Archive for January, 2011

 

Dr. Kreeft on Religion and Sex

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

Back in the mid-1980s I was a student of noted philosopher and author Peter Kreeft while attending an east coast seminary. I”ve been blessed to have had many outstanding teachers through the years, but Dr. Kreeft had the incredible gift of being able to make even the most abstruse philosophical concepts accessible to everybody.

Today I stumbled upon the transcription of a talk he gave last fall at the national convention of the Catholic Medical Association. His topic was to show the profound connection between religion (i.e., Christ) and sex to a culture of sex addicts. His presentation was part theology of the body, part commonsense philosophy and social commentary, and it was all vintage Dr. Kreeft. It”s one of the best articles I”ve read in a long, long time. Here”s how he opens his discussion:

“To see that the Sexual Revolution has been radical in thought as well as behavior, just look at the revolution in language. When people use the word ”morality” today they almost always mean sexual morality. That’2012-04-24 18:32:12′s a remarkable new development, an astonishing narrowing; it”s as if we started to use the word ”state” to mean only Russia, or the word ”technology” to mean only ”computers.” The reason for the new development is obvious from my two comparisons: sex, Russia, and computers are where there have been the most radical revolutions.

“No one speaks of a revolution in any other area of morality. No one speaks of the Property Revolution or the Bearing False Witness Revolution. In fact the rest of the natural moral law is pretty much still in place. Almost no one defends terrorism, sadism, cannibalism, insider trading, nuclear war, environmental pollution, rape, hypocrisy, torture, or murder. We are still ”judgmental” about those things. But if it has anything to do with sex we dare no longer be ”judgmental.””

It only gets better. For the complete text, click here. Kudos to the excellent Catholic Education Resource Center website for transcribing the lecture and making it available to the public!

 

Apostleship of Prayer

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

Today, as sort of an annual ritual around the end of the Christmas season, I meticulously went through all the cards, Christmas letters, and family photos that we received over the past several weeks. I saw many of them as they came in, but I always go through the whole pile to make sure I didn”t miss anything.

One thing that fell out of a Christmas card from a dear priest friend was a leaflet from the Apostleship of Prayer, containing the Pope”s intentions for each month of 2011.  It dawned on me that this would be a most helpful thing to post at the beginning of each month. Before giving the Pope”s intentions for January (I”m 12 days late, so another few minutes won”t hurt anybody), I”d like to recommend two privileged times for remembering the Pope’2012-04-24 18:32:15′s intentions:

First, there”s the Morning Offering, which is a great way to start the day:

O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer You my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day, in union with the holy sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world. I offer them for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart: the salvation of souls, reparation for sin, and the reunion of all Christians. I offer them for the intentions of our bishops and for all the intentions recommended by our Holy Father this month. Amen.

Second, there”s the family Rosary. At the beginning or end of the Rosary, to gain the indulgence for praying the Rosary, as well as to manifest the unity of our prayer with that of the universal Church, it”s customary to pray an Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be for the Pope”s intentions.

But what are the Pope”s intentions this month? Here they are:

Care for Creation. That the riches of the created world may be preserved, valued, and made available as God”s precious gift to all.

Unity of Christians. That Christians may attain full unity, witnessing to all the universal fatherhood of God.

I will post his intentions for subsequent months at the beginning of each month. In the meantime, check out the website of the Apostleship of Prayer for more information on this pious practice.

 

Tuscon Aftermath

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

When something goes wrong in my family, my initial, emotional reaction is often to look for someone to blame. Only after that am I able to comfort the “victims” (e.g., the six-year-old that just got knocked down or poked in the eye). As I gather myself, I become better able to address the situation in a reasonable manner.

I think a similar dynamic is at work in Tucson. In the wake of the tragedy that took place there over the weekend, it”s not altogether surprising that blame is extending well beyond the deranged shooter, Jared Lee Loughner. It”s especially disappointing that some of the commentary is politically motivated, as though “the Republicans” or “the Tea Party” or “the Democrats” are to blame for this. I think most people are put off by this outrageous, inflammatory rhetoric.

Occasions such as these should bring us together as a nation. We”ve had our initial emotional reaction. Now it”s time to mourn the dead, heal the wounded, support and comfort the victims” families, honor the heroes, and pray for all concerned. And then Loughner and any related societal issues can be addressed in a just and reasonable way. That”s my two cents’2012-04-24 18:32:16′ anyway.

Click here for the comments of Archbishop Timothy Dolan, the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

We Believe in Love

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

The first reading at Mass today (and any day) is not taken from the Gospel, but it sure is good news! Below is the text, with verses that I find especially inspiring highlighted: 

Beloved, if God so loved us,
we also must love one another.
No one has ever seen God.
Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us,
and his love is brought to perfection in us.

This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us,
that he has given us of his Spirit.
Moreover, we have seen and testify
that the Father sent his Son as savior of the world.
Whoever acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God,
God remains in him and he in God.
We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us.

God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.
In this is love brought to perfection among us,
that we have confidence on the day of judgment
because as he is, so are we in this world.
There is no fear in love,
but perfect love drives out fear
because fear has to do with punishment,
and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love. (1 John 4:11-18)

Today is also the feast of St. John Neumann, not to be confused with the recently beatified John Henry Newman. This 19th-century immigrant priest became known as the Apostle of the Alleghenies, and he later became the Bishop of Philadelphia. While most saints lived long ago in far away places, St. John Neumann is very much part of our own cultural history. This was brought home to me when I lived in Ohio. I belonged to the St. John Neumann Knights of Columbus Council, and in our St. John Neumann adoration chapel, we actually had baptismal and marriage records signed by none other than this holy cleric!

St. John Neumann eventually became a U.S. citizen, and he was the first U.S. bishop to become a saint. Let”s take this opportunity to pray, through the intercession of St. John Neumann, for our own bishops and priests.

On a personal note, I will be away from my computer for a few days. I will resume my daily posts next week. 

The Best Books I Might Read in 2011

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

Ignatius Insight, an outreach of My Catholic Faith Delivered partner Ignatius Press, has posted its annual “The Best Books I”ve Read in . . .” entry. Each year Ignatius Insight asks Christian intellectuals to provide lists of the best books they have read during the past year. 

This year”s post has recommended reading from the likes of Michael O”Brien, Joseph Pearce, and Fr. James V. Schall, S.J., just to name a few. Some simply offer lists, while most provide some description of the merits of each book.

I”m still finishing my reading from last year (see last week”s “Becket List”), but when it comes time in a week or so to pick out a new book, I will turn to these lists for some helpful guidance!

The Name Above All Names

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

Today is the memorial of the Holy Name of Jesus. The saints through the ages have borne witness to the Holy Name of Jesus. Here are a few noteworthy examples:

“At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” –St. Paul (Philippians 2:10-11)

“St. Paul bore the Name of Jesus on his forehead because he gloried in proclaiming it to all men; he bore it on his lips because he loved to invoke it; on his hands, for he loved to write it in his epistles; in his heart, for his heart burned with love of it.” –St. Thomas Aquinas

“Jesus, Name full of glory, grace, love and strength! You are the refuge of those who repent, our banner of warfare in this life, the medicine of souls, the comfort of those who mourn, the delight of those who believe, the light of those who preach the true faith, the wages of those who toil, the healing of the sick. To You our devotion aspires; by You our prayers are received; we delight in contemplating You. O Name of Jesus, You are the glory of all the saints for eternity. Amen.” 
St. Bernardine of Siena

In our online Faith Foundations course at www.mycatholicfaithdelivered.com, we discuss how devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus [more]is truly the antidote for sins against the Second Commandment. (Thou shall not take the name of the Lord in vain.) The goal is to duly honor and praise Our Lord, and not simply avoid blasphemy or cursing. Here are some of the ways we keep the Lord”s name holy:

–Fostering a sense of the sacred, of God”s presence and action in our midst.
–Proclaiming without fear our belief in the Holy Trinity.
–Listening attentively to the Word of God.
–Offering prayers of praise and thanksgiving, and by invoking His name in times of need.
–Taking oaths very seriously, in honesty and integrity, as taking an oath (“swearing to God”) is to call upon God as a witness to the truth of what we are saying.

Are names important? What are the first three words of our prayer? “In the name . . .” And He doesn”t call us in some generic fashion. Rather, He calls us by name. For more, check out Catechism, nos. 2142-67.