Saturday, February 4, 2017
Thursday, February 2, 2017
What does it mean to be an American? - National Catholic Reporter: Distinctly Catholic: Countering Trump's answer, protesters and prelates offered a different vision of our national identity this weekend, one that spoke to the better angels of our nature.
The Existence of the Good God and the Problem of Evil part (3)(4)
Ultimately it is a matter of free decision : either for the plan of God leading to eternal happiness in heaven or for one’s own plan and refusal of the
central demand of love . This way man becomes the creator of his own destiny. But the ultimate true happiness with God is made possible through the Son of God who became man and took upon Himself all the sinfulness of humanity.
What does it all have to do with evil and suffering in human life? Actually all people consider suffering, pain , torture , war as evil and all this evil is done by man. To a great extend this creates the misery of living together in the society of sinners and it takes away the certainty and stability of life. The suffering coming from the natural causes like diseases, old age, sickness and death are also part of the evil confronting man after his fall and rebellion against God. It all has to be accepted as part of growing in this life towards complete absolute trust in God no matter what happens. Only this strong faith in God in spite of misery and tragedy hitting one’s life and leaving it in ruins, will make man strong enough and acceptable to God who is love Itself.
Leo Tolstoy one of the most talented Russian writer experienced in his fifties a deep doubt about the meaning of life and felt a growing desire to commit suicide . He was hiding any guns and knifes visible around afraid that he will kill himself . He says that the desire for ending his life became more powerful than his former joy of living. He learnt from the simple peasants who lived in poverty but were happy to exist and live. Tolstoy concluded that life no matter how difficut must be meaningful.
Man according to Christianity has an immortal principle (soul) and therefore death is not really such a great tragedy and horror as it may appear in the eyes of an atheist. For a Christian death is a transition from this life in space-time, into eternity.
The Judgment implies not only eternal salvation in heaven but also the possibility of hell.One cannot say much about the judgment of God. All knowledge about it comes from the teaching of Christ who very often mentioned the reality of judgment and man’s eternal destiny. For many there appears the difficulty to reconcile the loving and forgiving God with existence of hell . Hell is existence in complete isolation from God and others in eternity without possibility of any change. To many this seems absolutely unacceptable and too cruel, it seems ridicules and absurd part of Christian teaching. How can God who is love and who wants salvation of all men throw someone into hell knowing human limitations and mistakes even when the sinfulness is clear like deliberate murder, torture , exploitation of others and even intended extermination of millions of innocent people. After all when Christ was dying on the cross did He not pray to the Father: “ forgive them for they don’t know what they do?”. All this is true. However one should not approach the problem of hell on emotional level only but try to see facts as they are. Suffering is the very center of the human condition in a world of fractures, conflicts, dichotomies and tragedies. Suffering is therefore inscribed into the very core of human existence. This fact is recognized by most religions of the world and also stressed by the ancient writers like Sophocles in the story of The Blinding of Oedipus. In Buddhism, which some consider a religion, life is suffering and the human soul is gradually liberating itself from it through a number of reincarnations until it attains the state of complete bliss in Nirvana.
The second edition of the book “Finality and Intelligence” belongs to the elucidation of the problem and analysis of existence of God. The fact of writing on God’s existence in our times maybe surprising to a number of people who are under the spell of the existential confusion in philosophy, literature and art of our times. Frankly speaking, very many people, some of them known scientists in different branches of modern science consider such a topic simply very much out of date. One can hear from many sources statements to the effect of complete lack of interest in such questions. Did not science settle this problem once and for all. Did not even some existential theologians after Nietzsche, Albert Camus, Jean Paul Sartre, Arthur Schopenhauer acknowledge the death of God? Is not the matter settled for good? We also have to mention here the very aggressive group of scientists who openly stress the fact that they are scientists but draw conclusions which are metaphysical in nature. And of course the conclusion whether God exists or not is metaphysical. Metaphysics is also the generally accepted way of analysis of the Universe and God’s existence until the very Modern Times. Philosophy whether for the Ancients or as a matter of fact any attempt to answer the fundamental origin of existence is metaphysical in nature. On this level the mind moves from existence to another existence as the necessary condition explaining the present observation of the universe and it’s intrinsic structure. There are some phenomena immediately experienced, which can only be explained in terms of existence of God. To such belong (1) the rationality implicit in our experience of the world . Human rationality discovers the possibility of knowledge because of the presence of rationality in the structure of the universe. When it comes to higher levels of phenomena we would have to mention (2) life, (3) consciousness, (4) conceptual thought, the power to articulate and understand symbols and meaning of language, and finally (5) the human self. Some atheists claim the existence and necessity of so called scientific reductionism, the evolution of the cosmos, the evolution of life including humans as “arguments “ against existence of God.
On the contrary the book is one of some other books to follow about a serious reconsideration of the problem of God’s existence. No matter how much progress has been made in many areas of our life and no matter how scientific investigations modified our view of man’s position in the cosmos , the nature of the vast immensity of billions of galaxies forming themselves in the vastness of the surrounding world, and no matter how the human life and situation has been apparently dwarfed, the thirst and desire for discovery of some meaning of life is not only not belittled but in the chaos of different views and opinions intensified for the average man today. The problem of God’s existence will be amply analyzed in the forthcoming book by Leszek Figurski “God or no God”.
The present book is an evaluation and analysis of the last Way of the known Five Ways leading the human mind to the existence of God elaborated by Saint Thomas Aquinas. The Fifth Way will be considered within general context of Thomistic philosophy. It is not the intention to analyze all Five Ways of Thomas but center on the ascent of the mind from the orderliness of the finite beings observed in this world towards final infinite intelligence of the First Mover and the First Creative Cause of the world.
The analysis is done on the metaphysical level; it acknowledges the right of the human mind to complete intelligibility of being as such and the power of the mind to answer the ultimate questions to which of course belongs the problem of the existence of God.
Thomas Aquinas was not the first to elaborate the argument from finality and its relationship to the mind, but he developed it and put it on the strictly ontological level .
All the Five Ways of Thomas Aquinas have very similar structure of argumentation. They begin with existing facts which are directly observable and then they attempt to discover the ultimate presuppositions of the observable phenomena . This is why Thomas Aquinas does not use the word arguments or proofs of existence of God , instead he prefers the word ways of reaching the ultimate presuppositions of what is already in experience directly given to man. The Fifth Way is very important for the whole Thomistic philosophy. It points to personal intelligence as a necessary presupposition of the orderly activities of finite causes in the world. The fact that observable entities are goal oriented in their activity must have some explanation. Thomas does not mean here the teleological action of say human beings or even the small degree of teleological behavior of lower forms of life; he is pointing to the fact that in- animate structured beings because of their structured natures contain a presupposition in their activity towards definite goals or ends.
This is why the universe is telos-oriented, this is why human rationality meets the cosmic rationality, this is why science and any kind of knowledge is possible at all , this is why the harmonious orderly world must be finally grounded
in some cosmic intelligence. After all the world did not have to be the way it is ; it could be a forceless chaos, not in any way open to the human mind ; or perhaps it could consist only of photons and electrons. But it is not a chaos but an orderly cosmos as the Greeks noticed and called it at the beginning of philosophical reflection.
To the objection of the evolutionists, the scientific reductionism and some other possible objections Thomas would if he lived in our age simply answer : “re-think the problem carefully and without prejudice and you will realize that there is no other valid solution but mine.” How the argument will be accepted and understood as valid and sound or not is up to the judgments of the reader.
Wednesday, February 1, 2017
The Presentation of Jesus at the Temple is an early episode in the life of Jesus that is celebrated by the Church on the holiday of Candlemas. It is described in the Gospel of Luke of the New Testament in the Christian Bible. Within the account, "Luke's narration of the Presentation in the Temple combines the purification rite with the Jewish ceremony of the redemption of the firstborn (Luke 2:23-24)."
In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the presentation of Jesus at the temple is celebrated as is one of the twelve Great Feasts, and is sometimes called Hypapante (Ὑπαπαντή, lit., "Meeting" in Greek). In Western Christianity, the traditional name for the day is Candlemas, which is also known as the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin, and the Meeting of the Lord. In some liturgical churches, Vespers (or Compline) on the Feast of the Presentation marks the end of the Epiphany season. In the Church of England, the Mother Church of the Anglican Communion, the Presentation of Christ in the Temple is a Principal Feast celebrated either on 2 February or on the Sunday between 28 January and 3 February. In the Catholic Church, the Presentation is the fourth Joyful Mystery of the Rosary.
In the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion and the Lutheran Church, the episode was also reflected in the once-prevalent custom of churching new mothers forty days after the birth of a child.
The Feast of the Presentation is one of the oldest feasts of the Christian church, celebrated since the 4th century AD in Jerusalem. There are sermons on the Feast by the bishops Methodius of Patara (died 312),Cyril of Jerusalem (died 360), Gregory the Theologian (died 389), Amphilochius of Iconium (died 394), Gregory of Nyssa (died 400), and John Chrysostom (died 407). It is also mentioned in the pilgrimage of Egeria(381 - 384), where she confirmed that the celebrations took place in honor of the presentation of Jesus at the Temple.
XXVI. [The Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary.] But certainly the Feast of the Purification is celebrated here with the greatest honour. On this day there is a procession to the Anastasis; all go in procession, and all things are done in order with great joy, just as at Easter. All the priests preach, and also the bishop, always treating of that passage of the Gospel106 where, on the fortieth day, Joseph and Mary brought the Lord into the Temple, and Simeon and Anna the prophetess, the daughter of Famuhel, saw Him, and of the words which they said when they saw the Lord, and of the offerings which the parents presented. And when all things have been celebrated in order as is customary, the sacrament is administered, and so the people are dismissed.
Christmas was, in the West, celebrated on December 25 from at least the year AD 354 when it was fixed by Pope Liberius. Forty days after December 25 is February 2. In the Eastern parts of the Roman Empire, Roman consul Justin established the celebration of the Hypapante on February 2, AD 521.
Pope Gelasius I (492–496) contributed to the spread of the celebration, but clearly did not invent it. Moreover, the link made by Cardinal Baronius between the presentation of Jesus and Lupercalia is probably inaccurate since Lupercalia was not celebrated in Jerusalem and it was only there that one finds some celebrations of the presentation of Jesus around this date. But it appears that it became important around the time of the Plague of Justinian in 541, before slowly spreading West.In addition, the Festa candelarum in Rome commemorated the search for the Goddess of Light Persephone kidnapped by the King of the Other World Hades, by her mother the Goddess of Life Demeter. As Persephone was no longer in our world, darkness was everywhere, so her mother used a torch in her search, and in the end obtained that her daughter would be on Earth and Olympus for two thirds of the year (the light period), and in the Other World (Hades) for the other third of the time (winter season). The festival of candles symbolizes the return of the Light.
February takes its name from the Latin verb februare which means "purification". Christianity has therefore placed the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin at this time. The purification in question is the departure of the "winter darkness". The myths of Sleeping Beauty or Theseus and Ariadne (for example) relate to the release or liberation of the light (Dawn of the year) by the "solar knight".
France, Belgium, and Swiss Romandy
Candlemas is celebrated in the churches on February 2. It is also considered as the day of crêpes. Tradition attributes this custom to Pope Gelasius I, who had pancakes distributed to pilgrims arriving in Rome, but as mentioned earlier one can also see it as a vestige of the custom of Vestal Virgins making offerings of cakes at the time of the Lupercalia.
To celebrate Candlemas, all the candles in the house should be lit. Tradition also says manger scenes should not be put away until Candlemas, which is the last feast of the Christmas cycle.
It is also said that the pancakes, with their round shape and golden color reminiscent of the solar disc, refer to the return of Spring after the dark and cold of Winter.
Even today there is a certain symbolism associated with the preparation of the crêpes. A tradition dating back to the late fifth century and linked to a fertility rite is to flip the crepes in the air with the right hand while holding a gold coin (such as a Louis d'or) or some other coin in the left hand, in order to have prosperity throughout the year. One has to ensure that the pancake lands properly back in the pan. It is also said that the first crepe made should be kept in an armoire to ensure a plentiful harvest later in the year. It is sometimes specified that it be placed at the top of the armoire, and the pancake will supposedly not get moldy and will keep misery and deprivation far away.
'Give me your tired, your poor ...' - National Catholic Reporter: NCR Today: Trump's executive order limiting refugees from seven countries violates our deeply held American beliefs as well as the basic tenets of the Gospel.
The Courage to Think For Yourself The Search For Truth and The Meaning of Human Life: PASSION FOR TRUTH
The Courage to Think For Yourself The Search For Truth and The Meaning of Human Life: PASSION FOR TRUTH: Anybody who is indifferent whether something is true or not is in a grave danger of loosing any meaning of his life. Skepticism seems to ...
Scorsese's Silence: Many Martyrs—Little Redemption - Crisis Magazine: The official trailer for the newly released Martin Scorsese film Silence gives the impression this movie is about missionaries in Japan and how Catholics bravely endured persecution for the sake of the Faith. That however is not the real focus of this very disturbing movie and movie-goers should not be lured into believing they are …
Liberalism Brings Slavery When It Confuses License with Liberty - Crisis Magazine: In my latest essays I’ve noted that there cannot be a “social teaching” unless we know what a society is. Pope Leo XIII, in his many social encyclicals, expresses the constant wisdom of the Church when he affirms the reality of society—neither a numerical aggregate nor a collective—and when he sees this reality as rooted …
What Happened to American Liberalism? - Crisis Magazine: In an obscure article entitled “Catholics and Liberals: Decline of Détente,” in America magazine in 1974, the eminent Catholic scholar and historian James Hitchcock discussed a profound change that had occurred in American liberalism and argued that its new thinking put it increasingly at odds with Catholicism. Hitchcock was one of a number of writers …
The Babel Story Is About Speaking the Truth - Crisis Magazine: Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves…” (Gen 11:4) As a small child the tale of Babel’s tower seemed a large story, one filled with men who were wicked and a god who was powerful. …
Tuesday, January 31, 2017
St. John Bosco and the Danger of Tolerance: St. John Bosco was a master teacher who loved his students and, by his love, many souls were saved. Not all students were open to Don Bosco’s love, however, and not all the souls he loved were saved. A preventive method of education was championed by Don Bosco and is now practiced by his Salesians, …
Sunday, January 29, 2017
Five Ways to Practice Forgiveness: The renowned English poet Alexander Pope stated: “To err is human; to forgive is divine.” How true this statement, but how difficult it can be! Holding on to resentment indeed is interior slavery. Whereas, to forgive is truly imitating God Himself, but also setting the captive free and that captive is me. Frequently and in unequivocal terms …