Friday, December 10, 2010

Changing for the better

Those within proximity of having met me long enough to spark up a conversation can see how much of an open book I can be. I can talk about myself (flaws and everything) without angst or discomfort. It just comes so easy and naturally to me that I do it without much thought. I’ve never had a reason to bring this attribute of mine into question and probably would never imagine anything that would lead me to question it. Nevertheless, you never know how your life is going to unfold and in all things I intend to move toward good and anything that will help others move toward it as well.

In short, my openness and goofy attributes will be downsized and replaced with a more serious and businesslike approach. Everyone likes the goofy down to earth guy, right? But does anyone take them serious? Is he the one you go to when you need help? Most people don’t. I’m at a point in my life where people are more apt to looking at me for guidance and comfort; I’ve never been there before (or at least I’ve never felt it this strong). I don’t know what the end product will look like, but I hope I can still remain myself and still have people take me serious.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Eastern Orthodoxy - Our differences

There was a time when I did quite a bit of research into the differences between Eastern Orthodoxy and the Catholic Church. It was a very informative and enriching experience to dialogue with EO’s (Eastern Orthodox) whom at least spoke a very similar theological lingo. Never did I have to dig so deep for answers. The East is so rich in liturgy, icons, and over all aesthetics that it is an experience I’d recommend for all Catholics. Mysticism is also another dimension to EO that intrigued me. It brought to surface just how legalistic we tend to be in the west. Hopefully I can reignite my neurons and cover the underlying difference between us in as short of post that I can. This will be the beginning of perhaps a serious of posts on EO and our differences.

A small but perhaps important note is that some (dare I say many?) in Eastern Orthodoxy are quick to correct you if you use the term - “Catholic Church”; to them, it is more proper to identify it as the “Roman Catholic Church”. It might not seem like a big deal to most of us within the walls of the Church but to them it makes a world of difference. Adding “Roman” gives it more of an autonomous feel to it. Since this is precisely how the Fifteen autonomous Orthodox churches operate; it is of great comfort to them that they see us in the same manner and most importantly they see the early Church operating this way as well. There was no central authority like what you see now in Rome; no Pope with authority as you see it now. It was just a bunch of mega-churches who gathered together and held councils.

The consensus is that the Pope is the primary difference; however you could point to something even broader then the pope that would nail down why we differ. Off I go…

I think the difficulties that some Eastern Orthodox have with Catholic doctrine on the Procession of the Holy Spirit, Papal Infallibility, purgatory, the two Marian dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption, and in fact, even some other teachings, stem from a profound incomprehension of the development of dogma that has taken place in the history of the Church. In the numerous dialogues I've had and reading on this matter, Eastern Orthodox have a habit of interpreting the immutability of Christian dogma in the sense that every defined dogma or traditional doctrine of the Church must have been explicitly believed as such by the faithful from the beginning of its history.

It is true that every dogma proclaimed by the Church for belief is true, always has been true, and its meaning can not be altered or changed so that it bears a different meaning than that held by the Church in previous times. But it is not true that every dogma or doctrine contained in the “deposit of faith” confided to the Apostles has been the object of explicit belief in every age, and only subject to new technical language in the definitions of Ecumenical Councils.

Those who deny doctrinal evolution in the life of the Church only manifest once again their adherence to a non-historical orthodoxy. For an authentic development of doctrine has taken place in the life of the Church (almost no scholars denies this), and it involves not only new philosophical/theological expression for the revealed truths that were always explicitly believed (say, the divinity of Christ) but also the folding aspects of our doctrines (e.g., the canon of Scripture, the number of the sacraments, the hypostatic union, the immaculate Conception of the Mother of God, the particular judgement, et.) under the guidance of the Holy Spirit leading the faithful to a greater understanding of the supernatural mysteries revealed in Jesus Christ.

This is the crux of our differences and it all stems from this misunderstanding.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Further reflection on souls...

My previous encounter with a certain individual inspired me to expand on the Catholic view on souls.

It is catholic belief that all living things have souls (plants, animals, and us), by definition, in the proper sense of the word.

New Advent on Souls

An animal does not have a spiritual soul though. That is, its soul cannot exist without it's body. So when a cat, say, dies, not only does the cat cease to be, but so too its soul ceases to be. (Let's just say a soul is "the form of a naturally organised body having life potentially", or more or less, that in virtue of which this substance is what it is as a living substance).

When a man dies, the man also ceases to be. St. Thomas goes so far as to say that when he dies he will not be. The man is not his soul, nor his body, but the composite of both, the soul being the form of his body. But what distinguishes him from a dog, is that man's soul will continue to exist without a body.

So whereas for man, as such, to have eternal life he needs his soul to be reunited with his body, (bet you didn't know that... ) and therefore for himself to become a man again, a dog would have to be re-created, both matter and form. Could God, in the end, re-create certain animals? He's God, He can do whatever He wants that isn't against His nature.

But even if He did, they would not be in heaven, not essentially anyhow. They would not share, nor could they share, in the heavenly society. If they were re-created it would have to be only to have another secondary object for the blessed to reflect God's glory in.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Animals are my friends

I got into a dialogue with a Native American (only relevant for context purposes) about the value of animals. He was annoyed that I didn't see animal morality (if you want to call it that) on par with human morality. As if anyone that doesn't see animals on par with humans is an anti-PETA right wing nut that goes hunting for fun. That animals were scum and indespensible. It just about floored me how zealous his feelings were toward people that didn't see animals on par with humans. It makes me think what this guy would do if I lived in his apartment complex and a fire broke out. He'd get his cat, the neighbors mouse, and snails before he even thought of me.

Something is wrong with that picture.

I told him: "I believe animals have spirits. I believe they should be treated with the upmost respect. I believe these things and I am a person of faith. However, believing these things does not necessitate humans and animals being equal."

It didn't matter.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Removal of Christian Flag

Here we go again:

Removal of Christian Flag

Nothing new.

I don't care anymore if religious symbols of any kind are taken down (although I don't hear of many Buddhist, Asatru, etc. being taken down...I've seen them and have never once thought "take it down"). I still have a place to worship and I'm happy with that. It just really irks and concerns me that some live in fantastic dread that somewhere, somehow, no matter how small or benign, a public display of the religious faith will be made; and who, upon being exposed to it, reflexively attaches, without thought, the most evil and vile intentions to those making the display.

Now, I will say that I wouldn't at all be surprised that the very same people angry about the flag coming down; were perhaps of like mind to those wanting no mosque at ground zero. What if it was just an Islamic flag? Probably same reaction. This is probably good reason for some to justify to get rid of them all together; and like I've said, I don't care either way. In fact, I'm even getting to the point where people's reflexive responses toward religious symbols (in a negative connotation) is less weighing on me.

What I can't however let go is that originally "seperation of church and state" had a anti-clerical connotation to it. That soon evolved to an anti-religious (dare I say anti-Christian and anti-Muslim?) connotaion to it. This in essense gave rise (or perhaps the begining) to a more extreme interpretation which tries to rid any religiousity out of any public display or any hints of it in law. This is almost always accompanied by a deep seated anti-religious expressions. Such a phenomenon is very real in our society IMO.

Call me crazy.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Sounds of the Mouth

This is simply cool! He uses mostly his God-given talent to produce the sounds you hear.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Burqa's as a threat

I don't recall a spree of burqa wearing female hoodlums posing any threat anywhere. Is this a problem in the UK?......Is this really out of concern for the public? They must be robbing banks. We give into this, what's next? Most disturbing is the extent to which Islamophobia is glamorized as a campaign for freedom and equality for all women. Some may actually believe this, but dig down deep enough and one discovers that the real issue is a perceived security threat.

Most Brits back face veil ban

Monday, September 20, 2010

What is Freedom?

Pope John Paul did an amazing job in his encyclical at articulating what freedom is. Here is a glimpse of it:

Fides et Ratio
In that act, the intellect and the will display their spiritual nature, enabling the subject to act in a way which realizes personal freedom to the full.(15) It is not just that freedom is part of the act of faith: it is absolutely required. Indeed, it is faith that allows individuals to give consummate expression to their own freedom. Put differently, freedom is not realized in decisions made against God. For how could it be an exercise of true freedom to refuse to be open to the very reality which enables our self-realization? Men and women can accomplish no more important act in their lives than the act of faith; it is here that freedom reaches the certainty of truth and chooses to live in that truth.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Real Crusades

The Crusades, perhaps the largest stone of information thrown at catholics to show just how horrible the Catholic Church really is. Unfortunately, very few even bother to dig up what the whole fuss was about. All they know is the Catholic Church did some bad stuff during the Crusades and they'll ride that until the wheels fall off. Let the wheels officially fall off:

The Real History of the Crusades


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Dr. Laura come back to radio please...

I am so disappointed and upset to hear Dr. Laura Schlessinger quitting as a radio host. She was one of a kind in a world that really needs to hear what she has to say. I didn't always agree with her but she embraced an open and civil line of dialogue. One that often was at odds with liberalism at it's core. Which was perfectly fine with me.

She quit due to her using the n-word in a conversation with a caller. Anyone who has taken the time to listen to the entire session would know the context was not to use the word in a way to injure blacks. Nonetheless, she shouldn't have ever used the word and she actually apologized long before the media got a hold of what she said.

Eventually the hate mail and powerful interest groups was too much for her to handle and she quit. I just want to tell her "that's exactly what they wanted you to do for years!"...and they accomplished it. So who is the intolerant ones? It's no longer about agreeging to disagree, but you must be silenced if you aren't pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, socialist,....and a number of other things.

Now isn't the time to quit; but to stay strong, patient, and pray.

God be with us all.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Anne's flirtation with Rome

I watched Anne Rice talk about her reasons for leaving the Catholic Church. Although her reasons for leaving hardly came as a shocker; it was her explanations for why she came into the Church that got my attention. I’m not about to sit here and decipher if one’s conversion is genuine and true, because that’s not only wrong, but there is no way of knowing outside of their personal convictions; and that’s enough.

However, the atheist often prides himself on holding him/herself on a higher intellectual arena where the theist can’t come and meet them (or so they think). Her vampire novels were an expression of how she felt and it expressed her atheism at its roots. These feelings and expressions are perhaps more telling about her long holding stance as an atheist, then they are about the proto-typical atheist that I’m accustomed to bumping into.

The atheist I’m used to dialoguing with would have crossed there t’s and dotted their i’s before even thinking of joining the Church; especially the Catholic Church. Anne’s conversion was perhaps a mini Damascus road experience with a touch of perspicuity as to what the Catholic Church actually taught. Or maybe it’s like falling in love with someone that you know has certain character flaws but you move forward anyways. Conversions are often complicated, difficult, and confusing; not a fun place to be.

I hope she finds peace in her decision and I can only finish off by saying that her Catholicism was certainly not my Catholicism.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Catholic ritualism was icky

I remember thinking “my goodness, all that catholic stuff with the saints, Mary, kneeling, candles, statues, etc…..just seems like a huge distraction from what really matters.” What could that be? Our relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ of course! All that catholic stuff all seemed grossly excessive. It was all idolatrous to me and that Catholics honored saints far too much.

The vivid memories of my mom making offers to a saint with a cigar in his mouth and a bag (with money I think) on his hands was just absurd to me. It wasn’t until much later that I discovered that saint wasn’t a catholic saint at all, but a mayan pagan saint with a history of opposition to the Catholic Church. How ironic…There is no question I can relate to people who feel this way. In fact, I still struggle with some of those feelings to this day; always keeping a watchful eye that Catholics don’t take it too far.

The shift for me started when I was listening to 107.9 (local Christian radio that flourished from the Chuck Smith / Calvary Chapel movement). Raul Ruiz was the hosting pastor and I enjoyed (still listen to him) listening to him daily. His comments about St. Paul being the most this and most that sparked my thoughts and icky feelings of hearing similar rhetoric about Mary. At that moment in time it became readily apparent to me that non-catholic Christians could talk all day and night about St. Paul and never feel as though by focusing so much on him was in any way "worshipping Paul" or "giving him "too much honor". Paul-centered sermons were so normal and prevalent in most of the protestant churches I attended that it never crossed my mind that it was excessive and too much. Why? Well, because I knew (along with most of the members in our congregation) that Jesus comes to us through St. Paul and there is no conflict between the two. Yet if a catholic even had a statue of Mary or had the slightest mention of her, it immediately brought a flood of warnings upon most of our congregants. It made me think, that maybe……just maybe, Catholics honored Mary in the same way we honored Paul. Not only that, but I can’t recall hearing a single sermon on Mary, why?

Looking back it, I can’t help but give a gentle smirk at it all.

I was originally intending to get into the details of Mary and the Saints but there is so many good resources out there; no sense in reinventing the wheel:

Why do Catholics pray to the saints?

The link above covers an array of questions so hopefully you find it a helpful and fruitful read.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Christopher Hitchens

I saw this the other day:

The thing that stuck with me the most was that he had a good friend along his side.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Trinity explained

Although most explanations of the Trinity fall short, here is a couple that I found helpful. Please forgive the lack of sources as this was gathered from a forum I used to attend and searching for the actual posts is a pain.

The Trinity from a union perspective:
God designed the union of husband and wife to teach us about the inner life of the Trinity. When we see the love of husband and wife overflowing into the fruitfulness of children, we learn a very important truth about God: God is not a sterile duality, but a fruitful Trinity. In the Trinity, the Two become One and so burst forth in a third Person. So, too, in the world, husband and wife are called to become one and give new life to another person. A family is an historical trinity reflecting the eternal Trinity.

Celtic Anglican:
Imagine a mountain. Upon this mountain is a moor. The weather patterns around the mountain change, and the moor is filled with water. From the moment the moor water forms into an aquifer, the aquifer produces a river. The river flows down the mountain, and nourishes the fields of wheat below.

Now, the aquifer is the source of the river. The moment the aquifer became an aquifer, it produced the river. That doesn't mean the aquifer isn't the source.

Similarly, the Father has always produced the Son and the Spirit - though that doesn't negate from the Father's status as the divine origin.

JamesThePersian (Eastern Orthodox):
God is One in His Divine Essence, His substance if you like, but He is made up of three Hypostases. Hypostasis is usually translated into English as Person, but that's a fairly poor translation, it's more like personal essence, that which makes an individual a unique person. There really isn't a good analogy that can be used because this is utterly other than all beings that we have experience of in real life. The best way I can describe it is this: a human has one essence (that which makes him human) and one hypostasis (that which makes him uniquely him). God has one Essence (that which makes Him Divine) but three Hypostases. He is, then, One God (one individual) in three Hypostases and is always, simultaneously, One according to His essence but Three in His Hypostases. I'm sure that my description fails at many levels, but we were asked to explain in our own words so I can't call on the words of the Fathers. It is impossible to really grasp the Trinity with our rational mind (hence us calling it a Mystery) so I'd be unsurprised if people don't follow my attempt to explain. You can pretty much guarantee that if someone tells you the Trinity is 'simple' they don't have a clear idea of what it means themselves.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
253 The Trinity is One. We do not confess three Gods, but one God in three persons, the "consubstantial Trinity".83 The divine persons do not share the one divinity among themselves but each of them is God whole and entire: "The Father is that which the Son is, the Son that which the Father is, the Father and the Son that which the Holy Spirit is, i.e. by nature one God."84 In the words of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), "Each of the persons is that supreme reality, viz., the divine substance, essence or nature."85

254 The divine persons are really distinct from one another. "God is one but not solitary."86 "Father", "Son", "Holy Spirit" are not simply names designating modalities of the divine being, for they are really distinct from one another: "He is not the Father who is the Son, nor is the Son he who is the Father, nor is the Holy Spirit he who is the Father or the Son."87 They are distinct from one another in their relations of origin: "It is the Father who generates, the Son who is begotten, and the Holy Spirit who proceeds."88 The divine Unity is Triune.

255 The divine persons are relative to one another. Because it does not divide the divine unity, the real distinction of the persons from one another resides solely in the relationships which relate them to one another: "In the relational names of the persons the Father is related to the Son, the Son to the Father, and the Holy Spirit to both. While they are called three persons in view of their relations, we believe in one nature or substance."89 Indeed "everything (in them) is one where there is no opposition of relationship."90 "Because of that unity the Father is wholly in the Son and wholly in the Holy Spirit; the Son is wholly in the Father and wholly in the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit is wholly in the Father and wholly in the Son."91

Friday, August 6, 2010

Belief in Hell

Does the Catholic Church believe in hell and if so, why is God so cruel?

It is the catholic view that God does not create any mechanism that causes pain in the afterlife. Rather, the pain/discomfort is an experience as a result of a choice. It is not necessary to say that God imposes hell as punishment. It is not clear that God makes it intentionally unpleasant. It may be the very nature of the people who are there, and the fact that they are finally given what they want: freedom from God.

To the Catholic, heaven and hell may be the very same objective place (if one wishes to call it a place as an anthrophormism). How you experience this place is wholly dependant on what choices you make in this life. From:

1033 We cannot be united with God unless we freely choose to love him. But we cannot love God if we sin gravely against him, against our neighbor or against ourselves: "He who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him."612 Our Lord warns us that we shall be separated from him if we fail to meet the serious needs of the poor and the little ones who are his brethren.613 To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God's merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called "hell."

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Euthanasia - the way of the future

I have a new found respect for those who keep up with their blogs. I just can’t seem to muster up the time to stay active in it. This is my first post in 2010.

I was listening to a radio host interview a man with Lou Gehrig’s disease. He presented him as a courageous and honorable man whose intentions are to allow a doctor to end his life; or better known as euthanasia. There was an eerie and cold feeling about the whole thing for me. To think people will someday willfully put an end to the lives of handicapped, sick, or dying persons. I don’t think it’s a stretch at all to say euthanasia can potentially be our next over the counter permanent pill. Depressed? In pain? Do you have Down Syndrome? Are you just not contributing anything to the world?.........just come to your local hospital and we will put an end to all your misery. Can’t decide on your own? No worries, we’ll decide if you are competent enough to decide and if you’re not we’ll choose for you. 10 out of 10 times we’ll probably put you to down to help alleviate our finance books.

Sounds Twilightish and like a sci-fi thriller eh? I am absolutely repulsed by our culture's cavalier disregard for life, particularly when clothed in thoughtless libertarian nonsense. As if people have no value to them unless they contribute something. Stephen Hawking a great example of someone with the disease who contributes quite a bit; but what if he didn’t?

Granted, I realize there are situations that warrant it (although it’s no longer called euthanasia); like removing a respirator from a person without intending to cause the death.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains it far better then I ever could:

2278 Discontinuing medical procedures that are burdensome, dangerous, extraordinary, or disproportionate to the expected outcome can be legitimate; it is the refusal of "over-zealous" treatment. Here one does not will to cause death; one's inability to impede it is merely accepted. The decisions should be made by the patient if he is competent and able or, if not, by those legally entitled to act for the patient, whose reasonable will and legitimate interests must always be respected.

2279 Even if death is thought imminent, the ordinary care owed to a sick person cannot be legitimately interrupted. The use of painkillers to alleviate the sufferings of the dying, even at the risk of shortening their days, can be morally in conformity with human dignity if death is not willed as either an end or a means, but only foreseen and tolerated as inevitable Palliative care is a special form of disinterested charity. As such it should be encouraged.