The Apostolate of the Laity

Waxing philosophical in communion with one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.

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Location: Portland, Oregon, United States

I am just a sinner who holds fast to the notion that every human being on the planet is the result of a thought of God.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Beyond Synthesis

Much ado has been rightfully made of the University of Notre Dame's decision to invite President Obama to act as commencement speaker for this year's graduation. Because this university has served as an icon in America symbolizing the best in Catholic education, it seems very much out of sorts for it to now invite the man who is leading the charge in the unfettered killing of the citizens he purports to lead at a rate of over a million per year.

On the other hand, Notre Dame has long since fallen victim to the phenomenon of symbolism over substance. The university actively supports the gay and lesbian lifestyle, and recent polling data shows its student body supported Mr. Obama in the election by a majority and that abortion was not an issue for them. So the fact the Mr. Obama will soon appear in the midst of this fallen institution perhaps waxes more emblematic of cultural Catholicism in America, today.

And while the University's president, Reverend John Jenkins, has stated that the university does not support Mr. Obama's views, his profession that it's important to "engage in conversation" seems terribly weak. What conversation needs to be had? Abortion is murder. That's an absolute, and the good Reverend Jenkins knows this. All the conversation in the world will not change that fact any more than conversation will alter the course of the sun. How dreadfully insincere to position this as an act of reaching out to form or reform Mr. Obama's conscience.

Perhaps Notre Dame should pay all due respect to the President of the United States. In fact, given Obama's messianic allure, including to many Catholics, perhaps instead of using the introduction of, "Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States," Reverend Jenkins should open his scripture and proclaim from John's Gospel the words of Pontius Pilate, "Ecce Homo!" or "Behold the man!" With that, the affront to Christ's church in this sad situation would be complete.

Seen in Notre Dame's decision to engage Mr. Obama is the perpetuation of the philosophy that originated in Germany in the late 1700s and remains popular in academia. A triad of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis became an accepted way of coming to discover the relative truth in just about any philosophical debate. One would propose a thesis; another would propose an opposing view called the antithesis; and blending the two opposing views one would arrive at a synthesis, which very well could turn into another thesis, antithesis, synthesis...and so it goes.

The problem with that line of thinking rests in the fact that it completely falls apart when dealing with absolutes; yet man persists to varying degrees to pursue this method of understanding his world. So God, who is absolute, gets pitted against an array of antithesis which cannot ever be equal to the Almighty in the first place, and the synthesis which emerges always falls short of the truth. After centuries of this kind of flawed thinking, man now finds himself in a world of abject relativism.

"Quid est varitas? What is truth?"

Perhaps this question asked to Christ by Pilate is the question Notre Dame students, faculty, and administration should be asking themselves. For in the face of moral absolutes, opposing opinion brings only obtuse intellectualism.

If Reverend Jenkins truly wants to engage President Obama, would it not be more loving and pastoral to do be a doer of the word and deny Mr. Obama the honor attributed to the respected commencement duty and Honorary Law Degree the Reverend proposes to install upon The President, and instead take him into his office and minister to him?

"If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
Matthew 18: 15-17

Notre Dame has chosen to allow the unrepentant tax collector to address her students. How ironic that such an institution whose motto is Vita, Dulcedo, Spes (Life, Sweetness, Hope) has entrusted a leader to address her graduating class of 2009 whose policies find no sanctity in human life, no sweetness in the miracle of creation, and no hope for the unborn should they be conceived in less than subjective ideal conditions.

Our Lady (Notre Dame) of the Americas...Pray for us.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Act of Oblation to God's Merciful Love

That my life may be one act of perfect love, I offer myself in total surrender to your Merciful Love, humbly imploring you to consume me unceasingly, and to allow floods of infinite tenderness gathered up in you to overflow into my soul, that so I may become a martyr of your love.

O my God, may this martyrdom one day release me from my earthly prison, and after having prepared me to appear before you, may my soul take its flight without delay into the eternal embrace of your Merciful Love.

O my Beloved, I desire at every beat of my heart, to renew this oblation an infinite number of times, till the shadows fade away, and for all eternity, I can tell you of my love face to face.

St. Therese of the Child Jesus

How often does one take the time to sit down and write a love letter to Christ? St. Thérèse de Lisieux wrote the above on the eve of her entering into the Carmelite order. This Lent, take the time to write one's own letter of affection to Christ.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Citizens of Heaven

therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man; and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.
Genesis 3:23-24

God's supreme act of mercy with Adam and Eve often gets missed in the sad reality of man getting the boot from Eden. It sometimes proves difficult to realize that getting cast out of the abode of the Blessed was really the kindest thing. Imagine living with the knowledge of good and evil, not for just a lifetime of say eighty to a hundred years, but instead, forever. Ponder a life lived, eternally, in an existence where the works of the flesh are the alpha and the omega.

Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Galatians 5:19-21

A gander at the morning paper finds plenty of stories where any of the above has led to news fit to print. Is it any wonder that suicide rates in America are on the increase, especially in middle-aged people? Yes, the Baby Boom generation that shed God in exchange for a fuller communion with the fallen world has discovered that it turned out to be a bad deal, and sadly many having lost all hope are offing themselves.

Consider this excerpt from a study co-authored by Susan P Baker MPH; released in October of 2008; and conducted by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health's Center for Injury Research and Policy.

The reasons for the increase in the suicide rate are not fully understood. "While it would be straightforward to attribute the results to a rise in so-called mid-life crises, recent studies find that middle age is mostly a time of relative security and emotional well being," said Baker. "Further research is warranted to explore societal changes that may be disproportionably affecting the middle-aged in this country."

Not sure disproportionably is a word, but setting the grammar aside, perhaps the scientific community should take a serious look at the simple loss of faith in America as a root cause to this loss of hope which leads to the ultimate fatal solution. For many, perhaps most, a higher dose of Cymbalta could be replaced with a lower dose of faith. Science spends its days trying to make living in the fallen world more pallatable and peaceful. It will never succeed.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
Galatians 5:22-24

Despite man's exile on Earth, he is a citizen of Heaven. And while he soujourns here he can take the attitude of "when in Rome do as the Romans do." God gave him free will to do so. Yet, he can also choose to act as an expatriot of the his state of origin, Paradise. He can set aside his knowledge of evil and instead choose to share his knowledge of good with those seeking home, even if they don't realize they are lost. For all are invited to be members of a Trinitarian communion of love offered freely by a loving Father.

While the Seraphim guards the East entrance to Paradise with flaming sword, are there not three other directions one can approach Heaven? Not North, South and West...but rather Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? God so loved the world that he planted a new tree of life upon the fallen Earth, and He adorned it with His only son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, arms stretched out to welcome all who want to partake of its fruit.