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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Today is the feast of Holy Innocents

The Holy Innocents (from aug.edu)What would drive a king to order the slaughter of all male toddlers two years and under across a number of districts? What would drive his soldiers to carry out the deed amidst the objections and wailing of the mothers and fathers who are unable to stop the massacre? What did the bystanders do? What was going through their minds?
   And then one would ask: was God also a bystander? How could he let this happen? This is a tough one, but the answer can be as simple as this: it is his will that Herod, those soldiers, the parents of the victims and the other witnesses should have the freedom to act as they choose. They were, after all, made in his image and likeness, and so they had the power of their intellect as well as conscience, enough to know that murder was wrong. For God to deny Herod and the soldiers free will is to obliterate them as human beings. And since all human beings are capable of wrongdoing at various points in their lives, then the implications are not so limited as one might think.
    The first reading from St. John's first letter tells us that we all sin from time to time. He also tells us that in God there is no darkness. How then do we achieve communion with him if there is darkness in us each time we sin? He will not obliterate us, but he will forgive our sins. He provided the sacrifice in his mercy and love: Jesus Christ, the lamb of God. Through him, our sins can be forgiven if we acknowledge them. Even Herod could have been forgiven. As for the holy innocents, they are not abandoned to their deaths, for there is eternal life in heaven, and these innocents cannot have committed sin at that age.
    But today, a slaughter of innocent continues, as this reflection points out. What would drive fathers and mothers to abort their own child, or allow that of their grandchild, nephew, or niece? What would drive legislators to advocate for more abortions, locally and internationally, to the tune of over 40 million annually across the world? What would drive a doctor, sworn to provide healing and to do no harm, to perform the abortion despite knowing that the child is viable, or the very simple fact that even the embryo at day one is its own distinct being? What did bystanders do? What was going through their minds at what was occurring or about to occur?
    Today is the feast of Holy Innocents. Let us pray for an end to the slaughter, not by legislation, not by obliterating our free will, but primarily the conversion of our hearts, through Jesus Christ, our sacrifice and advocate.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Naming of John the Baptist

From today's readings (Lk 1:57-66): The father asked for a writing tablet and wrote, ‘His name is John.’ .. At that instant his power of speech returned and he spoke and praised God. All their neighbours were filled with awe and the whole affair was talked about throughout the hill country of Judaea. All those who heard of it treasured it in their hearts. ‘What will this child turn out to be?’ they wondered. And indeed the hand of the Lord was with him.
Circumcision of John the Baptist, engraving by Otto Elliger (source: Pitts Theology Library)    At the naming of John, Zechariah regained his speech. What's in a name? Isn't a name just a label, just another word? In our faith that revolves around the Word who is the Son of God, words are meaningful. And this name was given by God: .. your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. (Lk 1:13). When anointed by God, the name perhaps bears more than just a label. I think it carries with it a sending -- a mission. For John: And he will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Eli'jah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared. (Lk 1:16-17)
   I have a name given to me at baptism, when I was born again of water and Spirit: Christ. "Through Isaac shall your descendants be named." .. the children of the promise are reckoned as descendants. (Rom 9:7). I have a three-fold mission, too: priest, prophet and king. As prophet, I must also turn hearts to the Lord, to prepare a way for the Lord into the hearts of my family and all whom I may reach as the Lord gives opportunity.
   And you, who were baptised into Christ, that also is your name, and behind it is the Christian mission. Take it up, and like John, the hand of the Lord will be with you.
Lord, make me know your ways.
  Lord, teach me your paths.
Make me walk in your truth, and teach me:
  for you are God my saviour.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Magnificat and the greatness of the Lord

Today's Gospel is almost entirely the Magnificat, that canticle of the Blessed Mother that rejoices in God's grace and mercy.
  That the Blessed Mother speaks of God routing "the proud of heart" is probably key in this canticle, as such disposition seems unlikely to elicit piety, whereas this canticle precisely shows the humility of the Blessed Mother -- immediately after the praises that St Elizabeth lavishes upon "the mother of my Lord" who is "blessed among women". After the unthinkable grace of God "inclining the heavens to come down" and save us as one of our own, nothing else but humility and rejoicing is proper! As the Blessed Mother is our perfect model on the receiving end of God's salvation, our lives should be the Magnificat sung in our every act!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mary's faith and Elizabeth's rejoicing

Mama Mary visits St Elizabeth, who rejoices at the honour of the visit from the mother of the Lord (graphic from wellsprings.com.au) Why was Elizabeth so filled with joy at Mary's greeting? Because the Holy Spirit filled her with joy. That passage (Lk 1:39-45) is filled with words like blessed, leapt for joy and similar words of rejoicing (a loud cry, honoured). And Elizabeth does not even have to hear the news from Mary about the Word made flesh in her womb, the unborn Son of God. Mary is blessed for her belief in the Lord's promise: trust, faith and hope in the faithfulness of God -- these are blessings of themselves, and they are gifts that keep on giving. Does the Holy Spirit prompt rejoicing in the Incarnation, or in the mother's faith? BOTH, I think. Just as man grieves over both the coming of death through sin and the fall of Eve (and Adam), we rejoice rightly over the coming of Emmanuel and the cooperation of Mary. For to minimize Mary's yes to God is to minimize Eve's (and Adam's) yes to the serpent, which would necessarily increase God's part in the fall -- and that is an impossible proposition!
  So let us believe in God's promises to us; it is all over his love letter to us, in Scripture (check out the first reading from the Song of Songs 2:8-14). Let us faithfully and joyfully say yes to our Father in heaven at every opportunity, and we will be blessed, brothers and sisters of our Lord, who can prompt faith and rejoicing to those whom we greet, too.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Advent blogging around

The Anchoress repeats what we should already know: our relationship with God is based on constantly saying YES to his love -- to our advantage.
  Christmas need not be about stress, according to some mommy wisdom that also makes it more meaningful.
  Father Ryan Erlenbush explains how John the Baptist is and isn't Elijah. From my own reflections on today's readings, I must recommend considering how you who are baptized, while not being Elijah, are most certainly called to be a prophet.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Immaculate Conception and something like it in all baptized Christians

Today's Gospel reading comes from that scene with Gabriel announcing the Incarnation to Mary. Why is that the reading for the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Because the Incarnation of Christ is the reason for the Immaculate Conception. In order to prepare the way for Christ, Mary must be made particularly ready to receive in her womb the Son of God. We who are baptized Christians are prepared similarly, but not in exactly the same way. My reflection on this goes thus:
  The Incarnation was a singular atomic event at the conception of Jesus in Mary's womb, and likewise, that preparation to receive the incarnated Jesus was a singular atomic event of the Immaculate Conception of Mary who was preserved from original sin at the moment of her conception in the womb of her mother, Anne. On the other hand, the conception of Jesus in us is a gradual, unfolding event. We are first born again at baptism as a new creation, but Jesus is not incarnated in us completely. Rather, as we cooperate with God's grace, our flesh is transformed gradually into Christ's body. The more we think, speak and act as the Holy Spirit moves us, the more completely Christ is incarnated in us, culminating in the resurrection of the dead.
  I sure hope this makes sense. Anyone?

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Subsidiarity in laboring for the harvest?

This article on solidarity and subsidiarity was an eye-opener for me. It explains something that I only had a rudimentary understanding of, and a fuzzy hunch about. It got me thinking about my role as father of a household, and what mistakes I have been making. While blogging is good for evangelization (assuming you did it well), as is joining in discussion forums, I was absenting myself from evangelizing my own family. Not that all bloggers do that: I'm sure the most successful Catholic bloggers out there are wiser than me in attending to home before attending to the blogosphere.
    So here I stand corrected, in prayer and spiritual reading. It does not excuse me from preaching the Good News at every opportunity that God presents me with. And so I continue to pray and to study, first to my family, and then to others. Perhaps my parish next, and then my workplace (prudently; it's a highly secularized institution and culture now). But lest I forget St. Francis who taught "Let all the brothers, however, preach by their deeds." But not by deed only, I think: "and they, going out, preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word by the signs that accompanied it." (Mk 16:15-20). What signs? There are the obviously miraculous ones, e.g., "cast out devils .. gift of tongues; pick up snakes .. be unharmed should they drink deadly poison; lay their hands on the sick who will recover." But there are also the changed lives, turned around and over to God, incredibly filled with peace and joy previously unknown.
    If only my family would notice. :-P

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Stay awake, praying at all times

From today's readings (from Universalis):
  ‘Watch yourselves, or your hearts will be coarsened with debauchery and drunkenness and the cares of life, and that day will be sprung on you suddenly, like a trap. For it will come down on every living man on the face of the earth. Stay awake, praying at all times for the strength to survive all that is going to happen, and to stand with confidence before the Son of Man.’
It came upon me that, in this, Jesus is our ultimate model. Not only because he would frequently go off to pray alone, but because he is the Son of God, and we who are baptized are sons (and daughters) of the Most High. In prayer, I renew my sonship. A son is never alone, for he always has a father, especially in the case of ours: an eternal Father! Thus we pray constantly, being constantly sons of God the almighty! This is expressed at yet another level in the Eucharist, a very intimate prayer where I renew my sonship in an extraordinary way when I receive the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, my eldest brother and the cause for my adoption as a son of God. Therefore, those who hang back from Eucharist, and from prayer, diminish their sonship at each omission -- why would anyone want that? Here is Christ's promise to those who pray at all times: strength to survive all that is going to happen, whatever the calamity, including death and the second coming, and the ability to stand with confidence before the Son of Man -- confidence, not fear of judgment!

So, what are you waiting for? Pray!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Perseverance, by the Grace of God

I'd been riding on a high since menALIVE weekend for more than two weeks now, but of course I'm not quite in a fairy tale, so I haven't yet lived happily ever after. There are still lows with the highs, but I have noticed in me a remarkably positive response to the lows. I recover faster, my perspective now being fairly upbeat and forward-facing. Then it happened: a slight meltdown in the sacristy with my two sons arguing over whether both or only one of them will serve at the altar that day. Oh the horror and the shame! Then Father Cantalamassa (not that one) walks in -- more horror and shame! I was losing my cool, and pretty soon, three boys were arguing, one being myself. Not loudly, but heated nonetheless. I was morose all the way to the consecration, flushed with shame and guilt that I not only failed to resolve it quickly and peacefully with the boys, but that I actually ended up arguing with them. But along with these thoughts came inspirations that kept me sane:

I'm really stewing because of pride, aren't I? Am I supposed to be perfect now? It happens; move on. I am replaying it over and over in my mind, and the scene is growing, not abating, and I'm not resolving anything. I really should have taken them aside to talk this out just among us -- that way, we reduce the tension.

One stunning thought surfaced, too:

This wallowing in shame and self-loathing is no longer who I am. That has already been put to death by Christ. By feeding these deadweights, I am reviving what amounts to an undead, a zombie. Now why would I want to do that?

At that point, I smiled (really!), and I prayed in earnest: thank you, Jesus! So I nailed that event to the cross where it belongs, took up my dignity (not pride), and realized that I was indeed being silly. Pride, self-loathing and defeatism were knocking, and I don't have to let them in. I think I understood something new about faith, then. It needed some mental steps, what separates conviction from taking something for granted. I believe that Christ has already won, that I was already buried and raised with him in baptism. I believe that the Holy Spirit has been poured out upon me. I am not a slave of sin any longer, and I am alive.

Time to act like it.

Whispers in the Loggia: "What, Then, Is Prayer?": For Benin's Young, BenoƮt the Catechist

What, Then, Is Prayer? Pope Benedict invites the young of Benin:
  What, then, is prayer? It is a cry of love directed to God our Father, with the will to imitate Jesus our brother.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Importance of Prayer

The readings are about prayer, I think. Not the text that goes into prayer, but what it really means: relationship:
  2558 "Great is the mystery of the faith!" The Church professes this mystery in the Apostles' Creed (Part One) and celebrates it in the sacramental liturgy (Part Two), so that the life of the faithful may be conformed to Christ in the Holy Spirit to the glory of God the Father (Part Three). This mystery, then, requires that the faithful believe in it, that they celebrate it, and that they live from it in a vital and personal relationship with the living and true God. This relationship is prayer. -- from the Catechism of the Catholic Church
In the Gospel reading, Jesus drives out traders and money changers from the Temple because it should be a house of prayer, not a den of thieves. He does this with zeal and intensity. Why was this so important? I think it is because you can't serve two masters. That temple is either truly set apart for right relationship with God or not. But that particular temple in Jerusalem is gone: our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit now, through baptism when He was poured out upon us. We therefore face the same choice: is my body a house of prayer or a den of thieves? What do I surround my heart with? What fills my soul? If we are follow Christ, we must also drive out - with zeal! - whatever does not lead to God. Our souls must be full of prayer, in intimate relationship with God. Fill it with prayer, and you drive out sin. Five minutes, ten, fifteen minutes just being with God in prayer, quiet, contemplative, rejuvenating! And as we mature, we go from milk to meat!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sobering findings on today's sexualization of girls

that every parent should consider.

Of talents, profit and reward

The Gospel today is on the parable of the talents. We're probably all familiar with the fundamental message of using the talents we are given for the Kingdom, but there's a bit more that I realized just today.
When the master finds his two servants having made some profit, he declares "Well done, good and faithful servant; you have shown you can be faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater; come and join in your master’s happiness."
The reward is not retirement. It is, instead, greater responsibility.
This is additional comfort to those who keenly feel the weight of their responsibilities, apart from what is implicit in the parable itself (emphasis mine): "To one, he gave five talents, to another two, to a third one; each in proportion to his ability. What comfort? That our Father will not lay upon you a burden that you are incapable of bearing, first because He knows us more intimately than we know ourselves, and second because His grace is always sufficient, even and moreso when we feel weak.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Men Alive

is an awesome movement in the Church today. I completed the Men Alive weekend at our parish this weekend and it has awakened, emboldened, enlightened, humbled, encouraged and revived me -- before it is too late! Praise God! One of the things I discovered was that God has been trying to tell me something for such a long time now. In fits and starts, I have been leaving the plow, neglecting and taking it all for granted. Today's first reading is so encouraging (emphasis mine):
  Wisdom is bright, and does not grow dim.
By those who love her she is readily seen,
and found by those who look for her.
Quick to anticipate those who desire her, she makes herself known to them.
Watch for her early and you will have no trouble;
you will find her sitting at your gates.
Even to think about her is understanding fully grown;
be on the alert for her and anxiety will quickly leave you.
She herself walks about looking for those who are worthy of her
and graciously shows herself to them as they go,
in every thought of theirs coming to meet them.
One of my problems is anxiety, and this leads to all sorts of sin on my part, and all sorts of perversions of what should be fruits of the Holy Spirit, e.g., impatience, lack of temperance, sarcasm, etc. The simple answer, I think, is something like this retreat, and the follow-up that I resolved to maintain hence: I need the wisdom of God. I need Christ, like a dry, weary land that is without water. Otherwise, all I have are fits and starts, sputtering to life and trailing off in smoke and a bang. And the great news is that Christ is not in hiding, not hard to get. I just have to be sensible enough, give myself over to prayer consistently, seeking him, and he will be ever willing to meet me and fill me.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Chinese toddler run over twice after being left on street - Telegraph

How can human beings have sunk so low? What did C.S. Lewis write in Prince Caspian?

“Wouldn’t it be dreadful if some day in our own world, at home, men started going wild inside, like the animals here, and still looked like men, so that you’d never know which were which?”

I know a lot of Chinese folks, and I wouldn't presume to paint them with a broad brush. But the folks who caused or allowed the horrible injuries to this particular toddler -- how could they have allowed or done this?

Friday, October 07, 2011

Hard truths to smile about..

and to reflect upon. (Update: I note that Msgr. Pope expounds in his own way five truths that might have been written about differently by Fr. Richard Rohr. I am aware of the latter being quoted as saying or having apparently written some heterodox ideas. So a warning to those who might follow that link: Msgr. Pope's writing seems fine and orthodox to me, but Fr. Richard Rohr seems suspect.)

Steve Jobs on dogma

His 2005 address at a graduation was featured on tv this morning, and the word "dogma" caught my attention. He advises the graduates to not be prisoners of someone else's thinking. And that is true, he's onto something there, and I hope he truly understood his own words. Dogma would be a mandated doctrine, but so are laws of the land, policies of your employers, even laws of Physics. People don't think of those as dogma, normally, but they are products of other people's thinking. That isn't the problem, though. We accept non-religious dogma all the time. And we sometimes leave it alone without questioning it either, especially if we are honest about what we don't know. But it is so liberating when we get off our bums and finally question them in order to actually understand them! Don't be afraid of dogma! Question it, examine it, analyze it, then make it your own if it passes muster. Catholic or Christian dogma does not imprison me because they made sense after I studied them in earnest and with prayer. Some, of course, are beyond full comprehension, but they made sense, often by analogy, but always logically. I think Mr. jobs was onto many truths, and his passion for creating and discovery was marvellous. May he now know rest and eternal peace. May God show him His kindness and mercy, and let him see His countenance forever.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Pope Benedict XVI: We are Church

.. in proper perspective (source: Sandro Magister, Chiesa News). Nothing like the Magisterium of the Church digging into 2000 years of wisdom and teaching to weigh in on what the Church means!
 The 'we' is the whole community of believers, today and in all times and places. And so I always say: within the community of believers, yes, there is as it were the voice of the valid majority, but there can never be a majority against the apostles or against the saints: that would be a false majority. We are Church: let us be Church, let us be Church precisely by opening ourselves and stepping outside ourselves and being Church with others.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

More good words from Pope Benedict XVI

His address to the well-oiled machinery of the Church in Germany has so much to say! Please read it! It complements my previous post, and he points to a deeper crisis of faith even where the facade of the Church may appear strong and vigorous. The spirit of suspicion and rebellion in the Church today certainly betrays a lack in all departments of faith, hope and love.

For example, I recently received a correspondence outlining certain strong suggestions to the Australian bishop's conference. One of these is to make bishops more accountable to the priests and laity of the diocese. While this is laudable in many respects, the tone of suspicion and power struggle suggests a discordant thought. The lines of authority in the Church, reasonably described in the New Testament and further clarified and foreshadowed in the Old Testament, paint the figure of a hierarchy. This structure, however, is not founded upon the backs of the laity, as if evoking the assembly "of the people, by the people and for the people." It is founded upon the cornerstone, Jesus Christ, on which were laid the foundation of the apostles, starting with Peter the Rock, and who did not leave us orphans, but established apostolic succession with the office of bishops. Taking these suggestions of flattening the structure (if that is what it is) to its ludicrous conclusion, we end up with a strange notion of making Christ, our High Priest and King, accountable to the ministerial priests who exist through his priestly ministry, and the laity who share the common priesthood, kingship and prophetic office through His.

Good words from Pope Benedict XVI

His final address to German Catholics highlights what the world needs so badly to see with the eyes of faith, that is, that if we truly want to save the world as our Christian mission requires, we must continue to set ourselves apart, and invite the world to be similarly consecrated, to God. Many would see this as an opportunity to call down the Church hierarchy whom they see as being embroiled in power and privilege. In their "them-and-us" mentality, they may well be missing the point that the challenge to be in the world but not of it is one for the entire Church, both laity and the hierarchy. Sadly, they may be missing the fact that the laity far outnumber the clergy, and the levels of power and privilege they wield in the world are far greater than that of the hierarchy. In the way that evangelization may proceed in the world, as leaven, we in the laity have fantastic opportunities that the clergy have no access to.

What will we do about it?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

BBC News - Has the iPod made us anti-social?

This story is more than just the iPod, as it applies to any device that we plug into while unplugging from our surroundings. The irony seems lost on at least some people who, while happy to unplug and listen to the birds around them, if any, prefer to drown out the noises of human beings around them. Of course, it is rather unpleasant when people nearby are loudly talking on cellphones (another irony). But I wonder if there isn't a tendency to lose empathy along the way, too. Just another mark of the excesses of individualism, I suppose.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Lifesitenews needs assistance

Having been an avid reader of LifeSiteNews.com, I can attest that their work is worthy of support. Please support them financially if you can, in addition to praying for the success of their work.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Shock: No jail time for woman who strangled newborn because Canada accepts abortion, says judge

Truly incredible and a good reason to pray!

There is both consistency and inconsistency in this judge's decision. She reveals a consistently diminutive view of what human life is worth, unborn or not, but she also reveals the moral equivalence of abortion and infanticide. However, she is inconsistent in her role as judge, applying her interpretation of society's opinion, rather than the laws of the land.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

To correct and to not correct

The readings for the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary time are sobering in one crucial aspect: if we do not correct our brother or sister who is in grave sin, we risk their salvation as well as ours. That's not really surprising when things are considered in the context of our "debt of love" to one another, i.e., the second greatest commandment, but sobering nonetheless! If we were up to this challenge, though, both in giving and receiving correction, what a different world we would have today. But I have been very remiss at this, and catching up is no picnic!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Responsible Parenthood bill in the Philippines and its proponents are not neutral

Something struck me about how this is being sold to the public. The pitch goes like this: the bill does not favor artificial contraception over natural family planning, so it's really up to couples to judge for themselves. In other words, the government and the bill's proponents are being neutral.
Set aside for now the fact that so-called reproductive health services, products and education will be made available in one form or another to *individuals* from Grade 5 and up, not couples. Here's a thought experiment.
Let's say that there were two bills proposed, one supporting NFP, one supporting artificial contraception. Considering each method separately, whether to use it or not, an important factor is that the government endorses it, and will subsidze it. That is how members of the public will see it as they weigh the methods separately.
And here's is another indication: neither the president (even as a senator) nor the bill's proponents, seem to have ever lifted a finger to advance the use of NFP, despite the fact that *it does not require legislation to do so*. Nor does it need the purchase of products, pharmaceutical or otherwise, that are restricted by law. The bill's proponent has been pushing his RH/RP bill for three years. If he and other government officials in his camp truly had the welfare of families in mind, and if they were neutral regarding artificial vs natural methods, they should have aggressively pursued the inexpensive NFP option long ago, without needing legislation.
Why haven't they?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Peter's Keys or Ours?

This reflection on the keys given to Peter, written by Fr. Jose, makes me uneasy. Especially this part:

The truth is we don’t have to be offered this power of keeping the gate. We already have that power to open or close the kingdom of God to ourselves and to each other. We already have the keys to let ourselves in or to shut one another out of the kingdom or presence of God dwelling within us. We already have that power to open our hearts to life and love, hope and faith. And the power is ours as well to keep the shadows at bay.

While the writer's point about our own "power" to open and shut is a profound and insightful one, more needs to be said than what he wrote. In fact, to say that I have any power to shut someone else out of the kingdom, or let him into it, sounds as wrong as it sounds presumptuous to say of myself. While our own free will, a gracious gift from God, allows us to open to to shut out ourselves from the kingdom, those are our own decisions to cooperate with God's grace or not. While we do preach the gospel to plant seeds, it is not my "power" at work, only my participation. To God be the glory! Extolling our "power" to open and shut makes it seem as if it was sufficient in and of itself. All this talk of our "power" is discomfiting. We cannot even say "yes" to God without His grace. Of the pope, it is not his power, but Christ's power, extended to him as authority.
Why did Fr. Jose not write about the papacy, though that would be the most natural theme for this passage? Walking around the topic of authority, even with the best intentions, the essay ends up turning everyone into the ultimate authority, it seems. As Msgr. Charles Pope wrote today, if no one is pope, everyone is pope.
I believe that the authority of the Church and the papacy are not to be hushed up, but to be proclaimed! The readings today about Eliakim, and then about Peter make for an unmistakable lesson on authority. Yes, the authority to bind and to loose may be seen as power, but as you said, [s]uch power can never really be divorced from the grace of his love.. . The papacy is a gift, an expression of God's love. Such love, we should proclaim, and be thankful for!

To the non-Adults Barking at the WYD Pilgrims .. Never Mind

Photos of Martyrdom: Anti-Catholic Protestors Taunt Pilgrims in Madrid | CatholicVote.org Blessed JPII, pray for the pilgrims, pray for their detractors. St. Josemaria Escriva, pray for Spain!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Uh.. Dad?

Well that was awkward. Read the Gospel reading yesterday to my sons (at bedtime): Matthew 23:1-12. Then I go the part where it says "You must call no one on earth your father, since you have only one Father, and he is in heaven." .. :-| Uh, boys.. lemme explain that a bit..

Sunday, August 14, 2011

We the faithful..

I have never been comfortable referring to myself as one of the faithful, knowing that everyday, some wrongdoing of mine, i.e., sin, belies a claim of being one of the faithful, if ever I made that claim. So pardon me if I am wary of groups who refer to themselves as the faithful and then dissent from the Magisterium in the same open letter that reads like the demands made of elected officials. And indeed, they mention in that open letter that they want a "return to a more accountable and consultative process for the appointment of bishops." Remember Saul and David? One was elected by the people and the other would not have possibly been voted into office, being but a boy. Which one did God appoint and anoint? Which one was a disaster and which one was the greatest king of Israel exceeded only (of course) by Jesus Christ, his descendant? Strange too this supposed return to the earlier practice of some consultative process: I don't recall reading that the Apostles were appointed by consultation, nor was Paul, nor were the holy patriarchs, kings (except for Saul) and judges of Israel. For flesh and blood does not reveal the truth of who Jesus is (and how we are to live, therefore), but our Father in heaven. Most of my adult life, I've lived in a country where officials are all elected and many of them become corrupt. These days, I live under officials who make sure that they do not exercise their own judgment. Despite their "personal opposition" to certain things, they vote or do only as their constituents wish, which sometimes means legalizing murder and injustice, to pander to their voters. Heaven forbid that our bishops, our spiritual fathers anointed by Christ, should behave like that!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

saving baby dreams, where's the outcry to save babies?

This story (Herald Sun) about a hospital bungle -- neglecting to apply for an extension to keep sperm samples frozen for assisted reproduction -- sparked a thought. Losing the sperm samples "shatters families' baby dreams", indeed. Even in the comments, people seem to stumble upon the wrongness of this, the wanton destruction of something with innate value. And yet, what about embryos, frozen or in utero? Will people also feel badly about embryos slated for destruction? And if they do, will they only feel for the parents, without thought for the embryo itself, and its innate value apart from what anyone else wants?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Two IVF doctors and the same thread of moral dilemma

A tale of two IVF doctors from EWTN News. And while nothing is simple, I do believe that a thorough consideration of every aspect and implication can yield clarity. The linked article can provide some of that.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Why didn't God give Himself a cool name?

I'm paraphrasing, but that was the gist of Patrick's question earlier (he's 9). Very thought-provoking, and the answer actually reveals that God is way ahead of that question when He simply said "I am who am" to Moses. What name can be given to the uncreated God? Sure, you can name creatures or progeny, but who can name the divine Creator? Even more amazing are the names He took when He became incarnate: "God saves" (from his Hebrew name, which we translate into Jesus) and "God with us" (Emmanuel). Why so amazing? Because those are names of love, relative to us! How is that not cool?

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Rome then and now

I was watching this video of the beatification of Blessed John Paul II and I was struck by a thought while Pope Benedict XVI was kneeling in front of the coffin of the Blessed JPII in prayer. In pagan Rome, it was made lawful (and mandatory) that the emperor be declared a god to be worshipped. In Catholic Rome, JPII was declared to now be among those blessed to forever worship God and serve him day and night in His temple. Prayer to the Roman emperors is without effect, for they are not gods. Prayer to the saints in Heaven, those made righteous in Christ, have great effect, because they add their prayers to our intentions, praying to the one true God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

There are many cultures that include some ancestor worship. As in many things that spring out of humanity, they might have caught some of the truth but in a corrupt form. In Christ, we get the truth: death is not the end, indeed, but there is only one God to worship, for a community of saints who are alive in Christ for all eternity, always united by love through the Holy Spirit.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

What the Church has given the world

is not an unimpressive list of such milestones of civilization that one has to marvel at some of the shrill criticisms she gets. But that's to be expected, I suppose: we tend to see and cite the negatives much more than the positives, especially in a cynical age such as this. But any sincere critic should see things collectively before weighing in. A spade is a spade, of course, and that goes both ways.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Blessed is John Paul the Great

Papa Benedict VI pays tribute to JPII in the way we should venerate the heroes of our faith: honoring them, so that all receive honor in the body, to the glory of God and the edification of all the faithful.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A brief podcast on IVF issues

Cathlab episode 68 (mp3 with notes) starts with a concise report on both moral as well as medical issues surrounding IVF. No one should cast aspersions on those who have sought recourse in IVF, and certainly not on those who were conceived using IVF. But what is known about the nature of the marital act and human reproduction, and about the outcomes of IVF, should not be ignored. Both should be thoroughly investigated so that people can make informed decisions.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

How Women Can Rule the World

From NCRegister.com -- and why they should, I think. Jennifer Fulwiler gives an excellent teaser of Simcha Fisher's critique of what Jocelyn Nubel wrote in support of Planned Parenthood. Jennifer nails it by quoting Archbishop Fulton Sheen:
 To a great extent the level of any civilization is the level of its womanhood. When a man loves a woman, he has to become worthy of her. The higher her virtue, the more noble her character, the more devoted she is to truth, justice, goodness, the more a man has to aspire to be worthy of her. The history of civilization could actually be written in terms of the level of its women.

Doctors pushed paralyzed Irish man to refuse ventilator and die

LifeSiteNews.com reports on this man whose love of life and levels of hope are sadly incomprehensible to what are becoming truly cynical societies in many affluent countries.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Prayer at Cana

While meditating on that episode at Cana, where Jesus changed water to wine during a wedding feast, a new thought struck me about our Lady's behavior. She told Jesus that the hosts had run out of wine, and the words of his response: "My hour has not yet come." What does his mother say? Does she tell him "son, listen to mother" or "please" or "as you wish"? No, she just tells the servants: "Do whatever he tells you." It's what she doesn't say that struck me today. I think I'll munch on that a bit, but it is very interesting.

It also struck me that meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary (this episode was the second Luminous) is akin to Lectio Divina, or the slightly streamlined "WORD" approach. Of course I'm probably breaking a few rules on either methods by focusing on what was not said, but I think it's something to ponder. :-)

Saturday, April 09, 2011

God has a plan for you

Let that sink in, then listen to this podcast from Catholic Answers with Jeff Cavins as the guest.

For good works

I'm okay, you're okay, we're okay? No, no, and no. Okay is not enough. Something mentioned in a forum I attended last night was the problem that many Catholics had, which would apply in or outside of Australia: we think that we're only called to be nice. No, nice is not enough. We need to be good -- holy -- so that we are more fit for every good work. Something I'd learned from the Called and Gifted Workshop run by Sherry Weddell in Melbourne (some years ago) was that our charisms, gifts from the Holy Spirit, are given to us for the sake of other people. We are graced so that we may be instrumental in God's graciousness to all. This adds meaning to the significance of our sanctification (and cooperating in it). How? By living holy, prayerful lives, we are made better instruments of God's grace to others. Therefore, it is urgent that we grow in holiness, knowledge, wisdom, faith, hope, love, and all the charisms bestowed upon us. We are not set apart just to be nice, nor in order to enjoy a peaceful, prosperous life. We were purchased at a great price! We are called and gifted in order to serve. And because God has lavished us so abundantly, we ought to serve well.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

All quiet in this blog

No, it's not a lenten fast. I am tempted to say that "life is getting in the way" but that would imply that this blog is not part of my life. I'd like to think that it is, infrequent as the posts are, because evangelization is part of my mission. And yet, as I tell my kids often, spending too much time speaking could mean not spending enough time listening. (Being a lecturer, and lecturing them often, that's really ironic coming from me.) I'd like to think that I am spending more time listening, but I know that I have not done enough, though I think have improved some -- at least in terms of observing my family a bit more closely. The kids are growing up so fast!

But it is Lent, so I do ought to put more time into reading. We started using "The Imitation of Christ" (Thomas a Kempis) at night, and most of it probably whizzes past my boys, but these are seeds, and I can certainly use them for myself, too. As a parent, one thing I can say is that you can't neglect your own welfare. Whether or not you adopt a healthy lifestyle (body, mind and soul), your children will take up a lot of that. And that's why Lent should not go by unnoticed in this household. If I don't keep it well, how will they learn to do so?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Extremely explicit sex education materials for children in UK

This report from LifeSiteNews.com (and the report it refers to) is troubling, to say the least. Proposed legislation is currently being debated in the Philippines where some form of sex education is mandated from Grade 5 and up. The bill does not mention parental input and opt-out rights, but it does mention government agencies who will design such a curriculum. What would happen if those agencies just happened to share the same twisted mindset as those who develop such inappropriate materials in the UK? The bill is at best silent on the matter, and leaves the possibility of abuse -- teaching children what parents do not consider appropriate for their children at that age. Parents should rise up and take their responsibilities seriously -- before someone else does so in their stead.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Harm and Morality

I came to some insights tonight while considering the arguments of proponents of the so-called "reproductive health" and "responsible parenthood" bill. I tend to argue from the perspective of harm because that is more readily tangible and simpler to describe. It is also easier to support on the basis of many scientific studies available online. On the other hand, a staunch advocate of contraceptives has convinced me of one thing: they can always argue from their relative perceptions of benefits that outweigh the risks. If the notion is completely subjective, then there is no way to show that the harm is too great, since neither one is objectively quantifiable, nor even objectively understandable. In other words, they may well understand the incredible risks the face with STDs and unwanted pregnancy leading to divorce, but shrug that off as being "worth it". It's a scary thought, but that is how many people think these days. On the other hand, such rationalizations will probably treat arguments on the basis of morality in the same way. What a horrible beast relativism is. A truly insidious undermining of truth.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Children of the Reformation: On Marriage, Contraception to Abortion

Touchstone Archives: Children of the Reformation is a thought-provoking read. I think a few questions are left unanswered though, such as how today's pastors, recovering the orthodox Christian ethos, might navigate their way through the very factors that caused their forebears to fumble on such crucial matters. But someone has probably written about that already someplace.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Covenant or Contract?

My understanding of this topic is far from thorough, so this may not make much sense. But the two non-equivalent concepts came to mind today, for no particular reason, then a few other thoughts came to mind. A covenant is supposed to be an exchange of selves, whereas a contract is an exchange of goods or services perhaps. Catholics, in particular, have a very strong sense of two things: marriage as normally indissoluble and the Church as indivisible. Hence, marital divorce and subsequent remarriage is not permitted, and apathy towards the oneness of the Church is unacceptable. In both cases, we have God's covenant(s) with his people as a model. Throughout all of Israel's lapses to infidelity, God remained faithful. What does that mean? Didn't He supposedly replace Israel with Christians? By no means, as St. Paul might say. In reading the New Testament, it is a key concept that, in Christ, the new fulfills rather than abolishes the old. The covenants remain, but in fulfillment. Rather than junk the covenant as God to Israel, He brings it to fruition in the new covenant. Two things occurred to me about Protestant Christianity -- loosely applied, considering that there is no singular Protestant position: (1) leniency in divorce and subsequent remarriage, and (2) a very relaxed notion of one universal Church. Could the two be related to the notion of contracts rather than covenants? Hmm... does that make any sense?? So the notion of a divorce -- in marriage as well as in a schism -- is unthinkable because covenants are unbreakable. How so? Well, if a covenant is an exchange of selves, and God entered into a covenant, wouldn't that mean that it is an infinite and perfect giving on the part of the infinite and perfect God? Therefore, while God stands (which is forever), the covenant stands. Since the Church extends through time as well as space, then the covenant covers the saints who have gone before. Having been perfected in the past, e.g., through martyrdom by God's grace, then the Church will also never totally defect, since that is now impossible for the saints in Heaven, already in God's presence. But that speaks of the Church triumphant in Heaven, not the militant on Earth, doesn't it? Well, which Church on earth claims such strong bonds with, or even speaks of, the saints in Heaven? Which Church claims an indissoluble and uniting bond among its members, and sees itself as a family rather than a group of like-minded believers? That does not make for a solid case, though, but it can be indicative... Aahhh.. 1 am blog posts can be confusing..

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Christian Disunity and the Good News of the Kingdom

Today's Second and Gospel Readings jumped out at me because my wife has just told my children that she is not Catholic. They haven't asked too many questions about it yet, but it will come, and it won't be easy to navigate these waters.
 I appeal to you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me by Chlo'e's people that there is quarreling among you, my brethren. What I mean is that each one of you says, "I belong to Paul," or "I belong to Apol'los," or "I belong to Cephas," or "I belong to Christ." Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? .. For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.(1 Cor 1:10-13,17)
 Now when [Jesus] heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee; and leaving Nazareth he went and dwelt in Caper'na-um by the sea, in the territory of Zeb'ulun and Naph'tali, that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
"The land of Zeb'ulun and the land of Naph'tali,
toward the sea, across the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles --
the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light,
and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death
light has dawned."
From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And he said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." Immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zeb'edee and John his brother, in the boat with Zeb'edee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.
(Mt 4:12-23)
I don't think anyone can claim that St. Paul was only concerned about the unity among Corinthians, one congregation. Nor that it was a minor matter, nor that a unity in name only, or on a subset of beliefs and practices only. As the Lord prayed repeatedly,
 ".. that they may be one, even as we are one.. that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. .. that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me." (Jn 17)
It is important! These are heartfelt words of St. Paul and the Lord himself, and I am living them now! This unity is inextricably linked to the Good News that we should proclaim in how we live, how we follow Christ, and what we preach. Disunity casts a shadow upon the Good News, and it is a cause of great sorrow.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Bed and Breakfast owners fined

.. for turning away gay couple [LifeSiteNews.com]. This jumped out at me:

Judge Rutherford acknowledged that the Bulls had good reason to want to preclude what they regarded as immoral sexual activity in their home, but commented, “Whatever may have been the position in past centuries it is no longer the case that our laws must, or should automatically reflect the Judaeo-Christian position.”

Does it mean that the couple has no right to live according to their Judaeo-Christian position? It is one thing to say that the government should not be run by any particular religion, which I can accept, but it is another to say that citizens cannot have religion.

Pope explains 4 keys to ecumenical work

.. which he ascribes pithily to this verse in Acts 2:42: “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” [CatholicCulture.org]

Thursday, January 13, 2011

What every Catholic can learn from Steve Jobs

.. according to Eric Sammons, is to focus the benefits in sharing their faith. This is almost a note-to-self for me because I can get carried away by what's under the hood. Sometimes I can't help myself; the details provide so much insight and can be absolutely amazing. But .. it's about evangelizing, so it's not about what excites me, but what might excite the audience.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

About this blog

As I have recently informed family and friends recently about this blog, it is probably appropriate to explain a few things about this blog.

Why? I started this blog years ago as I began to journey deeper into my Catholic faith. This was mostly prompted by my having fallen in love with, married and now have four children with an Evangelical Protestant. But that was just the beginning. Back in college, I was aware of the growing Evangelical presence within the university. Soon after the Internet became prominently part of life (and my career), my eyes were opened to the distressing scandal of schisms and heterodoxy among Christians. Over the years, the distress seemed to focus into a calling. I started this blog mostly (I think) to collect my thoughts on the subject matter, but also to reach out to those who might drop by. It is my prayer that, by God's grace, I may participate in the work of the Holy Spirit in bringing Christianity back into reasonable and visible communion.

How? I offer my thoughts and my prayers. I offer my time to prayerfully research matters of division that should not be. I believe (as many do) that most people hate what they think is the Catholic Church, but is, in reality, a misrepresentation of it. It is not my place to judge people and groups, and may I never do so. My sincere belief is that most branches of non-Catholic Christianity are on the right track but are sorely missing essential elements of the deposit of faith that comes down to us through the Apostles. Thus do they miss out on the fullness of Truth that Christ wills and willed for us to all share within the Church.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Busy no-op

From today's Office of Readings:

man passes away, like a shadow. Nothingness, although he is busy:

What keeps me busy? It is incredibly easy these days to be constantly doing something. This age of technology presents man with so many possible distractions, but only one thing is important, a certain Martha was told once. Why do I blog so much when there is so much more to gain in praying the Scriptures, or other spiritual reading? Why the online games? Why spend an hour everyday on the news? Where is my treasure? I seem to surround myself with so much activity that I hardly have time to think beyond the moment...

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Singing the Mass

.. an interview with Jeffrey Tucker (NCRegister.com) where this jumped at me:
  .. with liturgical music. Church music uses free rhythm that always points upwards in the same way that incense is always rising. This assists our prayer. Secular styles of music, in contrast, use rhythms that elicit temporal thoughts and emotions. Rock music points to nothing outside of itself, so it does not belong anywhere near the liturgy.
While I do love some contemporary and Rock music (and bands), he has a point: liturgy is prayer, and should point up above, not to ourselves nor things down here. There's ample opportunity to enjoy and even be inspired by those kinds of music outside of sacred liturgy.

Study: Contraception use up, abortions double

.. and researchers can’t figure out why (Jill Stanek). Perhaps because, as other researchers have found, the problem is behavioral.

Monday, January 03, 2011

A father's joy

My 11-year old son and I went to Mass this morning (Monday) because we were unable to receive Holy Communion yesterday, having missed the hour-long fast. I did tell him that it was not obligatory that he receive at every Sunday Mass, although it would be good whenever possible. He said he understood, but insisted that he wanted to receive today. This was no small thing because we would otherwise get up late during these school holidays.

Watching him serve at the altar, I was reflecting on his response to the Holy Spirit, on my fatherhood and that of God. A staunch Calvinist once asserted that there is no such thing as free will. What does this doctrine say about the goodness of God? The idea that He would limit his children to act only upon divine "programming" -- without free will -- is unthinkable (David Armstrong on soteriology and creation here).

Today my son responded to grace, I believe, and while the grace is God's, the will to respond was his. He is growing in faith, into an obedience of faith, and it is as joyous to behold as it is inspiring to me.

First Anglicans are received into the Catholic Church

in a historic service (Telegraph). Many would say that such conversions are unnecessary, but I think that it is always about conversion. Hearts must turn to God in such a way that the communion of saints in Christ is not just a loose confederation of like-minded Christians. Christ alludes to his unity with the Father (Jn 17) in what can only be a perfect unity. Such unity can brook no contradiction that is simply ignored. Distinctions, yes. Different charisms and ministries, yes. But contradictions should be unthinkable, but there it is. This is not to deny the work of the Holy Spirit among every stripe of Christianity. But we are ignoring Christ's will that we may be one if we leave things alone, thinking that unification will come without a cross. These courageous former Anglican bishops know that cross very well, but they took it up anyway, for the love of Jesus Christ.
.. Holy Father, keep them in thy name, which thou hast given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. .. "I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one. I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me.