drink of joy from deathless springs.
Theirs is beauty’s fairest pleasure;
Theirs is wisdom’s holiest treasure.
Thou dost ever lead Thine own
In the love of joys unknown.

Friday, June 21, 2002

As I was writing about the Cardinal Virtues a few weeks ago, I wrote that Courage is the virtue without which the other virtues cannot exist. In this sense, there really is only one “cardinal” (or “hinge”) viture.

In a similar way. there really is only one sin: Pride.

“Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall” goes the Proverb (16:18), and it is certainly true. Every single sin I commit is, in the end, about my Pride.

Let’s start, though, by distinguishing Pride from some other things. Pride is not vanity, Taking pleasure in praise is a sign, albeit a weak one, that you still depend on the “other.” A person totally consumed by Pride cares not a whit for the opinion of others. The Sin of Pride is also not the kind of pride a father takes in a son’s accomplishments. Affection and a stirring of heart at the talents of a child also continue to depend on the other, and take one somewhat out of the self. This can lead to a sinful pride, when the son becomes a mere factotum for the father’s abilities, but it need not and does not always lead that way.

The sinful kind of Pride is the kind that places oneself above others, even—especially—God. It is precisely this that CS Lewis wrote of when he said there are in the end only two kinds of people: “those who say to God ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom in the end God says ‘thy will be done.’”

Pride says that I, the Self, am the most important thing. It says that whatever I accomplish, I accomplish, by my own power and my own lights. It denies the “Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship on the Holy Spirit” in the most essential way, by insisting that the grace, love and fellowship were unnecessary. “Thanks, guys, for the offer, but I’ve already taken care of it.”

The eradication of Pride does not, however, come from the destruction or even the despising of the self. The answer comes, as always, in being Christ-like. Christ, the third person of the Trinity, was lowered Infinitely, from Creator to creature.

When we say in the Mass that “He humbled himself” we should pause and reflect on that, like we do during the Passion. There should really come a moment where everyone stops, kneels, and thinks about that very idea in several minutes of silence, for there is no more shocking thing in all of human history. God, all-powerful and all-knowing, the Infinite Creator of every single thing became a finite, frail, pathetic human being. For 33 years, God couldn’t go more than a few days without sleep, two or three weeks without food, and 3 days without water. “He suffered under Pontius Pilate” by being whipped and paraded through the streets of Jerusalem with a tree strapped to his back, and he was nailed through flesh, bone and nerve to that tree and left to suffocate and drown on it.

Go back and read that last paragraph again, and then ask Andrew Sullivan how his travails of trying to be fulfilled as a human being compare. Ask Cardinals Law and Mahony about the image of the Church. Ask the women who practice illicit “masses” in secret about the problems of women in the Church. Ask the priests who promise celibacy but take up with women and men in secret how chastity compares to that.

Or, come ask me in my comfortable middle class apartment and my little Kairos website about any of the hundreds of complaints and imprecations about life being “unfair to me” that I utter every day. But arrive early, because the line of people who can justly claim to have been treated as less than me by me is going to be pretty long.

It is easy, at a moment like this, to become filled with self-loathing, but that is the wrong response—it still, after all makes a totem of the self. The answer, easy to write but hard to do, is to view your own self in exactly the same way you view others: to become humble. Take the same pleasure in watching another member of the team make a great play as you do when you make it. Don’t think, “When he did that it was remarkable, but pathetic when I did.” Think, “Isn’t it remarkable that God made people such that some can do amazing things on the ballfield!” whomever makes the play.

Be unmindful of yourself as self. And when that fails, be mindful of the humor of yourself. If you find yourself getting proud of your humility, laugh it off, and pray for the Grace to do better next time. Don’t laugh it off in the sense of thinking it unimportant. But recognize that our capacity for absurdity is very great, and that the Devil will take any and every opportunity to induce pride however possible. And to mock the Devil is to offend his pride.
In "Christian Apologetics" CS Lewis observed that it would probably be better if people who wrote apologetics for other Christians instead wrote things that would be apologetics but might not be recognized as such. In this way Christianity could be spread to non-believers, rather than merely being reconfirmed in existing Christians.

With that in mind, here's a thought that at first blush has nothing to do with Christianity.

"Baseball's inherent rhythm, minutes and minutes of passivity erupting into seconds of frenzied action, matches an attribute of the American character. But no existential proclamation or any tortured neo-Freudianism, or any outburts of popular sociology, not even--least of all--my own, explains baseball's lock on the American heart. You learn to let some mysteries alone, and when you do, you find they sing themselves."
--Don Hall, Fathers Playing Catch With Sons
Today's intentions: Elizabeth, S, her mother, her siblings, and especially her brother, those who cannot forgive, Q and all the persecuted Christians of China, the people of Cuba, Mothers who choose life, especially those who choose adoption, Randy, Deb, Roger, Corey, Michael, and the anonymous ones as well.

I bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same
The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this today to me forever
By power of faith, Christ’s incarnation;
His baptism in Jordan river,
His death on Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spicèd tomb,
His riding up the heavenly way,
His coming at the day of doom
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power
Of the great love of cherubim;
The sweet ‘Well done’ in judgment hour,
The service of the seraphim,
Confessors’ faith, Apostles’ word,
The Patriarchs’ prayers, the prophets’ scrolls,
All good deeds done unto the Lord
And purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the star lit heaven,
The glorious sun’s life giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea
Around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward;
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostileAgainst the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh,
In every place and in all hours,
Against their fierce hostility
I bind to me these holy powers.

Against all Satan’s spells and wiles,
Against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles,
Against the heart’s idolatry,
Against the wizard’s evil craft,
Against the death wound and the burning,
The choking wave, the poisoned shaft,
Protect me, Christ, till Thy returning.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.
By Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

Thursday, June 20, 2002

A pathetically small attempt at doing something big

I have in recent months begun, to the best of my ability, to avoid purchasing Chinese made goods. If you have ever attempted this, you know how hard it is actually to carry through with.

The reasons for doing so are several. First, there is the matter of slave labor, prison camps, etc. China’s manufactories use an awful lot of forced labor, most of it from what I can tell political or social prisoners, rather than simple criminals. A man I know in the apparel business says that it is very difficult for him to discern (even after visiting factories himself) which factories use regular laborers and which use prisoners. (Prison labor as such is not necessarily a problem, by the way. Western countries use it too. But when the “prisoners’” “crimes” are things like going to Church, and they haven’t been given a fair trial, right to counsel, fixed sentences, and other basic rights as human beings, the concept is morally untenable.) So “Made in China” is a label that signifies a strong possibility of slave labor.

If that weren’t enough, many manufacturers are wholly-owned subsidiaries of the People’s Liberation Army. I think there is a better than even chance that after we finish with the Islamofascists we are going to wind up toe-to-toe with the PLA across the Taiwan Strait and in the South China Sea. Therefore, I am not eager to fulfill Lenin’s prophecy that “The capitalists will sell us the rope we use to hang them!”

And finally, China is one of the least religiously free countries on the planet, after Wahabi Arabia. Christians see treatment akin to that in the pre-Constantine Roman Empire. Other religious groups fare poorly as well.

My attempt is not comprehensive, and very inconsistent. First of all, it may not be possible to live and work in 21st Century America and buy nothing made in China. And it is especially difficult if you have a five year old child when you decide to start doing it. If you were to go to Toys ‘R Us and remove all the products made in China, you would be left with perhaps half an aisle’s worth of merchandise, and most of that aisle would be board games. Try explaining to a five-year-old that the toys you allowed last week you won’t allow this week, because of some fairly difficult-to-grasp concepts around labor rights, slavery, and geopolitics. Had I never allowed such toys, he would be used to it. But the change in policy is a tough one, and I am waiting until he is just a smidge older to make my case.

Many products appear to come almost exclusively from China, and replacements from elsewhere are not easy to find. It took my wife a week of looking in many stores, for instance, to find a pocketbook not made in China, and it cost twice as much as comparable Sino-made ones. Our finances are such that until fairly recently the price tag might have made me balk at spending the extra money.

There are other countries that have labor problems, but I don’t spend as much time or worry focused on them. First of all, I think that many of these problems are culturally-perceived rather than real. I don’t see a problem with a company paying a country’s prevailing wage, whether it’s $0.50 an hour or $5.00. A cousin with whom I have frequent arguments on this subject will concede that these “exploitative” wages are often the best jobs around, and the difference between starvation and life for a family. I don’t really want to start a labor argument, but suffice it to say that I find much more clarity on China than I do on many other countries, and I find many of the things Americans take for granted to be the luxuries of wealth that impugn the “activists” as much as the complacent.

And so I now check the labels of the products I buy, and put back many of them when it says “Made in China.” When I can, I choose alternatives made in places like India and Mexico, countries whose democracy requires wealth for security. It’s a pathetically small attempt at charity that has more to do with Pride, really, and it’s horribly inconsistent of me to allow a major exception in the form of toys. But it’s a start.
Warning: Shameless promotion of my Hibernian Ancestry ahead

Interesting bit of trivia, picked up last night from the PBS series “In Search of Ireland.” Did you know that Ireland is the only country in Europe not to have martyrs in resulting from its conversion? It’s especially interesting when one considers that it was never a part of the Roman empire. And so sad to see that with increasing wealth Ireland has started to become as materialistic and neopagan as the rest of Europe.

Thoughts to return to later
Thursday Intentions

The cross I bear again is that I find myself praying still for victims of more murder-suicide bombings in Israel. This lowers my spirit almost unbearably. Add to it prayers for the bishops and victims of the sexual crisis within our Church and my spirit recedes further. If anyone has a positive intention to add, please let me know.

In addition, please pray for: Elizabeth, S, her mother, her siblings, and especially her brother, those who cannot forgive, Q and all the persecuted Christians of China, the people of Cuba, Mothers who choose life, especially those who choose adoption, Randy, Deb, Roger, Corey, Michael, and the anonymous ones as well.
Good It Is to Keep the Fast

Good it is to keep the fast,
Shadowed forth in ages past,
Which our own Almighty Lord
Hallowed by His deed and Word.

Moses, while he fasted, saw
God Who gave by him the law;
To Elijah angels came,
Steeds of fire and car of flame.

So was Daniel meet to gaze
On the sight of latter days
And the Baptist to proclaim
Blessings through the Bridegroom’s Name.

Grant us, Lord, like them to be
Oft in prayer and fast with Thee;
Fill us with Thy heavenly might,
Be our Joy and true Delight.

Father, hear us through Thy Son,
And the Spirit, with Thee One,
Whom our thankful hearts adore,
Ever and forevermore.

Wednesday, June 19, 2002

A little more on Atonement

I’m not wading into the controversies on the mechanism by which the Atonement works. A lot of it is very esoteric stuff, and too sophisticated for me to get my mind around. (Words like “teleological” “eschatological” and “Thomistic” appearing in the same essay always make my brain hurt.) What is most important about the Atonement is that it does work, disagreements on the mechanics notwithstanding.

Taking the word at its face value—to make "at" (or into) one—we are fortunate to see a way in which we can in fact atone for the sins of others. When I wrote that Law must be forgiven, that nnecessarily means different things for different people. For me, never abused by a priest, let alone one under Law’s obedience, I cannot forgive Law a wrong he has done to others. I can only forgive him what he has done to me, by bringing discredit on the church, by exposing Christ’s body to grave danger, whatever wrongs I am able to perceive against me personally.

But, strange as it may seem, I can atone for his sins, in the sense of working to make him and the community once again “at one.” I can atone for the sins of Paul Shanley, too, and for those of everyone who has done anything wrong within our church. I do so not by pretending to repent of that which I have not done, but by accepting in charity and humility the anger and scorn and hatred of the victims of these men and of the outsiders who seek to use this as a cudgel against the Church. I can do so by assisting those who have been harmed with prayer and charity. I can do so by giving total support to those who would further open the Church to the working of the Holy Spirit.

It does not matter that “I have done nothing wrong.” One of the callings of Christians is to be Christ-like, to imitate Christ in the ways which life offers us. In this time of great unrest and terrible hatred and anger, a Christ-like willingness to bear the burdens of the moment will in a very real sense be an Atonement for the sins of others. I possess the power to forgive only those who have wronged me. But I can work for the forgiveness of anyone at all.
Please pray for: Elizabeth, S, her mother, her siblings, and especially her brother, those who cannot forgive, Q and all the persecuted Christians of China, the people of Cuba, Mothers who choose life, especially those who choose adoption, Randy, Deb, Roger, Corey, Michael, and the anonymous ones as well.
Joy and Triumph Everlasting

Joy and triumph everlasting
Hath the heav’nly Church on high;
For that pure immortal gladness
All our feast days mourn and sigh:
Yet in death’s dark desert wild
Doth the mother aid her child;
Guards celestial thence attend us,
Stand in combat to defend us.

Here the world’s perpetual warfare
Holds from heav’n the soul apart;
Legioned foes in shadowy terror
Vex the Sabbath of the heart.
O how happy that estate
Where delight doth not abate!
For that home the spirit yearneth,
Where none languisheth nor mourneth.

There the body hath no torment,
There the mind is free from care,
There is every voice rejoicing,
Every heart is loving there.
Angels in that city dwell;
Them their King delighteth well:
Still they joy and weary never,
More and more desiring ever.

There the seers and fathers holy,
There the prophets glorified,
All their doubts and darkness ended,
In the Light of Light abide.
There the saints, whose memories old
We in faithful hymns uphold,
Have forgot their bitter story
In the joy of Jesus’ glory.

Tuesday, June 18, 2002

I don't think I have linked to the Same Sex Attraction Morality League before. Whatever your attitude towards homosexuality, it's hard to hope for anything but good things to happen to these folks, in spite of the unmellifluous name.
Kneehill Off stat says "Marty Haugen is not the Antichrist."

Ok. But Marty may be taking requests....

(For the record, I'm as pedantic as the next guy, but a whole website of pedantry....?)
Kairos will be away from computers Wednesday. Therefore, I have posted tomorrow's thoughts today, which is no problem if today is already tomorrow, meaning Wednesday, which for most of you it probably is, but for some of you it won't be until later, because you have only read it today. Get it?

It is often said of Jesus by non-believers that He was “a great moral teacher.” What they usually mean is, “I like the outcomes Jesus’ teachings as understood by liberation theologians, but I think we’re all a little too sophisticated to accept all that nonsense about his being the Son of God.” At least, this is what the nonbelievers I encounter seem to mean. Your mileage may vary.

Strangely, though, the “Son of God” part, per se, is not really the root of their objection. They can conceive of God, and they can even conceive of God-made-flesh, albeit perhaps not in an orthodox way that encompasses full humanity and full divinity. What they stumble on is something that even believers often don’t fully understand, the doctrine of the Atonement.

The doctrine simply states that God lowered himself to become united with man in the person of Jesus, in order to raise up humanity, and that in dying for our sins Christ fulfilled this unity, and reconciled us to, or made us “at one” (the origin of the word) with God. This is essential to Christianity: if you don’t believe it, you cannot be Christian as such.

The specific mechanism by which the Atonement occurred is not something that all Christians do or must agree upon. Various metaphors have been put forth over the centuries, with “ransom” being one of the most common. I’ll avoid the mechanical question entirely, because it is extraneous, and anyway not the main difficulty for nonbelievers.

The surprising thing, to me at any rate, is that anyone should have any sort of difficulty at all with the idea that Christ, by taking on our sins, would remove them from us, could atone for them. Even a cursory glance at the people around us should make it clear that our very nature reiterates the idea on a daily basis.

I for one am constantly putting my sins off on others. How often do I nurture some petty resentment against my wife into a festering sore upon our marriage—the dishes not done; the laundry still in the baskets? I am not satisfied to let them go until she has taken them on herself. (And then I am usually filled with regret and self-loathing that all too often does not get communicated half as easily as the resentment.) In larger society we see it all the time; call it the Hilary Clinton Syndrome, where a person bears the sins of another in order to achieve fame or success or some other transient goal.

Now, I do not suppose that my wife is really atoning for my sins, though she may tolerate them with Christ-like patience some days. Nor do I suggest there is anything very admirable or holy about the Clintons’ nakedly twisted ambition. What I do suggest is that, as so often happens, the miracle of Christ is echoed up and down through history, almost a literal echo. Our very nature is wired from the ground up to expect that a moment will come when some other will bear our sins away from us, and free us from their terrible burden. The holiday of Yom Kippur in ancient times was celebrated by symbolically putting the sins of the community on a goat and then chasing the goat out of the city walls—hence the “scapegoat.” In this way, our constant effort to shift the blame, to avoid responsibility for our actions, can be seen as a perverted reflection of the reality.

Everything about our beings expects that someone else will come along to make it all right, to make us whole again. This is an observable phenomenon, testable and repeatable within a lab. The only thing strange about it is that something so obviously inherent in human nature should become objectionable only when it is explained.

The cross I bear today is that I find myself praying yet again for victims of a murder-suicide bombing in Israel. This lowers my spirit almost unbearably. Add to it prayers for the bishops and victims of the sexual crisis within our Church and my spirit recedes further. If anyone has a positive intention to add, please let me know.

In addition, please pray for: Elizabeth, S, her mother, her siblings, and especially her brother, those who cannot forgive, Q and all the persecuted Christians of China, the people of Cuba, Mothers who choose life, especially those who choose adoption, Randy, Deb, Roger, Corey, Michael, and the anonymous ones as well.
All Creatures of Our God and King

All creatures of our God and King
Lift up your voice and with us sing,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thou burning sun with golden beam,
Thou silver moon with softer gleam!


O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Thou rushing wind that art so strong
Ye clouds that sail in heaven along,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou rising moon, in praise rejoice,
Ye lights of evening, find a voice!


Thou flowing water, pure and clear,
Make music for thy Lord to hear,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou fire so masterful and bright,
That givest man both warmth and light.


Dear mother earth, who day by day
Unfoldest blessings on our way,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
The flowers and fruits that in thee grow,
Let them His glory also show.


And all ye men of tender heart,
Forgiving others, take your part,
O sing ye! Alleluia!
Ye who long pain and sorrow bear,
Praise God and on Him cast your care!


And thou most kind and gentle Death,
Waiting to hush our latest breath,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou leadest home the child of God,
And Christ our Lord the way hath trod.


Let all things their Creator bless,
And worship Him in humbleness,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son,
And praise the Spirit, Three in One!


Monday, June 17, 2002

Last week, before vanishing for a few days, I posted this bit about doctrine. Because Emily Stimpson and I have gone back on forth via email as well as in our blogs—always in the friendliest manner, by the way—I emailed her, pointing out the piece I had posted. So I was surprised when she emailed back saying, in effect, “…and…?”

Thinking about it over the weekend, I came to the conclusion that I didn’t say quite enough. To Emily I hoped to say, in effect, “I know we disagree on some subjects, but I am trying to keep the conversation on legitimate ground.” To regular readers, my hope was to remind people who are much further from the teachings of the Church of reasons to be cautious. That much was probably pretty clear.

What I didn’t write, but what rattled around in my brain, is the truly remarkable thing about this. God’s love and openness to our weakness is such that He will accept us into his embrace even on the terms I outlined. And those terms are pretty stingy, if you read them that way. “Don’t do what the Church teaches because you think it is Right, do it because it is safe.”

My parents were never satisfied with me merely saying the right words, they had to be convinced I meant them. I often had to get rid of “that expression” on my face before I could walk away from the scolding or correction I was receiving. But God will accept me even when I fight, if I yield even a bit.

He wants a conversion of heart, of course. But He accepts first a conversion of behavior, or a surface conversion. Its not that you can be insincere, or fool Him—please, please, PLEASE don’t think I’m telling you that. But an incomplete conversion, an openness to the possibility of further change, is desired by God because it is the sine qua non for all else that is to come.

Start being faithful by acting like the Church matters. If you are not sure what to make of this or that teaching, follow it to the maximum extent possible while you make up your mind. If you can’t induce a charitable attitude in yourself, at least take charitable actions. Open the door a tiny crack and see what sneaks in.

A pearl is formed when a grain of sand or some other irritant gets inside an oyster. If the only irritant you can accept is the possibility that the Church might be right about something that you’d rather it were wrong about, God can accept that, and will still welcome you into His fold as the pearl forms inside you.

“She carries a pearl in perfect condition
What once was hurt
What once was friction
What left a mark
No longer stings
Because Grace makes beauty
Out of ugly things”

From “Grace” by U2
Today's intentions: Elizabeth, S, her mother, her siblings, and especially her brother, those who cannot forgive, Q and all the persecuted Christians of China, the people of Cuba, Mothers who choose life, especially those who choose adoption, Randy, Deb, Roger, Corey, Michael, and the anonymous ones as well.
What Wondrous Love Is This?

What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul,
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul.

When I was sinking down, sinking down, sinking down,
When I was sinking down, sinking down,
When I was sinking down beneath God’s righteous frown,
Christ laid aside His crown for my soul, for my soul,
Christ laid aside His crown for my soul.

To God and to the Lamb, I will sing, I will sing;
To God and to the Lamb, I will sing.
To God and to the Lamb Who is the great “I Am”;
While millions join the theme, I will sing, I will sing;
While millions join the theme, I will sing.

And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on;
And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on.
And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing and joyful be;
And through eternity, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on;
And through eternity, I’ll sing on.

Friday, June 14, 2002

Who do you think you are: Imus?

A "best of" post until Monday...

More on Forgiveness

Christianity does not want us to reduce by one atom the hatred we feel for cruelty and treachery. We ought to hate them. Not one word of what we have said about them needs to be unsaid. But it does want us to hate them in the same way in which we hate things in ourselves: being sorry that the man should have done such things, and hoping if it is anyway possible, that somehow, sometime, somewhere, he can be cured and made human again.

This needs repetition. Cruelty and Treachery besiege our Church at this very moment, both the deliberate sort done by men such as Geoghan and Shanley, and the more accidental sort done by Law. (Please withold your flames until the end of the blog, at least.) Little needs to be said about the former; they are to be held to account under Man's law, and surely will be under God's. They are to be forgiven, and any who would themselves wish to be forgiven must do so for others.

Law's treachery and cruelty are of a more accidental sort. Please do not suppose that by this I mean he did not know what he was doing: the record and even his own non-denial denials make it clear that he knew what actions he and underlings were taking, and that he and they chose them consciously. I only mean to say that he probably did not mean for the actions to be cruel or treacherous.

So many Catholics these days put Intentionality as the primary determiner of right and wrong (rather than including it as a coequal member of a trinity that also includes the Act itself, and the Consequences), perhaps because when they do so, they claim their Intention is solely to make someone "happy" or were trying to be "nice"--the only two Virutes of our time, happiness and niceness. How ironic, then, that when a nominal conservative seeks to shield himself with Intentions, these same reformers and neotheologizers will have none of it. Law should know better than to seek refuge in Intentionality, the last refuge of most Catholic soundrels, to be sure. But those who have been occupying that space now are unprepared to make room for the Cardinal, nor to vacate it themselves.

Law must be forgiven. That need not mean he must keep his mitre and it does not mean we must not seek for answers nor hold him to account. But the vitriol has grown increasingly unforgiving. His clinging to power when leadership demands that he fall on his sword has surely contributed to it. But we, the Body of Christ, are not supposed to justify un-Christian behavior by the un-Christian actions of others. We are under orders to forgive the Cardinal though we may hate his actions without fear until the Last Day. There are few things in scriputre of theology that require less glossing, less explanation, less textual or contextual exegesis than this. The bloggers and the priests and the editorialists and the Catholics outside the churches on the evening news who fail to understand this fail to understand everything.

When we deny forgiveness, we deny Christ just as plainly and surely as Peter three times did. All the hurt and anger and fear and pain in the world do not now justify the witholding of forgiveness, nor have they ever done so. Penance and repentance are equally due, but we must be as Christ in this and stop hating the Man for what he has done.

Wednesday, June 12, 2002

Kairos will have little or no access to computers between now and Sunday, so check back on Monday.
I intended this reading as it relates to my post below about doctrine. But I now think it also applies to the Bishops meeting, and I hope someone there reads it aloud.

From the Letter of Paul to the Philipians

Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain. But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all. You too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me.

It may well seem funny, coming from me, but I want to say a word about why it’s important to follow the teachings of the Church. (It will seem especially funny to the handful of readers who know me well.) I have with this blog occasionally questioned in a very direct way some doctrine, and if I haven’t actually reached the level of heresy (I don’t think I have) I certainly have staked out some ground well to the left of center.

But don’t take my word for it, when I have.

Let me repeat that: don’t take my word for it.

The doctrines of our Church are important, carefully thought out, and deserving of great weight in your moral thinking. They cannot and should not be dismissed lightly or out of hand. They certainly should never be dismissed because they are inconvenient, or conflict with some political ideology. They should only be set aside gently and carefully after much deliberation and, finally, because in your moral heart you truly find them to be wrong. And even then, you must be careful.

After all, you may disagree with teachings on sexuality (to take a common example), but it is hard to see how following them can lead you into sin. It is very easy to see how dismissing them might. If you are gay or unmarried but behave chastely, for instance, there is no sin there that I can see. But if you decide Rome is wrong in principle, it becomes very much easier to travel a path that does lead to sin, even if you are in fact right. And if you decide that the teaching is wrong not on the merits, but because it interferes with your “self-actualization” you are likely to wind up in sin without having to take very many steps at all.

The potential harm of my being wrong almost always outweighs the potential harm of the Magisterium being wrong. If I argue that extramarital sexual activity is not always sinful and am wrong, the consequences can be unfathomable for someone who says, “Well, if that’s what JB the Kairos Guy thinks, that’s good enough for me.” If someone decides to follow the Church teaching and it is wrong, well, then the worst that happened is he or she wound up being more chaste than was strictly necessary, in the end a purely worldly problem.

In my case, anything I am willing to argue about on this site is something I have spent much time studying and praying over and trying to understand in the context of the Church. When I disagree on an aspect of sexuality, I do so not because the Church isn’t “keeping up with the times” but because I think the Church has not been consistent with sexual matters compared to other areas of moral theology. I have done my homework, and am prepared to discuss it with others. In the end, I may be wrong, but as I understand moral theology it is not sinful to be wrong; it is sinful to know one is wrong and not care. I am also eager to be shown my error if it exists, that I may more quickly wind up on the right path.

But if you haven’t done your homework (and I’m like Cliff Notes in this regard: no credit given), then you haven’t fulfilled the most basic obligation of moral behavior. You haven’t sought to inform your conscience of the basic rules of right and wrong, and so have no sound basis for disagreeing with the Magisterium on anything at all.

To be Catholic, or even to be Christian, at least truly to be so, one must start by acknowledging the existence of Truth and of truths that exist outside of time and place, that always and everywhere apply. It is all too easy to forget that in the present climate of the world. If you want to deny the truth of a teaching, you had better be prepared to appeal to a higher one.
I have tried for the most part not to take up questions asked on other blogs, because a lot of the blogosphere feels like a snarky high school for the gifted, where students are constantly mislabeling each other’s acids and bases, hoping to create havoc in the chemistry class. After playing around at this myself in my first days of blogging, I have grown weary of it.

I make an exception, however, for other bloggers’ contests, and for questions that are both excellent and easy. The Volokh Conspiracy asks, “Why do we even read old philosophers?… Maybe my philosophy friends might tell me what we gain today from reading Plato, Aristotle, Voltaire, or Nietzsche. Or is philosophy these days just a fancy term for intellectual history?”

Nietzsche isn’t fit to unstrap Plato’s sandals, but he is worth reading as a context for much of the moral heinousness of the twentieth century, just as you can’t understand the French Revolution without knowing something of Les Droits de l’Homme (or however one spells that cheese-eating language). Voltaire, Rousseau, Hegel, Nietzsche and many other post-Reformation philosophers fall into the Intellectual History category, useful not so much for their ideas as for the results of those ideas.

Plato, Aristotle and other ancients are still read simply because what they wrote was true, or true enough. In math, one need not read Pythagoras to learn his eponymous theorem; a trig text takes it as true, and builds upon it. In philosophy, objective truth has often been discarded, and so one cannot find it in very many modern texts. One can read Aquinas, of course, and learn all one needs to know about Plato (or most of it, anyway), but Aquinas was a religious person and so can’t be taught in a secular world without arousing the ACLU. If one wants to know the truth the ancients taught in philosophy, for the most part one must read the ancients.

Philosophy in the modern academy has so completely sold itself out to its destructors, that it actually teaches that it is the creation of whim and prejudice. (How one could have taught logical positivism with a straight face is beyond me!) But the consequence of this is that the truths of ancient philosophers are not for the most part used as building blocks for more recent ones; the builders have rejected the cornerstone. Since one cannot find it in the edifice, one must return to the original quarry to look for it.

The question that prompted this discussion was about why we read biographies of philosophers. I am not nearly so persuaded that this is important, especially because of the purpose such biographies seem to have. A biography which asks, as a many do, “What historical trends led inevitably to certain prejudices being written in this manner?” (A sort of Hegelian/Marxist approach to biography) is of absolutely no use, because it is principally concerned with assuming the conclusion that no real truth is or can be found in the philosopher’s writing. A biography that seeks to understand how the philosopher himself understood his teachings might have some value, but I haven’t come across any such work.
Wednesday Intentions

Today's intentions: Annelise's Dad, the people of Pakistan and India, Elizabeth, S, her mother, her siblings, and especially her brother, those who cannot forgive, Q and all the persecuted Christians of China, the people of Cuba, Mothers who choose life, especially those who choose adoption, Randy, Deb, Roger, Corey, Michael, and the anonymous ones as well.
O Thou Who Dost to Man Accord

O Thou Who dost to man accord
His highest prize, his best reward,
Thou Hope of all our race;
Jesu, to Thee we now draw near,
Our earnest supplications hear,
Who humbly seek Thy face.

With self accusing voice within,
Our conscience tells of many a sin
In thought, and word, and deed:
O cleanse that conscience from all stain,
The penitent restore again,
From every burthen freed.

If Thou reject us, who shall give
Our fainting spirits strength to live?
’Tis Thine alone to spare;
With cleansèd hearts to pray aright,
And find acceptance in Thy sight,
Be this our lowly prayer.

’This Thou has blest this solemn fast;
So may its days by us be passed
In self control severe,
That, when our Easter morn we hail
Its mystic feast we may not fail
To keep with conscience clear.

O blessèd Trinity, bestow
Thy pardoning grace on us below,
And shield us evermore;
Until, within Thy courts above,
We see Thy face, and sing Thy love,
And with Thy saints adore.

Tuesday, June 11, 2002

Eve Tushnet has a contest. I will post my entry here after she is finished.
Of the moment, not in it?

The great challenge of living is that everything is over, or it hasn’t happened yet. As soon as the realization of a moment enters your thoughts, the moment itself has passed, and your thoughts are already into the perfect tense.

Now, it may happen that the moment that has just passed is being succeeded or about to be succeeded by other moments more or less just like it. So the thrill of going down the roller coaster track seems to continue for several seconds successively, before being replaced by the temporary calm of clackety-clicking your way up the next hill. All too soon, the ride has ended, and you have to decide whether to get back in line to go again, trying to recapture a thrill that will not be quite so much the next time, or look for another ride. But before long, the day at the amusement park will be over and the long ride home will leave you with quickly fading memories of the marvelous terrors of the day.

Time will pass at 60 seconds per minute no matter what you do, and everything you can think about has already happened.

The future differs because we have influence over it, but never control. It is ours to nudge this way or that, to delight in anticipation of it, or hollow ourselves out with worry. We have a duty to the future, to borrow its resources to plan for that which can be reasonably expected. But even the “reasonably expected” rarely materializes in quite the way we thought.

The only moment we control is the present one. We control it by accepting it, reveling in its tangibility. The only thing we can touch, the only thing we can manage, is right now. But each now has to be consigned to the past as the past. A pleasure can be set in a special place, to be considered now and again, to be given up as thanks later. A sin must be repented of, that its past occurrence does not dominate the present or threaten the future.

Our language has so many cliches for this thought, simply because it is true. We say a person is “living in the past,” or that he “lives life to the fullest.” Alcoholics use its truth as a means to recovery: Easy Does It. One Day at a Time. They consign the future and the past to their “Higher Power” (in the language of 12-step programs) because mortal peril lies in trying too hard to control either. “If only” is useful only insofar as it teaches the lessons of next time. When it takes hold for its own sake, it becomes sin.

The Spirit challenges us to live right now, because only in right now can we do anything. Right now the beggar is at our door. In a moment, he will be someone else’s problem. Right now the victim of priestly abuse stands before us. Tomorrow, he may be an abuser himself.

Right now we can do. Yesterday we did. Tomorrow, we will have done, and must let go again. We must be of each moment, but not in it. In it, we can get stuck. Of it, we can take it and pass it along.
I've quoted this song before, but it so perfectly captures the human aspect of the post about moments that I thought just to post the entire lyric here.

I'm not afraid of anything in this world
There's nothing you can throw at me that I haven't already heard
I'm just trying to find a decent melody
A song that I can sing in my own company

I never thought you were a fool
But darling, look at you
You gotta stand up straight, carry your own weight
These tears are going nowhere, baby

You've got to get yourself together
You've got stuck in a moment and now you can't get out of it
Don't say that later will be better now you’re stuck in a moment
And you can’t get out of it

I will not forsake, the colours that you bring
But the nights you filled with fireworks
They left you with nothing
I am still enchanted by the light you brought to me
I still listen through your ears, and through your eyes I can see

And you are such a fool
To worry like you do
I know it’s tough, and you can never get enough
Of what you don't really need now... my oh my

You've got to get yourself together
You've got stuck in a moment and now you can't get out of it
Oh love look at you now
You've got yourself stuck in a moment and now you can't get out of it

I was unconscious, half asleep
The water is warm till you discover how deep...
I wasn't jumping... for me it was a fall
It's a long way down to nothing at all

You've got to get yourself together
You've got stuck in a moment and now you can't get out of it
Don't say that later will be better now
You’re stuck in a moment and you can't get out of it

And if the night runs over
And if the day won't last
And if our way should falter
Along the stony pass

And if the night runs over
And if the day won't last
And if your way should falter
Along the stony pass
It's just a moment
This time will pass