Universalis, About this blog

Monday, October 22, 2007

Mennonites visit the Vatican for dialogue -- a first!

As the title says, this is a historic event. May the Holy Spirit continue His work of peace among all Christians so that we may be one, as the Lord prayed and as the Father wills.

[News found via The Catholic Report.]

My thanks to Michael Trolly for pointing out that I had used "it" for the Holy Spirit, and so I corrected that to read "His work". And the emphasis works out, too. This is His work, for which we should be grateful and optimistic. We're hopeless with healing old wounds when left alone to ourselves.

Traditional Anglican Communion: Romeward bound?

The title says it all: "Traditional Anglical Communion Petitions Rome for Union" -- "full, corporate, sacramental union." Bless the Lord, for his love endures forever! What a wonderful gift of love to the Lord! It won't be easy for anyone concerned, but the Holy Spirit is a mighty healer.

[News found via The Catholic Report.]

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Barbarians murdering innocents in the Philippines

I can never understand how anyone could consider such acts justified in the name of some revolution: murdering non-combatants in a non-combat zone, if terrorist bombing it was (and the findings suggest that it was). Please pray for the Philippines!

Update: Appears to have been an accidental gas explosion. That'll teach me.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

In hope we have been saved

Over at the Curt Jester's blog, Jeff Miller posts on the Holy Father's recently completed encyclical, Spe Salvi -- Saved by Hope. I made the following comment, which I would now like to share with anyone who might visit:

I love the strategy that Papa Benedict is apparently taking. From the perspective of dialogue with Protestants, rather than clashing head-on concerning Sola Fide, his first encyclical is about love. And who can argue with that, being the chief virtue? Now he goes on to write about hope, and again, that was never the issue with the Protestants. So, from a perspective of dialogue, he appears to be truly emphasizing what unites us first and foremost. :-)

Also, I would hazard a proposition that, armed with a right understanding of love and hope to begin with, perhaps we can disarm the unwarranted vitriol among some Protestants on the principle of Sola Fide?

One could .. um.. hope. :-)

Friday, October 12, 2007

On war and tears

My wife and I recently watched the anime Graveyard of the Fireflies on DVD, a 1988 war anime movie, which, as one comment in IMDB says, is "the best movie you will never want to see again." I have to agree with what I think is a fierce assertion as to this movie's power. Days after, the thought of what the lead characters underwent still breaks my heart. And I must remind myself, moreover, that millions all over the world have gone through and continue to experience much of the same devestation.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

In today's Gospel reading (Luke 10:38-42), the Lord points out to Martha that her sister Mary had chosen the better part: total abandonment to adoring and contemplating the face of God, who is Jesus Christ. The sermon below, which comes from DailyGospel.org, comes straight to the point about this: "The one, necessary thing is that you recognise your weakness and frailty. You can claim nothing of yourself; of yourself you are nothing." In some other text that I cannot now recall, Golgotha was where the Lord showed us how he emptied himself completely, absolutely abandoned to his death on the cross, so that he may then be filled with absolute glory at his rising. This, too, we are called to do, to renounce ourselves and the world and allow ourselves to be emptied out, so that the Father may then fill us up completely, if in stages.

And then.. then we may return to the business of ourselves and the world with a new heart, a new spirit, clean hands, ready to do the work that the Lord set out for us: to love, to serve, and to proclaim the good news to all.

John Tauler (c.1300-1361), Dominican at Strasbourg
Sermon 51

“Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly…, be killed and, on the third day, be raised” (Mt 16,21)

Our Lord said that his disciples were blessed because of what they saw (Lk 10,23). Looking at the matter closely, we ought to be just as blessed as they were since we see Our Lord Jesus Christ more perfectly than disciples such as Saint Peter or Saint John. They only had before their eyes a poor, weak, suffering and mortal man. Whereas, thanks to our holy and precious faith, we have knowledge of a God who is great, worshipful, powerful, Lord of heaven and earth and who made creation out of nothing. In contemplating this our eyes, yes, and our souls find eternal blessedness.

Dear children, great theologians and university doctors debate the question of knowing which is of greater importance and esteem: knowledge or love? We, on the other hand, speak more readily of what the masters of life have to say, since when we reach heaven then shall we see well the truth about everything. Hasn’t Our Lord said: “Only one thing is necessary?” What is this one, necessary thing that is so necessary? The one, necessary thing is that you recognise your weakness and frailty. You can claim nothing of yourself; of yourself you are nothing. And it was on account of this one necessary thing that Our Lord underwent an anguish so great that he sweated blood. It was because we did not want to acknowledge this one thing that the Lord cried out on the cross: “O God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Mt 27,46). Yes indeed, it was necessary that the saviour, our one, necessary thing, should be completely forsaken by all men.

Dear child, let go of everything that I myself and any master could teach: the active life, contemplation, lofty reflections, and study only that one thing necessary in such a way that it will be granted you. Then you will have worked well. This is the reason why Our Lord said: “Mary has chosen the better part,” yes, better than all. Truly, if you could gain it you would have gained everything: not just a part of the good, but all of it.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Faith in the invisible

Yesterday's Gospel reading touched upon the subject of faith, when the disciples ask the Lord to increase their faith. The priest in yesterday's Mass gave us a beautiful story about a man who carried on a conversation every day, sometimes twice each day, with an empty chair in front of him. This chair is reserved for the Lord whom he invites to come around each day just so they can talk. This practice was suggested to him by a friend, and the man, who had previously confessed not knowing how to pray, took to it to his deathbed. One day, he calls his daughter to him, kisses her and hugs her, she goes off and comes back an hour later to find him dead, with his head leaning over to rest on the empty chair.

Our priest ended his story with the assertion that "faith is belief in a God whom one cannot see."

I often find myself amazed at the blindness of militant atheists, those who actively preach against the existence of God. On one hand, in their inability to perceive God, they therefore conclude, with full confidence in their rational analysis, that this proves the non-existence of God. Or base it, perhaps, on the inconsistency among different faiths and religions. To them, they cannot believe in a God that they cannot perceive. On the other hand, they have no trouble believing in phenomena in the physical universe -- even when they cannot perceive them either. Who has ever perceived or grasped in their minds the immensity of matter and energy, dark matter, or their origins? Who has ever perceived or grasped in their minds the electro-chemical inner workings of the human brain and the nervous system? There is much in the physical universe that we know to be true despite our inability to either perceive them or truly understand them. Some atheists have had no problem using the term "mystery" for things that they acknowledge to be unknowable at present. And these same people have blasted religious or secular authorities of past centuries who were oh so wrong about the universe and nature after all.

Science is a lot of good things. It is rigorous, it is based on fact, observation, careful analysis, experiments and logical reasoning. But when science is abused, then we have a problem. Science tells us what and, to some extent, the how of certain phenomena, i.e., the sequence of events that culminate in the observed phenomenon. But Science would not be scientific when it steps out of bounds. It cannot answer why because purpose belongs to an entity, and such an entity -- Jesus Christ who claims to be God, thus the only candidate with physical dimensions and interfaces that can be observed and gathered data from -- they reject. The Church -- who claims to be the body of Christ and thus sharing the same opportunity to gather data from -- they also reject.

So they grasp at straws and step out of bounds. They know enough to use the right instruments and observe the right environments and use the appropriate criteria when it comes to their scientific disciplines. But when they talk about faith, and attempt to use inappropriate instruments, environments and criteria -- that's bad science. They start out with misconceptions and the wrong equipment -- is it any wonder that they find it hard to believe?

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The Lord is glorious in his saints; come let us adore him!

Today the Church celebrates St. Francis of Assisi, whom some consider to be the most Christ-like of the saints in his humility and childlike nature. That invitatory above is from the common for saints, and it struck me as truly most apt for il Poverello, who was a great sinner before he became a great saint. A hedonist who became an ascetic, pretty much. Once worldly who became heavenly. The glory of God shows in this great work of salvation -- which is precisely why the lives of the saints are wonderful spiritual reading for us.

I too am a great sinner, but the Lord's mercy is greater than the greatest sin, and the Lord is glorious in his saints. Come let us adore him! Adeste adoremus!"