Federal law prohibits anyone who has been “adjudicated as a mental defective,” as well as those who have been involuntarily committed to a mental health facility, from buying a gun.
The special justice’s order in late 2005 that directed Mr. Cho to seek outpatient treatment and declared him to be mentally ill and an imminent danger to himself fits the federal criteria and should have immediately disqualified him, said Richard J. Bonnie, chairman of the Supreme Court of Virginia’s Commission on Mental Health Law Reform.
A spokesman for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also said that if Mr. Cho had been found mentally defective by a court, he should have been denied the right to purchase a gun.
The federal law defines adjudication as a mental defective to include “determination by a court, board, commission or other lawful authority” that as a result of mental illness, the person is a “danger to himself or others.”
Mr. Cho’s ability to buy two guns despite his history has brought new attention to the adequacy of background checks that scrutinize potential gun buyers. And since federal gun laws depend on states for enforcement, the failure of Virginia to flag Mr. Cho highlights the often incomplete information provided by states to federal authorities.
Currently, only 22 states submit any mental health records to the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said in a statement on Thursday. Virginia is the leading state in reporting disqualifications based on mental health criteria for the federal check system, the statement said.
Virginia state law on mental health disqualifications to firearms purchases, however, is worded slightly differently from the federal statute. So the form that Virginia courts use to notify state police about a mental health disqualification addresses only the state criteria, which list two potential categories that would warrant notification to the state police: someone who was “involuntarily committed” or ruled mentally “incapacitated.”
“It’s clear we have an imperfect connection between state law and the application of the federal prohibition,” Mr. Bonnie said. The commission he leads was created by the state last year to examine the state’s mental health laws.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
2005 TVB Interview
Bat Liu Ching
Anita Mui and Paula Tsui:
Hsi Feng (Xi Feng) - Teresa Teng & Paula Tsui
Teresa Teng singing the Mandarin version of one of Paula Tsui's songs:
Friday, April 20, 2007
Pope's Homily at His Birthday Mass
"One's Own Life Can Serve to Proclaim God's Mercy"
VATICAN CITY, APRIL 20, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of Benedict XVI's homily at his birthday Mass on Monday.
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MASS OF THANKSGIVING IN REMEMBRANCE OF THE POPE'S 80th BIRTHDAY
HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
St Peter's Square
Second Sunday of Easter, 15 April 2007
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This Sunday is called "in Albis", in accordance with an old tradition. On this day, neophytes of the Easter Vigil were still wearing their white garment, the symbol of the light which the Lord gave them in Baptism. Later, they would take off the white garment but would have to introduce into their daily lives the new brightness communicated to them.
They were to diligently keep alight the delicate flame of truth and good which the Lord had kindled within them, in order to bring to this world a gleam of God's splendour and goodness.
The Holy Father, John Paul II, wanted this Sunday to be celebrated as the Feast of Divine Mercy: in the word "mercy", he summed up and interpreted anew for our time the whole mystery of Redemption. He had lived under two dictatorial regimes, and in his contact with poverty, neediness and violence he had a profound experience of the powers of darkness which also threaten the world of our time.
But he had an equally strong experience of the presence of God who opposed all these forces with his power, which is totally different and divine: with the power of mercy. It is mercy that puts an end to evil. In it is expressed God's special nature -- his holiness, the power of truth and love.
Two years ago now, after the First Vespers of this Feast, John Paul II ended his earthly life. In dying, he entered the light of Divine Mercy, of which, beyond death and starting from God, he now speaks to us in a new way.
Have faith, he tells us, in Divine Mercy! Become day after day men and women of God's mercy. Mercy is the garment of light which the Lord has given to us in Baptism. We must not allow this light to be extinguished; on the contrary, it must grow within us every day and thus bring to the world God's glad tidings.
In these days illumined in particular by the light of divine mercy, a coincidence occurs that is significant to me: I can look back over 80 years of life.
I greet all those who have gathered here to celebrate this birthday with me. I greet first of all the Cardinals, with a special, grateful thought for the Dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who has made himself an authoritative interpreter of your common sentiments. I greet the Archbishops and Bishops, including the Auxiliaries of the Diocese of Rome, of my Diocese; I greet the Prelates and other members of the Clergy, the men and women Religious and all the faithful present here.
I also offer respectful and grateful thoughts to the political figures and members of the Diplomatic Corps who have desired to honour me with their presence.
Lastly, I greet with fraternal affection His Eminence Ioannis, Metropolitan of Pergamon, personal envoy of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I. To him I express my appreciation for this kind gesture and the hope that the Catholic-Orthodox dialogue may proceed with new enthusiasm.
We are gathered here to reflect on the completion of a long period of my life. Obviously, the liturgy itself must not be used to speak of oneself, of myself; yet, one's own life can serve to proclaim God's mercy.
"Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for me", a Psalm says (66:16). I have always considered it a great gift of Divine Mercy to have been granted birth and rebirth, so to speak, on the same day, in the sign of the beginning of Easter. Thus, I was born as a member of my own family and of the great family of God on the same day.
Yes, I thank God because I have been able to experience what "family" means; I have been able to experience what "fatherhood" means, so that the words about God as Father were made understandable to me from within; on the basis of human experience, access was opened to me to the great and benevolent Father who is in Heaven.
We have a responsibility to him, but at the same time he gives us trust so that the mercy and goodness with which he accepts even our weakness and sustains us may always shine out in his justice, and that we can gradually learn to walk righteously.
I thank God for enabling me to have a profound experience of the meaning of motherly goodness, ever open to anyone who seeks shelter and in this very way able to give me freedom.
I thank God for my sister and my brother, who with their help have been close to me faithfully throughout my life. I thank God for the companions I have met on my way and for the advisers and friends he has given to me.
I am especially grateful to him because, from the very first day of my life, I have been able to enter and to develop in the great community of believers in which the barriers between life and death, between Heaven and earth, are flung open. I give thanks for being able to learn so many things, drawing from the wisdom of this community which not only embraces human experiences from far off times: the wisdom of this community is not only human wisdom; through it, the very wisdom of God -- eternal wisdom -- reaches us.
In this Sunday's First Reading we are told that at the dawn of the newborn Church, people used to take the sick out into the squares so that when Peter passed by his shadow might fall on them: to this shadow they attributed a healing power. This shadow, in fact, was cast by the light of Christ and thus in itself retained something of the power of divine goodness.
From the very first, through the community of the Catholic Church, Peter's shadow has covered my life and I have learned that it is a good shadow -- a healing shadow precisely because it ultimately comes from Christ himself.
Peter was a man with all the human weaknesses, but he was above all a man full of passionate faith in Christ, full of love for him. It was through his faith and love that the healing power of Christ and his unifying force reached humanity, although it was mingled with all Peter's shortcomings. Let us seek Peter's shadow today in order to stand in the light of Christ!
Birth and rebirth, an earthly family and the great family of God: this is the great gift of God's multiple mercies, the foundation which supports us. As I continued on my path through life, I encountered a new and demanding gift: the call to the priestly ministry.
On the Feast of Sts Peter and Paul in 1951, as I faced this task, when we were lying prostrate on the floor of the Cathedral of Freising -- we were more than 40 companions -- and above us all the saints were invoked, I was troubled by an awareness of the poverty of my life.
Yes, it was a consolation that the protection of God's saints, of the living and the dead, was invoked upon us. I knew that I would not be left on my own. And what faith the words of Jesus, which we heard subsequently on the lips of the Bishop during the Ordination liturgy, inspire in us! "No longer do I call you servants, but my friends...". I have been able to experience this deeply: he, the Lord, is not only the Lord but also a friend. He has placed his hand upon me and will not leave me.
These words were spoken in the context of the conferral of the faculty for the administration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and thus, in Christ's Name, to forgive sins. We heard the same thing in today's Gospel: the Lord breathes upon his disciples. He grants them his Spirit -- the Holy Spirit: "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven...".
The Spirit of Jesus Christ is the power of forgiveness. He is the power of Divine Mercy. He makes it possible to start all over again -- ever anew. The friendship of Jesus Christ is the friendship of the One who makes us people who forgive, the One who also forgives us, raises us ceaselessly from our weakness and in this very way educates us, instils in us an awareness of the inner duty of love, of the duty to respond with our faithfulness to his trust.
In the Gospel passage for today we also heard the story of the Apostle Thomas' encounter with the Risen Lord: the Apostle is permitted to touch his wounds and thereby recognizes him -- over and above the human identity of Jesus of Nazareth, Thomas recognizes him in his true and deepest identity: "My Lord and my God!" (Jn 20:28).
The Lord took his wounds with him to eternity. He is a wounded God; he let himself be injured through his love for us. His wounds are a sign for us that he understands and allows himself to be wounded out of love for us.
These wounds of his: how tangible they are to us in the history of our time! Indeed, time and again he allows himself to be wounded for our sake. What certainty of his mercy, what consolation do his wounds mean for us! And what security they give us regarding his identity: "My Lord and my God!". And what a duty they are for us, the duty to allow ourselves in turn to be wounded for him!
God's mercy accompanies us daily. To be able to perceive his mercy it suffices to have a heart that is alert. We are excessively inclined to notice only the daily effort that has been imposed upon us as children of Adam.
If, however, we open our hearts, then as well as immersing ourselves in them we can be constantly aware of how good God is to us; how he thinks of us precisely in little things, thus helping us to achieve important ones.
With the increasing burden of responsibility, the Lord has also brought new assistance to my life. I repeatedly see with grateful joy how large is the multitude of those who support me with their prayers; I see that with their faith and love they help me carry out my ministry; I see that they are indulgent with my shortcomings and also recognize in Peter's shadow the beneficial light of Jesus Christ.
At this moment, therefore, I would like to thank the Lord and all of you with all my heart. I wish to end this Homily with a prayer of the holy Pope, St Leo the Great, that prayer which precisely 30 years ago I had written on the souvenir cards for my ordination:
"Pray to our good God that in our day he will be so good as to reinforce faith, multiply love and increase peace. May he render me, his poor servant, adequate for his task and useful for your edification, and grant me to carry out this service so that together with the time given to me my dedication may grow. Amen".
© Copyright 2007 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Father Cantalamessa on Infinite Chances
Pontifical Household Preacher Comments on Sunday's Readings
ROME, APRIL 20, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of a commentary by the Pontifical Household preacher, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, on the readings from this Sunday's liturgy.
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Do You Love Me?
Third Sunday of Easter
Acts 5:27b-32, 40b-41; Revelation 5:11-14; John 21:1-19
Reading the Gospel of John, we understand that originally it ended with Chapter 20. If Chapter 21 was added on later, why did the Evangelist or some disciple of his feel the need to insist yet again on the reality of Christ's resurrection.
The teaching that is drawn from this Gospel passage is that Jesus is risen not just in "a manner of speaking," but really, in his new body. "We ate and drank with him after his resurrection from the dead," Peter will say in the Acts of the Apostles, probably referring to this episode (Acts 10:4).
In John's Gospel, Jesus' dialogue with Peter follows the scene in which he eats the roasted fish with the apostles. Three questions: "Do you love me?" Three answers: "You know that I love you." Three conclusions: "Feed my sheep!"
With these words Jesus confers on Peter, de facto -- and according to the Catholic interpretation, to his successors -- the office of supreme and universal shepherd of the flock of Christ. He confers on him that primacy that he promised him when he said: "You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church. To you I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 16:18-19).
The most moving thing about this page of the Gospel is that Jesus remains faithful to the promise made to Peter despite Peter's not having been faithful to his promise to never betray him even at the cost of his life (cf. Matthew 26:35).
Jesus' triple question is explained by his desire to give Peter the possibility of canceling out his triple denial of Jesus during the passion.
God always gives men a second chance, and often a third, a fourth and infinite chances. He does not remove people from his book at their first mistake.
What does this do for us? His master's confidence and his master's forgiveness made Peter a new person; strong, faithful unto death. He fed Christ's faithful in the difficult moments in the Church's beginning, when it was necessary to leave Galilee and take to the roads of the world.
Peter will be able in the end to keep his promise to give his life for Christ. If we would learn the lesson contained in Christ's interaction with Peter, putting our confidence in someone even after they have made a mistake, there would be a lot fewer failures and marginalized people in the world!
The dialogue of Jesus and Peter should be transferred to the life of each one of us. St. Augustine, commenting on this passage of the Gospel, says: "Questioning Peter, Jesus also questions each of us." The question: "Do you love me?" is addressed to each disciple.
Christianity is not an ensemble of teachings and practices; it is something much more intimate and profound. It is a relationship of friendship with the person of Jesus Christ. Many times during his earthly life he asked people: "Do you believe?" and never "Do you love me?" He does this only now, after giving us proof of how much he loves us in his passion and death.
Jesus makes love for him consist in serving others: "Do you love me? Feed my sheep." He does not want to benefit from the fruits of this love but he wants his sheep to. He is the recipient of Peter's love but not its beneficiary. It as if he said to Peter: "Consider what you do for my flock as done to me."
This implicates us as well. Our love for Christ should not be something private and sentimental but should express itself in the service of others, in doing good to others. Mother Teresa of Calcutta often said: "The fruit of love is service and the fruit of service is peace."
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Zenit.org).- An accidental fire caused extensive damage to the largest Benedictine Monastery in Asia. There were no injuries, but all the cells were completely destroyed, forcing 70 monks to move elsewhere.
The FIDES news agency reported that on April 5, the fire was discovered at 1:15 a.m. by the vice prior.
The fire, which officials say was likely caused by a short circuit, took firefighters five hours to put out.
Arch Abbot Jeremias Schröder, president of the Benedictine Congregation of St. Ottilien, Germany, who is in charge of the Benedictine missionaries and of the monastery at Waegwan, flew to South Korea to assess the situation and to encourage the brothers.
Abbot Schröder said, "We are deeply upset but grateful that no one was hurt."
Order of St.Benedict Waegwan Abbey
ABBATIA WAEGWANENSIS SS. MAURI ET PLACIDI
Bishops who are or were monks of the Benedictine Congregation of St. Ottilien,
i.e. Missionary Benedictines
Ron Paul: A Conservative Study in Contrasts
By: Josh Kraushaar
He also makes clear that none of the other GOP presidential candidates appeal to him, and that he is not likely to endorse any of them if he fails to capture the Republican nomination.
"Quite frankly, I haven't seen anybody running for the presidency on the Republican ticket that is actually offering to stand up and stand for the principles the Republican Party has been built on," Paul said in an interview Tuesday with Politico reporters and editors.
Sid Cundiff wrote
a motion to stike and substituteMr. Speaker, I respectfully move to strike "tragedy" and substitute "calamity".
which led to this response by Dr. Fleming:
Thomas Fleming wrote
Calamity is very good. It is an intelligble Latin word (calamitas) with a root in a word suggesting harm or damage (hence the common incolumis, safe, undamaged). Calamity is often used of natural disasters and, in Latin at least, of military setbacks or simple failure. There is no moral confusion. A hailstorm that destroys the grain is a calamity, so is a military defeat and a massacre.
Info on the conference, which will take place on April 27 and 28.
Yeah, nothing like that going on at BC. KK you should go if you have some time.
On Saturday, April 28, The Very Reverend Philip Anderson, O.S.B., Prior of Our Lady of the Annunciation of Clear Creek Monastery, will be delivering one of the keynote speeches. I wish I could be present for this.
KK can you find out if they will be recording the conference?
Doing a cover of Kelly Chen?
Something from her most recent series:
Looking for clothes at Armani...
Miss HK 1997
doing a wedding show with Julian Cheung Chi Lam:
Point of No Return MV:
Country Spirit opening:
Lady Iron Chef interview:
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
On Clement of Alexandria
"One of the Great Promoters of Dialogue Between Faith and Reason"
VATICAN CITY, APRIL 18, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today at the general audience in St. Peter's Square. The reflection focused on St. Clement of Alexandria.
* * *
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
After a time of holidays, we return to our normal catechesis, despite the fact that the square is still visibly decorated for the feasts. With these catecheses, we return, as I said, to the theme previously begun. We have spoken about the Twelve Apostles, then the disciples of the apostles, and now we turn to the great personalities of the nascent Church, of the ancient Church.
Last time, we had spoken about St. Irenaeus of Lyons and today we will speak of Clement of Alexandria, a great theologian who was probably born in Athens, sometime around the turn of the second century. In Athens, he picked up a keen interest in philosophy that would make him one of the great promoters of dialogue between faith and reason in the Christian tradition.
While still a youth, he moved to Alexandria, the "symbolic city" of this fruitful nexus between cultures which characterized the Hellenistic age. He was a disciple of Pantaenus and even succeeded him in directing the catechetical school. Numerous sources say he was ordained a priest. During the persecution from 202-203, he fled Alexandria and took refuge in Caesarea, in Cappadocia, where he died in the year 215.
The most important of his works which still exist are the "Exhortation," the "Instructor" and the "Stromata." Although it seems that it was not the author's original intention, these works make for a real trilogy, adequate for efficiently accompanying the spiritual maturation of a Christian.
"The Exhortation," as the title itself implies, exhorts one who is beginning and searching for the path of faith. Moreover, "The Exhortation" coincides with a person: the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who is an "exhorter" of those who decidedly begin the journey toward Truth.
Christ himself later becomes the "educator," that is, the "instructor" of those who, by virtue of baptism, have become sons and daughters of God. Christ himself, finally, is also "Didascalo," that is, the "Teacher," who proposes the deepest teachings. These are collected in Clement's third work, "The Stromata," a Greek word meaning "miscellanies." It is a composition that is not systematic, but rather deals with various arguments, and is the direct fruit of the ordinary teaching of Clement.
Taken together, Clement's catecheses accompany the catechumen and the baptized step by step, because, with the two "wings" of faith and reason, they lead to knowing the Truth, which is Christ, the Word of God. "Authentic gnosis" -- the Greek expression which means "knowledge" or "intelligence" -- can only be found in knowing the person of the truth. This is the edifice built by reason under the impulse of the supernatural principle. Therefore, the authentic "gnosis" is a development of the faith, drawn forth by Christ in the souls of those united to him. Clement later defines two levels of Christian life.
The first level: believing Christians who live the faith in an ordinary way, although with their horizons always open toward sanctity. The second level: the "gnostics," that is, those who lead a life of spiritual perfection. In any case, the Christian has to begin with the common base of the faith and by way of a path of searching, he should allow himself to be led by Christ and thus arrive to the knowledge of the Truth and the truths that make up the content of the faith.
This knowledge, Clement tells us, becomes for the soul a lived reality: It is not just a theory. Rather, it is a life force, a union with a transforming love. The knowledge of Christ is not just a thought, but a love that opens the eyes, transforms the person and creates communion with the "Logos," the divine Word that is truth and life. In this communion, which is the perfect knowledge and is love, the perfect Christian reaches contemplation and union with God.
Clement finally takes up doctrine, according to which the final end of the person consists in being like God. We have been created in the image and likeness of God, but this is also a challenge, a journey; in fact, the objective of life, the final destiny of the person consists in making himself like God. This is possible thanks to a connaturality with him, which the person has received at the moment of his creation, by which he is already the image of God. This connaturality enables him to know divine realities to which the person adheres above all by faith, and through the living of the faith, the practice of the virtues, can grow until he reaches the contemplation of God.
In this way, on the journey to perfection, Clement gives the same importance to moral requirements as to the intellectual ones. The two go together because it is not possible to know the truth without living it, nor to live the truth without knowing it. It is not possible to make oneself like God and contemplate him simply with a rational knowledge: In order to achieve this objective, it is necessary to live according to the "Logos," a life according to truth. And, therefore, good works have to accompany intellectual knowledge, as the shadow accompanies the body.
There are two virtues which particularly adorn the soul of the "authentic gnostic." The first is freedom from passions ("apátheia"); the second is love, the true passion, which ensures intimate union with God. Love gives perfect peace, and enables the "authentic gnostic" to confront the greatest sacrifices, including the supreme sacrifice in the following of Christ, and brings him to rise to the level of living virtue. In this way, the ethical ideal of ancient philosophy, that is, the freedom from passions, is redefined by Clement and complemented by love, in the unending process which leads to being like God.
In this way, the thinker from Alexandria fosters the second great opportunity for dialogue between the Christian message and Greek philosophy. We know that St. Paul, in the Areopagus in Athens, where Clement was born, had made the first attempt at dialogue with Greek philosophy and for the most part, had failed, given that his listeners said, "We will listen to you at another time." Now Clement, takes up again this dialogue, and supremely ennobles it in the tradition of Greek philosophy.
As my venerable predecessor, John Paul II, wrote in his encyclical "Fides et Ratio," Clement of Alexandria arrived to an interpretation of philosophy as "instruction which prepared for Christian faith" (No. 38). And, in fact, Clement even affirmed that God had given philosophy to the Greeks "as their own Testament" ("Stromata," 6, 8, 67, 1).
For him, the tradition of Greek philosophy, almost like the Law for the Jews, is the context for "revelation." They are two currents that definitively direct toward the very "Logos." Clement decisively continues along the path of those who want to "give reason" for their faith in Jesus Christ.
He can serve as an example for Christians, for catechists and theologians of our time, who John Paul II exhorted in that same encyclical to "recover and express to the full the metaphysical dimension of truth in order to enter into a demanding critical dialogue with […] contemporary philosophical thought."
We conclude with one of the expressions from the famous "Prayer to Christ, 'Logos'" with which Clement concludes the "Instructor." His prayer reads: "Show favor to your children … grant us to live in peace, to arrive to your city, pass through the currents of sin without sinking into them, be transported with serenity by the Holy Spirit, by ineffable Wisdom: we, who by day and by night, until the last day, raise to you a hymn of thanksgiving to the one Father … the Son, Instructor and Teacher, together with the Holy Spirit, Amen!" ("Instructor," 3, 12, 101).
[Translation by ZENIT]
[At the end of the audience, the Holy Father greeted the people in several languages. In English, he said:]
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In our catechesis on the Fathers and teachers of the early Church, we now turn to Saint Clement of Alexandria. As head of the catechetical school of Alexandria, Clement promoted a fruitful encounter between the Gospel and the Greek philosophical tradition. For Clement, faith in Christ grants the true knowledge which the ancient philosophers had sought through the use of reason. Faith and reason thus appear as two necessary and complementary "wings" by which the human spirit comes to the knowledge of Christ, the Word of God. Faith itself, as a divine gift, inspires a search for a deeper understanding of God’s revelation. As creatures made in God’s image, we are called to become ever more like him not only through the perfection of our intellect, but also through our growth in the virtues. Freed from our passions, we are drawn to contemplate in love the God who has revealed himself in Christ. By his life and teaching, Clement can serve as a model for all Christians who seek to give an account of their hope (cf. 1 Pet 3:15), and especially for catechists and theologians as they strive to articulate the Christian faith in a disciplined dialogue with the great philosophical tradition.
I greet all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims present at today’s Audience, including groups from Britain and Ireland, Gibraltar, Scandinavia, Asia and North America. I extend a special welcome to the ecumenical visitors from Finland and to the many students and teachers present. Upon all of you I invoke the abundant blessings of this Easter season, and I pray that your visit to Rome will bring you closer to Christ our Risen Lord. May God bless you all!
© Copyright 2007 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Some choice snippets:
The president of the university, fumbling for the right cliché, described this as a tragedy of monumental proportions. Setting aside the misleading metaphorical use of “monumental,” it would be interesting to learn what he thought he was saying other than “This is really bad.” These incidents are inevitably called tragedies, but that is precisely what they are not. In a tragedy like Oedipus or Macbeth, a basically great man, trusting in his own abilities, deludes himself into making self-destructive decisions. Flaws in his character lead him first to arrogance and then down the path of folly and ruin. Tragedies make sense of the human world, while these pointless murders seem to reveal a world that makes no sense. In calling them tragedies, we are essentially saying that human existence is pointless.
This is not just a “semantic point.” It is all too true that most Americans are like most people everywhere in all periods of history: They speak without thinking. But unreflective peasants relied on proverbs and clichés that were deeply rooted in historical experience. Our clichés and mental tics are almost always bits of propaganda invented by liberals ignorant of human nature and human history. In our mythology, children are smarter than adults, racial minorities smarter than whites, women stronger and braver than men. We believe that we really do care about people killing each other in Nigeria, even though we do nothing about the murders taking place on the other side of town, and we insist on calling every pointless misfortune a tragedy. We can only talk this way because we have tossed away our moral compasses.
I've also used the word "tragedy" in reference to what happened at Virginia Tech. I can't judge Cho Seung-hui's soul, I don't know his motivation and what happened to him. How can I describe his particular path to self-destruction, while at the same time praying that God is merciful?
Were the murders pointless? Yes. They were great evils inflicted upon others, though not the greatest evil. Still, I would not say they were unintelligible, even if Cho Seung-hui was acting under some sort of psychological compulsion (and it does not appear that he was). Some have tried to understand him by calling him insane or mentally ill, as if what he did could be explained through a pathology concerned with mental illnesses having only organic causes. Is this a simplistic, knee-jerk response involving a denial of the real possibility of malice and hatred? On the other hand, it would be better for him if he were not responsible due to mental illness.
I saw some of the video clips that he recorded throughout the week before the shootings; he appears to have deliberated and been fully cognizant of what he was doing, but was he responsible for what he was about to do? Or was he afflicted with a form of mental illness that diminished his responsibility? Only God knows the answer for certain, and only God knows if there was repentance or perpetual despair.
So how do we describe or refer to this particular path, unfortunately travelled so many times in America's recent history?
In principle I believe, as I have always believed, that an armed citizenry is the only solid basis for political liberty. However, the more I see of my fellow citizens in action, the more I am beginning to see the point of gun control. Few of them seem to have any part of the old American character, and still fewer have any understanding of republican government. Most of us, left and right alike, are consumers and subjects, but not citizens. Would free-minded conservative citizens have allowed their minds to be controlled by the neoconservatives at the Wall Street Journal, much less have voted twice for George W. Bush? Half of them still think Saddam used his weapons of mass destruction to attack the US on September 11.
Americans today are not free nor do they wish to be free. Judging by the average American’s boorish behavior in public, in shopping malls and behind the wheel of their cars, they should not be allowed to own pellet guns, much less a semi-automatic pistol. If we had an effective authoritarian government with a responsible constabulary that kept the hooligans in order, I might be willing to surrender my weapons. Since that day seems a long way off, it is better to be armed.
In the past few days, I have been asked what people can do to protect themselves against random violence. The simple answer is “I do not know.” In high schools and universities, much of the fault lies with boards and administrators, who have almost entirely abrogated their responsibility to act in loco parentis. Coed dorms, open campuses, toleration of drugs, promotion of athletics, and a refusal to maintain a vigilant scrutiny over the students has turned once safe havens into cesspools of violence and vice. Cho had been caught stalking two different coeds and taken in for counseling. The parents of the victims have a right to know why he was still in school.
Naturally, educators always claim that schools only reflect society, but throughout the past 100 years, educationists have claimed they are transforming society by changing the minds of students. None of the changes in school life is an accident; all of them could be reversed. But the administrators would rather promote their leftist agenda than protect the young people who have been entrusted to their care. And, when a conscientious teacher actually does warn the counselors and police about Cho’s violent propensities, she is rebuffed on some theory that students have rights.
So my first piece of advice is never to trust the institutions. Most of them are so big as to be unmanageable. Schools like VT, with student populations that number in the tens of thousands, are anonymous jungles. In a school of 500, Cho would either have learned to fit in or have attracted such hostile attention as to force him out. My second point is to be very careful about whom you associate with. In the old days, young women did not keep company with people her family did not know. It sounds old-fashioned, but one way or the other we have to reproduce some of the old gossipy community spirit that snooped on neighbors and kept tabs on oddballs.
A Tactics Primer
By William S. Lind
It occasionally happens that a reader's e-mail is translated into dots and dashes and sent to me over Mr. Morse's wonderful electric telegraph. The sounder on my desk, opposite the inkwell and under the flypaper scroll, recently tapped out the following, from Jim McDonnell of Baton Rouge, Louisiana:Could you please explain what's meant by the remark about U.S. forces being unable to fight battles of encirclement? Is it that there are too few of them in Afghanistan or are you saying that our forces are constitutionally incapable of that kind of operation? If the latter is the case, that would make a column all by itself.It would, and it does. The problem is not numbers but tactical repertoire, or lack thereof. That deficiency, in turn, is a product—like so much else—of the American armed forces' failure to transition from the Second Generation to the Third.
Second Generation tactics, like those of the First Generation, are linear. In the attack, the object is to push a line forward, and in the defense it is to hold a line. As we saw in so many battles in and after World War I, the result is usually indecisive. One side or the other ends up holding the ground, but the loser retires in reasonably good order to fight again another day.
Usually, achieving a decision, which means taking the enemy unit permanently out of play, requires one of two things, or both in combination: ambush or encirclement. Modern, Third Generation tactics reflect an "ambush mentality," and also usually aim for encirclement. To that end, Third Generation tactics are sodomy tactics: the objective is to get in the other guy's rear.
On the defense, that is accomplished by inviting the enemy to attack, letting him penetrate, and then launching a counterattack designed to encircle him, not push him back out. This was the basis of the new, Third Generation German defensive tactics of 1917, and also the German Army's standard defense in World War II.
On the offense, the rule is not "close with and destroy" but "bypass and collapse." The goal is to penetrate deep into the enemy's rear, by stealth or by force (the Germans used a three, not two, element assault, and the largest element was the exploitation element), then roll up the enemy's forward units from the flank and rear while overrunning his artillery, headquarters and supply dumps. The same approach was used by the Panzer divisions on the operational level, leading to vast encirclements of hundreds of thousands of Soviet troops on the Eastern Front in 1941.
The U.S. military today knows little or nothing of this. It did attempt an operational encirclement of the Iraqi Republican Guard by 7th Corps in the First Gulf War, but that attempt failed because 7th Corps was too slow. On the tactical level, most American units have only one tactic: bump into the enemy and call for fire. The assumption is that America's vast firepower will then annihilate the opponent, but that seldom happens. Instead, he lives to fight again another day, like Osama and his al Qaeda at Tora Bora.
While the central problem here is conceptual—sheer ignorance of Third Generation tactics—there is a physical aspect to it as well. On foot, American soldiers are loaded down with everything except the kitchen sink, and they will probably be required to carry that too as soon as it is digitized. To use tactics of encirclement, you need to be at least as mobile as your enemy and preferably more so. The kind of light infantry fighters we find ourselves up against in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan are just that, light. They can move much faster on their feet than can our overburdened infantry. The result is that they ambush us, then escape to do it again, over and over. Flip-flops in the alley beat boots on the ground.
As the students in my seminar at Quantico discovered early in the year, the decisive break, both in tactics and in organizational culture, is not between the Third and Fourth Generations but between the Second and Third. It is little short of criminal that the American military remains stuck in the Second Generation. The Third Generation was fully developed in the German Army by 1918, almost a century ago. It costs little or nothing to make the transition. To those who understand how the Pentagon works, that may be the crux of the problem.
I am willing to accept that if a shooter happens to come upon someone who is carring a CCW, there is a possibility that he could be stopped then and there. However, let us consider some possible negative effects as well.
What if there is more than one person carrying a concealed gun? And what if they come across each other? Might not there be a possibility of "friendly fire?"
After all, how do you know he's not the shooter? How does he know that you're not? How do you resolve such a standoff without injuring someone who is innocent, and at the same time without disarming yourself? If someone else perceives you as a threat, as you are pointing your pistol at him, and he is pointing a gun at you, and all around you there is chaos, what is the likelihood of an accidental or deliberate discharge taking place?
Even if there is an established protocol with respect to the police officers who confront you (that is, when the police arrive and see you armed, they will probably order you to put the weapon down, and if you don't, they will take action), what about SWAT snipers who are not close to you, but can only assess the situation from afar? Would they have orders to shoot any civilian running around with a gun and seems to be a threat?
If the shooter is obviously harming others, you may be justified in taking him down then and there. And, if you see someone carrying a gun but not firing on other students when there are plenty around, you could presume that he isn't the shooter. But how many civilians have the requisite training and discipline to make these sort of judgments? What happens if you two are alone? Then what can you assume, and how would your determine with certainty that he is not a threat? Would it be necessary to pass a law to circumscribe one's right of self-defense by prohibiting offensive action? Is there any other way to temper your enthusiasm to go out and take the shooter down yourself, in the interest of saving the lives of your fellow students, and possibly putting yourself in the situations that I've just discussed?
At least if you are in your home defending yourself and your family, there are more presumptions you can make about an stranger or intruder, but even then one has to be careful--you wouldn't want to fire on a police officer who fails to identify himself or has done so, but because of the "fog of war" cannot be heard.
So the administrators of the schools, and others opposed to the VA legislation do have some reasons in support of their position. If people were to be allowed to have CCWs on a campus, it seems that some sort of training by the local community would be necessary, including the development of some sort of procedure for self-identification, both to others and to the police.
Requiring open-carry doesn't seem to be a solution, because that simply makes innocent civilians the first target of a shooter, who obviously won't be following laws requiring open-carry. Such measures which presume and require that "everyone follow the rules" will not work if criminals and aggressors do not obey.
Certainly one could argue that the right of firearms should be limited to citizens. And perhaps a more extensive background check should be in place, but what would be satisfactory, short of a psychological examination by a state-recognized psychiatrist? And would this be an unnecessary burden to the citizen who wishes to purchase a firearm, if the state chooses not to pay for the psychiatric evaluation?
Another possibility would be some sort of evaluation process for citizenship--both respect to those who are born here and those seeking to be 'naturalized.' A more robust conception of citizenship than the popular one we have now, with a clear delineation of duties and responsibilities, as well as "rights." So perhaps the community would have some role to play in endorsing me as a citizen and recognizing that I have a right to own a weapon. If the community and gun sellers have a better acquaintance with their fellow citizens, this would be an additional check againt those who shouldn't own a gun because of the danger they pose to themselves and to others. Still, would that be enough to satisfy both mothers and supporters of the second amendment?
Citizens who wish to own a gun probably need to learn how to deal with the effects of adrenaline and so on--they would do well to read Lt. Col. Grossman's book On Combat, and learning from the experiences of police officers and so on, so that they can learn how to make good judgments despite the autonomic responses of the body to danger. I am not opposed to militias or requiring training and service of all eligible males--I just don't want to see this done by the Federal Government. Militias should be local, under local (democratic) control. The link between virtue, citizenship, and serving in a militia is a part of the American heritage that we should preserve and re-establish where necessary.
Even if one is not persuaded that it would be to his benefit to get such training, perhaps the legal liability associated with getting a CCW permit and using a weapon in an emergency might. Another reason to pass a law that CCW permit holders get some sort of training from local law enforcement or some government agency.
Such "supervision" should be kept as local as possible, in accord with subsidiarity. I may not have a problem with my fellow-citizens knowing that I own a weapon, even if I fear the Federal Government having this information. Individuals cannot stand alone against tyranny--if they are to be successful, they need to develop trust and civic friendship with their fellow citizens. (Of course, such a civic friendship is not merely necessary to prevent tyranny, but is also needed if relocalization is to have any sort of permanency. As it was mentioned in a previous post, encouraging everyone to build up the bonds of community may also diminish some of the causes that lead to alienation. But this requires a commitment to justice and benevolence and a common culture [particularly moral understanding].)
I'd be especially interested in looking at the Swiss model with respect to forming and maintaining a true citizen's militia. And also, the experience of other countries, particularly Israel, in training civilians how to thwart a mass killer while avoiding friendly fire.
[an earlier post with links related to the Swiss army]
Unfounded Fears of Backlash Fly around the World
As usual, there have been no reports of any behavior that could possibly be considered “backlash” against Koreans or Asians resulting from the mass murder.Perhaps because such incidents are relatively minor and mundane as to not warrant coverage by the news media. There are plenty of anecdotes from the teenagers at soompi forums of non-Asians making insensitive or insulting remarks to them solely because they are Asian or more particularly, Korean. Ethnic groups may be sensitive, but they are usually sensitive for a reason, and perhaps the writer of this particular post needs to understand that there fear of "racist" comments and responses is justified. Unless she would have us believe that there are all non-Asian Americans are so virtuous that they would not make such remarks.
Even so, after such a horrific immigrant crime, the ethnic group of the perp commonly issues pre-emptive statements condemning a backlash against them; these days such complaints are practically automatic. And this case is no exception.
Fear-of-backlash statements and reporting are a form of cultural intimidation, that if you even mention that the killer was an immigrant then you must be some sort of racist.Here perhaps is a implicit recognition that there is such a thing as discrimination. After all, what would account for the unhappiness, but non-acceptance? It is not just multiculturalism that is the problem, but a lack of integration. Some choose not to assimilate into American society--but what of those who wish to assimilate (as it seems to be the case with Cho Seung-hui) but are instead spurned for being "different"? Those who are more interested in "sticking to their own kind" and managing with life in that way are probably more content than those who wish to be accepted as Americans. But being American and being perceived or accepted as one are two different things, and the author does not raise the credibility of Vdare by writing these comments, which could be justly criticized as being insensitive and ignorant. Ignorant of reality that is, or actively covering up the attitudes of some white Americans.
As a result, the important discussions about the inherent psychological strains of transcultural immigration never occur. The media chatter constantly about how wonderful diversity is and ignore the stress of adjusting to a different society. Immigrants are expected to be happy and grateful, while many are not. Stress is cumulative, and when the difficulties of cultural adjustment are piled on top of the normal problems of young adulthood, some may explode. Just two months ago, a Bosnian teenager living in Salt Lake City killed five in a rampage in a shopping mall.
We do no one any favor by encouraging millions from vastly different cultures to move here. Excessive diversity often creates unhappiness and worse for everyone concerned. How many more innocent Americans have to die before multicultural immigration is recognized as being a monumental failure?
Kindness to the many victims of both legal and illegal immigrants requires that the bogus tactic of crying “Backlash” be ignored for a more realistic consideration of the failed ideology of multiculturalism and all that goes with it.
Perhaps she is talking about a different cause of unhappiness. From my experience I see less maladjustment due to marked cultural differences separating people; rather, most of it is superficial--people are treated as outcasts simply for looking different, or speaking a different language as their first or primary language at home.
By all means, those who seek to immigrate to a foreign country need to (1) have a commitment to assimilating into American society and embracing what is good in its culture, and (2) be made aware of the difficulties they face in trying to assimilate. Those who wish to come here merely for economic opportunity should be discouraged from doing so (but this is something that must be dealt with elsewhere). One should not exaggerate too much about cultural differences--admittedly, the unscrupulous may seek to take advantage of the system and live off of welfare, but I don't know of many ethnic cultures that support this sort of dependency. But what really makes a Korean-American different from an Anglo-American? If anything, there are certain commendable mores that Asian-Americans observe as a part of their cultural heritage, mores whose counterparts in traditional Western [Christian] culture have been forgotten by non-Asian Americans. If we want to argue that those of Asian heritage are burdened by a culture that prevents them from being citizens in a "democracy," what then do we say of Americans of European heritage who too, do not have the character appropriate to citizens of a "democracy"?
If some people are not mature enough to be sociable with others who are different in appearance, let us call it for what it is, rather than claim that the source of psychological difficulties lies entirely in those who immigrate to the United States.
A post from today that is not related to the tragedy: White Refugees and Culture. At first glance, I was taken aback by the post. But then I was thinking that even if it is merely a question of language, is the formation of separate linguistic enclaves that much of a threat to the unity of a political community?
Love and Unhappiness in an Alien Culture
Virginia Tech and Cho Seung Hui
By JERRY KROTH
Hui was motivated by something else. He was deeply unhappy. He had no friends, none in high school, none in college. No friends in his entire adult life. He struggled with being Korean in a country which never accepted him. Never, in his mind, not ever.
And, sure, he wanted to have a girlfriend, but he didn't, not one, so he created an imaginary one. And in his virtual, insular world, he had a favorite song, one that he played over and over and over. I think it is appropriate to quote and read it in its entirety. This is what an assassin who killed 32 people on Monday listened to. It wasn't David Geffen's murder music after all. It was from Collective Soul:Give me a word
Give me a sign
Show me where to look
Tell what will I find ( will I find )
Lay me on the ground
Fly me in the sky
Show me where to look
Tell me what will I find ( will I find )
Oh, heaven let your light shine down
Love is in the water
Love is in the air
Show me where to go
Tell me will love be there ( love be there )
Teach me how to speak
Teach me how to share
Teach me where to go
Tell me will love be there ( love be there )
Oh, heaven let your light shine down
I'm going to let it shine
Heavens little light gonna shine on me
Yea yea heavens little light gonna shine on me
Its gonna shine, shine on me.
Once Cho Seung Hui was hopeful. He was waiting for love, hoping it would shine on him, but no matter how often he played it, and no matter how many imaginary girlfriends he conjured up, it never came. Two days ago, he gave up.
Perhaps instead of focusing on gun control, David Geffen, media violence, or beefing up campus security, we should look more closely at the alienation and lack of intimacy in American life. After her first visit to this country, Mother Teresa said the United States was the "loneliest" country she had ever been in. A recent Pew poll bears out her impressions by reporting that the number of Americans who have "no one to talk to about a personal issue" has more than doubled in just the last decade. We need to direct our attention to the lonely, depressed, alienated, and emotionally discarded segments of our society. There needs to be a sincere national dialogue about psychotherapy, mental health, and the absence of love in our society which gives rise to the evil that we all are trying to come to terms with today.
I think it would be wrong-headed to reduce his alienation to merely a question of race-relations and identity, and to make a big fuss about it, as if this would solve the problem, as those who desire political power by promoting race politics are wont to do. Rather, what needs to be done is for community to be restored, and to let people sort out these sort of questions for themselves. They may not get it right at first, but it is surely much better than having the Federal Government (at the behest of some powerful lobbying group) step in and try to eradicate suspicion, mistrust, ignorance and put in their place tolerance and even authentic virtues of justice and benevolence through social engineering.
Of course, this also requires a more just economic order, so that each individual will not be dependent upon the nanny state (or subject to the power of corporations, which is greater than that of individual racists) and not only regain economic independence, but a measure of self-respect through being responsible to himself and to his community. Are there any quick fix solutions to economic inequality due to racism, past and present? No. But I think that through relocalization, those who wish to provide for themselves and for their families and attain a decent standard of living will do so, and this will work towards easing tensions between different racial and ethnic groups.
Of course, for Christians, what is needed is for them to exercise charity towards others, and to provide an authentic and joyful witness to God.
Mr. Bettinelli comments:
When we were first married, Melanie used to kid me about my paranoia. Whenever we went out for evening walks, I always walked on the street side of the sidewalk. I carefully examined parked cars before we passed them to make sure no one was in them. I looked into dark shadows and avoided passing alleyways if possible. In restaurants, I always try to sit facing the door. Before bed or before going out, I check all the doors and windows. I always make sure Melanie has her cell phone when she goes out. I’m constantly imagining disaster scenarios and how I should react, e.g. if a fire started in this building how would I get my family out? If someone started shooting up this place, how would I protect my family?Just a small quibble with this:
It’s not paranoia. It is the protective guardian instinct that is built into every man. We are hardwired to be ready to protect and even give our lives if necessary when danger approaches.
This was the sin of Adam: When danger approached Eve, he did not throw himself in front of her to defend her against the deadly serpent, but stood by while she was seduced.I believe this is the problematic interpretation offered by Scott Hahn in A Father Who keeps His Promises. Robert Sungenis responds to Dr. Hahn (an article written for The Remnant). NOR.
Understanding Marriage through Holy Communion: Rediscovering the Essential Meaning of Sexual Love
Dear Students and Members of the BC Community:
In light of the tragedy at Virginia Tech, we are writing to share information that we hope will provide an understanding of the procedures we have in place to keep our community members safe, and to deal with any emergency situation that might occur on campus.
For the past five years, an Emergency Preparedness Committee, composed of representatives of administrative offices throughout campus, has been meeting on a regular basis to plan for any unforeseen incident that could affect the wellbeing of our campus community. The Committee routinely examines our Emergency Plan and devises measures to respond to various incidents as quickly and effectively as possible.
While this tragedy at Virginia Tech has provided a scenario that was previously unimaginable, it is an issue that we will analyze in our efforts to improve our preparedness and your safety.
As you know Boston College is a safe campus. We have a well trained, professional police force that works in cooperation with federal and state authorities. We have experienced and dedicated administrators who are trained to respond to emergency situations.
Most importantly, we have a supportive community of students, faculty, and administrators who will pull together to help us address and overcome any unexpected issue.
Please avail yourself of the services that Fr. Leahy outlined in his e-mail to the BC Community earlier today, which include counseling services through the University Counseling Center, an ecumenical prayer service at 12:15 p.m. in the Heights Room, a Mass at 5:00 p.m. in St.
Mary’s Chapel and a UGBC-sponsored Candlelight Vigil in St. Ignatius Church at 7:00 p.m. Also, we recommend that students share this information with their parents to help assuage their concerns.
We encourage you to try to go about your day in as normal a fashion as possible, while keeping all members of the Virginia Tech community in your thoughts and prayers.
At least elementary and secondary schools can go into a lockdown mode--teachers have keys to their classroom and can lock the door. Now, is this something that instructors at BC should be able to do? To secure the classroom in case of an event? Certainly it is difficult to do logistically--since classrooms are shared among different departments and so on. Nonetheless, what other measures can the school take besides telling students to "trust BC and the BC Police Department to take care of you when an emergency happens"?
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS
Guns have been around for a long time, but these crazy shootings are a new development that point to a failure of culture to produce people with a sense of responsibility and self-control. When I was a kid, a youngster could walk into a local hardware store and buy a gun. There were no restrictions. If a kid was so young that he couldn't see over the counter, the store owner might call a parent for approval. We all had guns, and we never shot ourselves or anyone else.Where did he grow up?!?
One of my grandmothers thought nothing of me and my friends playing with the World War II weapons my uncle had brought back. My other grandmother never batted an eye when I collected my grandfather's shotgun from behind the door and went off to match wits with the crows that raided the pecan trees or the poisonous cottonmouth snakes that could be found along the creek that ran through the farm.
My grandmother never worried about me until I got a horse, a more dangerous object in her view than a gun.
We also all had knives, which we carried in our pockets to school every day. We never stabbed anyone and very seldom cut our own fingers.
We often had fights, more often wrestling each other to the ground than fist fights. No one ever thought of pulling a knife or a gun on his antagonist. Parents and teachers did not exactly approve of fights, but they considered them natural. We were not arrested, handcuffed and finger-printed for being in a fight.
Why today's markets are headed for disaster unless there is a shift in focus.
By Benjamin R. Barber, BENJAMIN R. BARBER is a professor at the University of Maryland and is the author of many books, including "Jihad vs. McWorld." His latest book is "Consumed: How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantilize
April 4, 2007
THE CRISIS IN subprime mortgages betrays a deeper predicament facing consumer capitalism triumphant: The "Protestant ethos" of hard work and deferred gratification has been replaced by an infantilist ethos of easy credit and impulsive consumption that puts democracy and the market system at risk.
Capitalism's core virtue is that it marries altruism and self-interest. In producing goods and services that answer real consumer needs, it secures a profit for producers. Doing good for others turns out to entail doing well for yourself.
Capitalism's success, however, has meant that core wants in the developed world are now mostly met and that too many goods are now chasing too few needs. Yet capitalism requires us to "need" all that it produces in order to survive. So it busies itself manufacturing needs for the wealthy while ignoring the wants of the truly needy. Global inequality means that while the wealthy have too few needs, the needy have too little wealth.
Capitalism is stymied, courting long-term disaster. We still work hard, but only so that we can pay and play. In order to turn reluctant consumers with few unsatisfied core needs into permanent shoppers, producers must dumb down consumers, shape their wants, take over their life worlds, encourage impulse buying, cultivate shopoholism and invent new needs. At the same time, they empower kids as shoppers by legitimizing their unformed tastes and mercurial wants and detaching them from their gatekeeper mothers and fathers and teachers and pastors. The kids include toddlers who recognize brand logos before they can talk and commodity-minded baby Einsteins who learn to shop before they can walk.
Consumerism needs this infantilist ethos because it favors laxity and leisure over discipline and denial, values childish impetuosity and juvenile narcissism over adult order and enlightened self-interest, and prefers consumption-directed play to spontaneous recreation. The ethos feeds a private-market logic ("What I want is what society needs!") and combats the public logic fashioned by democracy ("What society needs is what I want to want!").
This is capitalism's all-too-logical way of solving the problem of too many goods chasing too few needs. It makes consuming ubiquitous and omnipresent, turning shopping into an addiction facilitated by easy credit.
Compare any traditional town square with a modern suburban mall. In the square, you'll find a school, town hall, library, general store, park, movie house, church, art gallery and homes — a true neighborhood exhibiting our human diversity as beings who do more than simply consume. But our new town malls are all shopping, all the time.
When we see politics permeate every sector of life, we call it totalitarianism. When religion rules all, we call it theocracy. But when commerce dominates everything, we call it liberty. Can we redirect capitalism to its proper end: the satisfaction of real human needs? Well, why not?
The world teems with elemental wants and is peopled by billions who are needy. They do not need iPods, but they do need potable water, not colas but inexpensive medicines, not MTV but their ABCs. They need mortgages they can afford, not funny-money easy credit.
To serve such needs, however, capitalism must once again learn to defer profits and empower the needy as customers. Entrepreneurs wanted! With micro-credit, villagers can construct hand pumps and water filters from the clay under their feet. Pharmaceutical companies ought to be thinking about how to sell inexpensive retro-virals to Africans with HIV instead of pushing Botox to the "forever young" customers they are trying to manufacture here. And parents can refuse to relinquish their gatekeeping roles and let marketers know they won't allow their kids to be targeted anymore.
To do this, we will require the assistance of democratic institutions and an adult ethos. Public citizens must be restored to their proper place as masters of their private choices. To sustain itself, capitalism will once again have to respond to real needs instead of trying to fabricate synthetic ones — or risk consuming itself.
ROME, APRIL 17, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Answered by Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.
* * *
Q: Would you please clarify what is "special" about Divine Mercy Sunday, and what the faithful and priests have to do in order to obtain the special grace associated with this day? According to the priests that I have spoken to, the same graces can be obtained at reception of holy Communion on Divine Mercy Sunday as on any other day when Communion is received by a communicant in a state of grace, i.e., a plenary indulgence. So what is different about Divine Mercy Sunday and how should the liturgy be properly celebrated so that the faithful may receive the special graces associated with it? -- J.C., Ballina, Ireland
A: The devotion to the Divine Mercy stems from the revelations made to the Polish nun St. Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938) over a number of years and at several convents, including the one in Krakow where she is buried.
There are several elements involved in this devotion. One is the image of the merciful Jesus based on a vision of February 1931. In it Our Lord is pictured in the act of blessing, with two rays, one red and the other pallid (representing blood and water), shining from his heart. The words "Jesus, I trust in thee" are placed at his feet.
Copies of this image are today found in many churches all over the world -- a sign of the rapid extension of this devotion.
Other elements are the hour of mercy, at 3 in the afternoon, in which the Passion is meditated upon and certain prayers recommended by the revelations are recited. As well as this, there is the chaplet of Divine Mercy with its attendant litany. It is recited using rosary beads but substituting other prayers such as "Through your sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the entire world" on the beads of the Hail Mary.
A special request of these visions was that the first Sunday after Easter should be the feast of Divine Mercy and that on this day the Divine Mercy should be proclaimed in a special way.
The spirituality of Pope John Paul II was deeply influenced by the devotion to the Divine Mercy, and he dedicated his second encyclical, "Dives in Misericordia," to this theme. As archbishop of Krakow he promoted the beatification of Sister Faustina and on the occasion of her canonization in April 2000 announced that henceforth the second Sunday of Easter would be the feast of Divine Mercy.
This announcement was followed by two juridical acts by Vatican offices.
With the decree "Misericors et Miserator" (May 5, 2000) the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments stated: "And so with provident pastoral sensitivity and in order to impress deeply on the souls of the faithful these precepts and teachings of the Christian faith, the Supreme Pontiff, John Paul II, moved by the consideration of the Father of Mercy, has willed that the Second Sunday of Easter be dedicated to recalling with special devotion these gifts of grace and gave this Sunday the name, 'Divine Mercy Sunday.'"
The congregation explained that the change consisted in the additional name for this day. The liturgy would suffer no change whatsoever. All the texts and readings would remain those of the Second Sunday of Easter.
The second decree was published two years later by the Apostolic Penitentiary. This Vatican tribunal, among other tasks, oversees the granting of indulgences. This decree granted new perpetual indulgences attached to devotions in honor of Divine Mercy.
Among other considerations, this text states:
"The faithful with deep spiritual affection are drawn to commemorate the mysteries of divine pardon and to celebrate them devoutly. They clearly understand the supreme benefit, indeed the duty, that the People of God have to praise Divine Mercy with special prayers and, at the same time, they realize that by gratefully performing the works required and satisfying the necessary conditions, they can obtain spiritual benefits that derive from the Treasury of the Church. 'The paschal mystery is the culmination of this revealing and effecting of mercy, which is able to justify man, to restore justice in the sense of that salvific order which God willed from the beginning in man, and through man, in the world' (Encyclical Letter 'Dives in Misericordia,' n. 7).…
"Indeed, Divine Mercy knows how to pardon even the most serious sins, and in doing so it moves the faithful to perceive a supernatural, not merely psychological, sorrow for their sins so that, ever with the help of divine grace, they may make a firm resolution not to sin any more. Such spiritual dispositions undeniably follow upon the forgiveness of mortal sin when the faithful fruitfully receive the sacrament of Penance or repent of their sin with an act of perfect charity and perfect contrition, with the resolution to receive the Sacrament of Penance as soon as they can. Indeed, Our Lord Jesus Christ teaches us in the parable of the Prodigal Son that the sinner must confess his misery to God saying: 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son' (Lk 15,18-19), realizing that this is a work of God, "for [he] was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found" (Lk 15,32).…
"The Gospel of the Second Sunday of Easter narrates the wonderful things Christ the Lord accomplished on the day of the Resurrection during his first public appearance: 'On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." When he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad to see the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you." And then he breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained"' (Jn 20,19-23)….
"To ensure that the faithful would observe this day with intense devotion, the Supreme Pontiff himself established that this Sunday be enriched by a plenary indulgence, as will be explained below, so that the faithful might receive in great abundance the gift of the consolation of the Holy Spirit. In this way, they can foster a growing love for God and for their neighbor, and after they have obtained God's pardon, they in turn might be persuaded to show a prompt pardon to their brothers and sisters….
"Thus the faithful will more closely conform to the spirit of the Gospel, receiving in their hearts the renewal that the Second Vatican Council explained and introduced: 'Mindful of the words of the Lord: "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (Jn 13,35), Christians can yearn for nothing more ardently than to serve the men of this age with an ever growing generosity and success. ... It is the Father's will that we should recognize Christ our brother in the persons of all men and love them with an effective love, in word and in deed' (Pastoral Constitution, Gaudium et spes, n. 93)….
"Three conditions for the plenary indulgence
"And so the Supreme Pontiff, motivated by an ardent desire to foster in Christians this devotion to Divine Mercy as much as possible in the hope of offering great spiritual fruit to the faithful, in the Audience granted on 13 June 2002, to those Responsible for the Apostolic Penitentiary, granted the following Indulgences:
"a plenary indulgence, granted under the usual conditions (sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer for the intentions of Supreme Pontiff) to the faithful who, on the Second Sunday of Easter or Divine Mercy Sunday, in any church or chapel, in a spirit that is completely detached from the affection for a sin, even a venial sin, take part in the prayers and devotions held in honor of Divine Mercy, or who, in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed or reserved in the tabernacle, recite the Our Father and the Creed, adding a devout prayer to the merciful Lord Jesus (e.g. Merciful Jesus, I trust in you!");
"A partial indulgence, granted to the faithful who, at least with a contrite heart, pray to the merciful Lord Jesus a legitimately approved invocation.
"For those who cannot go to church or the seriously ill
"In addition, sailors working on the vast expanse of the sea; the countless brothers and sisters, whom the disasters of war, political events, local violence and other such causes have been driven out of their homeland; the sick and those who nurse them, and all who for a just cause cannot leave their homes or who carry out an activity for the community which cannot be postponed, may obtain a plenary indulgence on Divine Mercy Sunday, if totally detesting any sin, as has been said before, and with the intention of fulfilling as soon as possible the three usual conditions, will recite the Our Father and the Creed before a devout image of Our Merciful Lord Jesus and, in addition, pray a devout invocation to the Merciful Lord Jesus (e.g. Merciful Jesus, I trust in you).
"If it is impossible that people do even this, on the same day they may obtain the Plenary Indulgence if with a spiritual intention they are united with those carrying out the prescribed practice for obtaining the Indulgence in the usual way and offer to the Merciful Lord a prayer and the sufferings of their illness and the difficulties of their lives, with the resolution to accomplish as soon as possible the three conditions prescribed to obtain the plenary indulgence.
"Duty of priests: inform parishioners, hear confessions, lead prayers
"Priests who exercise pastoral ministry, especially parish priests, should inform the faithful in the most suitable way of the Church's salutary provision. They should promptly and generously be willing to hear their confessions. On Divine Mercy Sunday, after celebrating Mass or Vespers, or during devotions in honor of Divine Mercy, with the dignity that is in accord with the rite, they should lead the recitation of the prayers that have been given above. Finally, since 'Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy' (Mt 5,7), when they instruct their people, priests should gently encourage the faithful to practice works of charity or mercy as often as they can, following the example of, and in obeying the commandment of Jesus Christ, as is listed for the second general concession of indulgence in the 'Enchiridion Indulgentiarum.'
"This Decree has perpetual force, any provision to the contrary notwithstanding."
In conclusion, it must be mentioned that our correspondent was misinformed when she was told that Communion on this or any other Sunday granted a plenary indulgence. This is not the case. For more on indulgences in general, see our columns of Feb. 15 and March 1, 2005.
Finally, because of the special liturgical nature of this Sunday, all devotions must be made outside of Mass and no change may be made in the liturgical texts or readings. Mention of the theme of Divine Mercy may be made, however, during the homily, commentaries and during the general intercessions.
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