VOICES

The war on chastity

G.K. Chesterton got a lot of things right. Here’s one: “The moment sex ceases to be a servant it becomes a tyrant.” Evidence for the destructive consequences of tyrannical sex abounds in wrecked relationships, wrecked families and wrecked lives.

The seamless garment

St. John of the Cross teaches that within spirituality and morality there are no exempt areas. Simply put, you cannot be a saint or a highly moral person if you allow yourself a moral exemption or two. Thus, I may not allow myself to split off one moral flaw or sinful habit and see it as unimportant in light of my positive qualities and the overall good that I do. For John of the Cross, you cannot be a saint and have a moral blind spot, even if it’s a minor one. A bird tethered to a rock, he says, cannot fly whether the cord holding it is a cable or a string.

God invites us to intimate love and friendship

Someone once remarked that I seem to know the words of many hymns by heart. To an extent that’s true, but after the second verse I usually end up humming along if a hymnal isn’t handy.

Silence and the meaning of the Mass

Cardinal Robert Sarah’s recent book The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise explores a number of themes both theological and spiritual, all centering around the unhappy role that noise has come to play in our culture and more specifically in the church. His observations are most trenchant in regard to the liturgy, which should come as no great surprise, given his role as head of the Vatican congregation devoted to liturgy and sacraments. As I read the sections of his book dealing with the importance of silence during Mass, I often found myself nodding vigorously.