Thursday, April 30, 2009
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Gandhi once said:
"The seven deadly sins are
wealth without work,
pleasure without conscience,
science without humanity,
knowledge without character,
politics without principle,
commerce without morality,
worship without sacrifice."
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Monday, April 27, 2009
Aslan, the Christ figure, assists in bringing the "traitor" Edmund out of the White Witch's clutches. When Jandis comes to Aslan in his camp and demands "satisfaction" for the traitor, as per the old law, Aslan does not deny her an audience. He speaks with her in private, but we soon learn that he has made a deal regarding that satisfaction: his life for that of the traitor Edmund. The Lion slips off in the night, followed by Lucy and Susan (the faithful women), toward the Stone Table, where that sacrifice must take place.
He encounters the Witch and all her grotesque minions, who personify the twisted side of evil. Even then, in the face of the Great Cat, those evils are hesitant and fearful. Giving himself over without a fight, Aslan is stripped, beaten and ultimately killed, as the Witch tells him to "despair" over the knowledge that his sacrifice would be futile. Susan and Lucy look on as he dies.
This is an echo of the Christian idea of "satisfaction" that Jesus has paid for our sins by dying in the place of sinful humanity. Edmund, as a traitor according to Narnia's ancient law, deserved death. So does any sinner, according to the old Law. Christ, in exchange for our salvation, takes on our place and pays the price for our freedom. He dies, knowing the true value of our lives - of our royal vocation.
It was the "deeper magic" of this love that led Aslan to the Stone Table - that led Jesus to the Cross - and it is that same love that lead them through death to true life. The true meaning of sacrifice turns power over life upside down and destroys death. From there, the great Lion can go to those held in the bonds of death - those turned to stone - and release them. His "resurrection" and return to the battle between good and evil marks the turn for the "sons of Adam" from a fatalistic sense of impending defeat to the ability to face evil and overcome it with his help.
Lewis meant this when he wrote the books. It is great to see that the same parallelism comes through in the film as well. The idea of "satisfaction" is not often brought up, however, in the economy of salvation, as in "The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe," it is this very point that brings us humans to the divine vocation to which we are called. This is justification (it is no accident that Edmund, the one-time traitor, is now "King Edmund, the Just") "Once a king or queen of Narnia, always a king or queen."
Sunday, April 26, 2009
We did it again this year.
I am going to be 37 years old this year, and my mother made me look for Easter eggs!
This permanent actualization of the active presence of the Lord Jesus in his People, brought about by the Holy Spirit and expressed in the Church through the apostolic ministry and fraternal communion is what, in a theological sense, is meant by the term "Tradition": it is not merely the material transmission of what was given at the beginning to the Apostles, but the effective presence of the Crucified and Risen Lord Jesus who accompanies and guides in the Spirit the community he has gathered together.
Tradition is the communion of the faithful around their legitimate Pastors down through history, a communion that the Holy Spirit nurtures, assuring the connection between the experience of the apostolic faith, lived in the original community of the disciples, and the actual experience of Christ in his Church (General Audience, 4/26/06).
Because it is “nice”? Because He is hungry?
Does this sound familiar? Does it resemble any “tradition” that we might have? Sure it does!
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Friday, April 24, 2009
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Today, does it make any difference that yesterday was Earth Day?
Are the lights still being turned off? Are your recharges unplugged if you're not using them? Are you walking instead of driving short trips? Is the fridge less full and the freezer filled? Earth Day is a good place to start, but if it doesn't make a difference in our attitudes, we might as well have celebrated Velociraptor Awareness Day yesterday.
It is easy to forget why we are doing what we do if we forget why we have the chance in the first place.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Before you turn off your computer, you might want to bookmark this page - share the Rosary with your friends.
Monday, April 20, 2009
This Disney film presents us with a great foil for our Christian journey. Pinocchio, through his original disobedience, finds himself imprisoned by the wicked Stromboli. He lies to the Blue Fairy as to how he ended up there, and he learns that a lie "grows and grows until it is as plain as the nose on [his] face." When he is freed, he and Jiminy Cricket have to plunge into the sea (the waters of Baptism?) in order to escape. Once freed, Pinocchio can return to the father, Gepetto.
Before he can, though, he is caught up again by temptation and taken off to Pleasure Island, where - without a conscience - he indulges in all sorts of vices, along with the other boys there. This indulgence leads the boys - who don't feel "imprisoned" - to slowly lose who they are and become donkeys - symbolic of slow-wittedness and stupidity. As I said, Jiminy saves Pinocchio from this fate, and he can continue his return to Gepetto.
In the end, Pinocchio's journey leads him to realize his fullest potential: to be truly human. For us, this is our journey too. We seek to be fully alive in Christ. St. Irenaeus noted that "the glory of God is man fully alive." Therefore, we cut the strings that hold us back from that realization of our humanity, always letting our conscience be our guide, and we finally realize the life that the Father intends for each one of us.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
"These two rays issued forth from the very depths of My tender mercy when My agonized Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross.
"These rays shield souls from the wrath of My Father. Happy is the one who will dwell in their shelter, for the just hand of God shall not lay hold of him. I desire that the first Sunday after Easter be the Feast of Mercy.
"Ask of my faithful servant (Father Sopocko) that on this day, he tell the whole world of My great mercy; that whoever approaches the Fount of Life on this day will be granted complete remission of sins and punishment.
"Mankind will not have peace until it turns with trust to My mercy.
"Oh, how much I am hurt by a soul's distrust! Such a soul professes that I am Holy and Just, but does not believe that I am Mercy and does not trust in My Goodness. Even the devils glorify My Justice but do not believe in My Goodness.
"My Heart rejoices in this title of Mercy. "Proclaim that mercy is the greatest attribute of God. All the works of My hands are crowned with mercy."
O Eternal Love, I want all the souls You have created to come to know You. I would like to be a priest, for then I would speak without cease about Your mercy to sinful souls drowned in despair. I would like to be a missionary and carry the light of faith to savage nations in order to make You known to souls, and to be completely consumed for them and to die a martyr's death, just as You died for them and for me. O Jesus, I know only too well that I can be priest, a missionary, a preacher, and that I can die a martyr's death by completely emptying myself and denying myself for love of You, O Jesus, and of immortal souls.
Great love can change small things into great ones, and it is only love which lends value to our actions. And the purer our love becomes, the less there will be within us for the flames of suffering to feed upon, and the suffering will cease to be a suffering for us; it will become a delight! By the grace of God, I have received such a disposition of heart that I am never so happy as when I suffer for Jesus, whom I love with every beat of my heart.
- From St. Faustina's Diary
Friday, April 17, 2009
|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
Clips of Stephen Colbert talking faith matters are popular fodder for various bloggers in my circle. And sometimes it's criticized that his only credentials for such a distinction is that he is Catholic. However, his boldness (I don't think it's just "acting"), does serve to illustrate what we are called to through our Baptism and Confirmation. Here's what the Catechism says to this point:
For "by the sacrament of Confirmation, [the baptized] are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed." (CCC, #1285)
Now, I am not canonizing Colbert; however, highlighting his quirky defense of our faith does serve a purpose. This faith of ours - this relationship with Christ is worth defending - and it can be cool too.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Shortages and cutbacks, people mad at the Church or even leaving her, and our seeming inability to get the Gospel message credibly out there . . .
. . . are we not at times perhaps like those two dejected disciples on the road to Emmaus? They were so absorbed in their own woes, so forlorn in their mistaken conclusion that the one in whom they had placed their trust was dead, so shocked by the shame, scandal, and scorn of last Friday . . . that they failed to recognize Jesus as He walked right alongside of them!
I say to you, my sister and brother disciples now on the road to Emmaus, let’s not turn inward to ourselves, our worries, our burdens, our fears; but turn rather to Him, the way, the truth, and the life, the one who told us over and over, “Be not afraid!”, who assured us that He “would be with us all days, even to the end of the world,” and who promised us that “not even the gates of hell would prevail,” the one who John Paul the Great called, “the answer to the question posed by every human life,” and recognize Him again in His word, in the “breaking of the bread,” in His Church.
Let Him “turn us around” as He did those two disciples, turned them around because, simply put, they were going the wrong way, and sent them running back to Jerusalem, where Peter was, where the apostles were, where the Church was.
How apropos for us, young friends, to hear these words. How often are we tempted - or outright driven - to simply turn in on ourselves and let our disappointed hopes allow us to become jaded. The key comes from our faith! This is a faith that is not just adherence to "ideas". Rather, our faith is in a person: Jesus Christ. Archbishop Dolan's thrust - his point in that homily - is to remind his flock in Whom their faith is grounded - to Whom they can turn in need - by Whom their hopes are fulfilled. Jesus is the one and only key to that "question posed by every human life."
When the weight of those papers, exams, prom dates, lacrosse championships, hook-ups, break-ups and screw-ups begin to have you complaining, "But we had hoped..." remember the road to Emmaus - a road that you and I both walk - and remember Who is walking there beside you. Look again: I think you might recognize Him.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
As for me ...
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
However, in the midst of all that, there has been some good, and I am only now getting around to sharing it as I'd like. While we were stuffing lanyards for the young people's pilgrimage a week and a half ago, one of the team members, Margaret, was sharing an incredible (in my opinion) story about her son. He is eight years old and attends an elementary school in our difficult city.
One day, the teacher noticed a group of seven or eight boys huddled together in a corner of the classroom. Anyone with kids knows this could be trouble! So, she walked over to them and found them very quiet and peaceful. "What are you doing?" she asked. The boys looked at her and simply told her, "We are praying." Teacher was a little surprised at this (although it is a Catholic school), so she asked them what it was about. They told her that they had formed this little group of boys and called themselves, "Holy Men of God." When asked what this group was about, they explained that they get together each day and pray together. "What do you pray about?" she pressed. "We pray that God help us make good choices, that He help us stay away from drugs and gangs. We pray the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Glory Be."
The teacher's heart skipped.
The boys also said that they knew that some of the eighth graders were having discipline problems upstairs, and asked if she wanted them (these 8-year-olds!) to go up and pray with and for the trouble-makers. Again: shock.
"I was one proud mamma," Margaret explained as she finished her story.
I got to see the little guy at the Pilgrimage, and I asked him about the Holy Men of God. As a typical third grader, he was shy and played it off as no big thing. "But this is a big thing," I told him. "That is wonderful!"
They would like to have regular visitors and speakers to help them in their "charism" of striving to make good choices and being the best they can be. Any takers?
Monday, April 13, 2009
Sunday, April 12, 2009
The film rendition of Jesus Christ Superstar ends with Christ hanging on the Cross, dying. As he dies, the disciples – in fact, all those present at that scene – slowly wander off and begin gathering at a tour bus. They load the props and themselves onto the bus, a few of them occasionally looking back at that final scene of the Cross. Then, the bus drives off, presumably to replay the whole drama again somewhere else. Actually, the drama – either as a musical on or off Broadway or in film – has been played out even to today.
There is no resurrection scene. There is no “victory.” There is only the sense that Jesus’ followers would remember what happened and replay it elsewhere.
This sort of view of the Paschal Mystery finds is expression in the theology of a 20th-century Lutheran theologian named Rudolf Bultmann. The controversy with his theology is that he tends to strip Jesus of anything extraordinary, miraculous or divine. For Bultmann, Jesus is the “right guy at the right time,” but he admits that we as Christians looking at our human Jesus must remain open to the possibility that he ended as a failure. The Cross was neither his idea nor his intention. Things just got out of control for this Messiah. If we are to speak of any sort of “resurrection,” we can speak of it as occurring in the hearts of Jesus’ friends and disciples. Their preaching of Jesus – what we call the kerygma – is actually the “resurrection,” and Jesus the man remains dead.
This sort of reduction of Jesus to merely an historical figure (which he is), fails to allow faith any role in our view of the events of his life. Jesus was just another guy in this perspective ("Hey JC, JC, you're alright by me"). Certainly, it is easy to believe – after all, it does not require any sense or belief in anything extraordinary. Life happened to Jesus the same way it happens to us. In fact, even the gospel that we hear today would suggest simple confusion as the result of Jesus life and death – an empty tomb; frightened women; silence.
However, our faith is much richer than that. Jesus was not “simply” human; he was fully human – and fully divine. The events of his life were not mere causes and effects, the result of “fate” or the forces of circumstance. Jesus had a mission. That mission was one of sharing the Father’s love, of revealing who we truly are, and of sacrifice for others. The Cross was not just a result – it was the crowning of a life of self-giving – an offering in the purest and truest sense to the Father.
Just so, the resurrection is also real. In the resurrection, God affirms the reality of His saving love for Jesus, and through him for all humanity. Without that resurrection, our faith is a mere human invention; our Church is a purely human construct; and our salvation is a self-delusion on a grand scale.
However, this is not the case. God has acted! Jesus is risen! Our salvation is not a matter of our feelings or our actions. It is God’s doing.
Jesus was not any ordinary human being.
The Cross and Resurrection are no ordinary event.
And, friends, this is no ordinary day.
The salvation that has been hoped for from the first day of creation – from the day of Israel’s deliverance through the Red Sea – from the preaching of the prophets – from the appearance of Jesus in our world – that salvation is now real!
As we hear in the Easter Proclamation:
This is the night (day) when first you saved our fathers:
you freed the people of Israel from their slavery
and led them dry-shod through the sea.
This is the night (day)
when the pillar of fire destroyed the darkness of sin!
This is the night (day)
when Christians everywhere,
washed clean of sin and freed from all defilement,
are restored to grace and grow together in holiness.
This is the night (day)
when Jesus Christ broke the chains of death
and rose triumphant from the grave.
What good would life have been to us,
had Christ not come as our Redeemer?
Father, how wonderful your care for us!
How boundless your merciful love!
To ransom a slave you gave away your Son.
The women at Jesus’ tomb – like all in Mark’s gospel – have a hard time comprehending the young man’s message to them. They cannot grasp the wonder of what has happened. They know the tomb is empty, and they see this glorious person sitting there explaining what has occurred, but still, their response is silence and fear. It is not until later, when the power of God has been shown in the encounter with the risen Lord, that people begin to understand the meaning of the last week – and, indeed, the meaning of Jesus’ whole life. That, then, becomes the kerygma, the preaching of the Church: the Crucified one, whom you seek, has risen! Now, he goes before us and beckons us. We will see him where we go; we will encounter him.
We are not left, piling onto a bus, wishing we could start again, waiting to replay something that has ended in the past. Rather, we are going forward united with Christ, our risen Savior, ready to encounter him in our brothers and sisters.
His is our “Superstar.”
He is Jesus Christ.
He is the Risen Lord.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Friday, April 10, 2009
[T]he institution of the Eucharist is an anticipation of his death; it is the undergoing of a spiritual death. For Jesus shares himself out, he shares himself as the one who has been split up and torn apart into body and blood. Thus, the eucharistic words of Jesus are the answer to Bultmann's question about how Jesus underwent his death; in these words he undergoes a spiritual death, or, to put it more accurately, in these words Jesus transforms death into the spiritual act of affirmation, into the act of self-sharing love; into the act of adoration, which is offered to God, then from God is made available to [us]. Both are essentially interdependent: the words at the Last Supper without the death would be, so to speak, an issue of unsecured currency; and again, the death without these words would be a mere execution without any discernible point to it. Yet the two together constitute this new event, in which the senselessness of death is given meaning; in which what is irrational is transformed and made rational and articulate; in which the destruction of love, which is what death means in itself, becomes in fact the means of verifying and establishing it, of its enduring constancy.
quoted from God is Near Us: the Eucharist, the Heart of the Church
(Ignatius Press, 2001)
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
About a year before I was ordained a deacon, I got a phone call from him, out of the blue.
"Austin," the voice on the phone started, "how are you?"
"Just fine, Monsignor," I replied.
"Great. Austin, I want you to have my chalice."
I was shocked. "Really?"
"Yes. You've seen it, right? It's beautiful: my mother's ring and rubies and gold. I want you to have it when you are ordained. You're the pride of St. Agnes."
I thanked him and we chatted a little more, but Footsie never stayed on the phone that long with anyone, no matter how emotional the conversation. I still have the chalice; next to his name on the bottom is mine along with my ordination date. My grandmother's ring has replaced his mom's.
That chalice was Footsie's legacy to me. In a very real sense, my priesthood "descended" from his - and from all the other priests who have served me in my life. Priests in the Latin Rite don't have children who inherit their lives - but we are fathers. The priesthood is not passed along in a biological way. Rather, it is passed on as Jesus did - through service. When Jesus washed the disciples' feet, he sent them to do the same thing - to serve others as His priests, in His Priesthood. And He did it through the celebration of the Eucharist.
For me, my priesthood is very well symbolized by that chalice. It reminds me of the example of love that Msgr. Fortenbaugh showed me - the priestly service of countless good priests. But most especially, in the Blood of Christ that this cup has held for 70 years.
The mystery of the priesthood and the mystery of the Eucharist are intimately united, and Jesus wanted this t be the case. That's why we celebrate this evening, The Eucharist, the Priesthood, the Church - are all part of the same mystery of Love which we celebrate during these next few days.
Without the Eucharist there is no priest; without the priest there is no Eucharist; without the Eucharist there is no service; without our service there is no Church. The gift of self of Jesus Christ is what the Eucharist is all about. It is what the Priesthood is all about. It is what the Church is all about. That is what service is all about.
Jesus gives us the example. We must follow. It is about the Gift - a gift that must be passed on. i thank God for the examples of the good priests in my life. I thank God for the gift of the Eucharist.
On the base of Footsie's chalice (now my chalice; one day, someone else's) is a dedication in Latin from his parents:
"They gave God a priest, and He has blessed them forever."
His ordination date is there. Now, so is mine. There's room for one more.
When Footsie died, this chalice is what he left me. His funeral was packed with the people whose lives he touched. We celebrated, once more, the Eucharist he loved - just as we will today. The message remains the same:
Love is what remains.
Love is what we celebrate.
Love is what we pass on.
This is my fault.
As a taxpayer in Maryland, my money went to pay for the light, HVAC, video and projection equipment, as well as the salaries of these "teachers" who somehow convinced students that this smut glorified their civic rights. As a federal tax payer, at the moment, I am funding financial aid to the students whose idealism led them to take up this battle.
As an alum of the U of MD system, I am part of the tradition that continues to push out virtue in favor of this "freedom."
As a blogger, my freedom of speech stems from the same source as those who produced the offending film.
So, I am sorry.
I am sorry, parents of these students, that your children spent this half hour of their education watching people do things that are supposed to be confined to the privacy of their own bedrooms.
I am sorry, students, that your teachers must use dramatic and disgusting examples to illustrate the noble principles of Democracy.
I am sorry, women, that so many men are so affected by pornography that they can only view you as an object that exists to gratify their desires without any sense of intimacy.
I am sorry, men, that the people who proliferate this smut do so thinking of you only as an animal with base urges and appeal only to that lowest part of your brain.
So, that's it. I'm sorry. It's my fault. I'll just go back to watching "Dumbo" now.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
But...some very creative person has brought that Passion to the age of cyberspace. What would the Passion look like on Facebook? Take a look.
Monday, April 6, 2009
I noticed something similar at The Deacon's Bench yesterday. Now, I don't think this video is the next "Chocolate Rain" or "Sneezing Panda," but seeing such things in various places gives rise to the concept of something "going viral." This means that a video (or blog post?) gets picked up and read and shared by many people in a short period of time.
As I mentioned, Saturday, 1,300 young people from around the Archdiocese of Baltimore took to the streets of Charm City to make their annual pilgrimage. The theme: "Unstoppable Faith, Hope and Love." We began with a rally at the old St. Mary's Seminary (the original seminary in the US, now a spiritual center). We then processed en masse to the Shrine of St. Jude for a concert with the wonderful ValLimar Jansen. Then, it was on to the Basilica of the Assumption for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament with the Archbishop. The two groups of young people then met up again at War Memorial Plaza in front of City Hall to pray the Rosary together. After a two-mile walk through east Baltimore, we ended up at St. Casmir's church for our Palm Sunday Mass.
The witness of this throng of young people was awesome (in the actual sense of that word). One elderly lady poked her head our of her front window and asked, "Are you all going to church?!" "Yes!" was the enthusiastic reply. "Hooooooooo!" was all she could manage to say.
This procession of faith was much more than a choreographed mobile phone commercial - it was Spirit-filled and Spirit-led. And people noticed. That is the power of witness. That is what can touch people's hearts. Back at St. Jude's, I was standing in the back watching ValLimar tell her wonderful stories and sing spirituals, getting the kids into the spirit of faith. It was getting so hot that we opened the windows and doors. A man came in off the street, drawn by the noise within. As we all sang together "How Great Thou Art," I smiled and looked to my right. This man - this stranger - was quietly crying, with his own big smile.
It had caught on: the Spirit was his too.
Sunday, April 5, 2009
And people are noticing (from the Baltimore Sun):
A police officer assigned to watch over a church nursery during Mass overhears the homily and becomes intrigued. A retail manager struggling with the loss of hours at work is inspired by the faith of his fiancee. A married mother of two looks for answers after two siblings are stricken with cancer.
All have found their way to the Roman Catholic Church as members of the largest class of converts the Archdiocese of Baltimore has seen this decade. Nine hundred and eighty-four local adults are preparing to become Catholics during Holy Week this year, a third more than joined the church locally in 2008.
The surge has caught archdiocesan officials by surprise - and left them at something of a loss for explanations.
"It's really hard to say," Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien said, before suggesting a variety of possible factors: uncertain economic times, the Washington visit last year of Pope Benedict XVI, the vibrancy of individual parishes."We've talked about evangelization an awful lot the last couple of years," O'Brien said. "How are we presenting our parish to our neighbors? Are we friendly? Is there an outreach? Are we sensitive to their questions and to their needs?
"And I think the more active that parish is, the more people are going to want to look inside the door and say, 'What are they offering here that gives so much life and energy?'"
I am always moved by my encounters with individuals who find in the Church a new home and a place where they feel God's love. Working with RCIA groups, one cannot help but marvel at the richness of our faith, the power of God's grace, and 9to be honest) how often we take all that for granted. Hopefully, your parish is welcoming some of these newest members into the Church; and, hopefully, you can be there to see it - and to be moved too.
Suffering for the suffering’s sake is absurd. It does not make any sense. The perennial question, “Why does this have to happen?” is a fair one. Does suffering “have” to happen – like the sunrise or the tides? Why do we have to endure it?
In the midst of such hardship – the extreme senselessness of suffering and ultimately death – even Jesus has to cry out, “My God, my God! Why have you abandoned me?” Jesus’ suffering was real. It was painful. It was horrible.
It was also Passion.
What transforms mere human suffering into passion is an awareness of God’s presence and the love that comes with it. This is what we would commonly call faith. Faith tells us that there is some sense of meaning to what we do – some significance to our actions and our sacrifices. Jesus had this awareness, even on the brink of his apparent destruction.
At the Last Supper, he placed what was to come into the perspective of his faith. While at the Passover celebration with his disciples, he recalls the salvation that God worked for Israel, and then Jesus initiates his “new covenant.” It is a covenant in him – in his blood – and it is ratified and consummated with the Cross.
In his suffering, Jesus identifies completely with our humanity – even to the point of feeling completely abandoned by the Father. But Jesus identification with our humanity was not just some exercise in divine curiosity. Rather, it was truly love. Only in this way, through love, could God reveal the depth of who He is. Only in the absurdity of suffering could God show us the paradox of His action in our world on our behalf. Only with God, and in God, can suffering be transformed into Passion.
And only through Passion do we know true love.
Saturday, April 4, 2009
Abraham made his pilgrimage first - trusting and heeding God's command to "go to a far off land". The Israelites sojourned in the desert for forty days - following God's promise of a "land flowing with milk and honey." Even now, the Church is a pilgrim - journeying through time toward the fulfilment of the Kingdom on earth, approaching our heavenly homeland. However, by taking to the streets of our hometown, we also show that witness is not just about dramatic acts of courage or virtue. Witness can simply come by just walking out your door in the morning.
Pray for all young people, and especially those young folks who are praying with their feet today in Baltimore.
Friday, April 3, 2009
SILVANO M. TOMASI (Holy See) said that they were daily reminded by the media that the economic and financial crisis would endanger the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Also, the crisis would compromise the human rights of millions. The loss of hope endangered peace. The Holy See underlined that the international community had a legitimate right to ask how this crisis could have happened and who was responsible. There was a new need of an ethical base to the partnership of States and citizens. It was also clear that children suffered the most, as infant mortality rate was projected to rise in 2009. Low-income countries depended on remittances and foreign aid which would both be reduced during the crisis. The rise of governments with dubious commitments to democracy was also cause of concern. Recent mistakes would be repeated if concerted action was not placed on an ethical road.In his full comments, Tomasi makes reference to Pius XI's encyclical, Quadragesimo Anno, of 1931. The words sound oddly germane today:
[I]t is obvious that not only is wealth concentrated in our times but an immense power and despotic economic dictatorship is consolidated in the hands of a few, who often are not owners but only the trustees and managing directors of invested funds which they administer according to their own arbitrary will and pleasure (QA, n. 105). He also noted that free competition had destroyed itself by relying on profit as the only criterion. There are economic, juridical and cultural dimensions of the present crisis. To engage in financial activity cannot be reduced to making easy profits, but also must include the promotion of the common good among those who lend, those who borrow, and those who work.
The intervention underlines a long-held aspect of Catholic social teaching that money and wealth is not simply held as an end in itself, but rather, it is a tool with which to do good and further the upbuilding of society. Tomasi ends by saying, "Old and recent mistakes will be repeated, however, if concerted international action is not undertaken to promote and protect all human rights and if direct financial and economic activities are not placed on an ethic road that can prioritize persons, their productivity and their rights over the greed that can result from a fixation on profit alone" (L'Osservatore Romano, 4 March 2009, p. 8)
Thursday, April 2, 2009
On Sunday (as has been noted by other bloggers), Matt offered his own reflections on NPR's "I Believe" segment:
I believe globalization is forcing our brains to evolve. ...All of this calls to mind one of the growing concerns for our world, and our Church - the reality of globalization. Globalization means that phenomenon wherein we as individuals are becoming more and more connected - through improved communication, travel and technology. It is a good thing in that ideas and culture can be shared; it is not so good in that it reveals the reality of the exploitative practices of some companies and the ramifications of our local actions on the global village. Matt is right: we are connected, whether we like it or not. Globalization does not simply mean that we are somehow connected now with someone on the other side of the globe - that is already true. What globalization should mean is that we are connected, and we know it.
I am in a world of over 6 billion people, all of whom are now inextricably linked together. I don't need to travel to influence lives on the other side of the globe. All I have to do is buy a cup of coffee or a tank of gas. My tribe has grown into a single, impossibly vast social network, whether I like it or not. ...
When I dance with people, I see them smile and laugh and act ridiculous. It makes those differences seem smaller. The world seems simpler, and my caveman brain finds that comforting.
The simple joy of sharing who we are is what can break down any barrier - cultural, racial, linguistic (and even bad dancing!) - in order to see in the Other the Image of the One who has placed us here on this little blue planet. So dance like everyone is watching - it's the way it's supposed to be.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
So long, Scott!
In the Disney film, "Bolt," from last year, the title dog is a "superhero." He has super powers, like a bark that can lay an army out flat, the ability to leap great distances, and highly-tuned ninja skills. Working with his person, Penny (voiced by Miley Cyrus), Bolt fights off the bad guys whenever they come. When Penny is kidnapped by the villain, Bolt sets out to rescue her. The problem? Bolt is actually not super. His powers are all Hollywood special effects - they are added by technicians - but he actually believes that he has them.
Over time, as he treks across the country to find her, he meets up with some friends who help him realize that while he might not be a super dog, he is nevertheless courageous and devoted. It is the love he has for Penny that proves to be his strength, and it is that love that finally sees him through and reunites them both.
The grace we get from God is no illusion; it is not a "special effect." It is real. However, as St. Thomas Aquinas points out, "grace builds on nature." Bolt's strength was his relationship with Penny; ours is that relationship with God. It begins with our Baptism, but it must be lived. The strength we show comes from that faith. It comes from Love. We may not be superheroes, but God certainly thinks we are super.