Saturday, February 21, 2009
I've been away from Mere Comments for most of the last month, not because I don't care about the fellowship we have enjoyed here, which I've found to be a fund of real sanity and good cheer, but because of my being blindsided by a particularly ferocious attack. It's not personal, and I'd rather not go into the details.
Please say a prayer for him.
List of states with passed or pending sovereignty resolutions
Lawmakers in 20 states move to reclaim sovereignty
State Sovereignty Movement Quietly Growing
Page Nine: State Sovereignty Bills
More at The Ohio Republic and Rebellion. Tenth Amendment Center.
Friday, February 20, 2009
Here's a clip from the first season:
So, when can the innovator’s burden of proof be taken as having been met? When is a traditional practice or belief to be upheld and when abandoned? To some extent this has to be answered on a case by case basis, but the cases fall into several distinct classes:
1. Some traditional practices might reflect something deep in human nature itself and thus be inherently necessary to human well-being.
2. Some traditional practices might not be inherently strictly necessary to human well-being, but may nevertheless tend to promote the well-being of any human society given the concrete circumstances universal to human societies.
3. Some traditional practices might play such a crucial if contingent role in maintaining the well-being, not of all societies, but of some particular society, given its own concrete circumstances.
4. Some traditional practices might not themselves directly have even this sort of conduciveness to the well-being of a society, but might nevertheless be logically, sociologically, historically, or psychologically connected to traditional practices that are conducive in this way, so that to eliminate them would indirectly threaten the directly beneficial practices.
5. Some traditional practices might not play any of the roles described in 1-4, but the mere fact of changing them might, given circumstances, upset the stability of a given society even though they have no intrinsic value.
6. Some traditional practices might be harmful in some respects, but eliminating them might do even greater harm.
7. Some traditional practices might be benign but not particularly beneficial – they can be either kept or abandoned with no harm of any sort, or with only trivial harm.
8. Some traditional practices might be harmful enough that eliminating them will do more good than harm.
Some conservatives would hold that there is a rational standard independent of tradition (e.g. natural law theory) by reference to which all such traditional practices can be judged. Others would hold that there is no standard apart from existing traditions themselves, so that the criteria for evaluation must be internal (e.g. an appeal to consistency). But what makes them conservatives is that, like the medievals, and like Edmund Burke, they insist that a traditional belief or practice is owed at least some serious consideration before it is abandoned. It should be conserved until we know that it is better to abandon it, rather than abandoned until it is proved to be beneficial. In particular, we need to know which of 1-8 it falls under. And we need to keep in mind that, human affairs being as complex as they are, it is not always going to be easy to determine what function a traditional practice serves even when it does indeed serve one – and that, accordingly, the bad consequences of abandoning it might be discovered only when it is too late.
Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D, IL) has introduced the Blair Holt Firearm Licensing and
Record of Sale Act of 2009. As the British and Australians learned, once
firearms are registered, the government knows where they are. The government’s
next step is to confiscate the firearms.
Moreover, the Act would permit
the government to negate Second Amendment rights by refusing to issue a license.
Any parents who bequeathed family antique or historic firearms to heirs would be
in violation of the act, as it bans any transfer of a firearm other than via a
William Blackstone, the revered 18th century defender
of liberty whose Commentaries on the Laws of England was a bestseller in
colonial America, wrote that “the last auxiliary right” of free men is “having
arms for their defense.” Blackstone, England’s greatest jurist, said that the
right to bear arms enables the “natural right of resistance and
self-preservation, when the sanctions of society and laws are found insufficient
to restrain the violence of oppression.”
The Bush regime’s reversion to
medieval methods of incarceration and torture are an indication that we now live
in a time “when the sanctions of society and laws are found insufficient to
restrain the violence of oppression.” Why do the Democrats desire Americans to
be helpless in the face of oppression by the armed state. How can it be that
Democrats want Americans to be free from the threat of being thrown into
dungeons and locked away without a court ever hearing evidence, but are prepared
to deny Americans the ability to resist such horrendous treatment should it come
iirc, Dr. Geoffrey Hull makes the charge in The Banished Heart that the Jesuits are responsible for the post-conciliar crisis by propagating a exaggerated (and disordered) form of obedience among the laity. I think his account of the causes is wrong. Perhaps this article by Father O'Halloran can clear up some misconceptions concerning Jesuit obedience.
Hull's The Proto-History of the Roman Liturgical Reform (more links). I don't agree with his account of liturgical reform, either. I believe he thinks that no reform of the Gregorian rite is necessary.
More from the E. F. Schumacher Society.
E F Schumacher On The Edge of the Forest
Schumacher UK - Promoting Human Scale Sustainable Development
Schumacher North: Home page
Schumacher Institute - Home
Thursday, February 19, 2009
To use rugby uniforms as an inspiration for a new fashion line--Ralph Lauren Rugby... the dresses and skirts are definitely problematic. Have we reached a deadend yet with respect to fashion innovation?
Awesome Airborne Rangers Cadence-Got to be.
U.S Army Cadences: Down By the River!
Army Cadences: Hail Oh Infantry
Classic US Airborne Cadence-'Then a Recruiter Came To Me'.
I was trying to find "I wanna be an airborne ranger," but no luck.
by Gary Thomas and Graham Thomas
Friendship can be an enemy, a seduction of the mind lying beyond the reach of investigation. Or not.
Most Guys Don't 'Just Know' by Candice Watters
For those guys who don't "just know" if a girl is interested in them, isn't there something special she can do to get through to him?
Three Rules of Romance by Jason Boyett
Want to look bad and make her feel like an afterthought? Then simply do what's expected.
Discussions on the role of technology in the future usually focus on those new and flashy enough to attract attention. History shows, however, that it's the technologies that have become an unnoticed part of the texture of everyday life that determine, by their survival or disappearance, the fate of societies.
Communion and Liberation Canada
Communion and Liberation and Notre Dame
John Allen article
Movement of Communion and Liberation founded by Fr Luigi Giussani
Who Is Luigi Giussani? - Communio
Luigi Giussani - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Google Books: Books by Luigi Giussani
The "Right Way" of Fr. Luigi Giussani
A Gift for Friendship: Luigi Giussani, by Gregory Wolfe
NEW YORK - DECEMBER 02: Socialite Olivia Palermo attends the grand opening of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ANNEX NYC on December 2, 2008 in New York City.
ATLANTA - JANUARY 22: (L-R) Michelle Trachtenberg, Sophia Bush and Olivia Palermo attend the grand opening of the W Atlanta Buckhead Hotel Designed by Thom Filicia on January 22, 2009 in Atlanta Georgia. (Getty)
ATLANTA - JANUARY 22: Olivia Palermo attends the grand opening of the W Atlanta Buckhead Hotel Designed by Thom Filicia on January 22, 2009 in Atlanta Georgia. (Getty)
NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 04: Olivia Palermo attends the Cinema Society, Philosophy and Stardoll screening of "He's Just Not That Into You" at the Tribeca Grand Screening Room on February 4, 2009 in New York City. (Getty)
NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 09: Olivia Palermo attends the Cinema Society and Angel by Thierry Mugler screening of "The International" at AMC Lincoln Square on February 9, 2009 in New York City. (Getty)
NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 11: Stylist Rachel Zoe (L) and Olivia Palermo attend the after party for the Cinema Society and Salvatore Ferragamo screening of "Two Lovers" at the Cooper Square Hotel on February 11, 2009 in New York City. (Getty)
NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 13: Actress Olivia Palermo attends the Jason Wu Fall 2009 fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at Exit Art on February 13, 2009 in New York City. (Getty)
NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 17: TV personality Olivia Palermo arrives for the opening of the new Armani 5th Avenue store on February 17, 2009 in New York City. (Getty)
The second article mentions that a "study" had been conducted:
"When you look at vices from the point of view of the difficulties they create you find that men experiment in a different way from women," Monsignor Giertych said. His own observations had confirmed the survey, an analysis of confessional data carried out by Roberto Busa, 96, a Jesuit priest celebrated for his computerised study of the works of St Thomas Aquinas.Fr. Busa! (See Corpus Thomisticum, which has his edition of St. Thomas's works.) What else has
Monsignor Wojciech Giertych been up to lately?
Enter Baltasar Garzón, prosecuting magistrate of Chamber 5 of Spain’s national criminal court. He has, not only by Anglo-Saxon standards, unprecedented authority to initiate investigations, to jail or bail suspects, and to decide whether to bring charges.
The media-savvy “Superjuez” first attracted limelight in October 1998, when he sent to London a warrant for the arrest of visiting former Chilean president Augusto Pinochet over the alleged deaths of Spanish citizens during his rule. Garzon’s claim to de facto universal jurisdiction was breathtakingly audacious. Eventually his request was turned down by British Home Secretary Jack Straw, not because Pinochet enjoyed diplomatic immunity—which he did—but on far feebler grounds of his poor health.
In subsequent years Garzon has tried to lay his hands on former U.S. secretary of state Henry Kissinger (in connection with the U.S. support of Latin American death squads in the early 1970s), on Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi (for tax evasion), on unspecified U.S. government officials (for alleged abuses at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib), and on 98 leaders of the 1976-1983 Argentine military junta. Only one lower-ranking officer, Adolfo Scilingo, had the bad luck to be extradited—from Mexico—on Garzon’s “Dirty War” warrant. He was sentenced to a thousand years in jail, reduced on appeal to 640.
Garzon’s behavior has grown increasingly erratic of late. Last October he declared the acts of repression by General Franco during and immediately after the Civil War (1936-39) to be “crimes against humanity,” which he would start prosecuting. A month later, however, Garzon sullenly announced that he was dropping the case against Franco and his close aides, after his colleagues finally questioned his jurisdiction over acts committed 70 years ago by people who are all dead and whose alleged crimes were covered by the 1977 general amnesty.
Garzon’s showmanship would be merely irritating, in the manner of other self-promoting Euro-leftists—Bernard Kouchner, say—were it not for the fact that he uses self-appropriated powers to destroy the lives and reputations of his less well known targets.
Take the case of Gennady Petrov, a Russian millionaire resident in Spain who was arrested last June on Garzon’s odrers on the suspicion of money laundering and organized crime connections. Following a spectacular military-style invasion of his villa in Mallorca, Petrov, his wife and their 10-year old daughter were kept naked at gunpoint for hours in their bedroom while the search was going on. Garzon used a Franco-era law to keep Petrov and other suspects arrested under the same warrant incommunicado for months on end, deprived of bail or legal assistance, while the investigation was proceeding in inquisitorial secrecy. The defense continues to be denied access to the evidence that prompted Garzon to act, in direct violation of the standards set by the European Court in Strasburg. Spain, being a signatory of the European Convention on Human Rights, is obliged to observe the rulings of the Court, but Garzon appears to give precedence to his country’s legislation when it suits his purposes—even if it was enacted by bête noir Francisco Franco.
Last October Garzon went a step further when he ordered the Guardia Civil to raid the Spanish villa of Petrov’s alleged associate Vladislav Reznik, a deputy of United Russia party and chairman of the State Duma Financial Markets Committee. The seizure of valuable property (including artwork) was a case of deja-vu. Garzon’s subsequent attempt to get hold of Reznik, who was not in Spain at the time of the raid, was different—although by no means new: it reflected his customary dislike of established international legal rules. Garzon tried to issue a summons through the office of Reznik’s Spanish lawyer, in disregard of proper channels that exist under the legal assistance agreement between Spain and the Russian Federation.
This latest attempt by Garzon to exert universal jurisdiction over a foreign national, in violation of international legal norms and in disregard of the would-be defendant’s immunity in his own country of citizenship, indicates that the “Superjudge” primarily wants to create a scene. His real target was not Reznik, but the principle of sovereignty and national independence itself.
A book accuses the Church of being afraid of Vatican II. But some object that there is an even more serious danger: that of obscuring the teaching about Christ from the Councils in the early centuries. An imaginary dialogue between a theologian and one of his students
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Gene Logsdon, OrganicToBe.org
To reach its full potential, a garden farm should embrace four areas: garden, pasture, tree grove, and the watery domain of pool, pond or creek... Of the four parts, the tree grove usually receives the least attention from garden farmers, which is why I have been writing about it so much...
Laurent Courau, La Spirale
The ways out of the crisis evoke the lifestyle of Amish communities rather than the apocalyptic vision of Mad Max. (French Cyberpunk/futurology e-zine interviews mild-mannered peak oil journalist.)
Creative Minority Report: New Photos from Thomas Aquinas Chapel, A Tale of Two Chapels, Ave Maria University Chapel to Get Monumental Sculpture, Please, Please Get Another Architect!
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Are such efforts to criticize the dominant (indeed, liberal) American narrative doomed to political irrelevancy, whether from the Left or the Right? Will some version of the “New Right” now come to occupy the space once occupied by the New Left - vilified by the mainstream, seen as vaguely cranky, out of touch and too deeply pessimistic to be allowed into the American conversation?But isn't it the case that it such critiques have been ignored for a while? (Just look at what happened with the Ron Paul campaign.) There is no indication that such a message will find broad acceptance in the United States as a whole. Might it be more acceptable in certain states or even regions? Who will be the standard-bearer in those areas? Traditional conservatism does offer solutions to the problems we are facing and will continue to face, problems that "mainstream" conservatism cannot solve or even acknowledge.
It may indeed be the case of a rejuvenation of pre-Reagan conservatism, drawing deeply from the works of such authors as Kirk, Weaver, Niebuhr and other “pessimists” (or, I would submit, Realists) may doom any such New/Old/Paleo conservatism to irrelevancy in the American narrative. However, if some of its basic message has remained the same, times have decidedly changed. Faced with a collapsing economic system, the undoing of the American-led Post-World War II global consensus, the growing evidence of environmental and moral depletion all around us, the message of conservative realism may be ripe for a re-hearing and reassessment. Everywhere people are realizing that the message of optimism - don’t worry, be happy, and pay for it tomorrow - was in fact a message of deception, duplicity and fraud. Neither the mainstream Left nor Right appear capable of speaking meaningfully to the import of this moment. Ironically, the very moment that the Left has re-connected to its message of “liberal faith” may be the very moment when that faith is proven to be too much evidence of things unseen. In the meantime, a critique of the American narrative - combined with a reconsideration of “Another America,” a tradition of localism, community, self-government based in limits, a culture of memory and tradition, undergirded by faith and virtue - may have found its moment. For starters, its heroes are more likely to be the likes of the Anti-federalists (see Bill Kauffman’s book on Luther Martin for a start) than the triumphalist narrative of the Founders and their creation of an empire of liberty. Its cultural heroes are more likely to be the Waltons rather than the celebrity flavor of the month (I can’t recommend enough a re-viewing of this series, now more than ever, courtesy of Netflix. We have been watching it with our children for some months, and it is salutary and decent beyond description). I speak here of a revival of patriotism, alright, but a patriotism based in places and folkways, not abstraction and expansion. Thus, perhaps not the sort of patriotism we are used to, but one of noble lineage and one that will need good storytellers to begin to displace an otherwise broken and tinny narrative that now should be discarded.
at the gym, without makeup
"A Small Territory for a Great Mission"
Monday, February 16, 2009
Probably not--they've known about the dismal state of American academia for a while...
The 2000 survey mentioned in the article. Via the LA Times blog, the list of survey participants for the 2008-9 survey.
Will he ever be converted to the point of view of a Southern partisan? I think the Southern political tradition would fit better with his brand of conservatism (and his Catholicism, too). Compare his praise of Lincoln with the criticisms written by the staff at Chronicles. As for his reflections on the state of political philosophy and political science in the academy, he is probably right, though I would go further to say that most professional political philosophers and departments are useless. If one wants a practical work, one should begin with Aristotle's Politics. Even if one finds his discussion of slavery offensive to his modern sensibility. It has a strong resonance with what many are trying to promote as an alternative solution these days: agrarianism, relocalization, economic autarky, sustainability. (As well as the defense of traditional ethics and culture.)
I note that his understand of political philosophy and how it should be taught brings up the contrast between modern conservative thinkers and Aristotelians who believe that politics is a true episteme.
Above all, political philosophy in its classical forms was not a domain for the special academic elect. Its foundational texts are still the texts that are regarded as essential for a well-educated - but not specialized or specially trained - human being. Plato and Aristotle; Augustine and Aquinas; Machiavelli and Bacon; Hobbes and Locke; Mill and Marx; Tocqueville and Nietzsche - these and others are the basic texts that we must all read and to some extent master to complete our apprenticeship in our fields. These texts speak in the broadest sense of the human condition, and in ways that are generally accessible to any intelligent and inquisitive human, without special training or background.Do we really need a Great Books approach in order to acquire politike? Can such an approach be useful as a part of dialectic and the understanding of first principles? Probably. But education in politike cannot stop there, and there needs to be one master (or several) to whom we can turn to as a reliable guide.
Above all what is needed is a re-engagement with the great texts and authors of our tradition - that retrospective and serious engagement with the various alternatives that have been explored throughout human history and a deep reflection on those alternatives.Can the moral conversion of some be brought about by being confronted with opposing points of view? Perhaps. Or maybe the moral enlightenment that can be seen in classrooms is the result of the sincere inquirer, the man of good will, being confronted with truth. This is not the same as the conversion of the vicious.
Do I see any use for students to read Mill, Locke, Kant, Nietzsche, and all the other moderns? Very little. I have been thinking that I would start them off with Bill McKibben's Deep Economy instead, along with essays and books by Wendell Berry and a few others. Before they can be confronted with the solution, they must see our problems for what they are, and the consequences of our actions and the continued existence of our political economy. Would that approach be successful? Or should one start with the more fundamental questions dealing with human happiness and virtue?
Professor Deneen's most recent post deals with the economy: It's Not the Economy, Stupid.
SpenglerThe response from frequent commentor, Pyrrho:
February 16, 2009 12:51 PM
Very good: the US nationalizes Citigroup, Bank of America, and a handful of other banks who unquestionably are insolvent on the basis of present portfolio values. At this point, every corporate treasurer, municipality, small business owner or individual who has an issue with the bank's lending officer starts calling Congress. The lending committee of the bank becomes the U.S. Congress. What state-owned bank is going to pull a loan on a poorly-run company and throw a thousand workers out of work? The moment a bank goes into formal public ownership, it becomes a political matter. The result will not be the Swedish banking system of the 1990s, but the Chinese banking system of the 1990s (with 40% non-performing loans) and eventually the collapse of US government credit.
Careful what you wish for. Much better to keep the banks private (merge them out when necessary), and institute civil suits to recover losses from bank officers. Take part the bank oligarchy individual by individual: use the full legal resouces of the US government (hire more lawyers if needed).
PyrrhoWhat is to be done about the banks? I have no idea...
February 16, 2009 1:37 PM
I agree with Spengler (pinch me .. I'm such a big fan), which is why I've backed away from nationalization. The FDIC 'nationalizes' failed banks all the time, but these money-center banks are far too powerful politically to risk it.
Instead I favor selling the good assets (which can be priced accurately) of the money-center banks to the 'super regional' banks, with favorable financing from the government. We would then revoke the banking licenses of the old money-center banks. They would continue to exist for the sole purpose of working down their balance sheets. (They hold about 75% of the toxic assets in American hands.) Naturally, their shareholders and most of their creditors would lose everything. So sad.
The 'super regionals' would become money-center banks, providing many of the services that were the province of the recently departed, but they would be smaller and geographically dispersed. In time, of course, they would form a new entrenched banking elite. We'll deal with them when the time comes.
Some boutique firms on Wall Street would scavenge the remains of the broker dealers. Not much meat left there.
At any rate, this is another one of my "least-worst" solutions.
John Médaille has written a short introduction to Distributism (link via the Distributist Review).
A man, possibly an auxiliary police officer, struck a migrant and tried to
flee the scene. Other migrants came and started beating him. The police sent
more than 100 armed officers, who clashed with hundreds of migrants. Dozens of
people were injured and arrested, and at least 6 police vehicles were
A great champion of democracy against South Korea’s military dictatorship
in the 1960s- 1980s, he was a supporter of religious freedom in North Korea,
which he saw as a condition for intra-Korean reconciliation.
After the sentence in 2006, both the Legionaries and the Holy See did everything they could to separate the fate of Fr. Maciel from that of the congregation and apostolate that he founded.
But it was grueling work, in a community very closely connected to its founder since the beginning: he was followed, imitated, and almost venerated for decades as a model of extraordinary virtue for each and for all.
Today, after the discovery of more inappropriate behavior on his part, the endeavor has become even more difficult.
Fr. Corcuera, the current superior general, issued an appeal in the letter he recently sent out, to "see all of this from the perspective of the Heart of Jesus," and to "look forward, without stopping or growing tired of doing good."
But his authority has been deeply shaken. Fr. Corcuera was always extremely close to the founder. The latter's misconduct inevitably reflects back on him, and on other leaders in the congregation.
In part for reasons of personal conduct, therefore, the congregation of the Legionaries of Christ no longer seems to be capable of managing its own recovery.
Some of the priests who are highly respected in the congregation – Thomas Berg, Richard Gill, and Thomas Williams – see no solution other than an authoritative intervention by the Holy See.
Credit Card Reform
Speeding up Credit Card Reform via the Cardholders' Bill of Rights
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney - The Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights
CUNA News Now: Treasury official explains ABCs of credit card reform
The Washington Independent » Is 2009 the Year of Credit Card Reform?
Fed adopts sweeping credit card reform
November 2008 Credit Card Reform Stuck On Capitol Hill
Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis: Credit Card Reform Is Coming
Pope's Message for 2009 World Day of the Sick
"The Witness of Charity Is Part of the Very Life of Every Christian Community"
VATICAN CITY, FEB. 15, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of Benedict XVI's message for the 17th World Day of the Sick, which was celebrated Wednesday on the diocesan level.
* * *
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The World Day of the Sick, which will be celebrated next 11 February, the liturgical Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes, will see the diocesan communities gathering with their Bishops at prayer meetings in order to reflect and decide on initiatives of sensitization concerning the reality of suffering.
The Pauline Year that we are celebrating is a favorable opportunity to pause and meditate with the Apostle Paul on the fact that "as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too" (2 Corinthians 1:5).
The spiritual connection with Lourdes also calls to mind the motherly concern of the Mother of Jesus for the brethren of her Son, "who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and difficulties, until they are led into their blessed home" ("Lumen Gentium," No. 62).
This year our attention focuses in particular on children, the weakest and most defenseless creatures, and on those of them who are sick and suffering. There are tiny human beings who bear in their bodies the consequences of incapacitating diseases, and others who are fighting illnesses that are still incurable today, despite the progress of medicine and the assistance of qualified researchers and health-care professionals.
There are children injured in body and in mind, subsequent to conflicts and wars, and other innocent victims of the insensate hatred of adults. There are "street" children, who are deprived of the warmth of a family and left to themselves, and minors defiled by degenerate people who violate their innocence, causing them psychological damage that will mark them for the rest of their lives.
Then we cannot forget the incalculable number of minors who die of thirst, hunger and the lack of medical help, as well as the small exiles and refugees who flee from their countries together with their parents in search of a better life. A silent cry of pain rises from all these children which questions our consciences as human beings and believers.
The Christian community, which cannot remain indifferent to such tragic situations, feels the impelling duty to intervene. Indeed, as I wrote in the Encyclical "Deus Caritas Est," the Church "is God's family in the world. In this family no one ought to go without the necessities of life" (No. 25,b).
I therefore hope that the World Day of the Sick will offer the parish and diocesan communities an opportunity to be ever more aware that they are the "family of God" and will encourage them to make the love of the Lord, who asks that "within the ecclesial family no member should suffer through being in need", visible in villages, neighborhoods and cities (ibid).
The witness of charity is part of the very life of every Christian community. And from the outset the Church has expressed the Gospel principles in practical gestures, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles.
Today, given the changed conditions of health-care assistance, people are feeling the need for closer collaboration between health-care professionals who work in the various health-care institutions and the ecclesial communities present in the territory. In this perspective the value of an institution linked to the Holy See such as the Bambino Gesù Pediatric Hospital this year celebrating its 140th anniversary is confirmed in every way.
But this is not all. Since the sick child belongs to a family that frequently shares in his or her suffering with serious hardship and difficulties, Christian communities cannot but also feel duty-bound to help families afflicted by the illness of a son or daughter.
After the example of the "Good Samaritan", it is necessary to bend over the people so harshly tried and offer them the support of their concrete solidarity.
In this way the acceptance and sharing of suffering is expressed in the practical support of sick children's families, creating in them an atmosphere of serenity and hope and making them feel that they are in the midst of a larger family of brothers and sisters in Christ.
Jesus' compassion for the widow of Nain (cf. Luke 7:12-17) and for Jairus' supplication (cf. Luke 8:41-56) constitute, among others, useful reference points for learning to share in the moments of physical and moral suffering of the many sorely tried families.
All this implies disinterested and generous love, a reflection and a sign of the merciful love of God who never abandons his children in trial but always provides them anew with wonderful resources of heart and mind to equip them to face life's difficulties adequately.
The daily devotion and continuous commitment to serving sick children is an eloquent testimony of love for human life, particularly for the life of those who are weak and dependant on others in all things and for all things.
In fact, it is necessary to assert vigorously the absolute and supreme dignity of every human life. The teaching that the Church ceaselessly proclaims does not change with the passing of time: Human life is beautiful and should be lived to the full, even when it is weak and enveloped in the mystery of suffering.
We must turn our gaze to the Crucified Jesus: in dying on the Cross he wished to share in the suffering of all humanity. We may discern in his suffering for love a supreme sharing in the plight of little ones who are ill and of their parents.
My venerable Predecessor John Paul II who offered a shining example of patient acceptance of suffering, particularly towards the end of his life, wrote: "On this Cross is the "Redeemer of man', the Man of Sorrows, who has taken upon himself the physical and moral sufferings of the people of all times, so that in love they may find the salvific meaning of their sorrow and valid answers to all of their questions" ("Salvifici Doloris," No. 31).
I would like here to express my appreciation and encouragement to the international and national organizations which care for sick children, especially in the poor countries, and which with generosity and abnegation make their contribution to assuring them adequate and loving care.
At the same time, I address a heartfelt appeal to the leaders of nations that they will strengthen the laws and provisions for sick children and their families. For her part, the Church always, but especially when a child's life is at stake is prepared to offer cordial collaboration with the intention of transforming the whole human civilization into a "civilization of love" ("Salvifici Doloris," No. 30).
To conclude, I would like to express my spiritual closeness to all of you, dear brothers and sisters who are suffering from an illness. I address an affectionate greeting to all those who assist you: the Bishops, priests, consecrated people, health-care workers, volunteers and all who devote themselves lovingly to treating and alleviating the sufferings of those who are grappling with illness.
Here is a special greeting for you, dear sick and suffering children: the Pope embraces you with fatherly affection together with your parents and relatives, and assures you of his special remembrance in prayer, as he asks you to trust in the maternal help of the Immaculate Virgin Mary who last Christmas we once again contemplated joyfully holding in her arms the Son of God who became a Child. As I invoke upon you and upon every sick person the motherly protection of the Blessed Virgin, Health of the Sick, I cordially impart to all a special Apostolic Blessing.
From the Vatican, 2 February 2009
© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Sunday, February 15, 2009
On Transgressions and Forgiveness
"The Sins We Commit Distance Us From God"
VATICAN CITY, FEB. 15, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today before praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.
* * *
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
On these Sundays the Evangelist Mark offers a sequence of various miraculous healings for our reflection. Today he presents a very special one -- that of a healed leper (cf. Mark 1:40-45) -- who, coming to Jesus, gets on his knees and says: “If you wish, you can make me clean!” Jesus, moved, stretches out his hand, touches him and says: “I do wish it. Be made clean!”
The man is healed instantly and Jesus asks him not to tell anyone and present himself to the priests to offer the sacrifice prescribed by the Mosaic law. The healed leper is unable to be quiet and proclaims to everyone what happened to him so that, the evangelist reports, still more sick people ran to Jesus from every part to the point of forcing him to stay out of the cities so as not to be besieged by the crowds.
Jesus says to the leper: “Be made clean!” According to the ancient Jewish law (Leviticus 13-14), leprosy was not only considered a sickness but the gravest form of “impurity.” It was the duty of the priests to diagnose it and declare the person afflicted with leprosy unclean. This person then had to keep his distance from the community and stay away from towns until he was certified to be healed.
Leprosy thus constituted a kind of religious and civil death, and its healing was a kind of resurrection. We might see in leprosy a symbol of sin, which is the true impurity of heart, distancing us from God. It is not, in effect, physical malady that distances us from him, as the ancient norms supposed, but sin, the spiritual and moral evil.
This is way the Psalmist exclaims: “Blessed is he whose fault is taken away / and whose sin is covered.” And then, turning to God: “Then I acknowledged my sin to you, / my guilt I covered not. / I said: ‘I shall confess my faults to the Lord,’ / and you took away my guilt and my sin” (Psalm 31:1, 5 [32:1, 5]).
The sins we commit distance us from God, and, if they are not humbly confessed, trusting in the divine mercy, they will finally bring about the death of the soul. This miracle thus has powerful symbolic value. Jesus, as Isaiah prophesied, is the servant of the Lord who “bore our infirmities, / endured our sufferings” (Isaiah 53:4). In his passion he will become like a leper, made impure by our sins, separated from God: He will do all this for love, with the aim of obtaining reconciliation, forgiveness and salvation for us.
In the Sacrament of Penance Christ crucified and risen, through his ministers, purifies us with his infinite mercy, restores us to communion with the heavenly Father and our brothers, and makes a gift of his love, joy and peace to us.
Dear brothers and sisters, let us invoke the Virgin Mary, whom God preserved from every stain of sin, that she help us to avoid sin and to have frequent recourse to the Sacrament of Confession, the Sacrament of Forgiveness, whose value and importance for our Christian life needs to be rediscovered today.
[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]
[The Pope then greeted the people in several languages. In English, he said:]
I greet all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims here today for the Angelus, especially the members of the joint Catholic-Orthodox pilgrimage from Finland. I pray that the time you spend in Rome may deepen your love for Jesus Christ our Lord, and for his Church. In this Sunday's Gospel, we hear how Jesus healed a leper who came to him and pleaded to be cured. To those who turn to him today, Jesus continues to offer healing and strength. I encourage all of you to place your trust in him, and to bring before him your hopes and your needs, for yourselves and for your loved ones. May the Lord grant your prayers and pour out upon all of you his abundant blessings.
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