Friday, March 31, 2006

An Introduction to Deus Caritas Est

Here is the beginning of my series on the Pope's encyclical "Deus Caritas Est". I hope you enjoy it!

“God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him”(1 John 4:16). This is how Pope Benedict XVI begins his encyclical Deus Caritas Est, which is Latin for God is Love. Through this outpouring of love that God has showered on us, we have come to experience in a deep, personal, and intimate way what love is and thus who God is. We come to experience God as a person. God comes down to us and gives Himself to us in an act of perfect love which is shown most perfectly in Christ's death on the Cross. Thus, through this personal experience of God, we come to see that God loves us out of His Divine Personhood. We see that God is not some Divine Object, that God is some Thing far away and impossible for us to reach. Instead, God is the Divine Subject, some One close to us, who we can interact with in a deep, personal, intimate, and mystical way.

This is the basis for the encyclical of Pope Benedict. He talks about many things in this encyclical. It is beautiful, deep, and even poetic. We are truly blessed to have a Pope with such a deep knowledge and faith, and yet is able to express these things in a way that is accessible for everyone. I hope this series of posts will bring across to you many of the points that are made in this encyclical. I hope that this not so brief overview will give you the starting point to coming to a deeper understanding of this encyclical so that it can help you come to a deeper understanding of our common faith in Christ as well as a deeper understanding of how we as Christians are supposed to express the love of God to the world through our charitable activities.

There are many themes in this encyclical that I would like to point out ahead of time in order to keep your ears open for them as we go into depths of Christian love. The pope is a true renaissance man, someone who incorporates all forms of culture into this encyclical. He has a wide range of influences and backgrounds which pop up in the encyclical, including: Philosophy, Mysticism, Poetry, Theology of the Body, Natural Law, Faith and Reason, Humanism, and Politics. Perhaps the most important aspect of this encyclical is this; it is a sacramental encyclical. He really drives home the sacramental reality of Christianity.

Now, Sacrament has many meanings. The standard definition is that a Sacrament is an outward sign of an inward grace given by God totally, freely, and undeservedly. However, there is also a deeper meaning to Sacramental reality which is built into this encyclical and it is rooted in John Paul the Great's Theology of the Body. In that he describes the sacramental reality of Christianity as that deep and intimate participation in the inner life of the Trinity. Every time we participate in the Sacraments, we are participating in one form or another in the inner life of the Trinity, which is a Communion of Love. It is this very Communion of Love which the Pope speaks of, as well as that outward sign of an interior grace given to us by God. Keep your ears open for these two views of a Sacrament to pop up. And so, without further ado, let us delve into the depths of God's love together.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Deus Caritas Est

This Monday coming up I will be doing a talk on Deus Caritas Est, God is Love, the first encyclical by Pope Benedict XVI. I got a chance to FINALLY read it today in its entirety, I had no homework that could be done at work so I read that instead (and some Medieval Philosophy a la St Augustine).

I just have to say, it is an amazing beautiful encyclical. And so, because of my upcoming talk, there will be several posts over the next week or two. I will adapt the presentation to be more reader friendly, but it will more or less be what I present on Monday night. This way I can update my blog more often without really having to write stuff up extensively from readings and such.

I've got my outline already, so expect about 10 - 12 posts at least (if those are too long, then expect even more), all on the encyclical.

There is a lot in this encyclical. He talks about the mystical aspect of the Eucharist (a man after my own heart), philosophy, theology of the body, charitable works, and a wack load of other stuff. So stay tuned for a little series on Deus Caritas Est. I'm excited to talk about such a wonderful piece of theology.

Oh, and please continue to pray, through the intercession of St Joseph the Worker, that I find employment sooner rather then later if it be according to the will of God. I will have sent out about 25 resumes this week alone, which brings the total to about 120 jobs that I have applied for, and I have gotten absolutely nothing, and I need a job to pay off the student loans so that I can pursue my hopeful goal of testing out my vocation in the Seminary. So please, pray for God's will to be done with regards to my job situation through the intercession of St Joseph the Worker.


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

I'm Alive!

Sorry for the utter lack of posting these past few weeks. First I was sick and now I am in the midst of many many papers. Here is what I'm writing on.

History in Byzantine Art - I discuss the Christ's role in both the rise and fall of iconoclasm as a precursor in the paper. I then use the event of iconoclasm as a central point to discuss the continuity of the depictions of Christ from both the Early Byzantine Period through to the Middle Byzantine Period. I got to see some very amazing icons and mosaics while studying this, and I very much want to go to Sicily now because of all the beautiful Churches that are decorated with amazing icons.

Medieval Intellectual History - I will be arguing that the Sermons of Meister Eckhart had a profound influence on the cultural advancement of the laity with regards to the mystical side of the faith. I will argue that his sermons had a great effect with proof of the condemnations from the Bull of John XXII "In Agro Dominico" - In the Field of the Lord. Because of the possibility of easily misinterpreting what Eckhart had to say, it can be seen as to why certain statements of his were condemned as heretical or have the possibility of heresy. There are many interesting things I am finding out about the whole Eckhart situation, and will find out more as I finish writing the paper tonight, as it is due tomorrow morning.

Philosophy of Language - Truth - This paper will focus on William of Ockham's Theory of Supposition and how it is perhaps the most air tight correspondance theory out there. I will use Ockham's correspondance theory of truth as an answer to Frege's threefold arguments against the correspondance theory of truth. Man those medievals sure knew how to write. Ockham has so much detail, I mean, there is a very substantial difference between the words "truth" and "true", something many people wouldn't even think of considering. This paper is due on the 7th, I have much research material set aside for this, I simply need to write it. The medievals make me very excited when it comes to Philosophy.

On top of these papers I have the following:

Next Monday I will be giving a talk on the Pope's first encyclical Deus Caritas Est. So this weekend will be spent reading it and preparing the talk. I am very excited as this gives me the opportunity to actually read the encyclical, something school has been preventing me from doing all semester. I have about 40 minutes to talk on it, which will be great, it'll give me a great chance to really discuss the major themes of love in the encyclical.

I have a final exam on the last day of classes for History in Byzantine Art. It's only worth 15%, it just sucks how it's on the same day my Phil of Truth 4000 - 5000 word paper is due, but oh well.

I also have 16 jobs I have to apply for over the next couple of days. I'm praying that I get one soon because it is really interfering with school and studying. It takes a lot of work to costumize 16 resumes for 16 different jobs.

Anyways, that's it from over here from now. I promise that I'll be able to start posting much more again come the end of classes, for my exam period is very spread out and thus I will have some spare time for once :).

God bless!


Saturday, March 18, 2006

The Amish Are Online?

Well....I'm still sick and can't sleep, so I'm taking a moment to catch up in the world and some how stumbled across this...

The amish are selling their stuff ONLINE!! Weird....


Thursday, March 16, 2006

Pope news

So I've been sick since Monday...which has made life interesting. I hope I get better soon, because it is really taking away from homework time, not to mention that I need to catch up on all that I've been missing at school. Because I'm not feeling so well, I only have a couple of things to say.

The Pope's first general audience on the mystery of the union between Christ and the Church. It should be very interesting and I am very excited. Here is the shortened english version (only the Italians get the full length version).

In coming weeks, our catechesis will focus on the mystery of Christ and the Church. Jesus willed to found his Church upon the Apostles, and it is through their witness that we continue to encounter him. The mission of the Apostles must be seen in the context of the mystery of communion of God’s People, spanning both the old and the new Covenant. Jesus’s entire ministry took place against the backdrop of Israel’s faith and hope, and was aimed at gathering into one the eschatological People of God. Far from a purely individualistic summons to conversion, his mission was directed to the establishment of the community of the new and eternal Covenant. Jesus’ conscious decision to choose the Twelve Apostles was a prophetic sign announcing the eschatological renewal of the twelve tribes of Israel, the dawn of salvation and the fulfilment of God’s promises. In the person of the Apostles, charged with the celebration of the Eucharist and the forgiveness of sins, the Church has been made the sign and instrument of the Kingdom of God in our midst. Christ can never be separated from the Church; through the Church he remains ever present in his people, and in a special way in the successors of the Apostles.

Secondly, again to do with the Pope. is that there are rumors that he is writing his first social encyclical. It is "pretty soon" considering the fact that Deus Caritas Est just came out. However, he had wanted to retire and write books before being elected Pope, so I expect that we may receive many great teachings from him. The title of the encyclical is reportedly "Labori Domini" - The Work of the Lord. Looking forward to it.

Well, that's it for now, I need to get some more rest.


Saturday, March 11, 2006

Good news!!

After all this job applying I finally at least got an interview out of it. Apparently I'm doing pretty good, because this has only been going on for 2 weeks, while most people say it takes them months just to get an interview let alone a job. God is good, it gives me hope that applying for worthwhile jobs is actually worth it. I was talking to a friend tonight who said it took him 8 months to get a job, and only had 2 interviews during that time...It's been 2 weeks and I already have an interview...this is a good sign.

I will admit, applying for jobs is no fun task. It takes at least 30 minutes to go through the daily job postings from various companies and government departments. Then you have to customize each and every cover letter in accordance with the position. It ends up taking at least 2 hours a day. Anyways, as long as it pays off in the end then I will have been glad to have done it.

So, my interview is at 3:00pm on Tuesday. If you could please pray for me that would be great. Obviously they see some sort of potential in me for giving me a call. Thankfully, I got my resume into them through a contact of mine, which means the person I sent the resume to would actually read it and not just skip over it.

Here's hoping.

Still busy, once I have a job settled in I will have a bit more free time and will be able to post a bit more often. I may get some Theology of the Body in tomorrow.


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Amateur Catholic (and other loose ends)

You're looking at a member of the Amateur Catholic B-Team. Great stuff, go check it out. They even have an Amateur Jesuit, talk about a contradiction in terms!!

I've been wanting to post every day, but, frankly, it's just not happening at this time of year. It being Lent, and lots of school, time gets busy, but I may be able to get something up tonight.

To add to that, I have to apply like crazy for jobs. I'm available to begin work on April 12th, so I am getting my butt in gear for getting a job. What with massive student loans and wanting them paid off fast, one has to apply quite often to a LOT of jobs in the hopes of getting one. Please pray for me on this, it takes at least 2 hours a day for applying and I'm praying that God will guide me to the job He wants me to get.

I bought Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire today, I'm very excited to say the least, though I don't know when I'll have the time to watch it.

And last but not least, never EVER buy an iPod from The Source by Circuit City! I purchased an iPod from them, and it broke, but I got a warranty from them. Well, I send it in to get fixed. It's been almost 2 months now. So I go in today and the manager is there. He tells me that it says it came in and that he doesn't see any iPod in the back. I'm shocked, and a bit angry. He says to come back in on Friday and talk to Steve (the guy who handled this), and then if it's still not traceable, then we will discuss things further. I better get an iPod one way or the other on Friday because this is ridiculous, so yes, never shop there.


Sunday, March 05, 2006


For all the disenters out there, here's the tool just for you!

Thank you Curt Jester for this very great post.


Ratzinger on Prayer

I just began reading Feast of Faith yesterday by Pope Benedict XVI, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. It's a collection of articles that he's written about the liturgy, and, if there's anyone to read on the Liturgy, it's Ratzinger, hands down.

The first article is interesting, there, I believe, to set the tone for the rest of the articles on the Liturgy. What is the Liturgy? It is the greatest prayer the Church has. It is Christ made present to us, where Heaven and Earth meet in a communion of persons that transcends time. If the Mass is the greatest prayer, then it is, obviously, important to know what we mean by prayer.

The first section is what others have said on prayer in an improper way. I will not talk about that right now, though it is very good and you can see deep-rooted general Ratzinger trends even if he doesn't mention them (especially about relativism). Good stuff and worth reading. There is one comment he makes in the second section, however, that I thought was interesting and worth noting.

He says that man ought to be not only a personal embodiment of Christ, but also a personal embodiment of the Church. I have never heard this before, nor have I ever thought about it, so it is quite an eye opening moment for me.

I see what he is saying though. By nature of our baptism we become a personal embodiment of Christ. As Saint Paul says, it is no longer I whom and alive, but Christ Who is in me(Gal 2:20). Christ is alive in us, and He is revealed to others through us, through our bodies. This goes further though. Since the Church is the Mystical Body of Christ, that intimate communion of persons all one in Christ, we are in Christ. Since we are whom make up the Church, since we make up the body of Christ, then the Church is personally embodied in us by virtue of Christ being alive in us.

What does this mean exactly though? B16 says that and then leaves it. We make Christ known to others by virtue of the grace He gives us to do good works, which we do as a result of our faith. It is the Church, which is a communion of persons in Christ, that is made present through these actions. We see the goodness of ALL the people of the Church, not just ourselves, but what the Church is is expressed through us. It is not when we say "Canon blah blah blah states...", this is important and good stuff, but is not the Church in its mystical sense. The Church in its mystical sense as the Body of Christ is the communion of persons. A communion of persons is a result of love. Therefore, we embody the Church through our love for others. Simply put, the love we output is the love of Christ, which is expressed through the communion of persons of the Mystical Body of Christ. When we express this love of Christ, we are expressing the love that is given and received within the communion of persons, and all of it is done in Christ. Therefore, the love expressed is an embodiment of the Church.


Saturday, March 04, 2006

Personal AND Intimate

There is something that is unique about Catholic theology, something that is both scriptural and has rich roots in history, philosophy, and theology. It is the both and. We believe in Faith & Works, Scripture & Tradition, and so forth. One of the both ands, however, has been reduced very much recently, even though it is something that has never been reduced in official Church teaching, it is something that is no longer emphasized.

This is the Personal & Intimate relationship with Christ. Nowadays, it is simply a stress on the personal side of the relationship. We have lost the intimacy that is due to Christ alone, since He is our greatest love.

The Catechism states numerous times about the essential need for a personal and intimate relationship with Christ. So, then, why are we settling with simply the personal side? I will be blunt and say that it is in the name of eccumenism. We are attempting to show our Protestant brothers and sisters that we too believe in that personal relationship with Christ, and indeed we do! However, that is not the fullness of the relationship.

I am not debunking eccumenism here, because I think it is essential, I pray all the time for Christian unity and see it as essential for spreading the Gospel more effectively. However, we do not want to sacrifice something that is a part of Catholic identity, because if one understands the deepness and importance of the Personal and Intimate relationship with Christ, one would never dare forsake it when they speak of this relationship. Furthermore, I would have to say that most people who truly believe in Christ and do their best, by the help of God's grace, to follow the Gospel have this Personal & Intimate relationship, both Protestants and Catholics.

I think that people need to be exposed by what it is we mean by Personal and Intimate, so I wish to give a brief overview.

We all understand the meaning of a personal relationship with someone. This is something that every person has in one form or another. We have our friends, those whom we exercise this relationship with the most. Personal relationships equal friendships. They equate to getting to know someone, some deeper then others, but there is never the attempt to get to know the person fully.

Intimacy is something that is proably a bit misunderstood. Most people equate intimacy with something physical, something that is for a husband and a wife only and no one outside of marriage has a right to. However, this is not what intimacy means. Intimacy means getting to know another person's heart. We get to know who they are at the very depth of their being. We don't simply know their birthdays, their favourite colour, and we don't simply just enjoy their company. A simply personal relationship has the opportunity to fall apart, because we are unwilling to allow ourselves to be known by the other in a deep way, we are not willing to make ourselves vulnerable, or vice versa.

In an intimate relationship, we love the person with our whole being. We are willing to do anything for them. We are willing to make ourselves vulnerable to them, to let them know our innermost secrets, who we truly are. An intimate relationship is one that is built out of love. Intimacy demands a personal relationship, but it also demands sacrifice. Intimacy demands of us a heart to heart connection, something that cannot be broken regardless of what is put in front of us. A intimate relationship is a communion, a communion of persons.

And as Catholics, the idea of communion is central. Our relationship with Christ is automatically an intimate one because of the fact that we receive Him, in His entirety, in the Eucharist. He is fully present to us, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. When we receive the Eucharist, we can't help but proclaim thanksgiving to God, for we have received Him, and for a while you and God are one, yet you are distinct. You are in the most intimate communion of persons, where your body and soul enter into a communion of persons with God. It is through the Eucharist that we enter into the most loving embrace one can ever receive, which is through that union with God.

And so, we cannot simply talk about a personal relationship with Christ. We must look beyond. God is our friend, but He is more then that. God is loving, God is personable because He is a communion of Persons Himself. God loves us more then any husband or wife can ever love each other. In marriage, the nuptial embrace is the most real way of expressing that love, it is the most powerful. For those whom we have intimate relationships with outside of marriage, it is the total love for that person in respect of their vocation. God gives Himself fully to us in the Eucharist, in an embrace that is more powerful, more loving, more personal, then any sign of love that can ever be shown from us. If God is truly our friend, if we are truly in a personal relationship with Him, we can't help but reach for that intimate relationship, because every time we receive the Eucharist, we are on our knees anticipating that most intimate act which is Heaven on Earth. When we receive the Eucharist, we are tasting a foretaste of Heaven, we have for a short period of time that communion of persons that we will have with God for all eternity. If that is not intimate, I don't know what is.