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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI's recent Christmas messages

On Christmas eve, the Holy Father gave a special address to the UK where he said,

  Our thoughts turn back to a moment in history when God's chosen people, the children of Israel, were living in intense expectation.
  They were waiting for the Messiah that God had promised to send and they pictured him as a great leader who would rescue them from foreign domination and restore their freedom.
  God is always faithful to his promises, but he often surprises us in the way he fulfils them.

Full audio and transcription available courtesy of BBC news.

He also gave a Christmas message to Rome and the universal Church, and he began with these words:

  Dear brothers and sisters listening to me here in Rome and throughout the world, I joyfully proclaim the message of Christmas: God became man; he came to dwell among us. God is not distant: he is “Emmanuel”, God-with-us. He is no stranger: he has a face, the face of Jesus.

Read more at The Telegraph

It is amusing what happened when I googled for 'christmas message, pope', where I found these headlines and subtitles from various media sources:

  • Chinese government publication lambasts pope for Christmas remarks..
  • Pope condemns 'oppressors' in Christmas message..
  • Pope's Christmas message admonishes China..
  • Pope urges tolerance in Christmas message..

and so on. Could it be that this is how this went right past many people? How sad, to miss the core of his message for Christmas: the Word became flesh (he repeats that four times).

He ends his address by saying, "Dear brothers and sisters, “the Word became flesh”; he came to dwell among us; he is Emmanuel, the God who became close to us. Together let us contemplate this great mystery of love; let our hearts be filled with the light which shines in the stable of Bethlehem! To everyone, a Merry Christmas!" May it be that this message planted seeds in all who read it in full.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

In pursuit of the perfect Christmas

At the family Christmas vigil a few hours ago, Fr. Michael told us the story of what was to be a perfect Christmas Mass set up by a new parish priest. But there was a mishap involving the children playing Mary and Joseph, and the doll they were carrying to the manger. Despite the priest's consternation, all was well that ended better, for the following day, the sight of the doll in the manger, patched up of its bruising here and there (from the mishap with the hard floor surface), elicited serious reflection from mothers, fathers and children, who realized that they were broken here and there, too. And the fact that God was made flesh, got cut up and seriously bruised along the way to the perfect moment of redemption, was incredible in its simple statement of Hope. Even his beginnings were less than perfect, born as he was in a manger -- the King of Kings!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Full text of Benedict XVI’s address to the Roman Curia

The Professor is in, and there's so much of it to chew on.

Prenatal screening for Down syndrome: genocide?

So says a group of New Zealanders who are calling out the government on policies that can be perceived to encourage abortion of those found in utero to likely suffer from Down syndrome. In highlighting how far this has already gone, they cite "around 90 per cent of these babies in some western countries having their lives terminated in utero."

What is news?

No, that was a rhetorical question. Some people will print whatever they please. (You know, Uncle Diogenes is really good with pithy, funny and insightful. If you like 'em, please support them at Catholic Culture.)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Please support Catholic Answers Radio

Please join their Radio Club (pledge drive ongoing). I have been a Catholic Answers podcast listener for over three years now. Catholic Answers has enriched my faith, they have done so for countless others, and may continue doing so in spreading the good news of Jesus Christ across radio and the Internet. They answer questions, they offer hope and clarity, they give encouragement and support. We can't all be full-time evangelists over radio and Internet media, but we can support those who can. Please support Catholic Answers Live and join their Radio Club.

Also, Catholic Answers provides an online discussion forum and online shop for books, audio CDs, DVDs and a lot of other things. I have several of their quality publications on my shelf.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Had questions for gotquestions

I was checking on the gotquestions.org answer on the difference between the spirit and the soul, and I was bothered by this simple assertion in it that says "humanity is naturally evil". I have sent them questions about this, since it calls to question the God who created humanity. I suggested using St. Paul's assertion that sin came into the world through one man, and sin is the taint of evil on humanity. My point was that "it is important to distinguish humanity *as God intends* that to be, and *post-fall* humanity, which we are living with today. I believe that we cannot use "post-fall" and "naturally" in the same sentence because post-fall is *not* the human nature that God created. Getting this wrong would obscure the horrible reality of sin. It would also obscure the glorious hope we have in the salvation won for us at great cost on the cross."

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

To my sons who are distracted at Mass

.. from time to time at least, I must remind them that many who start out as Catholics later claim that they never got anything out of the Church. And I am reminded of this passage: We piped to you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn. (Mt 11:17). There is a first, perhaps a second reading, plus the Psalms and a Gospel reading at each Mass. The prayers in the Mass themselves are shot through with Scriptural passages, in addition to beautiful articulation of the faith from the Church Fathers and the saints. John 6 and the Last Supper come alive at the Eucharist, and the sacrifice in Calvary becomes present to us, and of course we are nourished with the Bread of Life. Even the chapel itself is an evangelization in colors, shades and depictions of our Christian heritage.

So, to my sons, and all who likewise find the Mass at times unbearably uneventful: could it be that sometimes at least, the Mass would be fruitful indeed if you were to pay a bit more attention to it? Lest you miss the miraculous: ecce homo, an ordinary carpenter, the Son of God just the same.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Immaculate Conception

As lucid a discussion as I can ever find in such a short space. It is a must-read for all, especially those who *think* they know what it's about (as I did!).

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Just to confuse those who are already and really confused about Catholicism

That's from the commemorative Mass of St. Andrew Dung Lac and companions, martyrs. The entrance antiphon says "We should glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. For to us who are saved the word of the cross is the power of God."
Now 1 Cor 1:18 says "For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." So why the discrepancy?
Because the Church reads and teaches Scriptures in a more holistic manner. For example, the analogy of faith, understood in Catholicism, understands that Scriptures is a whole, and so its parts must be understood in light of all the deposit of faith. The New Testament actually tells us at times that we who are baptized are saved, that we are being saved, and that we can hope for that Day when we will be saved! St. Peter wrote, "baptism now saves you" (1 Peter 3:21), by the grace of God, but the story does not end there, because concupiscence remains. And so, again by God's grace, we are being saved throughout our lives through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. If that work were to stop, through our own fault, not only would we stop growing in holiness, there is a real danger that we would fall from grace, as that in itself, in mortal sin, stops this great work until we reconcile with God. And finally, there is the future when we will be saved, if we endure and remain faithful to God.
So why did the antiphon speak of "we who are saved"? I think it is because that statement is true as well as being an inspiration to confident thanksgiving, for thanksgiving -- the eucharist, who is Jesus Christ himself -- should be the source and summit of our Christian life.