Tempus Quadragesimae | Lent | Year B | Gospel of St. Mark | Cycle I

Spring maintenance cycle continues: 2.3


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We are not just material beings, but spiritual persons with a need for meaning, purpose, and fulfillment that transcends the visible confines of this world. This longing for transcendence is a longing for truth, goodness, and beauty. Truth, goodness, and beauty are called the transcendentals of being, because they are aspects of being. Everything in existence has these transcendentals to some extent. God, of course, as the source of all truth, goodness, and beauty, has these transcendentals to an infinite degree. Oftentimes, he draws us to himself primarily through one of these transcendentals. St. Augustine, who was drawn to beauty in all its creaturely forms, found the ultimate beauty he was seeking in God, his creator, the beauty “ever ancient, ever new.”—Sister Gabriella Yi, O.P.

Praise God for the beauty of His creation.

Praise God for the beauty of His creation.
Photo taken February 25, 2015

CCC1700. The dignity of the human person is rooted in his creation in the image and likeness of God; it is fulfilled in his vocation to divine beatitude. It is essential to a human being freely to direct himself to this fulfillment. By his deliberate actions, the human person does, or does not, conform to the good promised by God and attested by moral conscience. Human beings make their own contribution to their interior growth; they make their whole sentient and spiritual lives into means of this growth. With the help of grace they grow in virtue, avoid sin, and if they sin they entrust themselves as did the prodigal son to the mercy of our Father in heaven. In this way they attain to the perfection of charity.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A job too-well done? Pray for Cardinal Pell and his team.

His Eminence George Cardinal Pell, as readers might recall, called out those who were actively engaged in manipulating the Synod process last year.
Cardinal Pell: You must stop manipulating this synod—Aleteia.
Cardinal Pell oversees the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy (VSE). Cardinal Pell has been tasked with cleaning up the financial dealings of the Vatican.

Cardinal Pell has, by all accounts, been very effective in cleaning house. Naturally, some folk in the Vatican bureaucracy (perhaps the very ones responsible for contributing to the problem?) appear to be upset. In Vati-leaks 2.0, attempts are being made to discredit Cardinal Pell, in essence, for a job too-well done.

According to the Catholic Herald (VSE rejects overspending claims), allegations against the VSE and Cardinal that appeared in an Italian magazine are apparently without foundation:
A spokesperson for the Secretariat for the Economy said: “Reports of a discussion between the Holy Father and Cardinal Pell about expenditure by the secretariat are completely false – there has been no discussion between the Holy Father and Cardinal Pell about such matters. Claims of a conversation are a complete fiction.—Catholic Herald.
Allegations against the Cardinal have been dismissed by Vatican spokesman Fr. Frederico Lombardi who, commenting on the tactics employed against the Cardinal and the Secretariat, said
“The article makes direct personal attacks that should be considered undignified and petty. And it is untrue that the Secretariat for the Economy is not carrying on its work with continuity and efficacy. In confirmation of this, the secretariat is expected in the next few months to publish the financial statements for 2014 and the estimated budgets for 2015 for all of the entities of the Holy See, including the secretariat itself.”—Catholic Herald.
Quo vadis Roma?

The attack on Cardinal Pell and a few other significant developments might be construed to indicate an attempt to clear a space for an agenda that is nothing less that heretical, an agenda proposed by self declared promoters of mercy who have little respect it seems for the teaching of Christ regarding marriage and the family.
  1. Cardinal McCarrick alluded to being lobbied during the last papal conclave which elected Pope Francis.—Road to Rome/Villanova University.
  2. Attempts were made by senior Vatican officials to foist a heretical position on the Synod on Marriage and the Family. The attempt by Cardinals Forte, Kasper, and Baldisseri and a few others to marginalize the orthodox position was thwarted by Cardinals Pell, Müller, Burke, Napier and the vast majority of clergy present.—Rorate Cæli.
  3. "Allegations have surfaced this week that the lead organizer of the Vatican’s controversial Synod on the Family in October personally intervened to block the distribution of a book distributed by high-ranking cardinals, including Cardinal Raymond Burke, that defended the Church’s teachings on marriage."—LifeSiteNews.
  4. False accusations have been made against Pell and the VSE.
Damian Thompson commenting at The Spectator caps his recent analysis of attempts to discredit Pell with a slight peppering of his well known and slightly acerbic wit:
Cardinal Pell is not only sorting out the Vatican’s finances at an extraordinary pace; he’s also upsetting all the right people – sleek monsignori who exchange back-handers and morsels of poisonous gossip as they eye up the pudding trolley (...). If this is the best they can do, George Pell can rest easy.
After consolidating accounts previously spread between different offices, Cardinal Pell and the VSE found $1.5 billion worth of assets. Undaunted by unjust attacks from anonymous accusers and the media, Pell and team are making a positive contribution to the reform.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Convivium Magazine weighs in: Doctor Assisted Suicide

Dr. Somerville and Charles Lewis weigh in on the doctor-assisted suicide debate in the forthcoming issue of Convivium Magazine.

Peter Stockland, publisher of Convivium Magazine, sent out a promotional email for the forthcoming issue. The subject line of the email reads: You advocate for lethal injections? OK . . . you do it.‏
Many opponents of doctor-assisted suicide have spent February flummoxed by the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in the Carter case, which gave Parliament a year to change criminal law to permit the practice. Two of Canada's leading voices against euthanasia and assisted suicide, Margaret Somerville and Charles Lewis, come together in the April-May issue of Convivium with their ideas and advice on how to proceed. Somerville, a professor in both the law and medicine faculties at McGill University, offers some of that advice with her tongue at least partially in cheek.
"As a joke, really, although it is something that I've said in speeches I've given, we should designate who gives the lethal injections, and one possibility would be the justices of the Supreme Court. Of course, I say that half jokingly but my serious point is that when you recommend something, if you're not willing to do it yourself, you shouldn't be doing it. I had a personal experience of that. I was in a big pediatric hospital, and they had a baby that was very, very ill and wasn't going to survive. We did a whole session on whether they could withdraw the life support treatment. I strongly believed they could (ethically) withdraw life support treatment. At the end of the session, they said: 'Well, come with us to the nursery and you turn it off.' That's a very different experience."
Dr. Somerville will be giving the 2015 Bishop's Distinguished Lecture at the University of Victoria.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Gaga for Gaudi

Chile will soon boast the only Gaudi designed church outside of Spain. Due to open in 2017, the chapel of Our Lady of the Angels was begun in 1997 and when completed will be 98 feet high (30 metres).

The chapel is part of the Gaudí Cultural and Spiritual Center in the city of Rancagua, Chile. The chapel will be oriented on the Barcelona-Rancagua axis and will feature twenty stone oculi (circular openings or skylights).

Corporación Gaudí de Triana

The chapel takes design cues from the much larger Basilica de La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain, which is due to be completed in 2026. According to the architect of record, Christian Matzner, the chapel is also influenced by the work of Spanish architect Luis Bonifacio at Girona Cathedral.

For additional information, CLICK HERE and HERE.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Second Sunday of Lent. God reassures His chosen ones.

Second Sunday of Lent
Second Reading: Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans 8:31b-35, 37.

Canada (NRSVCE)

Brothers and sisters: If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? No in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.


Brothers and sisters: If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him? Who will bring a charge against God’s chosen ones? It is God who acquits us, who will condemn? Christ Jesus it is who died—or, rather, was raised—who also is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us.

God is good. God protects His own. Turn to God. Trust in God.
Diligam te Domine fortitudo mea.

Let's look again at the language of the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans. Is it not the language of law and justice, of struggle and victory? Romans, being a pragmatic people, would have readily appreciated the language of the letter.
What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for usWho will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? No in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
Defende nos in proelio.

In the Gospel according to Saint John, the Lord promises to send help in defence of those who belong to Him (St. John: 14:16; 14:26; 15:26). That help is with us now (Acts 2:2-4). Who is our "defence attorney"? The Holy Spirit, the Paraclete. The Holy Spirit is sent to defend God's elect.
mid-15c., Paraclit, a title of the Holy Spirit, from Old French paraclet (13c.), from Medieval Latin paracletus, from Greek parakletos "advocate, intercessor, legal assistant," noun use of adjective meaning "called to one's aid," from parakalein "to call to one's aid," in later use "to comfort, to console," from para (see para- "alongside") + kalein "to call").—Online Etymology Dictionary.
The Roman Christians who lived at the heart of the empire would have known frequent persecution: ridicule; calumny; loss of livelihood; physical assault; martyrdom. Saint Paul makes a case for the defence against the accuser (Satan), the accuser who condemns the innocent. It is the accuser who stands condemned. In Christ, God's elect are set free. In the words of Diane Korzeniewski: "The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church; it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!"
Dominus firmamentum meum et refugium meum et liberator meus Deus meus adiutor meus et sperabo in eum protector meus et cornu salutis meae et susceptor meus.
What are the spiritual "weapons" the saints employ? Love and forgiveness, mercy and joy. We entrust those who persecute the beloved of God to the mercy of God. God is the just judge of souls. He knows the motives of all men. The Lord knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men, and he recognizes the innocent as His own.
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.—Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew 5:43-48.
Ask Our Lady to place you under the mantle of her maternal protection. Ask, too, that Saint Michael, the archangel and the captain of the heavenly host, defend the Catholic Church, the Holy Father Pope Francis, bishops and all clergy, religious and the laity who form the vanguard of the Church Militant, the earthly regiment of the Communion of Saints.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

The New Totalitarianism

The latest copy of First Things magazine has hit the stands at a local bookstore.

Mary Eberstadt, author and senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, has an essay in the latest issue that analizes the new intolerance. In fact, the title of her essay is The New Intolerance. She explains how the title of her essay echoes the theme which has also appeared in "prominent pieces in several venues".


Eberstadt links her thesis to Pope Francis' call for mercy which she links to a call for mercy toward Christians who challenge the status quo, a secular paradigm that is hostile to religion and people of faith.
For there is no mercy in putting butchers and bakers and candlestick makers in the legal dock for refusing to renounce their religious beliefs—but that's what the new intolerance does. There is no mercy in stalking and threatening Christian pastors for being Christian pastors, or in casting out social scientists who turn up unwanted facts, or in telling a flight attendant she can't wear a crucifix, or in persecuting organizations that do charitable work—but the new intolerance does these things, too. There's no mercy in yelling slurs at anyone who points out that the sexual revolution has been flooding the public square with problems for a long time now and that, in fact, some people are out there drowning—but slurs are the new intolerance's stock in trade. Above all, there is no mercy in slandering people by saying that religious believer's "hate" certain people when in fact they do not; or that they are "phobes" of one stripe or another when in fact they are not. This, too, happens all over public space these days, with practically no pushback from anyone. This, too, is the new intolerance at work.
Eberstadt identifies five key elements of the new intolerance:
The first fact is that the new intolerance isn't just a Christian problem. It's an everybody problem. ...
Like related cultural unleashings, it will not stop at whatever courthouse door it's sniffing at the moment. It will want more.
... Nobody's free speech is safe when little Robespierres write the rules. That includes people who think they are safe because they have preemptively accommodated prevailing (politically correct) dogma and silenced themselves. Guess again. Practicing Christians who refuse to recant are on the front lines of the new intolerance today. But where they stand now, others will in the future.
The new intolerance facing Western religious believers today... is not an intellectual or philosophical force. In fact, it's hardly about ideas at all. It is instead something very specific, taken from playbooks that nobody should be proud of studying (Saul Alinsky's adversarial Rules for Radicals, perhaps?). It's about using intimidation, humiliation, censorship, and self-censorship to punish those who think differently. (I.e., Alinsky, in a nutshell.)
If the fury directed at religious believers could be pressed into a single word, as it can, that word would not be, say, theodicy. It would not be supercessionism. It would not be Pelagianism, Arianism, or other words that parted Christian waters in the past. No, in our time, that single word would be sex. Christianity present, like Christianity past and Christianity to come, contends with many foes and many countervailing forces. But it's single most deadly enemy in our time, the one with which it i locked in mortal combat, is not the stuff of the philosophy common room. It is instead the sexual revolution.
The new intolerance is a wholly owned subsidiary of that revolution. No revolution, no new intolerance.
... Everyone wants to be loved—or at least not hated. The fact that the new intolerance is able to exploit this ubiquitous desire, and to use it to tear Christianity from within as well as to isolate and intimidate people in its way—this is what makes the new intolerance so lethal.
(The new intolerance) is dangerous not only for the obvious reason that it spells censorship, but even more because it spells self-censorship—including within the churches. Inside Christianity itself, the scramble over the sexual revolution turns a community of sinners united by the shared search for redemption into something very difference: a discrete series of aggrieved factions, each clamouring for spiritual entitlement. It's institutionally destructive.
It claims to command the moral high ground, but in fact it does not and cannot. ... In the name of the revolution defended by the new intolerance, unborn innocents are killed by the millions every year, overwhelmingly on the sole ground they are inconvenient. The revolution singles out as particularly unwanted the fetuses who are female, millions more of whom are killed than males, to the apparent and bizarre indifference of many who claim otherwise to speak for womankind.
[Eberstadt includes in her examination of the new intolerance the case of the US federal government's attempt to force the Little Sisters of the Poor to provide contraceptive coverage in employee health insurance.]
Readers will have to purchase a copy of First Things or subscribe to read the rest of Eberstadt's informative and incisive article to get the full picture. Visit First Things at: http://www.firstthings.com/

Mary Eberstadt examines the battlefield and identifies specific targets, aspects of the new intolerance. Eberstadt identifies the progression that is leading (inevitably?) to a new totalitarianism. That new totalitarianism is a project emerging from the left side of the socio-political spectrum. Progressivism is slowly massaging society into a dark fog of caricatures of previously sacred inalienable rights. These caricatures of human rights are easily disposed with because they are said to be created by the state and are thus not inalienable. The emergence in the West of this truncated understanding of human rights should come as no surprise because societies that divorce power and will from faith united with reason are doomed to ignore and suppress all authentic freedoms. Western societies are beginning to resemble nations which were once more frequently condemned for their horrific human rights violations: China, North Korea, etc.

Is it reasonable to suggest that, instead of reclaiming their true dignity by turning to the civilizing Judeo-Christian ethos, those allied to the new intolerance, driven solely by the will to survive, will turn more and more to irrational ideologies and untenable pursuits in an attempt to rescue themselves from their meaningless social experiments and respective sinking ships? Time will tell.

Historically, a society turned in on itself understands only poorly any external threats tearing at the outer edges of said society. If the adversaries of said society wait long enough, they won't have to expend any financial or military resources to conquer their intended target. The society they intend to conquer will simply crumble from within due to its pursuit of folly and resulting moral bankruptcy. The former adversary, because it is organized and appears to offer stability, direction and confidence, i.e., meaning, will stroll unopposed into the void left by the new intolerance and will become the new (false) saviour of that society.