Perspective

Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Links

- Just noticed this Thinking Faith review of Jesuit spiritual director William Barry's book, Praying the Truth: Deepening Your Friendship with God through Honest Prayer

- Silenced But Not Silent, These Priests Are Moving Right Along ... a post about Fr. John Dear, Fr. Tony Flannery, and Fr. Roy Bourgeois.

- Protesting Priests in Kiev--the full story

- Making Homophobia History, from Episcopal priest Susan Russell

- Andrew Brown on relics ... In our way we are all keepers of the pope's blood. Here's a bit of it ...

[N]othing could be more natural than keeping relics of the dead. We keep all kinds of family treasures, handwritten letters and other tokens of an absent presence. What's strange is keeping relics of dead people we never knew. ..... In the case of saints' blood, there is a particularly creepy connection. There are many examples of blood being collected from the sites of martyrdom, religious or otherwise. It seems a natural and profoundly primitive gesture to collect or use the blood of a fallen comrade as a way of binding the living to them. It works the other way round, too: in the Aeneid, blood is what the ghosts crave and what they demand before they will speak when the hero visits the underworld. What matters here is the connection of blood with personality and with a particular individuality. This is of course almost impossible to prove, and means that blood can also be associated with one of the most notorious fraudulent miracles, the annual liquefaction of the blood of St Gennaro in Naples.

All this is primitive, but we never outgrow it. I'm not sure we should. The roots of our reverence for relics go back to our earliest consciousness and are nourished there. In fact some of the best and most thoughtful discussions of relics, and of things as quasi-animate symbols, comes in children's literature, where the boundaries between living and non-living are permeable – in particular two stories about how love brings things to life: The Velveteen Rabbit, and Russell Hoban's The Mouse and His Child. The Mouse and His Child is a spectacularly dark and unhappy book. The more the toys who are its protagonists become alive, the more they suffer ...

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