The 14th century was a time of great suffering. The Hundred Years' War between England and France ravaged both countries and provided a tremendous sense of instability to the whole of Europe. Strange weather patterns led to crop devastation which, in turn, led to widespread famine in some parts of the continent. Many believe the famine so weakened the constitution of Europeans that, when the Black Death arrived, their bodies stood little chance of fighting it off.
William McRaven devoted thirty-seven years of his life to the U.S. Navy. He served as a SEAL, rising to become a team commander and, eventually, a four-star admiral. Near the end of his career McRaven was Commander of all U.S. Special Operations Forces. He was actively involved in some of the most precarious missions in the War on Terror, including the capture of Saddam Hussein and the killing of Osama bin Laden.
The “must-read” list, like the making of books, never ends. The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius hardly stands as a newcomer to that list, yet its place has been often overlooked. The Meditations is a classic work of wisdom literature, providing inspiration and endless fodder for reflection and conversation.
Thanksgiving Day joins together friends and family to feast, laugh, and reflect upon the innumerable blessings of God upon each of us; some of the most important ones gathered around the table. And, while for too many, Thanksgiving has morphed into “Turkey Day” – a day to eat too much, fall asleep watching football games they don’t care about, and plan Black Friday shopping – the intentional act of giving thanks is important.
Rain poured from the densely clouded sky for what seemed like the fortieth straight day. It had already been the rainiest season in recorded history and there appeared to be little break in sight. The clouds darkened everything, making it feel much earlier than it was.
I rose, mumbling my complaints at the weather, and dressed to exercise in hopes it would make me feel a bit better. The kids were just stirring, following my bad example of griping at rain, while my wife tried her best to motivate them to complete chores.
“Now both sexes have melodies and rhythms which of necessity belong to them; and those of women are clearly enough indicated by their natural difference. The grand, and that which tends to courage, may be fairly called manly; but that which inclines to moderation and temperance, may be declared both in law and in ordinary speech to be the more womanly quality.” - Plato, Laws (Book VII)
As a young man, Benedict left his hometown of Nursia, journeying to Rome to continue his education. His time in Rome left him deeply troubled, the city apparently overcome by paganism and depravity. Eventually, Benedict simply tired of people. Seeking solitude and quite, he moved to a cave near Subiaco (about 30 miles east of Rome).
St. Benedict's Rule advises abbots to seek counsel from the monks under their charge whenever important decisions have to be made. “As often as anything important is to be done in the monastery, the abbot shall call the whole community together and himself explain what the business is; and after hearing the advice of the brothers, let him ponder it and follow what he judges the wiser course” (RB, 3.1).
Peter Leithart’s survey of the Gospels, The Four, models what it means to read Scripture iconically – that is, paying attention to the images, connections, and echoes found throughout. In his chapter on St. John’s gospel, Leithart mentions, almost in passing, that one could view the book as a walk through the tabernacle. And upon close inspection, it seems clear that this is yet one more beautiful thread John weaves throughout his writing.
Right now, most schools are drawing to a close and headmaster needs for next year are known. Students can think of nothing but summer break (bursting through the front doors singing, "Schooooool's out for summer!"), and the teachers feel roughly the same, but more so. For school boards and other governing bodies, however, the work is just beginning. Those searching for headmasters will sort through resumes and CVs, host personal and Skype interviews, hold marathon meetings, and do their best to wisely fill the vacancies of their school. In other words, the search is on!