St. Josemaria Escriva’s Opus Dei and St. Ignatius of Loyola’s Jesuits

January 08, 2002

Interview by Lola Galan, El Pais, Madrid

Javier Echevarria, 69, has been at the top of the Opus Dei hierarchy since April 20, 1994. He is currently preparing to celebrate the centennial of the birth, on January 9, 1902, of Blessed Josemaria Escriva, Opus Dei’s founder. The centennial will have its culminating moment in the canonization of Escriva, already announced by the Pope. Bishop Echevarria agreed to answer a questionnaire sent by this correspondent, whom he received at the Roman headquarters of Opus Dei.

Q. Opus Dei and the Society of Jesus are Spanish religious initiatives with their own personality within the Church. The Jesuits are considered liberal and Opus Dei conservative. How are their relations?

A. If you will allow me to make a clarifying statement, I would like to say that I discovered Opus Dei in 1948 and have been one of its many faithful ever since, but I have never seen this reality as something Spanish rather than universal. It was born in Spain, but it was planned by God for the whole world. Additionally, some words that are useful for simplifying matters – such as conservative or liberal – must be used carefully, because the effect they have is that many people, for fear of being labeled or pigeonholed, will not say what they truly think. What do I think? That the Society of Jesus has had and continues to have a great mission in the Church and in the world. The Society and the Prelature are different in nature and arose from different charisms. I would not interpret them with terms that are alien to their deepest ecclesial reality, nor would I dare to compare them. Josemaria Escriva had a great devotion to St. Ignatius Loyola. What a big embrace they must have given each other in heaven!

Source: Opus Dei Newsletter June 12, 2009

Fjordman’s Comparison of Christian and Islamic Science: Gregorian Chant and Muslim music

As for music, Greek theory on the subject evolved from Pythagoras before 500 BC. The Church was the dominant institution in post-Roman Europe and drew on Greek philosophy and musical theory. Some elements of Christian observances may derive from Jewish tradition, too, chiefly the chanting of Scripture and the signing of psalms, poems of praise from the Book of Psalms. Christians integrated music into their liturgy. In the Western Church, Gregorian chant and the development of polyphonic music was valued as decoration, a concept central to medieval art and architecture. According to A History of Western Music, Seventh Edition, by Donald J. Grout, Peter J. Burkholder and Claude V. Palisca, “Polyphonic performance heightened the grandeur of chant and thus of the liturgy itself.” This gave rise to a musical tradition which led to Bach, Mozart and Beethoven. Nothing similar happened in the Islamic world, despite the fact that Muslims initially had access to much of the same material. I have described this in my essay Why Muslims Like Hitler, but Not Mozart.

Historian Bernard Lewis writes in The Middle East: A Brief History of the Last 2,000 Years:

“Since Muslim worship, with the limited exception of some dervish orders, makes no use of music, musicians in the Islamic lands lacked the immense advantage enjoyed by Christian musicians through the patronage of the Church and of its high dignitaries. The patronage of the court and of the great houses, though no doubt useful, was intermittent and episodic, and dangerously subject to the whims of the mighty. Muslim musicians devised no standard system of notation, and their compositions are therefore known only by the fallible and variable medium of memory. There is no preserved corpus of classical Islamic music comparable with that of the European musical tradition. All that remains is a quite extensive theoretical literature on music, some descriptions and portrayals of musicians and musical occasions by writers and artists, a number of old instruments in various stages of preservation, and of course the living memory of long-past performances.”

There are those who are critical of Mr. Lewis as a scholar and consequently believe that he shouldn’t be quoted as an authority. You should always maintain a healthy criticism of any writer, but I know from other sources that the above mentioned quotes are largely correct.

Many forms of music are banned in Islam. The Reliance of the Traveller by Ahmad Ibn Lulu Ibn Al-Naqib and Noah Ha Mim Keller has been formally approved by al-Azhar in Egypt, the highest institution of religious learning among Sunni Muslims. It quotes a number of ahadith, authoritative sayings of Muhammad and his companions which form the core Islamic texts next to the Koran, among them one which says that “There will be peoples of my Community who will hold fornication, silk, wine, and musical instruments to be lawful …” Another quote says that: “On the Day of Resurrection, Allah will pour molten lead into the ears of whoever sits listening to a songstress.” The scholarly conclusion is that “All of this is explicit and compelling textual evidence that musical instruments of all types are unlawful.” Another legal ruling says that “It is unlawful to use musical instruments – such as those which drinkers are known for, like the mandolin, lute, cymbals, and flute – or to listen to them. It is permissible to play the tambourine at weddings, circumcisions, and other times, even if it has bells on its sides. Beating the kuba, a long drum with a narrow middle, is unlawful.”

Source: “Fjordman: To President Obama: Regarding Islam and Science” in Jihad Watch. (The full essay is a very good read, especially for those interested in astronomy, linguistics, and optics.)

“Tumbukin Natin” blog: Catholic apologist Cenon Bibe answers questions from Balik Islam

As I thought before, the debate of the Catholic apologist Cenon Bibe and the members of Balik Islam will never push through. But Cenon has been receiving text messages on his mobile phone from those who claim to be members of the Balik Islam (Return to Islam) movement, a movement of former Christians who became Muslims.   (He also receives questions from Protestants.)  These questions he posts in his blog, “Tumbukin Natin” in the hope of converting the Balik Islam members back to Christianity.  So in this sense, he is starting the Balik-Kristiyano movement.   This is apt, since Christianity (AD 33) came first before Islam (AD 632), and many countries in Asia and Northern Africa–the provinces of the Old Roman Empire–were formerly Christian before the Islamic conquest.  The only problem, though, is that his blog is in Filipino. I hope he adds a Google translation widget, so that his blog would be read by more people all over the world.

Cenon has a fancy for sprinkling his writing with words in all caps. Some people may take offense at this, for all caps means shouting. Here, for example, is his mission statement, which I translated into English, with the words in all caps intact:

CATHOLICS and the CATHOLIC FAITH are being ATTACKED.  The ATTACKS are usually STRONG and FEROCIOUS.  The SAD thing is that their CRITICISMS  are ALL WRONG.




Here is a sample of questions or thesis statements  from Balik Islam that he answered:

  1. The bible has been corrupted because there are other scriptures that are not found in the bible such as  Gospel of Barnabas.  [here]
  2. Is the Bible confirmed by the Koran? [here]
  3. Jesus Christ is uncircumcised. [here]

Cenon is the only Catholic apologist studying Islam.  May he walk in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi, the man of peace who went to the Sultan in Egypt to try to convert him.  Here is a Wikipedia entry:

In 1219 Francis left, together with a few companions, on a pilgrimage of non-violence to Egypt. Crossing the lines between the sultan and the Crusaders in Damietta, he was received by the sultan Melek-el-Kamel.[1][14] Francis challenged the Muslim scholars to a test of true religion by fire; but they retreated.[1] When Francis proposed to enter the fire first, under the condition that if he left the fire unharmed, the sultan would have to recognize Christ as the true God, the sultan was so impressed that he allowed Francis to preach to his subjects.[1][15] Though Francis did not succeed in converting the sultan, the last words of the sultan to Francis of Assisi were, according to Jacques de Vitry, bishop of Acre, in his book “Historia occidentalis, De Ordine et praedicatione Fratrum Minorum (1221)” : “Pray for me that God may deign to reveal to me that law and faith which is most pleasing to him.”.[16]

St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us.

Baronius 1962 Missal Sold at Totus Bookstore in Greenhills, San Juan, Philippines

My friend and I visited the Totus bookstore in the corner of Connecticut and Missouri Sts. in Greenhills, San Juan.  Their website says the bookstore is on the second corner of the Red Ribbon Building.  But we see no red ribbons, only blue letters (was it Abenson?).

We went up through a narrow stairway and entered the bookstore.  The bookstore was small, about 5 steps by 15 steps.  But on its shelf of books are those of Ratzinger and Chesterton.  And we say, “Ooooh” and “Aaaaah.”  If I had money, I could have bought them all.  It is window shopping for now.

We came there not for Ratzinger or for Chesterton but for a weekday missal.  My friend needs one, as she likes to go to mass everyday at the college chapel (and I usually accompany her).   It’s a Vatican II missal in red cover.  She flipped some pages and explained that the Sunday readings have a three year cycle and the week day reading have a two-year cycle.  So after three years of attending mass, we would have heard most of the bible.

The sales lady overheard us.   She said that is one of their last stocks.  A new Vatican II missal is coming probably next year.  I have heard about this, since ICEL (those responsible for translating the bible into English) have adopted a mode of translation which is closer to the Latin original.  So instead of “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say a word and I shall be healed,” it would now sound like the Centurion speaking, “Lord, I am not worthy that you come under my roof, but only say a word and my soul [servant] shall be heard.”  But this is already the Ilonggo translation in Negros (Central Philippines), in my hometown in Bacolod City, for we say, “Ginoo, dili ako angay na magsulod ka sa akon puluy-an, apang imitlang lang ang imo pulong kag maga-ayo ang akon kalag.”  In this respect, the Ilonggo translators have already been more faithful to the Latin original even decades ago.

And we saw the 1962 missal.  Baronius in white leather cover.  Bigger than my palm and thicker than my three fingers.  I wish to buy it.  But it is expensive: P 2800.  The black book cover with zipper is P 1050.  That makes it a total of about P 4000.  My friend also wishes to buy it.  But since she may be given that missal by October, she can settle for the Vatican II missal for now.  That is far cheaper anyway at P 1200.

We said goodbye to the sales lady.  As a parting gift, she gave us a catalogue for Ignatius press and Tan books.  Impressive.  Totus bookstore has lived up to its name.  It has everything a good Catholic should read.