He is Risen

by Benjamin Domenech on April 12, 2009

All the Gospels refer to the period when the heavens were just beginning to brighten in the east. This, of course, does not take place until the sunrise is at hand. For it is the brightness which is diffused by the rising sun that is familiarly designated by the name of the dawn … For as the day breaks, what remains of the darkness passes away just in proportion as the sun continues to rise.

Augustine of Hippo
Harmony of the Gospels

Mary Magdalene

The squabbling soldiers gone, the women got
What fell to them. Beneath the drooping eyes
Of Pilate’s guard (the afternoon was hot)
They laid him out and shooed the stinging flies,

Rubbed linen strips with myrrh and aloes, rinsed
The dust from limbs whose wounds no longer bled.
As if the crown still pressed there, Mary winced
When, with a separate cloth, they wrapped his head;

And she recalled the pressure of his palm,
The scent of spikenard, Simon’s baleful stare,
And how, the whole house filling with the balm,
She wiped his wet feet with her loosened hair.

Days later, at the empty tomb alone,
She thought first of his pierced and broken feet
And wept, incredulous. But he was gone,
The wrappings, neatly rolled, still faintly sweet.

A gardener was bending in the shade
Among the gravestones. Trembling with dismay,
She cried, “Where is he? Tell me where you’ve laid
His body. Who has taken him away?”

He didn’t answer. When she called again,
The stranger stood and took a step or two.
Her fear became bewilderment. And then
He said her name, and suddenly she knew.

Catherine Tufariello
Published in the Winter 2008 Issue

Items of Interest: The Sin of Prideful Faith

by Benjamin Domenech on March 6, 2009

For a man swollen with pride in comparison to another might say “My faith distinguishes me,” or “my justice,” or whatever. It is to prevent such ideas that the good teacher asks, “But what do you have that you have not received?” Did you not receive it from him who chose to distinguish you from another? It was he who chose to give you what another did not receive. “But if you have received, why do you glory as if you had not received it?” Now I ask, is the apostle concerned here with anything else than that “He who glories should glory in the Lord?” But nothing is so contrary to this sentiment than for anyone to glory in his own merits as if he and not the grace of God were responsible for them. I reger to that grace that distinguishes the good from the wicked, not one which is common to the good and the wicked. On this premise, the grace by which we are living and rational creatures, and thus distinguished from beasts, would be enmeshed in nature. The grace by which the beautiful are distinguished from the ugly, or the intelligent from the stupid, is a grace that perceives nature. But that person whose pride the apostle was trying to restrain was not puffing himself up in comparison to the beasts, nor in comparison to the gifts of nature that might exist even in the worst of men. Rather, he was puffed up because he attributed some good thing which pertained to the morally good life to himself and not to God.

Augustine of Hippo
On the Saints

  • In the post-Richard Dawkins phase, Nicholas Beale writes at The Trinity Forum, a more open conversation between science and religion can take place.
  • Matthew Lee Anderson writes at Mere Orthodoxy on Faith and Justice.
  • One of the best poets of her generation, A.E. Stallings — whose work has been featured in past editions of The City — has a fascinating manifesto on rhyme in Poetry magazine.
  • Is courage a masculine attribute? Harvey Mansfield and Ayaan Hirsi Ali debate at In Character.
  • At The University Bookman, Mark Kalthoff reviews an interesting book on Isaac Newton.

Items of Interest: The Strength and Weakness of Man

by Benjamin Domenech on March 4, 2009

The chastening of a just God hath produced man’s weakness; for there is a kind of strength that is a fault. It was by a kind of strength that man offended so as to require to be corrected by weakness; for it was by pride in himself that he offended in Paradise so as to require to be chastened by humility; therefore have many attained to sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. They would not be strong; in other words, they were afraid to presume of their own merits: they did not “go about to establish their own righteousness”; rather would they “submit themselves to the righteousness of God.”

Behold! You are mortal, and you bear about you a body of flesh that is corrupting away: “And you shall fall like one of the princes. You shall die like human beings” and shall fall like the devil. What good does the remedial discipline of mortality do you ? The devil is proud, as not having a mortal body, as being an angel. But as for you, who have received a mortal body, and to whom even this does no good, so as to humble you by so great weakness, you shall “fall like one of the princes. This then is the first grace of God’s gift, to bring us to the confession of our infirmity, that whatever good we can do, whatever ability we have, we may be that in I Cor. Him; that “He that glorieth, may glory in the Lord.” “When I am weak,” saith he, “then am I strong.”

St. Augustine of Hippo
Explanations of the Psalms

The City team is hard at work creating the next issue, which will go to press shortly. Expect a preview next week!

Items of Interest: Take Up the Cross

by Benjamin Domenech on February 11, 2009

Turn, rather, to these teachings, my very dear friend: take up your cross and follow the Lord. For, when I noticed that you were being slowed down in your divine purpose by your preoccupation with domestic cares, I felt that you were being carried and dragged by your cross rather than that you were carrying it ahead of you. That cross of ours which the Lord commands us to carry, that we may be as well armed as possible in following Him, what else does it mean but the mortality of this flesh? It makes us suffer now until death is swallowed up in victory. Therefore, this cross must itself be crucified and pierced with the nails of the fear of God, for we should not be able to carry it if it resisted us with free and unfettered limbs. There is no other way for you to follow the Lord except by carrying it, for how can you follow Him if you are not His?

Saint Augustine of Hippo
Letter to Laetus

Items of Interest: The Battered Heart

by Benjamin Domenech on January 29, 2009

When you have to listen to abuse, that means you are being buffeted by the wind. When your anger is aroused, you are being tossed by the waves. So when the winds blow and the waves mount high, the boat is in danger, your heart is imperilled, your heart is taking a battering. On hearing yourself insulted, you long to retaliate; but the joy of revenge brings with it another kind of misfortune shipwreck.

Why is this? Because Christ is asleep in you. What do I mean? I mean you have forgotten his presence.

Rouse him, then; remember him, let him keep watch within you, pay heed to him … A temptation arises: it is the wind. It disturbs you: it is the surging of the sea. This is the moment to awaken Christ and let him remind you of these words: “Who can this be? Even the winds and the sea obey him.”

St. Augustine of Hippo
Sermons on Mark