Saturday, September 23, 2006

George Weigel: The Pope was Right

From the LATimes.

Good article also engaging the whole subject at hand... the pope's use of the quotation was not meaningless...
By quoting from a robust exchange between a medieval Byzantine emperor and a learned Islamic scholar, Benedict XVI was not making a cheap rhetorical point; he was trying to illustrate the possibility of a tough-minded but rational dialogue between Christians and Muslims. That dialogue can only take place, however, on the basis of a shared commitment to reason and a mutual rejection of irrational violence in the name of God.
And the reaction to the quotation also demonstrates this point. It is the confrontation, if you will, of dialogue between those who treat faith and reason as complimentary, and those who do not. Somewhere from that, dialogue must proceed. Reducing the lecture down to a quotation soundbite, as the press has done, does not even touch on the point of the lecture. I firmly believe that the primary cause of this violence has been because the press has so actively aimed to distort the lecture's point, first and foremost by deliberately taking this quotation out of context and waving it for the world to see.
Cardinal Mahony meets with Muslims

...from the News Archive.

It looks like it was more an opportunity to affirm interfaith commitments rather than a chance to discuss the substance of the pope's lecture (or at least the article doesn't discuss that part of the meeting with us), but I was still glad to at least see this:
The Muslim leaders recalled the hurt that many Muslims felt when Pope Benedict quoted a 14th Century Byzantine emperor who stated that Islam was spread by the sword. The Muslim leaders also said that they welcomed the pope's subsequent statements clarifying his position on Muslim-Catholic relations. The delegation also condemned the violent acts that targeted Christian churches and people in the wake of the pope's initial speech.

Dr. Muzzamil Siddiqi, Chairman of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, recalled "Nostra Aetate," the Second Vatican Council's document on the Church's relations with non-Christians, in urging Muslims and Catholics to re-double their efforts to work more closely together on moral, social and civil rights issues. Muslim and Catholic leaders have collaborated on issues of health care, education, immigration and the alleviation of poverty. Over the years, Catholic-Muslim dialogue in Los Angeles has resulted in the publication of two joint documents: "Religion and the U.S. Constitution," and a document on interfaith marriage.
This proves that many Muslims are willing to speak up and condemn the violent actions of the radical fringe. What also pleases me is the urgency on their part to recommit themselves with Catholics to interfaith dialogue, including collaboration on important social problems.
Sunday Homily: Faith, Reason, and Regensburg

I meant to post this excellent homily given by my pastor, Fr. Stephen B. Reynolds, last Sunday at St. Theresa's in Sugar Land. It is posted on our parish website here. The MP3 is about 17 minutes long, but it is a thorough treating of the whole affair.

Effectively, the homily treats the true subject of the Holy Father's lecture and notes how well the reaction from both some Muslims and secularists fit into it, all resulting from those who have tried to separate reason from faith (or faith from reason). I understand a hard copy will be available soon. The Catholic Church treats faith and reason as being perfectly complimentary, as Fr. Reynolds notes at the end and as I have quoted before on this blog, the opening line from Pope John Paul II's encyclical Fides et Ratio:
Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth -- in a word, to know himself -- so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves.
We believe God is reasonable, that is, he can be known by way of His creation, His revelation, and also because we know that God always acts in accord with His very nature -- He is not capricious. The pope's point concerning Islam involves their belief in the utter transcendence of God -- that He cannot be known by reason, and any revelation on his part or assertion of rationality diminishes, in their view, His transcendence. This allows for God to act in a way that contradicts His own word -- it doesn't have to make sense to human beings because His ways cannot be known.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Pastoral Visit of Bishop Javier Echevarria

The Prelate of Opus Dei, Bishop Javier Echevarria, is currently visiting North America, stopping to gather with folks in various locations, including New York, Canada, San Francisco, and (next week) Houston. Here are some pictures of Bishop Echevarria's visit in New York. Christina and I are planning to see him when he visits Houston next week. It promises to be fun!
Opus Dei

Bill reflects on his experience with Opus Dei. I also attended last night's evening of recollection in Houston and, as always, I enjoyed it immensely. I have been greatly impressed by the caliber of the men involved with the Work, and most especially the priests. I also find a great appeal in the teachings of St. Josemaria Escriva -- though these teachings are nothing new! They are the teachings of the Church, especially as underscored recently by the Second Vatican Council (e.g. Lumen Gentium), but I believe St. Josemaria's message is one that our modern world desperately needs to hear and hear again.

We are ordinary folk, and yet every one of us is called to be a saint. God wants all of us! But how is this accomplished in us? Be a saint in your work! Our daily work, in our jobs and in our families, should be a fit offering of God; if it's something we can offer to Him, then our work is holy. I always try to focus on my individual relationships and conversations of the day. How simple they are, yet God is present even in that connection if you only look and are aware. Everything we do in our day is carried out in the presence of God. He is never far from us, so we should never lose hope! God is always making His presence known to us... And yet we must talk about being realistic in our spiritual growth. It's not easy, and we have many things that distract us... many failings... but God, in His grace, gives us what we need to turn things around and to live with Him.
Do not become alarmed or discouraged to discover that you have failings - and such failings! Struggle to uproot them. And as you do so, be convinced that it is even a good thing to be aware of all those weaknesses, for otherwise you would be proud. And pride separates us from God.

-St. Josemaria Escriva, from The Forge #181
I have also found great inspiration in the spirituality of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans), which I will write more about another time.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Yes, yes, exactly!
...She values especially the Greek and Latin languages in which wisdom itself is cloaked, as it were, in a vesture of gold...
from Veterum Sapientia by Pope John XXIII.

This is why I always prefer the original language, even when it is a challenge to process. Things carefully articulated and expressed in Latin just don't have the same effect in translation.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

10 Programming Languages

From eWeek: 10 Programming Languages You Should Learn Right Now.
1. PHP
2. C#
3. AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML)
4. JavaScript
5. Perl
6. C
7. Ruby and Ruby on Rails
8. Java
9. Python
10. VB.Net (Visual Basic .Net)
Garabandal: A Word to the Wise

So apparently a woman named Wendy Benedick had been organizing a charter trip for pilgrims to fly to Garabandal to be present for the alleged Miracle of Our Lady. Aside from the fact that the claims of Garabandal are highly questionable, there is absolutely no date given for the Miracle (and apparently it is only known by one of the supposed visionaries of Garabandal) other than that it would occur eight days after the preceding Warning. The information for the trip is noted on Sadie Jaramillo's website (emphasis mine):
Contact: Wendy Benedict(sic)-Pilgrimage Tours
Mail payments to Wendy Benedict (sic)...

Means of travel: A 470-seat 747-charter plane. Departure: JFK Airport, New York City, New York Arrival: Victoria or Bilboa, Spain. Date: (to be announced) In March, April or May based on the announcement by Conchita [one of the visionaries]. Cost: The price is $1,500.00 ($200.00 is non-refundable) per person from JFK to Spain (round trip). Cashier's check or money orders only (no personal checks). Other Necessities: It is recommended that you bring a sleeping bag, tent, and preserved food items as we will be camping at the foot of The Pines. Check back with this site at a later date for a recommended list of equipment. Also do not forget to have a current passport.

Please note!! - only Conchita knows the exact date of the Miracle. The Miracle will occur 8 days following Conchita's announcement. If people wait until the Warning occurs, they might not have enough time to make a booking on Wendy's flight or make any other travel arrangements. This is why those who are serious about being on this trip must call Wendy as soon as possible.
Well, it seems that some folks had enough faith in the claims of Garabandal to send their $1500 to Wendy Benedick in the hope of securing a place on this trip, without any real foreknowledge of when it was to occur. The plans turned sour when Wendy Benedick died in April of this year, and now a lot of these folks are in a dilly of a pickle trying to get their money back. Apparently she left absolutely no information concerning the charter trip she was organizing, and now all of the money is tied up in her estate, with all of the legal complications, struggles with creditors, and all the rest. There is a lesson to be learned here... but I can't quite put my finger on it!!


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