Saturday, December 30, 2017

Friday, December 29, 2017

A Christmas Oratorio: Happy Fifth Day of Christmas!

Why Evolution Theory Cannot Get to the Bottom of Things

Father Stanley Jaki's book on the influence of the doctrine of creation on science is his most popular book The Savior of Science, which I have yet to read. I read his more detailed Science and Creation which goes into the scientific bankruptcy of the different civilizations' notions of time and numbers (because of their irrational belief in eternal cycles of the world) in comparison with the Judeo-Christian timeline based on God's revelation of creation.

The basic idea is that creation and redemption give a starting point and a final purpose to human earthly existence and thereby make all the intermediate points significant. Because the absolute entered the ephemeral the ephemeral also takes meaning.

Or, said another way, God's intervention in history makes the space and time coordinates important for the first time in history. Our dating of history with the Incarnation as the focal point is indicative of that God-involvement perspective which opened up the human mind to the fullness of reality.

Man began to take his reality seriously because God formed a relationship with man.

Evolution theory, while claiming to be concerned just with the scientific facts is actually filled with skewed notions of origins and meanings, just when it pretends to not be dealing with meaning at all. For example, Darwin's On the Origin of Species is all about material and efficient causality, and the presumption of the entire evolution theory is a scientific contradiction, viz. that less yields more, thereby contradiction the principle of sufficient reason.

Whence the world, life, rationality and intelligence, human conscience and freedom? All of these scientific realities exist and are completely void of reasonable explanation from the evolutionist. The intelligibility itself of creation, presumed by the evolutionist, is a reality which is entirely unexplained by the evolutionist's supposed explanation of everything.

Conclusion. The evolutionist needs the doctrine of creation and of creation's God (who creates out of nothing and for love and accompanies creation), in order to provide the gaping "missing links." We need to speak seriously about the origins and the purposes of things if we are to really consider their nature. Without personal love as the essence behind all of reality nothing makes sense.

"The question...is whether the theory of evolution can be presented as a universal theory concerning all reality, beyond which further questions about the origin and the nature of things are no longer admissible and indeed no longer necessary, or whether such ultimate questions do not after all go beyond the realm of what can be entirely the object of research and knowledge by natural science...[The question behind the theory of natural selection]...is whether reason, or rationality, stands at the beginning of all things and is grounded in the basis of all things or not. The question is whether reality originated on the basis of chance and necessity (or, as Popper says, in agreement with Butler, on the basis of luck and cunning) and, thus, from what is irrational; that is, whether reason, being a chance by-product of irrationality and floating in an ocean of irrationality, is ultimately just as meaningless; or whether the principle that represents the fundamental conviction of Christian faith and its philosophy remains true: 'In principio erat Verbum'--at the beginning of all things stands the creative power of reason."
Joseph Ratzinger, Truth and Tolerance, San Francisco: Ignatius, 2004, 180-181.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Philosophy is Concerned With Truth Not the Opinions of Philosophers


"[S]tudium philosophiae non est ad hoc quod sciatur quid homines senserint, sed qualiter se habeat veritas rerum."

"The study of philosophy does not mean to learn what others have thought but to learn what is the truth of things."

St. Thomas Aquinas, De Caelo et mundo, I, 22, 228
Quoted in Josef Pieper, The Silence of St. Thomas, London: Faber, 1957, 42.

"Latin Averroism is fundamentally the forerunner of the Renaissance and, therefore, of modern philosophy and science in general...the purely historical approach to the interpretation of philosophy--the opinion that the true object of philosophy is its own history. For Siger of Brabant, the leader of the Averroists at the University of Paris, the study of philosophy signifies the exploration of the historical systems of philosophy, irrespective of whether they were true or false. Here for the first time appears that modern type of philosopher who, instead of discussing his true subject, reality, discusses something quite different, the philosophies." Ibid. 41-42.

Quincentennial of the Reformation Parting Thought by Josef Pieper "Don't Burn My Summa!"


"When the Reformers of the sixteenth century attempted to 'purge' Christian theology of the supposedly Hellenizing scholastic element, it became quickly evident (and in the properly 'reformed' theology of Karl Barth, for example, it is still evident today) that they were risking the error of removing from the Christian consciousness the reality of creation itself. (It is an unhistorical legend that Luther burned the Summa Theological along with the papal bull in the market place at Wittenberg. The true story of that incident, however, makes a more telling point. A recently uncovered report of that auto-da-fé testifes that there was the intention of burning the Summa along with the papal document, but no one could be found who was willing to part with his copy!)
"Far from being or signifying a secularization of genuine Christian teaching, the affirmation of the reality of creation in the theology of St. Thomas surges from the very depths of Christian intuition, namely, from reverence for the reality of the Incarnation of God. According to St. Thomas, the Evangelist John had deliberately said the Word was made flesh, in order to exclude the Manichaean principle that the body is evil."
Josef Pieper, The Silence of St. Thomas, London: Faber, 1957, 39-40.

Cf. Benedict XVI Regensburg Address on the Three Stages of Dehellenization at the Root of the Modern Crisis of Thought.

Evolution in the Thought of Pope Benedict XVI


Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Palestrina Alma Redemptoris Mater

Tu pones lo demas

A quaint Latin American folk hymn on the food miracles of Christ: Cana, miraculous catch and multiplication of loaves and fishes.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

On Mary's Christmas Virginity

Mary's conceiving of Christ, by the power of God the Holy Spirit alone and her consent, without the intervention of any male, is a truth of faith essential to the Gospel of today's Ordinary Form Mass of the forth week of Advent. It is the miraculous sign promised by Isaiah the prophet to the House of David:

"...[T]he Lord himself shall give you a sign. Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel." Isaiah 7:14

This essential truth of the Incarnation is acknowledged by most of the people of the world: all Christians (Catholic, Orthodox, and every manner of Protestant, Evangelical, etc.) and all Muslims. And all Jews confess it as the sign of the Messiah who would come from heaven to save God's people from their sins. That miracle, confessed by the whole world of believers (i.e. all believers in the one true and living God) is, according to the prophet, the proof that Jesus Christ is Lord. Most of humanity on earth today (55.5%)* believes this, the proof of God in the world, in the Virgin Mother Maria!

Furthermore, the Catholic (and Orthodox) faith of the Church, from antiquity, holds that Mary is perpetually virgin. Here are a couple of relevant texts from the Extraordinary Form Breviary which are the Church's official commentary on, and making more explicit, the intention of perpetual virginity meaning of Mary's response to the angel.

"Mary said: 'What manner of salutation do you think this is, for my soul is troubled, and I shall bear the King who will not break the seal of my virginity?'"
(Matins Ant. 8)

"Receive, O Virgin Mary, the word which is sent you from the Lord by the angel: 'You shall conceive and shall bring forth God and man together, That you man be called blessed among all women. You shall bring forth a son, and remain a virgin undefiled: you shall be with child, and shall be a mother ever a virgin.'"
(Resp. to first reading of Matins for Monday of the first week of advent)

The Mother (puerpera) brought forth the King, Whose name is called The Eternal; the joy of a Mother was hers, remaining a Virgin unsullied; neither before nor henceforth hath there been or shall be such another, alleluia. Lauds, Ant. 2.
N.B. Puerpera = A woman who has just given birth.

The Christmas responsory for the final Marian antiphon of Compline (for the forty days of Christmas, i.e from the 24th of December through the 1st of February (the eve of the Presentation).

Post partum, Virgo, inviolata permansisti.
Dei Genetrix, intercede pro nobis.

In that Marian antiphon itself (the Alma Redemptoris Mater, for Advent and Christmas seasons) we sing "Virgo prius, ac posterius!"

"Now all this was done that it might be fulfilled which the Lord spoke by the prophet, saying: Behold a virgin shall be with child, and bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us." Matt. 1:22-23

This Christmas marks the 2018th annual celebration of Mary's Perpetual Virginity.

Merry Christmas, for the Virgin has indeed conceived and borne us a Son, Who is Christ the Lord! This is indeed the sign of God for us and for the whole world!

*

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Built-in Beatitude


There is a universal custom of well-wishing and of blessing in the protocol of basic greetings.

Notice: "Good morning", "good afternoon", "good night", "good weekend", "have a good trip", "happy" this and "merry" that. There is an underlying reality in it all which is the fundamental need to be acknowledged and affirmed by the others. So much so that we regard it as an affront and as too utilitarian and inconsiderate to forego these niceties in our daily lives. It is a proof for the existence of God, because the question should be asked, why should it make any difference what others think or whether they are with or against. What do you mean by "good?" Answer: we are naturally oriented to relationship, and to unconditional love, i.e. good will. And there is One who is the very meaning of good, the One from heaven, God Himself, Jesus Christ.

Next time you feel slighted because someone neglected to wish you "good morning", etc., remember that all of the well wishing in the world has its source and real meaning only in the Lord. Remember that you feel bad because we need to bestow goodness on one another because we are the image and likeness of God Who is love. Our courteous well-wishing comes from Him and is directed to Him because...

"None is good but one, that is God." Mark 10:18

We need to be like Him and to share his likeness with one another, the Good! That is why we must say and do "Good Day" in every way, for one another, for the further glory of God! our Purpose and Source.

The rule of kindness is part of what it means to say the "Jesus Christ is Lord!" Every tongue does indeed confess, even unwittingly, by well wishing. Philippians 2:11 Because Christ is the prototype of man!

"She loves Jesus and America Too" An Extraordinary Testimony to the Latent Power of Catholic Baptism!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Plinthos Evening Attire in The City

Clerical "Black tie" Attire

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Cassocks at Catholic Universities

When I was in college at a northeastern Catholic university during the late '80's, with a large body of resident priests, there were two priests who still regularly wore their cassocks throughout the campus, and I admired them both as examples of diocesan priestly piety and dedication. I want to be like them! Just one of many reasons to love and wear the cassock.

Secularism is the Source of Terrorism


"[T]he world's profoundly religious cultures see [the] exclusion of the divine from the universality of reason as an attack on their most profound convictions. A reason which is deaf to the divine and which relegates religion into the realm of subcultures is incapable of entering into the dialogue of cultures." Pope Benedict XVI, Regensburg Address.

"This perception of Western civilization as an attack on all they hold sacred seems to be the principal motivating force behind Islamic terrorism, though the form that terrorism is taking is, paradoxically, shaped by the Western scientific-technological mindset..." Vincent Twomey Seton Hall Address, 2013, 11.

"...[T]errorism is ultimately based on [the Enlightened will to power] modality of man's 'self-authorization', not on the teachings of the Qur'an." Joseph Ratzinger, Christianity and the Crisis of Culture, 42 (i.e., 2005 Subiaco Address).

Our Western secular religion (which we deem inherently superior to theocratic world outlooks) blinds us to the dignity, unfathomable depths and immeasurable worth of the major religions of the world (including Christianity) and thus creates a blind spot in our relations with and our technological and political colonization of the cultures of the world's peoples and nations. This is an insurmountable obstacle in international dialogue with non-secularist peoples, which is also at play politically in our presumed benevolence in exporting our Western democratic model. Our rejection of God puts us out of touch with the world, even today. Not all of the world is an "Enlightened" world. So, we are not even in the conversation with the "unenlightened" world. Plinthos.

Persecution of Christians Crisis

Indian Government Praises Catholic Church Work for Poor



Stating that Christmas reminds us all to live up to the ideals and values preached and practiced by Jesus Christ, Naidu said Christmas is the festival of love, joy and sharing.

"It is a time to renew our commitment to love and serve our families, communities and society; to be just and transparent in our dealings; to promote social and economic inclusion of all; to promote lasting peace between people of different religions and cultures and to promote sustainable development," he added.

The Vice-President said every individual must revere his/her mother, mother tongue, birth place and motherland. Shri Venkaiah Naidu said it is the duty of every Indian to preserve and protect our culture.

"Let me once again clarify that religion is personal, while culture is a way of life," he added.

Lauding that the Catholic community is a peace-loving community and has been working with every Government, both at the Centre and in the States, to promote people’s welfare, the Vice-President said the Catholic Church in India has been effectively contributing to the nation building process in a number of ways.

“As you all are aware, education is the most important tool for transformation of the society through enlightenment and empowerment. Education is meant to bring out all the good qualities of head and heart in an individual by instilling the values of compassion, morality and ethics. It must help in building character, enhancing capacity, promoting good conduct and patriotism,” the Vice-President said.

Applauding the social and welfare activities of the Chruch, Naidu said the Catholic Church runs hospitals and other healthcare facilities in the remote areas of the country and serves millions of poor patients through its healthcare programmes.

"The Catholic communities in India along with the Christian community as a whole have been assiduously engaged in contributing their share to the building of a New India, which is united and strong," he said.

Naidu said the Feast of the birthday of Jesus – the Christmas – is a season of great joy and celebrations.

"During Christmas, the Christians express gratitude to God, greet one another with joy, peace and exchange gifts. Christmas is a joyful celebration of the Birthday of Jesus Christ and people all over the world, irrespective of caste, creed and nationality, celebrate Christmas with great joy and gaiety," he added.

“Jesus’ message is meant for all seasons, for all cultures, for all religions and for all nationalities. In fact, all religions preach love, peace, brotherhood and affection,” said Naidu.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Metaphysics is the Foundation of Science: Pope Benedict XVI


"Your mathematical 'religion' neglects the fundamental questions of freedom, love and evil.
"If...you wish to replace God with 'nature', the question remains as to who or what this nature is. Nowhere do you define it and it therefore appears to be an irrational divinity which explains nothing. However, I would like especially to note that in your religion of mathematics three fundamental themes of human existence are not considered: freedom, love and evil.
"I am surprised that with a nod you set aside freedom which has been and still remains a fundamental value of the modern age. Love does not appear in your book nor does the question of evil. Whatever neurobiology says or does not say about freedom, in the real drama of our history it is present as a crucial reality and it must be taken into account. However, your mathematical religion knows of no answer to the question of freedom, it ignores love and it does not give us any information on evil. A religion that neglects these fundamental questions is empty."
Pope Emeritus Benedict response letter to Piergiorgio Odifreddi, National Catholic Register Blog, 26 Nov. 2013.

"Mathematics, as such, is a creation of our intelligence: the correspondence between its structures and the real structures of the universe--which is the presupposition of all modern scientific and technological developments, already expressly formulated by Galileo Galilei with the famous affirmation that the book of nature is written in mathematical language--arouses our admiration and a raises a big question.
"It implies, in fact, that the universe itself is structured in an intelligent manner, such that a profound correspondence exists between our subjective reason and the objective reason in nature.
"It then become inevitable to ask oneself if there might not be a single original intelligence that is the common fon of them both.
"Thus, precisely the reflection on the development of science brings us toward the creator Logos. The tendency to give irrationality, chance and necessity the primacy is overturned, also to lead our intelligence and our freedom back to it. Upon these bases it again becomes possible to enlarge the area of our rationality, to reopen it to the larger questions of the truth and the good, to link theology, philosophy and science between them in full respect for the methods proper to them and of their reciprocal autonomy, but also in the awareness of the intrinsic unity that holds them together."
Benedict XVI, Verona Address 19 October 2006

In Berlin Pope Benedict argues that respect for nature is based on the implicit acknowledgment of specific natures, including the nature of man. Again, metaphysics is the basis of science.
"How can nature reassert itself in its true depth, with all its demands, with all its directives? I would like to recall one of the developments in recent political history, hoping that I will neither be misunderstood, nor provoke too many one-sided polemics. I would say that the emergence of the ecological movement in German politics since the 1970s, while it has not exactly flung open the windows, nevertheless was and continues to be a cry for fresh air which must not be ignored or pushed aside, just because too much of it is seen to be irrational. Young people had come to realize that something is wrong in our relationship with nature, that matter is not just raw material for us to shape at will, but that the earth has a dignity of its own and that we must follow its directives. In saying this, I am clearly not promoting any particular political party – nothing could be further from my mind. If something is wrong in our relationship with reality, then we must all reflect seriously on the whole situation and we are all prompted to question the very foundations of our culture. Allow me to dwell a little longer on this point. The importance of ecology is no longer disputed. We must listen to the language of nature and we must answer accordingly. Yet I would like to underline a point that seems to me to be neglected, today as in the past: there is also an ecology of man. Man too has a nature that he must respect and that he cannot manipulate at will. Man is not merely self-creating freedom. Man does not create himself. He is intellect and will, but he is also nature, and his will is rightly ordered if he respects his nature, listens to it and accepts himself for who he is, as one who did not create himself. In this way, and in no other, is true human freedom fulfilled."
Reichstag Building, Berlin Address Thursday, 22 September 2011

On Creation and on God the Creator and the Sustainer of all: the "vertical" origin of things.
"...[T]here is no opposition between faith's understanding of creation and the evidence of the empirical sciences. Philosophy in its early stages had proposed images to explain the origin of the cosmos on the basis of one or more elements of the material world. This genesis was not seen as a creation, but rather a mutation or transformation; it involved a somewhat horizontal interpretation of the origin of the world. A decisive advance in understanding the origin of the cosmos was the consideration of being qua being and the concern of metaphysics with the most basic question of the first or transcendent origin of participated being. In order to develop and evolve, the world must first be, and thus have come from nothing into being. It must be created, in other words, by the first Being who is such by essence...
"Thomas Aquinas taught that the notion of creation must transcend the horizontal origin of the unfolding of events, which is history, and consequently all our purely naturalistic ways of thinking and speaking about the evolution of the world. Thomas observed that creation is neither a movement nor a mutation. It is instead the foundational and continuing relationship that links the creature to the Creator, for he is the cause of every being and all becoming (cf. Summa Theologiae, I, q.45, a. 3)."
"...To state that the foundation of the cosmos and its developments is the provident wisdom of the Creator is not to say that creation has only to do with the beginning of the history of the world and of life. It implies, rather, that the Creator founds these developments and supports them, underpins them and sustains them continuously."
Benedict XVI, 2008 Address to the Academy of Sciences on evolution.

"Scientific predictability also raises the question of the scientist's ethical responsibility. His conclusions must be guided by respect for truth and an honest acknowledgment of both the accuracy and the inevitable limitations of the scientific method...
"...[T]he scientific method itself, in its gathering of data and in the processing and use of those data in projections, has inherent limitations that necessarily restrict scientific predictability to specific contexts and approaches. Science cannot, therefore, presume to provide a complete, deterministic representation of our future and of the development of every phenomenon that it studies. Philosophy and theology might make an important contribution to this fundamentally epistemological question, by, for example, helping the empirical sciences to recognize a difference between the mathematical inability to predict certain events and the validity of the principle of causality, or between scientific indeterminism or contingency (randomness) and causality on the philosophical level, or, more  radically, between evolution as the origin of a succession in space and time, and creation as the ultimate origin of participated being in essential Being.
"At the same time, there is a higher level that necessarily transcends all scientific predictions, namely, the human world of freedom and history. Whereas the physical cosmos can have its own spatial-temporal development, only humanity, strictly speaking, has a history, the history of its freedom. Freedom, like reason, is a precious part of God's image within us, and it can never be reduced to a determinisitic analysis. Its transcendence vis-a-vis the material world must be acknowledged and respected, since it is a sign of our human dignity. Denying that transcendence in the name of a supposed absolute ability of the scientific method to predict and condition the human world would involve the loss of what is human in man, and, by failing to recognize his uniqueness and transcendence, could dangerously open the door to his exploitation."
Benedict XVI 2006 Address to the Academy of Sciences

In the Odifreddi Letter Pope Benedict references his 2009 Christmas address to the Roman Curia which proposes a sort of "The Court of the Gentiles" as a place of dialogue between believers and non-believers. Here is the relevant text from that speech referencing his trip to the Czech Republic and to Paris that year where he speaks of the need for all to keep open the question of God.
"[W]e, as believers, must have at heart even those people who consider themselves agnostics or atheists. When we speak of a new evangelization these people are perhaps taken aback. They do not want to see themselves as an object of mission or to give up their freedom of thought and will. Yet the question of God remains present even for them, even if they cannot believe in the concrete nature of his concern for us. In Paris, I spoke of the quest for God as the fundamental reason why Western monasticism, and with it, Western culture, came into being. As the first step of evangelization we must seek to keep this quest alive; we must be concerned that human beings do not set aside the question of God, but rather see it as an essential question for their lives. We must make sure that they are open to this question and to the yearning concealed within it. Here I think naturally of the words which Jesus quoted from the Prophet Isaiah, namely that the Temple must be a house of prayer for all the nations (cf. Is 56: 7; Mk 11: 17). Jesus was thinking of the so-called 'Court of the Gentiles' which he cleared of extraneous affairs so that it could be a free space for the Gentiles who wished to pray there to the one God, even if they could not take part in the mystery for whose service the inner part of the Temple was reserved. A place of prayer for all the peoples by this he was thinking of people who know God, so to speak, only from afar; who are dissatisfied with their own gods, rites and myths; who desire the Pure and the Great, even if God remains for them the 'unknown God' (cf. Acts 17: 23). They had to pray to the unknown God, yet in this way they were somehow in touch with the true God, albeit amid all kinds of obscurity. I think that today too the Church should open a sort of 'Court of the Gentiles' in which people might in some way latch on to God, without knowing him and before gaining access to his mystery, at whose service the inner life of the Church stands. Today, in addition to interreligious dialogue, there should be a dialogue with those to whom religion is something foreign, to whom God is unknown and who nevertheless do not want to be left merely Godless, but rather to draw near to him, albeit as the Unknown."

The essential: Search for God
"...[T]he basic attitude of monks in the face of the collapse of the old order and its certainties was quærere Deum--setting out in search of God. We could describe this as the truly philosophical attitude: looking beyond the penultimate, and setting out in search of the ultimate and the true.
"By becoming a monk, a man set out on a broad and noble path, but he had already found the direction he needed: the word of the Bible, in which he heard God himself speaking...
"What gave Europe's culture its foundation--the search for God and the readiness to listen to him--remains today the basis of any genuine culture."
Benedict XVI Address Paris, College of the Bernadines, Sept. 12, 2008

Finally, here is a quote from Pope Saint Pius X on the need to study the Summa Theologica of Saint Thomas Aquinas as the antidote to the modern rejection of metaphysics, the separation of faith and reason, and the denial of God--relativism.
"...[T]hat 'the philosophy of St. Thomas may flourish incorrupt and entire in schools, which is very dear to Our heart,' and that 'the system of teaching which is based upon the authority and judgement of the individual teacher' and therefore 'has a changeable foundation whence many diverse and mutually conflicting opinions arise...not without great injury to Christian learning' (Leo XIII, Epist, Qui te of the 19th June, 1886) be abolished forever, it is Our will and We hereby order and command that teachers of sacred theology in Universities, Academies, Colleges, Seminaries and Institutions enjoying by apostolic indult the privilege of granting academic degrees and doctorates in philosophy, use the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas as the text of their prelections and comment upon it in the Latin tongue, and let them take particular care to inspire their pupils with a devotion for it."
Pope Pius X, Doctoris Angelici, 29 June 1914
Cf. The Twenty-Four Fundamental Theses of Official Catholic Philosophy

On the philosophical quest for God, viz. metaphysics, we might also quote Pope Saint John Paul II
"[The] question 'Can (and how can) one come to the conclusion that God really exists?' ultimately concerns Pascal's distinction between the Absolute--that is, the God of the philosophers (the rationalist libertins)--and the God of Jesus Christ; and, prior to Him, the God of the Patriarchs--from Abraham to Moses. Only the God of Jesus Christ is the living God. As has also been stated in the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum (no. 3), the first God mentioned above--the God of the philosophers--is the fruit of human thought, of human speculation, and capable of saying something valid about God. In the end, all rationalist arguments follow the path indicated in the Book of Wisdom and the Letter to the Romans--passing from the visible world to the invisible Absolute.
Aristotle and Plato follow this same, path, but in a different manner. The Christian tradition before Thomas Aquinas, and therefore also Augustine, was tied to Plato, from whim it nonetheless rightfully wanted to distance itself. For Christians, the philosophical Absolute, considered as the First Being or Supreme Good, did not have great meaning. Why engage in philosophical speculations about God, they asked themselves, if the living God has spoken, not only by way of the Prophets but also through His own Son? The theology of the Fathers, especially in the East, broke away more and more from Plato and from philosophers in general. Philosophy itself, in the Fathers, ends up in theology (as in the case, for example, in modern times, of Vladimir Soloviev).
Saint Thomas, however, did not abandon the philosophers' approach. He began his Summa Theologica with the question 'An Deus sit?'--'Does God exist?' (cf. I, q.2, a.3)...This question has proven very useful. Not only did it create theodicy, but this question has reverberated throughout a highly developed Western civilization. Even if today, unfortunately, the Summa Theological has been somewhat neglected, its initial question persists and continues to resound throughout our civilization...
"...Questioning God's existence is intimately united with the purpose of human existence. Not only is it a question of intellect; it is also a question of the will, even a question of the human heart (the raisons du coeur of Blaise Pascal). I think that it is wrong to maintain that Saint Thomas's position stands up only in the realm of the rational. One must, it is true, applaud Etienne Gilson when he agrees with Saint Thomas that the intellect is the most marvelous of god's creations, but that does not mean that we must give in to a unilateral rationalism. It is not good that his thought has been set aside in the post-conciliar period; he continues, in fact, to be the master of philosophical and theological universalism. In this context, his quinque viae--that is, him 'five ways' that lead toward a response to the question 'An Deus sit?'--should be read."
John Paul II, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, New York: Knopf, 1994, 28-29, 31.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

On Sexual Predators in High Places


In the midst of the fall from glory of numerous politicians and Hollywood moguls it is good to be reminded of a 2013 quote of Pope Emeritus Ratzinger.

"...deviant behaviour should not be ostensibly presented as a filthy crime which only exists in the Catholic Church."

By now, this should be a fact which is obvious to all. But it should be repeated and it should be kept in mind!

Here is the fuller quote which ends on a very positive note regarding the immeasurable grandeur of the saints and the Christian culture produced by the Catholic Church.

"As for what you say about the moral abuse of minors by priests, I can, as you know, only note it with deep dismay. I have never tried to hide these things. That the power of evil penetrates even to this point in the interior life of the faith is, for us, a suffering which, on the one hand, we must endure, while on the other hand, we must at the same time do everything possible so that cases such as these never occur again. Nor is it a reason for comfort to know that, according to the research of sociologists, the percentage of priests guilty of these crimes is not higher than in those found in other similar professions. In any case, this deviant behaviour should not be ostensibly presented as a filthy crime which only exists in the Catholic Church.

"If we may not remain silent about evil in the Church, then neither should we keep silent about the great shining path of goodness and purity which the Christian faith has traced out over the course of the centuries. We need to remember the great and pure figures which the faith has produced — from Benedict of Nursia and his sister Scholastica, to Francis and Claire of Assisi, to Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross, to the great saints of charity like Vincent de Paul and Camillo de Lellis, to Mother Teresa of Calcutta and the great and noble figures of nineteenth century Turin. It is also true today that faith moves many people to selfless love, to service to others, to sincerity and to justice. You cannot know how many forms of selfless assistance to the suffering are realized through the service of the Church and its faithful. If you were to take away everything that is done from these motives, it would cause a far-reaching social collapse. Lastly, neither should one keep silent regarding the artistic beauty which the faith has given to the world: nowhere is it better seen than in Italy. Think also of the music which has been inspired by faith, from Gregorian chant to Palestrina, Bach, Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Bruckner, Brahms, and so on."

Cf. Sexual Taboo Revenge: A Catholic Reflection on the Present Crisis in America

Friday, December 8, 2017

Most Blessed Among Women: The Immaculate Conception


Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed [Mary] with spiritual blessings in heavenly places, in Christ: As he chose [her] in him before the foundation of the world, that [she] should be holy and unspotted in his sight in charity. Who hath predestinated [her] unto the adoption of [daughter] through Jesus Christ unto himself: according to the purpose of his will: Unto the praise of the glory of his grace, in which he hath graced [her] in his beloved son. In whom [she] also [is] called by lot, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things according to the counsel of his will. That [she] may be unto the praise of his glory...

Thus the second reading (ordinary form), of the Mass of the Immaculate Conception, which applies a fortiori to Mary, created by God without the stain of original sin, today.

Happy Feast of the Immaculate Conception!

Below, enjoy some Gregorian chant for the feast, and sing along!




Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Christianity is the Catholic Church


"There is not...and never will be any reconciliation between Christianity and the experimental method. Christianity is the great church and nothing else is Christianity. To call anything else Christianity is to plunge into confusion and chaos; and it is an insult to Christianity. Christianity is a great thing, not a little one; one thing not many things; a rich thing not a poor thing; a majestic thing not a thing of shreds and patches. Christianity is Christianity at its noblest, truest, and most comprehensive, and that is the Catholic church. If you desire to be a Christian, join it. It will make no demands upon you that are more fearful than the demands made upon you by any peddling form of Christianity. It asks no greater sacrifice than Little Bethel or the Church of England; and it does not insult your intelligence by inviting you to become a member of a contradiction in terms."

M. Middleton Murry, God, 229. Quoted in Christopher Dawson, Christianity and the New Age, Manchester, NH: Sophia, 1985, 71.

Monday, December 4, 2017

The Fundamental Religious Problem


"The normal man has an obscure sense of the existence of a spiritual reality and a consciousness of the evil and misery of an existence which is the slave of sensual impulse and self-interest and which must inevitably end in physical suffering and death.

"But how is he to escape from this wheel to which he is bound by the accumulated weight of his own acts and desire?

"How is he to bring his life into vital relation with that spiritual reality of which he is but dimly conscious and which transcends all the categories of his thought and the conditions of human experience?

"This is the fundamental religious problem which has perplexed and baffled the mind of man from the beginning and is, in a sense, inherent in his nature."

Christopher Dawson, Christianity and the New Age, Manchester, New Hampshire: Sophia, 1985, 27-28.

Blessed Advent!

"Hay que"


HAY QUE

Hay que andar por el camino
posando apenas los pies;
hay que ir por este mundo
como quien no va por él.

La alforja ha de ser ligera
firme el báculo ha de ser,
y más firme la esperanza
y más firme aún la fe.

A veces la noche es lóbrega;
más para el que mira bien
siempre desgarra un lucero
la ceñuda lobreguez.

Por último, hay que morir
al deseo y al placer,
para que al llegar la muerte
a buscarnos, halle que

ya estamos muertos del todo,
no tenga nada que hacer
y se limite a llevarnos
de la mano por aquel

sendero maravilloso
que habremos de recorrer,
libertados para siempre
de tiempo y espacio. ¡Amén!

Amado Nervo.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Jesus Christ Supersedes Mohammed, Buddha, Confucius

Before dying Mohammed said that he did not know the purpose of life.
Buddha said for his followers to follow the truth.
Confucius said: "I am not the way."

But Jesus said: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father, but by me." John 14:6

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Requiem Record

Monday, November 27, 2017

Sexual Taboo Revenge: A Catholic Reflection on the Present Crisis in America

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, Virgin, "Lily of the Mohawks"

Enlightenment in education has sought to shed what was considered out-dated superstitions restricting sexual liberation.

"The area in which [radical enlightenment...the stated goal of education and the aegis under which the spirit of the times deliberately chooses to present itself] is most recognized...[in] the attempt to do away with the problem of sex and eros in the name of enlightenment, to turn it into a nonproblem by means of a knowledge devoid of taboos...[This] is only one (admittedly characteristic) symptom of an optimistic enlightenment that has, as its ultimate goal, liberation through knowledge."
Joseph Ratzinger, Principles of Catholic Theology, San Francisco: Ignatius, 1989 (an article originally published in 1975 under the title "Formation and Belief in our Time").

Fornication, adultery, and sodomy have all been decriminalized in the West, along with abortion. Contraception is promoted as a standard of healthy and responsible sexual license. "Consensual" fornication among minors (i.e. statutory rape) is all but decriminalized, with some weight given to the consent of the parents of the minors. Never mind about the related problems of ubiquitous prostitution and widespread pornography.

It is very important to note that precisely in this purposefully licentious environment of practically half a decade the problem of sex has come back to haunt us with a vengeance. And the problem was first felt in the Church. (Note in this regard the passage from a post two days ago: "Through the faith of the priest, doors open up all around for the people: it is really possible to believe, even today. All human believing is believing-with, and for this reason the one who believes before us is so important. In many ways this person is more exposed in his faith than the others, since their faith depends on his and since, at any given time, he has to withstand the hardships of faith for them. This is the reason why crises of the Church and of faith often make themselves felt sooner and more acutely among priests and religious than among the laity.")

Then there was some publicity about the epidemic problem of pedophilia in the schools and in school sports programs. Now, in the most recent exposures of these widespread crimes, Hollywood takes center stage in sexual abuse, and politicians are also being called out for their abuses.

The upshot is that sex in America is still a problem, and bigger than ever. Denial does not make it go away! Did we actually think that freeing people up (principally men--the biological penetrators) to do whatever they want sexually, the problem would go away? Lust does not take away lust.

In olden times a man making indecent suggestions to a woman (or to a man for that matter) would be charged with indecency in his attempted fornication or adultery (or sodomy). Not so today. All of that is open game today because those sins are considered o.k.. But that makes things very confusing because everything is made to hang upon a degree of consent rather than on a forbidden act. Not to belittle the gravity of real sexual abuse, but all of America is sexually abused by this novel and experimental permissiveness and licentiousness, which are failing us in every way. And the ones who suffer the greatest losses here are the weakest and the most vulnerable, the children in utero and extra utero, youth, and women.

The sexual laws (including marital laws) of a society are primarily supposed to defend the rights of mothers and children, that is why we call marriage matrimony from the Latin, the rights due to motherhood: the greatest safeguard against every form of abuse to women and children, including every manner of sexual sin. What is more, no sexual sins are healthy, and condoms are not healthy. They are dirty and they dirty and damage the body and the person very deeply.

Chastity is the remedy to lust. And holiness is the source of chastity. Jesus Christ and the Ever Virgin Mary and all the Saints are the masters of chastity, responsibility and respect.

May I here suggest that the State needs to consult the Catholic Church on how to remedy the present crisis which was created precisely because of the State's blatant rejection and mockery of the Church's time-honored and true societal norms regarding this aspect of the sanctity of the human body.

Cf. Fugite fornicationem: 1 Corinthians 6:15-20.
Condoms are Bad for Health
Homosexuality is Bad for Health

The Coat of Arms of the Gregorian Pontifical University, The Museum of Jesuit Treasures, Etc.

Jesus (IHS surmounted by the cross).
For the Greater Glory of God (A.M.D.G.)
1553 the founding of the Roman College, with the money given by Francis Borgia.
1583 the moving of the Roman College to the new site under the patronage of Pope Gregory XIII.
Seat of Wisdom (The Blessed Virgin Mary Seated on a Throne with the Child Jesus in her Lap, Blessing with his Right Hand).
For Religion and Good Arts (Culture).

N.B. There are a great collection of Jesuit treasures at the Chiesa di Gesú in what is called "La Sagrestia Nuova", the new sacristy, an upstairs series of rooms which includes a balcony looking out into the central nave of the church. The website says it is open to the public every Saturday, Sundays and Holy Days 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM, or by appointment at info@chiesadelgesu.org

At Saint Louis University there is a much more modest collection of Jesuit treasures related to the American missions.


And, last year, a part of the Roman College, the rooms of Saint Louis Gonzaga, were restored to their original splendor and opened again to the public. I would love to say Mass on that altar! To make reservations for a visit: Tel. 066974406 – chiesasantignazio@gesuiti.it

Saturday, November 25, 2017

"Donkey's Have Unwittingly Carried Kings"


Having seen "The Star" the movie last Thursday, that is how I would name it.

The movie is the Christmas story, the birth of Christ the King, the Son of God and Son of Mary.

The donkey, Boaz, is ambitious to participate in a royal caravan but is recruited to work for Mary and Joseph of Nazareth en route to Bethlehem. When he is finally able to get away and go with the caravan of the king he decides, because of his affection for the Blessed Virgin (because of her kindness to him), to return to help Mary, Jesus (in utero) and Joseph. The story is really about the conversion of a donkey by becoming generous, and thus, unknowingly, serving the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords!

There is also an element of mercy in that "Bo" saves the savage dogs of Herod when they are in dire danger, and those (would-be assassin dogs) also convert and join the throng in adoration of the newborn King in the manger.

One clear downside to the movie is the overtly effeminate bird Dave. Perhaps the bird should have been female rather than a "gay" (acting) bird.

Also, I would have preferred greater fidelity to the scriptural texts: e.g. "Hail, full of grace" is omitted as is "Gloria in excelsis Deo!" of the choirs of angels.

N.B. Decent Films Review of "The Star."

The Power of God and the Faith of the Priest: Ex Opere Operantis from Ex Opere Operato


"Power in the sense of the authority of Jesus Christ is power that arises from a relationship; it is power that is imparted in obedience and returns in responsibility. If this is true, then it follows that priests and correspondingly Christians in general must be people who live from and in a relationship--the relationship with God. The priest must be a believer, one who converses with God. If this is not the case, then all his activities are futile. The most lofty and important thing a priest can do for people is first of all being what he is: a believer. Through faith he lets God, the other, come into the world. And if the other is not at work, our work will never be enough. When people sense that one is there who believes, who lives with God and from God, hope becomes a reality for them as well. Through the faith of the priest, doors open up all around for the people: it is really possible to believe, even today. All human believing is believing-with, and for this reason the one who believes before us is so important. In many ways this person is more exposed in his faith than the others, since their faith depends on his and since, at any given time, he has to withstand the hardships of faith for them. This is the reason why crises of the Church and of faith often make themselves felt sooner and more acutely among priests and religious than among the laity. There is also the danger that a priest takes the world of faith for granted or that it irritates him, that he becomes tired of it, first like the younger brother in the parable and then like the older. When this happens, people in the world, especially those who have found their way back to faith after experiencing the emptiness of the world, can do for him what the homecoming of the younger brother did for the older. They have experienced the deserts of the world and rediscovered the beauty of the house which has become a burden for the one who stayed. In this way there is a mutual give-and-take in faith in which priests and lay people become mediators of the nearness of God for one another. The priest must also nurture the humility of such receiving in himself. He must not allow that pride to awaken in him which we detect in the older brother: this good-for-nothing who is now enjoying home knows nothing about the burden of faithfulness. In our situation this pride often appears as a kind of arrogance that is typical of a specialist: What do these believing people in the world even know about the questions of biblical criticism and all the other kinds of criticism? What do they know about the misuse of power in the Church and about all the misery that is part of the Church's history? The arrogance of the specialist in matters of faith is a particularly intractable kind of blindness that is part of every know-it-all attitude. The faith that rediscovers the fresh water of God's word in the desert of a world emptied of God, at the pigs' trough of entertainment sprees gone hollow, such a faith may be inferior to the specialist in terms of knowledge about biblical text criticism, but for discerning the real that can be drawn from this well it is often infinitely superior to him. There will always be the fatigue of the older brother, but it should not lead to that intransigence which is no longer capable of hearing the wonderful words of the father: Everything I have is yours. The priest has to believe before others, but he also must be humble enough again and again to imitate and to cooperate with their faith. He strengthens their faith, but he also constantly receives faith from them.

"By no means do we take it for granted when we say: We first let God's strength into the world by believing in him. The first 'task' a priest has to do is to be a believer and to become one ever anew and ever more. Faith is never simply there automatically; it must be lived. It leads us into conversation with God which involves speaking and listening to the same degree. Faith and prayer belong together; they cannot be separated. The time spent by a priest on prayer and listening to Scripture is never time lost to pastoral care or time withheld from others. People sense whether the work and words of their pastor spring from prayer or are fabricated at his desk. Above and beyond all activity, he must carry his congregation in prayer and into prayer and thus entrust it to God's power. Mutual give-and-take is certainly necessary here as well: praying always means praying with the whole praying Church, and hearing the Scriptures properly can take place only when listening with the Church."

Joseph Ratzinger, A New Song for the Lord: Faith in Christ and Liturgy Today, New York: Crossroad, 1997, 46-48. (From "God's Power--Our Hope", a lecture given in Dresden, 1987.)

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