Saturday, May 27, 2006

Father Cantalamessa on Our True Heaven

Code: ZE06052601

Date: 2006-05-26

Father Cantalamessa on Our True Heaven

Pontifical Household Preacher on This Sunday's Gospel

ROME, MAY 26, 2006 ( Here is a translation of a commentary by Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher to the Pontifical Household, on this Sunday's Gospel reading on the solemnity of the Ascension.

* * *

The Lord's Ascension
(Acts 1:1-11; Ephesians 1:17-23; Mark 16:15-20)

The solemnity of the Ascension of Jesus "to heaven" is an occasion to clarify once and for all our ideas on what we understand by "heaven." Among almost all peoples, heaven is identified with the dwelling of the divinity. The Bible also uses this spatial language. "Glory to God in the highest heaven and peace on earth to men."

With the advent of the scientific age, this religious meaning of the word "heaven" entered into crisis. For modern man, heaven is the space in which our planet moves and the whole solar system, and no more. We know the quip attributed to a Soviet astronaut, on his return from his trip through the cosmos: "I have traveled much through space and I haven't found God anywhere!"

So it is important that we try to clarify what we, Christians, understand when we say "Our Father, who art in heaven," or when we say that someone has "gone to heaven." On such things, the Bible adapts itself to popular speech: But it well knows and teaches that God "is in heaven, on earth and everywhere," that it is he who "has created the heavens," and if he has created them, he cannot be "closed" in them.

That God is "in the heavens" means that he "dwells in inaccessible light": that he is as far from us "as heaven rises over earth." In other words, that he is infinitely different from us. Heaven, in the religious sense, is more a state than a place. God is outside of space and time and so is his paradise.

In the light of what we have said, what does it mean to proclaim that Jesus "went up to heaven"? We find the answer in the Creed. "He went up to heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father." That Christ went up to heaven means that "he is seated at the right hand of the Father, that is, that also as man he has entered God's world, who has been constituted, as St. Paul says in the second reading, Lord and head of everything. Jesus went up to heaven, but without leaving the earth. He has only gone out of our visual world. He himself assures us: "Lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Matthew 28:16-20).

The words of the angel -- "Galileans, why are your looking up to heaven?" -- therefore contain a warning, if not a veiled reproach. We must not stay looking up to heaven to discover where Christ is, but rather live awaiting his return, continuing his mission, taking his Gospel to the ends of the earth, improving the quality of life on earth.

As for us, "to go to heaven" or "to paradise" means to be "with Christ" (Philippians 1:20). "I am going to prepare a place for you ... so that where I am you may be also" (John 14:2-3).

"Heaven," understood as a place of rest, of eternal recompense of the good, was formed the moment Christ resurrected and went up to heaven. Our true heaven is the Risen Christ, whom we will go to meet and with him, be one "body" after our resurrection, and in a provisional and imperfect way immediately after death. Therefore, Jesus did not ascend to an already existing heaven that awaited him, but he went to form and inaugurate heaven for us.

There are those who ask: But what will we do "in heaven" with Christ for all eternity? Won't we be bored? I answer: Is it boring to be well and with excellent health? Ask those who are in love if they are bored being together. When one experiences a moment of very intense and pure joy, does not the desire arise that it last forever, that it never end? Down here such states do not last forever, because there is no object that can satisfy indefinitely.

It is different with God. Our minds will find the Truth in him and the Beauty that we will never cease to contemplate; and our hearts will find the Good that we will never tire to enjoy.

[Translation by ZENIT]

Friday, May 26, 2006

Review of The Art of Seduction

Tonight I watched The Art of Seduction, with Son Yeh Jin and Song Il Guk; not sure what I was expecting except a comedy. Unfortunately, it failed to live up to that. What a disappointment They play Han Ji Won and Seo Min Joon, two players/con artists/liars who deceive their way into and out of relationships.


In the beginning, they size each up as the next conquest, something 'different' from their past flings. It's clearly a war of egos--he gets sex out of his game, she gets money and expensive things. There really isn't anything likeable about the two characters, though Son Yeh Jin does her best to appear attractive, if only at a superficial level--the spoiled, self-centered hot chick who's hotness overwhelms everything else.

When she is brought to a hospital after pretending to be sick, he takes the opportunity to get back at her. But she gets her revenge by inducing a seizure, after slipping some drug into his pepsi. Not very funny; she does wonder if she went a bit too far, but if that happened in real life, she would be in jail, not pondering what she should do next to move the 'relationship' along.

It appears that she does fall in love with him, but why? It's not clear what exactly she is looking for in a guy--she's definitely not looking for a stable relationship, as she does not talk about it in those terms. He's just a trophy, just as she is just a trophy for him--but trophies in what ways? The movie never makes their motivations clear. Later, when they end up in Cheju, she tests him, but why does she want him to prove himself? For what? To show that he's worth wasting time over? Does she really get that much from having a guy wrapped around her finger--obeying her and seeking to fulfill her wishes, and spending money on her?

After he gets sick after running around the rain trying to procure this and that for her, she decides to reward him with a kiss and they end up having relations. So this worldly woman who should understand what is to her advantage and what isn't decides to have (casual) sex with a guy she knows is a player?

But wait, she decides to leave the hotel because she doesn't know how to proceed, leaving a note that says "to be continued?" What sort of assurance would she have that the guy wouldn't treat her as a very expensive prostitute and break off all contact after that? A real guy player, like Seo's father, is mostly after the sex--why should the son be different from that father? Is the storyteller telling us that he's been looking for true love all this time? Is the movie suggesting that there is some sort of parity between male and female players? Because if it is, the writer of the script is a moron. In real life most people know that when it comes to sex, males have the advantage in so far as it is easier for them to disconnect emotionally from the act--a female player, I presume, attempts to get as much out of the guy before she gives him anything in return. So I am assuming the sex is just casual for her, since they end up parting, recognizing that they are players and that they won't change. But very few women treat sex so casually in real life--those who do usually have deep issues.

At the end, it's hinted that they will end up together, but what is explicit is that they both acknowledge each other as equals who have being a player in common. So two selfish people might learn about real love through each other? It's worse than Untold Scandal... truly 'unbelievable.' (And if this is the sort of transformation that is being portrayed--it's done very poorly, especially for him--it takes place instantaneously, without any development.) The movie is also a bit vulgar in its treatment of certain subjects, which makes one wonder what sort of coarsening effect pop culture and other forms of entertainment are having on Korean society.

I have no idea why Son Yeh Jin decided to do this movie, but it makes me doubt the image she tries to put across. This movie is another step down for Korean cinema and pop culture in general. My guess that the second half of this year will be even more lacking in quality films, and that 2007 will be worse.

Don't waste time on this one.
Organizing to energize the community
By Lynda King/ Staff Writer
Friday, May 26, 2006

A Personal Peak Oil Discovery Process, Part I

A retired nuclear physicist traces his discovery of peak oil theory.

By John Rawlins
May. 26, 2006

Special Report: Peak Oil

(Ed. Note: This is Part I of a two-part series. Part I chronicles the process by which John Rawlins discovered the scale and extent of the coming peak oil crisis. Part II will detail the steps he has taken to prepare for a world of diminishing oil resources.)

I recall reading a Scientific American article in 1998 about world oil supply, titled The End of Cheap Oil. Colin Campbell and Jean Laherrère predicted that the world oil extraction rate would increase until around 2005-2010, then peak and quickly enter decline, with decline rates of a few percent per year.

That seemed interesting but not all that worrying to a 58 year old semi-retired nuclear physicist teaching astronomy and physics in a community college in northwest Washington state. I posted their graphs on my office door and occasionally discussed the topic with students, but I didn't really get it. Just having less gasoline for transportation seemed the least of our worries.

I basically did nothing to begin getting ready for the cursed event until more recently. Now, in May 2006, world oil extraction seems to be peaking, gasoline prices are rising even before the summer driving season, the next hurricane season starts soon, geopolitical nightmares are developing in many oil-producing regions, and my wife and I feel unprepared for (and worried about) collapse.

In my previous career with Westinghouse Hanford Company in eastern Washington, I spent a few very frustrating years in the early 1990s working on US energy policy issues. In the end I was convinced that our democratic form of government is totally unable to formulate a wise, technically coherent, long-lasting national energy policy.

Fifteen years later, my worst fears are being realized, and my faith in any government "solution" is at absolute zero for this country. We consume far too much energy, and two-thirds of what we consume depends on fuels that are no longer reliable: oil and natural gas. Of these, oil is the most fundamental: almost everything that moves uses an oil derivative for fuel.

In the fall of 2003 our investment advisor noted that our portfolio was heavy in big oil stocks and she suggested we review our situation and think about changing our investment profile. I visited a local bookstore and browsed for recent books on oil and just happened to buy Richard Heinberg's book The Party's Over [read the RTH review].

What a surprise reading that was during the December 2003 holiday break! His thesis: world oil extraction would soon peak, and everything in our life would change because everything depends to some extent on oil. The economy would disintegrate, and chaos would likely envelop the world of all who depend on oil. Furthermore, he claimed that alternatives to oil would prove insufficient by a large margin.

In a state of semi-shock I began reading everything I could find on the subject.

First I looked for predictions about oil supply from retired, independent oil geologists and read Hubbert's Peak, a book by Ken Deffeyes, who worked with M. K. Hubbert. Hubbert developed a method for predicting oil extraction time profiles, given a few decades of extraction and discovery experience.

I then read similar treatments by other retired oil geologists and found that to first order they were in agreement with the original predictions I'd seen from Campbell and Laherrère in 1998. My worry factor increased because I was unable to conclude how to protect our investments from this oil-depleted future.

My next major discovery was the food connection, which I suspected could be a problem. The dean at our college sent me a Harpers Magazine article by Richard Manning, titled The Oil We Eat, which argued that our food production since the green revolution has become at least 90 percent correlated with and dependent on oil and natural gas. A more detailed analysis by Dale Allen Pfeiffer titled Eating Fossil Fuels confirmed this conclusion.

Now I had to find out about the natural gas situation, another unhappy story. Soon I found a book by Julian Darley called High Noon for Natural Gas, which warned that gas extraction in North America was about to peak (it did), and that prices would rise and decline could be rapid (they did, and it is). He further warned that world extraction rates would peak soon after oil peaked. In that case increasing US imports of natural gas in the form of Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) would not be a rescue option for long, and a poor investment in any case.

About this time I began teaching an introductory physics/energy course at the college, and the course focuses on the peak oil problem and potential adaptations. During that teaching process, I became convinced that Heinberg and others were absolutely correct in asserting that no combination of alternatives to oil could come anywhere close to replacing oil at present use levels. That includes coal to liquids, natural gas, oil shale, methane hydrates, hydrogen, ethanol, bio-diesel, and nuclear/wind/solar-based electric (including compressed air) cars comparable in size with today's subcompacts.

The required adaptation time (2-3 decades) is quite simply not available. This is a scary conclusion for a technocrat like me.

Finally I found a book about investing viewed through the lens of peak oil, by Stephen and Donna Leeb, titled The Oil Factor. The Leebs reiterated all the peak oil predictions I'd stumbled on and recommended investing in a variety of stocks, mostly related to energy. We rather quickly loaded up even more heavily in energy and mining stocks and eliminated stocks from our portfolio that we thought would not do well in a world of high oil and gas prices and never-ending inflation.

With that issue finally settled we began to do things to get ready for a future of permanent shortage.

Next issue: John Rawlins begins to prepare for a world of diminishing oil resources.

John Rawlins is a retired nuclear physicist who lives in Washington with his wife (a psychologist). He teaches physics at Whatcom Community College. They live on ten acres of mostly wooded land about sixteen kilometres (ten miles) northeast of Bellingham and enjoy bicycle trips on the islands, skiing (near Mt. BGaker), sea-kayaking in the Sound, and occasionally some river kayaking. Prior to his retirement, Rawlins worked for 19 years for Westinghouse-Hanford Co, but took early retirement because he wanted his work to make a difference. Visit his website:

Japanese Catholics donate statues of St Francis Xavier to Goa and Malacca

26 May, 2006
Japanese Catholics donate statues of St Francis Xavier to Goa and Malacca

To mark the 500th anniversary of the saint’s birth, a Catholic association of Kagoshima has commissioned a group of bronze statues to recall the encounter of the protector of missionaries with the Japanese people.

Kagoshima (AsiaNews/JCW) – Members of the St Francis Xavier Memorial Association in Kagoshima, in the north of the island of Kyûshû, have donated a set of bronze statues to Malaysia and India. The aim is to commemorate the first encounter between St Francis Xavier and a Japanese man named Yajiro.

Yajiro, a young man from Kagoshima, met the protector of missionaries in Malacca in 1548. Fascinated by his faith and his personality, he decided to follow him and to help him in his travels in Japan. Traditionally, this encounter marks the meeting between the Church and the Japanese people.

The association decided to have the statues sculpted and donated in 1999, when the Church in Malacca sent a letter to Kagoshima, asking if they could celebrate together the 450th anniversary of the Jesuit saint’s arrival in Japan. There was also an expressed desire to “deepen the exchange” between the two churches, united by St Francis.

Members of the association visited Malacca in 2005 and in December of the same year, decided to commission the statues to send to Goa too, where the mortal remains of the saint are preserved. They are exact copies of a group of statues found in Xavier Park in Kagoshima.

Toshihiro Nanaeda, chairperson of the committee, said: “A week-long commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the birth of St Francis Xavier will take place in Malacca and Goa: We hope we will be able to send the statues on time for this joyous celebration.”

Check out this icon for the Feast of the Ascension (which was yesterday). Found at Abbot Joseph's blog. Check out his writings.

Photo: parachute jump

by Staff Sgt. Jason W. Edwards

May 26, 2006

Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division parachute over Andrews Air Force Base, Md., during a joint-service open house.
An Emotional Tour de Force for Uhm Jung-hwa

"One of the many things actress and singer Uhm Jung-hwa wanted to do when she was young was take piano lessons, but that would have been a luxury for the daughter of a single working mother..."

A really small photo from the same article

Korea Times review of My Piano

Also of interest:
Rare Pictures of Early 1900s Korea Go Online

Papal addresses in Poland

Code: ZE06052510

Date: 2006-05-25

Benedict XVI's Address at Ecumenical Meeting

Calls Attention to 2 Questions: Service and Marriage

WARSAW, Poland, MAY 25, 2006 ( Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered this evening at a meeting with representatives of seven churches of the Polish Ecumenical Council and representatives of other religions. The meeting was in the Lutheran church of the Most Holy Trinity in Warsaw.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

"Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth" (Revelation 1:4-5). In these words with which St. John greets the seven Churches of Asia in the Book of the Apocalypse, I wish to address my own warm greetings to all who are present here, especially to the representatives of the churches and ecclesial communities affiliated to the Polish Council for Ecumenism.

I thank Archbishop Jeremiasz of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church for his greetings and his words of spiritual union addressed to me just now. And I greet Archbishop Alfons Nossol, president of the Ecumenical Office of the Polish bishops' conference.

What unites us here today is our desire to meet one another, and to give glory and honor to our Lord Jesus Christ in our common prayer: "to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father" (Revelation 1:5-6). We are grateful to our Lord, because he gathers us together, he grants us his Spirit and he enables us -- over and above what still separates us -- to cry out "Abba, Father."

We are convinced that it is he himself who intercedes unceasingly in our favor, pleading for us: "May they become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me" (John 17:23). Together with you I give thanks for the gift of this encounter of common prayer. I see it as a stage in the implementation of the firm purpose that I made at the beginning of my pontificate, to consider a priority in my ministry the restoration of full visible unity among Christians.

My beloved predecessor, the Servant of God John Paul II, stated clearly when he visited this Church of the Most Holy Trinity in 1991: "However much we dedicate ourselves to work for unity, it always remains a gift of the Holy Spirit. We will be available to receive this gift to the extent that we open our minds and hearts to him through the Christian life and above all through prayer."

In fact, it is impossible for us to "make" unity through our own powers alone. As I recalled during last year's ecumenical encounter in Cologne: "We can only obtain unity as a gift of the Holy Spirit." For this reason, our ecumenical aspirations must be steeped in prayer, in mutual forgiveness and in the holiness of life of each of us. I express my satisfaction at the fact that here in Poland, the Polish Council for Ecumenism and the Roman Catholic Church have launched numerous initiatives in this area.

"Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him" (Revelation 1:7). The words of the Apocalypse remind us that we are all on a journey toward the definitive encounter with Christ, when he will reveal before our eyes the meaning of human history, whose center is the cross of his saving sacrifice. As a community of disciples, we are directed toward that encounter, filled with hope and trust that it will be for us the day of salvation, the day when all our longings are fulfilled, thanks to our readiness to let ourselves be guided by the mutual charity which his Spirit calls forth within us.

Let us build this trust not on our own merits, but on the prayer with which Christ reveals the meaning of his coming on earth and of his redeeming death: "Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to behold my glory which you have given me in your love for me before the foundation of the world" (John 17:24). On our journey toward the encounter with Christ who "is coming with the clouds," through our lives we announce his death, we proclaim his resurrection, as we wait for him to come again.

We feel the weight of the responsibility which all this entails; the message of Christ, in fact, must reach everyone on earth, thanks to the commitment of those who believe in him and who are called to bear witness that he is truly sent by the Father (cf. John 17:23). As we proclaim the Gospel, then, we must be moved by the aspiration to cultivate mutual relations of sincere charity, in such a way that, in the light of these, all may know that the Father sent the Son and that he loves the Church and each one of us just as he loved the Son (cf. John 17:23). The task of Christ's disciples, the task of each of us, is therefore to tend toward that unity, in such a way that we become, as Christians, the visible sign of his saving message, addressed to every human being.

Allow me to recall once more the ecumenical encounter that took place in this church with the participation of your great compatriot John Paul II, and his address, in which he outlined as follows his vision of the efforts directed toward the full unity of Christians: "The challenge that we face is to overcome the obstacles step by step ... and to grow together in that unity of Christ which is one only, the unity with which he endowed the Church from the beginning. The seriousness of the task prohibits all haste or impatience, but the duty to respond to Christ's will demands that we remain firm on the path toward peace and unity among all Christians. We know very well that it is not we who will heal the wounds of division and re-establish unity; we are simple instruments that God will be able to employ. Unity among Christians will be a gift of God, in his time of grace. Let us humbly tend toward that day, growing in love, in mutual forgiveness and in mutual trust."

Since that encounter, much has changed. God has granted us to take many steps toward mutual understanding and rapprochement. Allow me to recall to your attention some ecumenical events which have taken place in the world during that time: the publication of the encyclical letter "Ut Unum Sint"; the Christological agreements with the pre-Chalcedonian Churches; the signing at Augsburg of the "Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification"; the meeting on the occasion of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 and the ecumenical memorial of 20th-century witnesses of faith; the resumption of Catholic-Orthodox dialogue at world level; the funeral of Pope John Paul II with the participation of almost all churches and ecclesial communities.

I am aware of the fact that here too, in Poland, this fraternal aspiration toward unity can boast concrete successes. I would like to mention at this time: the signing in the year 2000 in this very church, on the part of the Roman Catholic Church and the churches affiliated to the Polish Council for Ecumenism, of the declaration of the mutual recognition of the validity of baptism; the institution of the Commission for Dialogue of the Polish episcopal conference and the Polish Council for Ecumenism, to which the Catholic bishops and the heads of other churches belong; the institution of the bilateral commissions for theological dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox, Lutherans, members of the Polish National Church, Mariavites and Adventists; the publication of the ecumenical translation of the New Testament and the Book of Psalms; the initiative called "Aid for Children at Christmas," in which the charitable organizations of the Churches work together: Catholic, Orthodox and evangelical.

We note much progress in the field of ecumenism and yet we always await something more. Allow me to draw attention to two questions for today, in somewhat greater detail. The first concerns the charitable service of the churches. There are many brothers and sisters who expect from us the gift of love, of trust, of witness, of spiritual and concrete material help. I referred to this problem in my first encyclical, "Deus Caritas Est," in which I said: "Love of neighbor, grounded in the love of God, is first and foremost a responsibility for each individual member of the faithful, but it is also a responsibility for the entire ecclesial community at every level: from the local community to the particular Church and to the Church universal in its entirety. As a community, the Church must practice love" (No. 20).

We cannot forget the essential idea that from the outset constituted the very firm foundation for the disciples' unity: "within the community of believers there can never be room for a poverty that denies anyone what is needed for a dignified life" (ibid.). This idea is always current, even if in the course of the centuries the forms of fraternal aid have changed; accepting contemporary charitable challenges depends in large measure on our mutual cooperation. I rejoice that this problem finds a vast resonance in the world in the form of numerous ecumenical initiatives.

I note with appreciation that in the community of the Catholic Church and in other churches and ecclesial communities, various new forms of charitable activity have spread and old ones have reappeared with renewed vigor. They are forms which often combine evangelization and works of charity (cf. ibid., 30b). It seems that, despite all the differences that need to be overcome in the sphere of interdenominational dialogue, it is legitimate to attribute charitable engagement to the ecumenical community of Christ's disciples in search of full unity. We can all enter into cooperation in favor of the needy, exploiting this network of reciprocal relations, the fruit of dialogue between ourselves and of joint action.

In the spirit of the Gospel commandment we must assume this devoted solicitude toward those in need, whoever they may be. In this regard, I wrote in my encyclical that "the building of a better world requires Christians to speak with a united voice in working to inculcate ‘respect for the rights and needs of everyone, especially the poor, the lowly and the defenseless'" (no. 30b). To all those who are taking part in our encounter today I express the wish that the practice of fraternal caritas will bring us ever closer to one another and will render our witness in favor of Christ more credible before the world.

The second question to which I want to refer concerns married life and family life. We know that among Christian communities, called to witness to love, the family occupies a special place. In today's world, in which international and intercultural relations are multiplying, it happens increasingly often that young people from different traditions, different religions, or different Christian denominations, decide to start a family. For the young people themselves and for those dear to them, it is often a difficult decision that brings with it various dangers concerning both perseverance in the faith and the future structuring of the family, the creation of an atmosphere of unity in the family and of suitable conditions for the spiritual growth of the children.

Nevertheless, thanks to the spread of ecumenical dialogue on a larger scale, the decision can lead to the formation of a practical laboratory of unity. For this to happen there is a need for mutual good will, understanding and maturity in faith of both parties, and also of the communities from which they come. I would like to express my appreciation for the Bilateral Commission of the Council for Ecumenical Issues of the Polish episcopal conference and of the Polish Council for Ecumenism, which have begun to draft a document presenting common Christian teaching on marriage and family life and establishing principles acceptable to all for contracting interdenominational marriages, indicating a common program of pastoral care for such marriages. To all of you I express the wish that in this delicate area reciprocal trust and cooperation between the churches may grow, fully respecting the rights and responsibility of the spouses for the faith formation of their own family and the education of their children.

"I made known to them your name, and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them, and I in them" (John 17:26). Brothers and sisters, placing all our trust in Christ, who makes his name known to us, let us walk every day toward the fullness of fraternal reconciliation. May his prayer cause the community of his disciples on earth, in its mystery and in its visible unity, to become ever more a community of love reflecting the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

[Original text: Polish]

© Copyright 2006 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana [translation by Holy See; adapted]

Code: ZE06052507

Date: 2006-05-25

Papal Address to Priests in Warsaw Cathedral

"To Be an Expert in the Spiritual Life"

WARSAW, Poland, MAY 25, 2006 ( Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI gave to priests today in Warsaw Cathedral, on the first day of his apostolic visit to Poland.

* * *

"First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you. ... For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you, that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine" (Romans 1:8-12).

Dear priests, I address to you these words of the Apostle Paul, because they perfectly reflect my feelings and thoughts today, my wishes and my prayers. I greet in particular Cardinal Jozef Glemp, archbishop of Warsaw and primate of Poland, to whom I extend my most cordial congratulations on his 50th anniversary of priestly ordination this very day.

I have come to Poland, the beloved homeland of my great predecessor Pope John Paul II, in order to inhale, as he used to do, this atmosphere of faith in which you live, and to "convey to you some spiritual gift so that you may be strengthened by it." I am confident that my pilgrimage during these days will "encourage the faith that we share, both yours and mine."

I am meeting you today in the great cathedral of Warsaw, every stone of which speaks of the tragic history of your capital and your country. How many trials you have endured in the recent past! We call to mind heroic witnesses to the faith, who gave their lives to God and to their fellow human beings, both canonized saints and ordinary people who persevered in rectitude, authenticity and goodness, never giving way to despair.

In this cathedral I recall particularly the Servant of God Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, whom you call "the Primate of the Millennium." Abandoning himself to Christ and to his Mother, he knew how to serve the Church faithfully, despite the tragic and prolonged trials that surrounded him. Let us remember with appreciation and gratitude those who did not let themselves be overwhelmed by the forces of darkness, and let us learn from them the courage to be consistent and constant in our adherence to the Gospel of Christ.

Today I am meeting you, priests called by Christ to serve him in the new millennium. You have been chosen from among the people, appointed to act in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. Believe in the power of your priesthood! By virtue of the sacrament, you have received all that you are. When you utter the words "I" and "my" ("I absolve you ... This is my body ..."), you do it not in your own name, but in the name of Christ, "in persona Christi," who wants to use your lips and your hands, your spirit of sacrifice and your talent.

At the moment of your ordination, through the liturgical sign of the imposition of hands, Christ took you under his special protection; you are concealed under his hands and in his Heart. Immerse yourselves in his love, and give him your love! When your hands were anointed with oil, the sign of the Holy Spirit, they were destined to serve the Lord as his own hands in today's world. They can no longer serve selfish purposes, but must continue in the world the witness of his love.

The greatness of Christ's priesthood can make us tremble. We can be tempted to cry out with Peter: "Lord, depart from me, for I am a sinful man" (Luke 5:8), because we find it hard to believe that Christ called us specifically. Could he not have chosen someone else, more capable, more holy? But Jesus has looked lovingly upon each one of us, and in this gaze of his we may have confidence. Let us not be consumed with haste, as if time dedicated to Christ in silent prayer were time wasted. On the contrary, it is precisely then that the most wonderful fruits of pastoral service come to birth.

There is no need to be discouraged on account of the fact that prayer requires effort, or because of the impression that Jesus remains silent. He is indeed silent, but he is at work. In this regard, I am pleased to recall my experience last year in Cologne. I witnessed then a deep, unforgettable silence of a million young people at the moment of the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament! That prayerful silence united us, it gave us great consolation. In a world where there is so much noise, so much bewilderment, there is a need for silent adoration of Jesus concealed in the Host. Be assiduous in the prayer of adoration and teach it to the faithful. It is a source of comfort and light particularly to those who are suffering.

The faithful expect only one thing from priests: that they be specialists in promoting the encounter between man and God. The priest is not asked to be an expert in economics, construction or politics. He is expected to be an expert in the spiritual life. With this end in view, when a young priest takes his first steps, he needs to be able to refer to an experienced teacher who will help him not to lose his way among the many ideas put forward by the culture of the moment. In the face of the temptations of relativism or the permissive society, there is absolutely no need for the priest to know all the latest, changing currents of thought; what the faithful expect from him is that he be a witness to the eternal wisdom contained in the revealed word. Solicitude for the quality of personal prayer and for good theological formation bear fruit in life.

Living under the influence of totalitarianism may have given rise to an unconscious tendency to hide under an external mask, and in consequence to become somewhat hypocritical. Clearly this does not promote authentic fraternal relations and may lead to an exaggerated concentration on oneself. In reality, we grow in affective maturity when our hearts adhere to God. Christ needs priests who are mature, virile, capable of cultivating an authentic spiritual paternity. For this to happen, priests need to be honest with themselves, open with their spiritual director and trusting in divine mercy.

On the occasion of the Great Jubilee, Pope John Paul II frequently exhorted Christians to do penance for infidelities of the past. We believe that the Church is holy, but that there are sinners among her members. We need to reject the desire to identify only with those who are sinless. How could the Church have excluded sinners from her ranks? It is for their salvation that Jesus took flesh, died and rose again. We must therefore learn to live Christian penance with sincerity. By practicing it, we confess individual sins in union with others, before them and before God.

Yet we must guard against the arrogant claim of setting ourselves up to judge earlier generations, who lived in different times and different circumstances. Humble sincerity is needed in order not to deny the sins of the past, and at the same time not to indulge in facile accusations in the absence of real evidence or without regard for the different preconceptions of the time. Moreover, the "confessio peccati," to use an expression of St. Augustine, must always be accompanied by the "confessio laudis" -- the confession of praise. As we ask pardon for the wrong that was done in the past, we must also remember the good accomplished with the help of divine grace which, even if contained in earthenware vessels, has borne fruit that is often excellent.

Today the Church in Poland faces an enormous pastoral challenge: how to care for the faithful who have left the country. The scourge of unemployment obliges many people to go abroad. It is a widespread and large-scale phenomenon. When families are divided in this way, when social links are broken, the Church cannot remain indifferent. Those who leave must be cared for by priests who, in partnership with the local Churches, take on a pastoral ministry among the emigrants.

The Church in Poland has already given many priests and religious sisters who serve not only the Polish diaspora but also, and sometimes in extremely difficult circumstances, the missions in Africa, Asia, Latin America and other regions. Do not forget these missionaries, my dear priests. The gift of many vocations, with which God has blessed your Church, must be received in a truly Catholic perspective. Polish priests, do not be afraid to leave your secure and familiar world, to go and serve in places where priests are lacking and where your generosity can bear abundant fruit.

Stand firm in your faith! To you too I entrust this motto of my pilgrimage. Be authentic in your life and your ministry. Gazing upon Christ, live a modest life, in solidarity with the faithful to whom you have been sent. Serve everyone; be accessible in the parishes and in the confessionals, accompany the new movements and associations, support families, do not forget the link with young people, remember the poor and the abandoned. If you live by faith, the Holy Spirit will suggest to you what you must say and how you must serve. You will always be able to count on the help of her who goes before the Church in faith. I exhort you to call upon her always in words that you know well: "We are close to you, we remember you, we watch."

My Blessing upon all of you!

© Copyright 2006 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana [translation by Holy See; adapted]

Pope's Address on Arrival in Poland

Mother Jones Radio Shows

some recent shows of interest:
Jane Goodall; Michael Pollan on Eating Locally; Contractors in Iraq
Michael Pollan, "Omnivore's Dilemma" author
P L U S : Joel Salatin, organic farmer
Jane Goodall
Gerald Schumacher on military contractors
Aired May 7, 2006
ONLINE NOW Stream Download

Rising Gas Prices; 200 Years of Human Rights; Chemical Weapons Disposal
Paul Roberts, "End of Oil" author
P L U S : Craig Williams, weapons disposal activist
Adam Hochschild, "Bury the Chains" author
Deepak Bhargava of the Center for Community Change
Aired April 30, 2006
ONLINE NOW Stream Download

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Website for Msgr. Cormac Burke

The website contains various writings pertaining to canon law and theology.

Thanks to Amy Welborn and Ed Peters.

The Catholic Church in England and Wales. Westminster Cathedral (flash opening)

"Photo Courtesy of U.S. Army"

by Spc. Teddy Wade
May 22, 2006
Sgt. Leno Lemus, from Company C, 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, shoots open the door of a house near Balad, Iraq, so his squad can enter and search for terrorists on the most-wanted list. This photo appeared on

by Kaye Richey
May 12, 2006
Sgt. Dax Board, from 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, fires a Fabrique Nationale Carbine assault rifle (the Belgian version of the M4 carbine) at a target during an El Salvadoran-led stress shoot course in San Salvador. This photo appeared on

by Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon II
May 8, 2006
Soldiers from the 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division search for terrorists and weapons caches in the Al Jazeera Desert area of Iraq. This photo appeared on

by Spc. Teddy Wade
May 5, 2006
Staff Sgt. Brad Smith, from 3rd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, shoots at a suspicious object during a patrol along a main supply road near Tikrit, Iraq. This photo appeared on

by Staff Sgt. Russell Lee Klika
May 3, 2006
Cpl. Jared Jenkins and 1st Sgt. Arthur Abiera, from the 101st Airborne Division, search a home near Sadr City, Iraq. Click here for more details. This photo appeared on

by Sgt. 1st Class Johancharles Van Boers
April 27, 2006
A Soldier from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division aims his M4 carbine at an “insurgent” during a war game at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif. This photo appeared on

Mgr Anthony Li Duan, archbishop of Xian, dies at the age of 79

24 May, 2006
Mgr Anthony Li Duan, archbishop of Xian, dies at the age of 79

Rome (AsiaNews) – Mgr Anthony Li Duan, archbishop of Xian, one of the most important figures in today’s Chinese Church died on Wednesday May 24 at 9.17 pm Rome time (Thurday May 25 at 03.17 Beijing time). The 79-year-old prelate had been fighting liver cancer for the past two years and had spent long stretches of time in hospital for treatment.

Archbishop Li was one of the four Chinese bishops Pope Benedict XVI
invited in October of last year to the Synod on the Eucharist. His Catholic witness was known throughout the universal Church.

Member of the official Church but also supporter and friend of
pontiffs, Mgr Li strongly backed reconciliation between the official Church on the one hand, and Rome and the underground Church on the other.

Well appreciated by intellectuals and political leaders alike,
including non Christians, he rebuilt the Church in Xian (Shaanxi) after the disasters wrought by the Cultural Revolution. In doing so he strengthened local Christian communities and religious schools in terms of their charity work and theological studies. His diocese now includes 59 priests, 300 women religious and 20,000 faithful.

Last year Anthony Dang Mingyan, 38, was appointed as the diocese’s
coadjiutor bishop with the Pope’s approval.

Last week in the midst of the heated debate over the unlawful
appointments of bishops wanted by the Patriotic Association, AsiaNews published an interview with Archbishop Li, who was hopeful that it would not be long before China and the Vatican established diplomatic relations.

To know more about the interview, read Relations between China
and the Holy See within five years, says Mgr Li Duan

For a short biographical note about Mgr Li Duan, read Mgr Anthony Li Duan (Profile)

25 May, 2006
Mgr Li Duan died wearing the ring the Pope gave him

He might have been named cardinal in pectore (secretly) by John Paul II. He was a great man, respected by the official and underground Church between whom he tried to build bridges for the sake of unity.

Xian (AsiaNews) – He died with the ring on his finger Benedict XVI gave him after the Synod on the Eucharist. To anyone who visited him in hospital, Mgr Li Duan would show it with pride. “This is the ring of my communion with Pope,” he used to say.

The archbishop of Xian, who passed away last night, had been invited to the Synod with other three bishops, both official and underground, but the Chinese government refused them the necessary papers to travel.

The Pope gave all four bishops a ring to symbolise that, despite their
absence, they were still considered members of the Synod.

Fr Peter Barry, an expert at Hong Kong’s Holy Spirit Study Centre,
spoke to AsiaNews about Archbishop Li.

“I visited the bishop last January in hospital. He showed me the ring
the Pope gave him. It seemed to be his most precious thing.”

However minor this episode may be it shows the type of man Mgr Anthony Li Duan was and the depth of his love for the universal Church and its pontiff.According to Father Barry, Archbishop Li “is perhaps one of the most exceptional personalities in today’s Chinese Church. He was a member of the official Church, but entertained relations with the underground Church. He was well respected by both branches of the Chinese Church.”

“He was very courageous. In January 2000 he refused to take part in
ordinations deemed unlawful by the Holy See, thus showing obedience to papal injunctions.”

“He was a man of great spirituality and this enabled to face any
problem with serenity like the case involving nuns in Xian, who were beaten because they opposed the confiscation of their school by the authorities. He chose to buy back the school and the land, which are near the Cathedral, to avoid any further problems for the Church.”

“Some young bishops, who are today following in his footsteps, grew up around him,” he said.

Fr Gianni Criveller, from the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions
(PIME), who also works at the Holy Spirit Study Centre in Hong Kong, remembers him for his Catholic clarity.

“His line was clear: The Catholic Church is the one united around its
bishops in communion with the Pope. For this reason he was critical of the Patriotic Association’s attempts to name bishops on its own. For the same reasons he refused to take part in the unlawful ordinations of 2000, which caused him to endure long interrogations, experience oppression, and be subjected to checks by government officials. For years his seminary was penalised.”

Father Criveller remembers that despite all the difficulties “Mgr Li
was always unruffled and optimistic, above of all about the future of the Church. He used to say: This is the right time for the evangelisation of China.”

In fact, in Xian as well as in the rest of China the number of
conversions and baptisms is growing at a phenomenal rate amongst intellectuals, university students, and professionals.

“When people pointed out that Protestants were growing more quickly than Catholics, he said without any regrets that it was a good sign.”

“‘It is a beautiful thing,’ he used to say, ‘that so many people get to
know Jesus. And when some of them get to see the greater richness of the Catholic faith, they become Catholic.’”

Archbishop Li was twice in forced labour camps; first, from 1960 to
1963, and then from 1963 till 1979. And yet he was a diehard optimist, one that felt no resentment, even when it came to the future of state-Church relations.

“In the last 10 to 15 years, Li Duan became the Vatican’s most
trusted man in China,” said Father Criveller. “The Holy See trusted him with the task of bridging the gap amongst underground communities. And in the last few years, he did succeed in gaining the trust of many underground bishops.”

When John Paul II named a cardinal in pectore (in secret) during the
2003 consistory, many observers believed that he was the one the Pope had in mind.

Anthony Dang Mingyan, auxiliary bishop of Xian, told AsiaNews that when Archbishop Li died, in addition to himself, several priests and tens of faithful from Xian had gathered around the ailing prelate.

He was still conscious almost up to the end passing away with sound of their voices in prayer. Yesterday morning AsiaNews heard from him for the last time. At 2 am he had an attack.

The funeral is scheduled for May 31 in Gongyi parish (Lintong), where
Mgr Li served as parish priest from 1980 till 1987 right after he was freed from forced labour camp. He will be laid to rest in the church itself.

His body will lie in state in Xian Cathedral for three days. Masses and
vigil prayers will be held under Archbishop Li’s successor, Auxiliary Bishop Dang Mingyan.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Excerpt from Look Homeward, America

At New Pantagruel.

Dorothy Sayers, The Lost Tools of Learning

Thanks to Fr. Schall's suggestion...
classical homeschooling

Reading Without Learning: On Not Missing "Sublime Passages"

Reading Without Learning: On Not Missing "Sublime Passages" Fr. James V. Schall, S.J. May 22, 2006


Furthermore, we know that we have no real "core" curriculum because we cannot agree on what it ought to contain, or even whether it ought to exist. Thus, in practice, there ends up being many "core" curricula, take your choice. Each politically correct view has its input of what "ought" to be there, no one having any other criteria by which to include or exclude anything. The average core curriculum is closer to the Tower of Babel than any other known construct. The end result is that what was once considered something that everyone had to read to be at all aware of the nobility of our lives is not read by anyone or,
if so, only in an adversarial context. Not only is Aristotle's Ethics itself
"beyond good and evil," to steal a phrase from Nietzsche, but it is beyond comprehension in a world where all "values" are either equal or less than equal. If all "values" are equal, then nothing that is called "value" is of much importance.

But, as I intimated, it is not so much whether you are able to read, but what you read when you are able. The world is full of folks who can read but who, in fact, have read little or nothing. It is also full of folks who constantly read but reading nothing that is noble, nothing that really might move their souls. But to read well and accurately, we need the grammar, we need to know the parts of speech, how things fit together. This seems basic, even when spell-check and
grammar-check are on our standard computer software.

See also his "Catholic Commencements: A Time for Truth to Be Honored"

Benedict XVI: On Peter, the Apostle

Code: ZE06052403
Date: 2006-05-24
On Peter, the Apostle
"Impetuous Generosity Does Not Safeguard Him"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 24, 2006 ( Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave at today's general audience in St. Peter's Square. The Pope dedicated his talk to the theme "Peter, the Apostle."

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters, In these catecheses we are meditating on the Church. We have said that the Church lives in people and because of this, in the last catechesis, we began to meditate on the figure of the individual apostles, beginning with St. Peter. We saw two decisive stages of his life: the calling on the Lake of Galilee and then the confession of faith: "You are the Christ, the Messiah." A confession, we said, that is still insufficient, initial though open.

St. Peter undertakes a journey of following. Thus, this initial confession already bears in itself, like a seed, the future faith of the Church. Today we wish to consider two other events in the life of St. Peter: the multiplication of the loaves. We just heard in the passage read the Lord's question and Peter's answer, and then the passage when the Lord calls Peter to be shepherd of the universal Church.

We begin with the event of the multiplication of loaves. You know that the people had heard the Lord for hours. At the end, Jesus said: They are tired, they are hungry, we must give these people something to eat. The apostles asked him: But how? And Andrew, Peter's brother, calls Jesus' attention to a boy who was carrying five loaves and two fish. But of what use are these for so many people? the apostles wondered.

Then the Lord had the people sit down and had the five loaves and two fish distributed. And all were filled. What is more, the Lord asked the apostles, and among them Peter, to gather the abundant leftovers: 12 baskets of bread (cf. John 12-13). Then the people, seeing this miracle -- which seemed to be the much-awaited renewal of the new "manna," the gift of bread from heaven -- want to make him their king.

But Jesus did not accept and withdrew to the mountain to pray alone. The following day, on the other side of the lake, in the synagogue of Capernaum, Jesus interpreted the miracle -- not in the sense of kingship over Israel with a power of this world in the manner expected by the crowd, but in the sense of gift of self: "The bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh" (John 6:51). Jesus announces the cross and with the cross the true multiplication of loaves, of the Eucharistic bread -- his absolutely new way of being king, a way totally contrary to the people's expectations.

We can understand that these words of the Master -- who did not want to carry out a multiplication of loaves every day, who did not want to offer Israel a power of this world -- were truly difficult, even unacceptable, for the people. "Gives his flesh" -- what does this mean? And even for the disciples, what Jesus said at this moment seemed unacceptable. It was and is for our heart, for our mentality, a "hard" saying that puts faith to the test (cf. John 6:60). Many of the disciples withdrew. They wanted someone who would really renew the state of Israel, its people, and not someone who said: "I give my flesh."

We can imagine that Jesus' words were difficult also for Peter, who at
Caesarea Philippi was opposed to the prophecy of the cross. And yet, when Jesus asked the Twelve: "Do you also want to go away?", Peter reacted with the outburst of his generous heart, guided by the Holy Spirit. In the name of all he responds with immortal words, which are also our words: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God" (cf. John 6:66-69).

Here, as in Caesarea, Peter initiates with his words the confession of the Church's Christological faith and also becomes the voice of the other apostles and of us believers of all times. This does not mean that he had understood the mystery of Christ in all its profundity. His was still an initial faith, a journeying faith. It would come to true fullness only through the experience of the paschal events.

But, nevertheless, it was already faith, open to a greater reality -- open above all because it was not faith in something, but faith in Someone: in him, Christ. Thus our faith is also an initial faith and we must still journey a long way. However, it is essential that it be an open faith that lets itself be guided by Jesus, because not only does he know the way, but he is the way.

Peter's impetuous generosity does not safeguard him, however, from the risks connected to human weakness. It is what we can also recognize based on our lives. Peter followed Jesus with drive; he surmounted the test of faith, abandoning himself to him. But the moment comes when he also gives way to fear and falls: He betrays the Master (cf. Mark 14:66-72). The school of faith is not a triumphal march, but a journey strewn with sufferings and love, trials and faithfulness to be renewed every day.

Peter, who had promised absolute faithfulness, knows the bitterness and humiliation of denial: The arrogant learns humility at his expense. Peter, too, must learn that he is weak and in need of forgiveness. When the mask finally falls and he understands the truth of his weak heart of a believing sinner, he breaks out in liberating tears of repentance. After this weeping, he is now ready for his mission.

On a spring morning, this mission would be entrusted to him by the risen Jesus. The meeting would take place on the shores of the Lake of Tiberias. It is the Evangelist John who refers to the dialogue that took place in that circumstance between Jesus and Peter. One notes a very significant play of words. In Greek the word "filéo" expresses the love of friendship, tender but not total, whereas the word "agapáo" means love without reservations, total and unconditional.

Jesus asks Peter the first time: "Simon … do you love me ('agapâs-me')" with this total and unconditional love (cf. John 21:15)? Before the experience of the betrayal, the apostle would certainly have said: "I love you ('agapô-se') unconditionally." Now that he has known the bitter sadness of infidelity, the tragedy of his own weakness, he says with humility: "Lord, I love you ('filô-se')," that is, "I love you with my poor human love." Christ insists: "Simon, do you love me with this total love that I want?" And Peter repeats the answer of his humble human love: "Kyrie, filô-se," "Lord, I love you as I know how to love."

The third time Jesus only says to Simon: "Fileîs-me?", "Do you love me?" Simon understood that for Jesus his poor love, the only one he is capable of, is enough, and yet he is saddened that the Lord had to say it to him in this way. Therefore, he answered: "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you ('filô-se')."

It would seem that Jesus adapted himself to Peter, rather than Peter to Jesus! It is precisely this divine adaptation that gives hope to the disciple, who has known the suffering of infidelity. From here trust is born that makes him able to follow to the end: "This he said to show by what death he was to glorify God. And after this he said to him, 'Follow me'" (John 21:19).

From that moment, Peter "followed" the Master with the precise awareness of his own frailty; but this awareness did not discourage him. He knew in fact that he could count on the presence of the Risen One beside him. From the ingenuous enthusiasm of the initial adherence, passing through the painful experience of denial and the tears of conversion, Peter came to entrust himself to that Jesus
who adapted himself to his poor capacity to love. And he also shows us the way, despite all our weakness.

We know that Jesus adapts himself to our weakness. We follow him, with our poor capacity to love and we know that Jesus is good and he accepts us. It was a long journey for Peter that made him a trustworthy witness, "rock" of the Church, being constantly open to the action of the Spirit of Jesus. Peter would present himself as "witness of the sufferings of Christ and participant of the glory that must manifest itself" (1 Peter 5:1).

When he wrote these words he was already old, having reached the end of his life, which he would seal with martyrdom. He was now able to describe the true joy and to indicate where the latter can be attained: The source is Christ believed and loved with our weak but sincere faith, notwithstanding our frailty. That is why he would write the Christians of his community, and he says it also to us: "Without having seen him you love him; though you do not now see him you
believe in him and rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy. As the outcome of your faith you obtain the salvation of your souls" (1 Peter 1:8-9).

[Translation by ZENIT]

[At the end of the audience, the Holy Father read the following summary in English:]

Today, I wish to focus again on the Apostle Peter. Christ's teachings, like all his behavior, were difficult to accept. Many withdrew and went their separate ways. Yet, when Jesus questioned the Twelve, "Do you also wish to go away?", Simon Peter answered, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we believe … that you are the Only One of God."

In this way, Peter initiates the Church's Christological confession of
faith. Though incomplete, his faith was nevertheless authentic and open -- not a faith in something, but in someone; in Christ. Peter was not, however, free of human weakness, and in time he too betrays the Master.

The school of faith, then, is not a triumphal march but a journey marked daily by suffering and love, trials and faithfulness. Peter knew the humiliation of denial, and for this he wept bitterly. But having learned his own nothingness, he was then ready for his mission.

That mission, made possible by our Lord's acceptance of Peter's fragile love and launched with the words "Follow me," is marked with hope: Notwithstanding his infidelity, Peter knows the Risen Lord is at his side. His long journey in faith, constantly open to the Spirit of Jesus, renders him a credible witness -- one who knows the true joy that lies in Christ, the way of salvation!

[The Pope then greeted pilgrims in several languages. In English, he said:]

I welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims present today, including the many university students. May your Easter pilgrimage be a time of deep spiritual renewal. Upon you and your families I invoke an abundance of God's blessings of peace and joy!

"Godly Pursuit"

Boundless Answers: Godly Pursuit by John Thomas


I've been reading Boundless Answers since it started, and I've made the observation that a lot of the "Getting to Marriage" articles have been directed toward single women. Well, I guess this is all well
and good, except that it seems that the assumption has been made that us single Christian guys know what we should do on our end about how to properly pursue marriage in a Godly manner. I can say with relative accuracy that for a lot of us, we do NOT know how to properly go about this.

So, my question is this: How should we, as young men, properly pursue a Godly woman romantically, but in a Godly manner? Honestly, I'm lost when it comes to this. We men get all kinds of Godly advice on how to be Godly husbands and fathers, or how to be Godly single men, but what about the interim between the two? How should a Godly man go about pursuing a Godly woman?

I understand. I grew up in a home that offered next-to-nothing in the way of instruction on women and relationships, whether from a secular or Christian view, so I understand where you're coming from. This left me, like you, totally clueless when it came to pursuing a relationship, godly or otherwise. I was "trained" by my peers, which
was disastrous. Sadly, when I became a Christian, I was offered little more in the way of instruction, and experienced similar outcomes. As I now read numerous letters like yours some 25 years after I waded into the world of relationships, I see things haven't changed much.

Looking back there are three things I would advise you to consider as you move toward marriage as a young man, things I wish someone would have told me.

First, prepare your heart. As you take a good, long, contemplative look at your heart, what things do you see need addressing before you begin to offer your heart to, and join your heart with, someone else's heart? Albert Mohler has written a phenomenal piece on marks of maturity for young men. I wish I'd had such a list when I was in my
20s. A good relationship will require from you a willingness to be authentic, someone who is comfortable in his own skin, who receives his masculine identity from Christ, not from the woman he hopes to marry.

So, spend some time with God and ask Him to show you what needs to happen in your heart before you move forward. Ask Him to reveal to you where, if anywhere, you are lacking in maturity, either spiritually, socially or emotionally, and pray for His help to grow you up in those areas. For me this initially came through a little book by the late Ed Cole called Courage. It was just the proverbial kick in the seat I needed as a 20-year-old man. Among other things, it challenged me to read a chapter of Proverbs every day, a habit that had a profound impact on my maturity, and one I continue 22 years later.

Second, build your framework now for what you want your courtship or dating to look like. No matter who God has for you, you can decide right now how the process of getting to know her will play out. What spiritual disciplines, physical standards, meaningful activities, conversations, fun stuff, will you incorporate into your season of courtship or dating? Remember, that season is pre-marriage, and the habits you develop then will be the habits of your marriage relationship. Develop great dating and courtship habits and you'll have a great foundation upon which to build a vibrant marriage.

Third, as you begin to narrow your focus on a young woman who stands out to you, slowly but intentionally make an effort to get to know her. Create ways for doing that that make her feel safe and reduce temptation for both of you, like spending time together in groups whenever possible, and initiate some one-on-one conversation. Here's a little conversation advice: ask her about her. Without coming across like an aggressive journalist, discover who she is. And here's another piece of conversation advice: when she asks questions about you, provide a little more information than "uh-huh." I don't mean to offend you, but I've heard from so many girls that that's what they usually get from most guys.

As for romance, my best advice is to become a student of her and learn what she considers romantic, what she values. If it's flowers, then flowers. If spontaneity, then spontaneity. If quality time, then quality time. If it's vacuuming, then vacuum. For my wife it's a combination of all those and more. It took time for me to figure that out. The most important thing is get to know her heart and respond to it. Getting to know someone is like a dance—you gently lead, careful not to drive, push or drag her around. She doesn't want a wallflower, and she doesn't want a stalker.

The best resource I've found for discovering how to do a romantic,
godly relationship is the almost legendary teaching on the book of Song of Solomon by Tom Nelson, pastor of Denton Bible Church. Whether you're currently in a relationship or one seems miles away, do whatever you can to purchase and listen to it now.


Another review of Excellence without a Soul

The Confusion on Campus
A Harvard prof reflects on the hollowness of higher ed.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT
Are American universities now in their golden age? Many rank as the
leading research institutions in the world. A college education is within reach for more Americans than ever before. Applications continue to rise as colleges attract the best and the brightest from the U.S. and from overseas. And yet it is hard not to get the feeling that there is something amiss at American schools.

Recent headlines certainly suggest troubles at individual universities--Duke with its lacrosse scandal, Yale with its admission of a former Taliban member, Harvard with its routing of president Lawrence

But Harry Lewis, a former dean at Harvard who still teaches computer science there, thinks the problem is deeper than a handful of alarming anecdotes might suggest. In "Excellence Without a Soul," Mr. Lewis decries the "hollowness of undergraduate education."

He takes Harvard as his case study, but many of his conclusions apply
to the rest of American higher education. Mr. Lewis finds American
universities "soulless" and argues that they rarely speak as "proponents of high ideals for future American leaders." He bluntly states that Harvard "has lost, indeed willingly surrendered, its moral authority to shape the souls of its students. . . . Harvard articulates no ideals of what it means to be a good person."

Arguing that American universities are soulless did not originate with Mr. Lewis, of course. In fact, it is one of the main themes of Allan Bloom's classic (and more entertaining) "The Closing of the American Mind," a book to which Mr. Lewis strangely never refers. Still, "Excellence Without a Soul" has some fresh arguments and a few pleasantly maverick views.

Mr. Lewis defends the benefits of college athletics, for instance: Far from being an overcommercialized distraction, they are a "source of joy" and embody an "ethos of self-sacrifice, perseverance, drive [and] endurance." The much-lamented dangers of date rape, he suggests, result in part from a combustible campus mix of alcohol and sexual liberation. Mr. Lewis even includes a game, if unconvincing, defense of grade inflation: Students are better, he says; teaching is better; and more small courses push up grades deservedly "because students and faculty get to know each other better."

The core of this book, though, is a defense of the idea that universities should be about something. What makes an educated person?
Unfortunately, too many professors and administrators, if they ever bother to think about it, would have difficulty answering the question beyond the pabulum found in most university brochures.

So how does Harvard define an educated person? A Harvard education, the university states, "must provide a broad introduction to the knowledge needed in an increasingly global and connected, yet simultaneously diverse and fragmented world." Mr. Lewis, rightfully dismissive, notes that the school never actually says what kind of knowledge is "needed." The words are meaningless blather, he says, proving that "Harvard no longer knows what a good education

Such institutional incoherence has consequences. In his sharpest criticism, Mr. Lewis charges that Harvard now ceases to think of itself as an American institution with any obligation to educate students about liberal democratic ideals. As the school increasingly focuses on "global competency," the U.S. is "rarely mentioned in anything written recently about Harvard's plans for undergraduate education." In the absence of agreement on common values or a core curriculum, anything goes. Echoing Allan Bloom's critique of relativism, Mr.
Lewis writes that at Harvard "all knowledge is equally valued as long as a Harvard professor is teaching it."

Mr. Lewis skips past many campus matters that seem ripe for discussion (affirmative action, speech codes, the academic monoculture, the viability of the tenure system). He is less an angry
prophet than a genteel provocateur. But the portrait he draws, however limited, is disturbing enough.

There is too little accountability at most schools, Mr. Lewis observes.
Trustees often abdicate their responsibilities, while college presidents
have become glorified fund-raisers. Most professors are "narrowly educated experts" with little experience outside academia. They are "poorly equipped to help college students sort out" their lives. Meanwhile, professors teach what they want to teach based on their own interests, not on the needs of their students. At too many schools, Mr. Lewis argues, students pursue an "à la carte" course schedule that lacks coherence and can leave large gaps in knowledge.

There is little incentive, he adds, for reform among the university's
various "constituencies." Students want a high grade-point average and a college degree that is a passport to a well-paying job, but they also want freedom from authority. Tenured professors want to be left alone to conduct research without academic oversight. Administrators who prize stability and consensus are loath to rock the boat.

But one "constituency" should be concerned. Parents preparing to shell out a small fortune for their children's education will want to read Mr. Lewis's book as they ask themselves: What exactly are we paying for?

Mr. Cannato teaches history at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. You can buy "Excellence Without a Soul" from the OpinionJournal bookstore.

Thanks to Mere Comments.

God isn't big enough for some people
By Umberto Eco(Filed: 27/11/2005)

We are now approaching the critical time of the year for shops and
supermarkets: the month before Christmas is the four weeks when stores of all kinds sell their products fastest. Father Christmas means one thing to children: presents. He has no connection with the original St Nicholas, who performed a miracle in providing dowries for three poor sisters, thereby enabling them to marry and escape a life of prostitution.

Human beings are religious animals. It is psychologically very hard to
go through life without the justification, and the hope, provided by religion. You can see this in the positivist scientists of the 19th century.

They insisted that they were describing the universe in rigorously
materialistic terms - yet at night they attended seances and tried to summon up the spirits of the dead. Even today, I frequently meet scientists who, outside their own narrow discipline, are superstitious - to such an extent that it sometimes seems to me that to be a rigorous unbeliever today, you have to be a philosopher. Or perhaps a priest.

And we need to justify our lives to ourselves and to other people.
Money is an instrument. It is not a value - but we need values as well as instruments, ends as well as means. The great problem faced by human beings is finding a way to accept the fact that each of us will die.

Money can do a lot of things - but it cannot help reconcile you to your
own death. It can sometimes help you postpone your own death: a man who can spend a million pounds on personal physicians will usually live longer than someone who cannot. But he can't make himself live much longer than the average life-span of affluent people in the developed world.

And if you believe in money alone, then sooner or later, you discover
money's great limitation: it is unable to justify the fact that you are a mortal animal. Indeed, the more you try escape that fact, the more you are forced to realise that your possessions can't make sense of your death.

It is the role of religion to provide that justification. Religions are
systems of belief that enable human beings to justify their existence and which reconcile us to death. We in Europe have faced a fading of organised religion in recent years. Faith in the Christian churches has been declining.

The ideologies such as communism that promised to supplant religion have failed in spectacular and very public fashion. So we're all still looking for something that will reconcile each of us to the inevitability of our own death.

G K Chesterton is often credited with observing: "When a man ceases to believe in God, he doesn't believe in nothing. He believes in anything." Whoever said it - he was right. We are supposed to live in a sceptical age. In fact, we live in an age of outrageous credulity.

The "death of God", or at least the dying of the Christian God, has
been accompanied by the birth of a plethora of new idols. They have multiplied like bacteria on the corpse of the Christian Church -- from strange pagan cults and sects to the silly, sub-Christian superstitions of The Da Vinci Code.

It is amazing how many people take that book literally, and think it is
true. Admittedly, Dan Brown, its author, has created a legion of zealous followers who believe that Jesus wasn't crucified: he married Mary Magdalene, became the King of France, and started his own version of the order of Freemasons. Many of the people who now go to the Louvre are there only to look at the Mona Lisa, solely and simply because it is at the centre of Dan Brown's book.

The pianist Arthur Rubinstein was once asked if he believed in God. He said: "No. I don't believe in God. I believe in something greater." Our culture suffers from the same inflationary tendency. The existing religions just aren't big enough: we demand something more from God than the existing depictions in the Christian faith can provide. So we revert to the occult. The so-called occult sciences do not ever reveal any genuine secret: they only promise that there is something secret that explains and justifies everything. The great advantage of this is that it allows each person to fill up the empty secret "container" with his or her own fears and hopes.

As a child of the Enlightenment, and a believer in the Enlightenment
values of truth, open inquiry, and freedom, I am depressed by that tendency. This is not just because of the association between the occult and fascism and Nazism - although that association was very strong. Himmler and many of Hitler's henchmen were devotees of the most infantile occult fantasies.

The same was true of some of the fascist gurus in Italy - Julius Evola
is one example - who continue to fascinate the neo-fascists in my country. And today, if you browse the shelves of any bookshop specialising in the occult, you will find not only the usual tomes on the Templars, Rosicrucians, pseudo-Kabbalists, and of course The Da Vinci Code, but also anti-semitic tracts such as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

I was raised as a Catholic, and although I have abandoned the Church, this December, as usual, I will be putting together a Christmas crib for my grandson. We'll construct it together - as my father did with me when I was a boy. I have profound respect for the Christian traditions - which, as rituals for coping with death, still make more sense than their purely commercial alternatives.

I think I agree with Joyce's lapsed Catholic hero in A Portrait of the
Artist as a Young Man: "What kind of liberation would that be to forsake an absurdity which is logical and coherent and to embrace one which is illogical and incoherent?" The religious celebration of Christmas is at least a clear and coherent absurdity. The commercial celebration is not even that.

• Umberto Eco's latest book is The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana
(Secker & Warburg, £17.99)

Thanks to Catholic Shinja.

An OT prophecy

Liber Sapientiae, 2:12-20

“Circumveniamus ergo iustum, quoniam inutilis est nobiset contrarius est operibus nostriset improperat nobis peccata legiset diffamat in nos peccata disciplinae nostrae. Promittit se scientiam Dei habereet filium Dei se nominat. Factus est nobis in accusationem cogitationum nostrarum;gravis est nobis etiam ad videndum, quoniam dissimilis est aliis vita illius,et immutatae sunt viae eius. Tamquam scoria aestimati sumus ab illo,et abstinet se a viis nostris tamquam ab immunditiis;beata dicit novissima iustorumet gloriatur patrem se habere Deum. Videamus ergo, si sermones illius veri sint,et tentemus, quae in exitu eius erunt: si enim est verus filius Dei, suscipiet illumet liberabit eum de manibus contrariorum. Contumelia et tormento interrogemus eum,ut sciamus modestiam eiuset probemus patientiam illius; morte turpissima condemnemus eum:erit enim ei visitatio ex sermonibus illius”.

Place and Role of Movements in the Church (2)

Code: ZE06052313
Date: 2006-05-23
Place and Role of Movements in the Church (Part 2)
Interview With Father Arturo Cattaneo

ROME, MAY 23, 2006 (
Ecclesial movements can "revive the apostolic action of the Church" in an era of secularization, says a canon lawyer.

In this interview, Father Arturo Cattaneo, a professor of canon law at the Pius X Theological Center of Venice, reflects on this possibility. Part 1 of this interview appeared Monday.

Q: Charismatic endeavors are not new in the Church. What are the general elements that characterize movements and differentiate them from other charisms that have taken place in history?

Father Cattaneo: Since Pentecost, the Church has been a charismatic
reality. The Spirit continued to manifest itself later with particular force in specific historical moments.

Suffice it to think of the phenomenon of monasticism, which spread in Europe since the fifth century, or of the rise of the mendicant orders in the 12th century, or other subsequent initiatives of a missionary, educational and charitable character.

The new ecclesial movements that arose in the second half of the 20th
century are characterized above all by the fact that they are addressed to lay faithful to help them live with full consistency the following of Christ in daily life or secular undertakings.

Among other characteristics, of note is the universal spirit that animates them, which has led them to develop a relationship of special affection and communion with the Roman Pontiff, as witnessed so many times in the World Youth Days.

Q: Over the past 40 years there has been an evolution in the relationship between bishops, parish priests and movements. What has it been like and what is the present situation?

Father Cattaneo: I imagine that you are referring to the initial mistrust manifested by many pastors in regard to the movements and, therefore, to a certain lack of appreciation on the part of members of the movements of ecclesiastical structures which were perceived as hostile.

Those differences were due to behavior that we should call "adolescent" by some movements and some of their members. However, all these understandable difficulties have been, at least to a large extent, surmounted.

Undoubtedly, John Paul II's and Cardinal Ratzinger's pastoral attention has contributed to a better understanding of the movements by the pastors and to an ecclesial maturation of the movements.

Q: What contribution can ecclesial movements make to parishes?

Father Cattaneo: Both John Paul II, as well as Benedict XVI recently, have manifested their confidence in the movements' ability to revive the apostolic action of the Church and, above all, in their capacity to address the challenge posed by the phenomena of secularization.

The movements reinforce the personal presence of Christian life. As
Professor Giorgio Feliciani explained, "The first and most important
contribution that movements can make to a parish community is the presence in their territorial ambit of what John Paul II described as 'mature Christian personalities, conscious of their own baptismal identity, of their own vocation and mission in the Church and in the world.' Therefore, they are capable of offering a significant testimony of Christian life."

Q: Could not the Church's ability to integrate diversities in unity,
constituting communion, be an example for civil society?

Father Cattaneo: More than example -- let's not forget that the Church and civil society are essentially different -- I would prefer to speak of an aspect of service that the Church is called to offer to society.

The latter is increasingly multiethnic and multicultural, globalized and fragmented at the same time. All this constitutes a stimulus for the Church, which is called -- as the Second Vatican Council said -- to "raise an ensign for the nations" and "light of the world," to understand and embrace "all tongues in her love, and so supersedes the divisiveness of Babel" ["Ad Gentes," No. 4].

This perspective opens necessarily also to interreligious dialogue, a
difficult but necessary question, in which the Church will have to be
increasingly committed.

Q: In your book "Unità e varietà nella comunione della Chiesa locale"
[Unity and Variety in the Communion of the Local Church], in addition to the movements you also mention personal pastoral structures. To what are you referring?

Father Cattaneo: We must keep in mind that we have moved from a period in which territorial stability was extremely clear, to a way of living characterized by ever greater mobility.

The phenomena of migrations and other social and professional factors call for pastoral exigencies of a personal nature that go beyond diocesan confines. In her mission, the Church must obviously take all this into account.

In the realm of the particular Church, for centuries organizational
responses have been given to these needs, such as the creation of personal parishes and the appointment of chaplains who are entrusted with specialized pastoral care -- schools, hospitals, prisons, etc.

Recently, organizational responses have been given in regard to pastoral needs that transcend the diocesan limits. The Church has created trans-diocesan structures of specialized pastoral care -- entrusted to an ordinary, assisted by priests and with the possible collaboration of lay faithful -- who carry out their own role in regard to particular Churches, offering them specific aids. It is the case of the military diocese and the personal prelature.

Q: What do you hope for from this year's Pentecost meeting?

Father Cattaneo: I will answer with the motto chosen for this meeting: to make "the beauty of being Christian and the joy of communicating it" not be only a prerogative of movements, but that increasingly they be able to disseminate them to all the faithful.

In 1999, Ratzinger recalled that in the Roman Empire, the Church was an infinitesimal minority in the first centuries, "but that already at the time of the apostles this minority aroused the world's attention." The cardinal concluded with these words: Today "the movements can be of great help thanks to that missionary thrust […] and they can encourage all of us to be leaven of the life of the Gospel in the world."

(duplicate news post?)

Benedict XVI Hails Devotion to Sacred Heart

Code: ZE06052306
Date: 2006-05-23
Benedict XVI Hails Devotion to Sacred Heart
Vital for Spiritual Life, He Says in Letter to Jesuit Superior

VATICAN CITY, MAY 23, 2006 ( Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is vital for the spiritual life of every Christian, insists Benedict XVI.

The Holy Father affirmed this in a letter sent to Father Peter Hans
Kolvenbach, superior general of the Society of Jesus, on the 50th anniversary of Pope Pius XII's encyclical "Haurietis Aquas," on devotion to the Sacred Heart.

Benedict XVI stated that he wrote the letter because the Jesuits have
always been "extremely active in the promotion of this essential devotion."

This devotion, the Pope clarifies, consists fundamentally in "the
contemplation of the 'side pierced by the spear,' in which shines the limitless will of salvation on the part of God."

For this reason, "it cannot be considered as a passing form of worship or devotion," he stated. "Adoration of the love of God, which has found in the symbol of the 'pierced heart' its historical-devotional expression, continues to be vital for a living relationship with God."

The letter extends an invitation to know, experience and witness the love of Christ manifested at the supreme moment in which his side poured out "blood and water" on the cross.

Witness to others

Christ's side is the "source" to which we must take recourse "to attain
true knowledge of Jesus Christ and to experience his love more profoundly," indicated the Pontiff.

"In this way," he added, "we will be able to understand better what it
means to know in Jesus Christ the love of God, to experience it, keeping our gaze fixed on him, until we live completely from the experience of his love, to be able to witness it afterward to others."

"Near the Heart of Christ, the human heart learns to know the authentic and only meaning of life and of its destiny, to understand the value of an authentically Christian life, to be removed from certain perversions of the heart, to unite filial love of God with love of neighbor," Benedict XVI wrote, quoting Pope John Paul II.

This year the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus will be celebrated on June 23.