Saturday, May 17, 2003

Healing the Culture

Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J., Ph.D. of Gonzaga University, whom I had the priviledge of hearing at the Religious Education Congress in Los Angeles in February (see my earlier blog entry), now has his own series every wednesday this month (8pm PST) on EWTN: Healing the Culture - A Pro-Life Philosophy:
Fr. Robert Spitzer, president of Gonzaga University and deeply committed to engaging our culture in the pro-life message, unfolds a theme of developing health, happiness, and purpose within the individual and thus within society. His philosophical and theological discussions are couched in language the laity understands and appreciates, and, most importantly, will be motivated to put into practice.
The episode list is short but pretty comprehensive. As I mentioned in my earlier blog, Fr. Spitzer is co-founder for the Center For Life Principles and is a very engaging speaker. Tune him in!

Friday, May 16, 2003

How do we know?

Often times I encounter the age old argument, How else will you know _Y_ is good or bad unless you do _Y_? As though it were not possible for me to know _Y_ without doing it? And what if _Y_ is something harmful to us?

Archbishop Fulton Sheen, in his oration on Education from the TV series Life is Worth Living, had this to say about knowing:

We at times fail to distinguish between two ways of knowing anything. For example, typhoid fever can be known as we know it now, negatively; we do not have it. The evil is known by negation. There are some people who know typhoid fever experimentally; they suffer from it.. It is one thing to know intellectual errors, as the negation of truth; it is quite another thng to know evil by infection. The germ could ruin us. To know what dishonesty is one need not be a thief. To know what life is, one need not be an adulterer. Drunkenness can be known without being drunk. Education which emphasizes the necessity of living evil in order to know evil is in danger of making the mind captive to evil. Values and joys are associated with temperance, which the alcoholic does not know, and with innocence, which the sex addict can never experience. Let a drunken man become sober and he will see things as they are; let a skeptic turn to the Diety and he will begin to know truth.
So knowing evils by negation isn't necessarily a worse knowledge than knowing evils experimentally. I can see the effects of crack cocaine on the body to know that it is harmful without doing it. I can see the effects of jumping off a 10 storey building onto concrete to know that it is deadly. The same goes for spiritual evils, or sin. While I am a sinner, I know sin by the effects of it in my own life - yet I also know that by cooperating with grace and embracing the cross in faith, I can avoid sin. And because I also trust Our Lord when He tells us of how sin harms our soul, I know sin without indulging in it. Now, I don't dare boast that I have mastered this, but it is a daily walk, and were it not for God's grace, I could not do it. Hence we have the sacraments as tangible ways in which we are strengthened by His grace.

But what about the difference between knowledge by negation and knowledge by experimentation? Sometimes it is argued that to really live is to, at times, do less than moral or even harmful things. The implication is that we can never really know life without them. But is this really true? I would answer shortly that in the essence of it, it isn't true. - but perhaps there is a kernel of truth buried in there, but I think it has more to do with the reality of the human condition. Certainly one who engages in harmful activities will know them, while it is experimentally. This is because experimentation is much more concrete than knowing something by negation, which isn't as tangible to us. A young child, for example, will most realistically learn this way. The child has to touch the hot stove to know that it is hot, in spite of warnings. The child has to over indulge on sugar sweets, even if mom or dad puts the cookie jar up high. But are there degrees to which we might consider something less than moral? Has this changed in the course of time? Certainly I would hope that my child, if I had a child, wouldn't become convinced that one needs to go do crack to know what crack is all about.

But it seems to me that as one gets older, the more one realizes that one doesn't have to experiment to know the harmful effects of particular things. Therefore, I think it has more to do with the maturity of one's mind, just as the maturity of one's soul, to know and understand harmful things by negation. It is certainly true that there is considerable risk in attempting to know things experiementally, for as Sheen states,
Education which emphasizes the necessity of living evil in order to know evil is in danger of making the mind captive to evil.
We endanger our bodies to addiction and death by indulging in crack to know the effects of crack. We endanger our souls by indulging in sin to know the effects of sin.

Thursday, May 15, 2003

St. Bernadette Soubirous

Though I realize that this is merely the body of Bernadette,
I am struck by its restful peace just the same.

The incorrupt body of St. Bernadette (died April, 1879)

Fear and Trembling
Timor et tremor venerunt super me,
Fear and trembling have overcome me

et caligo cecidit super me.
and the shadows fall upon me

Miserere mei Domine miserere,
have mercy on me, Lord, have mercy

quoniam in te confidit anima mea.
for my soul confides in you.

Exaudi Deus deprecationem meam
Hear my plea, oh God

quia refugium meum es tu
for you are my refuge

et adjutor fortis Domine;
and you, O Lord, are my powerful aid

invocavi te non confundar.
I have called upon you, and I will not be confounded

in the garden of gethsemane...

Tristis est anima mea usque ad mortem:
my soul is sorrowful, even unto death

sustinete hic, et vigilate mecum:
remain here and watch with me

nunc videbitis turbam, quae circumdabit me.
soon you will see the crowd which will surround me

Vos fugam capietis, et ego vadam immolari pro vobis.
you will take flight, and I will go to be sacrificed for you

Ecce appropinquat hora et Filius hominis tradetur in manus peccatorum.
Behold the hour approaches when the Son of man will be handed over into the hand of sinners.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

New Color of Money

The Department of the Treasury unveils some redesigns for American currency, with new background color!
The redesigned currency is safer, smarter and more secure: Safer because it is harder to fake and easier to check; Smarter to stay ahead of tech-savvy counterfeiters; and More Secure to protect the integrity of U.S. currency.

The most noticeable difference in the new design is the subtle introduction of background color, which makes it more burdensome for potential counterfeiters because it adds complexity to the note. The color will also make it easier to distinguish between denominations because different background colors will be used for each denomination.

However, despite the addition of color, the new note preserves the distinct size, look and feel of the traditional American “greenback” – the world’s most familiar and circulated currency.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Intercessions for Life

The Pro-Life Activities Division of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops offers its June 2003 issue of "Word of Life", giving sample intercessions and bulletin announcements for Sunday Mass in both Spanish and English.

Particularly, among the fundamental rights of man, the Catholic Church claims for every human being the right to life as the primary right. She does it in the name of the truth about man and to protect his freedom that cannot be sustained without respect for the right to life. The Church affirms the right to life of every innocent human being and at every moment of his existence.

-- Pope John Paul II to the Pontifical Academy of Life (February 27, 2002)

Truth and solidarity are necessary if humanity is to succeed in building a culture of life, a civilization of love, a world of peace.

-- John Paul II, address to the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, March 25, 2003, in reference to World Communications Day, June 1, 2003 Judiciary Committee

The church respects and supports scientific research when it has a genuinely humanist orientation, avoiding any form of instrumentalization or destruction of the human being and keeping itself free from the slavery of political and economic interests.

-- John Paul II, address on Biomedical Research: Benefits, Limits of Science, February 24, 2003
The Angelus and Edgar Allan Poe

Popular culture sometimes inculturates the Catholic faith in interesting ways. For example, Edgar Allan Poe, in 1835, wondered why the bells would always toll at dawn, noon, and dusk at the nearby Fordham University. Asking the Jesuit priests there about the bells, they explained to him that the bells were tolled as they prayed the Angelus three times daily. Upon learning the Angelus, Poe, a non-Catholic, was so moved and inspired by this that he penned his famous poem, Hymn:
At morn- at noon- at twilight dim-
Maria! thou hast heard my hymn!
In joy and woe- in good and ill-
Mother of God, be with me still!
When the hours flew brightly by,
And not a cloud obscured the sky,
My soul, lest it should truant be,
Thy grace did guide to thine and thee;
Now, when storms of Fate o'ercast
Darkly my Present and my Past,
Let my Future radiant shine
With sweet hopes of thee and thine!
As you may know, the Angelus is a beautiful and powerful prayer to Mary that expresses four ideas of depth:
The annoucement to Mary via the angel Gabriel (God's Initiation)
Mary's Obedience to the Lord (Obedience)
Enfleshment of the Lord (the Incarnation)
Sharing in His Passion (daily conversion to Christ)

The Angelus

In Latin:
Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariae.
Et concepit de Spiritu Sancto.

Ave Maria, gratia plena, dominus tecum. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Jesus. Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis, peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.

Ecce ancilla Domini.
Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum.

Ave Maria...

Et Verbum caro factum est.
Et habitavit in nobis.

Ave Maria...

Ora pro nobis, sancta Dei Genitrix.
Ut digni efficiamur promissionibus Christi.


Gratiam tuam, quaesumus, Domine, mentibus nostris infunde; ut, qui, angelo nuntiante, Christi Filii tui incarnationem cognovimus, per passionem ejus et crucem, ad resurrectionis gloriam perducamur. Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum.
In English:
The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.
And she conceived of the Holy Ghost.

Hail Mary, Full of Grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
Be it done unto me according to Thy word.

Hail Mary...

And the Word was made flesh.
And dwelt among us.

Hail Mary...

Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray

Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts, that we to whom the Incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His resurrection. Through the same Christ our Lord.

Monday, May 12, 2003

What type of thinker are you?

You are an Intrapersonal thinker

Intrapersonal thinkers:
Spend a lot of time thinking about and trying to understand themselves
Reflect on their thoughts and moods, and work to improve them
You understand how your behaviour affects your relationships with others
Other Intrapersonal thinkers include
Sigmund Freud, Gandhi, Grahame Greene
Careers which suit Intrapersonal Thinkers include
Psychologist, Teacher, Pilot, Child care worker, Explorer, Drama therapist
What type of thinker are you?


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