Saturday, July 19, 2008

The End

Hello everyone

As you can tell, I don't post much on here anymore. And so, I have decided to end my blog. I will keep it up, but this will be the last post. I would like to thank everyone for reading.

But don't worry! I am still blogging! I am working with some friends on beginning a new institute, though it will be low key at first. The name is still up in the air, so the URL may eventually change, but at the moment, it is the Fides Institute for Faith and Freedom. There is a good chance this will change.

Anyways, the site is still being worked on. I am working on getting some friends to be contributors to this as well from Tertio Millennio especially. We hope that this will be a serious and reasonable contribution to public discussion. Please do check it out regularly and tell your friends.

The website is

If you have any comments on the site, I would be happy to take them in.

So goodbye, God bless, and I hope to see you at my new home :).


Thursday, July 03, 2008

Intellectual Freedom and Evolution

Last night I saw "Expelled", a sort-of documentary put out by Ben Stein.

I will first note that many people on my facebook friends list may not like what I have to say, but I ask, if a discussion follows from this, that it be charitable, orderly, and polite.

I found the movie to be quite remarkable. I don't take everything at face value in such films because they have a point to prove and so can, even unintentionally, be very one sided. I don't think this was the case. But I don't think this movie is, per se, out to prove a point, but, I think, to hopefully open up discussion.

The issue is the notion of intelligent design and evolution. But the meta-issue, if you will, is actually intellectual freedom. If America (this is where the movie is based obviously) is a place that promotes freedom, then ought not theories have the ability and freedom to be proposed?

I think that is a fair question to ask, and I think the movie is good in showing that there isn't a discussion happening. Instead, there is power tactics being used by the prevailing view to supress the other view.

I talked with a friend of mine after the movie and I told him "you know, in the past, if an idea has lost weight, it simply falls into the dust of the history pages. No opinion is ever forced out by sheer will power, I cannot think of one example in history". I know people will throw out Galileo almost immediately. But it wasn't for his scientific views that he was repressed, though I would prefer to save this for another article.

Let us, however, take the view of heliocentrism. Once it became a proven scientific fact, the geocentric cosmology slowly whisked its way into the dust of the history books, never to be thought of as a possibility again.

This is where we get to with evolution and intelligent design. If people who hold an evolutionary view of the world are so convinced of their position, then let them have it stand the test against ID. If they are so confident in the conclusions it holds up, then they ought not to fear contrary opinions in the matter. If they are right, ID will fall into the dust of the history books with geocentrism and other such theories.

But there is a deeper issue that lies here. One of the more chilling parts of the movie is the interview with Richard Dawkins, self-appointed apologist for the evolutionary view of the world. Constantly he says he is being more frank then usual in the interview. He later says he was tricked into the interview because it was a different title at the time. Well, first, titles change ALL the time in post-production in Hollywood, that's a pretty weak claim. And besides, they are his views regardless of the movie title. But he says that ultimately, evolution has philosophical implications.

And he is right, it certainly does. This is really the issue with evolution, and with science in general. As time goes on, science is going to eventually have to deal with the fact that philosophy has a role to play to ensure that it is air-tight in its method and intelligible in its implications.

The problem that many evolutionists hold is that science ought to inform your world view, that, in a certain sense, one can say they would even say that it informs your philosophy. But this is a backwards view of science. Science is only science because of philosophy. There are certain philosophical assumptions one needs to make before entering into the scientific realm. Science assumes many things that cannot be observed by the scientific method. One of the core ones is cause and effect. An hypothesis essentially states that a certain effect is going to come about by a certain interaction of objects that is its cause. But one cannot exactly prove the nature of cause and effect. It is not measurable. So how is it that science can take the position as the formater of world views? It needs philosophy to inform it, not the other way around.

The same happens in the realm of first cause. Evolution says it cannot explain "why there is something rather then nothing" and "where everything comes from". This is not measurable according to the scientific method and therefore cannot be answered. Yet evolutionists hold the claim that there is cause and effect, and that the nature of cause and effect presume the nature of a first cause. But this first cause cannot be measured. IDers simply say "a higher form that requires no causation but is self-subsistent is the first cause". This is where the discussion ought to start, but scientists should now step out of the field of this discussion. This is not in the realm of their ability, for now we enter philosophy. Does this first cause have to be an all-powerful all-knowing God, or can it simply be the distant, un-involved First Cause of Aristotle? This is an honest question that deserves honest dialogue, one in which is outside the realm of science.

One thing that has been going on in evolutionary debate has been to determine how it is exactly life started. The problem is, scientists don't seem to truly understand cause and effect which is so central to their discussion. This is because they ought to know that there cannot be an infnite regress in causation, and that if something is to start the ball rolling on the material world, to make matter, then it has to be greater then that which it creates. But they continue down the road of infinite regress, willing to go anywhere but to God. They will go to the backs of crystals, or aliens, but one has to ask "where did the aliens come from, where did the crystals come from?" Again, this is a question they are unable to answer.

And it is not to say that evolution is wrong. I am not making any claims to that whatsoever. What I am claiming, however, is that evolution, if it desires to be respectable in its claims, must begin to understand that philosophy has a role to play. There are various forms of ID as well. I for one am unconvinced by the irreducible complexity argument. It is really, in the end, a gaps theory for science. But I am convinced that there must be a first cause. That is an intellectual assent of abstract principles outside of science because science, ultimately, cannot answer the question. How long has the Earth been here? I don't know. How long have we been here? I don't know? I would call myself to be somewhere in between. But I do continually raise greater and greater doubts with evolution because it is not able to prove anything at all. It is only able to make assumptions of what might have been based on flimsy connective claims that really fall apart quite easily. And its ability to fulfill basic philosophical criteria is increasingly weakening to the point that, if it doesn't answer these basic questions, will no longer be reasonable in any matter whatsoever.

And, in the end, evolutionists say that evolution ultimately leads to atheism, determinism, irrationality, relativism, no ethics, or anything we have come to know in Western Society. I have very good reasons to hold that as well. But I would lengthen this to unacceptable length if I were to explain that here!


Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Accident

Because I will be asked about this a lot, I figured I should just write everything out for people to read since I have been asked so much.

I was on my way to Mass on Friday morning.  I was stopped at the corner of Pandora and Quadra at the red light.  The light turned green, I waited a couple of seconds and then proceeded.  After crossing Quadra, a cyclist hit the side of my car and fell to the ground unconscious.  

It all happened REALLY REALLY fast, it is tough to put it all in words.  

Firstly, I don't know much about how the man on the bike is.  I think he will be ok as he was moving on the ground and as he was being put in the ambulance.  If you can pray for him, his name is Diter I found out.  I will probably never know how he is doing ever again because of privacy laws with medical records.  But please pray for him.

After talking to a LOT of witnesses (I had about 10 surround me after I was off the phone with 911 and they all said "It was not your fault, you have no blame in this), I came to find out everything that happened.  After going through the intersection, he hit the right fender just above the right front tire.  He then slid up the right part of the hood and then hit my windshield and fell to the ground.  I immediately stopped and went out.  It was all such a blur.  

I see ICBC tomorrow.  The guy I was talking to on the phone sounded unsure about how to go all about this.  The accident was not my fault (Cops even said I have 0% of the blame).  And yet, it was not an insured vehicle that hit me.  That would usually take care of repair costs.  But he said he really doesn't know, it's usually a car that hits a cyclist.  So I will find out tomorrow what happens there.  I think I will need to keep my eyes open for a new car, because if I do have to pay for my own repairs, they would be for more then what I paid for the car.  

I don't know what to say about the whole thing.  In one sense, it is all still quite shocking.  I have been VERY tense the past couple of days because of it.  I wonder what would have happened if I did things a bit differently, if I left a bit earlier, if I had been able to see him, and so on.  I know there is no value in dwelling on the past like that though, but one does wonder because one does not like to have been the one who was hit by the cyclist.  You ultimately feel, regardless of if it is your fault or not, a sense of responsibility for that person.  

We can just pray that he will be ok.


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Here we go again

I have been sick for the past 4 days, and so it has given me time to reflect on the Pope's visit a bit more then I probably would have been able to if I was well (heck, I would have been able to see almost none of it if I was well!).

1. Media

I wish the media would listen. I was watching CTV Newsnet this evening, and most of it was ok. I am getting a bit frustrated because it seems all the news bites focus just on the Pope's address of the priest sexual abuse. I have seen very little coverage of his UN speech, which was a cornerstone of his visit and his hope for engaging the world in terms of relativism and natural law. Plus, I was rather saddened by the fact that the media TOTALLY mishears things, or hears things that as they want to hear them. At the end of the story on the Pope's events for the day, the reporter mentioned how "Benedict even abandoned God in his youth in Germany". I would like to know what speech they were listening to. He was warning against societies that lose their ability to recognize the place of God in their lives and how the Nazis in Germany abandoned God when he was young, but not him. I am a bit perplexed about that to say the least.

However, from what I have heard (and from the bit I have been able to see from their website), CNN has been giving fantastic coverage of the event. I saw a 5 minute spot about Wolf Blitzer meeting the Pope with 9 other journalists. He looked absolutely giddy. He even said on the air "I almost never say this, but I was truly blessed today". Apparently the Baptist man who works for CNN was also quite moved by the Mass on Thursday.

So, there have been the ups and downs.

2. Politicization

It is typical of people wanting to put things in a box. Unfortunately, too, they are attempting to create a certain polarization. These are unfortunate. You can't really "box up" Benedict, except to say he is orthodox. Most news stories and such are attempting to show that "if the Church doesn't change her teachings, then she will lose her numbers". But that is not the message of the Church, which states that "if the people in the Church don't strive for holiness, then the Church will lose her numbers". But numbers aren't what it is about. Of course, it would be wonderful if the entire world accepted the Church, her teachings, and strived for holiness. But that's not reality. The Church's mission is to bring people to Christ, and that they live lives in pursuit of His Face.

This politicization and polarization come from the labels "conservative", "progressive", "moderate", and "liberal". First, these words refer to terms that change. That is, the terms they point to change according to the trends. For example, the "conservatives" used to be the "liberals". And people use these words for the Church in the same way. And some say that the Pope is "conserving the Deposit of Faith" and so, in that sense, is a conservative.

However, I still don't think that that is a viable label for the Pope. To conserve means to prevent a danger from happening to something, and that it can change. We don't conserve things that don't change. But both those situations are contrary to the very essence of the Church. The Church does not change, and Christ promised that the gates of Hell shall not prevail. There is nothing to conserve, because the Church's essence, by her essence, cannot change. Thus, no one can be a conservative, because there is nothing to conserve, there is only a Truth, Who is a Person, to be uplifted and brought to everyone.

And some may complain about the word "orthodoxy". It is true, it refers to right belief. But Chesterton says that orthodoxy in the Catholic view involves the entirety of our faith. As St James says "Faith without works is dead". Thus our belief, if it is right (and that is that it our faith is in the Person of Jesus Christ) means we truly live it out. Orthodoxy, then, is much more then the doctrines we hold.

3. The Pope

I was blown away by the Pope's time at Dunwoody today. First, I must say, a friend of mine who lives in New York served the Papal Mass today at St Patrick's Cathedral, he was the one holding the Missal for the Pope.

Anyways, the Pope at the Seminary, I saw there the Benedict that I know. This is not to say I haven't elsewhere. But he has seemed tired and a bit worn out these past few days, and that is to be expected of someone of 81! But today, at Dunwoody, he was electric! He was energetic, with a smile that was constantly beaming across face. He was funny, and he even did something unscripted. He was passionate, because I think for him the youth are the hope of the Church's future. He saw true hope present. He definitely fed off the crowd, and he gave a 45 minute talk to the youth! That is far longer then any other talk he has given, which tells you that this was the most important to him. I encourage EVERYONE to read it, or go to EWTN's website and watch it there (they have the whole of the Pope's trip on the web to watch). It was fantastic and out of this world. Please watch it.


Thursday, April 17, 2008

What did he say?

I'm sorry, I have a hard time hearing the homily of Benedict XVI from his Mass at National Stadium today. The noise of bloggers complaining of horrid liturgical practices is just a tad overwhelming.

I was reading Whispers in the Loggia the other day and a rather convicting statement was made in regards to people paying attention to what the Pope had to say instead of what he wore. I think the same can go for the Masses he celebrates.

Fr. Neuhaus had a wonderful comment on EWTN. While he wondered if those planning the Liturgy had ever read any of Benedict's works, he said "but the Pope is being pastoral, knowing that he cannot allow this to get in the way of the message of Christ and the graces of the Eucharist". I think Fr. Neuhaus is dead on.

Sure, the music wasn't great. I myself am no fan of Marty Haugen's Mass of Creation. But I have come to realize "is this really the core of the Mass?" I am not denying the awesome wonder music can create. It most definitely has an essential role in the Mass. But things take time. And the important things from the Mass happened. The Pope delivered an awesome homily, and the Sacrifice of the Mass was celebrated.

If people were not so busy complaining about this and that about the music, maybe they could be quiet long enough to hear the awesome message of the hope Christ brings to us. Maybe, JUST MAYBE, they would be able to understand that Christ is greater that bad liturgical practices, and that his message can come out in those settings as well.

It is important to note that Msgr. Marini has been taking a very active role in planning the Papal Liturgies. Note, however, that they allowed these things to happen. They may not be perfect, but the Pope knew that the Eucharist being celebrated was the pinnacle of the Mass, not its music. If people could start realizing that, I thik we could do a lot to grow.

The issue, in the end, is that when we are too busy complaining about bad liturgy, we are not open enough to listen to the words of Christ. This is something I have been coming to learn. This is not to say we ought not to work to have the Liturgy celebrated according to the desire of the Church, discussion is an essential means for the further promotion of proper liturgy. But we must remember that things take time. Instead of complaining, there must be work done with those who do have different liturgical views. We must remember that the Liturgy is an expression of our faith in Christ, and if our faith is true, so will be our expression. Thus the solution is not a pragmatic concern in which policies can easily change things. Rather, the issue is one of holiness. If people would have actually paid attention to what the Pope had to say today, you would have noticed that he said that this is our fundamental goal as Christians, that our hope rises in a life lived in holiness.

The Pope knows that in order for the Liturgy to be properly celebrated, there needs to be holiness first. And so, far from pragmatic concerns, the Pope is looking towards a supernatural means of bringing people to the heart of the Church. When holiness is lived, it expresses itself in everything, and the Liturgy is definitely one of those times.


Friday, April 04, 2008

It's Been A While

But better late then never.

So I've been watching Battlestar Gallactica now for about 3 weeks and have just begun Season 2.5.

I will admit, I found the show a bit slow to start off. But where I am now, watching it in the context of the show in its entirety, I'm sure I will feel differently about that when I start the series all over again one day.

Anyways, the show is interesting because it asks questions that shows usually refuse to ask. They don't ask them because they fear that the ratings will be low. And, in a certain sense, that's probably true.

The beauty of Science Fiction, the undeniable quality it has that is lacking from any big time show is precisely the fact that it can ask the tough questions, those that are the most important and central to who we are as human beings.

The interesting thing is that the show does not attempt to just throw the questions out there. It is not some intense philosophical discussion with no plot. Rather, it does things in the manner that I know J.R.R. Tolkien would approve of. They do it in the form of myth, of, if you will, a space fairy tale. It asks the important questions, but in a way that it is central to the story as a whole. These questions do not force themselves into the plot line, but rather, they are weaved in a way that they are essential for the plot line to move on.

There are many interesting questions the show raises. Are Cylons people? Can Cylons love? There are many others as well. But the most important, and definitely the most human one, is the one that gets to the core of our humanity. It seems that the Cylons attempted to destroy mankind because they felt that they were not deserving to live. They kill each other, and, well, if you can name a bad act, man does it. They don't seem deserving of life.

So, in my opinion, the central question of the show is "what makes humanity worthy of life". After watching Resurrection Pt. 2, I think I have come to the answer. And it came with such a simple, and yet profound, display of humanity. Adama, shaken up by the death of Admiral Kane, knowing that it was almost him who ordered her death, ends it all with a kiss with President Roslin. The range of emotions is truly remarkable.

But what finally hit it for me, what finally got me the answer was that very display. What makes man worth of life is that which makes him man! Humanity is worthy of life precisely because it's human. Or, as the quotable Del Myers puts it much more precisely "Man is worthy of redemption because he is capable of it". Our strength, our weakness, the wholeness of what makes us human, that is what makes us worthy of life. We are worthy to walk this Earth precisely because of our mistakes and triumphs.

To me, that is an utterly Christian outlook of the world, because it is the core of the message. Christ comes to redeem, but He cannot redeem those who feel they have nothing to redeem. That is the trait that is different between man and they Cylons. Man is able to make mistakes, but the Cylons refuse to. Number 6 would not kill herself because it was a sin. She refused to accept her weakness. That is the true weakness, when we are unable to accept our weakness, for it is only when we accept our weakness are we able to be made strong in Christ.


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

What are we to do with Plato?

A couple of weeks ago, I posted on how I see nominalism as being the source of most of our modern heresies.

Knowing that the event of an intellectual idea is never isolated, I pondered as to what could be the source of nominalism. It didn't just pop out of thin air. It is true, of course, that new ideas come about, some good (St Thomas' distinction between Being and Essence), and some not so good (Descartes' I think therefore I am). But they don't flow out of thin air. For example, both St Thomas and Descartes studied Aristotle extensively, they are not pulling this out of their own minds. But they both had radically different interpretations of Aristotle.

I was blessed to have some visitors with me this weekend from St Joseph's Seminary in Edmonton. Wonderful guys with a great zeal for Christ. One of them was a Platonist to the core (or so he seemed to say). I used to be there, back when I was his age (ie 2 years ago). I saw Plato as the be all end all of Philosophy. No one did it better then Plato! But this past year, I have had the opportunity to study St Thomas in more detail and to see his (and usually Aristotle's) amazing simplicity in regards to their understanding of the truth of things.

Now, I'm not denying the value and wonder of Plato with what I am about to say, but I do wonder about one theory of his. It is, unfortunately, his less elucidated theory, one which sort of baffles most philosophers. But I think there may be some weight to my attempt at an insight.

Plato believed in universals. This cannot be denied. He believed in the reality of the forms, that objective reality in which the universal really and truly exists. When we see a cup on a counter, that is a specific (and thus imperfect) instantiation of the form "Cup". What gets interesting, however, is Plato's epistemological outlook. He says that because the Forms are perfect and the instantiations are not perfect, and because we too are not perfect instantiations of various forms, we cannot truly know the essence of things. This is part of the reason he was so vague on the topic. He knew, really, that he could not speak about the Forms (and this we can attribute to his mystical outlook of reality). He knew that no matter what he said, he would not be able to grasp the true reality of a thing and thus it is never truly knowable, it is knowable only in an imperfect way. It seems too that Plato is denying that there is an intrinsic essence to each particularity that exists, instead saying that the material realm is only a particularization of the true reality.

Now, briefly, Aristotle (and St Thomas) do say that we can know the essence of things. Each particularity has its essence innately. This is what makes it both particular and universal at the same time. Epistemologically speaking, our mind "abstracts" from what we receive in our senses. We see a particular thing and are able to immediately comprehend its essence, what it is, and that it can share this nature with other particularities as well.

Now, what does this all have to do with Nominalism? Well, if we recall that, speaking simply, nominalism denies that there are essences to things and that we cannot know particular things, I think we are able to see a correlation between Plato's theory of Forms (or whatever you wish to call it) and the theory of nominalism. I do not think that Plato would fall into this heresy though, because he admits to the reality of universals, but that they are unknowable, that we can only be pointed towards the forms and discover them for ourselves. The nominalist would deny any reality that is non-material in that sense (though not necessarily deny non-material beings, which is a different matter). Plato is what I would call a "light nominalist" in that since universals can't be truly known, we have to come up with ways of identifying them according to our nature. Aristotle, though, I think, takes a much more phenomenological approach. He understands that subjective experience of universals and how we come to abstract them. He understands, really, in my opinion, the human condition. Plato is much more poetic, but Aristotle has a better grasp of the truth.


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Love For Christ

I realize as of late that I have been a tad...cynical in my writing. This has not been the case in just my writing, but in my conversations with others as well. I realized too that I was becoming rather arrogant in some of my views and, though I feel I may have the correct understanding in the position, does not mean I need to pontificate to others.

Thankfully, through a wonderful discussion I had this evening with 2 wonderful friends, I realized what the root of things was. Love for Christ. That is it. One may be tempted to say that this is it, that is all we need to comment on. And, to a certain extent, there is complete truth. Love Christ, there is nothing else, this is the Law and the Prophets in their fullness. We love Christ by adoring Him and thus also the Blessed Trinity, and we love Christ whom we find in others.

I remember telling my friends this evening about the conversion of Malcolm Muggrage to the Catholic faith. It was not intellectual arguments that persuaded him to become Catholic, but it was the example of Mother Teresa. And Mr. Muggrage was quite the atheistic marxist, so his conversion can quite rightly be considered as miraculous.

Yesterday, I recall hearing the homily of the new Bishop of Pittsburgh. He said "how much people must love God to be willing to scalp tickets to an installation!" And that was his homily, about our zeal to love God and act like it!

Then I started realizing through my conversation this evening, and reflecting briefly on things, how I have been this past week or so in my life. Am I being loving or am I being like the Pharisees.

To add it all up, the Gospels during Mass this week haven't really helped either. I have been especially on a Liturgical rant as of late. They have been all about the Pharisees saying "But it is not lawful to do such a thing". That got me wondering. I am getting all worried about licitness of things, about doing the rubrics, that I forgot about heart too.

Now, this is not to say that rubrics and law don't have their place. They do, and they are central. But when we follow them for the wrong reason, or when we insist that they must be a rubric when they're not, then we fall into danger.

Anyways, reflecting on all this made me realize that the most essential thing is holiness. Love for Christ, doing all things in the light of the face of Christ. That is the most important thing. Everything else flows out of that love. Without our love for Christ, we become hard.

This is a danger, I think, in blogs. We see how silly some positions are that we lose sight of the fact that we must be charitable and loving, thus becoming rather arrogant in our attitudes, as if we had the truth and it is our own personal property. The fact is, though, the truth is for all people. Christ loves all, regardless of what they've done, for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. I think that is so easy to forget, and so we become arrogant, thinking "look how right I am and how wrong you are, and, on top of that, are really stupid you are for taking that position". I think most have fallen into that attitude at one point or another.

I think we must look back on the Saints. We don't see them knocking others down. We see them knocking sin down, and rightfully so, but they don't knock the person. It is easy for us to get frustrated when people equate actions with personhood, we know it is why many people advocate for homosexuality and so on. But we don't equate actions with personhood, and yet we so easily fall into the same error, seeing the faulty position and thus presuming it is an issue inherent in their very personhood. We look at the splinter in their eye without looking at the log in our own.

But the Saints built people up. They would correct people if it was appropriate, but they loved them regardless, even in correction. We need to do more of that I think. Only when we do that, will things like Liturgy and Doctrine flow correctly. The Church is beautiful because of the order she promotes. But divisions in parishes and Dioceses happen when we fall outside that order and into the disorder of sin. How do we bring order back to Diocesan life, parish life, and, of course, our life? By loving God and neighbour with our entire selves. When we love unconditionally, then things will happen accordingly unconditionally.

I do not want those who may be reading this to think that matters of Doctrine, Liturgy, Morals, Current Issues, etc, are not worth speaking about. They very much are and must be constantly engaged.

What I warn about is manufacturing the truth. I do not say this in the ordinary sense. We must beware of coming to a deeper knowledge of the things the Church teaches on our own. When we first do not back up such a basis with love, we fall into becoming like the Sadducees and Pharisees. Work on love first, and then how you present the truth will attractive to a person regardless. That's what happened with Malcolm Muggridge, and that is what can happen to your friends and family whom you try to bring in.

People constantly complain that they never see anyone acting like a Christian. Heck, I know even I complain of that many times. I think "oh, no one ever acts like they ought to out of love. Where is the passion and deep yearning desire to promote Christ with the giving of our entire selves in others?" Then I recall that if I desire it in others, I must desire it in myself first. The best person to bring about love for Christ is when we first come to love Him with our whole selves. If you become a Saint, then so will others who encounter you, because you are living like a Christian, that is always deeply attractive when it is lived out authentically.


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Liturgical Reflections

Well, I have been doing a lot of side reading on the Liturgy as of late and have been quite surprised by the level of deep-seeded conflict that is in existence in the Church over the Liturgy.

There are those who take a view that is contrary to the great tradition of the Church, seeing Vatican II as the supreme council above all councils in which all previous councils are to be ignored. This, of course, is an erroneous view.

Then there are those who also see things contrary to the great tradition, though they themselves call themselves traditionalists (not a term I am a fan of frankly). They see the Church as static, as if the life of the Church is put still and is to never move one inch. This, in my opinion, is contrary to the fact that the Church is a living body with all her members from the past, present, and future. The Church is living and longing for home, for the eternal Jerusalem. That is our hope, not being stuck in one mode.

In my opinion, both these views are contrary to the true Catholic position. I know, too, that these are vastly easy over-generalizations, but I don't want to go into too much depth with them for a blog post, they are merely a means for moving forward in this discussion.

This brings me to the Liturgy because it seems that the Liturgy has been the true battle ground for a proper interpretation of Vatican II. These two positions I have just described seem to be contrary to what the documents have said and what has been the lived experienced of almost 2000 years of Catholicism

But the Liturgy has become a battleground because it is in the Liturgy that heaven and earth meet, it is in the Liturgy that the sacredness and awesomeness of God is made present to us in the most Blessed Sacrament. It is the height of the Church's prayer. All this leads to a reasonable understanding as to why it is the Liturgy that is battleground, it is where the source and summit of our faith is made present.

A couple of posts ago, I discussed briefly the hermeneutics of continuity that Benedict XVI speaks of and its importance. I have been doing some more research as of late and last night especially got an opportunity to peer into the mind of Dietrich von Hildebrand and his position on this subject.

One thing I am impressed with is his intellectual might. He is truly one of the great thinkers of the Church. I think his argument for the loss of the sacred in our society is dead on and hits the head on the nail.

What I have been surprised to see, however, is the political side of the issue. I mean to say that there was a lot going on "behind closed doors" after the council. I have read of things that unorthodox theologians would do to get things read at the council! I have read about the controversy surrounding the Concilium that was instituted after the Council in regards to the Liturgy.

I understand, I think and hope, why many people reject the Novus Ordo. We must understand, I think, that is not rejected on the level of personal preference. Seeing the political undercurrents, I have a much better grasp of where the so-called traditionalists are coming from. It is not always a reactionary position, but a well thought out one.

I, of course, do not agree with their position, that the Novus Ordo is contrary to the Church's living experience and invalid. I think this is totally erroneous.

But I do wonder about the Concilium. I wish there was more written on the subject to be honest. I have found very little useful information on it because most of the people who have written on it have been of the so-called traditionalist view point and thus very biased in their view point. I cannot be certain that what they are saying has any validity at all.

Essentially, the argument is that they had no true juridical authority over the implementation of the Novus Ordo. Many people feel that the Concilium forced a "fabricated liturgy" upon the whole Church, one that is essentially contrary to the lived tradition of the Church.

I will be honest, I think there is some validity to this perspective. When you read the comments of those who headed the Concilium, you see that they were just attempting to force their own ideological position upon the whole Church, and, to a certain extent, they were able to do so through some vague instructions that came forth from them.

Now, Benedict XVI is also someone who has been critical of the implementations of the Concilium. For me, Ratzinger is THE authority on the Liturgy. I think out of everyone out there, he is the most balanced person to refer to in regards to this.

What Ratzinger says is that the Concilium and those of like mind have forced a fabricated liturgy upon the Church, one in which is contrary to the great depth and breadth of the Church's tradition. Ratzinger understands this and sees the value of the tradition which is foundational to the entire Church.

What does this all mean though? I know I have been a bit spotty with what I am attempting to get at here, partially because many of these thoughts are new. I think, as Ratzinger has discussed numerous times, we are going to see a reform of the reform in the Church's liturgy. When one reads Sacrosanctum Concilium, they see things in there that have yet to even be realized. When you read Ratzinger's masterpiece, The Spirit of the Liturgy, you see great things that are essential for the human person in the Liturgy that have utterly disappeared. The Mass we have now can be celebrated with great reverence and beauty, but I think there is still "work to do" in this manner of implementation and I thank God for Benedict XVI who has been working at implementing such things with his new MC, Msgr. Marini. I see the Novus Ordo as the true expression of the Liturgy of the Church. But, as with many other councils, we are only just getting out of the reactionary times in which people attempt to impose their own view of the council on the world. We are starting to see, in my opinion, thanks to the beautiful Papal Masses, a proper living of the great Tradition of the Church in which the proper expression of the Liturgy is seen as the core.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Nominalism - The Source of Man's Degradation?

I remember talking about this with a friend one evening and I came to some interesting conclusions that had honestly never crossed my mind before.

Many people see the degradation of man with the philosophy of Descartes. Indeed, Descartes' dualistic leanings give rise to many problems about the state of knowledge, man's experience, and thus man's attaining of knowledge.

But at least universals still exist in Descartes mind.

I think the problem is in nominalism.

Nominalism states that there is no such thing as universals, but that there are only particulars which have similarities for which we construct universal concepts for the sake of simplifying the world. In reality, however, according to the nominalist, these universals are just constructs and do not actually exist.

Why is this a problem?

I see it as a problem because it denies that which individuates man from the rest of the animals.

Man is different because he can abstract things. When we see a cup, we see not only the cup, but we are able to grasp its essence in our mind. Animals, on the other hand, are never able to go past the particular. They may be able to have the experience of a cup, but they can never know cupness, that is, the essence of what makes a cup a cup.

With nominalism, we fall into the trap of denying the theory of abstraction in which hinges man's distinguishing factor.

We thus fall into a degradation that is contrary to our nature. Why do you think relativism has come about? It has come about because we no longer believe we are able to have abstract concepts when in reality they are at the center of our life, we experience abstraction at every moment of the day.

If we are to just give a name to a particular, then we have this notion of the inability to abstract. We thus become like the rest of the animals and see things for their purely physical nature and deny the metaphysical aspect of things, which we call materialism, which is the root of consumerism and all other isms that are destroying society today.

Some people say sometimes "what's the point of discussing theories of the past?" We see here, however, that Nominalism, which is a theory from about the 12th century onwards, has had drastic implications that has denied everything in which we experience. We must equip ourselves so we can engage others to bring them to the beauty, splendor, and wonder of truth.



I am reading what I am already beginning to consider one of the greatest books I have ever read. It is "Transformation in Christ" by Dietrich von Hildebrand. It really is remarkable.

I am currently on chapter 3 which is self-knowledge. He quotes St Augustine who says, "could I but know Thee O Lord, and I shall know myself".

This is an interesting quote and one I think plays great relevance to the modern world.

Dr. von Hildebrand denounces self-analysis. He sees this constant looking inward as contrary to our nature but that, instead, we must continually look out of ourselves to see what is wrong, which in my opinion is deep within the tradition of the thought of JP II.

Anyways, he states that we only get to know ourself more the more we know God, as per the quote of St Augustine, and this is a position I have always held, but I just held it, I had no reason to hold it, it just seemed right.

But this book opened my eyes to come to a deeper understanding.

By experiencing God, we realize that we are created for Him to be at the center of our life. We are not supposed to look at the past or the present to figure out our problems, and we cannot look into our future experiences because they, as of yet, do not exist. To look at ourselves we are only revealed our weakness and sinfulness, we cannot depend completely on ourselves, we need redemption.

But if we come to experience God as the center of our life, our self-knowledge takes a fundamental shift. In Thomistic language, God is the Final Cause of our actions. According to both Aristotle and Thomas, the Final Cause is the cause par excellence because it gives the reason for all the other causes and for all things for all things are meant to be perfected and they are only perfected if they reach their final goal. Thus the final cause is the cause par excellence because it is the cause that gives the basis, the roots, for perfection.

Bringing this to God, we see that through our experience that we are created for God, that by coming to know God perfection is brought in us. So, by knowing God as the end of all our thoughts and actions, we experience our true purpose in life, which is to grow closer to Him. By doing so, we are fulfilling our nature and living according to our dignity as persons created in God's image and likeness.

But what does this exactly have to do with self-knowledge?

By realizing that God is at the center of our life and that we are meant for Him, that creates our raison d'etre. Through our experience of God, we experience our imperfection and grow in knowledge that we haven't quite reached the goal of perfection yet, that we have further repentance to live in our life and that we have further change to have happen. But it is central that God be at the center of our human experience for through that, and only through that, do we come to our true self understanding. For, as St Paul says, "it is no longer I that live but Christ in me". Only when Christ is the source and summit, only when Christ is the One in Whom I subsist for all assistance, only then can I become who I am called to be. I am called to be united to Christ, and I can only do that by growing to know God more. The more I know God, the more I have experienced Him and the greater my understanding becomes in what I am lacking and plead God for His mercy to rain down upon me so that I may become who He has created me to be.


Saturday, January 12, 2008

Hermeneutics of Continuity

Rocco at Whispers in the Loggia reports about the Mass of the Baptism of the Lord tomorrow at the Vatican.

Whispers in the Loggia

The interesting note is, of course, that the Pope will be celebrating Mass ad orientum. This will of course get many reactions, I am sure, by various Catholic outlets determined to ensure the Church knows what the "spirit of Vatican II" is all about.

But despite the impending negative press by people of such a view, I see it as a hopeful sign.

I love the Liturgy. I am blessed to be in a parish where the Liturgy is celebrated in solemnity and reverence. I know, too, that the general state of the Liturgy hasn't quite reached its fulfillment yet (I shouldn't say I know, but from the studying I've done, it seems the liturgy still has some "balancing out" to do).

I am very happy with Msgr. Marini as the new Papal MC. He is doing many things on a step by step basis, and is someone who seems much more within the mindset of B XVI. I too, I think, am more within the tradition of thought that BXVI proposes.

And I think the basis of this is his understanding of the hermeneutics of continuity.

Essentially, the hermeneutics of continuity is a study of the idea of continuity within the Church's 2000 year-old tradition from the perspective of which it is proposed throughout the history of thought.

Now, I think BXVI's beef is with the fact that we seemed to lose the idea of continuity in the Church, which is an attack not only on the central nature of the Church, but an attack about the effects the Incarnation has on the world. The denial of continuity for Benedict is, surprise surprise, a Christological denial. We of course know that Benedict is not a fan of the denial of Christ's importance, nor, of course, should any Catholic.

I think the tremors of afterquakes from the Council were to be expected. It is the nature of councils, and, in a certain sense, at least initially, it had to do with the excitement that is attached to the experience of a council. Everyone wants it disseminated immediately. This is where human frailty comes into the equation. The Church does things in years, not months, and so the idea of quickly implementing everything on the part of bishops and the lay people could easily be seen as a mistake.

The Council, just as all authoritative statements and decrees from the Church, must be read in the light of the Church's total experience. This is where the "spirit of Vatican II" began. They no longer look at the Church and the totality of her experience, but only what the "spirit of the council" has to say, as if the Council is the only authority in the matter of our lives. This is contrary, though, to the nature and experience of the Church.

So, the Liturgy was obviously effected by such a mindset, and, I think, the Liturgy shows us the direction of the Church, since the Liturgy is the work of God. And this is the error that has entered into our understanding of the Liturgy: It is the work and expression of man's encounter with God. In reality, though, it is the other way around. If the liturgy is the work of God, then more properly is it the expression of God's encounter with man, for it is the work which Christ has guided, and it is in the Liturgy that Christ reconciles us with the Father. Thus to speak of the human dimension of the Liturgy as primary is an essential error, it denies God's principle and primary role as the true Celebrant of the Liturgy.

This brings us to the hermeneutics of continuity. According to this study of continuity, we see that it is essential in the Church's tradition of God's seeking of her. God has constantly sought us and it is in the Liturgy that this profound encounter happens at its most perfect level. To thus take away things from the Liturgy because they are "pre-Vatican II" is contrary to the Church's experience. The way the Liturgy can be expressed, its form, can of course change over the centuries. This is part of the Church's experience and is expressed in various liturgical decrees. But to say that the Novus Ordo has no connection with the extraordinary form of the Mass and all other forms of the Mass is to be contrary to the principle and experience of continuity in the Church.

Thus, Benedict is simply affirming Christ's central role in the Church and the Church's nature. What Benedict with the help of Msgr. Marini have been doing is attempting to re-establish the centrality of continuity, because this puts Christ back into the equation. And to remedy the "spirit of Vatican II" problem, Benedict understands that there must be dialogue with the past, because the past, by virtue of Christ's Incarnation, is always able to be made present to us, in a certain sense, the past never ceases to exist, and so it is proper to have a dialogue with it so that continuity is properly expressed in all the Church says and does so that we can put Christ back at the center of our lives.

I am currently working on an essay on this topic with further and deeper research with the hopes of having it published somewhere.