Saturday, April 29, 2006
And so, what will I be doing with this new sense of freedom and free-time? More schooling! Well, sort of. I'm putting on a Medieval Philosophy Group this summer and we have 15 people signed up already! I have a feeling we'll be getting more people joining on in as well. Here's the schedule for the summer...
May 9 - Introduction to Philosophy - What is Philosophy, it's pursuit, it's value, and an introduction to philosophical terms and the heritage of Philosophy that influenced Medieval thought
May 16 - Greek Philosophy in One Night - Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus
May 23 - St Augustine - Metaphysics, The Human Person, Time
May 30 - St Augustine - Problem of Evil and Free Will (Including his theory on Grace)
June 5 - Pseudo-Dionysius and Boethius
June 12 - Islamic Philosophy - Ash'arites and Avicenna
June 19 - Islamic Philosophy - Al-Ghazali and Averroes
June 26 - St Anselm - Argument for the Existence of God (May get into St Thomas tonight too)
July 3 - St Thomas Aquinas - Metaphysics and the Human Person
July 10 - St Thomas Aquinas - Epistemology and Arguments for the Existence of God
July 17 - St Bonaventure - The Existence of God, Epistemology, Metaphyiscs
July 24 - John Duns Scotus - Argument for the Existence of God
July 31 - William of Ockham
August 7- The Mystics
August 14 - The Problem of Universals Part 1
August 21 - The Problem of Universals Part 2
August 28 (Not sure if we will have it this night)
There's so much to talk about, and I'm really only scratching the surface. But it'll be fun and I know everyone who's taking this is really excited about this, I wasn't expecting such a strong response to this group!
Anyways, I'm exhausted and am going to attempt getting to bed really early tonight.
Friday, April 28, 2006
The job interview went really well, I will find out on Monday evening or Tuesday if I got the job (though I had hoped to find out on Sunday evening if I got it, that way I could have quit Johnny Zee's right away if I did get it, but oh well).
I'm going dancing after my exam as a form of celebration. It's going to be with the few bucks I have left to my name, so here's hoping for a job to pay for things again :).
That's pretty much all, I'll have cool theological posts after the weekend.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
I've got my last exam on Friday night and a job interview on Wednesday, please pray for me. Come the end of this week I'll be able to start posting a lot more.
Thursday, April 20, 2006
I've got a exam on the Rationalists on Friday night. Please pray for me if you remember. After this exam I'll have but one more exam to go and then I'll have my BA in Philosophy. The Rationalists are an interesting bunch, and I never agree with any of them completely.
Descartes - Moron, pure and simple.
Melbranche - Cool because he is a Catholic priest, but he's got a weird metaphysics that doesn't exactly jive with Catholic doctrine.
Spinoza - Very cool and consistent, but you have to accept his axioms, and I don't, and I'm glad I don't becuse his philosophy negates the idea of free will and promotes determinism.
Leibniz - By far my favourite of the class, though he is the hardest to understand. This man was probably one of the smartest men to ever live, I mean, he invented Calculus and Symbolic Logic just to name 2 of his many MANY achievements. His philosophy is really cool because of his denial of space and time as flat, but instead as a way of representing logical relations between substances. I do have a beef with his philosophy too, though, in that his definition of substance entails the loss of free will as well, and thus all falls down the hole for me, and for him if you don't accept that. But by far the coolest and the most interesting!
Anyways, I've got a little bit more studying to do then it's time to hit the hay. God Bless everyone!
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Well, despite the manner lack in a good title and the production team attempting to make this a decision that is forever, that is, that entering seminary means becoming a priest, it was a really great show so far.
All four episodes deal with the depths of the human condition, the struggle that sin has poured out on the world. I think, too, that these 4 young men were really brave to do such a thing, because it is a great witness to the world and, to my knowledge, it has been getting GREAT reviews!
It really dealt with the struggles these men were going through, as well as the fact that Christ is the source of their strength that gets them past their struggles to focus solely on Him. I will say there were some issues that each man had to deal with, but, at the same time, who doesn't? It showed that it is ordinary to have issues and to listen to what God is calling you to.
For me, on a personal level, it was great to see that in each individual I can see a bit of me, that is, I was saying to myself "I've been through that" or "Boy do I have the same issue this guy has" and so forth. It was just really uplifting to see people so on fire for Christ.
I will say this, Joe...man...if you go to Germany, you don't wait 3 days to call Anna!! I mean...you call her right away!!! I mean, one ought to do that no matter who they're visiting if it's been such a long time!
But yes..., it was just a great show and am looking forward to the final episode on Sunday, even though I won't be able to watch it until Monday probably as that will be when I can get it from said person taped at the earliest :).
Thursday, April 13, 2006
Oh, and some news. Though it's not the full time work, I did get a part time job that I had been planning on taking on top of my full time job. I'm now the new Sacristan for the Cathedral here in Victoria. It means I'll probably be working 7 days a week, but it also means working at the Cathedral a bit, so I'm quite excited.
Again, have a Happy and Blessed Easter everyone.
Our charitable activity is to be done in the light of Christ only. Our love must not be a forceful imposition of God to the world. We must not proselytize the Gospel, because it is not something that can be forced, it must be experienced and affirmed through the yes of faith.
Understanding the basics behind Christian charity, we must now understand what is needed in order to be formed so that we can properly enact charity in the world. The Pope said that in order to carry out the charitable activities of the Church, we must first and foremost contemplate the love of Christ through prayer. We must spend much time in prayer, and fast and do penance for the spiritually poor. He emphasizes the need to serve all poor, and this includes the spiritually poor. By contemplating the life of Christ through the reading of scripture, through the rosary, through the reception of the Sacraments, and through simple contemplation in His presence in adoration, we are able to receive the graces necessary to fulfill the will of God in the charitable activities we do. Before his conclusion, Pope Benedict states that “Love is possible, and we are able to practice it because we are created in the image of God. To experience love and in this way to cause the light of God to enter into the world – this is the invitation I would like to extend to you with the present encyclical.” He then ends the encyclical by giving us examples of various Saints who enacted the love of God to others in their lives, such as our Martin of Tours, Blessed Mother Teresa, and our Holy Mother Mary, who gave herself completely over to God.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
The Funniest Dancing Ever
The Pope, now having an idea of what justice is, states that the love of caritas is always necessary in a just society. Love is that which governs the just society. Thus we are called through our common faith in Christ to serve society with that charitable love in order to help enact a just society. Sin has made the world a lonely place, a place of suffering. We are now called to love so that people can experience the trueness of what it means to be human. Charity thus gives us a glimpse into the original state of man prior to the fall, it is also a foretaste of the Heavenly kingdom, where we will experience the charity of Christ in perfection in the Heaven for all eternity.
This call to Charity is thus not something that is bound to the state, but is bound instead to each individual person. The state does not make Christ present to the world, but we do, through our own individual actions. It is unified in love through the Holy Spirit and our communion with each other in Christ, and thus the Church as it is known is made present as a whole through the charity we enact on a personal and individual level.
This is where the lay faithful show their utter importance and necessity for the Church, for there would be no Church without the laity. This is Pope Benedict showing us the true meaning of the role of the laity as the proper interpretation from the Second Vatican Council.
Justice must be the pursuit of the state. The Church has no role in politics, which is emphasized in the Church's stance against liberation theology, in which it taught that the Church ought to form the state. Instead, it is the Church's role to propose the claims of truth which it believes, thus forming those who form society. The Church does not form society, it forms the people who form society. The Church is there to simply propose the claims of truth which are rooted in Jesus Christ.
The origins of politics are found in justice and the pursuit of a just society. It is constantly asking itself how justice can be enacted in the modern period of our lives. It must deal with ethical questions which are constantly posed. But, if politics is to pursue justice, one needs to understand what justice is. It is in the definition of Justice that faith and politics meet. Notice how he does not say religion and politics, and he has good reason for not using the word religion. It denotes a social construct that has based itself on such a vague meaning that it, in essence, has no value at all. Faith, however, is rooted in truth and love. One has faith because one encounters love. This is why faith and politics meet, because faith is an act of love in which justice is poured out, and since justice is the pursuit of politics, then politics must turn to faith in order to understand what it is that it is pursuing.
Here the Pope talks about the necessity of faith and reason. St Anselm once exclaimed, and rightly so, that I believe so that I may understand. In order for us to use our reason, we must have faith in reason and God so that we can properly form our reason. Faith liberates reason. Only through faith, through that ultimate act of love towards God, can we see the ground and purpose of our reason. Faith is constantly present and thus constantly gives us the ability to give an answer to what is justice in the the here and now.
Monday, April 10, 2006
This universal ecclesial action is made present to us throughout the history of the Church. This is made present to us in Acts 2:44-2:45 where it states that “All who believed were together and had all things in common; and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need.” Acts 2:42 states that fidelity to the “teaching of the apostles, communion, the breaking of bread, and prayer” are all necessary for the community of believers. Again, that communion is made known to us through the sharing of possessions with each other in order to live a dignified life.
As the Church was growing, the Apostles were being stretched very thin, and needed to institute an office in order to help with a certain aspect of their office. Thus, they instituted the office of Deacon, in which the Deacon is there to serve the poor. This continues to be a distinction, where as it is the role of the Bishop to lead and teach the faithful, it is the role of the Deacon to serve the poor. This is why the treasury of the faithful was always held by the Deacon. As someone was in need, they would approach the Deacon and would distribute wealth in accordance to the person's need. This is exemplified to us most concretely in the story of St Lawrence, who was in charge of the wealth of the Church of Rome. He distributed all that the Church had to the faithful who hid it in their homes. When the Roman soldiers found him, they asked him where the wealth of the Church was, because it was his duty to look after the wealth. He then stated, pointing to the faithful gathered around him, that the people were the wealth of the Church. He was, as we all know, cooked alive on a grill and to this day is one of the more famous early Church Christians.
The, Church, amidst persecutions, continued to grow, and thus the common wealth of the Church was no longer deemed possible. The administration charity was and still is one of the central activities of the Church, along with the administration of the Sacraments and the proclamation of the Gospel. However, because of the growing popularity of Christianity, the Church began to find different ways to serve both the spiritually and materially poor.
This administration of charity was so essential that Julian the Apostate, who was the only Roman Emperor after Constantine who was a pagan, attempted to reform paganism so that it could be prominent again by incorporating charitable activities. However, he was not successful in reestablishing paganism and God triumphed as Christianity grew leaps and bounds.
Over the years, the Church's charitable activity was always at work. The Church instituted the hospitals, universities, and was always there to serve the spiritually and materially poor in the orders, one cannot help but think of the Dominicans and Franciscans especially. Thus, the social aspect of the Church is no mere coincidence, it is not a mere response to modern demands of social responsibility, but it has always been a central aspect of the Church as an expression and encounter of the Trinitarian God, who lavishes us with His infinite fount of love and mercy.
Sunday, April 09, 2006
This class is Philosophy of Truth, perhaps THE most frustrating class I have ever taken. I have never seen so many people dispute the meaning of truth, and to see that some even deny its value! I definitely take to the medievalist point of view which is a correspondence theory of truth. A correspondence theory of truth states that for that which is said, there is a corresponding reality. If there is no corresponding reality, that is, thing or state of affairs, then it's false, but if it does have a corresponding thing or state of affairs, then it is true. It can get more complicated, but that's the jist of it. Ockham has some pretty cool stuff to say.
Anyways, so we have the exam on Tuesday. It's worth 30%. I didn't do so well on the first one unfortunately, but I'm feeling a lot more confident with this one. I've been typing up notes all day, explaining concepts as I read them in my own words. My teacher also posted his notes, which is very helpful for guiding me, so that if I don't understand something, I refer to his notes, which are brief, but they give me the starting point for figuring it out. By typing out these notes, it's really sticking in my head. It's an open book test, so I figure if I have everything summarized in one big hunk of notes, it should make it an easy test. But it's actually all making sense finally. It took me all semester, but it's actually a bit enjoyable now, simply because I can enjoy it and thus construct working arguments against a lot of these guys, especially the ones who deny the value of truth.
That is all, just thought I'd share. Please pray for me during the exam period :).
St Augustine states that “if you see charity, you see the Trinity”. The reason behind this is the Spirit which dwells within us, which Christ gave up on the Cross for the sake of the Church. It is the Holy Spirit that unifies our heart with the heart of Christ, thus moving us towards a love of neighbour in the manner that Christ loves, in a self-giving and selfless way.
It is the same Holy Spirit that transforms the community of the Church to be a witness to the love of God. In fact, that is the role of the Church in its fullest sense, to make the love of God visible for the whole world to see. We make this love known in many ways.
It is in service that charity, caritas, a Latin term denoting a certain type of love, that envelopes the whole of the Church's activity of making the love of God present to all. It is these activities which are the outward expression of the inner experience of the overflowing love of God.
Saturday, April 08, 2006
Can we love God without seeing Him?
Can love be commanded? (Quick clarification, I believe that "command" is being used in the sense of the choice of the individual, that a person commands their own willingness to love)
Response to the first question: God is not totally invisible to us. Indeed, the Second Vatican Council said that Christ is really present to us in five ways at the Mass alone; in the congregation, when it gathers for prayer, in the word of God when it is proclaimed, in the priests, when they preside at the liturgy, in the sacraments, when they are administered, and finally, in the Host and Chalice offered at Mass. Furthermore, we must remember, God loved us first, and this love is made visible to us in Christ. Through the incarnation, Christ is made present to us not only in the Mass, but in our entire lives. He is made present through the activities of the Church, He is made present in the poor, in the homeless, the hungry, the thirsty, the imprisoned. Indeed, God is ever present to us in an ever new and dynamic way. We encounter God in an intimately personal way each day, through our own actions and the actions and needs of others. Thus, God's love is not distant and far off, but it is a dynamic experience, it is something that we encounter, and something that is ever unfolding in our lives. Because God loves us first, we can now respond to that love as it wells up within us. We are not forced to love, but we want to love
Love, therefore, is not a sentiment, it is not a feeling. Those come and go and change like the wind. If love is a purification of man in his entirety, as spoken of already, then love must engage man entirely, and not depend on his emotions simply, though they can express the reality of love, but only for a brief moment, and thus the incompleteness of feelings with regards to love. If love involves the whole self, then it must be an act of the will, the intellect, and the sentiments. Only all three together, which are attributed to man in his fullness, can man make a truly loving act. It is the will, however, which begins this act of love. We need a will to make an act, thus the willingness to say “yes” to God is our act, which encompasses the will, intellect, and sentiments. We must make that initial yes to God in order to respond to the love he outpours to us. Once we receive God's gift of love by responding with a complete yes that involves our entire self, we are abile to begin the life long, open-ended process of the exchange of love between God and ourselves. It is thus through this love that the love of neighbour comes about as a natural result of our love for God. If we love God, we will love our neighbour, in whom Christ is present. If we love God, we will love the beauty of His creation and give it the respect that is due to its dignity. Because all men and women are created in the image and likeness of God, there is thus a dignity there that is due our love. This is all a result of the overflowing of love. A loving communion brings about an overflowing of love.
The most concrete example of the effect of the overflowing love that is a result of the communion between man and God is indeed our loving our neighbour. It is the result of the communion between you and God. This love is made known to us in many ways, and one of them is through the charitable activity of the Church, which is the focus of the second part of the encyclical.
Friday, April 07, 2006
It is the Eucharist that fulfills this meaning of sacramental mysticism. It is here that we encounter Christ truly, really, and substantially present to us. It is food that nourishes our spirit, that eternal wisdom. Thus, the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, give us the ability to respond to God's love to us. God gives Himself to us in the Eucharist, in which we respond back in praise and thanksgiving through the contemplation of that which we just received, through the contemplation of the Divine Mystery of God's love. This brings us to many realizations about the Eucharist. First and foremost, the Eucharist is something we receive, we do not take. The Eucharist is God's gift to us, and the priest stands there in the person of Christ, thus Christ is giving Himself to us, just as He gave Himself to the Apostles 2000 years ago. As a result of this gift, we exclaim Amen(and it ought to be a joyful exclamation)! Amen means “Let it be so, It is True, I believe”. That is our response to the gift of Christ. Thus, in the Eucharist we experience God's love in its threefold fullness. We receive the healing power of the Eucharist through the grace we receive which helps us grow closer to God in the forgiveness of our sins, hence the inseparability of the Sacrament of the Eucharist from the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Without one, there would not be the other. Secondly, God seeks us out first. The priest says “The body of Christ”. Christ has come to seek us out and make Himself known to us, and presents Himself to us through the priest. Thirdly, God gives Himself to us completely in the Eucharist. We witness the sacrifice of Christ in the Mass which makes God present to us, and we receive that ultimate love, Christ, from that ultimate act of love, His death on the Cross.
That is only the aspect of God's action of love in the Eucharist, we have a loving aspect as well. We go up to receive the Eucharist. We go out to seek God. Our hearts yearn for that truth which is made present to us in the Eucharist, it is what we truly long for and yet, it is something we cannot attain on our own. Thus God comes down to us so that we may receive His love. God gives Himself to us when we seek Him, because He seeks us first. When it comes time for us to have the privilege of receiving our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, we make some sort of act of worship before reception. This is that outward sign of that interior reality. We have faith that what we are to receive is Christ, and we make that know by bowing, genuflecting, or making the sign of the Cross. This is our act of love to God, acknowledging Him for Who He is. Then the priest says “The Body of Christ” and we say Amen. We thus give ourselves over to God through that act of faith made known through our exclamation of Amen! Thus, love between man and God is comes to it fullness in the Eucharist. We participate in that heavenly reality right now and thus also have a foreshadowing of what Heaven will truly be like. The liturgy is an experience of Heaven, and Heaven, as is experienced through the liturgy, is a communion of love between God and His creation. There is much, MUCH more to say on this aspect of the encyclical, but that could take nights up nights to discuss. I highly recommend you go out and read it for yourself to see these truths which our Pope speaks of with regards to the Eucharist.
Anyways, because I'm taking a night off from all that cramming and studying, I have an interesting article for you all. In it, Cardinal Francis Arinze is calling on priests to put the tabernacle back at the center for the Church as a means to restore reverance for Christ's presence, that Christ is there for all instead of off to the side...interesting.
Here's the Article
Thursday, April 06, 2006
-Finish paper on Frege and Ockham on Truth. For those of you who are medievalists out there (and I know there are), Ockham is going to blow Frege out of the water with regards to the theory of truth as it relates to language. Ockham's theory of supposition and signification are ingenious. This is one of the better papers I think I have ever written, it is a point of seeing whether my prof will think so. Due Monday, but want it done for Friday.
-History in Byzantine Art Final Exam - Friday. Worth %15 of my mark, and it shouldn't be too hard.
-Go out Swing Dancing on April 7th and April 22 & 23 at the Victoria Hot Jazz Festival. Apparently dancers will only be having to pay $20 for those two days!!!
-Philosophy of Truth exam, Tuesday, the 11th at 9am. Glad it's the first one because it's been a painful class.
-Chrism Mass on Tuesday...have drinks with clergy and Bishop and serve them dinner, and then go to the Chrism Mass.
-Work and Holy Thursday, parents are also coming over that day.
-Good Friday...pray, fast, go to Good Friday Service.
-Holy Saturday - Go to Vigil
-Easter Sunday - Go to Mass
-Easter Monday - Work
-April 21st - Rationalist Philosophers Final - 7pm
-April 28th - History of Intellectual Thought in the Middle Ages final - 7pm. Rejoice after exam because I will never have to step foot on that campus for a class ever again.
-FIND A JOB!!!! (Interced for me St Joseph the Worker).
That is all...it's a busy month indeed. And that's only the important stuff! Needless to say, as much as I love learning, I'm looking forward to just working and making money and relaxing and reading what I want to read for a while :).
Agape, in its dimension within the reality of God's love, goes so far beyond self giving that it includes forgiveness. It is in the sin of man that God reveals His love at its fullness, that self-giving love includes forgiveness, and this can be seen from numerous examples in the Bible. This is the centrality of Christ's death on the Cross, that God loves humanity so much, that He would turn against Himself by becoming man, and thus, through His death, reconcile justice and love. Thus, God is indeed love, just, and forgiving.
From this image of God, we come to the image of man. For the sake of time and the fact that this will be discussed at a later time in our talks on the Theology of the Body, I will simply say the following about this. Eros is rooted in our nature, that we man is incomplete without both male and female, hence why it is not good for man to be alone. Man, in his nature, is a seeker of a communion of persons. Thus, it is this communion of persons that define who we are, and it is this communion of persons that we are made in the image and likeness of God.
This brings us to Christ, who reconciles the rift sin made between God and man through God becoming man in Christ. It is Christ who makes present to us in a very real way the true meaning of eros through the incarnation so that He may come to search out the lost sheep. It is this seeking that is the center of all the parables, such as the woman looking for the lost coin, and the shepherd going after the stray sheep. And this is all realized at the Cross when Christ's side is pierced. It is here where we see God turning against Himself, it is here that we see man raised to a new life never before imagined, through the participation in the Divine life. Yet, this is something that cannot be achieved blindly, nor intellectually. We come to realize this through contemplation.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
I really think this is the best picture ever. Cute, fun, and just shows the lighter side of the faith, that God indeed does have a sense of humour. Thank you to American Papist for posting it. He's got a few more from a gusty Wednesday Audience.
Speaking of Wednesday Audiences, I hope that his audiences will be published one day as are the ones of John Paul the Great. He's got some great stuff, but because we get the shortened version in english, it'd be nice to see what he has to say in full.
It is eros that leads us to agape. It is through eros that we begin our search for happiness, and our intentions become less and less self-centered, and thus grow gradually to a greater selflessness, thus the entering of agape. And agape itself cannot survive on its own. Man cannot constantly give, but he must receive as well. Receiving is an act of love, it is an affirmation of the love shown to you, and thus the agape love leads to the love of eros. Both types of love are totally and utterly dependent on each other. Without each other, love is not at its fullest, but is incomplete. The Pope is saying something very important here; that it is good to receive and bad to just give. Love is an act that involves two parties. Love must also be reciprocated. Thus, when one gives love, another receives, and, as a response to that reception of love, one gives back. Love is thus a communion, which is the very inner life of the Trinity. Therefore, love must contain both the love of agape and eros. This is exemplified to us through Jacob's latter and its interpretation by the Church Fathers. They saw Jacob's latter as a metaphor for love, of our seeking God (eros), and receiving God's love (agape). The ascending of the latter was the seeking of God, while descending was the reception of that love.
Thus, the Pope concludes, love is a singular reality, with various dimensions that emerge more clearly to us as we are purified by God's love. Love, however, can be mistaken when it's various dimensions are separated from each other to appear as though they are very distinct realities, and thus the true idea of love is impoverished and incomplete. The Bible speaks to the truth of the human experience of love, and this is expressed in the Song of Songs, in which the first part expresses the seeking of love and this seeking is fulfilled through the giving of self. Thus love can only be fulfilled when the twodimensions of eros and agape are seen as dimensions of the same reality of love. This now brings us to our biblical faith. We must now put these aspects of love into context of the image of God and the image of man
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
The modern interpretation of erotic love is a response. It is a response to what is perceived as the Church being opposed to the body. The Church has never opposed the body, but has defended it.
However, due to these false perceptions, there has been a false response. The view of society nowadays is to say that it is the body only that is important. Hence erotic love in our culture is seen in the light of pure sex. This is why we have a culture of death and a culture of sex. It is a false response to what is a false perception of the dignity of the human person. If we do not recognize the great dignity of man shown through the unity of body and soul, then people will view a baby in the womb of his or her mother as a simple fetus, a grouping of tissue, and will view pain as burdensome, and will view physical pleasure as the only means to happiness. The body is made to express our entire being, but nowadays it expresses only that physical aspect of our being, and thus is incomplete and devoid of the dignity that is due to the human person. This is the erotic love that needs to be purified. Erotic love indeed does lead us to the divine, into an ecstasy that leads us beyond ourselves. However, it must incorporate our entire selves, and not just a singular aspect.
So then, how are we to experience erotic love so that it can be fully realized? What is this process of purification that is needed to experience erotic love in its fullness? Love is a process of discovery of the other. It is a movement away from the self and towards giving completely towards the other. As we discover the other, our motives for loving the other change. While love in its initial stages is on the more insecure, self-seeking level, it grows towards a more self-giving level in which one's personal goals and aspirations are put to the side for the other. Love becomes totally self-sacrificial and self-giving. This move towards the other is a move from the temporal to the eternal. We move away from our own immediate desires towards the wanting of eternal care and happiness for the other, thus why love has that meaning of “for ever” stamped into its nature. Love looks to the eternal. Thus, love is ecstasy, in that it is an on going move from the immediate self towards the eternal self-giving. This finds its completion in the eternal Other, God, who we give ourselves eternally to Him, and where we find our true ecstasy, our true love, our true end.
We come to realize, now, that love cannot stop at the human. If love is supposed to bring us to the eternal, then man cannot do this alone. Indeed, God, as stated, is the true end of our love. This thus brings us to biblical faith.
Monday, April 03, 2006
Love raises many questions for us. Who is this God who loves us without end, and who are we that God would love us so? But if love defines God and defines us, then what do we mean by love? Perhaps the most common use of love in society, since society is increasingly turning away from God, is the love between a man and a woman. This love, which intimately unites the man and woman in the lifelong bond of marriage, is an intimate union of body and soul in one flesh. This seems to be that epitome of love to us, all other types fail in comparison. Do these other types of love have something in common, do they designate the same reality, or are they all different realities in which there is no commonality. This is the Pope's purpose in his analysis of love.
We must now define some terms. There are three Greek words for love that are mentioned in this encyclical and they are as follows:
Eros means erotic love, love that leads us in ecstasy to the Divine, but is worldly, ascending
Philios means brotherly love (think Philidelphia).
Agape means self-sacraficial love, a love that is grounded and shaped by faith
The Pope analyzes Eros and Agape, while he puts Philia to the side. Eros, the Pope says, which is the most frequently used word for love in Greek, is rarely used in the Bible, while Agape, which is rarely used in the Greek language, is the most commonly used word for love in the Bible. So, the Pope asks, are Eros and Agape mutually inclusive or mutually exclusive?
Eros, in the time of the Greeks, was considered as something that overpowers the reason, in which the physical pleasures one gets out of erotic love take over and the spiritual side of love is completely forgone. It is this almost overpowering feeling that erotic love brings that it became to be considered a Divine thing, as a god in and of itself. However, we do not worship a love that overpowers our sense of reason. Love does not overpower, it empowers.
Now, this is not to say that erotic love does not have a place within the Christian faith. Erotic love indeed does have a place, it, however, has a warped understanding, and its true understanding can only be found in God Himself. Thus, there is a relationship between erotic love and the Divine, though it has been warped by many people throughout history. Love indeed does promise much, but our love must be purified and we must grow in maturity. This purification and promise of infinity indeed heal and restore the true meaning of erotic love.
Now, man is made up of body and soul. If we are to hope to attain a purely spiritual existence, then we lose the dignity in being created in God's image, but if we hope to attain a purely physical existence, which, in the end, is existing like the animals, then we lose the greatness we were made for. Man is not to be physical only, nor is he to be spiritual only, man is body and soul, and it is in this unity that man finds his dignity being made in God's image and likeness. It is thus the complete picture of man that loves, our love cannot come from just one aspect, but must involve our whole self. It is in this that erotic love is able to mature and become authenticated.
Saturday, April 01, 2006
I have never been a big fan of using political terms to describe Catholic positions. Political language does not suffice to describe Catholic beliefs because the terms used in political language tend to change.
While it is true that certain teachings of the Catholic Church do refer to political aspects as well, and thus a similarity between the two, the motivation is quite different. In the political sphere, it is one's personal ideals and the party line that enables a person to go towards the right or the left, to be a liberal or a conservative.
The motivations of the Church, however, are not some political ideal, we are not, as Pope Benedict says, Christian's because of some lofty idea or ethical choice. The motivations of the Church are a result of that encounter with Christ that the Church has been participating in for nearly 2000 years. Thus, the motivations are truth, justice, and the good. The motivations are to defend the truth which is Christ, and the truth does not change with the winds of time, but is constant and always present.
For a political party, political ideals can change over time. Furthermore, we must remember, that there are certain teachings of the Church which would be, in the political sphere, be considered conservative, while other teachings (ie the Church's social teaching) are on the more liberal side. But these terms do not satisfy the meaning of the teachings. If we apply these political terms, then the teaches are no longer rooted in the truth, but in the ideals of a society in its current state, able to change over time.
The truth does not change, it is constant, and eternal, and is made known to us through our encounter with Christ. Thus, we have orthodox beliefs in the Church and those who do not follow Church teaching in way that is not good for the sake of their soul are considered to be heterodox. Those are the only terms which we can apply to the teachings of the Church. They satisfy the meaning of the teachings, because Orthodox means, simply, right belief, while heterodox means wrong belief. There is a truth and a falsity, and Christ is the truth, and thus our teachings are based in that truth. If our teachings are based in the Truth of Christ, and we have faith in Christ (that is, we believe in Him), then the only term that can have any meaning with regards to the Church's position is Orthodox.
These articles come from a bi-weekly e-mail I get from CERC - the Catholic Educators Resource Center. Here is the link:
It is a great site headed by my friend's dad, Fraser Field. It is great for any Catholic out there, as he gets together articles from all over the place and posts them in his bi-weekly e-mail. Please check it out!
Here is a brilliant defense of politicians who truly practice their faith making use of it in their daily life. Rex Murphy argues that there is nothing wrong with Stephen Harper saying "God Bless Canada", but that it is, instead, something comforting.
Here is an article which I read a few weeks ago, but is apart of this e-mail, from George Weigel. First and foremost, come to hear George Weigel speak at "Discovering the Catholic way of life" here in Victoria. Information is available at: www.standrewscathedral.com . He writes a BRIEF (and I do mean brief, 4 paragraphs to be exact) overview of Pope Benedict's first part of Deus Caritas Est. I'm glad I ran across it because it'll help me see some overarching themes so that I can shorten my talk down. Check it out:
John Allen gives us a general overview of Pope Benedict's first year. It is a long article (I will be reading it in pieces, the stuff I've read so far is very good), but well worth the reading:
I hope you enjoy the articles.
Also, there is a blogger out there who is in need of some financial help. He's been getting help from others and is indeed looking for work, but nothing has surfaced, though he does have an interview in the near future. It's been great to see people rallying to help him out. Remember, Lent is a time for penance and almsgiving, so why not give some alms to a brother in Christ who is genuinely in need...you can go to his blog and click on the paypal link if you wish to help out.
He begins by stating that belief in the love of God is the fundamental decision of the life of a Christian. Christianity is not an ethical choice, nor is it a lofty, fuzzy idea. That is to say, Christianity has nothing to do with emotions, nor does it have to do with the idea of right and wrong. These are aspects of Christianity, but they are not the fullest. Instead, Christianity is an encounter with the living God, and it is this personal and intimate encounter with God that life is given meaning, that life is given direction. Through Christ, the emotions and ethos of our day to day life are given that perspective. Christ is the basis for our choices, with regards to moral choices (ethics) and with regards to acting on our feelings based on the truths of Christ (emotions). Thus, the entire faith is based, first and foremost, on that encounter with Christ,
and from that encounter the basis for our feelings and our moral choices stem. These are not forced on us, but we accept them in love as our true direction in life. In short, the encounter with Christ challenges us to make a dramatic change in our life not because we are forced to, but because of our love for God.
Through these various encounters with Christ in our life, we realize that each and every encounter is based on the reception of love from God Himself. Thus, as stated earlier, God is not someone far away whom we have no access to, but instead, God brings Himself to us so that we may say yes to His love in our life and thus, as a result of this overflowing gift of love, the love of God can flow through us to our neighbour. Love, now, is no longer a commandment. To love God is not a commandment, nor is it a commandment to love our neighbour. Love is a response to a gift. By saying yes to God's love, we are responding to God's gift. We respond by loving God back, in a direct and indirect manner. We love God directly through our simple yes to Him revealed in Christ. We love Him in an indirect manner through the presence of Christ in our neighbour. By giving ourselves in love to God, He thus responds back to our act of love by drawing us nearer to Him through that deep and intimate participation in the life of grace.
This encyclical will now be split up into two parts. The first part is the more theoretical aspect. He looks at the meaning of love and builds on it up to the love which Christ shows us when His side is pierced on the Cross. This is important because it is important to have a clear idea of what the Christian meaning of love is. The second part is a more practical part. It deals with how to apply that overflowing love of Christ into our love for our neighbour through the charitable mission of the Church. Let us now delve into Part One.
This is, apparently (and no suprise), that this is part of BXVI's attempt to bring into communion the SSPX. It will be interesting to see what their reaction to this is, if indeed the Pope has approved the missal for universal use.
Thanks to Amy Welborn at Open Book for the info on this.