Sunday, August 28, 2005

Quiz on Suitability for the Ordained or Religious Life

There are many popular online personality tests, but here is one that is different:

This tests your call for a vocation to the Religous life. I found out about this website at the Carmelite Monastery in Clayton. Registration is required.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Blogs by Local Seminarians

Here are some blogs of seminarians in the Saint Louis area:

Mathew 12:37 - Blog by a God-Fearing Seminarian by Jeff Geerling, of Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in Saint Louis:; this includes his observations of the state of the Faith in Europe. Also see his personal website

The Heart of a Seminarian, by Kevin Muniz, a Seminarian for the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois:

Journal of God's Call, by Chris Rossman, Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, studying at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary:

The Seminary Blues, by Christian Malewski, Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, studying at Kenerick-Glennon Seminary:

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Photo of Saint Francis Xavier Church at Saint Louis University

Here is Saint Francis Xavier Church, at Saint Louis University, located on the southwest corner of Grand and Lindell Boulevards in midtown Saint Louis City. It can be said of this magnificent church that "they don't build 'em like that anymore." Construction of the church started in 1883 and it is modeled after the neo-Gothic, 19th century Cathedral of Saint Colman in Cobh, County Cork, Ireland. The interior has been redesigned according to the suggestions of the controversial statement from the USCCB Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy of 1978, "Environment and Art in Catholic Worship", with a large baptismal pool at the entry to the nave, and a large raised platform with an altar table at the transept; the high altar has been retained, and the former sanctuary is now the location of the musicians and choir. The church is beautifully lit at night, and is the most prominent landmark of the University campus, whch has recently had a vast landscaping renovation, which includes distinctive fencing, some of which is visible at the bottom of the photo.

In the left of the photo you can see DuBourg Hall, designed by Thomas Walsh, who also was the first architect of the church. To the right you can see two Masonic Temples, whose cold rationality and occult symbolism contrast greatly with the warm humanism and simple faith of the Church across Lindell Boulevard.

This church is commonly known in Saint Louis as "College Church", has parish status, and is staffed by members of the Society of Jesus, and is known for its well-attended 10:00 p.m. Sunday Masses that are offered during the school year.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Professor James Hitchcock to speak at next Credo dinner

James Hitchcock, Ph.D., professor of history at Saint Louis University, columnist, and author of numerous bookswill speak at the next Credo of the Catholic Laity dinner on Sunday, September 18th, 2005 at 6:00 p.m. at the Radisson Hotel in Clayton, Missouri

His talk will be on marriage. "The recent approval of Same Sex Marriage in Massachusetts, Canada, and several European countries has made this issue a hot topic. His talk will examine the institution of marriage, its civilizing effect on humanity and why marriage between people of the same gender is not possible."

Cost of the dinner is $20 per person. Dinner choices are chicken fried steak or baked white fish. Send check to:

Howard Brandt
4386 Honeydew Lane
Saint Louis, MO 63128
(314) 894-0357

Radisson Hotel Clayton
7750 Carondelet Ave
Saint Louis, Missouri 63105

Free parking at 7777 Bonhomme Garage.

Bishop Thomas G. Doran of the Diocese of Rockford will speak at the Christ the King banquet on Tuesday, November 8th, 2005 at the Radisson in Clayton. This is cosponsored by Credo and the Catholic Central Union.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Chastity Book by Local Author

A Case for Chastity: The Way to Real Love and True Freedom for Catholic Teens
One of the co-authors of this book is a Saint Louisian who works for the Archdiocese's Office of Youth Ministry.

Cloning Research Lecture to be Sponsored by Daugters of Saint Paul

"Cloning Research: Is it Ethical? Is it Necessary?" is the topic of a lecture to be given by Robert F. Onder, M.D., J.D., on Wednesday, September 21st, 2005 at 7:00 p.m. at the Pauline Books and Media store in Saint Louis, Missouri.

"In 2006 Missouri cloning proponents are expected to pursue a ballot initiative to permanently legalize clone-and-kill research. The Church has always been clear that innocent human life, including that of human embryos, is sacred and must be protected. Dr. Onder will demonstrate not only why clone-and-kill research is morally wrong, but why it is unnecessary and probably counterproductive. Robert F. Onder, M.D., J.D. is a graduate of Washington University Medical School and St. Louis University Law School, and at present is working on a doctoral dissertation on human cloning. A practicing physician involved in clinical research, he has appeared on radio, television, and given numerous lectures on the subjects of stem cell research and cloning."

Wednesday, September 21st, 2005 at 7:00 p.m.
Please RSVP if you plan to attend: 314-965-3512

Pauline Books and Media
9804 Watson Road
Crestwood, MO 63126



Sunday, August 21, 2005

Canons Regular to Host Symposium on Conversion

The Canons Regular of the New Jerusalem, a clerical institute of consecrated life, will present a two-day theological symposium on the nature and experience of conversion to Catholic Faith, Lead Kindly Light, Conversions to Catholic Faith and Practice, on Friday, September 23rd, and Saturday, September 24th, 2005, at the Cardinal Rigali Center in St. Louis, Missouri.


Dom Daniel Augustine Oppenheimer, CRNJ, Prior, Canons Regular of the New Jerusalem
Dr. Alice von Hildebrand
Dr. Lawrence Feingold
Mr. Ray H. Schoeman
, author of Salvation is from the Jews

Friday, September 23rd, 2005
6:45 PM, Registration ($10 registration fee payable at the door or by advance puchase)
7:15 PM, Satis Cognitum: Pope Leo XII on Church Unity, Dom Daniel Oppenheimer, CRNJ
8:15 PM, Conversion: God's Miraculous Ways, Dr. Alice von Hildebrand

Saturday, September 24th, 2005
8:00 AM, Holy Mass
9:00 AM, Registration ($25 registration fee payable at the door or by advance puchase
)9:30 AM, Conversion of Saint Augustine, Dr. Lawrence Feingold
10:45 AM, From Business School to Carthusian Monastery, Mr. Roy H. Schoeman
1:15 PM, Education: The Crucial Question, Dr. Alice von Hildebrand
2:30 PM, Conversion of Cardinal Newman, Dr. Lawrence Feingold
3:45 PM, Conversion of the Jews and the 2nd Coming, Mr. Roy H. Schoeman
5:00 PM, Questions and Answers for the Panel of Speakers


Cardinal Rigali Center
20 Archbishop May Drive
Saint Louis, MO 63119

For Directions Telephone 314-792-7000

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

New Indult Mass in Kansas City, Missouri

Today Bishop Robert W. Finn of the Diocese of Kansas City-Saint Joseph announced that the Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest will offer the Traditional Mass at Old Saint Patrick's Oratory in downtown Kansas City, Missouri.

Father Denis Buchholz of the Institute will assume his duties in October. Old Saint Patrick's was built in 1875 and is the oldest Catholic Church in Kansas City.

Old Saint Patrick's Oratory
806 Cherry Street
Kansas City, MO 64106
(816) 474-8995



"My Six Year Old Kid Could Do Better"

There is much argument about the definition of "art". Part of this is due to the Modern attitude for breaking rules and redefinition, so it is useful to consider the classical definition of art, in the tradition of Aristotle and Saint Thomas Aquinas, and how Modern art deviates from this standard.

Classical Definition of Art

The classical definition is "Art is the virtue of making things well."

  • A virtue is an acquired good habit of an individual person: there may be some inborn gifts, but learning and practice help develop a skill into a habit. In the classical view, the opposite of virtue is vice: a bad habit. So a rank amateur or a cat with paint on its paws can make an aesthetical pleasing object, but this object is not classically called art because it is not a product of someone with the virtue -- or skill and practice -- of art. Due to individual human nature, some people find it easier to be virtuous in some areas than others; but only if this good action become habitual can we call it a virtue -- consistency is key here.

  • Art is classified as a practical intellectual virtue, along with prudence, which is the habit of conducting oneself well. The intellectual virtues in general, which also include science, attempt to conform the intellect with truth.

  • "Making things well" can apply to both useful or aesthetic items, so we can talk about practical arts or fine arts. The modern tendency has been to only call the fine arts 'art', while the useful arts are reduced to mere craftsmanship, artisanship, or engineering.

  • "A thing well made" has conformity to an objective standard. A drinking cup, for example, is classically well made if it holds liquid without leaking or absorbing the liquid, if it is durable, if it is not made of a poisonous material, if it can be easily drank from, if it rests on a level surface without spilling, and so forth. In other words, a well-made drinking cup conforms to the ideal of what a drinking cup ought to be. A well-made fine arts object, say a painting, conforms to its subject: for example, a painting of a flower should elicit the same aesthetic response that one would have from viewing the flower itself. It is in this sense that art tries to conform to truth: conformity to reality, or conforming to an objective ideal.

  • The virtues of Art and Science are virtues only in a restricted sense. We say that someone is a good painter, or a good physicist, but not good in a moral sense, for example, if someone is courageous, just, or temperate, we can say that they are at least somewhat morally good: and the moral virtues build upon each other, but art and science do not build up the moral virtues.

  • Beauty is objective, although the perception of it is influenced by our subjective perceptions; good truth-seeking attempts to filter out these subjectivities and find the universals. Classically, we don't say that something is beautiful because we merely perceive it as beautiful; sometimes novelty can influence us, among other factors. Evaluation of beauty requires a certain rationality, in a broad sense, and not emotionalism. As with other moral judgments, the perception of beauty is influenced by objective beauty itself, the circumstances of the perception, and the mental state of the perceiver. Beauty comes from order, symmetry, and scale.

  • The purpose of art is "the imitation of nature", which is not to be taken to mean a mere copying of natural objects, but seeing the higher and more perfect forms or ideals embodied or shadowed in these natural objects.

  • Beauty exists in mathematics in a very pure form. Music, our most abstract art form, is beautiful if it conforms to certain mathematical forms and ratios found in arithmetic and geometry. Some of these ratios are also cosmic, such as the "music of the spheres". Pope Benedict makes these points in his book Spirit of the Liturgy. These ideal mathematical ratios correspond to certain musical harmonies and scales. Classical architecture also conforms itself to these basic mathematical and musical ratios.

  • Truth, goodness, and beauty, are of the same substance, while also paradoxically remaining distinct from each other, in a kind of Trinitarian fashion. Separating one off from the other is considered disordered.

  • Good art can be found everywhere in the world in all ages because of the universality of human nature. Cultures that practice virtue have good art, neccessarily. Classical Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Islamic, and Byzantine arts have a conception of art strikingly and deeply similar to the Western Classical Tradtion, with art as a virtue, and artwork embodying or shadowing eternal or spiritual truth. These great world art traditions are radically at odds with the Modern conception of art, which deny virtue and truth. Societies that lack virtue will have bad art, neccessarily.

Modern Definition of Art

The Modern definition of art -- or perhaps I should say the Postmodern definition, which is the name used by many of its practitioners -- stands these principles on their head, inverting them in some way in a sense of subversion.

  • Art is not a virtue. An outsider without training or formal influences can do art. Little children can do art. A cat can do art. A computer can do art. Some artists are born brilliant, and make art without any practice or acquired skill. An artist can change his style or medium and immediately produce art.

  • Art is doing whatever an artist says is art. The artist conforms to no one but his own will. The more useless an item is, the more artful it is. Making a product for sale is drudgery, unless you can get rich from it. If the common people hate the artwork, the better it is. Art is for the approval of the elite or politically conscious.

  • "What is truth?" There is no objective reality, or objective reality is unknowable, or reality is strictly and incommensurably relative to the artist. An artist can make a cup that leaks, is made of dung, and is 200 pounds in weight, but the artist can still call it a drinking cup. The artist does not have to conform his work to any kind of reality, and resort to pure abstraction or parody.

  • A famous artist is a person worthy of imitation and deserves fame, without regard to his character, and that good art makes the artist good.

  • Beauty is subjective. "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder". It is claimed that someone may find a dismembered body beautiful, and some even have been placed on display as an art exhibit. Emotions are what makes art powerful, especially the emotional reaction of the bourgeois.

  • Modern music rejects fixed scales and harmonies. Sounds do not have to be pleasing, nor do they have to be tonal. The music of the 'people' is higly prized over formal musical styles.

  • Imitation is to be avoided at all times, except when doing parody. Creativity -- creation of new things out of nothing, in a random, spontaneous fashion -- is highly prized. The word 'creativity' in its modern sense is a Marxist term, describing the primordial energy of the proletarian artist.

  • You can make a beautiful film about a bad man, and random violence can be beautiful. An art work completely at odds with its subject is still art.

  • Art of other cultures and times is prized if it is primitive, or if it is by an artist who rejects his society, or if his society is in decay.

The classical definition of art is close to common sense, or to what the non-Modern-art-educated person on the street would think. Imagine an everyman in a Modern art museum, and his reaction to the artwork there: "My six year old kid could do better." "This is junk." "They call that art?" "This is ugly." "What is this supposed to be?" These reactions stem from having a classical conception of art, and are not due to ignorance, as is often suggested. This classical conception is commonsensical and rational. The Modern inversion of the classical standard of art was a self-conscious attempt to subvert the meaning of the word 'art', in a revolutionary gesture of visual violence against the old world order. I think that this may be a reason why it is so hard to define art nowadays: we are trying to define it on its own apparent terms instead of seeing it in terms of what it is defying. The Moderns are attempting a revolution of the entire political and social order, and art is merely one of its weapons.

The Catholic view of art is that it is a rooted in truth, goodness, and beauty. It requires skill and spiritual contemplation. Our current art is degraded and ugly because it rejects truth, goodness, and beauty, or attempts to redefine those words so as to make them meaningless.

Clearly, art made with the Modern mentality is not compatible with Christian worship. Let's try not to patronize bad art anymore, but instead try to cultivate the Virtue of Art again.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Editors Needed for Online Encyclopedia

Wikipedia is the largest online encyclopedia, and its articles frequently appear near the top of Google searches. This encyclopedia is maintained by volunteer editors, but anyone with a web browser can edit these articles. The goal of its founders is to create the largest encyclopedia in the world -- all cross-referenced, edited, and unified in format. So far, there are more than half a million articles in English.

This encyclopedia is published using an unusual copyright policy that allows anyone to make derivative works, or just do a bulk copy, for free, with the provision that any such works are also free in the same way. This has led to wholesale copying of Wikipedia in various formats, and will almost certainly lead to this being the most widespread electronic reference source for the near future; printed versions are already appearing. Web sites frequently link to Wikipedia as a reference source.

The importance of this to Catholics is tremendous. For example, I used Google to search for "Roman Catholic Church" and got these top links:

  • Catholic Online

  • The Holy See


  • Wikipedia article "Roman Catholic Church"

  • So, if anyone wants to know more about the Church, the very first reference article they see is the Wikipedia article.

    This article is probably not written by a Catholic and does not have a Catholic point of view, which is understandable, since this is a general-purpose encyclopedia that has a 'neutral point of view' policy. However, there is a need for more Catholics to work on this project to ensure an accurate portrayal of Catholicism.

    Catholicism-related articles tend to have far higher criticism than other articles, while fringe groups often get a free ride on promoting their views, neutrality notwithstanding. I've noticed that much Historical-Critical nonsense is often accepted as fact, and not qualified with opposing and traditional views.

    On big articles, there may be hundreds of editors watching every change closely, so a new user can't just make a controversial change and expect it to last online for more than an hour. Wikipedia has a mechanism in place for a discussion on every topic. Vandalism is also quickly detected and eliminated. Also, normal rules of courtesy and friendship apply. Breaking these rules can even get you banned from editing the encyclopedia.

    There are many gaps in this encylopedia, so creation of new articles is always needed. For examples, many U.S. Dioceses, including some in Missouri, aren't listed, nor are many famous Catholics.