04 January 2011

A Bookish Cardinal Speaks to Other "Bookish Catholics"

Yesterday a number of us "bookish Catholics" were able to hear a short talk from a fellow bookish Catholic, none other than Cardinal Burke who was in town to visit his favorite Catholic bookstore, Loome Books, and afterwards to say Mass and speak at a benefit dinner for the St. Croix Valley Catholic Schools and Faith Formation Programs. It was a real pleasure to meet him and what a humble and evidently holy man. Cardinal Burke spoke of his great love for books and learning and the importance of reading goods books in the ongoing spiritual formation of priests.

No visit to Loome's is possible without finding at least a couple new books to add to the library and yesterday was no exception. I found a couple works from the great German philosopher Josef Pieper, author of the classic "Leisure: The Basis of Culture". In one of the books, What Catholics Believe, Pieper gives what would seem to be a clear response to the argument of today's atheists and others who reject the idea of God as necessary to our personal lives and the proper moral order of society.

The two distinguishing marks of a Christian are his faith or belief and his life, and these two things belong together. Just as knowledge and competent action go hand in hand, so do faith and life. Christian life requires Christian faith as its foundation; and Christian faith bears its full fruit in Christian life. Christian life without Christian belief is impossible; Christian belief without Christian life is unfruitful.

We must admit that something resembling a Christian life seems to be possible today without Christian belief. Some people appear to be able to order their lives in a Christian way whether they have any living faith in Christ or not.  Actually, however, this phenomenon--a merely exterior Christian order--is nothing but the use of an inheritance by people who no longer truly possess it. Our forebears truly possessed it.  With it they gave form to their life, order to their public weal, and character to their customs.  The danger now is that we shall use up this inheritance altogether, unless in us belief once more comes to life.
We find many evident examples of this in our world today and can see the original source of this deception, the 'non serviam' of Lucifer.

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