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Friday, December 30, 2005

Thursday, December 29, 2005

St. Thomas Beckett

Today (December 29) is the feast of St. Thomas Beckett (1118 - 1170). Very interesting story (courtesy of Catholic Encyclopedia) behind this saint and martyr.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

St. John of the Cross

Mighty in the Spirit, indeed, and it was his feastday yesterday, a day to remember this priest and doctor of the Church (links to the Catholic Encyclopedia). It was a day to examine the writings (links to CCEL) of a man who was on fire for Christ. The Dark Night of the Soul (online via CCEL) is considered to be his most widely known work. Clayton, at his blog, The Weight of Glory, writes this prologue to his famous book. He also went on a binge of links about the great saint.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Co-Option of Jesus..

.. into the reigning plausability structure. Sure, it's a mouthful, but it is a point well made. Got this from the Pontificator's site.

A Nun On Fire for Christ

Got this story via the Curt Jester. Sister Clare Marie Klein, nun since age 17 (now 22), is all fired up:

" I fell in love with Jesus. When this happened, everything changed, and I wanted my whole life to be about Jesus. I am not saying that at that moment I became perfect! It's just that at a certain point, I realized that nothing matters without Him. ... There is no meaning, no purpose in life without God. ..."

And as for deciding to become a nun of her order at all, she says

"I saw their love for Jesus in the Eucharist, their dedication to service of the church, their devotion to the Blessed Mother, the centrality of Scripture, and the fact that the religious habit is still a reality in the community. As a young person of the current generation, signs and symbols are a necessity to me. I need to know and see the difference between one lifestyle and another, and I understand the importance of a visible witness."

Sister Clare should all the more be in our prayers, for perseverance on her part and so that the Holy Spirit will continue the good work that's been started in her.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Catholic Universities Harmful to Catholics???

This is bad, and this is the second such study. The first one pertained to Catholic universities in the USA. I wonder if the same holds true of any substantial number of Catholic primary or secondary schools? Found this through Catholic Analysis (thanks, Oswald).

What on earth are those educators up to? Are they so driven to conform to the post-Christian world? Why are they ashamed of Jesus Christ, who was ever radical for his faithfulness to the will of God?

Do they forget that we are called to be prophets of God, sharing the light of Christ with the world?

"As for you, little child, you shall be called a prophet of God, the Most High.
You shall go ahead of the Lord to prepare his ways before him.
To make known to his people their salvation through forgiveness of all their sins,
the loving kindness of the heart of our God, who visits us like the dawn from on high.
He will give light to those in darkness, those who dwell in the shadow of death, and guide us into the way of peace." -- from The Benedictus

"Jesus the Radical"

From Oswald Sobrino of Catholic Analysis, a good piece that challenges us to be constantly amazed at how radical Jesus and the Gospel really are. If we have never heard of the "hard sayings" of Jesus Christ, then we aren't getting the full story. We shouldn't get stuck on the epistle to the Romans, or on the Pauline epistles only, or on the conversion stories only, or on any some portions only. We should get the whole story. And the gospels are a great place to start.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Why is the Immaculate Conception a Dogma?

Well, sure, it was a tradition from ancient times, but does it have to be dogma?

Yes, and Mark Shea briefly explains why it has to be.

While many Church Fathers referred to the sinlessness of Mary in life, there were differences about when her sinlessness begins -- yes, begins, because we all know that she was also saved by the merits of Christ (she said so herself in her canticles, and the Church says so in the dogma itself). For example, St. Thomas Aquinas apparently preferred the moment of birth (or before birth) instead of at conception. Here's a piece from (I think) James Akin, and another one from Mark Bonocore.

Must-Read: "Conscience and the Dictatorship of Relativism"

From John Mallon, a must-read (including the side-bar from Dr. Peter Kreeft) on what is really at stake when the Church, and C.S. Lewis mid-last centrury, warns us of relativism whose madness is probably just getting warmed up. Thanks to Mark Shea for this one. Please visit Mark's blog for a more lively discussion.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Nice Song and Video on the Eucharist

Thanks to Tony at Happy Catholic for this link.

It worries me that many non-Catholics (and non-Lutherans) disbelieve the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist for "enlightened" or anti-superstitious reasons, i.e., that it is beyond reason to think that Christ's flesh and blood become bread and wine. One with such a mindset is a short step away from disbelieving the mystery of the Incarnation, that the same Jesus Christ who was crucified and rose from the dead was God. And here again are truths that run in parallel: the Real Presence of Jesus Christ -- body, blood, soul and divinity -- in the Eucharist, and the Incarnation of the Son of God as a human being. Being in parallel, rejecting one puts an individual at risk of rejecting the other. A warped view of one, i.e., that Christ is only spiritually or symbolically in the Eucharist, risks having a warped view of the other, i.e., that Jesus Christ was only a man with the spirit of God, or was only a man annointed by God to be the archtype of sonship, a symbol or pattern for us to follow. There have been many objections to both mysteries, and they run in parallels, too, which is what makes a right understanding of the Eucharist so important.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Critiques and Reactions to "God on the Internet"

Over at the blog Against the Grain (Christopher Blosser's), summarizes the many critiques of Jonathan Last's "God on the Internet." It seems to not be sitting very well, particularly where the article appears to have gotten a few things wrong concerning Gregory Popcak's "Exceptional Marriages" website and Stephen Ray's "Defenders of the Catholic Faith." I happen to read the latter from time to time and find it an excellent resource. I feel that only half of what Mr. Ray offers in his ministry is for sale. Hardly a logical strategy for a business venture, I think. For whatever reason, Mr. Last jumps into the odd conclusion, presented as if it was fact, that Mr. Ray's website is primarily "to move product." Note to self: be careful not to offer opinion as if it were fact, and be most careful in getting the facts straight before presenting them.

A Thought on Family

Some truths run in parallel, and this is no exception. The health of a family member impacts the rest of the family, too. For example, my family is plagued by a cold right now. Everyone except my eldest son, at the moment. My youngest couldn't sleep through the night because of it, and neither could my wife, as a consequence. We didn't all catch it at once, and it is likely that one caught it first, and it was caught by another, and so on. The parallel truth here is how one's moral health -- our ability to discern what is right from what is wrong, and acting accordingly -- also bears an impact on the rest of the family. Most striking is when the individual whose health is in question is the parent. Just as good health proceeds from the parent -- notably the mother, from whom the milk and the first antibodies come from -- so, too, does good moral character. I cringe at the thought of post-modern parents who choose to be ambiguous about the Christian upbringing of their children, as if the Christian faith will one day simply fall like a comet upon their children when they are "old enough." But more than that, I tremble at the thought of what my poor health is causing my family. As far as my physical health is concerned, my excessive nighttime jaunts in the world of MMORPG (massively multi-player online roleplaying games) means lack of sleep. Lack of sleep affects my temperament, the store of patience I need with my children, and the energy I need to care for them, my wife, even our home and our car. It even affects my ability to function at 100% at work, so that I could be jeopardizing our source of income. As far as my moral health is concerned, let's just look at the same thing as an example. The Psalmist says "my sin is ever before me," and I thank God for the grace to be able to recognize the same thing. When I tell my children that it is time for bed, that there is a time for play and a time for sleep, I am painfully aware of my hypocrisy. But that hypocrisy is not just between me and my God. There are rare times when one of my kids do catch me still on the computer at 1 AM, 2 AM, and that obviously confuses them should they have the mind to look at the clock and recall what I said earlier about bedtime. Those are just the many lapses pertaining to my own bedtime. What about lapses in keeping my temper in check?
When I think about it, parenthood scares me spitless, but it also humbles me to think that God would grant me this awesome responsibility -- to raise up children. But there is no need for despair, because God is reasonable and wise. Looking at my physical surroundings and even my own body, one has to admit that we who are given life are given the means to maintain it and to thrive in it. So, too, does he provide us with the means to maintain and thrive in a moral life. In the first place, we have our conscience and our reason. Second, he gives us his Son, by whose grace we are justified and made partakers of his divine life -- what we call a state of sanctifying grace. And this state of grace is of itself nourishing, the means by which we can grow in holiness, provided we do nothing to compromise it. As for that, if we think of sanctifying grace as oxygen, we compromise it by refusing to breathe, or by strangling ourselves or by wrapping our heads with a plastic bag.
So there is reason to hope, too, because the grace of God is more than sufficient, always. But it still scares me spitless, sometimes. But it's a good thing to be in-between those two: the hope and the fear and trembling.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Three months in Toronto and not a nun In sight

Some friends wonder why they haven't seen a single nun in Toronto, so far. They have been to the church of Our Lady of Lourdes on Sundays as well as in other days, because it is beautiful they say, but not a nun in sight. Why is this significant? Well, where we (my friends and I) come from, you can't go to Church on Sundays or even walk around the city proper on most weekdays without seeing a nun. They're visible. They're part of the visible Christian identity of the Philippines. Which is why it is sad that many nuns now go around without wearing habits. Not these nuns, of course, but it would be nice if there was more visibility. If the Church has no visibility and no opinions to share then it is not the Church that Christ established to be a sign to the nations, a city built on top of a hill, salt of the earth and leaven for the world. I'm not saying that visibility and opinion-sharing is everything that the Church should have, but it certainly is one of them. I am not pushing for visibility over substance, but visibility and substance. As with many other things, it is not either/or.

"Why Do Some Fairies Have Glasses"

My son asks an interesting question. Why do some of the fairies in the video he was watching have glasses? You'd think that, with all that vaunted magic of theirs, they could have magicked their nearsightedness away. In fact, there are many cases where you can ask why X, despite so much Y, still suffers from Z. The rich are still lonely, the powerful are still anxious, the famous are still insecure. Inconsistency bites, doesn't it?

Friday, December 02, 2005

"No Blood for Oil"

The Curt Jester covering this story. It's not what you think.

It's Not About Who Doesn't Get In

Mark Shea, fave author/blogger/sometimes-mentor, makes the case that the Church and the sacraments are not about keeping people out. It is perfectly true that many Catholics might entertain such a mistaken notion. I suppose it's human nature to extend "who gets in" to "therefore, so and so won't get in because ...." But wasn't it St. Paul who left room for people who don't get to hear the gospel but have should be able to discern God through his creation and through natural law that is discernable even to them? There will always be some who are "invincibly ignorant" of the Lord. Why focus on where they will go? Focus instead on inviting everyone into the kingdom! The Church militant is the city built on top of a hill, a sign to the nations (which requires visible unity, I might add, not visible division), a key instrument of the Lord to reach out to the world, inviting them into his family, his kingdom. They should be enticed to "taste and see the goodness of the Lord" for themselves, in the sacraments, in the written Word of God, in the mostly Blessed Sacrament, Jesus Christ himself. What the nations should first notice about this city is its light, not the height and impossible strength of its walls. Drawing near, they should marvel at the joy and love evident among its citizens, not their shrill arguments. Like pagan Rome of old, they should marvel and say "See how these Christians love each other!"

Thursday, December 01, 2005

From Tonight's Vespers (Evening Prayer)

Psalm 29 (30)
Thanksgiving for rescue from death
Lord, I will give you all praise, for you have rescued me and not let my foes triumph over me. My Lord God, I cried to you and you healed me. Lord, you led my soul out from the underworld, gave me life so that I would not sink into the abyss. Sing to the Lord, his holy ones, and proclaim the truth of his holiness. His anger lasts a moment, but his favour for a lifetime. At night there are tears, but in the morning, joy. Once I was secure. I said, “I will never be shaken”. Lord, by your favour you had given me strength, set me high; but then you turned your face from me and I was shaken. I cried to you, Lord, and prayed to my God. “What use is my life, when I sink into decay? Will dust proclaim you, or make known your faithfulness?” The Lord heard and took pity on me. The Lord became my helper. You have turned my weeping into dancing, torn off my sackcloth and clothed me in joy, It is my glory to sing to you and never cease: Lord, my God, I will proclaim your goodness for ever. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.