Friday, July 21, 2006

Photos for the Day

Traffic cops: North Korean traffic police walk in their summer uniforms. To be a traffic police officer is an occupation of envy among women in the North. /Yonhap 07-19-2006 21:17

Food to fight the heat: People queue up in front of a “samgyetang” (chicken stew) restaurant in central Seoul, Thursday, the day of “chobok.” Chobok refers to one of the hottest periods in summer between June and July in the lunar calendar, followed by “chungbok” and “malbok.” On these days, Koreans eat highly nutritious food like samgyetang to stay healthy and fight off the heat. /Korea Times Photo by Lee Ho-jae
07-20-2006 17:25

Beauties in class: Candidates for this year’s Miss Korea Contest join a learning session on manufacturing semiconductors at the Samsung Electronics complex in Kihung, Kyonggi Province, Thursday. A total of 61 participants will compete in beauty and intelligence in the main event at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts on Aug. 3. The contest is being hosted by The Korea Times and The Hankook Ilbo.
/ Korea Times 07-20-2006 19:29

Miss Germany Natalie Ackermann, front, and Miss Korea Kim Joo-hee take naps backstage while waiting to introduce themselves in their national costumes before the opening number for the 2006 Miss Universe Competition on Thursday at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles./AP-Yonhap

Lee Hyo-lee Becomes Muscle Mag’s First Cover Girl

Thomistic Institute

Leaving tomorrow for Notre Dame, be back on the 27th. If I have any free time I will catch up on correspondence.

Schedule for the 2006 Summer Thomistic Institute:

Saturday 22 July


Sunday 23 July

7:30 Morning Prayer and Mass in Dorm Chapel
8:30 Breakfast
9:45 Opening Remarks: Ralph McInerny
10:15 Morning Seminar: John O’Callaghan (Intro, and Chpts. 1 & 2)
11:15 Coffee Break
11:30 Resume Morning Seminar
12:30 Lunch
2:30 Chair for the Day: Steven Baldner
Lecture 1: David Twetten: “The Essence of Aquinas: Nominalist or Realist?”
3:30 Break
3:45 Lecture 2: William Carroll
4:45 Evening Prayer
5:00 Dinner
7:30 Lecture 3: Josh Hochschild: "Mental Language in Aquinas?"

Monday 24 July

7:30 Morning Prayer and Mass in Dorm
8:30 Breakfast
10:00 Morning Seminar: John O’Callaghan (Chpts.3&4)
11:00 Coffee Break
11:15 Resume Morning Seminar
12:30 Lunch
2:30 Chair for the Day: Melanie Barrett
Lecture 1: Fergus Kermr, O.P.: “Other minds: Augustine, Thomas and Wittgenstein”
3:30 Break
3:45 Lecture 2: Fr. Stephen Brock: How Metaphysical is Human Nature? Cajetan on Who Studies Soul”
4:45 Evening Prayer
5:00 Dinner

Tuesday 25 July

8:00 Morning Prayer and Mass in Dorm
9:00 Breakfast
10:00 Morning Seminar: John O’Callaghan (Chpt.5&6)
11:00 Coffee Break
11:15 Resume Morning Seminar
12:30 Lunch
2:30 Chair for the Day: Douglas Flippen
Lecture 1: Michael Sherwin, O.P. : ““Aquinas at the Well-house: Language acquisition and moral development, the case of Helen Keller.”
3:30 Break
3:45 Lecture 2: Cyrille Michon
4:45 Evening Prayer
5:00 Dinner
7:30 Lecture 3: Kevin Flannery, S.J.
8:30 Party in the Dorm

Wednesday 26 July

8:00 Morning Prayer and Mass in Dorm
9:00 Breakfast
10:00 Morning Seminar: John O’Callaghan (Chpts.7&8, and 9)
11:00 Coffee Break
11:15 Resume Morning Seminar
12:15 Lunch
2:30 Chair for the Day: Joshua Stuchlik
Lecture 1: Alfred Freddoso: “Christ: unum vel duo?”
3:30 Break
3:45 Lecture 2: Roger Pouivet: “Aquinas on Knowledge and Virtue Epistemology”
4:45 Evening Prayer
6:30 Banquet Dinner

Thursday 27 July

Morning Prayer and Mass TBA on Campus
8:30 Breakfast

Saint Thomas Aquinas and the Third Millenium
Leonard E. Boyle Chair

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Children of Men trailer

at Apple; movie stars Clive Owen and is directed by Alfonso Cuaron.

It's an apocalyptic movie, though I am a bit surprised that those who have hope are relying upon the Human Project and scientists to figure out the solution to their problems. I prefer the perspective of The 12 Monkeys. If anything, it would be scientists unrestrained by traditional morality who would accelerate the destruction of civilization, not save it.

Ah yes, looks like there is no religious aspect to this movie--God is absent.

Some Resources on 4GW

Some tools for understanding what's going on in Lebanon and 4GW in general:

By Martin van Creveld:
"The State: Its Rise and Decline"
"The Fate of the State"

An interview by
See also his Transformation of War, The Rise and Decline of the State

By William S. Lind
"Understanding Fourth Generation War" (pdf)
"The Four Generations of Modern War"
"The Canon"
"The Canon, continued"
"How to Fight a 4th Generation War"
His "On War" archive
FMFM 1-A draft
Review of Neither Shall the Sword by Chet Richards

"10 Best books on Fourth Generation Warfare," by Anthony Lukin
including Sun Tzu, The Art of War

"Conflict in the Years Ahead," by Chet Richards
Prof. Juan Cole's blog, "Informed Comment"

Commentary on Israel and Lebanon

William Lind, "The Summer of 1914," added: "Why Hezbollah is Winning... So Far"
Paul Craig Roberts, "Attention Deficit Americans are Being Misled to War," "America is Being Set Up," "The Neocons' Next Victims"
Pat Buchanan, "Where are the Christians"

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


This afternoon I went to the MFA with Fujian Gal, since BC students have free admission (although we need to pay $8 weekdays for special exhibitions, full price on weekends, in case any of you BC students are wondering). We couldn't go to the Japanese garden, because I couldn't find the way to it, but then we found out it had already closed. We passed through the Laura McPhee exhibition, and Fujian Gal wants to visit Idaho now. Br. B is from Idaho. I said she should settle down there. Then again maybe I should visit Idaho, in case I need a place to flee to. We were thinking of going to the "Americans in Paris" exhibition but decided to be cheap instead...

We also saw the Chinese section, the Egyptian section, and the Greek/Roman sections, plus some of the Near Eastern stuff... We didn't get to see everything, so we or I will have to visit again some time... there are plenty of seats there, not enough drinking fountains perhaps. I suppose if I were at Northeastern I could do some work there, or some reading. There was a sketching class being held near the entrance to the Chinese furniture exhibit; two women were doing various poses (more like gymnastic poses, for one of them), and the class (mostly older women) was busy doing some sketches. How 'nice.'

Well, another museum experience... I wouldn't mind owning some of the pieces, but spending more than a minute to scrutinize every detail? I don't have the attention span or interest to do that... a beautiful thing perhaps, but in the end, just a thing.

As Fujian Gal was interested in watching Superman Returns, we went to AMC Fenway tonight to catch the movie, since there isn't much else that is out. What can be said about the movie... Fujian Gal liked it, though during and after the movie she was questioning whether certain parts made any sense. Such as--if Lois Lane figured out the 'secret,' shouldn't she be asking how it happened? But we don't get any of that. I think Bryan Singer wrote the script--evidently it doesn't make as much sense as he thought it did. Of course we have to suspend our disbelief when no one can figure out Clark Kent is Superman. It is a comic book story after all... We do get a lot of secular humanism, no religion... Jor-El talks about how human beings can be good, if they are properly inspired. As for Christian resonances, how about Messianic expectations instead?

Superman does quite a lot of lifting in this movie... but it stops being impressive after a while... may be it's because it's not realistic and I can't get into the mindset that would appreciate it. I think I'd rather see a movie about realistic virtue... I don't think I will be seing any other superhero movies, and moreover I fear that they are trying to pack too much into Spiderman 3.

As for Mr. Butterworth's critique of the movie, I'd have to think about it more... are Jane Austen heroes insecure or do they have doubts and jealousies? They do have doubts and jealousies, but do they dwell on their feelings? At least Superman isn't crippled by his insecurities. Is Superman Returns a movie for women or is it supposed to be for everyone? A strong but sensitive guy, but who can't be with Lois because his responsibilities to the world are too great. Perhaps it is fine that Lois end up with Richard and for him to raise her son.

Huh... just realized Dr. Laura's teachings on sexual morality aren't quite consonant with those of the Church. Ah well... that's too bad.

I think I figured out what is wrong with the kielbasa I purchased this week--it's the lean kielbasa, with 50%(?) less fat. The sausage meat lacks cohesion, and tastes like poorly mixed ground chicken. Ah well, no more of that.

"David Jones and the Holy Mass"

Josephinum Journal of Theology


Cardinal Dulles, "Justification: The Joint Declaration"
Daniel G. Van Sylke, "Lex orandi lex credendi: Liturgy as Locus Theologicus in the Fifth Century?"

Orthodox Theologian Speaks on Modern Deserts

Code: ZE06071818

Date: 2006-07-18

Orthodox Theologian Speaks on Modern Deserts

Interview With John Chryssavgis

BOSTON, JULY 18, 2006 ( We can only appreciate the mystical dimension of our world and our soul if we go through the stage of the desert, says Orthodox theologian, John Chriyssavgis.

"I would say that the secret of the desert is learning to lose," he says.

Author of several books, husband and father of two, Doctor Chryssavgis has recently released "In the Heart of the Desert. The Spirituality of the Desert Fathers and Mothers."

Q: Seeking God through silence and prayer like the 4th and 5th century Christian ascetics still has much to teach us now?

Chryssavgis: It is so easy today to consider silence and prayer as something historically outdated or merely as spiritual virtues. In fact, for the life of the early desert fathers and mothers in the fourth and fifth centuries, silence was a way of breathing, a way of going deep.

In a world, such as ours, where so much is determined by the immediate and the superficial, the desert elders teach us the importance of slowing down, the need to pay attention and to look more deeply.

Silence is letting the world and yourself be what they are. And in that respect, silence is profoundly connected to the living God, "who is who he is."

Silence and prayer mean creating space for those moments in our life where integrity and beauty and justice and righteousness reign.

Of course, all this requires toil and tears, labor and love. It is the art of living simply, instead of simply living. It resembles the skill of gardening: you cannot plant unless, first, you cultivate. You cannot expect to sow unless you dig deep. And you certainly cannot expect fruit unless you wait.

The search, then, is for what lies beneath the surface. Only in taking time and looking carefully can we realize just how much more there is to our world, our neighbor, and even ourselves than at first we notice or than we could ever imagine.

Q: Is there a secret to live a rich and healthy spiritual life?

Chryssavgis: In some ways, the secret to living a rich and healthy spiritual life may well be the fact that there is no secret.

One of the problems along the spiritual way is that most of us seek -- or resort to -- magical solutions to profound issues.

Reading the texts of the early ascetics, I have come to realize that perhaps the most essential lesson learned in life is the lesson of surrender, of letting go.

It is a hard lesson, and one that is only reluctantly embraced by most of us. But I am convinced that this life is given to us in order to learn how to lose.

We think that the purpose of a good spiritual life is to acquire virtues, or perhaps to lead a solid, productive, dignified, admirable, and even influential lifestyle.

In fact, every detail -- whether seemingly important or insignificant, whether painful or joyful -- in the life of each one of us has but a single purpose, namely to prepare us for the ultimate act of sharing and sacrifice.

I would say that the secret of the desert is learning to lose. When you know how to lose, you also know how to love! In some ways, every moment in our life is a gradual refinement so that we are prepared to encounter death, which is the ultimate loss.

Q: What unifies the desert fathers and mothers?

Chryssavgis: If there is one element that unites the desert fathers and mothers, in my mind it is their realism.

The unpretentious dimension of their life and experience, of their practice as well as their preaching, is something they share with one another and with all the communion of saints through the centuries.

And precisely because they are truthful and down-to-earth, the desert fathers and mothers are not afraid to be who they are. They do not endeavor to present a false image; and they do not accept any picture of themselves that does not reflect who they really are.

"Stay in your cell," they advise us. Because so often we are tempted to move outside, to stray away from who and what we are.

Learning to face who and what we are -- without any facade, without any make-up, without any false expectations -- is one of the hardest and at the same time, one of the finest lessons of the desert. Putting up with ourselves is the first and necessary step of learning to put up with others. And it is the basis for recognizing how all of us -- each of us and the entire world alike -- are unconditionally embraced and loved by God.

Q: Is there another kind of "desert" nowadays?

Chryssavgis: In our day, the desert is not necessarily to be found in the natural wilderness, although it may certainly be located there for some. The institutional church and the institutional parish have their place; and the natural desert has its place.

But there is more to the spiritual life than these could ever provide alone. Alongside the institutional, there must be room for inspiration. The two are not necessarily opposed, but they must work together integrally if the Body of Christ is to function in all its fullness.

We need to discern the mystery in life. And we can only appreciate the mystical dimension of our world and our soul if we go through the stage of the desert, if we experience that contemplative dimension of life.

Yet the desert today is found in the marginal places of the world and the church, where the prophetic and critical word is spoken in response to the cry of suffering in human beings and in the natural environment.

Those who put themselves on the edge of the conventional church or society in order to see clearly what is happening in our world are contemporary desert fathers and mothers.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Methodists to Join Declaration on Justification

Methodists to Join Declaration on Justification


Today's Entertainment News

Two pictures from The Curse of the Golden Flower, starring Chow Yun-Fat and Gong Li.

Sony Pictures Classics has picked up distribution rights for the movie; The Banquet has not yet found a North American distributor. I think visually The Banquet looks better, but we will see which has a better story. I hope CYF has found a movie worth acting for. I don't plan on watching Pirates 3.

A picture of Mr. Chow with his wife, I believe, from the filming of Pirates 3.

News and links to photos thanks to Monkey Peaches.

Full House's Song, Hye-kyo sets foot in Japan
Song, Hye-kyo finally sets foot in Japan.

The popular Korean actress, who starred with renowned Korean Wave star Rain in the drama Full House, will be launching in Japan her photo books shot in Paris,
Amsterdam, and New York.

Furthermore, her debut film, My Girl and I, is also scheduled to open in Japan in August, for which Song will visit Japan and run a series of major promotional events.

Although there is yet to be a final schedule for her promotional tour, it is believed that Song will hold a press conference and meet her fans in Tokyo and Fukuoka.

Having become one of the leading Korean Syndrome luminaries with her performances in All In and Autumn Fairy Tale (also known as Autumn in My Heart), this is the actress's first time to be on a promotion campaign, thus attracting much interest from local audiences and officials.

With Song entry into Japan, everyone's wondering if the actress would finally emerge as the best Korean Wave star.
More Korean entertainment news.

Review of Miami Vice by David Poland. I hope it's another hit for Michael Mann.


The Heckler and Koch XM-8.

Some more photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 (G36), 12, 13, airsoft replicas of various rifles, another airsoft catalog

Images from and wikipedia:

with grenade launcher:

Some closeups here.

Col. Hackworth had high hopes for this weapon, great M-16-hater that he was.

The hot contender currently being tested by the Army to replace these lemons is
the XM-8, a revolutionary smart-weapon being put through its paces by
professionals who, so far, give it two thumbs up. It's a different kind of
rifle, lighter and less expensive, yet it offers additional features and
performance not available in any other assault rifle in the world.
He ends his column, "With the upgraded XM-8, our warriors will finally have a weapon that will do as good a job punching holes in enemy soldiers in the 21st century as the M-1 and Browning Automatic Rifles did in the 20th. " (source)

Alas, the project has been cancelled. The Pentagon is re-evaluating what exactly the army needs in the future. As if rifles were not an important tool, but perhaps this is the 'technology will replace manpower' mindset at work. Will the XM-8 be revived in the future? Who knows...

Other related news : 1, 2, 3
HK used to have a page for the XM-8, but it has been taken down. The army website appears to be dead as well. coverage.

The Tavor. FN SCAR.
StrategyPage info on the SCAR. Another site.

"Megadeath in Mexico"

article here

Charles Taylor Resources

It's supposed to feel over 100 today, with actual temps in the mid-90s plus high humidity. I'm waiting at O'Neill for the CTRC to open (not until 3 P.M.), so I should be reading, but I'll finish some drafts for posts instead.

Charles Taylor is the author of Ethics of Authenticity, and Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity. He is known as a communitarian, and his works do address the questions of individualism versus corporatism as well as altruism versus egoism. I have not really read either, though Ethics of Authenticity was used in several sections of Philosophy of the Person.
Is there such a thing as modernity, traceable to certain philosophical and ideological roots? Or are we just seeing the results of Original Sin? More and more I am leaning towards the latter. Ideas have consequences, but original sin + lack of proper legislation by the government can also have the same consequences, with a proper ideological foundation not being necessary to explain what is going on in a particular society or its development (or more appropriately, its decline).

Charles Taylor resources
wikipedia entry
"The Multifaceted Charles Taylor"
Faculty page at McGill University

I suppose his books are on my reading list, but not a priority. I'd prefer to read a more Aristotelian analysis.

It will be interesting to see the kind of papers that will be presented at the Center for Ethics and Culture conference in November, though I am not sure I will be in attendance.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Illicit trade led to modern globalization

Illicit trade led to modern globalization


Last Sunday, after going to Mass at Our Saviour, I dropped by Chinatown to visit EJK. She wanted to find a certain cafe/restaurant but many were filled because of the World Cup Match between Italy and France. We settled on Zoe--she ordered the tuna sandwich, I got the Zoe burger. The food was decent (really, how much can be done to make a burger taste better?), and the bread basket included bread and muffins. Last time I saw EJK was more than a year ago, when I visited NYC to see Ngoi Ling yi and Uncle Lok and their daughter. We talked a little bit about the thesis and community and etiquette and consideration, that was a nice discussion. Too bad not too many students in Philosophy of Person are like that.

Afterwards we headed to Central Park for a walk... I got a glimpse of one of the Trump buildings (the Trump office building)--not so impressive. Donald Trump, one man everyone loves to hate? Possibly... he was part of the conversation yesterday, when I met up with a friend from Cal and her husband for dim sum. They are currently living in New York, near Poughkeepsie, and were in town for the wedding reception for her sister. We had dim sum at Emperor's Garden in Chinatown. The dim sum seems to be a little bit better, but there weren't as many people there as the last time I was there... (which was a while ago, maybe 3 years ago?).

They seem to be doing well, and I should look at LC's album to see what her daughter looks like; guess I'll need to email to get the url.

Of interest in this month's Chronicles... everything probably! But something special:
Rendering Us Again in Affection
by Katherine Dalton
An interview with Wendell Berry.

If I were to subscribe to another political journal it would be American Conservative. Too bad there's no subscription to it at a local library.

"Chosun Genre Paintings Show Change in Women's Roles"

Chosun Genre Paintings Show Change in Women's Roles

A painting by Shin Yun-bok

Marie Antoinette

There's the movie with Kirsten Dunst, directed by Sofia Coppola... (Filmforce has trailers)

and then there is the historical truth? Website of Elena Maria Vidal, author of Trianon: A Novel of Royal France and Madame Royale. CE entry.

Less than two weeks until Miami Vice is out...

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Benedict XVI: On Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Code: ZE06071601

Date: 2006-07-16

On Our Lady of Mount Carmel

"I Invite Special Prayers for Peace in the Holy Land"

INTROD, Italy, JULY 16, 2006 ( Here is a translation of Benedict XVI's address today, before praying the Angelus with the faithful gathered in Les Combes, Introd, in the Aosta Valley of the Italian Alps, where he is taking a few days of rest.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

Also this year I am happy to spend some time of rest here, in the Aosta Valley, in the house that many times welcomed our beloved John Paul II. I have immersed myself immediately in this wonderful Alpine scenery which helps to reinvigorate body and spirit, and today I am happy to live this family meeting -- my cordial greetings to each one of you, residents and holidaymakers.

I wish first of all to greet and thank the pastor of the Church that lives in this valley, the bishop of Aosta, Bishop Giuseppe Anfossi, as well as the priests, men and women religious, and the laity of the diocesan community. I assure each one of my remembrance in prayer, especially for the sick and those suffering. My grateful thoughts go, moreover, to the Salesians, who have placed their house at the Pope's disposition. I address my deferential greetings to the authorities of the state and region, to the municipal administrator of Introd, to the forces of order and to all who in different ways collaborate toward my peaceful stay. May the Lord recompense you!

By a happy coincidence, this Sunday is July 16, day in which the liturgy remembers the Most Holy Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel. Carmel, high promontory that rises on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, at the altitude of Galilee, has in its folds numerous natural grottoes, favorites of hermits.

The most famous of these men of God was the great prophet Elias, who in the 9th century before Christ, courageously defended the purity of the faith in the one true God from contamination by idolatrous cults. Inspired in the figure of Elias, the contemplative order of Carmelites arose, a religious family that counts among its members great saints such as Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Therese of the Child Jesus and Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (in the world, Edith Stein).

The Carmelites have spread in the Christian people devotion to the Most Holy Virgin of Mount Carmel, pointing to her as a model of prayer, contemplation and dedication to God. Mary, in fact, before and in an unsurpassable way, believed and felt that Jesus, the incarnate Word, is the culmination, the summit of man's encounter with God.

Fully accepting the Word, "she happily reached the holy mountain" (Prayer of the Collect of the Memorial), and lives forever, in soul and body, with the Lord. To the Queen of Mount Carmel I wish to commend today all the communities of contemplative life spread throughout the world, especially those of the Carmelite Order, among which I remember the convent of Quart, not far from here. May Mary help every Christian to meet God in the silence of prayer.

[After the Angelus, the Holy Father said the following words:]

In recent days the news from the Holy Land is a reason for new and grave concern for all, in particular because of the spread of warlike actions also in Lebanon, and because of the numerous victims among the civilian population. At the origin of these cruel oppositions there are, sadly, objective situations of violation of law and justice. But neither terrorist acts nor reprisals, especially when they entail tragic consequences for the civilian population, can be justified. By such paths, as bitter experiences shows, positive results are not achieved.

This day is dedicated to the Virgin of Carmel, Mount of the Holy Land that, a few kilometers from Lebanon, dominates the Israeli city of Haifa, the latter also recently hit. Let us pray to Mary, Queen of Peace, to implore from God the fundamental gift of concord, bringing political leaders back to the path of reason, and opening new possibilities of dialogue and agreement. In this perspective I invite the local Churches to raise special prayers for peace in the Holy Land and in the whole of the Middle East.

[Benedict XVI then greeted those present in different languages. In English, he said:]

I am pleased to greet the English-speaking visitors here today. I pray that all who are on holiday at this time will find refreshment in body and spirit and an opportunity to draw closer to the Lord in prayer and thanksgiving. May God bestow his blessings of joy and peace upon all of you, your families and loved ones at home.

[Translation by ZENIT]

© Copyright 2006 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana [adapted]

Papal Message to Movements, Communities

Code: ZE06071614

Date: 2006-07-16

Papal Message to Movements, Communities

"A Luminous Sign of the Beauty of Christ and His Bride"

VATICAN CITY, JULY 16, 2006 ( Here is Benedict XVI's message to the 2nd World Congress of Ecclesial Movements and New Communities, which was held in Rome from May 31 to June 2.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

While we look forward to the meeting with the members of more than 100 ecclesial movements and new communities, scheduled for Saturday, June 3 in St. Peter's Square, I am pleased to offer you, the representatives of all these ecclesial associations gathered at Rocca di Papa for your World Congress, a warm greeting with the Apostle's words: "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope" (Romans 15:13).

The memory of the previous World Congress of Ecclesial Movements, held in Rome from May 26-29, 1998, is still vivid in my mind and in my heart. In my capacity as the then-prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith I was asked to speak at it, with a lecture on the theological locus of ecclesial movements.

That Congress culminated in the memorable meeting with beloved Pope John Paul II on May 30, in St. Peter's Square, during which my predecessor expressed his approval of the ecclesial movements and new communities, which he described as "signs of hope" for the good of the Church and humanity.

Today, aware of the ground covered since then on the path marked out by the pastoral concern, affection and teachings of John Paul II, I would like to congratulate the Pontifical Council for the Laity in the persons of Archbishop Stanislaw Rylko, president, Bishop Josef Clemens, secretary, and their coworkers, for the important and worthwhile initiative of this World Congress.

Its theme: "The beauty of being Christian and the joy of communicating it," is inspired by something I said in the homily inaugurating my Petrine Ministry. This theme is an invitation to reflect on what the essential features of the Christian event are: in fact, we encounter in it the One who in flesh and blood visibly and historically brought to earth the splendor of God's glory.

The words of Psalm 45[44]:2 apply to him: "You are the fairest of the sons of men." And paradoxically, the prophet's words also refer to him: "He had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him" (Isaiah 53:2).

In Christ the beauty of truth and the beauty of love converge; but love, as people know, also calls for the willingness to suffer, a willingness which for those who love one another can even extend to the sacrifice of life (cf. John 15:13)!

Christ, who is "the beauty of every beauty," as St. Bonaventure used to say (Sermones Dominicales, 1:7), is made present in the hearts of men and women and attracts them to their vocation which is love. It is thanks to this extraordinary magnetic force that reason is drawn from its torpor and opened to the Mystery. Thus, the supreme beauty of God's merciful love is revealed and at the same time, the beauty of the human being who, created in the image of God, is regenerated by grace and destined to eternal glory.

Through the ages, Christianity has been communicated and disseminated thanks to the newness of life of persons and communities capable of bearing an incisive witness of love, unity and joy.

This force itself has set a vast number of people in "motion," from generation to generation. Was it not perhaps the beauty born from faith on the saints' faces that spurred so many men and women to follow in their footsteps?

Basically, this also applies to you: through the founders and initiators of your movements and communities you have glimpsed the face of Christ shining with special brightness and set out on your way.

Christ still continues today to make resound in the hearts of so many that "come, follow me" which can decide their destiny. This normally happens through the witness of those who have had a personal experience of Christ's presence. On the faces and in the words of these "new creatures," his light becomes visible and his invitation audible.

I therefore say to you, dear friends of the movements: act so as to ensure that they are always schools of communion, groups journeying on in which one learns to live in the truth and love that Christ revealed and communicated to us through the witness of the apostles, in the heart of the great family of his disciples.

May Jesus' exhortation ceaselessly re-echo in your hearts: "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 5:16). Bring Christ's light to all the social and cultural milieus in which you live. Missionary zeal is proof of a radical experience of ever renewed fidelity to one's charism that surpasses any kind of weary or selfish withdrawal.

Dispel the darkness of a world overwhelmed by the contradictory messages of ideologies! There is no valid beauty if there is not a truth to recognize and follow, if love gives way to transitory sentiment, if happiness becomes an elusive mirage or if freedom degenerates into instinct.

How much evil the mania for power, possession and pleasure can spawn in the lives of people and nations! Take the witness of the freedom with which Christ set us free (cf. Galatians 5:1) to this troubled world.

The extraordinary fusion between love of God and love of neighbor makes life beautiful and causes the desert in which we often find ourselves living to blossom anew. Where love is expressed as a passion for the life and destiny of others, where love shines forth in affection and in work and becomes a force for the construction of a more just social order, there the civilization is built that can withstand the advance of barbarity.

Become builders of a better world according to the ordo amoris in which the beauty of human life is expressed.

Today, the ecclesial movements and new communities are a luminous sign of the beauty of Christ and of the Church, his Bride. You belong to the living structure of the Church. She thanks you for your missionary commitment, for the formative action on behalf of Christian families that you are increasingly developing and for the promotion of vocations to the ministerial priesthood and consecrated life which you nurture among your members.

She is also grateful to you for your readiness not only to accept the active directives of the Successor of Peter, but also of the bishops of the various local Churches who, with the Pope, are custodians of truth and charity in unity. I trust in your prompt obedience.

Over and above the affirmation of the right to life itself, the edification of the Body of Christ among others must always prevail with indisputable priority.

Movements must approach each problem with sentiments of deep communion, in a spirit of loyalty to their legitimate pastors.

May you be sustained by participating in the prayer of the Church, whose liturgy is the most exalted expression of the beauty of God's glory, and in a certain way a glimpse of heaven upon the earth.

I entrust you to the intercession of the one whom we invoke as the Tota pulchra, the "All Fair," an ideal of beauty that artists have always sought to reproduce in their works, the "woman clothed with the sun" (Revelation 12:1) in whom human beauty encounters the beauty of God.

With these sentiments, I extend a special apostolic blessing to you all as a pledge of my constant affection.

From the Vatican, May 22, 2006


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