Monday, November 28, 2011

Divine Minesweeper

This past Sunday, I went to the Melkite Rite Church nearby.  The Gospel was about the rich man who observed the commandments, but wanted to know what else to do to gain Eternal Life.  Often, I have heard the gloss which describes the man's lack of generosity, of being willing to live a great life, not merely a good one.  However, Fr. ____ , in his sermon illuminated a different aspect of the story.  He said that the rich man was looking at Eternal Life all wrong, as we do so often ourselves.  We regard our actions and so often say: "I didn't do anything wrong, I broke no commandment, so I must be doing alright." However, this scarcely puts us on the right path.  Avoiding evil is a lukewarm response to the Gospel, at best; and we all know of Our Lord's words about the lukewarm at heart. When we look at our actions with an eye to having avoided sin, we are playing minesweeper with Eternal Life as the prize.  At any moment we are likely to strike a mine (a sin) and damage or destroy ourselves.  Rather, we should take the positive aspects of the law, as shown by Our Lord, and make them a road map.  If we take His words, we have an infallible map to Eternal Life, and can avoid the mines.  We should aim at the prize--we should run so as to win-- rather than drift along hoping to avoid mines.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Who Wants to Go See This Movie?

I am intrigued by the upcoming Adventures of Tintin.  I grew up reading the the books, and now a well-produced theater version is on its way.  What about you?

I found some reviews, which seemed to be pretty positive:   I can't wait!


Monday, November 14, 2011

Politics Today

The day before the last state election,  I got this flyer on my doorstep.

I rolled my eyes.   If political campaigns run at this level,  it's no wonder our country is in dire straits.  Either our politicians don't respect us,  or they really believe what they tell us.  Either way,  we are toast...


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Greed is Greed, Whether Communist or Capitalist

A horrifying and unreported aspect of the drive for the best in electronics is the role that Chinese imperialism has to play.  I read the following story, and noted how similar it sounded to the horror stories from the Industrial Revolution and radical Imperialist times (especially the Belgian involvement in Africa).  Take a  moment to read this, and note that, just at in Dubai, there is a dark back-story to much of what we buy or use in the Western world.  The question is, how complicit are our corporations, the shareholders, the purchasers?


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Delicious Irony

I can't decide which one I like best...
There’s nothing like the comforting sight of one’s own home after a long, difficult day.
It was finally pointed out to her that she was watering the lawn unevenly.

Maybe he’d have more visitors if his kitchen was stocked with more than just shattered dreams.
From Unhappy Hipsters.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Distinction with Meaning

On Saturday,  the Holy Father visited the famous Pieta at Etzelsbach (the Germans were famous for their devotional displays of the Pieta, from whence it moved to Italy)  where he gave a brief address to those assembled.  His speech was excellent,  but one line in particular seized my attention.  Benedict said:

     It is not self-fulfilment that truly enables people to flourish, according to the model that modern life so often proposes to us, which can easily turn into a sophisticated form of selfishness.
This is the money quote, as it were.  Benedict completes the thought as follows: " . . . it is an attitude of self-giving directed towards the heart of Mary and hence also towards the heart of the Redeemer."  When it comes down to it, Benedict is referring to the prevailing fault of modernity, and of human nature.  We are meant to be happy, we seek it constantly.  Yet, since the Garden of Eden, we substitute something that we think will bring happiness for that which alone is happiness, the Life of God.  For, what is this modern self-fulfilment, other than the "Non serviam" of Lucifer, of Adam and Eve.  Self-fulfillment becomes the excuse for dodging anything unpleasant: responisbilities, service, having a family, even death itself.  Benedict's words made me sit up and realize that there truly is "nothing new under the sun." Self-fulfilment in it's modern guise is a lie, though certainly part-truth, as all good lies are.  We are meant to be fulfilled and happy, even on a strictly human level; but the self cannot accomplish this.  If modern society tells us one thing, we should look to its opposite to double-check.  We can certainly see that this is so, for self-fulfilment is another name for selfishness whenever it is not based on self-giving.  Ultimately, this self-giving must be directed towards God, which is why we have Our Lady, whose heart is close to her Son's Divine heart. We cannot let the veneer of plausibility, which surrounds the worldly notion of happiness as self-fulfilment, redirect our attention and efforts from the manner in which we can truly achieve happiness. 

-Quaestor (Material found at the blog of Fr. Zulesdorf)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Some Monday humor.

I've meant to post this for a while,  and after an unusually bad commute,  I need a laugh. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Catholics and the New Media

Msgr. Pope from the Archdiocese of Washington, DC (always a worthy read) wrote this article the other day, commenting on the use of new media in Catholic living.  Let me just say that I was at least a little shocked at the evidence and conclusions.  But read for yourself!


Monday, September 19, 2011

Morality in America, a Brief Comment

In any further proof of our emotivist society was required, look no further: the New York Times has taken note.  They have a small opinion article (by regular columnist David Brooks) discussing the findings of a sociologist from Notre Dame.  The sociologist in question, Christopher Smith, noted that sixty-six percent of respondents to a study asking about moral dilemmas couldn't even identify a moral dilemma.  The responents were young adults between eighteen and twenty-three, leaving one to wonder what has happened to the formation of children and young adults.  Even with morality explained, the consensus amongst the replies was that the right choice in a difficult situation would be what felt right.  With fallen human nature being what it is, it is scarcely surprising that we seek to use reason to justify our choices, but society today doesn't even use reason, and anything in the world can be justified by the words: "It felt right." I am sure that the reality of the situation is less bleak, but this study does provide a rather bleak insight into the methods of self-perpetuation in a culture of death.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

St. Paul and Salvation: With or Without Works

   For many years, I could not figure out the meaning of St. Paul's understanding of salvation coming through faith, not the works of the law. I knew that there was a still a relation between the two, but not how it made sense. Discussion of this in more advanced classes had been either obscurely presented or hazily recieved due to my lack of sleep. Then, last Sunday, I had a breakthrough. I realized I had been looking at St. Paul's assertion as somehow opposing Faith and works, much as either Protestant doctrine or Catholic apologetics tended to. As I scanned the readings prior to the Extraordinary Form Mass I was about to attend (13th Sunday after Pentecost) I noticed that St. Paul did not oppose Faith and the Law, but rather described a relationship. I needed to look at both together. The reading is as follows:
St. Paul  -Marco Zoppo
    Brethren: To Abraham were the promises made and to his seed. He says not: And to his seeds as of many. But as of one: And to your seed, which is Christ. Now this I say: that the testament which was confirmed by God, the law which was made after four hundred and thirty years does not disannul, to make the promise of no effect. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise. But God gave it to Abraham by promise. Why then was the law? It was set because of transgressions, until the seed should come to whom he made the promise, being ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.  Now a mediator is not of one: but God is one. Was the law then against the promises of God: God forbid! For if there had been a law given which could give life, verily justice should have been by the law. But the scripture has concluded all under sin, that the promise, by the faith of Jesus Christ, might be given to them that believe. But before the faith came, we were kept under the law shut up, unto that faith which was to be revealed. Wherefore the law was our pedagogue in Christ: that we might be justified by faith. But after the faith has come, we are no longer under a pedagogue.
St. Paul means that the Old Testament or Covenant had two parts; one part was the “promise,” one the “pedagogue” leading the Jews toward the promise. St. Paul says that the “promise” was the same as the the “faith of Jesus Christ,” the New Covenant. I then saw that there were two ways to see the relationship of the Law and Faith. If Faith is the life according to the fullness of God’s promise, then perhaps, inasmuch as we failed to grasp or live this faith, we still remained subject to parts of the law, such as the Ten Commandments. The other way to see this, which is in some ways more interesting, is like an onion that gets bigger on the inside. As C.S. Lewis has Eustace, Jill, Tirian, and their friends discover at the end of The Last Battle, the further in you go, the bigger it gets. (“Further up and further in!”) Perhaps, then, the promise, the New Covenant was contained in the Old Covenant, but hidden, like a blossom hidden as a bud. Thus, parts of the law, of the “pedagogue,” are built into the New Covenant, the “faith of Jesus Christ.” It could be that there is a central essence to the Old Covenant that unfolds as the New, at the time designated by God, and the old shell of the law is gone, but not every aspect. Thus, St. Paul could say that we are justified by faith, since that is the whole of the New Covenant, involving certain works or vestiges (or the essence) of the law. Clearly, the law cannot bring us to the promise, but the promise still has a law.

   Although this may not interest everyone, I was excited to find this. Of course, had I paid attention in class, I may not have had to suffer in ignorance for so long.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Russia: Is there hope?

As you may know, I have an ongoing interest in the fate of the great nation, Russia.  I think my interest derived from my interest in Cold War stories, and then developed through my increased interest in the Russian Orthodox Church.  Certainly, with the words of Our lady at Fatima, I think Catholics should be concerned about Russia's future.  The folks over at PRI have a new, insightful video, which details some information about the current state of affairs in Russia, focusing on demographic concerns.  Watch and consider.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

More to come...

I said brief, not infinitesimal....

For the world that follows, I will be posting again soon...