Saturday, May 10, 2003

Beautiful Ride!

This afternoon, I biked to downtown Santa Barbara and back from where I live - total approx. 25 miles, which is quite a big deal for me! I hadn't done this ride in almost 4 years, so after a few weeks of mild preparation, I figured I was ready to give it a go. The ride there was beautiful. You take a coastal route from the university down along the beach, through the prestigious Hope Ranch community, down through a secluded beach, and then down a fun hill to the Santa Barbara Harbor and Stearn's Wharf. One of the last times I did this, I saw dolphins frolicking in the nearby sea. And today, it was a beautiful, sunny day.

However, I quickly found out that I was not in as great of shape as I initially figured, but that's okay. I gave myself opportunies to rest, kept well hydrated, and enjoyed downtown while I was there.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, May 09, 2003

The Unhealed Wound

Bishop Thomas Curry has some good criticisms of Eugene Kennedy's mindless diatribe, The Unhealed Wound: The Church, the Priesthood, and the Question of Sexuality. Kennedy gave this as a talk at the University here in Santa Barbara to plug his book. Bishop Curry writes:
In his book, Eugene Kennedy writes of "a once totally passive Catholic community conditioned to receive and accept as God's will whatever the official Church bade its members do" (p. 101).

Nineteenth century anti-Catholics would have concurred with him. As Philip Hamburger documents so thoroughly in his recent "Separation of Church and State" (Harvard U.P, 2002), that was precisely the stereotype they used to advocate the exclusion of Catholics from the franchise and political life.The very people Kennedy so denigrates faced constant and malignant prejudice, and by their courage, faith and resistance, they contributed enormously to the transformation of America into a pluralistic, open and diverse nation. In the church that they built for themselves, they found a refuge from their sufferings, and they created one of the most vibrant expressions of Catholicism ever.

... The depth of his confusion and lack of understanding of contemporary Catholicism appears in his astonishing and unsupported statement: "Distracted from or forgetting it, the church misses entirely the meaning of its central teaching that God took on our flesh in Jesus, sparing Himself none of our experiences, save sin, in order to heal our wounds and make us whole" (10).

... his view of history and life is based on crass conspiracy theory and reductionism. The Catholic people are seen as mindless sheep, manipulated by conspiring "hierarchs," or just long-suffering martyrs to the same. He reduces the whole tradition of celibacy in Catholicism to the desire of the 11th century pope Gregory VII to protect church lands (IX).
Reality always comes off second best when measured against an idealized future. Like a modern-day Gatsby, Kennedy believes in the "orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us." However, in his determination to present such a skewed and partisan version of Catholicism, he joins himself to an old tradition of American anti-Catholicism and is himself "borne back ceaselessly into the past."
Commencement Speakers

Graduation speakers: Issues and controversies

Interesting article by Michelle Gahee in the recent Tidings:
At Loyola Marymount University, the selection of actor-director Mel Gibson and film director William Friedkin as commencement speakers has generated much talk -- Gibson for his conservative (some would say traditional) views toward the Catholic Church (he likes the Tridentine Mass), Gibson and Friedkin for some of their films that have shown explicit violence.
Funny how she qualifies Gibson's "traditionalism" by saying he likes the Tridentine Mass. Is that all it takes?

But I'm not sure I can picture Mel Gibson at LMU. At the commencement ceremony for my B.S. degree in 2000, our speaker was the CEO of Honeywell corporation. He gave an excellent talk concerning ethics in engineering and how as engineers, we should always be asking questions about the effects of our work on the world. However, the speaker at the ceremony for my M.S. degree in 2001 gave what was largely a diatribe on the liberation of radical feminism. Sometimes it's hit and miss.

So I pose the question - what makes a truly beneficial or inspirational commencement speech?
Bridge Building

I just got back from an advisory board meeting on which I serve for the "Santa Barbara Bridge Building" program. Bridge Building is a regional young adult ministry program specifically intended for young adult Catholics ages 25-35 in the Santa Barbara Pastora Region of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Young adults of this age range have a difficult time fitting into programs in this area - because most programs are either for much older Catholics, or if they are "young adult" events, they are typically for kids ages 16-24. Young adults 25+ are at a different area in life, spiritually and maturity speaking. So with the help of our regional bishop, Bishop Thomas Curry, and the Sisters of St. Joseph, Bridge Building was born.

The program proceeds in cycles. It starts with listening, then education and developing, and then service. We began the program with "conversation circles" in which we invite a bunch of young adults to come and talk about their spiritual lives, their experiences of being a young adult in the Church, and those things in their lives that prevent them from developing their spirituality as they'd like. It gives them a chance to meet one another and to gain other insights about what it means to be a young adult Catholic in Santa Barbara. Based on these things, we arrange lectures, retreats, prayer nights, and other education opportunities given by people who can speak to those needs for our age group.

Currenty, our next stage is our mission/service effort. We are arranging mission opportunities in the community to help young adults get involved, if they desire.

We then begin the cycle again. It may go an entirely different direction. Being on the advisory board to help plan these things has been a very insightful experience. It has helped me connect with other ministers in the region. What is really excellent is that I have really met a very diverse group of young adults, many of whom I number as good friends today.

Thursday, May 08, 2003

The Misplaced Infinite

A couple of weeks ago, I picked up a copy of a book of transcripts from Archbishop Fulton Sheen's Life is Worth Living (Second Series). Being a lover of Fulton Sheen's inspirational work, I figured it would be a good pick, and it was. So in addition to all the other things about which I would like to blog over the coming weeks, I'd like to occasionally blog about my impressions of a few chapters as they strike me.

In his oration, which is titled Misplaced Infinite, Sheen discusses the delineation between a normal human being and an abnormal one.

The normal human being is meant to have open relationships with the eternal or the infinite. Man has a body, a mind, and a relationship with things in the great world that constitutes his environment. The normal human being recognizes that his body gives him the capacity to experience sensual pleasure or carnal love. This love is to be seen as a spark from the great flame of love, which is God. Sex love was made not only to deepen the affection between husband and wife, not only to be a prolongation of God's creative power to creatures, but also to be a steppingstone to a higher love of God.
You can see how Sheen characterizes normal living. Our bodies, our minds, and those things which make up our environment are given to us to be oriented such that their purpose is to lift us up and direct us toward God. As Sheen illustrates with the example of the capacity of the body to feel, touch, and experience sensual pleasure - properly understood, such pleasure is intended not only to deepen the love between a married couple, but is, as Sheen puts it, a prolongation of God's creative power and to deepen our love of Him. When used, all of these faculties should always have an orientation toward God.

The mind by discovering the truths of science, history, and philosophy, gradually unifies them and sees them as a descent, refraction, and echo of the Great Omniscient Truth, which is God.
When we exercise the faculies of our mind with proper appreciation of their purpose, we are taken to the depths of deeper awareness of God. So even after reading this, one can already begin to see what Sheen believes to characterize the abnormal mind - a misguided sense of the orientation of our bodies, minds, and things in our environments.

[In] abnormal living, man [cuts] himself off from God and [proclaims] his own sufficiency. But man cannot live without a god, that is impossible. The infinite haunts him constantly. So he has to make his own gods. These gods are generally three. The first god is his own body. Sexual pleasure then becomes the supreme goal of life and ultimate happiness. He attempts to compensate for a want of eternal divine destiny by the intensity of his erotic experiences. Other men make a god of their minds through egotism and pride and the exaltation of the ego.

The body, made its own limit, becomes sex. The mind, made its own limit, becomes egotism. The things, denied an extraearthly relationship, become the source of greed. Civilization then becomes a conflict of individual egotisms, each one affirming his own will. From this result jealousies, bickerings, ... and war.

The third substitute god men make for the true God is the material: wealth, avarice, business, and greed. The true infinite is replaced by the false infinite of "more." Men attempt to cover their nudity by a vain display, thinking they are worth something because they have something.
I think that Sheen has a really good point here. Without a proper orientation of our bodies, minds, and relationship with the things in our environments, we are desparate to give them some purpose which falls short of God, which typically means they fall in on themselves. Thus they no longer lift us up in our relationship with God but leave us stranded on the dusty floors of life.

Sheen continues to note that there are two primary effects that flow from the abnormal living: Anxiety and Despair.

Anxiety, because man sees a disproportion between what he is and what he ought to be... Dispair, because living in a closed circle makes a man despair in that he cannot escape the desire for the infinite, and having made himself the infinite, he foresees there is nothing ahead of him but death, annihilation, and destruction
What he notes about despair is really interesting and perfectly correct. Man despairs when he is limited from the infinite. Man rejoices when he is free. The trouble is that the cause of man's limitation here is himself. Therefore I call this a self-perpetuating blindness, and a self-fulfilling prophecy in that, once in this rut, man gets what he pretty much expects to get.

But is hope lost on us? Of course not. If in normal living our faculties are properly oriented toward God, it cannot be because we have done this out of our own power! They are gifts of God to His Creation and we, as instruments, are empowered by His grace to use them. When we cooperate with God's freely given grace, we are created anew.

There are two things that are meant to go together. One is the misery of man: his worries, his trials, his difficulties, his sorrows. The other, the Mercy of God. Our modern world... has separated the misery of man from the mercy of God. As misery without mercy begets despair, so also, a sense of God's Mercy without a sense of sin can beget presumption, arrogance, and pride. Man has already one-half the condition of salvation - he is miserable. Then he has peace as he hears, coming from out of the darkness, the plea, "Come to Me, all ye who labor and are heavily burdened, and find rest for your souls."

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

Nuntii Latini - Recitatio Radiophonica

I want to blog briefly on a neat little resource if you are interested in hearing spoken Classical Latin. Nuntii Latini is a Finnish site where the news is broadcast each day in Classical Latin. Though Classical Latin is not what I am most familiar with simply because the Ecclesiastical Latin that I am studying tends to use some simplifications (like more use of prepositions, common to the romance languages to which classical latin gave birth), not to mention different pronunciations, I and others particularly like this site because it utilizes a rather neo-Latin vocabulary. What I mean by neo-Latin is that is a great source to hear modern terms and place names in Latin. For example, space shuttle is rendered navicula spatialis.

A transcript of the day's news is also available.

A fun time for the whole family.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Free Greek and Latin Study Aids

Download free books in PDF format at Textkit Greek and Latin Learning Tools:

Textkit is a language learning site which provides Greek and Latin grammars, reading material, classical e-books and other learning resources. Textkit is the Internet's leading source for free, fully downloadable, public domain Greek and Latin grammars. We also provide a wide range of classical e-books from Greek and Roman authors. With currently 119 free books to choose from, Greek and Latin learners have downloaded 52,972 grammars, readers and classical e-books.
Santa Barbara, CA

I managed to snap this photo in March of Santa Barbara on a Sunday Afternoon

Not bad for a disposable camera, isn't it?

Monday, May 05, 2003

The Eucharist in Poetry

by: Pedro Calderon de la Barca (1600-1681)

HONEY in the lion's mouth,
Emblem mystical, divine,
How the sweet and strong combine;
Cloven rock for Israel's drouth;
Treasure-house of golden grain
By our Joseph laid in store,
In his brethren's famine sore
Freely to dispense again;
Dew on Gideon's snowy fleece;
Well, from bitter turned to sweet;
Shew-bread laid in order meet,
Bread whose cost doth ne'er increase,
Though no rain in April fall;
Horeb's manna freely given
Showered in white dew from heaven,
Marvelous, angelical;
Weightiest bunch of Canaan's vine;
Cake to strengthen and sustain
Through long days of desert pain;
Salem's monarch's bread and wine;--
Thou the antidote shalt be
Of my sickness and my sin,
Consolation, medicine,
Life and Sacrament to me.
The Mass of the Second Vatican Council

The 1965 Missale Romanum in English

If you are a lover of liturgical history like me, you will find this interesting. The 1965 Roman Missal was published at the close of the Second Vatican Council and was apparently in use from 1965 until 1969/1970. It was superceded by the new missal of Pope Paul VI. According to the link, the 1965 missal reflects the intended fruit of Sacrosanctum Concilium. As I read through it, I could definitely see similarities to both the previously used 1962 Tridentine missal and the Novus Ordo. The link notes the following:

an option for use of the vernacular exists in the 1965. Furthermore, as in the Novus Ordo, it is at the discretion of the celebrant to either face the East ("ad orientem") or the people ("versus ad populum"). An option for concelebration was also introduced in the 1965 (this was formerly restricted to Ordination Masses). The required Mass vestments were also simplified (e.g., optionality of the maniple). In 1967, the cope was supressed in the Asperges (rite of aspersion at High Mass). The chasuble was worn in its stead. The Canon was still required to be read in Latin until 1967, when it was permitted in the vernacular. In the 1965 Missal, the priest, when administering Communion, says "the Body of Christ" (or "Corpus Christi") instead of "Corpus + Domini nostri Jesu Christi custodiat animam tuam ad vitam aeternam" (that is, "May the Body + of our Lord Jesus Christ bring thy soul unto life everlasting").

Options for congregational singing also exist in the 1965, exactly as they do in the Novus Ordo -- with places for processional, offertory, communion, and recessional hymns. The 1965 also allows for the Prayer of the Faithful after the Creed. The prayers at the foot of the altar, in addition to being made entirely optional, were shortened (as they would previously be prayed at Requiem Masses). The Last Gospel was suppressed. The calendar follows the Tridentine Ordo, consistent with that of the previous Missal (Missale Romanum 1962). Ironically enough, the New St. Joseph's Missal ends the Liturgical Calendar in 1970.

(Andrew, was this the missal that you were telling me you owned?)

Check it out!
Christ, the Medicine of Immortality

At the Pro Deo et Patria blog, Bill Cork blogs this about a bad editorial concerning the Holy Father's latest encyclical, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, by an ex-Catholic named Mark Marek, which aired on WLSH, a radio station in Lansford, Pennsylvania.

I have already now run into many people, many of them Catholics, who do not get the point of this encyclical. Their sole exposure to the encyclical is through secular media reports, and they always end up saying, "This isn't what the Church needs now!" as though the Church should no longer be willing to stand up for the Truth and the continuing call of the Gospel in spite of his human brokenness.

This is _exactly_ what the Church needs now! The problem of priestly sexual abuse is more than just a physical problem, it is a spiritual problem. And the effects are not just physical, they are also spiritual. In order to heal, we need to get our focus back on Christ. It must be back on living the Gospel. And for us Catholics, the Sacraments, particularly the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation are ways in which God gives us the grace to answer His daily call and enhance our relationship with Him and with each other. As Bill correctly notes, the Eucharist is the "bread of life" and the "medicine of immortality" and we should never forget this.

The Holy Father knows this. And yet he also knows the terrible state that proper catechesis concerning the Eucharist and Reconciliation is in. Giving us the proper focus, allowing us to more fully understand the depth of the power and mystery of grace, the Holy Father is doing what a true shepherd does - he leads us back to Christ, the Good Shepherd. He leads us to forgiveness, reconciliation, and nourishment offered to us in the sacraments.

I ask those who feel that the time "isn't right" for the encyclical to first read the encyclical. Then I ask them, if not this, what is it time for? To toss aside the medicine of immortality for better PR? Christ never refuses someone without offering an invitation and a challenge for conversion. Our Holy Father invites those with grave sin in their life to experience and embrace the grace of forgiveness offered in Christ through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, so they can be disposed by grace to cooperate with that which Christ gives us in the gift of Himself in the Holy Eucharist.

And as members of the Body of Christ, let us not bow out at the challenge to stand up and keep running the good race, fighting the good fight, and witnessing to the world the power and beauty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.


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