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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

"Respect is not free: it must be earned"

That was the huge poster I saw at the bookshop I visited earlier, and the thought occured to me that there's something wrong with it. It is false and it is a corruption. It is the beginning of the end of charity, which should be accorded to everyone -- even our enemies. It begins with a premise that everyone should be accorded with disrespect until respect is earned. That everyone is guilty until proven innocent.

And it is no wonder crimes against persons are rampant, even in developed countries where education is widely available and obtained. Even against the unborn, who have yet to be accorded the opportunity to earn respect by achievement.

It also seems to go against the very grains of logic, for that tenet assumes that everything is false until proven true. If everything is false to begin with, then there is no basis for proving anything to be true. Logic demands a basis that can be universally considered a truth, upon which other truths can be tested. Without such a basis, nothing can be built and everything is futile.

The gift of suffering

It's easy enough to get people to nod their heads when you tell them that every setback can and should be seen as an opportunity. If you speak of holy suffering, however, you might get blank if not incredulous stares instead.

I got sick, underwent surgery, and both opportunities were taken: to address the ailment, and to learn from the experience and better take care of myself. Thanks be to God.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Even less blogging

It has been a very interesting week. I am very much out of sorts and awaiting surgery next week. Nothing life threatening, but quite debilitating. I've taken the opportunity to take stock of how I got here and, as it often happens, have had to reassess choices I've been making. Mea culpa! To neglect one's own health, through lack of sleep in my case, is never a light choice. God is not a genie in a bottle who will grant us healing just because we ask (and how I have asked!). His answers have been much better. It's exactly how my doctor of years ago warned me about my condition. An easy surgery can solve the situation, but that's exactly where I will wind up again if I don't change my lifestyle, e.g., lack of sleep, insufficient water and fiber in my diet. Had God granted me this pass, I would not have been so convinced as I am now that a real change is necessary. God help me, love of comfort still rails against it. But I have removed the online game installation on my computer, which has been the foremost reason for my late hours, resulting in 6 hours of sleep each night, for the last 2 years.

My Evangelical friend cautions me not to think that God is causing this pain. My response is that my own actions have caused this latest setback, but God certainly can use this opportunity to get some sense into me. Praise be to God!

I've also come to realize that not one faculty of my body, not the least, can be neglected. To be a member of a body is not simply to be one of many, but to be part of all. No more than I can ignore the pain and bleeding in this least of my members. Pardon the graphic nature of that last, but it brings to mind the context of my blog: the one body of Christ, with a multitude of members, not all of whom believe, nor understand, what Christ meant about being one. If a Catholic is not anguished by the persecution of Evangelicals in China, or if a Protestant is not anguished by the lot of Catholics in Lebanon, then something is terribly amiss.

I've also used this opportunity to shore up my prayer life, going back to the Liturgy of the Hours, the rosary, and some good spiritual reading. Currently enjoying "Surprised by Joy" by C. S. Lewis. He is a marvel to read! I had forgotten how much I loved true literature, with words that sing and thoughts that provoked deeper reflection.

Lastly, should anyone come by to read this, please spare me your prayers. Intercede for me, that I may receive greater strength and fortitude by the passion of Christ. And spare a prayer, too, for children of my cousin, who were both stricken with Dengue Fever back home. They are recovering, I hear, and we can all pray that all goes well. Finally, please spare a thought for Lebanon and Israel, that Lebanon may finally have peace, which, in my opinion, requires an inner strength that leaves no room for foreign powers to hold sway inside their own country.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Very light blogging lately

.. because we just moved into our new house. Old one, in need of some repairs and lots of cleaning up, but it's a great location, a large piece of land, and there's ample space for the kids to stretch out and play outdoors. Meanwhile, my wife and I can see to unpacking or plain old getting used to the new place. As in every major change in our lives, this one has taught me a lot of things. Especially about how incredible my wife really is! And, ultimately, how the Lord really is amazing! Awesome God indeed! :)

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Embryonic stem cell research 'like Nazi experiment'

Yet another common sense observation about therapeutic cloning and embryonic stem cell research. And yet another news article that forgot to mention something crucial: Adult stem cell successful human treatments: 58. For embryonic stem cells: 0. Here's an article I've found that goes deeper into that. This text from US Congressman Dr. Dave Weldon's speech disabusing lies about embryonic stem cell research is a must-read.

Friday, August 04, 2006

What do we know about the war between Israel and Hezbollah?

Not as much as we think. Here's a few thought-provoking reports collected by Amy Welborn:

  • A Christian from the village of Ain Ebel .. reported that he found Hezbollah fighters setting up a launcher on his rooftop. Hezbollah fighters ignored his pleas to stop and fired the missiles. He immediately gathered his family and fled his home, which was bombed 15 minutes later by an Israeli air strike.
  • Hezbollah has also attempted to stop Christians from fleeing their villages.
  • "Contrary to Western press reports.. 90 percent of Christians, 80 percent of Sunni and 40 percent of Shiites in Lebanon oppose Hezbollah," (Sam) El-Khoury told Christian Solidarity International.
  • CNN "senior international correspondent" Nic Robertson admitted that his anti-Israel report from Beirut on July 18 about civilian casualties in Lebanon, was stage-managed from start to finish by Hizbullah. ... Robertson acknowledged that Hizbullah militants had instructed the CNN camera team where and what to film.

Technologically advanced though we might be in this 21st century, we can be terribly remiss when it comes to gathering information. It all comes from the notion that something published has got to be true. Not so in this generation where truth is often as malleable as putty in the hands of the creative. There has never been a greater need for critical thinking and diligent truth-seeking.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Scripture Tips, Catholic Style

Don't take it from me: take it from an expert. Check out Mark Shea's recent Catholic Exchange articles on Scripture:

And in case you're curious what the official position of the Catholic Church is on Scripture, nothing like an official Church document to do the talking, like the encyclical Dei Verbum (1965), by the late Pope John Paul the Great.

And in case someone neglected to tell you in all your years in a Catholic school or during RCIA, let me point this out from Dei Verbum:

  The sacred synod also earnestly and especially urges all the Christian faithful, especially Religious, to learn by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures the "excellent knowledge of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 3:8). "For ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ."(5) Therefore, they should gladly put themselves in touch with the sacred text itself, whether it be through the liturgy, rich in the divine word, or through devotional reading, or through instructions suitable for the purpose and other aids which, in our time, with approval and active support of the shepherds of the Church, are commendably spread everywhere. And let them remember that prayer should accompany the reading of Sacred Scripture, so that God and man may talk together; for "we speak to Him when we pray; we hear Him when we read the divine saying." (6) 

So what are you waiting for? Tolle et lege!

5. St. Jerome, Commentary on Isaiah, Prol.: PL 24,17. cf. Benedict XV, encyclical "Spiritus Paraclitus:" EB 475-480; Pius XII, encyclical "Divino Afflante Spiritu:" EB 544.
6. St. Ambrose, On the Duties of Ministers I, 20,88: PL l6,50.

Of hidden treasures and the Kingdom of Heaven

An interesting thought about the Gospel readings for today (link via Universalis), from the Lord's parables concerning the Kingdom (Matthew 13:44-46):

Jesus said, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field which someone has found; he hides it again, goes off happy, sells everything he owns and buys the field. ‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls; when he finds one of great value he goes and sells everything he owns and buys it.’

Yes, I'm still talking about the unity of the Church. Again, I believe that the fullness of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church does subsist in the Catholic Church in communion with the Successor of St. Peter. However, I still consider Christendom divided because there are Christians out there who are not in communion with the bishop of Rome. As the Kingdom of Heaven is like that hidden treasure that has been found, or the pearl of great price, I imagine Christendom as a row of neat and well-kept houses in the suburbs, basking in the sunshine with dwellers who live in peace and contentment. In each house is a household that is content with their own hidden treasure or the valuable pearl. Some of them often gaze at the neighboring houses, wondering why the neighbors are so absorbed in their own affairs when they do not have the great treasure, that valuable pearl, which no one else has except them. Others gaze infrequently and do not wonder, being extremely wise (so they believe) in knowing (so they think) that each household owns a valuable pearl of equal value with those of their neighbors.

Something is wrong with both pictures, no?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Catholic and Orthodox Inter-Communion

I found some answers from EWTN. I am allowed by the Church to take Holy Communion from the Orthodox, which makes sense since they do have valid sacraments. However, the Orthodox may not be too thrilled about that, and may refuse. Still, it wouldn't hurt to ask.

There's the other matter concerning our Sunday obligation. The Church will only allow us to go to an Orthodox liturgy instead if it is not possible to attend the Catholic liturgy, e.g., requires travelling an unreasonable distance. Why this rule at all? I don't have any references in front of me, but I assume it's a pastoral matter. Beware the Catholic who favors the Orthodox liturgy over the Latin Rite liturgy -- he may soon find himself converting to Orthodoxy. Not an entirely bad thing, since their sacraments and holy orders are valid, and their theology is mostly identical with ours and certainly not heretical. On the other hand, the Church naturally prefers a formal and full communion with the East, prior to lifting such prohibitions.

Can't wait. :-)