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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Hope for unity

This is a good sign of hope. No one can claim that it will be easy, but, if I may borrow the words in an entirely new context: Deus volt! God wills it indeed, for Jesus our King prayed in earnest, "that they may be one, as you [the Father] and I are one." Why does the Church need to be one and visible? Because the Lord wants the nations to have a sign of hope, that city built on top of a hill that everyone may see. That lamp that must not be hidden under a basket, but standing on a pedestal for all to see. Because a visible and visibly one, holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church might really go a long way in helping the world find peace. And let no Christian claim that it is impossible. The prayers of a righteous man -- and Christ is most righteous -- are most powerful. Add to that: he is King! If he wants it, who are we to go against it?

What a delightful read

Nothing like common sense to refresh one's mind, assailed as it may be in this modern age by ultra-feminism and political correctness. I love my missus, and yes, I do enjoy the feeling of ownership when she is referred to as Mrs. Tan. Selfish? Yes, most certainly, and fierecely protective of any threat to take her away from me. She is, after all, my better half. She is mine and I am hers and we are one.

The Light of Orthodoxy flickers

Not just in Turkey, per se, since this is Constantinople (Istanbul), the New Rome which is the home of the See holding a place of honor second only to that of Rome. Even today, this is where the leaders of Orthodoxy, her bishops and patriarchs, have studied and attained to their calling. Dr. Robert Moynihan reports just how dire the situation is, and how unexpected. We didn't think they had such open, legal and agressive discrimination against Christians in Turkey. Pray for the Orthodox! Veni, Sancte Spiritus! Veni!

Meet the new leader of the "noble Americans"

Does this mean that Americans now have a "shadow government" to balance its duly elected officials? It will be interesting to see how many "noble Americans" will be swayed by the Iranian president, who obviously has nothing but the deepest and most genuine concern for Americans and Iraqis at heart. Yeah. Right. Then again, despite the obvious love for the Democrats that Islamists have (and the obvious hatred towards the Republicans), many American voters did swing towards the Democratic party in their recent elections. Although, thankfully, many of those Democrats newly elected are conservatives, too. But I wonder how nervous they were, or should be, when they vote for the party that was publicly preferred (and campaigned for!) by some Islamist leaders, who have sworn to the destruction of the American way of life (and American lives). Hmm..

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Council of Ephesus

I just thought I'd mention it, since Papa Benedict will be visiting Ephesus during his journey to Turkey. This trip of his can really teach us much about history. The Council, held in AD 431, debated the Nestorian heresy which was contested by Nestorius, Bishop of Constantinople (modern day Turkey) and St. Cyril, Patriarch of Alexandria. The heresy of Nestorius, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, is not difficult to define,

far as words are concerned: Mary did not bring forth the Godhead as such (true) nor the Word of God (false), but the organ, the temple of the Godhead. The man Jesus Christ is this temple, "the animated purple of the King", as he expresses it in a passage of sustained eloquence. The Incarnate God did not suffer nor die, but raised up from the dead him in whom He was incarnate. The Word and the Man are to be worshipped together, and he adds: dia ton phorounta ton phoroumenon sebo (Through Him that bears I worship Him Who is borne). If St. Paul speaks of the Lord of Glory being crucified, he means the man by "the Lord of Glory". There are two natures, he says, and one person; but the two natures are regularly spoken of as though they were two persons, and the sayings of Scripture about Christ are to be appropriated some of the Man, some to the Word. If Mary is called the Mother of God, she will be made into a goddess, and the Gentiles will be scandalized.

As it turns out, Nestorius' doctrines meant well. He was reacting to the vagueness and at times heterodoxy of Christology as it was faintly understood back then. But we note how even an eloquent theologian and bishop can get things wrong, no matter how well meaning. It's a daunting responsibility, being an apostle/bishop, and one hopes that such a one has really got the charism of teaching, wisdom, knowledge, and the true ordination of episcopal authority. The consequences are too awful to contemplate.

Philippine Congress will discuss the proposed contraceptive, abortive and depopulation act

I received this plea for prayers via SMS: the Philippine Congress interpellates House Bill 3773 this week. Symptoms of lobbying from overseas (perhaps from the UN and Planned Parenthood sponsors?). Fertility rates have been on a linear decline in the last 45 years, and they're still not satisfied. This Bill has a nasty bite: "any person who shall engage in willful disinformation with respect to reproductive health care and rights or the provisions of this Act or cause such disinformation" are threatened with jail time.Critics believe this clause to be a trap, lulling lawmakers to remove this particular clause while retaining the rest of it. But the entire bill is based on lies. It seeks to enshrine into law that contraception and abortion are healthy. No mention of fatal complications and cancer which are proven to be caused by them. It seeks to enshrine into law that the Philippines must reduce its population further. No mention of the fact that countries like Japan (with a larger population at present) are seriously worried about their declining population, causing closures of businesses, and economic and cultural decline, not to mention loss of tax revenues for nation-building.

We need prayers. Please pray for the Philippines and her lawmakers.

"We are not trained to kill."

Found this startling report from Prolife Philippines:

  PORTLAND, May 23, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A new study shows that the psychological effects of "helping patients to die" can be severe for doctors participating in euthanasia and physician assisted suicide (PAS). The report by the group Physicians for Compassionate Care Education Foundation (PCCEF) gleans data from a number of sources articles in independent medical journals, legislative investigations and the public press.

The study is among the first of its kind and says the effects on doctors of the inversion of their traditional medical function can be "substantial".

That elusive male contraceptive

BBC news reports that they are still at it, though. Some gems:

  • Fertility experts welcomed the work, saying it could mean couples could share contraceptive responsibility.
    -- Contraceptive responsibility as against parental responsibility. Nice.
  • "For women, it would be another form of liberation."
    -- No, it would be another form of exploitation -- of women.
  • "There is a need for something that men can take."
    -- Yes, they can take responsibility and use their will and reason. We're men, not beasts.

There's this sense of urgency in this field of research, because, you know, we're sexual animals, completely out of control, always fertile, the whole fertility cycle thing is a myth, and the evolution of man has not yet gotten rid of the reproduction side-effect. Until then, science holds the key to fruitless sex. Ah yes, science: pouring on more tax dollars to fund research into the ultimate pursuit: sexual pleasure!

No wonder entire cultures are in danger of becoming self-extinguished!

A little poison a day

will still kill you. So the only recourse to safety for heavy smokers is to quit. The philosophy is simple: half the amount of poison is still poison. Particularly since the onset of cancer does not remain small for very long. It expands.

Now why won't people use the same philosophy and science elsewhere? Surely everyone can appreciate that a minor contraction of HIV virus is still enough to kill you? How about hepatitis? Same thing, right? So how come people still risk, and advocate to risk, the contraction of HIV and STDs using condoms that do not and cannot guarantee protection 100%? What, not willing to gamble on the 3-14% risk? You betcha.

So what about finding a better way to contain the risk? There already is. The QUIT SMOKING equivalent to STDs is called chastity. Sex only with your spouse. Assuming good health, and neither of you have been promiscuous, then you should be STD free. Of course, if one already has HIV, then QUIT means QUIT, doesn't it? Otherwise, where's the love in the loving act if it means a death sentence for the spouse?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Pope's trip to Turkey

Prayers for his safety, and the success of his mission, and his intentions for the trip, are gratefully solicited -- despite mounting opposition (of varying natures) within Turkey. Beyond the anxiety elicited by such fuss being kicked up there, the article linked is also fascinating for its mention of names with ancient rings to them. The city of Ephesus. The Armenians, Chaldeans, Maronites, all eastern rite Catholics. What a wonderful trip this could be, connecting with our past like that. Reaching back 2000 years. How rich is the history of the Church!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

A prest defends the charism of celibacy

Refreshing to see this public defense, whereas what we usually see in the media are the attacks on this great gift of the Holy Spirit. We are all called and gifted, but Christ does not ask the same service from all of us, just as the Holy Spirit does not grant us the same gifts. Is the ministerial priesthood the only means to do so? Not by a long shot. We are all called to the common priesthood, but we need not all administer the sacraments, nor are we all called to lead communities.

St. Paul's teachings on the Church

Papa Benedict gives the best summary I've read of the great apostle's thoughts on what the Church is. This is a must-read.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Pray for Somalia

as flood waters and disease continue to devastate.

Perversion of mercy

A zoo routinely poisons lion cubs and sells them to taxidermist because there aren't enough resources to sustain them. I can imagine a great deal of horror among people who read about this. Surely they can be adopted by other zoos? Surely they can raise funds? Now if only the same people would feel the same way about aborted children. I remember the public outrage when videos of slaughtered seals were broadcast in the news, occuring regularly, I think, in that part of the world. It's a pity that the same sort of outrage is not directed at those who cull our unborn young. When videos or pictures of the abortion are released, the outrage is directed instead at those who would be so insensitive as to show them to the world. It is as if they are saying "we would rather not see how we massacre our unborn young, thank you."

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Advanced Book Recommendation: The Tide is Turning Towards Catholicism

Do I really believe in this development? It is probably not happening everywhere, but I think it is happening in more places than one would expect. And not because of blind conversion or submission, but by prayerfully and carefully reasoned consideration. Let the book give you the specifics. David Hartline (of the Catholic Report) is a highly-recommended writer whom, I think, is truly aware of all events and developments happening around the Catholic world. The book's release is set for early December. For advanced orders call 1 800 932 3826 or cathsales@tds.net

Sunday, November 19, 2006

"the visible unity of the Church.”

That is "the aim of the ecumenical movement [that] remains unchanged" says Papa Benedict. I think that this is at the core of how we must understand the Lord's fervent prayer "that they may be one" in John 17. In the few conversations I've had with Protestants, I get the feeling that they'll only go so far, reluctantly, as to concede that visible unity is a good thing, but they'll be one step short and say that the Lord surely did not mean that it would happen on earth. It isn't possible, after all, given how frail we are.

What a lack of confidence in the God who saves, and a betrayal of the mission of the Church, and her establishment by Christ to provide the unbelieving world with a sign, a city built on a hill, a means to sanctify the whole world.

And so pride wins. Or perhaps despair. Or perhaps a lack of faith. Perhaps all three, but it usually gives me the impression that we just don't seem to have enough trust. Trust the Holy Spirit! We must acknowledge that what is impossible for us is very possible for God. After all, we who have been reborn of water and Spirit are no longer offspring of sin but offspring of holiness.

Illness in the family

My son Patrick has chickenpox, and so three other people, who have never had chickenpox, are likely to contract it: myself, Justin and Francis. Trix has had it, so we can at least be thankful that someone can take care of groceries and all that. Illness in this family always brings to my mind the responsibilities we have to people around us, especially our own family.

This generation's ideology and worship of personal choice in everything has always bothered me because its proponents are blind. They do not see that their personal choices are not truly so personal. Take smoking, for example. Smokers love to point out that it is their personal choice to smoke, and endanger their health. I can't believe they didn't get the memo about second-hand smoke that kills their infant children, their workmates, and even people who hang around the train platforms where they puff away as they all wait for the next train. It's no different from moral diseases that we take up on ourselves. It appears personal, but the collateral damage can be catastrophic -- except that the initiators are more caught up with their own situations, becoming oblivious to the people around them who suffer for or with them.

In my family, any debilitation I suffer -- moral, spiritual or physical -- will impact my family. I'd be really stupid to think otherwise. It's hard to believe that people entertain such wishful thinking -- both for themselves or for their loved ones whom, they say, should be given the free choice. This is particularly sad to see among parents who leave their children without any guidance whatsoever. It's their choice, they say, and so their children grow up knowing only that they are entitled to their choices, unaware of what distinguishes a smart choice from a dumb one. One of my heroes, Ninoy Aquino, once said that this generation was of people who are well aware of their rights but have no understanding of their duties.

It's all choice, no responsibility. It is chaos. And if it is not accompanied by an informed conscience and an appreciation of consequences, then it can be summed up in one word: stupidity.

Unforeseen problems with therapeutic cloning

Apart from the basic objections one must have to therapeutic cloning, which derives from the sanctity of human life from the moment of conception, there's a further problem when the clones are NOT destroyed. We are mostly conscious now of the situation arising from embryos cloned and destroyed to harvest embryonic stem cells. It would mean creating human beings for the sole purpose of sacrificing their lives for the sake of research. It would mean putting billions of $$ into research that happens to promise very little, and the evidence suggests that it is totally futile: zero successful treatments so far, which is in stark contract with adult and cord blood stem cell research having already resulted in 72 successful human treatments.

No, there's more to it than that. We proclaim that human embryonic life is precious human life, and that includes cloned embryos. Regardless of their origins, cloned embryos are human embryos, even if they were derived from non-human oocytes. What? Note that I'm talking about cloned embryos that are 99% human, which appears to be the case with clones derived from human and non-human oocytes. Why? Because they've removed the DNA from the non-human oocytes and put human DNA in it instead. The result? Not a 100% human being but a being with 100% human DNA. Sounds very human.

Now since we claim that all human embryos are precious human beings, then so are these chimeras. We protest at cloning that creates embryos with the one aim of creating organ raw material (and they are destroyed in the process). Once those embryos are created, we must protest at their destruction. Assuming that scientists capitulate, what do we do with the chimeras? Implant them into surrogate wombs? I suppose that is the logical conclusion, and then we give birth to living, breathing chimeras. How horrible! many would say. But I can't see any other way through this dilemma. Once they're created, it would be murder to destroy them. And that might just be the trap that enemies of life might lay for defenders of human life. They would expect many of us to compromise in this situation and prefer to destroy the chimeras, because, you know, they're not natural. But what would God expect us to do? Here is a new class of the most marginalized, the least of our brethren.

I'm reminded of the story of creation in David Eddings' Belgariad. The children of Ul go to their father-God, asking, I seem to remember, to destroy the creatures that they reject because of their unseemly appearances. And Ul tells them to grow up, and take responsibility. Once made, they must not and cannot be unmade. The young gods are stubborn, and drive the unseemly beings from their midst. In the end, of course, Ul, in compassion, eventually adopts these unseemly beings as his children and subjects.

There are sadly too many Catholics and Christians who consented to the rationalization for therapeutic cloning, and perhaps even clones involving non-human oocytes. They do not realize that, once made, they become a responsibility of all of humankind. Their creation occurs, and cannot be erased in history. Centuries from now, a more enlightened and civilized society will study our history and shake their heads in bewilderment at the wanton irresponsibility of our sadly unenlightened generation. It is a generation where anything goes, perception trumps truth, and subjective goals matter more than objective sensibilities.

Of course, this could be no more than paranoia. Perhaps chimeras can never be created. Evidence suggests, however, that they can create these cloned embryos, only that they will have to go through hundreds of embryos before they can find one to live long enough to harvest embryonic stem cells from. The death toll will be catastrophic and the fury of heaven and our descendants will be more than we can bear. And so the so-called enlightened among us prefer to close their eyes, stop up their ears, and refuse to see, and to hear.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Is this disinformation, or what?

Papa Benedict is reviewing the Church position on condoms? My conclusion is that this is at least misinformation. The same sort of story was circulated April 2006, which turned out to be just the musings of Italian Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini. The Vatican's Pontifical Council for Health and Pastoral Care, presided by Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán, responded, reiterating the same position: no to condoms even in the face of the AIDS crisis. Condoms are not the answer to AIDS. It is not unprotected sex that causes AIDS: it's uncontrolled sex with multiple partners. If you have AIDS, then why would you risk infecting your husband or wife, whom you profess to love? After all, condoms can fail up to 75% of the time, and even when used properly, can still fail due to manufacturing defects, which allows for up to 0.6%. 0.6% is a small number, but will you actually gamble with your spouse's life? Is that love?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Prayers for Ian Frazier, MP Linda Kirk and the whole Australian Senate

The debates are still intense and the vote is uncertain. MPs like Linda Kirk who are decided in supporting "therapeutic" cloning must realize to two things:

Perhaps they are blinded by ignorance as well as a utilitarian view of human life. Perhaps they are deceived. Whatever the case may be, they need prayers. For what they decide may well become law, and what is legal often becomes mistaken for something that is good, and therefore to be encouraged and advocated. One generation from then, we will find our children looking at their aged and disabled parents, perhaps wondering why we should not also be harvested or otherwise disposed of "for the greater good".

Election deception

After explaining the words of Jadis the witch to Digory after the latter had picked the fruit for Aslan (The Magician's Nephew, "An Unexpected Meeting"), my 5-year-old asked me: "can bad guys pretend to be good?", referring to Jadis. My answer was a most emphatic "oh, yes!" I might have pointed out that it is most rampant during election time, but I didn't want to complicate it for him. He'll find out soon enough, when he's old enough to are about voting. Why, it's all the rage in politics.

[Thanks to the American Papist for pointing out a good example.]

My house of cards theory

It's perfectly consistent in this modern age of quick fixes. There's a leak? Plug the hole. There are pests in the house? Just leave some poison for them. Back pain? Pain reliever! Muscle pain? Pain reliever! Why, there seems to be a quick fix for everything. We have long realized, however, that quick fixes bring in new problems. The problem is that we're so stubborn that we just design new quick fixes on top of the prior quick fixes. The result being a house of cards.

And here's the latest thread of quick fixes: newborn babies have serious disabilities? Just kill em: so say members of a British medical college. Yet doctors are supposed to be scientists, so I'm wondering why they're not digging deep enough. Why are babies becoming increasingly disabled? Surely it's not the unbelievable smoking (or second-hand smoke) that mothers are subjected to, thanks to evil advertising. Surely it's not the poorly thought-out decision by more women to postpone pregnancy until they are in their late 30s, all the while assured by society and doctors that everything will be alright. Surely it's not the poor diet.

But surely there's a better solution than covering up the mess by killing the babies. Families with disabled children are threatened with emotional and financial hardship, true. But is it then just to foist the burden -- by termination -- on the disabled child?

Truly, this is modernism's culture of death: solving society's ills, one murder at a time.

[Link found via Mark Shea's blog. The American Papist also blogged on this.]

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The state of Christian and western demography

No, I'm not suggesting that it's them versus us. The problem would be us -- or, at least, the society around us. I'm an ethnic Chinese, native Filipino, Australian permanent resident. I have no problems with offspring. I already have three and would not mind more (but methinks God has other plans). My brothers and sisters have between two to four children, too. So do most of my cousins. And Melbourne is not doing so badly in that department either. But the greater Australian society, and the rest of the British Empire (and European culture) that it is part of -- that's another story. And the story is grim.

Supporting diversity in faiths and ideology -- except for Christianity

So what's new?

So these people are irrational beings, incapable of containing their lust in order to save their lives?

How scientific is this? The WHO report blames the Vatican and US aid policies for the onset of sexually transmitted diseases. Strange that this involves countries that are only about 4% Catholic (from what I remember). And even if they were entirely Catholic, one would have to wonder just how Catholic they were to have been engaging in promiscuity with multiple partners -- something which the Catholic Church teaches to be unacceptable behavior? How does the Catholic Church add to the problem then? Unless, of course, WHO is suggesting that people are really beasts who cannot help but have promiscuous sex whenever the irresistible need strikes them? How dare the Catholic Church teach otherwise!

Where does abortion end and murder begin?

That very hazy line between abortion and murder is sure hard to pin down. Probably because the line doesn't exist. This grizzly case is shaping up as a homicide, and completely preventable. So the abortion "failed" and the baby was born alive. Once delivered alive, the baby is no longer the subject of abortion, because it is already a separate medical patient. But, really, when they see what they're dealing with, how can they still insist that abortion is about a bunch of cells, rightfully tissues of the mother? How can they deny that the subject of abortion is not a woman's body alone but a mother's life and her child's life? How can they still deny that what they're really doing is ending the life of another person?

It's called Teaching Authority

Bishop Morlino wants his message to reach his constituents to the letter. So he's basically telling his priests to play his recorded message for the people -- or else! This sort of behavior will make many people cringe, shake their heads or say nasty things about authoritarianism. On the other hand, we have St. Paul's words to St. Timothy about how it is to be a bishop, how selective he must be about who to lay hands on to ordain as another bishop, and that he is to wield his authority as bishop when necessary. We have St. Paul's own example in his letters on how tough he can be as bishop. Christ told his disciples: he who hears you, hears me -- and he might as well have said, "if they're not hearing you, they're not hearing me!" We might take it for granted that both the bishop and his priests are disciples of Christ. We must never forget, however, that this was spoken to the Twelve, and it is their successors, the bishops -- episkopos -- who are overseers and teachers of the faith, and that priests -- presbyteros (I think) -- must always -- always -- work with their bishops. Why? Not because bishops are smarter. Not because priests know less. It is simply because the bishops were ordained to their role as teachers. Their authority does not come from their abilities -- we know how imperfect even the Twelve were. The authority is granted to them, so it comes from the one who granted the authority: Jesus Christ. If they fail in their teaching responsibilities, it is Christ who will deal severely with them (think millstone around their necks). However, if priests are to contradict those teaching responsibilities.. I shudder to think what Christ would say to these stumbling blocks...

Not so wise words of wisdom

We often take it for granted that words that look wise are truly wise, but that's not always the case. And such words lacking in the wisdom they seem to have can be dangerous. For example, today I saw this poster: It isn't the destination that counts: it's the journey. Sounds nice but something is wrong. It is temporal, and celebrates the moment. It is mortal, denying what is immortal. It is relativistic, saying nothing about what is objective. At its core is a reversal that turns delayed gratification on its head. It also turns logic on its head, because it suggests that the the journey has nothing to do with the final destination. It is not necessary to diminish the value of the destination in order to put some value to the experience of the journey. How we get there is as important as where we got to -- but not more so.

Jewish praise of the Latin Mass

Barbara kay, Jewish writer for the National Post, makes a positive comment about the Latin Mass, and I think about liturgy, in broad terms. This gem stuck with me:


But the ancient language and music of the liturgy, which unite the individual with his fellows in the sanctuary's space, also unite the individual with the eternal idea of peoplehood -- those who came before and who will come after -- in time.

What I find especially solid about Catholic liturgy and the Catholic Faith as a whole is that it's not only about us. Being ancient isn't about the number of years behind us: it's about the totality of lives around us. The men and women who came before us are still here. They are the cloud of witnesses whose prayers in the presence of God in Heaven constantly cover us, because, truly, they are the Church with us. They are not bygones. That's catholic in the truly universal sense: from every place and every culture, and from every point in time. Ditching ancient liturgy simply because they supposedly bore us is getting it all wrong. We must connect our liturgy now with the liturgy of yesterday, because the liturgy of yesterday is not meant to be temporal. Liturgy to the eternal God should likewise be eternal. Whatever changes we make to the liturgy now must not repudiate the past, for the past must never leave us.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Abortion, anytime

A clinic in Barcelona performs abortions up to the last minute -- even at the third trimester, past the sevent month. This is when the child is already viable, meaning that the baby can be delivered safely. And they falsify documents just so they comply with the letter of the law. Why does this happen? It appears that medicine is losing its conscience. It is becoming a science without soul. There is no morality. If it can be done, if it is desired, it can be done. Lump that together with might is right, folks. This is the false freedom of anything goes -- madness. Human beings have given up their humanity to become beasts.

[Story found via the Catholic Report.]

Murder victim brought it on herself

After all, she was verbally attacking the murderer's gay lifestyle. It was only natural and proper that the murderer defend himself with rape and violence. And naturally, the mainstream media do not have to report about this, since, as the murderer's defense says, the victim brought it onto herself. As supporters of the murderer have apparently said, the victim does not deserve sympathy, and this will hopefully send a clear signal that one's gay lifestyle should never be questioned, under pain of murder. And of course, the real victim is the young murderer, whose lifestyle was threatened so much that he was driven to commit murder. Yeah. Right. What a crazy world we live in.

[Source: CAE]

Something that doesn't exist is better than something that does.. Huh??

Good point here from Dr. Margaret Cottle: how can the secular members of society, who do not believe in an afterlife, point out that people in certain situations are better of dead? That's like admitting that God's existence cannot be disproven and then turning around and saying that God does not exist. Okay.. not so good an analogy. But I just couldn't resist.

All Saint's, All Soul's

Great piece from Mary Kochan at Catholic Exchange about All Soul's Day. A must read.