Thursday, April 30, 2009

Pro-Life or Pro-Pluto?

The vote is in. An overwhelming number of voters (if you multiple by 10000) voted that to be 'Pro-Life' is to be 'Pro-Pluto'. To those who are purists on pro-life issues, I choose to take the Democratic party's view of biparitsanship and yell at you while I don't listen to a word you say. Pro-Life, Pro-Pluto it is.

The Story of St. Therese

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Theoretical Catholic Tribes of America




I went to a lecture on African Art last night at the New Orleans Museum of Art. Very interesting stuff. It made me wonder though, what would the Catholic tribes of America be today if we were to name them?

Each tribe had its own customs, and there were hundreds and hundreds of tribes across the continent of Africa. If we counted the customs of a faithful people what would be the corner stone that might bond us? The scripture perhaps. Enter in traditions of our faith. Might the true peoples of the Catholic faith be labeled so easily? I would like to hope my state would be far up on the faihtful list. I didn't even realize Latin mass was not practiced in so many places until it was 'allowed' again.

One way we could determine some tribes, would be by which sacraments and devotions they practice. But I know there would be some definitely labeled as extinct. Our Catholic America seems to want to pick and choose which traditions it practices. I know this is not all Catholics, there are smatterings of solid hearts throughout some crazy places. It is almost as if, similar to the tribal nations allowing the slavery of other tribes, our fellow Catholics have let themselves become slaves.

Which brings me to another option of theorectical tribal derivement, individual faith. A Catholic, that practices the teaching of Christ, recognizes the differences that are so vast between each man. Would it be valid to place any man in one tribe? Or to call our one tribe Catholic, Universal. We call our one nation, United. We call our one planet, Earth. Is it so hard for Catholics to all practice the teachings of our chief? Or should we cut the dissenters heads off and place them on a pike?

Well, there will be no chopping of heads. Christ has taught us differently. But there are distinctive masks that have been put in to place in the same manner as the ancient and not so ancient tribal Africans. In contrast though, American masks are in two colors only: black and white. Christ leaves no gray area when he speaks to our Catholic tribe in scripture.

Luckily, our universal tribe is being led back to the uniform traditions in the vessage of Pope Benedict XVI. In no way can we possibly see him as only a peace keeper as the name implies. Like St. Bernardine of Siena, Benedict speaks as if he is shining a light on the most compelling catalyst that ever walked this Earth. The unchanging logos commands as a chief and loves as a father should.

One thing about the tribes the lecturer discussed, there is a very real sense of the spiritual realm in all places and things for tribal peoples. African tribes were divided by animistic rituals practiced away from eyes of other tribes or tourists. Catholic traditions are practiced for all to see. There is no deception, only transparency. Transparent walls are easily attacked, especially when what is on the inside is so infinitly the most precious treasure in existence.

What would the Catholic tribes of America be today if we were to name them? I really don't know. I could call California the Pelosi peoples and make some funny little piece of art depicting posadas in Texas, but really we are all One Body. That is the richness of our tribe. It's just a matter of time, because there is no place like home.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Maxium Spiritual Entropy

On Friday evening I was lucky enough to attend a discussion entitled The Aquinas Lecture Series at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans. The topic was “How Natural Theology can enrich Theology” by Rev. Benedict Ashley, O.P. If the speaker doesn’t tell you something about how comprehensive this discussion was, I’ll let you know now that I plan to write four articles on all of the components of what Father Ashley spoke about. His knowledge of physics and science in the universe and the blatant love of Christ that came through was a combination of wisdom gifted and spirituality lived. “God loves each and every one of you and you are unique,” he said.

Father Ashley has lived an interesting discipleship of Christ, writing books and continuing to lecture in St. Louis where he now resides. He mentioned that the talk he gave was an opening discussion for his next book, thus the variety of the topics in this one lecture.

Here is a basic outline of the four major areas that I picked up in his lecture. The main topic was the view of modern scientists and their denial/struggle/refusal to use the natural forces as a clear reflection of something greater than the ‘nature of man.’

The first article I would like to present to you revolves around the analytical tendencies of both modern scientists and theologians. This was actually an answer to an audience member’s question, but the thought struck me so deeply, I am determined to define it. Consider the process a scientist goes through, gathering data, taking small steps, and many times failing miserably. The successful scientist is decisive and driven to succeed in this one discovery/goal what have you. Consider the way of the theologian, who many times is called to the job by taking small steps, and who uses his physical research as spiritual based findings. There are interesting and clear parallels that I intend to decipher further between these two inner missions.

The second topic Father Ashley spoke of was the information that the study of the universe reveals about God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. His main question for us is a revelation of how science reveals the manner of the Trinity.

The third topic I am interested in developing for you is the part of the discussion on the historical aspects of man’s view of heaven and how God has revealed to us through the medium of man, these things. And as in the New Testament, the Gospel of John tells us that there are so many things that were not revealed to us. Father Ashley discussed both heaven and hell and an analogy of cause and effect.

The fourth topic is an article delving into the reasons for a change from natural science to historical science. Father Ashley suggested that modern science does not see the constants in the natural world so well as it used too. Maybe I can find some of those scientists by the time I write the article. He mentioned the physical versus the natural often during his talk which I will explain in this article.

Two more weeks of graduate school! How tickled am I! I am excited just to be able to do the reading to write about these topics. Father Ashley suggested an author named Anthony Rizzo who has a few books on physics and theology out now, I didn’t catch the whole name but google, “The Science of Science.”

(Found it: http://www.amazon.com/Science-Before-Guide-Thinking-Century/dp/1418465046/ref=sr_1_1/182-9344770-1258546?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1240891306&sr=1-1 )

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Earth Day

I found out today there was an 'Ecology' flag. I think I might have known it before, but who remembers stuff like that? It gave me a Brilliant! idea! Flags for Feast days! Would that be cool! And yes! I am this excited, flags and maps are my love after Jesus.



So I started with my most excellent patron saint, St. Elizabeth of Hungary. If I got the latin wrong, sorry!

Here's the Ecology Flag for Earth Day.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Bill O'Reilly speechless

The second Pro-Life March I went to in D.C., a young high school student in my group suddenly saw an aborted fetus on an advertisement on the side of a bus. Needless to say, she started to hysterically cry and didn't stop for almost an hour.

If only we could all be so moved by the horrific infancide that happens everyday in America.

Here is a speechless Bill O'Reilly on Live-birth abortions.

http://www.jillstanek.com/archives/2007/09/stanek_on_the_o.html

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Fun with Stem Cells

This is a little stem cell information for Pre-K learners. :)

video

Check out the following articles by philosophy genius Dr. Christian Brugger.

Stem cells for Dummies
http://culture-of-life.org//content/view/551/1/

Stem cells for the Not-so-Dumb
http://culture-of-life.org//content/view/554/1/

Friday, April 17, 2009

Bodily Integrity

I had a job interview for a religion teaching position this morning. Because I don’t have a theology degree, I had to define my prayer by what books I read, etc. etc… But they did get me thinking what my favorite encyclical was, which is Pope John Paul II’s Letter to Artists. It is simple, moving, and inspiring. I just went looking for it and found again a different encyclical by Pope Pius XII in my stash. Sacra Virginitas from 1954 reminded me of the recent scripture on the road to Emmaus and the call of witnesses to the life of Christ.

Priests as witnesses of Christ “are to resemble Christ the Bridegroom.” Christ in the scripture constantly calls the disciples to a higher state of being. The men on the road to Emmaus sense their hearts were burning with Christ’s presence near. How easy it must have been for those who lived with Christ to seek the higher state beyond our base inclinations?

Pope Pius XII goes on to describe the efforts of devotees of Christ in this way:
Spiritual bonds of union with Christ could not, by themselves alone, appease their burning love for Him. Their love must needs be proved by imitation of His virtues. It must be confirmed by a special likeness to His life, which was wholly addressed to well-doing and was spent for the salvation of mankind.

It is logical, that if our Roman Catholic priests are to imitate Christ in a way that is wholly addressed to well-doing for this community, they must remain in absolute chastity.

The need for the World to impose twisted discussions on this topic constantly offends me. People who I have defended this topic too are the very same who say, “Oh, we cannot judge people, we cannot place our own ideas on others, we must tolerate all people.” These people are the very same that cringe at quotes like the following and are speed-of-light quit to judge.

To me, O Christ, Thou art everything. For Thee I am keeping myself pure and, shining lamp in hand, to meet Thee, my betrothed, I am coming in haste. St. Methodius

The two men of Emmaus experience a divine revelation, I think, just as valuable as Christ’s risen presence. That is the acknowledgment that a separation from Christ is a light that doesn’t burn.

Pray for more priestly vocations

Hail Mary, full of grace;
all generations call you blessed.

Hail Mother of God; when asked by the angel
to bear the Son of the Most High,
filled with faith, you responded:
"Let it be done unto me."

Holy Mother of Jesus, at the wedding feast at Cana,
you prompted your Son to perform his first sign.

Be with us as we discern our life's work
and guide us in the way we are called to follow
in the footsteps of your Son.

Holy Mother of the Savior, at the foot of the cross
you mourned the death of your only Son.

Bless and embrace the loving parents of all priests,
deacons, brothers and sisters.

Holy Mother of the Good Shepherd,
turn your motherly care to this nation.

Intercede for us to the Lord of the harvest
to send more laborers to the harvest
in this land dedicated to your honor.

Queen of Peace, Mirror of Justice, Health of the Sick,
inspire vocations in our time.

Let the word of your Son be made flesh anew
in the lives of persons anxious to proclaim
the good news of everlasting life.
Amen.

from http://www.usccb.org/vocations/prayereng.shtml

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Big Bad Biology Lesson

The Biological Basis of Human Nature

You wouldn’t think a book about hereditary chromosomes would help one understand Christ’s divine and human nature. But I found one! The Biological Basis of Human Nature by H.S. Jennings written in 1930 was placed next to the theology section at the local used book store. The assumptions of the (I assume) late Jennings, a former Zoology professor at Johns Hopkins University, have allowed me to continue about deciphering the spiritual presence of God in the physical inadequacies of man. God's grace inspired more revelation about Our Lady this past Easter mass, which I will wait to share at the end!

First, the 1930s text runs from the basic foundation of chromosomes and their hereditary compatibility and works his way through the chapters to develop environmental adaptations. I love reading these older texts, because it is clear that the author writes with a particular audience in mind. For instance, he states “Marriage and the family, even life-long monogamous marriage, are not an invention that is original with man.” Is he a scholar willing to announce a supreme being? Or when he suggests marriage is a development of organisms’ need to reproduce in the next lines, is he just a plain old searching for rationalism scientist? One fact for sure, the author is a zoologist who systematically explains heredity to perceived environmental adaptations known at the time.

The author goes on to redeem himself somewhat in defining eloquently that, “Human individuals are diverse- in their appearance, and in their behavior. And each has a separate consciousness, a separate identity; so that the inward experience of any one of them is a distinct thing from that of all the others.” Remind anyone of Thomas Aquinas?

I can just imagine the separate conscious as compared to Aquinas’ undisectable intellect and soul!

But I understood the process of heredity and traits easily enough as Mendel observed in his peas. The combination and development of a human is so complex as to prove the divinity within regular man, much less the Son of God made flesh. Even the notes of the original reader said the following after the introduction:

The similarity of individuals is evidently understood. Perhaps it would be better to consciously state and investigate these aspects of people as well as their diversity. Indeed, to a scientist, similarity must be as striking as diversity and understanding these aspects, as important for understanding of our lives.

The reader nails my introspection. Christ’s divine and human nature is striking in its diversity and its similarity. I am then reminded by John Paul II’s Fides et ratio that all things originate in God.

I am still reading the book in between drafts of school work and I think it will take time for Christ to reveal all of His dimensions and intentions to me on the subject. But the surprising revelation, was in connection to the awesomeness of God and how his Son died on the cross for love of me. At the Easter mass, I sat and looked up at the cross and thought, ‘how did God fit into Mary’s womb?’ Just think of the connection beyond Mary not having any sin, between who God is in Christ and how Mary was able to carry Him in her womb. Talk about some pretty cool chromosomes rockin the house in that hereditary line!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Loving

When the Saints suggested we keep God first and foremost on our minds, did they know we’d have television?

Christ on our heart, mind and soul seems a far off goal for many people who first profess ‘Jesus as their Lord and Savior.’ But I remember when I first fell in love with Christ. That change in my perception of Christ in my life gave width and depth to my heart in the way only sanctifying grace can.

I transferred to a Catholic college, where it was more difficult to be a Catholic than I had ever experienced at the state school. Even the director of campus ministry was against some of the main teachings of the Catholic Church. That priest left by my last semester, but he wasn’t the only persecutor on campus. The funniest thing to me was that, I ended up offering my entire Mexico mission trip for the girl who screamed obscenities at me from across the quad. I knew the girl, but I never knew why she did that. I heard later that she really turned her life around.
I will never regret attending that college, it formed me in faith in ways I could not have encountered by being surrounded by a ton of zealous Catholic students.

Like many personal revelations I have had, I did not seek out some great awakening to God’s love the day I fell in love. I was doing one of my favorite things, kneeling in the student chapel alone, thanking God that I was able to kneel before him. (I know I won’t be able to kneel one day because of inherited arthritis.)

The tabernacle in that chapel is a small wooden box sticking out of the wall with a red candle next to it. That day I looked at His presence in the room and as I told him I loved Him, I felt a new love penetrating my heart. Fear and doubt had held me back in the past from allowing myself to be in love with Christ. At that moment, just as Aslan had torn away the scales from the prideful boy, I saw myself anew in Christ’s eyes.

I had loved lightly before, but I can definitively say that Christ was the first person I have been in love with. He loved me back! And I am still in love with Him. He continues to reveal himself slowly to me, because He knows the right time for all things.

Because of that revelation, I have grown in love. The woman who begs Christ to heal her daughter is my scriptural reminder that our hearts must beat with love for others and for Him. I have loved a couple of people since then, it’s not always easy, but I always pray that I might love more, love more, love more. By loving more in those big ways, it helps me to be able to forgive and to see as Christ sees.

To keep God first and foremost on my heart, mind and soul is mostly easy now that I have been in love with him for about 10 years. Everything is beautiful, everyone needs love.
Did the Saints know we’d have distractions like tv, iphones, and internet? They loved through heresy, wars, disease, and trials of converting sinners. Pray to be IN Love with Christ and see where it leads you.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Relativism Rant

As I wait for Easter on this Good Friday evening, I am trying to skim over a few Glamour magazines. They came free with something my mother ordered and she thought I might enjoy them. They are not the same as the Seventeen magazines I had in 1990. Even that magazine has become disgusting.

The disgusting part is the feel good relativism that is rampant and perpetuated by media. This is the type of dribble that my young students see constantly. It was extremely frustrating at times to teach at a Catholic school the last three years and know what to say to some of the experiences that these children face. I almost feel like they are much more of the world than I ever want to be in my lifetime.

Of the world versus in the world is an hourly struggle in 2009. I have thrown the Glam magazines on the floor. All they refer too is sex and sexual partners and materialism. How does one live in a country that is purposefully transforming itself into a demoralized society?

Luckily though, students and people in general, I believe, learn from others by example. There are many Christians still in America fighting against demoralization. The Christians I meet shine brightly on those in the dark so that they may seek the light.

Being in the world is a struggle, but I cannot help but rejoice in this darkness of Holy Saturday knowing that there is a blinding and pure light at the end. The effects of relativism worship sometimes feels like many days of dark Holy Saturdays. Our Lady suffered as the Mediatrix, and she quietly prays for us still in this darkness. We can rejoice in her intercession and the good news that Christ was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Wedding Feast



Last night I was privileged enough to hear Dr. Brant Pitre, New Testament theologian from Our Lady of Holy Cross College, speak about the gospel as the new covenant wedding initiated and fulfilled by Christ. Either Dr. Pitre is a major up and coming New Testament scholar, or a disseminator of the essential knowledge of the Gospel scripture, but now I understand most of the scriptural depictions I didn’t before by listening to his 1 ½ hour talk.

That being said, the focus was on marriage of the bridegroom Christ to Church bride. A little side note: I usually try to avoid talks on marriage, because truth be known I’d love to be married to the right person and home school at least 4 children, but we can’t all have our deepest desires!

But this was different of course, and if I didn’t know Christ loved me before, wow! do I see it now in the wedding feast of the Last Supper and the Covenant ceremony of the Crucifixion. Pitre used New Testament scripture to point to key aspects of the wedding celebration that take place. (He did miss the money dance, I don’t know if they did that in Jewish tradition, but I’d say the carrying of the cross maybe?)

Here are some of the points he made in flow chart form:




My small chart doesn’t do justice to the wonderful joy that Dr. Pitre showed in discussion, but I will point out his website: http://www.brantpitre.com/ and you can get this talk on tape there.

He concluded that the Cross and the Eucharist are the same in that they are part of the wedding feast initiated and consummated by Christ, that expresses God’s infinite and tender love for all humanity.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Vocation Video

video

Ite Missa Est

I might start attending Latin mass, last time I went, you could eat the reverence like a steak it was so thick. Just a little gif file I played with a while back.

video

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Learning Past the Age of Seven.

I’ve had several learning experiences lately, but they all center on one thing. Choices. Consciously, people make choices. Subconsciously, the choices reflect our formed or ill-formed will. This is a short reflection on a recent personal learning experience. But I’d like to start off with an anecdote from childhood because life is a cycle.

I have a quiet and shy brother who is older than me and an interior thinker. One of my earliest memories is an experience with my quiet older brother, where he was about 7 and I was 3. We found a dead bird in the back yard, a cardinal I think, and he said, “If we bury this and it’s not here tomorrow, then we’ll know it went to heaven.”

I was young, but I remember that moment that I was wondering what would happen. He buried the bird lightly in the leaves under the bushes to the side of the back yard. We couldn’t find it the next day. In our innocent minds, this small disappearance spoke volumes to the existence of God. I think Our Lord was forming our will to guide us spectacularly gently toward Him.

Today, I am luckily guided by a God who knows I make spectacular mistakes! I try to overcome childhood experiences that hinder right choices and that have made me a mess. (I am going to work for a while on this!) But I realized recently, it was a choice.

So I have chosen to take a closer look at the impact that subconscious choices of my psyche have had on my conscious words and actions.

What continuous concrete thoughts come from particular experiences?
What choices can I make consciously to counter-act negativity in loving my neighbor?
What is the direct relationship between my past subconscious ideas and my actions today?
What choices will I make to move out of the way for God’s will in my life?

I wanted to share this short reflection to hold myself accountable. Mostly to God, maybe to the one reader I might have, but definitely to myself. Above all, I try to choose love. From that small bird, I learned God loves the smallest creature. I am not afraid of love and loving other people, so if I can consciously make choices to love more, than I figure I am striving for God’s will on this Earth.


Prayer of Saint Ignatius Loyola
Teach us, Good Lord,
To Serve Thee as Thou deservest;
To give and not to count the cost;
To fight and not to heed the wounds;
To labor and not to ask for any reward,
save that of knowing that we do Thy will.
Through Jesus Christ Our Lord, Amen.

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam - To the Greater Glory of God.