Saturday, June 30, 2007

London - Friday and Saturday morning

Ok, I don't know why it is, but every time I come to London (ok, so it's only been twice) there is a terror threat. The first time was the bombings and yesterday was two averted bombings. Weird weird weird...thanks be to God for the police who caught it!

Friday night was nice. I went to Mass just as it begun (I had NO clue what time it would start at!). After Mass I celebrated the Solemnity with a fancy meal at the high class restaurant known as "McDonald's". It was cheap, that's why I went there.

After that I just started walking and walking. I wanted to get to the eye. However, I begun by walking in the wrong direction and so by the time I got to the Eye of London, it was closed. I wanted to get on because it was a nice day last night and wanted on before the weather got bad. I'm going to go again in a minute here, the rain is holding up for the moment and the sun is trying to bust its way out.

I walked for about 5 hours last night, went to the hotel room and watched Law and Order and The Shield and just passed out. I have thankfully adjusted to the new time zone quite easily.

I woke up this morning, went for breakfast (it's free at the hotel) and then headed for the Cathedral again. I went there for morning prayer and Mass. It was the sung Mass and it was in Latin. It was alright, the priest kinda went through the prayers at lightning speed though. The all boys choir is BEAUTIFUL though!!! I bought a cd of theirs of hymns to Mary.

I then proceeded to the bookstore. There is not one, but TWO Catholic bookstores right next to the Cathedral. I did not spend very long in there because I knew it was dangerous territory for a guy like me. I bought books though...I bought 2 books by Edith Stein (they have the FULL set of her works in English at the Catholic Truth Society!!!!!) and Book One of the Summa Contra Gentiles (didn't have it and it was decently priced). I got a small booklet of the Mass in English and Latin for tomorrow because I will be going to Solemn Mass. At the Paulist Press store I found a book by Ratzinger on the Liturgy that I had never seen before. All these books I got I was unable to find in North America. 4 books and a little pamphlet for £44, which isn't too bad. But like I said, I got out of there FAST. Both stores, for example, had the COMPLETE WORKS of Hans Urs Von Balthasar. If I stayed, I would have walked out with too many books.

Now I'm off to do some touring. Today's events include a tour of the Globe Theater, the Eye of London, and a Star Wars Exhibit that looks really cool! I may go see a play, it depends on how tired I am. I have to put aside some time for studying too as I still have reading to finish for Tertio Millennio.

My hotel room is small, but nice, and it seems that I booked on "Hotel Row". There are hotels down the entirety of this street! It is nice though, it means it's safe.

That's all for now, more tomorrow perhaps, if not, I will update again once I'm in Krakow.


Friday, June 29, 2007


Hi Everyone!

I have just arrived in London. The flight was 9 and a half hours as opposed to nine because of the hold up at Heathrow. It is really amazing how they direct planes. After we landed I saw at least 6 planes queued (yes, I'm in London, so I have to use the word 'queue'). It is really quite a marvel. A bit freaky to see many planes in the air near you though. Air traffic controllers really do an amazing job!

The flight was uneventful. I got a good bit of sleep on it which made it nice and short, about 4 hours. I can thank the wine and beer for that I think. I watched one movie and that was all, Breach. It is about a FBI agent who was spying for the Russians against the US. He's Catholic. They actually portrayed the whole Catholic thing decently, you can tell he was struggling between being a good Catholic and his loyalty to his country. Not a great movie, but enjoyable. Thankfully there will be a MUCH better selection of movies on the return.

I also met up with my folks while I was in Vancouver which was nice. We visited for about 2 hours.

The weather here is cloudy, with breaks of sun, which is better then what the forecasters were giving which makes me happy. I am currently in an Internet Cafe in Heathrow Airport that is rather muggy.

I am looking forward to getting to my hotel, changing my clothes, and enjoying London. That nap on the plane should be sufficient to keep me up for the rest of the day. I figure if I walk a lot that it should wear me out by the end of the day.

My first order of business, once I'm settled, is to find out the Mass times at Westminster Cathedral. It is a Holy Day of Obligation today here in London for Sts Peter and Paul, so I am looking forward to good liturgy! :)

I think that's it for now. The plan tomorrow is a few things. I think I'm going to do those bus tours that take you all around the city. I am also going to go to Mass of course and see Spamalot, the Monty Python Musical. I am considering for Sunday to make a trip to Oxford or Cambridge...I have always wanted to see a Medieval University :)...I'm a rather big fan.

God bless and thinking of you all!


Thursday, June 28, 2007

I'm Off

Well everyone, I'm off today. I leave at Noon to catch the 12pm Ferry and will be meeting up with my folks on the other side to hang out with them for a few hours. My flight leaves this evening at 8:30pm via British Airways .

I arrive in London at 1:05pm London time tomorrow and will enjoy what appears to be 3 days of London in the happens. I'll make sure I see a play while I'm there then at's the way it is.

So I'll keep on a blogging throughout the trip and look forward to seeing you all when I return.


Sunday, June 24, 2007


I did not expect this outcome!!

The question is, what will those who are in favour of same-sex unions do in reaction to this? Will there still be schism?


Priority of Culture

Last night I had dinner at a family's house whom I try to go to whenever I can. The family is great and loving and the discussions are lively.

Well, my friend Madeleine suggested to her dad that we discuss the ideas of socialized vs. public health care, based on a discussion her and I had about a month earlier.

I was a BIT unwilling, only because the position I seem to be leaning towards is something that still requires much research so that I may form a proper opinion of such a position. I must back it up with statistics, a proper anthropology, a proper understanding of the true role of the state, and so forth. I have a base understanding of my position, but not enough to be able to dialogue about it in great detail at this moment in time. I was very happy to hear other opinions on the subject and appreciated the input into the subject I was given.

The reason I bring this up is because we all agreed on what needs to happen. Culture, not politics, is the driving force of history.

It just so happens, too, that this is a section in the book I'm reading for Tertio Millennio that I have just begun reading.

It has made me think about how the Church adapts to various political situations. She deems some political systems completely contrary to man's dignity (ie Communism and Socialism), while the rest she embraces in what they offer for a positive role in society.

It used to be that the Church was a "Church of Power" before the idea of the modern state came about. It used to be that the Church dictated where society would go based on its position of power and not on its evangelical nature to bring the Gospel to all through her example. This isn't wrong per se, it is just the political climate through which the Church had at the time.

Now, however, Democracy is a "theologically-free" system. That is to say, it is not the role of Democracy to take on a position about Who God is. Democracy can claim where its authority comes from, but that is about as far as it goes.

In this new political system, the Church adapts to it so that she can bring Christ to others.

It seems to me, that in Democracy, the political nature of things are in fact secondary to the cultural nature of things. People make political decisions only based on their cultural heritage in which they have been exposed to. They see that this cultural heritage, which ought to instill a sense of virtue and respect for man's dignity, is what forms them to be the social person they are.

So, it seems to me, that in order to bring about proper political decisions, we need to evangelize a culture of virtue to the people.

It seems to me that it is evangelization, a deeper sense and understanding of the Church as "missio", that our culture can be renewed.

The only way to do this is to challenge our culture and the way many people live their lives. We must enter into dialogue and bring ideas to the public square for dialogue and discussion. If we are able to express the reasonableness of our Christian idea of virtue, even for those who aren't Christian, then I believe we can bring a cultural, political, and, most importantly, anthropological revival to our country, in which man is seen for the greatness that God has created Him for.

How, though, do we do this? How do we enter into dialogue with the country?

I think there are many ways. It is, I think, perhaps the greatest thing our country is lacking. It is lacking an intellectual bend to itself. There are very few "think tanks" in Canada, and the Universities, in my opinion, are a sad example of intellectualism. It is ideas that create change. For example, look at Descartes and his dualism. His idea of separation of body and soul has had profound effects on culture and the way we think about the world that are still having their effects on us all today!

It is ideas, proposed through dialogue and not imposed by will, that will begin change. Yes, it is slow, but it is possible. Look at Poland, what an example of a cultural revolution that came to such great force in their understanding of who man is that they were able to make proper political action based on their cultural heritage.

So, we create those opportunities for dialogues. I think the place to start is by re-introducing the University not as training ground for employment, that is what a trade school is for, but for creating an authentic intellectual atmosphere in which all ideas are discussed for the pursuit of truth, not the pursuit of our own truth. Through a re-claiming of a proper ideal for the University, authentic dialogue can begin.

I think the same can be said for think tanks. It is through them that papers and books are written which are discussed and read in the popular media, newspapers, are analyzed by other think tanks and also make their way into the University.

I think these two things, in which an idea of a true understanding of man can be proposed, is where the culture can begin to turn around.

This, of course, is not the only means. I think the simple idea of example is key to this. The Opus Dei ideal of "sanctifying your work" is essential. Bring Christ into all that you do, so that others can experience the joy you bring, and it will help them yearn for such a joy as well. They may not accept Christ immediately or at all, but it will at least plant a seed for them to hopefully yearn to live a life of virtue based in truth and not their own will

To bring this full circle, I was discussing "Jesus of Nazareth" with Madeleine's dad last night and I said that the metaphysical conflict of the Middle Ages is still having its impact today. William of Ockham argued that what had primacy in God was His will, while St Thomas Aquinas said it is His intellect.

This is the battle that is still being hashed out today in each and every person. What defines man? How does man exercise himself in the world? Is it through the ockhamist imposition of the will, in which it is will that creates the individual to be free against other wills? Or is it the Thomistic idea that reason, and truth in which reason is based on, that helps us define who we are, in which we search for the truth and see if it is reasonable and live a life according to it?

I argue that the Thomistic view is the proper view. It is through this view that we yearn to enact our will based on Truth, which we search for through reasonable dialogue with others. Reason, and not will, is what is primary in a person. Will is the ressulting actions based on a conscientious discernment of truth.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

CCCB and the Principle of Subsidiarity

I swear, I'll stop posting at some point today!!

I am reading for Tertio Millennio right now and am reading an excellent article about the Church and its change in its stance towards Democracy over the past 150 years.

At this moment in time, I'm reading about the definition of the Principle of Subsidiarity. It is something I have pondered for a bit, and am looking for feedback.

Essentially, my question is: "Does the CCCB (Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, or any conference of Catholic Bishops) defy the Principle of Subsidiarity?"

For those who don't know, essentially, the Principle of Subsidiarity is that whatever the individual can do within its community, one ought to let that individual do it. Larger organizations are only necessary when the smaller organizations (down to the organization of the one person) cannot do it themselves. For example, our Government runs the military because it is something we cannot run on an individual basis.

But this has got me wondering about the Conferences of Catholic Bishops. Essentially, the way a Bishop runs his Diocese is susceptible to the democratic (I use the term loosely here) functions of the CCCB.

This seems to circumvent the role of the Bishop, as the head of his local Church.

For example, the local Bishop is required to have the same lectionary as the rest of the Bishops in Canada. But what if the local Bishop wants a better translation (trust me, anything is better then the current one...needless to say "Catchers of People" makes me want to vomit!)? It seems that it is something he is capable of doing himself, why must he be subject to a larger bureaucracy if he is able to do so himself?

I would be interested in feedback, but it really seems to me that the Conferences of Catholic Bishops essentially are not serving the purpose they were created for. To my knowledge, the conferences were essentially created for the purpose of creating a sense of collegiality and unity (that is, fulfilling the principle of solidarity within the community of Bishops) and of creating one voice. Yet it is obvious that this is not happening, but instead has become a bureaucratic body in which the Conference makes all the decisions for the local Bishop. This seems to contradict the Principle of Subsidiarity, an essential tool in Catholic Social Thought.

I can see one objection already. "The Principle of Subsidiarity is to be applied to social circumstances only, and is not applicable to the Church". To my knowledge, however, that has never been formally defined as part of the principle.

So, I am interested to hear your feedback.


Upcoming Trip

I would like to extend a welcome to all my friends and family who are checking out the blog for the first time.

As many may or may not know, I am going to the Tertio Millennio Seminar in Poland this summer. I leave in 8 days where I will spend the first 3 days in London and leave for Poland from England on the morning of July 2nd.

The Tertio Millennio Seminar is an opportunity for young Catholic professionals to get together to learn and discuss the implications of Catholic Social Teaching and how to apply to democracy.

It is an opportunity for older democracies (US generally, but since I'm going, Canada is also included this year!) to learn from and bear witness to the newer democracies (i.e., the old Communist countries such as Poland).

It is sounding to be one heck of a time and I am feeling blessed to be chosen to go. God is good and I thank Him for this opportunity!

Anyways, I am very excited. I will be posting on my blog while I am away about the experiences I am having there, at least as much as time will permit. So for those of you who are regulars to this blog, you will see updates from that trip on here while I'm away.



I was doing my daily Blog jaunt when I came across AmericanPapist's posts for the day. I was looking over his news wrap for the day, and the common thread is eerily interesting:

Check it out

Anyways, it seems that freedom of speech and the jurisdiction of the Church is being slowly impeded upon by the State. I give us 10 years max to seeing priests and deacons being jailed for their refusal to marry gay couples. So much for Democracy, we are allowing the State to grow in its totalitarian grip.



Well, I FINALLY got my book shelves moved over to my place (took over a month, but it finally happened!).

Anyways, I spent the entire night re-organizing my books. The old system I had at the Cathedral was by subject, but I have grown accustomed to my "By author" system. So they are now in a nice neat order.

What did surprise me, though, was that I needed the 4th bookshelf. I had just purchased a nice, large bookshelf from Ikea that I thought would take sufficient room of books for the old small (4 shelves only) bookshelf. Well, I was wrong. I guess I've continued accumulating books faster then I had thought.

So now my room is stuffed with bookshelves. For those who have been in my room, you'll know it's not the biggest room in the world, but I'm surrounded by what God has given to me as a great love.

My small 4 shelver is my exclusive shelf. 2 rows for books by Ratzinger, 1 row for JP II, and one row for Von Balthasaar. I know that, eventually, that bookshelf will be outgrown as I go deeper into the collections. My goal, at the moment, is to get all the writings of BXVI as he is my absolute favourite. I have almost every modern book that is in publication by him right now (save 3 that I am planning on getting upon my return). I need to, however, get his old stuff, like his doctoral dissertation and so forth.

After BXVI is complete, I do hope to grow in my collection of Edith Stein as she is someone I would like to study more in depth.

Needless to say, it has been tiring, but well worth it :).


Apparently Catholics are Liturgical Morons

George Weigel has written an excellent article this week. There is a Bishop in the US, who is the head of the Liturgical Commission for the USCCB, who has been complaining about the soon to be new translation for the Mass in English to be released by ICEL. Anyways, the Bishop complains that "Mary and John Catholic" won't know what these new words mean because, I suppose, we are not smart enough to research this stuff.

Check it out. George Weigel at his best in my opinion.

Irrationality of Richard Dawkins

Francis Beckwith, a recent revert to the Catholic Church, has posted an excellent article on the irrational stance of Richard Dawkins. I recommend that you check it out.


Frustrations Part 3 - Irrational

So far we have discussed the frustrations of the terms applied to religious believers as "fanatics" and "fundamentalists". The third issue I would like to now confront is the label of "irrational".

Before I get started on that, I would like to state that it seems that these are labels that can be applied to a small minority. Unfortunately, however, it seems that such terms are then labelled on all religious believers because there is a minority of them.

Now, I cannot speak for all faiths in this regard. However, Catholics, I can guarantee, are incredibely rational.

If you look at the history of Western thought, it is largely dominated and guided by the thought of Catholic greats. The first and foremost is St Augustine who guided the ideal of faith seeking understanding that has taken root and has since been a staple of Catholicism.

From there we can go into greats such as Boethius, St Thomas Aquinas, St Bonaventure, Bl. John Duns Scotus, and so on and so on. I know I'm only naming a couple, but the fact of the matter is that the list is endless.

Even in our modern times we have great thinkers like the Servant of God, John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

The idea that people of faith are irrational utterly confounds me to be perfectly honest. It is a result of great Catholic thinkers that we think the way we do about the world! The Empiricist ideal of "There is nothing in the mind that is not previously perceived through the senses" is essentially a scholastic principle.

Pope Benedict XVI has been confronting the idea of irrationality in religion head on. One need only read his Regensburg lecture to see this.

However, I may like to throw the challenge the opposite direction. Many claim that all religious believers are irrational because of the idea of faith in their lives.

The Pope's Regensburg lecture, however, seems to turn the table around. He is not stating that all secularists, for example, are irrational. What he is claiming, however, is that the West is losing "faith in reason".

You see, faith is an essential property to reason. I would argue that there is a hierarchy of faith. We all have faith in the world, some are more basic and less "risky" then others. The highest form of faith is of course faith in God.

However, there are lower forms of faith as well. Faith, for example, is present in reasoning. We have to have faith in Logic. That is to say, stating that "Logic is true" is an axiomatic belief we must all hold. You see, the value of "true" is a logical statement. Thus to say that logic is true, and to try and prove that through reason, would be circular because it is logic that we use to make reasonable arguments. Hence, one must accept as an axiomatic belief that "Logic is true".

Instead of people in the West saying why religious people are irrational, it seems instead, unfortunately, that many are angry at religious people. Look no futher then the writings of Richard Dawkins and company. I am yet to see reasonable argumentation in their writings. Instead, I see anger and contempt, which is unfortunate.

And so this is happening more and more as relativism and the socialist ideal of man slowly seeps its way into way man thinks of the world. Trying to convince someone who is a relativist that the Principle of Non-Contradiction is an essential principle to stand by is like pulling teeth. Because they are a relativist, they see that anything can contradict anything, because there is no universal truth.

This brings me to the absolutely frustration position of relativism. They claim that truth is relative. Following that, then, so is language. Language is built upon the nature of logic, and so if truth is relative, then logic is relative, and thus language is relative. This leaves us with no universal language in which to communicate our ideas because words can mean whatever one "feels they ought to mean". Thus, there is no way to discuss because "chair" (yes, I am using the chair example, you can tell I got a Philosophy degree) can mean "something in which someone uses to sit on and is built specifically for that person" for one person and for another can mean "a person who is sleeping". Chair can mean whatever one wants it to mean. Language becomes obsolete, and so does the human person.

This post is more of a vent against the world who claims that religious people are irrational. I ask, however, why the many in the west are irrational about things.

Faith is something that is inharent to the human character. It is not something that we can deny. For some it is simply stating "I have faith that my experiences are true", for others, such as myself, it goes deeper, to the claim that the Nicene Creed and all that follows from that is true.

I would like to end with a quote from St Anselm, one of my favourite quotes:

"I believe so that I may understand, for this too I believe, for unless I believe, I cannot understand".


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Frustrations Part 2 - Fundamentalism

So my last post ended off with my frustrations that religiously inclined people are fanatics and what that word entailed.

I would now like to focus on the next stereotype people generally use to refer to anyone who seriously practices their faith.


Unfortunately this is a word that is thrown about without many people knowing what exactly it means.

The term "fundamentalism" and "fundamentalists" emerged in the early 20th century. It is a Christian movement that tried to get "back to the source" of Christianity, basing their beliefs on the 5 "fundamentals" which is where the name comes from.

These 5 fundamentals are:

  • The inerrancy of scripture
  • Christ was born of a virgin and is Divine
  • One is saved by faith alone through grace alone
  • Christ rose from the dead
  • Christ's miracles and life are all true events.
The problem, however, is that the term "fundamentalist" is not used in this sense at all. In a certain sense, this is quite unfair to Christian Fundamentalists.

I am of the opinion that the fundamentalists (not all though, this is my basic experience though of many) is that there is this idea of imposition of will and lack of dialogue that is in Christian Fundamentalism that is definitely present in Jihadist Islam.

This similarity leads me to the view of what people see as fundamentalism. Fundamentalism is seen as anyone who believes in what they see as obviously false views and is willing to do whatever it takes to ensure that the entire world submits to this view. This is, really, though, fanaticism as discussed in the previous post and nothing else.

However, people look at Fundamentalist Christians now and paint them as fanaticists who, if they could, would lay siege to the whole world to ensure that everyone submit to Christ to be saved.

First, that is a false perception of Fundamentalist Christians that has been tainted by a false understanding of fundamentalism that has been attached to them through Jihadist Islam.

Secondly, Fundamentalist Christians that I have known, and I can really only speak from experience here, would not be the type to kill you if they could if you would not submit to faith as they have.

This brings me now to the view that all religious people who hold views contrary to the norms of culture are fundamentalists and bad.

However, as shown in the previous post, Christians and Catholics are not fanaticists. They want to propose their truth to the world. Christianity is about proposition through the aid of reason.

I bet you if you ask anyone who labels and devout Christian as a fundamentalist, they would be prescribing the word "fanatic" over "fundamentalism".

The other big issue is that many non-Christians believe that "fundamentalists" are dangerous because they don't think and base all they believe on a literal interpretation of the Bible.

First, I would like to point out that Catholics do not take the entire Bible literally. We do not think that God created the Earth in 7 literal days.

But this leads us to a deeper, perhaps the deepest, objection to Christians in a pluralistic society. Christians, they say, are people who don't think, they lack the true use of reason.

This will bring me to the 3rd topic which I hope to write on Friday. Are Christians reasonable?


My Frustrations With The World

Well, ask my roommate Del and he can tell you of my frustrations with the world.

Religious people are defined by the rest of the world (yes, I am creating a dichotomy and, *gasp*, division!) as "fanatics, fundamentalists, and people who are not reasonable".

I would like to address all three of these topics briefly as I believe they are incredibely false as I most definitely do not fall in any of those three categories nor does most of the Catholics I know.


Fanatics are seen as people who have an ideology to push. Now it is interesting what the term ideology is perceived to be. Ideas and ideologies are not the same thing. Ideologies are seen to be supreme truth that only a select know and the only way to make the rest of the world know the same truth is by supreme force on the will of others to submit to the truth of the ideology.

An idea also promotes a truth. However, it sees itself in accordance to reason and thus wishes to be thrown in the arena of ideas, in which proper dialogue according to the standards of reason occur, so that, if this idea is true, it will hold up against other ideas that would not be true and show that they are lacking certain propertie that make them claim to be in accordance to reason.

In other words, ideologies impose, ideas propose. There is no room for discourse or dialogue in ideologies, but that is the central idea in ideas.

Fanatics are people who are ideological.

I do not consider myself nor the Church in general in that camp. If people actually read what the Church has to say and what many Catholics do have to say (I can only talk from a Catholic perspective in these 3 cases), they would see that proposition is the essential nature of the Church's mission. We cannot impose our faith because that is contrary to the idea of faith.

Even when it comes to things such as abortion, we hold it to be true, but we put our idea into the realm of discourse to see if it is in accordance to reason. We believe that it has withstood the opposition of other ideas and that this is a truth that is universal and in accordance to reason. I will approach it later, but reason implies a necessity of universal truth.

Also, ideologies are not limited to religious groups (I am the first to admit there are some out there), but reading, for example, the abortion debate on Facebook has shown me that there are fanatics on the abortion side who refuse to apply their ideology to reason, but instead just yell and scream until others get fed up with them.

Parts 2 and 3 are to follow.


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Trying to get back into the swing of things

Hi everyone.

I am really trying to get the blog going up again. It is tough because I've been so busy.

My time right now has been filled with getting my fundraiser together for a young adult pilgrimage group from Victoria BC going to the Eucharistic Congress next year. I also have been studying intensely for the Tertio Millennio Seminar which begins on July 2nd. I'm only about 40% through all the reading materials. Some have been interesting, while other articles have been unfortunately a bit dissapointing. Between those 2 things, my regular work, and the extra-carriculars, I have been a busy man!

However, I am going to do my best. I hope to give constant updates while I am in Poland too for the Tertio Millennio because that is going to be 3 weeks crammed with intellectual, cultural, and spiritual stimulation, not too mention some good Polish beer!