Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Stop Pretending

According to an article published in LifeSiteNews today, 43% of French Catholic have declared that they want the Pope to retire and the Catholic Church to change its position on contraception, abortion, and homosexuality. Most of the people interviewed have also identified themselves as non-practicing Catholics. Well, can does someone consider himself Catholic if he does not live his faith? Is one Catholic by simply going to Mass at Christmas and Easter? (According to the poll less than 10% of French ‘Catholic’ attend mass weekly.) Are we Catholic if we pick and choose the teachings that are most convenient and most in-line with popular ideas and a liberal lifestyle? Well, this is not what makes a person Catholic, so people should stop pretending.

You are either following the Church and the Holy Father or you are not. There is no in-between. People should not call themselves Catholic if they do not live according to Church’s teaching and do not miss a chance to criticize the Magisterium. If someone does not agree with what the Church represents and stands for, there are many other ‘churches’ that may suit people’s own ideals of what their individual religion should be like. And if one still cannot find the right ‘church,’ the right preacher who tells him everything he wants to hear (it’s ok to use contraceptives; it’s ok to kill unborn babies; it’s ok to have same-sex unions; it’s ok to kill embryos, it’s ok to…), he can always start his own ‘church.’ Being Catholic is not simply attaching a label to your personality to make you feel good or religious. Being Catholic is living the faith as it has been given, practicing the faith in one’s daily life and being a witness of Christ and His Church to the world. If you are not in for this, then you are not Catholic.

Read the Article on LifeSite News, "43 Percent of French Catholic Want Pope to 'Step Down'"

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Proud to be Mrs.

Recently, the European Parliament has issued a guide for its staff members banning words such as 'Miss' and 'Mrs' (in whatever language they exist) and the use of gender-specific terms like 'policeman' or 'businessman' because they are sexist and can be offensive.

Feminists around Europe (and the world) might be rejoicing now!

I can understand changing, or better expanding, gender specific words that refer to occupations in order to include also women [after all, I would not like to be passed for a man!], but what is the point of eliminating titles that indicate marital status? You are either married or not and if you are ashamed of showing that to the world, well my dear, you probably made the wrong choice in life! Changing a title from Mrs. to Ms. does not change the reality that a woman is not a single person any longer. And if she is married, one would assume is because she chose to, because she decided to share her life with another person, to become one. This does not mean a woman has to give up her femininity [i.e womanliness] and become subdue to the absolute power and will of a husband [if there is such a person, you probably would not want to marry him anyway!]. Quite the contrary; marriage means giving oneself up for the other and in this there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. Marriage is the best thing that has happened in my life, after encountering Christ, so please call me Mrs. I am proud of it!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Vulnerability of the West

The Western world is more vulnerable at present than any time in our history. Our leaders have not defended our civilization and we, like children in a candy factory, are consuming and buying foreign goods to an extent that our future way of life is threatened. What is the real problem? We desire material items more than human life. We neglect the vulnerable, the weak, the unborn, and the elderly. We want fancy cars, big houses, and the appearance of something that will give status. In this pursuit we have facilitated the decline of our civilization and aided the rise of the next great power China. One cannot overestimate the power this totalitarian regime has over the U.S. because of its control of the dollar. The surprising thing is that the majority of American citizens are entirely unaware of true situation in the world. We hear speeches from elected officials who speak of our greatness, but no one addresses our vulnerabilities. No leader is discussing our relative weakness and offering solutions. In a way, the time for simple solutions has long passed. There is no simple way that we can stop the transfer of power without facilitating a decline in our standard of living. This drop is not preventable for the time being. What brought these events forward?

Our weakness was in adopting economic reasoning as our cultural norm. We have purchased goods produced by the cheapest labor, partially owned by totalitarian regimes that do not only take away freedom, but have mandated abortion as a state policy. We have not heeded the warning of important people who escaped the global center of communist regimes in the past. For example, on June 30th, 1975 Solzhenitsyn gave a speech that warns the West that Lenin figured out early on how to overcome capitalist economic systems. We would buy the very rope that would be used to hang ourselves. Once our cultural reasoning is understood by those who wish to surpass our civilization, all that they had to do was to supply cheap goods that we would purchase to our own demise. Our cultural norms would be used to facilitate our destruction. Our desire to maximize our wealth seems like a good thing in itself, but when the cost is the destruction of our civilization it is problematic. And which of our leaders have spoken about this? When Solzhenitsyn gave his warning the Soviet Union was a rival power, but now his words are ignored. His warning is has more salience today than it had over thirty years ago when they were written.

Pieper's Hope and History

Notes on Pieper's Hope and History

Man can hope for temporal fulfillment (eg. good.* . weather)and fundamental fulfillment (salvation). After initially seeking satisfaction through the goods of this world, a man may suffer a collapse of his entire world. He may be confined to a hospital bed with the full knowledge that he will not recover. Yet, it is this situation that frees man and grounds him in the fundamental hope. While he is unable to hope to regain the pleasures he had experienced in his youth, he does not cease to hope. His hopes in the world were ultimately illusionary and not really hope at all. Free from these illusions he is now able to hope in the one true hope, the beatific vision. Separate from this hope no true hope exists. A man who sees the future likelihood of his own nonexistence can hope for fulfillment of his life's plans, but he has not the fundamental hope.

Although the natural world has changed as time has progressed, these physical events in themselves are not history. History always refers to man and necessarily contains the human element (responsibility, freedom, decisions, mistakes, and guilt all have a part). Historical events cannot be predicted (not even by angels as St. Thomas writes) because they are a product of the free action of man.

Modern theologians have examined the subject and have likewise found that history cannot be reduced to a formula that could be used to interpret the past or predict the future. History is not then absurd, rather it is a mystery. The history experienced by individual men finds its meaning in its relationship with the eternal, through this connection man can understand his role in the world.

Pieper challenges Kant's ordering of history by focusing on Kant's assumption that humanity is constantly progressing to the better. Kant's historical theory rests upon this premise by claiming that experience, a particular historical event, mandates it. Kant points to the French Revolution and the sympathy of all mankind for it as the one event. The future can be predicted because mankind is then in a constant state of advancement. Pieper's difficulty with Kant centers upon this assumption, is there really evidence to indicate that man is in this state of advancement. The dangerous reality of nuclear weapons with the possibility of the destruction of man lead us to question whether mankind is indeed advancing. Since Kant's assumption can be doubted, his historical proposal must be held in doubt. Can a philosopher play the part of the prophet and predict the future through use of his reason? Pieper suggests that a better solution to the question of the progression of history is resignation, we do not really know what tomorrow will bring.

As Christians, what can we hope for in history? We cannot wish to know the exact hour of the end of the world or seek salvation through political change. We have hope in the triumph of truth that will come only after evil enjoys its strongest reign. Evil will become entrenched in the world's political systems that will attack the Church, individual Christians, and all people of good will. Hope is not lost in this suffering but endures through to the triumph of the good.

Pieper's argument is simply stated, direct, and coherent. He searches the foundations of various philosophical interpretations of the progression of history and shows that the evidence presented for the theory is weak or nonexistent. A true statement predicting future world activities must rest on a foundation that exists in reality and not merely in the mind. Such a prediction is more difficult given that it must account for all the factors that make the action of man free.

The Gospel calls believers to help the poor although poverty will never be eliminated. Christ said, in he poor you will always have with you... (Mk 14:7)." We may attempt to help the poor escape their situation, but we will never totally abolish poverty. Ideas presented to politicians never seem to understand the totality of poverty and continuously simple programs are proposed attempting to achieve unrealistic goals. Unrealistic political solutions do little more than seek to eliminate the symptoms of poverty while ignoring its causes. Salvation will not come from political activity. Although modern philosophy has adopted the goal of changing the world, what world will come through the changes? What we have experienced so far has left little to hope in.