Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Fire in the Hole!

In the halls of Macademia, where strange beasties roam:
...‘There was a time when people believed free speech on campus should be as wild and freewheeling as possible’, he tells me in his garden in the Italian part of Brooklyn, New York City. ‘Not anymore. Today students are apparently too sensitive to be able to deal with hard ideas or outrageous humour.’...

Once seen as being the most radical and freethinking section of society, why are some students, those supposed debaters of ideas and contemplators of knowledge, turning into policers of dissent who would rather see something that they find offensive destroyed rather than discussed? Lukianoff says it is a consequence of the broader academic culture that students find themselves in today – an academic culture which instead of highly prizing combative debate and the unfettered freedom to scuffle over ideas and knowledge increasingly demonises such things as potentially hurtful and damaging. An academic culture, in short, which is destroying its own raison d’être – to foster thought, discussion, enlightenment – through its acceptance of the idea that actually, after all, words and ideas can be quite dangerous and thus should be subject to policing.

Lukianoff says that ‘something turned’ in the 1980s. ‘In the 1980s, there was this weird consensus that something dubbed “hate speech” could be banned’, he says. ‘There was this idea that in order to be really tolerant, to be really multicultural, you had to suppress hateful, mean, cruel, discriminatory thoughts and speech. To ensure civility you had to suppress harsh or hurtful speech. And out of that arose the genesis of campus speech codes, which were completely antithetical to what people had argued in the past – that free speech on campus was a necessary condition for academic life to flourish.’

Lukianoff points out that the idea of ‘hate speech’ – the notion that thoughts and words are too potentially toxic and harmful to others to be allowed to exist independently of official monitoring – was supported as much by so-called liberals, ‘by feminists like Catharine MacKinnon’, as it was by traditionally censorious Victorian-style prudes. The end result is that 71 per cent of American universities now have speech codes governing what their students can say and even what they can think. Lukianoff says the culture of word-watching and thought-monitoring has two depressing consequences: first, it makes students more likely to play the ‘offence card’ if anyone upsets them; and second, it ‘really has a hobbling effect on the rigour of the academy, affecting what people learn and what people teach’.

In being inculcated into the speech-code ethos, American students are increasingly having their thoughts controlled rather than their minds expanded. Far from being laboratories of learning, many campuses have become laboratories for new forms of censorship and conformism. Governing everything from political hotheadedness to sexist speech (one American university outlawed any speech which judged someone on the basis of their sex alone, until FIRE pointed out that this meant the university was effectively banning men’s and women’s toilets), colleges now communicate to students the message that they are not entering an institution of open-mindedness and free, sometimes robust debate, but rather one made up of fragile individuals who must be addressed in a polite, PC manner at all times.

Lukianoff tells me about one of the more extreme examples of the speech-code ethos, ‘probably the best and most nightmarish example of what we call “thought reform”’. The University of Delaware had a mandatory programme for all 7,000 of its students who lived in dorms, which it actually explicitly referred to as a ‘treatment’. The students were expected to attend floor meetings so that they could be told what was acceptable speech on campus and what was not, where the idea, says Lukianoff, ‘was effectively to cure them of any obvious racist, sexist or homophobic beliefs’.

In an exercise at one of these institutionalised meetings, students were told to stand by a certain wall depending on where they stood on matters such as gay marriage, affirmative action, welfare and other hot-button issues in the US. And if they had the ‘wrong’ views on these issues, then they were seen as potentially intolerant and in need of being reminded about the university’s speech and ethics codes. ‘It was flatly political’, says Lukianoff. ‘It was actually a public shaming, really going back to our Puritan roots. This kind of thing treats young people as socially unenlightened and in need of a kind of indoctrination.’

In such an academic climate, or fundamentally anti-academic climate, it is not surprising, says Lukianoff, that some students feel empowered to demand the squishing and even burning of words and images they don’t like – after all, they have been educated from day one to believe that their self-esteem is sacrosanct and must be defended from other people’s brute thoughts and speech. ‘There’s a very predictable result, which is that if you allow the ultimate trump card against free speech to be a claim that “I’m offended”, then people learn very quickly to say they are offended...’

Novena of the Immaculate Conception: Day 1

As the Apostles and the Blessed Virgin did from Christ's Ascension to Pentecost, so do we still today--nine days of prayer, a novena, at the drop of a hat or a tear or a need.  In preparation for the feast of the Patroness of America, the Immaculate Conception:
O God, who by the Immaculate Conception
of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
did prepare a worthy dwelling place for Your Son,
we beseech You that, as by the foreseen death of this, Your Son, You did preserve Her from all stain,
so too You would permit us, purified through Her intercession, to come unto You.
Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, world without end.


Day One

O most Holy Virgin, who was pleasing to the Lord and became His mother, immaculate in body and spirit, in faith and in love, look kindly on me as I implore your powerful intercession. O most Holy Mother, who by your blessed Immaculate Conception, from the first moment of your conception did crush the head of the enemy, receive our prayers as we implore you to present at the throne of God the favor we now request...
(State your intention here...)
O Mary of the Immaculate Conception, Mother of Christ, you had influence with your Divine Son while upon this earth; you have the same influence now in heaven. Pray for us and obtain for us from him the granting of my petition if it be the Divine Will.

Old Heroes

sometimes do the things the powerful will not:
...Ordered by drug cartels last Nov. 13 to hand over his ranch, Garza was just like so many other Mexicans who lost their life work and property to them. Like most, he would have been rational to run for his life, given the cartels' capacity for depravity.

But the old rancher told the thugs no. He warned them if they tried to take it, he'd be waiting for them.

The barbarians struck the next day, barraging the ranch house with rifles and grenade launchers. But they encountered something they hadn't expected — the lone Garza fighting back, hard, with his hunting rifle, taking four cartel attackers down with him before he died and leaving two others wounded.

When Mexican Marines arrived at the scarred ruins of the ranch a few days later, they were stunned to find that the rancher had fought the cartels alone, protecting his property at the ultimate price in place of the state that couldn't.

Resistance hasn't been common in Mexico, where gun ownership is banned and the state is charged with protecting people.

The public and media rapidly recognized Garza for a hero, and the story stirred the country. Garza drew attention because he died defending so much of what is under attack in Mexico.

Criminal cartels have challenged the state, civil society, and democracy itself as they pursue absolute power. They've driven villagers from their towns. They've forced soldiers to wear hoods, judges to wear masks and the free press to publish anonymously.

Central to everything is the right to private property. It doesn't exist so long as cartels can order ranchers off their land and turn townspeople into war refugees.

Garza stood up to this — a real hero of Mexican freedom. If his death inspires other Mexicans to resist the cartels, it won't be in vain — it will be the planting of the first seed of victory.
Requiscat in pace.  Note also--they banned gun ownership in Mexico. What has been the consequence?

An Important Feast Day

for me, at least:
The first reading for the feast of St Andrew is a short but insightful outline of the role of preaching in God’s saving work. It states that faith comes from hearing but asks ‘how can they hear unless there is a preacher for them?' Though this text could in general terms by applied to all the apostles, and others besides, it is particularly appropriate for St Andrew based on what the New Testament records about him. He had no sooner come to faith in Christ than he proclaimed this to his brother, Peter - "we  have found the Christ” – and he took Simon to Jesus (John 1:40-41). Later he was involved in introducing the Greeks to Jesus, a very significant portent of the later spread of the Gospel beyond the confines of Palestinian Judaism and indeed of Judaism itself (John 12:20-22).

Andrew’s example highlights certain things at the heart of preaching. Being a preacher involves having a conviction of just how important faith in Jesus can be to others. It also means having the love, genuineness, and sensitivity necessary to share the Gospel appropriately with others. It means having the faith to point the other person to Jesus and even to usher them gently into the presence of the living Christ. It also involves realising that Jesus then has to make the crucial difference and leaving space for this direct encounter between others and Jesus.

In these ways St Andrew still serves as a model for all who would preach the Gospel, not least the Order of Preachers itself...

How We Know For Certain

Pope John Paul II was a man of heroic virtue with nary a skeleton in the closet:
...From 1945 onwards, Weigel reports, Wojtyla was under secret police surveillance. His closest friends and collaborators were constantly targeted to betray him. Especially as Archbishop of Krakow, he had to be constantly wary of even his colleagues and household staff, in case infiltrators had been successful. When he arrived in Rome, knowing that there were spies afoot and that the Vatican had no counter-intelligence capability, John Paul handled the communist file within the papal apartment, not trusting sensitive documents to his own bureaucracy.

"It was us against them – all the time," confided John Paul's longtime secretary, Stanislaw Dziwisz. Indeed, the battle for freedom in the Soviet empire was total, for the totalitarian state claimed control over all aspects of life, even the family and the Church...

Weigel's new book opens the curtain on that drama as it was lived for decades behind the Iron Curtain. It is the story of one man to be sure, but also of more than one. The SB would have crushed Karol Wojtyla if he had been truly alone. That he was not alone, but inspired an ever growing number to join him, was the secret to the victory. That victory too bears remembering this Remembrance Day.

Best Comment on the Condoments

and media reaction I've seen:
...The media (and some conservatives have bought into this) has always made it sound like the Pope is telling young Africans "Have all the sex with anyone you want, just DON'T use a condom." . Instead, he simply has refused to compromise with human souls; he bypasses condom distribution as a distraction, and calls us to work for the true human flourishing that only an ordered sexuality can give.

I think this is what the Media finds so infuriating. Not even to be given even the dignity of jeremiads and righteous indignation, but to be calmly told that their pet salvation is simply an irrelevant distraction to soothe the consciences of the short-sighted...

Monday, November 29, 2010

Papal Condoments

and the subtle indecency of the reaction by the media.  Note--the author of this piece does not get what the Pope actually said, but his comments on the media reaction remain remarkably apropos:
...Yet just as it was absurd to blame leaders of the Catholic Church for the problem of AIDS/HIV in Africa, so it is equally ridiculous to see the pope as the continent’s redeemer. In both cases there is an idealism at work, an idealism that would embarrass the most immaterial of philosophers. For in this idealism, ideas – Catholic ideas – are all that matter. The pope articulates one idea, people die; he articulates another, people live. It is an idealism that makes mere objects of Africans – objects to be commanded at the behest of an idea. Of course it helps the delusion if one makes a particular assumption – which is that Africans are a bit, well, simple. Not completely simple – the racism would be almost too much to bear – but certainly simpler than their Western Catholic brethren who have long taken church doctrine with a pinch of guilt. Hence as Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee put it, the ‘helpless Third World poor… die for their misplaced faith’. What else could they do, these simple, simple souls?

Unfortunately, this idealism, borne aloft by a whole heap of unspoken prejudices about African people, ignores some very material facts, not least the poverty of these countries. And in poor countries without medical infrastructure, without the drugs that now keep alive Western HIV sufferers, is it any wonder that far more people die from AIDS than in the West? Perhaps, just perhaps, a lack of development, not an excess of papery, lies at the heart of African countries’ inability to deal with the spread of horrible diseases.

This underdevelopment, this lack of socio-economic progress explains something else, too. Given the often dire circumstances in which some Africans find themselves – with mortality rates far higher than in the West and average life-spans far shorter – is it really that surprising that contraception is not at the top of many African people’s list of priorities? After all, with life considerably more precarious, one’s perception of risk is probably a little bit different to that of Westerners.

There is something obsessive about this focus on HIV/AIDS in Africa. All other concerns are eclipsed. It is not as if there are no other diseases ruining the lives of people who live in the poorer parts of Africa. In fact there are several that kill far more than HIV/AIDS does. Malaria and lower respiratory problems account for millions more deaths than HIV/AIDS. Even diarrhoea, often little more than an inconvenience in the developed world, rivals HIV/AIDS as a major killer. Yet, as Nathalie Rothschild has pointed out on spiked, the attention given to these other diseases is minimal compared to that given to HIV/AIDS. Why? Because the sex lives of Africans are of considerable interest to a Western mindset increasingly obsessed with ensuring that the wretched of the earth adjust to present conditions. And that means keeping the population down. In the baleful words of one of the pope’s newfound supporters: ‘Condoms should also be used to help reduce poverty and overpopulation, by allowing poor parents to manage their family size.’

Canadian Culture

and barbarity:
If a mob disrupted a pro-choice speaker at a Canadian university, chances are the protesters would be removed. If a mob disrupted a pro-life speaker at a Canadian university, chances are the speech would be cancelled.

One kind of speech is free in Canada; another kind isn’t. Speech broadly characterized as “left-wing” a.k.a. “progressive” — e.g., pro-choice, anti-Israeli, anti-capitalist  — is protected even at its extreme. Speech broadly characterized as “right-wing” a.k.a. “reactionary” — pro-life, pro-Western, pro-Israel — isn’t protected, even when it’s moderate.

That “left-wing” speech is protected more rigorously than “right-wing” speech is hardly in dispute. David Frum noted it recently by contrasting York University’s warm reception of suspended U.K. parliamentarian George Galloway with its cool reception of the scholar Dr. Daniel Pipes. From pro-life university students arrested (Carleton) to Israeli speakers de-invited (Ehud Barak, Benjamin Netanyahu), examples abound. University of Ottawa provost François Houle became a bit of a joke for lecturing Ann Coulter, the outspoken American commentator, about visitors needing to conform to the superior civility of law-abiding Canadians, just before a mob prevented Coulter from speaking, while the Ottawa police looked on.

A Japanese university president might have committed hara-kiri after an incident of this sort, but Canada’s university presidents are made of sterner stuff...

New Translation of the Mass

In Advent 2011 we will begin using a new edition (the Third Typical Edition, as it is called) and a new English translation of the Roman Missal. Archbishop Charles Chaput has given me the task of overseeing the implementation of these changes in the Archdiocese of Denver.

Let me say this: I'm very excited about the changes that are coming and about the opportunities we have for an authentic liturgical renewal. Practically speaking, implementing the new Missal means that all of us will be learning new translations of long-familiar prayers and responses. This makes it a perfect moment in the life of the Church for a new "eucharistic catechesis."

The Second Vatican Council gave us a great gift with the Novus Ordo. The Mass in the vernacular has opened up new pathways to holiness and transcendence, and has given us new strength and confidence for our mission of building the Kingdom of God.

But I think we can also recognize that the way in which the reform of the Mass was carried out after the Second Vatican Council, unfortunately, has occasioned a lot of silliness and confusion. The problem has never been the Novus Ordo. The reformed liturgy that the Council gave us is beautiful, glorious, and empowering. The problem has been that even good people have misinterpreted the Council badly...

To illustrate the basic problem, I want to return to the mid-1960s. You may know the background of the Servant of God Dorothy Day, the founder of the Catholic Worker Movement. Dorothy was a true radical in the best sense of the word, a prophet of the Church's social teaching. She was also a devout, traditional, and saintly Catholic.

One day, while Dorothy was away, a young enthusiastic priest came to celebrate Mass at the Catholic Worker house. He used a coffee cup as a chalice. When Dorothy came home and heard about it, she was scandalized at the sacrilege -- that a common household item had been used to consecrate the Precious Blood of Christ. The story goes that she found a trowel and dug a deep hole in the backyard behind the house. Then she kissed the coffee cup and buried it.

Later she wrote about the incident. She said this:
I am afraid I am a traditionalist, in that I do not like to see Mass offered with a large coffee cup as a chalice. … I feel with [Cardinal] Newman that my faith is founded on a creed … "I believe in God, Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. And of all things visible and invisible, and in his only Son Jesus Christ, our Lord."

I believe too that when the priest offers Mass at the altar, and says the solemn words, "This is my body, this is my blood," that the bread and the wine truly become the body and blood of Christ, Son of God, one of the three divine persons.

I believe in a personal God. I believe in Jesus Christ, true God and true man. And intimate, oh how most closely intimate we may desire to be, I believe we must render most reverent homage to him who created us and stilled the sea and told the winds to be calm, and multiplied the loaves and fishes. He is transcendent and he is immanent. He is closer than the air we breathe and just as vital to us.
In these beautiful words, Day puts her finger on the basic issue. We cannot separate liturgy from creed. Our law of prayer is our law of belief. Lex orandi, lex credendi...

High Immigrant Population = Lower Crime?

An interesting comparison:
CQ Press came out with their annual ranking of US cities based on crime rate in the US on Monday. Just looking at the list, I got a hunch as to an interesting correlation; the safest cities seemed to be high-immigrant population centers, while the most dangerous were not. So I checked it out...

Safe cities have a consistently high percentage of foreign born residents; 60 percent of those cities have more than a quarter of their population born overseas (to say nothing of the children of immigrants).

With the exception of Houston, none of the most crime ridden cities have an immigrant population higher than any of the safe cities; 80 percent of dangerous cities don’t even climb out of single digits for immigrant population.

The correlation doesn’t necessarily demonstrate a causation for high or low crime rates, but it certainly pokes a gaping hole in the meme that having a bunch of immigrants in your city makes for higher crime rates. If anything, the opposite is true....

Canadian Catholic Convert

This looks like a remarkable story.  One snippet:
...I went to Montreal to meet a famous New Age Guru who was going to give me a new name like "Sri Baba." I was going to abandon everything and move to a little cult town in Virginia called Yogaville. I took the bus to Montreal. I got lost in Montreal and got off the bus. I looked up and saw a huge Church. It was Saint Joseph's Oratory. I was struck by its beauty and majesty.

I walked into the Church and saw elderly women putting their hands on the feet of the statue of Jesus. They were whispering prayers and humbly walking away with their heads bowed. I was very moved and said to myself, "These women have faith! Maybe the Church isn't a cold stone building full of hypocrites" - which was my attitude before that moment. I walked around the tomb of brother Andre. (I bet he was interceding for me)... 
Further, extensive information on all sorts of things at the site.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

As Is Appropriate for Advent

we turn our minds to the end of the world.  Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman delivered some famous sermons on the Antichrist.  Here's the first one:
...As long as the world lasts, this passage of Scripture will be full of reverent interest to Christians. It is their duty to be ever watching for the advent of their Lord, to search for the signs of it in all that happens around them; an above all to keep in mind this great ans awful sign of which St Paul speaks to the Thessalonians. As our Lord’s first coming had its forerunner, so will the second have its own. The first was “One more than a prophet,” the Holy Baptist: the second will be more than an enemy of Christ; it will be the very image of Satan, the fearful and hateful Antichrist. Of him, as described in prophecy, I propose to speak; and in doing so, I shall follow the exclusive guidance of the ancient Fathers of the Church.

I follow the ancient Fathers, not as thinking that on such a subject they have the weight they possess in the instances of doctrine or ordinances. When they speak of doctrines, they speak of them as being universally held. They are witnesses to the fact that those doctrines having been received, not here or there, but everywhere. We receive those doctrines which they thus teach, not merely because they teach them, but because they bear witness to all Christians everywhere then held them. We take them as honest informants, but not as a sufficient authority in themselves, though they are an authority too. If they were to state these very same doctrines, but say, “These are our opinions: we deduced them from Scripture, and they are true,” we might well doubt about receiving them at their hands. We might fairly say, that we had as much right to deduce from Scripture as they had; that deductions from Scripture were mere opinions; that if our deductions agreed with theirs, that would be a happy coincidence, and increase our confidence in them; but if they did not, it could not be helped-we must follow our own light. Doubtless, no man has any right to impose his own deductions upon another, in matters of faith. There is an obvious obligation, indeed, upon the ignorant to submit to those who are better informed; and there is a fitness in the young submitting implicitly for a time to the teaching of their elders; but beyond this, one man’s opinion is not better than another’s.

But this is not the state of the case as regards the Fathers. They do not speak of their own Private Opinion; they do not say, “This is true, because we see it in Scripture”-but, “this is true, because in matter of fact it is held, and has ever been held, by all the Churches, down to our times, without interruption, ever since the apostles: “Where the question is merely one of testimony, viz., whether they had the means of knowing that it had been and was so held; for if it was the belief of so many and independent Churches at once, and that, on the ground of its being from the Apostles, doubtless it cannot be true and Apostolic.

This, I say, is the mode in which the Fathers speak as regards doctrine; but it is otherwise when they interpret prophecy...
The rest of the sermon is at the original link.

Total Sexual Revolution

is the goal.  There shall inevitably be confronation if this trajectory is maintained:
...Once thought immoral or illegal, contraception is now considered a moral responsibility. Not only may one use contraception, but one ought to use contraception if one is to be morally responsible. Similar changes are observable in the debates surrounding sexual activity outside of marriage or the nature of marriage itself. Premarital sex is “normal behavior” the research says, and we are left to wonder if normal describes a statistical or moral claim. Likewise, the reasoning of Judge Walker’s Proposition 8 ruling appears to treat the arguments against same-sex marriage as no more than the bigotry of tradition, thus lacking moral or legal force, and not the sort of position respectable and enlightened individuals could take seriously. Again, what was once illicit is now to be recognized and supported by all right-thinking persons.

In its declaration of sexual rights, the International Planned Parenthood Federation takes sexual inversion to full term, claiming in its seventh principle that states are obliged to “respect, protect and fulfill the sexual rights of all.” Respecting sexual rights requires states “to refrain from interfering … with the enjoyment of a particular right.” Protecting sexual rights requires states “to take measure that prevent third parties from interfering with human rights guarantees,” and this, the IPPF indicates, includes holding accountable “not-for-profit and religious entities, as well as individuals.” Fulfilling sexual rights requires states to adopt “legislative, administrative, budgetary, judicial, promotional and other measures towards the full realization of the right.”

The list of enumerated rights to be respected, protected, and fulfilled is quite extensive, including the right to pleasure, right to abortion without restriction, right to contraception, the right for everyone to marry or not as they choose, the right to explore dreams and fantasies without guilt or shame, and the right to information on non-conforming lifestyles. They assert all of this despite the rather obvious (and potentially absurd) difficulties of how the state is to fulfill the right to pleasure and fantasy or protect individuals from “problematic” religious teachings...

Having refused to accept any limitations on freedom, radical liberalism must also lose human equality, for a substantial human nature would imply a stable, fixed order wherein some actions would be considered more or less worthy of a human. But such order and its assumption of value is antithetical to a purely indeterminate freedom whereby one is entitled to each and every identity one claims for oneself.

Of course, a refusal of human commonality renders recognition of the substantial equality of the other impossible, for if neither I nor other persons are defined by our common humanity, what could possibly oblige me to treat them with the same dignity I demand for myself? How can we claim human dignity when a common measure of humanity is refused?...

The politics of recognition required by the sexual inversion is confused and self-refuting, for insofar as rights claims are not grounded in reason or nature but simply express will, those very claims become entirely dependent on others’ recognition of that will. If the other recognizes the claim, the claim is established; if not, the claims are thwarted. Consequently, such rights-claims, so construed, cannot obligate recognition since they lack grounding other than arbitrary will. Lacking the force of reason, they are supported only by forceful and vigorous assertion.

The confusion will spread, and as it does, we become more and more a people shrilly demanding the hospitality of others even as they reject the substantial equality which grounds the obligations between all the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve...

Children of Father Francis

part of the quiet cohorts of men and women holding the world together behind the scenes:
One recent Friday afternoon in front of the old St. Adalbert's Church in the South Bronx, two young men wearing bushy beards and gray religious robes greeted anyone who happened to be walking down the quiet stretch of East 156th Street. They switched easily between English and Spanish.

"How ya doing today? The church is open, if you'd like to stop in for a few minutes and say a prayer," they'd say. "Jesus is inside."

Some passersby accepted their invitation to the church, some said they were in a hurry. Any response was an opening for conversation, an offering of Catholic literature and a Rosary. With neighborhood kids on their way home from school, the men--members of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal--found themselves tossing a ball and explaining why they wear such long Rosary beads hanging from their rope belts.

Those who went into the church found other friars and a few neighbors praying before the Blessed Sacrament exposed in a simple gold monstrance. The cool, subtly lighted, recently restored church was a place of calm and order amid the squalor and brokenness of the city. Even the bags of food, awaiting the weekly distribution to the poor, were lined up like soldiers in formation.

This was a vibrant Polish parish until the old generation moved out in the 1970s. The South Bronx decayed, crime rose, buildings burned. By the time the parish closed, eight members of the Capuchin Franciscan provinces of New York and New Jersey were contemplating a change in their own lives...

Father Vivaldi

And his derelictions:
...enjoy this brief biography of him that I found dated from 1878.

Antonio Vivaldi: He was red-headed—hence he was commonly known as the "Red Priest." Many assert that he was a very pious man—so pious, in fact, that he would never take up his fiddle, or sit down to compose, without having previously gone to his rosary. In spite of this, however, one cannot help thinking, from the following anecdote, that Vivaldi's religion seldom cost him much inconvenience.

In pursuance of his clerical duties Vivaldi was once officiating at the Mass, when of a sudden a musical idea occurred to him; and moreover it was so important that he left the altar, repaired to the sacristy, and having written down his theme resumed his place in the church. His superiors were scandalised at such a proceeding, and forbade his doing duty again as priest. However, the head of the diocese seems to have been an artist bishop, and was generously in favor of forgiving Vivaldi, and of restoring to him his lost post, on the ground that "being a musician, Vivaldi could not be in his right mind;" a conclusion no doubt useful for the culprit, though anything but nattering for musicians in general.

Another source dated 1894 claims that,

For this dereliction of duty he was summoned before the tribunal of the Holy Inquisition. Fortunately his judges, anticipating the modern theory of delinquency, pronounced him mad; hence his punishment was limited to prohibiting him thenceforward from celebrating mass..

Sheesh! Here's an idea. Let's just go listen and enjoy the depth and breadth of his God given musical talent, shall we?...
Okay, so that may have been a little harsh on my part...anyway. Videos and music at the original post.

For Deification, Contra Pantheism

As ever, Aquinas walks the holy middle road, presented by Rev. Father Barthelemy Froget, O.P.:
Before broaching the interesting yet difficult question of the indwelling of the Holy Ghost in the souls of the just, and of the mysterious union He thus effects with them; before going into the proofs of the presence both substantial and extraordinary of the three Divine persons in the just soul which thus becomes a living temple wherein the adorable Trinity finds delight, it will be useful, and, to a certain extent, even necessary, to grasp a few preliminary notions on the ordinary way in which God is present in all things. Nothing, indeed, could be more unreasonable than to expound the doctrine of the extraordinary or special presence of God in the souls of the just, before we know quite clearly what is His ordinary presence in all creation. To be in a fit position to speak in precise terms of these two kinds of presence, and to distinguish one from the other, we must first of all become acquainted with their respective characteristics, and see in what they agree and in what they differ. This may be achieved by carefully examining, defining and comparing their natures. Were we to follow a different course of action, plunging at once into a more or less scientific explanation of the indwelling of God in the soul by the life of grace, without having, at the outset, firmly established and clearly explained that such an indwelling is to be found nowhere else in nature, we should be in danger of imparting very incomplete notions, and of leaving the reader in a state of vagueness that could not but be regrettable. On the other hand, it will not be necessary to dwell at length on the proofs for the divine omnipresence, since all Catholics believe in it; we shall, however, insist on the way in which it is to be understood in order to convey an exact idea of God’s immensity, and so to prepare the way for a clear understanding of the special presence of God in the souls of the just...

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Deification Makes All The Difference

between the Eastern religions and Christianity. Stratford Caldecott on the Christian difference:
...It was there that we really started reading Newman, Chesterton, Balthasar. Up until that point, I had still believed at heart that all religions were equal, with Christianity being merely more appropriate in my case than any other.  Ideas like this had led me to the Church; but they could not survive long immersion in the Catholic tradition itself.  Leonie's [his wife] own strong sense of the sacraments had first given me the inkling that there was something more going on, some fuller kind of presence here. The overwhelming reality of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament now more than made up for the relative lack of gurus in Christianity. Priests were there to bring Christ to earth, and the Holy Spirit of Christ was everywhere present.

I began to realize that no matter how much grace is present in the other religions, it is only Christianity that knows the secret of how grace enters the world. The Buddha himself would not have been saved if it had not been for the Cross of Christ. Without the cross, no 'religion' would suffice--were it founded on the Beatitudes themselves. Christ came not primarily to teach, but to do. He came to die for us (as Chesterton points out eloquently in The Everlasting Man). It was through the Swiss theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar that I finally came to understand what it was that truly makes Christianity different from any other religion under the sun.

Sure enough, it is the sacramental principle--but that only makes sense in connection with the Incarnation, and the Incarnation in the context of the Trinity. The fact is that Christianity is not to do with states of consciousness at all, or with a liberation to be attained through enlightenment. I had once made the mistake of thinking that that was the only thing a religion could be about.

Christianity is about salvation, not enlightenment; an ontological change, a change in the substance of reality itself, brought about by the sacrifice of the Son of God. In fact you might say that the Asian religions would have been right on all counts, as true as true can be, but only if Christ had never been born or died on the Cross. They describe with perfect accuracy the nature of reality and of awareness as it would appear to us without the revelation of God's love. The world would indeed have been an image in a mirror, and nothing more, if God had not in person stepped within that image and made it real with his own reality.

If God had been merely One, the creation of the world would have ended with the mirroring of that unity and its eventual reabsorption in God. But because God is also three, the divine nature can be given; it can become gift. If it can be given by the Father to the Son, it can also be given to us in the Son. The world that is a natural reflection of God can become a true creation, can be filled with the substance of reality, can be 'deified', as the Orthodox say. But in order to be deified it must first be saved.--Dwight Longenecker, ed. The Path to Rome: Modern Journeys to the Catholic Church. (Herefordshire: Gracewing, 1999), 179-180.

The Miracle Detectives

Coming soon to an Oprah Winfrey network near you!
Investigative Reporter Randall Sullivan, author of "Miracle Detectives" a book that examined how the Catholic Church investigates Holy Visions,  now travels the globe to uncover answers to mysterious incidents that transcend logic in a new one hour documentary series for the  Oprah Winfrey Network...

...Ministryvalues.com: An unlikely source, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, recently referenced Medjugorje in a speech he gave before the St. Thomas More Society and he also mentioned the need to intelligently investigate miraculous claims. Justice Scalia emphasized that the intelligentsia tends to dismiss such things apriori, from miracles to events like Lourdes or Medjugorje, without investigation, as being impossible. Any thoughts on such biases? Plus, have you witnessed any such intellectual snobbery from individuals when researching the book, perhaps even from Church members who no longer believe in the miraculous?

Randall Sullivan: Have I witnessed such intellectual snobbery? I've been trampled by it. It remains incredible to me how many so-called intellectuals resort to mindless ideological bigotry when confronted by claims of the miraculous. I think it has to do, ultimately, with the fact that a belief in the miraculous--in the supernatural, for that matter--is rooted in personal experience. People who've had that experience know what I'm talking about. People who haven't are without a clue. And yet we allow the clueless to impose their experiential deficits on the rest of us. It's one of the more remarkable aspects of modern society that people who scoff at faith--despite being a tiny minority of our population--dominate the cultural apparatus. At least ninety percent of the people in this country believe in God. And yet in the precincts where I've spent most of my adult life--academia, the publishing industry and Hollywood--I doubt that the believers number nine percent. Be that as it may, I see myself as trying to reach those people who HAVE had the sort of experience I'm talking about, but have either denied it or fled from it or explained it away. I want to help them to recover and respect what they knew in those sacred moments...

Ministryvalues.com: You told Benedict Groeschel that if you knew what kind of a door you would be opening, by starting to investigate things like supernatural phenomena, you would've left it closed. Can you elaborate on this comment? Sounds like it's been a powerful journey of learning and discovery for yourself, as well.

Randall Sullivan: It's cost me a lot, especially in my career. I'm no longer a contributing editor at Rolling Stone. The New York Times refused to review "The Miracle Detective," entirely because of the subject matter. Some people think I turned into a nut because I believe in God. And there have been times when I've questioned my own sanity. The sense I had of God turning his back on me when I returned home from Medjugorje and wasn't being sustained by the incredible experiences I'd had in Bosnia was terribly painful and thrust me into a real darkness. There is a genuine danger in engaging supernatural claims. The line between mysticism and madness is a thin one. It's not always visible. You really have to trust yourself and trust God at the same time. Still, I don't regret taking this path. I'm dealing with the questions and the problems that are always there, whether we want to engage them or not. And at this moment I have an overwhelming sense that it all happened for a purpose, and that a big part of that purpose is this television show that's about to go on the air...

Ministryvalues.com: A few years ago you spoke with “Get Religion about Media Bias against religion, do you still feel that way and why do you think so many in Catholic media are anti-mysticism.

Randall Sullivan: Somehow mysticism has been equated with anti-intellectualism. It goes back to and way beyond Thomas Jefferson's scissored up version of the Bible. And it's absurd. Christianity is founded upon and rooted in mystical belief. People who think they can deny the Ressurrection and still call themselves Christians are ridiculous to me. Christianity isn't a philosophy, it's a faith. What I really believe is that they're more concerned about protecting their public image than they are about exploring themselves spiritually. It's sad and comical at the same time: They'd sacrifice their souls to make what amounts to a fashion statement...

One of the Coolest Names in Christendom

the Venerable Bede (see, he can't ever be beatified or canonized, cause that doesn't sound quite as awesome) on the divine indwelling:
Whoever is among you of all his people, may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah and rebuild the house of the Lord (Ezra 1:3; =1 Esdras 1:3).

A great faith shines out in these words of King Cyrus, and a great love.
[...] He acknowledged that the Lord God who dwelt in heaven dwelt also in Jerusalem and could go up with each one of those returning from Babylon to Jerusalem.

Is it not clearer than daylight that he believed this God to be non-corporeal, unrestricted by place, a spirit, present everywhere;

whom he acknowledged dwelt in Jerusalem and its Temple yet without doubting that he held sway simultaneously in the kingdom of heaven;

whom he believed reigned in heaven yet was with his faithful on earth, guiding their hands and hearts to accomplish what was good and salutary?

For the rest, all the words of this text are full of spiritual significance.
For who does not easily recognise that it is only those whom God is with who can pass from sinfulness to sanctity – from captivity in Babylon to freedom in Jerusalem? Without me, Christ says, you can do nothing.

Can anyone fail to see here a reference to the spiritual ascent, the ‘going-up’ to Jerusalem?

Those who really desire to please God must necessarily lift up their hands to higher things, long for what is divine and transcend the display of this world and its attractions through their love of eternal reality...

...let us build a house to the Lord God of Israel – in the unity of Catholic peace, in the acknowledgment of our sinfulness and God’s loving-­kindness and grace.

Let us prepare our hearts so that he himself may deign to dwell in them and enlighten them by his presence.

But let us also take care to set the hearts of our neighbours alight, so that they too may praise their Creator and engage in the works of love.

Indeed, either way we build a house to the Lord: whether we commit ourselves to the pursuit of holiness or, by our words and example, inspire those whom we can to walk in the way of holi­ness.

Catholic Teaching on Grace

Versus those who truly believe in "the self made man":
So anyway, Augustine. I continue to meander through Peter Brown’s bio if him. I love it! I read the chapter “causa gratiae”, “the case for grace” where he sets up the debate well between Augustine and Pelagius. Augustine makes causa gratiae...

“…The basic conviction of Pelagius and his followers was that man’s nature was certain and fundamentally unchanging. Originally created good by God, the powers of human nature had, admittedly, been constricted by the weight of past habits and by the corruption of society. But such constriction was purely superficial. The ‘remission of sins’ in Baptism, could mean for the Christian, the immediate recovery of a full freedom of action, that had merely been kept in abeyance by ignorance and convention.”

Ok so there is one way of looking at it. Yawn! So as for Augustine’s take? Well again I put a big old circle around this part:

“Augustine’s audience by contrast, would be told repeatedly that even the baptized Christian must remain an invalid: like the wounded man found near death by the wayside in the Parable of the Good Samaritan, his life had been saved by the rite of Baptism; but he must be content to endure, for the rest of his life, a prolonged and precarious convalescence in the ‘Inn’ of the Church. For to Augustine, man’s nature was at a nadir of uncertainty: and it would be cured, in an equally distant future, only by transformation so total and so glorious that, in its light, the least symptom of man’s present collapse must always be regarded as a cause of profound sadness.”...
Or, as Red Green says:

Saint Damian of Molokai

ora pro nobis. Cool stuff abounding!
It starts with a troupe of trees, seven or eight monkeypods that Father Damien planted to provide shade near the church he built in the late 1800s in Kaluaaha, Molokai.

That’s how Ferreira pictured it. “Our Lady of Seven Sorrows Church is in a hot and dry area,” he said.

A hundred years later, sometime in the 1980s, lightning struck one of the trees, killing it. It had to be cut down so it would not fall and damage the church.

Ferreira, whose job as construction supervisor for the phone company sent him to Molokai from time to time, knew the man who cut down the tree. He asked him if he could have some of the wood...

...Ferreira said that he feels compelled to tell the stories of St. Damien’s wood because of all the good things he has seen.

“If it sounds like I’m bragging, I am bragging in Jesus’ name,” he said.

Journet on Deification

or humans were made in the image and likeness of God so as to be sons of God, coheirs of the kingdom, adopted, not begotten.  Christ's sonship is unique and eternal, unlike ours, which is through grace and enacted within time.  I'm loving The Meaning of Grace the more I read--all the controversies dealt with in an extraordinarily lucid scholastic style.  Excellent book.

On deification:
...When death comes, grace will lead me to God immediately seen and possessed, and my soul will be filled to overflowing. But even now, in the night of faith, my soul takes hold of God, and that is what is called the indwelling of the divine Persons.

8. This profound mystery is revealed in several places in Scripture, which speaks of God's indwelling in us, or of the indwelling of the divine Persons or of the Holy Spirit who represents the whole Trinity, for where one of the divine Persons dwells there dwell inseparably the two others. 'Know you not,' says St Paul to the Corinthians, 'that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? But if any man violate the temple of God, him shall God destroy. For the temple of God is holy, which you are' (I Cor. iii. 16-17). God comes as a guest asking us to admit him, and he converses with us if we really desire it. It is no longer a simple relation of creature and Creator, servant and master, but of friend with friend. St Paul says again: 'Know you not that your members are the temple of the Holy Ghost, who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you are bought with a great price' (I Cor. vi. 19-20). We do not belong to ourselves, we belong to God and his infinite love. From time to time, man questions himself: What am I? Is this life in time something of real value, if I am of such slight account? Yes, this life has a great value, since I belong to God who wishes to take possession of my whole being. The being and soul of a man are more precious than we can imagine: 'We are the temples of the living God' (II Cor. vi. 16).

St Paul goes on to say, in the Epistle to the Romans (viii. 9): 'You are not in the flesh, but in the spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.' For it is certainly possible to refuse the descent of God's love into us. But if we do not refuse, he takes the initiative himself. 'The Spirit of him who raised up Jesus from the dead shall quicken also your mortal bodies because of his Spirit that dwelleth in you.' The infinite God will immortalize in heaven these poor habitations he has borrowed from us for a moment at one point of time and space.

We have the great text of St John (xiv. 23): 'If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and will come to him and take up our abode with him.'You see: if anyone loves me. If there is created love, that is to say created grace with all that goes with it, with its virtues of faith, hope and charity, then 'my Father will love him, we will take up our abode with him.' We have a guest with us, we are never alone; and who is our companion? No other than the Trinity in its entirety.

In the Apocalypse, Chapter iii, 20, we read: 'Behold I stand at the gate and knock. If any man shall hear my voice, and open to me the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.' It is like an evening meal, when we venture to speak of the most intimate and profound matters which we would not mention in the daytime. And he will come, not only to speak to us, but to give us the power to reply to him ourselves: 'and he with me.' When anyone is in the state of grace, then there is a dialogue, conversation of friend with friend. So we see that the dissipation of mind which so prevails in the world today is a form of madness. We need times of silence: 'Be silent, and see that I am thy God in thy heart.' In times of difficulty or sadness, in times of suffering, if you frequently call to mind that God is in you to give you his love, you will not be alone, you will find the Guest within you, and he will answer you.

9. The indwelling of the divine Persons is, then, always the accompaniment of grace. The two mysteries are co-relative. Grace is like a net we throw over the Trinity to hold it in captivity. Or here is another way to visualize it: when you bring into a room a source of light, it illuminates the walls; so, when the divine Persons come to us (here we have the source, uncreated grace), they illuminate the walls of the soul (here we have the effect, created grace). And if you possess grace, then the source of grace, the three divine Persons, is there too. In the very gift of sanctifying grace, says St Thomas, the Holy Spirit himself is sent and given to man to dwell in him. The uncreated Spirit is given in created grace, as the sun is given in its rays. The uncreated Gift of the Spirit and the created gift of grace are simultaneous. There are differences of degree in the life of individual souls; but in each of them the intensity of grace and the intensity of the indwelling increase with the same movement.

The saints come to such a vivid awareness of these riches that at times they feel as if their heart would burst. Admittedly, God may lead them by desert paths, and St John of the Cross says that, at times, God seems to be asleep in the soul. But all at once he arouses himself, and the impact he makes is so violent that, if it lasted, it would be mortal: the soul, as yet unfortified by the light of glory, seems then to be unable to support the power of the divine Persons.

Each Holy Communion should intensify in us this grace and this indwelling. We should come away from it, our souls more open to, and more deeply penetrated by, the Trinity.

Such are the gifts God makes to the least of souls that rises from a state of mortal sin. A man who has made only a poor confession, with a love still weak, and who has received absolution, already possesses grace and is dwelt in by God. Both the grace and the indwelling desire to grow stronger in him.

10. If grace, in the words of St Peter, makes us 'participators in the divine nature' and communicates to us, in some measure, the divine nature, it makes us children of God, sons of God. The child has the nature of its parents; what is born of a bird is a bird, what is born of man is a man, what is born of God is God. 'The light', says St John, 'came into the world, and to as many as received it, to them he gave power to be the sons of God, to them that believe in his name, who are born not of blood, nor of the will of flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God' (John i. 13). And again: 'Behold what manner of charity the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called, and should be, the sons of God.... We are now the sons of God (I John iii. 1-2). And St Paul: 'The Spirit himself giveth testimony to our spirit that we are the sons of God' (Rom. viii. 16).

Jesus, also, is Son of God. We are, therefore, brothers of Jesus. God has predestined us to reproduce the image of his Son, 'that he might be the first-born among many brethren' (Rom. viii. 29). Those he sanctifies, Jesus 'is not ashamed to call brethren when he says: I will declare thy name to my brethren' (Heb. ii. 11).

And if Jesus is heir, we, as brothers, shall be his co-heirs: 'If we are sons, we are also heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ: yet so if we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him' (Rom. viii. 29). See, then, the ways in which we resemble Jesus.

Consider now the differences. Jesus is Son 'by nature,' he possesses necessarily the divine nature, by reason of the identity of his being and nature with the being and nature of the Father. We are sons of God 'by adoption,' we possess the divine nature by a free effect of the divine goodness, by a finite participation in the being and infinite nature of God.

Jesus is Son of the Father by eternal generation; we are sons of the three Persons of the Trinity by creation and adoption. There is an impassable distance between the first-born who is above all creation (Col. i. 15) and the multitude of his brethren, between his fraternity which is source and ours which is derivation. This is the meaning of the words of Jesus to Mary of Magdala, the morning of Easter: 'Go to my brethren, and say to them, I ascend to my Father and to your Father, to my God and your God' (John xx. 17).

Jesus is heir by 'identification' of his glory with that of the Father: we are his co-heirs by 'participation' in this destiny. There is again an abyss between being heir of the divine glory by right of nature and being heir by right of merit, like the servant to whom it will one day be said, 'Well done, good and faithful servant . . . enter thou into the joy of thy Lord' (Mt. xxv. 21).

It is necessary to insist on the reciprocal relation between the finite gift of grace and the infinite gift of indwelling. This view is alone capable of bringing out the full dimensions of grace. Our catechism speaks of sanctifying grace, but scarcely at all of the fact of indwelling, which is of greater value, being the source of which grace is the effect...

A Climate of Wealth Redistribution

Interesting. I take no position on this, but--well, what do you think?
...The new thing about your proposal for a Global Deal is the stress on the importance of development policy for climate policy. Until now, many think of aid when they hear development policies.

That will change immediately if global emission rights are distributed. If this happens, on a per capita basis, then Africa will be the big winner, and huge amounts of money will flow there. This will have enormous implications for development policy. And it will raise the question if these countries can deal responsibly with so much money at all.

That does not sound anymore like the climate policy that we know.

Basically it's a big mistake to discuss climate policy separately from the major themes of globalization. The climate summit in Cancun at the end of the month is not a climate conference, but one of the largest economic conferences since the Second World War. Why? Because we have 11,000 gigatons of carbon in the coal reserves in the soil under our feet - and we must emit only 400 gigatons in the atmosphere if we want to keep the 2-degree target. 11 000 to 400 - there is no getting around the fact that most of the fossil reserves must remain in the soil.

De facto, this means an expropriation of the countries with natural resources. This leads to a very different development from that which has been triggered by development policy.

First of all, developed countries have basically expropriated the atmosphere of the world community. But one must say clearly that we redistribute de facto the world's wealth by climate policy. Obviously, the owners of coal and oil will not be enthusiastic about this. One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy anymore, with problems such as deforestation or the ozone hole...

Friday, November 26, 2010

On Condoments and Apostolic Succession

expressed in starkest form:

...In the book, the pope said that a male prostitute who used a condom to prevent the spread of AIDS might be taking a first step toward moral responsibility. Some Catholic analysts claimed that the pope was floating a possible exception in the church’s ban on birth control. But Archbishop Dolan said the church could not simply change its doctrine.

“You get the impression that the Holy See or the pope is like Congress and every once in a while says, ‘Oh, let’s change this law,’ ” he said. “We can’t.”

Those last two words hang in the air, pregnant in their implication.

“We Can’t”.

In truth, bishops are bound, not free, as Paul alluded to in his letter to the Ephesians, chapter 4:1-6.

1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

A prisoner for the Lord. ONE Lord. ONE Faith. ONE Baptism.

The moral law comes from God, not man. That is why the Pope speaks infallibly in matters of Faith and Morals, because as the Apostle Paul tells us, there is but ONE Faith. The Pope speaks infallibly when he speaks as the voice of the Apostolic Successors (the Bishops) on a topic dealing with faith and morals. Their job is to hand on the faith that was revealed to them. Consider some of the admonitions of the Apostle Paul to one of the first of the Apostolic Successors, the young Bishop Timothy:

2 Timothy 1:13-14
13 What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. 14 Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.

1 Timothy 1:3-4
3 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer 4 or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith.

1 Timothy 4:11-16
11 Command and teach these things. 12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

1 Timothy 6:20-21
20 Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, 21 which some have professed and in so doing have departed from the faith.

2 Timothy 1:6-7
6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 8 So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.

2 Timothy 4:1-5
1 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.

They are bound, not free.

“We Can’t.” are two of the most truthful, humble, and powerful words ever spoken by a Bishop. Prisoners for the Lord.

So long as they remain bound, we are authentically free.

China on North Korea

...Comments published on major media in China perhaps revealed more about the Chinese regime’s viewpoint than the official reaction by the Foreign Ministry. All media in China are either run by the state or, while nominally independent, are only allowed to publish if they follow the state’s line on important issues.

Sina.com, People’s Daily.com, and over 20,000 websites in China refused to blame North Korea for the attack, reporting that “Both Koreas accuse each other of being the first to have opened fire.”

Sina.com raised the issue of negotiations with the United States: “This bombardment of the island could be North Korea’s attempt to force the United States to the negotiation table.”

Chinanews.com, military.people.com, and 200 other websites published a not-so-veiled threat if the hoped-for negotiations didn’t materialize: “If the artillery attack still cannot force the United States and the international community to value North Korea’s demands, the situation on the Korean peninsula could become dangerous.”...

Another Financial Crisis Roundup

Yet another.


Credit default swaps (CDS) measuring risk on German, French and Dutch bonds have surged over recent days, rising significantly above the levels of non-EMU states in Scandinavia.

"Germany cannot keep paying for bail-outs without going bankrupt itself," said Professor Wilhelm Hankel, of Frankfurt University. "This is frightening people. You cannot find a bank safe deposit box in Germany because every single one has already been taken and stuffed with gold and silver. It is like an underground Switzerland within our borders. People have terrible memories of 1948 and 1923 when they lost their savings."

The refrain was picked up this week by German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble. "We're not swimming in money, we're drowning in debts," he told the Bundestag.
The euro zone's sovereign debt crisis escalated Friday as the market homed in on Spain as another potential weak spot, leaving officials scrambling to quell investors' fears.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero moved to dispel the growing anxiety surrounding the country's fiscal position Friday, saying there was "absolutely" no chance the euro zone's fourth-largest economy would seek a bailout from the European Union. But his attempt to calm the markets had little effect, with the euro tumbling and the selloff in Spanish and Portuguese sovereign bonds continuing.

"If we continue to see the recent trend in Spanish bond yields then the crisis is going to be taken to a completely new level, as Spain accounts for approximately 11.7% of euro-zone [gross domestic product] which is pretty much double the figure of Ireland, Portugal and Greece [combined]," said Gary Jenkins, head of fixed-income research at Evolution Securities.

Sparking Friday's markets turmoil was a report in Friday's Financial Times Deutschland, which quoted unnamed German finance ministry officials as saying an aid package for Portugal would reduce the chances that Spain would also need a bailout...

And, most interestingly:
China and Russia have decided to renounce the US dollar and resort to using their own currencies for bilateral trade, Premier Wen Jiabao and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin announced late on Tuesday.

Chinese experts said the move reflected closer relations between Beijing and Moscow and is not aimed at challenging the dollar, but to protect their domestic economies.

"About trade settlement, we have decided to use our own currencies," Putin said at a joint news conference with Wen in St. Petersburg.

The two countries were accustomed to using other currencies, especially the dollar, for bilateral trade. Since the financial crisis, however, high-ranking officials on both sides began to explore other possibilities.

The yuan has now started trading against the Russian rouble in the Chinese interbank market, while the renminbi will soon be allowed to trade against the rouble in Russia, Putin said.

"That has forged an important step in bilateral trade and it is a result of the consolidated financial systems of world countries," he said...

The Bernanke, The Fed, and the People's Money

Not the greatest exercise in charity, but a useful analysis of the current financial situation:

Putting the Christ back in Christmas

The reason for the season:
"The Cross of Christ on Calvary stands beside the path of that admirable commercium, of that wonderful self-communication of God to man, which also includes the call to man to share in the divine life by giving himself, and with himself the whole visible world, to God, and like an adopted son to become a sharer in the truth and love which is in God and proceeds from God. It is precisely besides the path of man's eternal election to the dignity of being an adopted child of God that there stands in history the Cross of Christ, the only-begotten Son..." — Pope John Paul II, Dives in Misericordia, 7.5.

"Love of God and love of neighbour are thus inseparable, they form a single commandment. But both live from the love of God who has loved us first. No longer is it a question, then, of a 'commandment' imposed from without and calling for the impossible, but rather of a freely-bestowed experience of love from within, a love which by its very nature must then be shared with others. Love grows through love. Love is 'divine' because it comes from God and unites us to God; through this unifying process it makes us a 'we' which transcends our divisions and makes us one, until in the end God is 'all in all' (1 Cor 15:28)." —Pope Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est, 18.


What, really, is the point of Christmas? Why did God become man?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, in a section titled, "Why did the Word become flesh?" (pars 456-460) provides several complimentary answers: to save us, to show us God's love, and to be a model of holiness. And then, in what I think must be, for many readers, the most surprising and puzzling paragraph in the entire Catechism, there is this:
The Word became flesh to make us "partakers of the divine nature": "For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God." "For the Son of God became man so that we might become God." "The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods." (par 460)
So that "we might become God"? Surely, a few might think, this is some sort of pantheistic slip of the theological pen, or perhaps a case of good-intentioned but poorly expressed hyperbole. But, of course, it is not. First, whatever problems there might have been in translating the Catechism into English, they had nothing to do with this paragraph. Secondly, the first sentence is from 2 Peter 1:4, and the three subsequent quotes are from, respectively, St. Irenaeus, St. Athanasius, and (gasp!) St. Thomas Aquinas. Finally, there is also the fact that this language of divine sonship—or theosis, also known as deification—is found through the entire Catechism. A couple more representative examples:
Justification consists in both victory over the death caused by sin and a new participation in grace. It brings about filial adoption so that men become Christ's brethren, as Jesus himself called his disciples after his Resurrection: "Go and tell my brethren." We are brethren not by nature, but by the gift of grace, because that adoptive filiation gains us a real share in the life of the only Son, which was fully revealed in his Resurrection. (par 654)

Our justification comes from the grace of God. Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life. (par 1996)

Filial adoption, in making us partakers by grace in the divine nature, can bestow true merit on us as a result of God's gratuitous justice. This is our right by grace, the full right of love, making us "co-heirs" with Christ and worthy of obtaining "the promised inheritance of eternal life." The merits of our good works are gifts of the divine goodness. "Grace has gone before us; now we are given what is due.... Our merits are God's gifts." (par 2009)
The very first paragraph of the Catechism, in fact, asserts that God sent his Son so that in him "and through him, he invites men to become, in the Holy Spirit, his adopted children and thus heirs of his blessed life." God did not become man, in other words, to just be our friend, but so that we could truly and really, by grace, become members of his family, the Church. Christmas is the celebration of God becoming man, but it is also the proclamation that man is now able to be filled with and to share in God's own Trinitarian life...

Sir Francis Bacon

on the existence of God:
I had rather believe all the fables in the The Golden Legend (a 13th century collection of saints’ lives), and the Talmud (The body of Jewish traditional law), and the Alcoran (the Koran, the sacred book of Islam), than that this universal frame is without a mind. And therefore God never wrought miracle to refute atheism, because his ordinary works convince it.

It is true, that a little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism; but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion. For while the mind of man looketh upon second causes scattered, it may sometimes rest in them, and go no further; but when it beholdeth the chain of them, confederate and linked together, it must needs fly to Providence and Deity...

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Further on Condoments

From CWNews:

Today, what the world thinks Pope Benedict said is almost exactly the opposite of what he clearly intended.

In Chapter 11 of his new book, Light of the World, Pope Benedict mounts a strong defense of his argument that condom use is not the appropriate means of fighting the AIDS epidemic.

This week, millions of people received the impression that the Pope made precisely the opposite argument-- that he recommended condoms as a defense against AIDS—due to the most spectacular public-relations bungling of this pontificate.

“Pope confirms his approval of condom use against disease,” reads the headline in the Boston Globe. The identical story, running in the New York Times, carries an only slightly less inaccurate headline: “After Condom Remarks, Vatican Confirms Shift.” The London Daily Mail took the prize, however, with this appalling interpretation of the Pope’s remarks: “Just days after the historic change of attitude to sex, he declared the contraception can be used by anyone if it prevents HIV.”

In fact, Pope Benedict made absolutely no public statement on this subject yesterday. These newspaper stories referred to a new “clarification” offered by the papal spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi. Having previously confirmed, quite accurately, that the Pope intended no change in Church teaching, Father Lombardi had questioned the Pontiff on a specific point. In Light of the World, the Pope makes a highly speculative point about the morality of condom use, using the example of a male prostitute. Some readers concluded that the Pope was referring specificially to homosexual acts. But when questioned on that point, Father Lombardi told reporters, the Pope said that the same moral reasoning would apply, “whether it’s a man or woman or a transsexual.”

Right. The Pope’s reasoning applies to a male or female or transsexual prostitute.

Is it really necessary to point out that someone who is engaged in prostitution has moral problems that extend beyond the use of contraceptives?

Pope Benedict said that for such a person, the decision to use a condom might show a flickering of moral sensibility. Thousands of pundits leapt to the conclusion that the Pontiff was endorsing condom use. It would be equally logical to say that he was endorsing prostitution!...

A Little Piece of Unadulterated Goodness

People do the darndest things:

On Papal Condoments

ahem--sorry. Anyway, further clarification from Fr. Z and CNA:
The 21 themes treated in the book are edgy and the reception of the Pope’s words is likely to be varied, but his answers offer a unique look into his teachings and his perspective on the Church and the world.

In the excerpts, just two brief paragraphs provide the Pope’s response to a question on sexuality in the world today. He says that concentrating on the use of the condom only serves to trivialize sexuality.

This trivialization leads many people to no longer see sex as an expression of love, but as a self-administered drug. The fight against the banalization of sexuality is part of a great effort to change this view to a more positive one.

According to one much-commented excerpt printed in L’Osservatore Romano, the Pope concedes that there can be single cases in which the use of a condom may be justified.

He uses the example of prostitutes [actually, I believe the Germans of the interview speaks about male prostitutes, which changes the dynamic] who might use prophylactics as a first step toward moralization, that is, becoming moral. In such a case, condom use might be their first act of responsibility to redevelop their consciousness of the fact that not everything is permitted and that one cannot do everything one wants.  [The press will say a) that the Pope has endorsed condoms, b) has opened the way to endorsing condoms c) still has gone far enough to endorse condoms.  What the press will not do is report accurately what the Pope said.]

While secular outlets such as Time Magazine characterized this remark as “a stunning turnaround” for the Church, Pope Benedict goes on to explain that this is not the true and proper way to defeat HIV. Instead what is necessary is the humanization of sexuality. [The Church's moral theologians have said for a long time that there are those rare cases in which the use of a condom, which is still looked at as an evil, can incur less guilt of sin depending on the circumstances.]

On the Catholicity of the Church

As displayed at every elevation of cardinals:
It's been noted here before but is ever worth repeating: the greatest glory of Consistory Week is found far less in its rites than in the masterful exhibition of the universality of The Church -- that is, God's people spread across the globe -- its convergence in Rome from all corners over these days finding no parallel at any other ecclesial moment...Three years ago, the Vatican folk were deeply taken by Rome's mass influx of Texans who came to celebrate the first-ever cardinal given the American South -- so they say, the group's vibrance considerably brightened the outlook of the natives on the future of the Stateside church. And today, as Benedict almost quadrupled the number of African electors he's elevated to date in one fell swoop, the throng that accompanied the head of the continent's largest local church, Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa -- home to 4 million Catholics -- had its turn to make their presence known... and delivered in memorable style...
Videos at the original post.


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