Saturday, April 26, 2008

Thomas Tallis - O Lord, give thy Holy Spirit

Peter Litman Canterbury Choirs, choral societies and vocal ensembles
European-American University
Cappella Musicale Enrico Stuart duca di York |

Nunc Dimittis by Giovanni da Palestrina

Kings Singers - Madrigal History Tour - Fine knacks

Thoughts on SMS

The civilian military provider (private military contractor?) in Macross Frontier--why does it have the VF25 while the UN Spacy forces are equipped with a modified version of the VF17? Why isn't the fleet equipped with the VF19 or the VF22? Or the VF25, for that matter? One could argue that a civilian company can invest in R&D and thus be equipped with the best and latest (like in today's world), but how does the political economy of the Macross universe function to make this possible? And why would they be tasked with defense of the fleet, rather than secondary operations? If they're the elite, shouldn't they be incorporated into a formal military command, instead of responding to call of the UN President? And what explains the bad showing of the UN Spacy fleet in episode one? Obsolete variable fighters? Poor pilot skills? Wouldn't the military be under pressure to upgrade and speed up training if that were the case? And shouldn't the colonization fleet stop, until the unknown threat has been evaluated and adequate measures have been introduced to counter it, instead of travelling further into unexplored and dangerous territory?

Perhaps the SMS was created in order to make a statement about contemporary political affairs, or at least to mirror them. However, it doesn't make much sense.

But if you can ignore questions like these, you'll enjoy the series.

Edit: Many of the links below answer the above questions by supplying information from the episodes themselves--it pays to know Japanese or have access to subtitles I suppose. Haha.

According to what I've read, the purpose of SMS is to test-fly new variable fighters; but, they've also been brought in to deal with the new alien threat since their aircraft are the only ones capable of taking the aliens on. Still, one would expect the fleet to begin producing the new planes once testing is complete.

For a certain inquirer:
Wiki info about Macross, Robotech (TV Series):
Robotech was one of the first anime televised in the United States that attempted to include most of the complexity and drama of its original Japanese source material. Produced by Harmony Gold USA, Inc. in association with Tatsunoko Prod. Co., Ltd., Robotech is a story adapted with edited content and revised dialogue from the animation of three different mecha anime series: The Super Dimension Fortress Macross, Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross, and Genesis Climber Mospeada. Harmony Gold's cited reasoning for combining these unrelated series was its decision to market Macross for American weekday syndication television, which required a minimum of 65 episodes at the time (thirteen weeks at five episodes per week). Macross and the two other series each had fewer episodes than required since they originally aired in Japan as a weekly series.
Robotech is the creation of Carl Macek (wiki).

Official Robotech site

More on current Macross Frontier episodes:
Macross Frontier 01 | Sea Slugs! Anime Blog
Macross Frontier 02 | Sea Slugs! Anime Blog
AstroNerdBoy's Anime & Manga Blog: Macross Frontier 02
AstroNerdBoy's Anime & Manga Blog: Macross Frontier 03
Anime Blog ga Arimasu » Blog Archive » Macross Frontier 03
Wakaranai » Macross Frontier 3 - 28 Deaths Later
Macross Frontier - 04 | Random Curiosity
Macross Frontier Mecha/Technology Thread *Read 1st post* - Macross ...

Macross Frontier Images
Macross Frontier - Forum - Anime News Network
Macross Mecha Manual

The Voices - Spanish Lullaby

The Voices - Pater Noster
The Voices - Jesus Is My Joy

Pater Noster by Javier Busto
UP Manila Chorale

Aspects of California that I don't like

Can be found in this post over at The American Scene: Paradise Found

Even the positive things, such as the interracial harmony the author mentions, I would argue are based on tolerance and having a common cultural background, as well as certain common interests that are defined by that culture. But has he visited the poorer parts of the major metropolitan areas? There are plenty of interracial tensions there. If one enjoys the natural scenery of California (away from people) or the joys of shopping in malls and has the money to do so, then it is natural that this person would like the coastal areas of California.

Much needs to be done with respect to the evangelization of the people and culture of California, and the typical suburban parish in the diocese of San Jose, or probably the other dioceses in California as well [though Sacramento seems to be improving], is ill-equipped for the task, since it does not challenge people to rethink their lifestyle but reinforces it in subtle and overt ways.

Fortunately, I have not been forced to listen to a pointless homily in a long time. But I don't think one is likely to hear one about sustainability or "communitarianism" any time soon. Perhaps in an Orthodox church.

Vladimir Grigorenko

Via the Crunchy Con, a video report of Vladimir Grigorenko.

vladimir grigorenko
Byzantine Icons: Special Feature: Vladimir Grigorenko.
Welcome to Icons Explained Blog

The best religious commercial ever?
(Ad for Catholics Come Home.)

More lamentations by Peter Hitchens

One day you’ll be 24 Lexie, old enough to be a granny

I think I saw one such young grandmother/mother pair with a child this week...

Rhonda Vincent videos

Rhonda Vincent - Wedding Song

Rhonda Vincent at Sally Mt. - Is the Grass Any Bluer

Rebecca Lynn Howard & Rhonda Vincent - The Angels Rejoiced
Macross F ( マクロスF ) OP - 「Triangular」

You can get a glimpse of the new space dimensional fortress in the opening sequence. In one sequence it is throwing up AA fire, another shot at the end of the opening:

I don't know if we'll see it in action any time soon. I haven't figured out what the other variable fighter is, shown near the end of the opening (with 9 seconds to go) in silhouette along with the VF25.

Also, the look of the Zentrans and Meltrans has changed somewhat since the original TV series, often having green or olive skin with strange hair colors plus pointed ears. There was some of this in the DYRL movie, but it became more prominent in Macross Plus and Macross 7. I liked it better when they looked more human.

Without the help of subtitles or a translation, I don't know what is going on with the micronization of the main Meltran ace in episode 4--I think it is the same one who was flying the training mission earlier, but there is a very bizarre personality change (or age regression?). What's up with that?

Some info on academic birettas and such

At this thread at NLM. From the comments by Fr. Augustine Thompson, O.P.:

The general consensus among Domincians I have spoken to is that Almy (yes, I know they are Episcopalian) mades the best academic birettas, but it will take about a month to get one made. If you call them on the phone, you can specify whether you want folding or rigid, what kind of cloth (poly or wool blend), what color, 3 or 4 fins, what color piping, whether a pom or not. This is important if you have special requirements. E.g. the *traditional* Angelicum biretta is entirely white (incl. piping and pom).

Gammerelli in Rome can do a quick turn around if you are in a real rush. They have all sorts of academic birettas in stock (be sure to know your European hat size). But be warned: their pom is very odd and comes tied up. Do NOT untie it for it will flop over and look even worse. If they don't have what you need in stock, I say call Almy.

Does the individual need an academic ring too? I recently went through a lot of trouble to find out what they should be like--modern canon law no longer specifies. The older canonists (Dictionnaire de droit canonique) say only that it should be simple and have at most one stone. And that the traditional stone was an amethyst (like that traditional for a bishop. If you need it fast, "gemhut" on the web can do a "gents ring" which is noble and simple in gold with a nice emerald cut amethyst for under $700.


Those with degrees from a non-pontifical university cannot wear an academic biretta, they wear the cap or morterboard of their degree granting institution. The biretta is the sign of an ecclesiastical (pontifical) degree.

The traditional colors, at least in my experience are theology=red, canon law=green, philosophy=white. These would be the color of the piping and pom, if that were the practice at the institution involved. But remember that some schools use different color arrangements for their birettas. For example, as above, the traditional theology biretta of the Angelicum is totally white.

It is pretty much universal that the license is three finned and the doctorate four.

But the "Magister Sacrae Theologiae" an honorary degree given by the Dominican Order (which is actually beyond the doctorate), has four fins, even if it is called "master." This is because "magister" and "doctor" meant the same thing in the middle ages.

Traditionally religious did not wear academic robes over their habits, since the habit is already a robe. The hood of the degree and whatever was the suitable headgear were worn with the habit and that was it. I am told that secular clergy similarly wore the hood and cap with cassock and suplice, but I have not been able to confirm that.

Watts & Co
Pax House
House of Hansen
Clergy Apparel

Some articles on Gammarelli:
Tailor to the Popes Working Overtime (
Style secrets of the pope's tailor : Religion : Naples Daily News
The Cloak & Soutane Trade - TIME
The Ritual Behind the Ritual
Annibale Gammarelli in front of his tiny tailor shop that served ...
The discreet business of dressing a pontiff - World - www.theage ...
(via archive) Ditta Annibale Gammarelli Abiti Ecclesiastici E ...

Ditta Annibale Gammarelli Abiti Ecclesiastici E Paramenti
Via di Santa Chiara, 34
Piazza della Rotonda
00186 Rome (RM)
tel: +39-06-688-01314

Deterioration of US Army artillery skills?

Elaine M. Grossman, Ready, Aim, Misfire!

De Clarke and Stan Goff, The Politics of Food is Politics

An Alternative Agriculture is Possible
The Politics of Food is Politics


We metropolitan Americans panic when we contemplate the possibility of becoming unable to afford our private automobiles. This is not just because of our legendary ego-attachment to the car. The primary reason we panic is because we need our cars to get to our jobs (at least one study has suggested that Americans spend 20 percent of their take-home pay on their cars, so we are working one day out of five to pay for the car so we can drive to the job). And we need our jobs.

It's a given: people need their jobs. But why? Because without the income from those jobs, we and our children don't eat. Our access to food is permitted only when it's mediated by money -- which we can only obtain by working (for the ruling class) or by becoming wards of the state (which, increasingly involves coerced labour).

Once again, gasoline and food are intimately entwined -- in the mesh of dependencies that keeps us all obedient to the bosses of the monetized economy. Most people can't eat without participating in the money economy because they have been driven off the land, and live in high-density "people storage" buildings without any access to living soil; or because, despite living in the suburbs or semi-rural areas with ample access to soil, they lack the skills and knowledge to produce their own food; or the soil they do have access to has been killed by industrial farming practises and can only "produce" by means of massive external inputs that must be purchased from the money economy (and the extractive industries).

The fossil/extractive industries and the money economy have built fences all around the food supply, from production to consumption. We play their game or we don't eat. Now their game is coming apart at the seams.

A common date for the celebration of Easter?

NLM: An Interesting Suggestion for the Easter Liturgy

Don Nicola Bux says this of his suggestion:
It could also, perhaps, facilitate the task presented in Vatican II, in trying to find a common date for the celebration of Easter “with our brethren who are separated from the communion with the Apostolic See” (cfr Appendix of the Liturgical Constitutions, n. 1)
A proposal, posted at De Unione Ecclesiarum: On calculating Easter
Towards a Common Date for Easter
Towards a Common Date for Easter

Catholic-Orthodox Consultation Urges Common Easter Date
Orthodox Ecumenists at work to create a commmon date for Pascha ...
7.4.99: TWO EASTERS? Towards a common date for Easter
A 1997 move for a common Easter date
Russian Prelate Urges World's Churches to Adopt Orthodox Dates for ...
Wiley X | Tactical Gloves
Wiley X | Tactical
Wiley-X Tactical Gloves

Oakley Military & Government Sales

Zenit: Holy See Note to U.N. Trade and Development Conference

Holy See Note to U.N. Trade and Development Conference

"Development Is Not a Target to Reach; It Is Rather a Path to Follow"

ACCRA, Ghana, APRIL 24, 2008 ( Here is the note for discussion sent Thursday by the Secretariat of State to the 12th U.N. Conference on Trade and Development in Accra, which ends today.

* * *

1. Introduction

The twelfth ministerial conference in Accra will be held at a crucial time for the world economy: it seems in fact that international relations find themselves at the crossroads of divergent powerful forces, all pointing in different directions. Some of them appear to be integrating forces, others seem to be disintegrating ones.

This framework depicts new and different scenarios for least developed economies that are attempting to gain greater access to the international economic arena. This essay briefly analyses, from a development perspective, some of the key aspects of the international economic system that are of crucial importance for low-income economies. As the purpose of the paper is to contribute to the debate in preparation for the Accra conference, we concentrate on the issues that are at the core of UNCTAD mission: trade and development and omit other equally important aspects, such as financial issues.

2. Crisis of multilateralism

In recent years, there has been a widespread crisis among multilateral institutions. The United Nations, at the political level, and the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO, at the economic level, all have been criticized on several grounds. In this regard, two types of criticism are particularly strong. The first is the problem of representation, according to which the decision making power within these institutions is not allocated in an equitable way. This is due either to the fact that the international political system is now radically different from the one that prevailed until two decades ago (as in the case of the UN), or to the fact that the relative economic importance of some countries has changed rapidly (as in the case of the IMF and the World Bank). In addition to acknowledging the importance of taking into account the changed political and economic scenario, there also is the need to carefully assure that reforms will not penalize the poorest and the most slowly growing economies (mostly African countries) in a manner that reduces the voice of such countries or their representation in the decision-making bodies of international institutions.

The second criticism refers to the lack of grassroots involvement of the society in development-oriented initiatives undertaken by multilateral institutions. Such an approach presents the risk of formulating policy strategy that is not centred on the poor but rather on governments of poor countries. A greater involvement of the civil society and of non-governmental organizations (especially those located in poor countries) would help to focus development initiatives more clearly on the needs of the poor. Even greater discriminatory treatment is imposed on faith-based organization of all sorts. Despite the fact that these organizations carry the major burden of health care and education in poor countries (particularly in Africa), they very often are excluded from receiving funds and from participating in the design and implementation of development programs by multilateral institutions. This exclusion not only provides a partial and unrealistic portrayal of development programs but also deprives government and multilateral institutions of valuable potential partners.

All the criticisms presented above are serious and important and need to be addressed carefully by political and economic leaders. Very sensitive issues are dealt with in current negotiations such as agriculture, access of non-agricultural products to markets, temporary movement of labour, and more countries are involved. In the resulting slower and more complex deal-striking process it is crucial that those who design institutions and those that work in them set aside particular interests and act in the name of the common good.

The main goal of multilateral institutions is indeed to seek the common good by respecting the dignity of every single person within a pluralist approach where a genuine sense of community emerges from the irrepressible aspiration for truth, love, and justice shared by every man and woman. Every single actor then must be in the position to give his contribution to the common goal and multilateral institutions must be the place where a truly constructive dialogue is developed.

3. Regionalism vs. multilateralism

During the latest years we have witnessed to a proliferation of Regional Trade Agreements (RTA),[1] partly as a response by many countries to the slow progress of the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations. In principle, if RTAs meet the full spirit of article 24 of GATT, they constitute a step toward global free trade; however, in practice there is a strong debate as to whether they favour or act as a constraint to the multilateral trading system and to poor countries’ development. To give a proper answer to this question is beyond the scope of this paper; however, we offer a few reflections to promote the debate.

3.1 The problem with asymmetric agreements

Certainly, it is true that, by entering a regional trade agreement, a country reduces the incentives to extend its efforts to achieve trade liberalization at a multilateral level. However, RTAs become even more problematic when they imply agreements between advanced and developing countries. This is one of the most critical aspects: several of the new bilateral trade agreements are, in fact, far from being truly regional and involve mainly North-South trade flows.

It is said that, within RTAs, trade liberalisation has a mercantilist bias: a country benefits from receiving preferential access to the partner’s market and it is hurt by giving the partner similar access to its own market. Since developed countries, in general, already have low tariffs on most products, while developing countries have higher tariffs, North-South preferential trade agreements are likely to harm developing (South) countries. According to this point of view, for small developing countries, liberalization on the basis of receiving “Most Favoured Nation” status could remain a better option than does entry into an RTA.

More generally, whenever a regional trade agreement involves advanced and developing countries, a clear asymmetry emerges since the former inevitably have a stronger bargaining power than do the latter. Therefore, if one strictly considers the negotiation process of trade deals, a fair multilateral trading system can better safeguard the interests of developing countries. The words of His Holiness Paul VI are pertinent in this regard: “The teaching of Leo XIII in Rerum Novarum is always valid: if the positions of the contracting parties are too unequal, the consent of the parties does not suffice to guarantee the justice of their contract, and the rule of free agreement remains subservient to the demands of the natural law. What was true of the just wage for the individual is also true of international contracts: an economy of exchange can no longer be based solely on the law of free competition, a law which, in its turn, too often creates an economic dictatorship. Freedom of trade is fair only if it is subject to the demands of social justice” (Populorum progressio, n. 59).

3.2 Rules of origin and regional trade agreements

RTAs are not uniformly distributed throughout the world; to the contrary, they are organized with hubs and spokes. The hubs are mainly advanced economies (such as US, EU, Japan), but also include the new emerging trade leaders (such as China, India and Brazil), and the spokes are, for the most part, the developing countries. Since advanced economies tend to apply uniform tariffs to developing countries, the result is that the web of regional trade agreements is rather simple, if analyzed from the perspective of a hub country, but extremely complicated, when analyzed from the perspective of a spoke country that has to deal with different tariffs applied by different hubs and other spokes.

The presence of Rules of Origin (ROO) in RTAs increases the asymmetry between hub and spoke countries. While a typical firm located in the EU faces a single set of ROO when exporting to any country in Africa (these are the EU rules of origin), a typical African firm faces the EU rules of origin when exporting to Europe, those of NAFTA when exporting to the US and the Japanese ROO when exporting to Japan. It is clear that this creates a strong constraint on the production of the African firm. Such constraints are strengthened by the increasing unbundling of the value chain that implies outsourcing (or offshoring) of different tasks in different places (countries). Since efficiency requires the fragmentation of production, in order to be competitive, developing countries, need to import inputs of parts for the production of goods that they plan to export in the RTA. However, in this way, they may fail to achieve the required threshold of value added to be produced within the RTA. Moreover, among developing countries, the poorest and the smallest are often able to perform only simple assembly operations and may not be able to meet the requirement of ROO that, on the other hand, can more easily be met by larger developing countries. Therefore, it would be more desirable for advanced economies to grant developing countries more flexible rules of origin.

3.3 Positive Aspect of Regional Trade Agreements: South-South trade

While the critical aspects of RTAs predominantly emerge when there are strong asymmetries among countries involved, the major benefits can be achieved within agreements that involve similar countries. Concerning those agreements, we are interested mainly with trade between developing countries, generally called South-South trade. The promotion South-South trade is desirable for several reasons. First RTAs, involving a restricted number of countries, can be concluded faster than multilateral agreements, particularly when the issues at the centre of the debate are specific and controversial topics. Second, because tariff rates, at present, are higher in poorer countries, following South-South trade liberalization, there can be room for substantial gains. Third, RTAs can be valuable arenas where developing countries can gradually adjust to the increased level of competition implied by free trade, such experiences give domestic industries more time to adjust. In addition, within RTAs developing countries can pool resources such as technology, human capital and infrastructure and thus create the basis for a development-oriented trade strategy. Finally, and more importantly, provided that countries are not too similar, within a South-South RTA, a developing country can realize comparative advantages over manufacturing goods with a relatively higher skill contents than in trade with developed countries. This is an important aspect since it could provide an opportunity for several LDCs, strongly dependent on commodity trade, to diversify their exports.

4. Agriculture

Agriculture presently is one of the major causes of the stalemate that characterizes multilateral trade negotiations. In this context, the recent strong increase of the prices of many soft commodities calls for an adjustment of position on the part of leaders in politics and in the economy. While the high level of prices has a positive impact on the revenue of many farmers around the world, the poorest among them, whose production is just enough to cover the needs of their own family, are not going to benefit from these better prices. Low income populations will also suffer from the high prices of staple food. The difficulties will particularly increase in LDCs, which are often net importing countries, and for them augmented international prices could worsen their terms of trade and cause a net welfare loss.

Therefore, the reduction of distorting subsidies in developed countries should be accompanied by reforms in the poorest countries aimed at increasing agricultural production in a sustainable way. Improving agricultural productivity can have a positive impact on the rural economy; it can lead to an increase in food availability and to a reduction of prices in the domestic market, and thus have a positive effect on livelihood in rural areas[2].

In this development process, the role of people is essential as they act through farmer’s organizations, NGOs, governmental institutions. Not to be forgotten are the women who play an essential role in the rural world. Another fact worthy of note is that African agriculture is one of the most undercapitalized in the world and deserves more attention from international organizations.

5. Need for a policy space

While it is evident that developing countries need to reform their economic system in order to maximize the opportunities created by globalization, it also is clear that these reforms should be different across countries because the needs of different countries are different: they have different histories, different endowments, different cultures etc. Development strategies should therefore be tailored to each country’s need and should be flexible enough to accompany the evolution of these needs over time.

Nevertheless, as stressed in the previous paragraphs, developing countries presently are constrained in the application of these policies, to some extent, by the rules of the international multilateral system. The adoption of standards (environmental, labour, sanitary) and the issue of rules of origin, to name a few, all could constrain the implementation of these policies. In order to negotiate these bottle-necks, developing countries claim a special and differential treatment, in other words, more policy space. Such treatment does not undermine multilateral rules. It simply provides a greater respect for the necessary sense of equity that will guarantee equality of opportunity for every one.

6. What can be done

Notwithstanding the dissatisfaction by developing countries about the current state of multilateral trade negotiations, it is fair to say that developing and, in particular, LDC countries already enjoy trade preferences by the WTO (i.e. generalized system of preferences) and by advanced economies (for example the US’ African Growth and Opportunity Act “AGOA” and the EU’s Everything But Arms initiative “EBA”). Nevertheless, the poor countries, with few exceptions, do not seem to have benefited from these preferences. Despite the fact that since the turn of the century per capita growth rate in sub-Saharian Africa has been the highest since the beginning of the seventies, it has been lower than that of other developing countries. Moreover, the current trend is certainly not adequate to reach the Millennium Development Goals. Finally, the penetration of the products from poor countries into large European or US markets has been highly disappointing.

This simple observation suggests that, in trade agreements, the establishment of preferential treatment for LDCs is not enough to generate long-lasting effects on output growth. There is a second part of this argument which is as important as the previous one: poor countries should be put in a position to reap the benefits of trade liberalization.

So far, African countries have enjoyed the most obvious direct benefit from tariff preference: the rent transfer. The preference margin, in fact, is transferred from the importing country to the exporting country. However, preferences also can induce a significant export supply response, which, in turn, can create employment and growth in developing countries. This is the most pressing problem for LDC countries: their inability to have a prompt and important supply response in the presence of trade preferences. It seems that the major obstacle to extracting the greatest gains from trade is internal (i.e. inadequate internal supply response) rather external (i.e. inadequate access to developed countries’ markets).

It is not by chance that UNCTAD’s 2006 Least Developed Countries report was centred on the idea that the key challenge for poor countries is to develop their productive capacities. Moreover the recent Aid for Trade initiative stresses that aid is a key element for making trade work for development.

6.1 The true objective: development centred on the human being

The internal failure of developing countries helps us to refocus the debate on what is the true goal: development. Trade represents a significant opportunity for developing countries. However, it is not an end itself but rather is a means to achieve development and poverty reduction. In fact, trade opening is an essential element of the development process, but it is not per se a sufficient condition for attracting countries out of poverty. Developing countries need to be equipped in order to take the opportunity created by trade. Without the appropriate policies and prerequisites (more on this below), it is very unlikely that any country could benefit from trade.

This is why most of economic studies find a positive association between trade openness (i.e. the outcome of liberalization policies) and growth, while the evidence between trade liberalization (i.e. the policies) and growth is less clear. In other words, not all countries that liberalize trade are able to reap all its benefits. However those countries that implement the complementary policies that allow trade creation manage to grow faster.

6.2 A change in perspective: the common good as the goal for development

It must be clear that development is not only about the growth of the economy in general; it is about the development of the human being with his/her capabilities and relationships with intermediary social groups (family, social, political, cultural groups etc.) within which he/she lives. This requires a change in perspective that recognises peoples as united by a common factor, their humanity being created with the imprint of the common God creator. Only by starting from this premise can we aim, within pluralist institutions, toward the achievement of the common good, which needs to be the primary objective of any society. The common good is neither an abstract goal nor a simple list of targets. It is simply the realisation of the primary needs of the person: the need of truth, love, and justice. These needs cannot be completely fulfilled but, by nature, the human being tends to support the tension of aiming toward their fulfilment.

As the world’s bishops stated in the Vatican II Council document, “Gaudium et Spes”: “Because of the increasingly close interdependence which is gradually extending to the entire world, we are today witnessing an extension of the role of the common good, which is the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfilment more fully and more easily. The resulting rights and obligations are consequently the concern of the entire human race. Every group must take into account the needs and legitimate aspirations of every other group, and even those of the human family as a whole” (n. 26).

This is the essence of development, and it is something that concerns every person, rich and poor, because every man is always in development. In fact, development is not a target to reach; it is rather a path to follow: we can say that there is true development when persons are put in a position to follow their most important desires and needs. Following this premise, it is clear that the tension toward the common good finds its fulfilment within the relationships that human beings establish among each other. The common good, therefore, is fulfilled within belonging, within a people. As stated by His Holiness John Paul II: “Man, in keeping with the openness of his spirit within and also with the many diverse needs of his body and his existence in time, writes this personal history of his through numerous bonds, contacts, situations, and social structures linking him with other men, beginning to do so from the first moment of his existence on earth, from the moment of his conception and birth” (Redemptor Hominis, n. 14).

How can we design international rules and international institutions so that different paths for development of different peoples can be sustained and not hampered? Through two principles: solidarity and subsidiarity.

Solidarity is the responsibility of developed nations to favour economic growth in LDCs by helping less fortunate individuals to create their opportunities for development. Solidarity should be the guiding principle, not only in the definition of foreign aid, but also in the economic relationship between developed and developing countries and within regional or multilateral agreements. At present, the principle of solidarity is acknowledged by multilateral institutions in several frameworks; the generalised system of preferences designed within the WTO and other trade-related initiatives (AGOA, EBA, Aid for Trade etc.) are examples of this. However, as stressed above, there is room for extending the system of preferences to other areas such as rules of origin, non tariff barriers and intellectual property rights in order to give a real different opportunity for development to least developed countries.

While solidarity should be the spark that generates the definition of development-oriented policies both at national and at international level, subsidiarity should be the guiding principle in their design and implementation.

As stated above, development-oriented and aid policies by advanced economies and multilateral institutions mainly have been designed in accord with the principle of solidarity. However, when implemented, too may of them have failed to comply with the principle of subsidiarity. This has resulted in a marginal involvement of civil society and of its intermediate bodies, with a primary role given to the central government as recipient and manager of aid flows. This also could be a possible explanation for the fact that, at macroeconomic level, aid policies delivered far less to LDCs than was expected.

Subsidiarity not only preserves and promotes originality in the development of social life, but also implies an act of freedom by individuals who try to follow their vocations. In fact, “the characteristic implication of subsidiarity is participation, which is expressed essentially in a series of activities by means of which the citizen, either as an individual or in association with others, whether directly or through representation, contributes to the cultural, economic, political and social life of the civil community to which he belongs. Participation is a duty to be fulfilled consciously by all, with responsibility and with a view to the common good.”[3] Once the conditions are created, individuals are called to act in order to pursue their vocations.

In other words, at international level, solidarity and subsidiarity imply a double responsibility: by developed countries in helping LDCs to find their path for development and by least developed countries in implementing all the necessary policies that would allow them to take the opportunities that are offered.

In this framework, the policy space could be an instrument for the implementation of subsidiarity by allowing policy actions to be diversified according to the different needs of the society. Moreover if the policy space is extended following the principle of subsidiarity the contradictions discussed above between individual policies and the rules of multilateral institutions disappear as the former are implemented in an original tension towards the common good.

6.3 Key issues

According centrality to the human being implies that the development strategy should be centred on some key issues that imply the responsibility of every actor at all levels:

Education. This truly is the essence of development. Only an educated person can be fully aware of the worth and dignity of the human being. Then educated people can more easily establish among themselves social relations not based on force and abuse, but on respect and friendship. In such an environment, it is easier to reduce corruption and to develop virtuous institutions that help to achieve the common good.

Health. There cannot be development when poor health standards persist. High mortality rates and low life-expectancy not only weaken the desires of the heart of people, but also repress economic activity since health provides the timeframe for long-term investments, including that of education.

Decent work: growth strategies and policies should be centred on employment creation not only because income generating activities help individuals to exit from poverty, but also, and more importantly, because work, if one is educated to its subjective dimension, becomes an instrument of self-fulfilment of the human person. According this point of view, it is crucial that, following the ILO definition, work be decent and that it is carried out under conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity.

Economic freedom. This is granted by the institutions. Without the institutional setting that provides a stable economic environment where the rule of law is enforced and property rights are respected, economic development inevitably is repressed. Note that institutions matter not only to the develop domestic entrepreneurship but also to both attract foreign entrepreneurship via foreign direct investment and to limit capital flights that currently drain domestic resources from several developing countries. In recent years, a vast body of literature has stressed the importance of institutions in economic development. We must assure that institutions take the shape that individuals give them; the proper development of an equitable and efficient institutional setting is therefore a collective responsibility of any society. Education is a clear prerequisite to facilitate this process. An educated society is able to design institutions that are centred on the human being. Moreover, it is at the institutional level that the above-mentioned principles of solidarity and subsidiarity are shaped into rules and laws which become binding.

Entrepreneurship. The first step toward economic development is the promotion of entrepreneurship, and this necessarily gives a crucial role to small firms. The promotion of entrepreneurship essentially is composed of two steps: 1) the development of the entrepreneurial idea; 2) the creation of an economic environment where the idea can be put into practice and shaped into concrete production. For the first step, the centrality of the human person is crucial; at the very end the development of an entrepreneurial idea is all about somebody that has the courage of “betting” on himself. The second step requires stable and efficient institutions (see above) and the building of so-called social-overhead-capital that enables the practical development of the entrepreneurial idea.

The task faced by international institutions in sustaining the development of poor countries is enormous. The first decisive step toward achieving this goal is to implement policies that recognize and place the value of the human person at their centre.

[1] As of June 2007, 380 RTA had been notified to the GATT/WTO; of these 264 have been set up since 1995, the date of creation of the WTO itself.

[2] A successful initiative in this respect is the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme supported by the Global Donor Platform for Rural Development.

[3] Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, Rome: Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, 2004.

A review of the Complete Jane Austen from First Things

Sensible Jane

By Amanda Shaw

Enter Prince Charming: the dashing Mr. Willoughby, who literally sweeps Marianne off her feet and initiates a flowery, fanciful courtship. Elinor gently reproves, but what does she know of real romance? It is not until the gentleman’s abrupt departure, however, that the elder sister starts to sound more rational than restrictive. Common sense should be balanced with emotional sensibility, Austen seems to be saying. The over-romantic woman loses the man, and the over-cautious woman never catches him to begin with.

We need, in short, a balance between Marianne and Elinor.
But then she continues by praising the wisdom and restraint of Elinor. Is Elinor over-cautious? No. She is doing what the customs dictated at the time, and she cannot be "aggressive" in pursuing Edward Ferrars. Does the author of this review have a divided view of Elinor? If Elinor is a model of moral virtue, why would one need a balance between Marianne and Elinor?

Feel-good spirituality

That's what Gaius Baltar is promoting for his sect--God loves us because we are perfect as we are. So what we need to do is to find God's presence in us, realize His acceptance of us, and come to accept ourselves, and thus be spiritual. Is this what the creators of BSG thinking of religion? Or are they [or Baltar] tailoring the colonial fleet's monotheism to fit Baltar's neuroses? A riff on the new-age spirituality or Oprah perhaps? On the other hand, how is Baltar's new religion linked to the quest for perfection by the cylons?

According to Christian Tradition, we are loved by God not because of who or what we are or have done, but because of God's own goodness. We are not a cause of God's love--rather God is the cause of His love, and His love seeks to diffuse itself through Creation. We could come to understand this through a metaphysical proof; but ours is not an age of reason. It remains to be seen what the stance of Ron Moore and the other creative minds behind BSG towards religion is.

In the meantime: Sci Fi Friday: Ron Moore on Religion vs. Humanism in Star Trek and ...

Something about Stuart Kauffman: Pantheism Watch (via Postmodern Conservative)
Linn Cohen-Cole, The Criminalization of Raw Milk: a Mennonite Farmer is Hauled Away
Twitch: Full Theatrical Trailer For Oshii’s SKY CRAWLERS Arrives!

Having 100 slaves

From AR (original):

The huge distortions imposed on the modern industrial nations by the flood of cheap abundant energy that washed over them in the 20th century can be measured readily enough by a simple statistic. In America today, our current energy use works out to around 1000 megajoules per capita, or the rough equivalent of 100 human laborers working 24-hour days for each man, woman, and child in the country. The total direct cost for all this energy came to around $500 billion a year in 2005, the last year for which I was able to find statistics, or about $1667 per person per year.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Macross, a 20 Year History

Boundless: Girls Need Girls

Girls Need Girls
by Suzanne Hadley

There seems to be a trend toward the rejection of female friends these days. TV often portrays women who hang out with guys as having more sexual power or being somehow above the emotional fray of womanhood. I've often heard a woman say, "I'd rather just have guy friends. I get along better with guys." But friendships with men — as fun as they can be — will never replace the joys and benefits of female friendships.

And if for some reason they can't make female friends would we be right to suspect that they were either unlucky in not being able to meet the right people, or that they had some personal issue?

Sluga Gosudarev trailer

here via Twitch

Looks like it would be rated R. Movie website.

Some sort of MV, not sure if it is official or fan-made.

Misc: Admiral Kolchak (2008) - Official teaser
The Red Baron - Trailer
The Red Baron Trailer - english

Julianne Hough: AOL feature

includes her MV and a photo slideshow

Julianne Hough on QVC - part 1 of 2
Julianne Hough on QVC - part 2 of 2


Moral Philosophy and Current Events
A blog which is dedicated to the use of Traditional(Aristotelian/Thomistic) moral reasoning in the analysis of current events.
via TCRNews

Zenit: Benedict XVI on Role of Grandparents

Benedict XVI on Role of Grandparents

Be "a Living Presence in the Family, in the Church and in Society"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 25, 2008 ( Here is the April 5 address Benedict XVI gave upon meeting with participants of the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council of the Family. The theme of the assembly was "Grandparents: Their Witness and Presence in the Family."

* * *

Your Eminences,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am pleased to meet you at the end of the 18th Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Family on the theme: "Grandparents: their witness and presence in the family". I thank you for accepting my suggestion at the Meeting in Valencia when I said: "In no way should [grandparents] ever be excluded from the family circle. They are a treasure which the younger generation should not be denied, especially when they bear witness to their faith" (Address at the Fifth World Meeting of Families, Valencia, 8 July 2006). I greet in particular Cardinal Ricardo Vidal, Archbishop of Cebu and a member of the Committee of the Presidency, who has expressed your common sentiments, and I address an affectionate thought to dear Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo who has guided this Dicastery with passion and competence for 18 years. We miss him and offer him our best wishes for a prompt recovery, together with our prayers.

The theme you have discussed is very familiar to all. Who does not remember their grandparents? Who can forget their presence and their witness by the domestic hearth? How many of us bear their names as a sign of continuity and gratitude! It is a custom in families, after their departure, to remember their birthdays with the celebration of Mass for the repose of their souls and if possible, a visit to the cemetery. These and other gestures of love and faith are a manifestation of our gratitude to them. They gave themselves, they sacrificed themselves for us, and in certain cases also gave their lives.

The Church has always paid special attention to grandparents, recognizing them as a great treasure from both the human and social, as well as religious and spiritual viewpoints. My venerable Predecessors Paul VI and John Paul II - we have just celebrated the third anniversary of the latter's death - emphasized on various occasions the Ecclesial Community's respect for the elderly, for their dedication and their spirituality. In particular, during the Jubilee of the Year 2000, John Paul II summoned the world's elderly to St Peter's Square in September and said on that occasion: "Despite the limitations brought on by age, I continue to enjoy life. For this I thank the Lord. It is wonderful to be able to give oneself to the very end for the sake of the Kingdom of God!". These words were contained in the Letter that about a year earlier, in October 1999, he had addressed to the elderly and which have preserved intact their human, social and cultural timeliness.

Your Plenary Assembly has discussed the theme of grandparents' presence in the family, the Church and society with a look that can include the past, present and future. Let us briefly analyze these three moments. In the past, grandparents had an important role in the life and growth of the family. Even with their advancing age they continued to be present with their children, their grandchildren and even their great-grandchildren, giving a living witness of caring, sacrifice and a daily gift of themselves without reserve. They were witnesses of a personal and community history that continued to live on in their memories and in their wisdom. Today, the economic and social evolution has brought profound transformations to the life of families. The elderly, including many grandparents, find themselves in a sort of "parking area": some realize they are a burden to their family and prefer to live alone or in retirement homes with all the consequences that such decisions entail.

Unfortunately, it seems that the "culture of death" is advancing on many fronts and is also threatening the season of old-age. With growing insistence, people are even proposing euthanasia as a solution for resolving certain difficult situations. Old age, with its problems that are also linked to the new family and social contexts because of modern development, should be evaluated carefully and always in the light of the truth about man, the family and the community. It is always necessary to react strongly to what dehumanizes society. Parish and diocesan communities are forcefully challenged by these problems and are seeking today to meet the needs of the elderly. Ecclesial movements and associations exist which have embraced this important and urgent cause. It is necessary to join forces to defeat together all forms of marginalization, for it is not only they - grandfathers, grandmothers, senior citizens - who are being injured by the individualistic mindset, but everyone. If grandparents, as is said often and on many sides, are a precious resource, it is necessary to put into practice coherent choices that allow them to be better valued.

May grandparents return to being a living presence in the family, in the Church and in society. With regard to the family, may grandparents continue to be witnesses of unity, of values founded on fidelity and of a unique love that gives rise to faith and the joy of living. The so-called new models of the family and a spreading relativism have weakened these fundamental values of the family nucleus. The evils of our society - as you justly observed during your work - are in need of urgent remedies. In the face of the crisis of the family, might it not be possible to set out anew precisely from the presence and witness of these people - grandparents - whose values and projects are more resilient? Indeed, it is impossible to plan the future without referring to a past full of significant experiences and spiritual and moral reference points. Thinking of grandparents, of their testimony of love and fidelity to life, reminds us of the Biblical figures of Abraham and Sarah, of Elizabeth and Zechariah, of Joachim and Anne, as well as of the elderly Simeon and Anna and even Nicodemus: they all remind us that at every age the Lord asks each one for the contribution of his or her own talents.

Let us now turn our gaze towards the sixth World Meeting of Families which will be celebrated in Mexico in January 2009. I greet and thank Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, Archbishop of Mexico, present here, for all he has already done in these months of preparation together with his collaborators. All Christian families of the world look to this Nation, "ever faithful" to the Church, which will open the doors to all the families of the world. I invite the Ecclesial Communities, especially family groups, movements and associations of families, to prepare themselves spiritually for this event of grace. Venerable and dear Brothers, I thank you once again for your visit and for the work you have done during these days; I assure you of my remembrance in prayer and cordially impart the Apostolic Blessing to you and to your loved ones.

© Copyright 2008 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

AN: China expects another summer of frequent blackouts

04/25/2008 CHINA
China expects another summer of frequent blackouts
According to official data, the energy shortfall will amount to 10 gigawatts, equivalent to millions of households. But experts maintain that the shortage will be even greater. The low "political" cost of electricity forces power stations to operate at a loss and with low reserves, with the risk of remaining in the dark.


French Horror in Romania
Review of Ils

from the online journal Lingua Romana

I don't know much about Romania, except that the language is derived from Latin. How Latin is the culture?

The Philosopher, the New Scot, and I met two Romanian teachers/students over in Cambridge once. They never bumped into them again at that place... what was the name of it again? Not Redline. Ah, Noir.

Romanian language, alphabet and pronunciation
The History of the Romanian Language
Romanian language - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
ROMANIAN the closest to CLASSICAL LATIN | Antimoon Forum
Easy Romanian .com - Learn Romanian Language Online - The Romanian ...a
Yamada Language Center: Romanian WWW Guide

wiki: Origin of the Romanians, Romanians
Romanian Voice - Romania
Romanian National Tourist Office
Patriarhia Romana
Romanian Orthodox Archdiochese in America and Canada
ROYA - Romanian Orthodox Youth in America
The Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America (events gallery 2005 -- beautiful icons!)
The American Romanian Orthodox Youth
Religion in Romania

Romanian Orthodox Church in London - Biserica Ortodoxã Românã din ...

Holy Trinity Romanian Orthodox Church of Los Angeles, California
Sts. Peter & Paul Romanian Orthodox Church, Dearborn Heights Michigan
St. Michael's Orthodox Church - Southbridge, Massachusetts
Saint Stephen, Romanian Orthodox Church
Saint Mary's Romanian Orthodox Church
Welcome to St. Mary Romanian Orthodox Chatedral
Saint Parascheva - Romanian Orthodox Church of Boston
Saint George Romanian Orthodox Cathedral, Southfield(Detroit ...
Holy Trinity Romanian Orthodox Church
St. John the Baptist Romanian Orthodox Church, Glendale, AZ
St.Joseph Romanian Orthodox Church - Home Page
St. Mary's Romanian Orthodox Church
† Saints Constantine & Elena: Home
Saint Mary Romanian Orthodox Church

Dormition Monastery » Welcome to our website!

Angela GHEORGHIU - Sanie cu zurgălăi (Romanian folk song)

Angela Gheorghiu / Sacred Romanian Orthodox Church Song

Angela Gheorghiu - The Soprano
EMI Classics - Angela Gheorghiu - Biography
Angela Gheorghiu

Romanian Orthodox Chant:
Romanian Orthodox Chant - Psalm 1,2,3 at Putna Monastery


Putna Monastery Photos, Romania

Putna Monastery - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Youtube: Putna monastery

Romanian Orthodox Byzantine Chant - Psalm 50

Romanian Orthodox Byzantine Chant - The Beatitudes

Romanian Orthodox Byzantine Chant - The Lamentations

A bit early...
Romanian/Greek Orthodox Byzantine Chant - Hristos Anesti

Romanian Orthodox Byzantine Chant - Resurrection Kanon

How did I get on this tangent? Originally I was looking at the trailer for The Strangers, which is a remake of Ils (Them).

Thursday, April 24, 2008

96.3 JACK fm OLOTW - Marabeth Poole

Julianne Hough's sister, but apparently she's married. Too bad, Sarge. Where do they get the accent from? I thought the family was from Utah. Miss Hough doesn't seem to have a strong accent in her interviews and on DWTS, but in her song, it's rather prominent. Maybe the accent comes with the style of singing.

Julianne Hough - "That Song In My Head" (HQ)
Hayley Westenra O Mio Babbino Caro

Hayley Westenra - 'May It Be' live Matakana '08

KunstlerCast #9 and 10

KunstlerCast #9: Urban Planning

KunstlerCast #10: Children of the Burbs
Hey Sarge, you missed this, Best Ranger Contest 2008. Too bad you can't participate in this either...

Quarantine trailer

the American remake of [rec]

Unfortunately, the trailer contains a major spoiler. Who was put in charge of its creation?
From AICN: It's Official - Guillermo Del Toro is On Board To Direct HOBBIT... signed, sealed and he will deliver!

For KK

2 posts from Fr. Z that might interest you:

“These are my mother’s flavors.”
Follow up to the entry on the menus for Pope Benedict

A special birthday present

via NLM: EWTN FSSP Ordinations Confirmation

I hope I'll be able to watch this online.

Prayer request

Please pray for JP.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Allan Carlson, The Natural Family Dimly Seen through Feminist Eyes

via the Western Confucian

Sovereign Order of Malta

Sovrano Ordine di Malta - sito ufficiale
Sovereign Order of Malta - Official site
Order of Malta® Federal Association, USA
Order of Malta® American Association, USA
Sovereign Military Order of Malta in the United Kingdom
Welcome to The Order of Malta Australia
Order of Malta - Maltese Association
Sovereign Military Order of Malta in Belgium
Colombian Association of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta
History of the Order of St. John
The Sovereign Military Order of Saint-John (Malta)
Alliance of Orders of Saint John - Alliance de Chevalerie de Saint Jean
Sovereign Military Order of Malta - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Knights Hospitaller - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Sarge, the thread at NLM, and the link to all the photos.


Post initiated on 3/10/08.

I remember during high school we were encouraged to look for and use synonyms in our essays in order to have a greater variety of words, and for the sake of style. (Repetition of words was frowned upon.)

But now that I've gotten older and learned a bit more since then, I have doubts as to whether this is a good practice for beginning writers, especially if the synonyms do not have the same exact meaning, but have subtle or perhaps significant differences? It seems obvious that we should be careful when we use words that are directly tied to sense experience and refer specifically to some thing or some aspect of a thing. But such care is necessary with 'abstractions' as well. To be 'fair' may not be the same as to be 'just,' and neither may be identical with being 'equitable.'

If we ignore distinctions in meaning, do we not end up impoverishing the written culture rather than enrichening it? After all, when we are writing to others, especially those who are not as learned, they may acquire the same sort of sloppiness in language and thinking as a result of reading what we write. At the same time, our own vocabulary suffers.
Publish Post
But what should we expect when much of our 'learning' is tied to what we read and our imagination, instead of direct contact with reality through our senses? Our names are tied to representations in books and visual media, rather than to the things themselves.
Why more food is not the answer
The world wants more food - a lot more food - but the planet will not be able to provide it. A groundbreaking United Nations report was released last week that presents an alternative paradigm for agriculture - at a very timely moment.
Where are the economists?
It is clear that the current generation will have to adapt to an oil-constrained world. Wouldn’t you expect to see the best and brightest of the economics profession analyzing, passionately arguing, advising national governments and international organizations, never letting the sense of urgency recede from public consciousness?
Grant Havers, The Limits of Lincoln Bashing

Edit: A discussion over at What's Wrong with the World--A Note on Lincoln-Bashing on the Right

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

On Sunday night I met with my brother-in-law PS and we had a short discussion about sci-fi. I haven't really read much sci-fi in the last 10 years, the exception being the new Dune novels (which I rapidly skimmed). The last time I really read through a science fiction novel was probably in high school. Pure secular humanistic sci-fi would probably not interest me much; however, military sci-fi is a different story. I was at Barnes and Noble this afternoon I came across the Lost Fleet series by Jack Campbell. It was interesting as it deals with an interstellar war involving large space fleets (much like LOGH or Banner of the Stars), and I did manage to read through the first 4 or 5 chapters before I had to leave the bookstore to meet my mother for dinner. If I get a chance to check the series out from the public library, I may do so, though I should dedicate some time to reading Aubrey and Hornblower too...
Oakley Tactical Gloves
Oakley Assault Glove
Sports Shades - Oakley tactical gloves

Sarge's new helmet: MSA ACH 2002 (GunFighter Cut)
via NLM: Westminster Cathedral could be forced to close

Squat Q&A with WKW


Message for Day of Prayer for Priests

Message for Day of Prayer for Priests

"It Is on Prayer That the Effectiveness of Action Depends"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 22, 2008 ( Here is the message published by the Congregation for Clergy for the World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests. The day will be celebrated May 30, the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

* * *

Reverend and dear Brothers in the Priesthood,

On the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus let us fix the eyes of our minds and hearts with a constant loving gaze on Christ, the one Savior of our lives and of the world. Focusing on Christ means focusing on that Face which every human being, consciously or not, seeks as a satisfying response to his own insuppressible thirst for happiness.

We have encountered this Face and on that day, at that moment, his Love so deeply wounded our hearts that we could no longer refrain from asking ceaselessly to be in his Presence. “In the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch” (Psalm 5).

The Sacred Liturgy leads us once again to contemplate the Mystery of the Incarnation of the Word, the origin and intimate reality of this company which is the Church: the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob revealed himself in Jesus Christ. “No one could see his Glory unless first healed by the humility of his flesh.... By dust you were blinded, and by dust you are healed: flesh, then, had wounded you, flesh heals you“ (St. Augustine, Commentary on the Gospel according to John, Homily, 2, 16).

Only by looking again at the perfect and fascinating humanity of Jesus Christ -- alive and active now -- who revealed himself to us and still today bends down to each one of us with his special love of total predilection, can we can let him illumine and fill the abyss of need which is our humanity, certain of Hope encountered and sure of Mercy that embraces our limitations and teaches us to forgive what we ourselves do not even manage to discern. “Deep calls to deep at the thunder of your cataracts” (Psalm 42[41]).

On the occasion of the traditional World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests that is celebrated on the Feast of the Sacred Heart, I would like to recall the priority of prayer over action since it is on prayer that the effectiveness of action depends. The Church's mission largely depends on each person's personal relationship with the Lord Jesus and must therefore be nourished by prayer: “It is time to reaffirm the importance of prayer in the face of the activism and the growing secularism” (Benedict XVI, "Deus Caritas Est," No. 37). Let us not tire of drawing on his Mercy, of letting him look at and medicate the painful wounds of our sin, in order to marvel at the ever new miracle of our redeemed humanity.

Dear confreres, we are experts of God's Mercy within us and only by so being, his instruments in embracing wounded humanity in a way that is ever new. “Christ does not save us from our humanity, but through it; he does not save us from the world but came into the world so that through him the world might be saved (cf. John 3:17)” (Benedict XVI, Urbi et Orbi Message, Dec. 25, 2006). Finally, we are priests through the Sacrament of Orders, the highest Act of God's Mercy and, at the same time, of his special preference.

In the second place, with an unquenchable thirst and longing for Christ, the most authentic dimension of our Priesthood is mendicancy, simple and continuous prayer that is learned in silent orison. It has always characterized the life of Saints and should be asked for insistently. This awareness of our relationship with him is subjected to the purification of daily testing. Every day we realize again and again that not even we Ministers who act "in Persona Christi Capitis" are spared this drama. We cannot live a single moment in his Presence without a gentle longing to know him and to continue to adhere to him. Let us not give in to the temptation to see being priests as a burden, inevitable and impossible to delegate, henceforth assumed, which can perhaps be carried out “mechanically” with a structured and coherent pastoral program. Priesthood is the vocation, the path and the manner through which Christ saves us, has called us and is calling us now to abide with him.

The one adequate measure, with regard to our Holy Vocation, is radicalism. This total dedication with awareness of our infidelity can only be brought into being as a renewed and prayerful decision which Christ subsequently implements, day after day. The actual gift of priestly celibacy must be accepted and lived in this dimension of radicalism and full configuration to Christ. Any other approach to the reality of the relationship with him risks becoming ideological.

Even the great mass of work that the contemporary conditions of the ministry sometimes impose on us, far from discouraging us must spur us to care with even greater attention for our priestly identity which has an incontrovertibly divine root. In this regard the particular conditions of the ministry themselves must impel us, with a logic opposed to that of the world, to “raise the tone” of our spiritual life, witnessing with greater conviction and effectiveness to our exclusive belonging to the Lord.

We are taught total dedication by the One who loved us first. “I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me. I said, ‘Here am I, here am I' to a nation that did not call on my name”. The place of totality par excellence is the Eucharist since, “in the Eucharist Jesus does not give us a ‘thing' but himself; he offers his own body and pours out his own blood” ("Sacramentum Caritatis," No. 7).

Let us be faithful, dear confreres, to the daily Celebration of the Most Holy Eucharist, not solely in order to fulfill a pastoral commitment or a requirement of the community entrusted to us but because of the absolute personal need we have of it, as of breathing, as of light for our life, as the one satisfactory reason for a complete priestly existence.

In his Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Sacramentum Caritatis," the Holy Father reproposes to us forcefully St Augustine's affirmation: “no one eats that flesh without first adoring it; we should sin were we not to adore it” (St. Augustine, "Enarrationes in Psalmos," 98,9). We cannot live, we cannot look at the truth about ourselves without letting ourselves be looked at and generated by Christ in daily Eucharistic Adoration, and the “Stabat” of Mary, “Woman of the Eucharist”, beneath her Son's Cross, is the most significant example of contemplation and adoration of the divine Sacrifice that has been given to us.

Since the missionary spirit is intrinsic in the very nature of the Church, our mission is likewise innate in the priestly identity, which is why missionary urgency is a matter of self-awareness. Our priestly identity is edified and renewed day after day in “conversation” with Our Lord. An immediate consequence of our relationship with him, ever nourished in constant prayer, is the need to share it with all those around us. The holiness we ask for daily, in fact, cannot be conceived according to a sterile and abstract individual acceptance but is necessarily Christ's holiness, which is contagious for everyone: “Being in communion with Jesus Christ draws us into his ‘being for all'; it makes it our own way of being” (Benedict XVI, "Spe Salvi," No. 28).

Christ's “being for all” is realized for us in the Tria Munera by which we are clothed in the very nature of the Priesthood. These Munera which constitute the entirety of our Ministry, are not the place for alienation or, even worse, a mere functionalist reductionism of ourselves but rather are the truest expression of our belonging to Christ; they are the place of our relationship with him. The People which has been entrusted to us to be educated, sanctified and governed is not a reality that distracts us from “our life” but the Face of Christ that we contemplate daily, as the face of his beloved for the bridegroom and the Church his Bride for Christ. The People entrusted to us is the indispensable path for our holiness, in other words the path on which Christ manifests through us the Glory of the Father.

“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea... those on the other hand who send to perdition an entire people... what should they suffer and what punishment should they receive?” (St. John Chrysostom, "De Sacerdotio," VI, 1.498). In the face of the awareness of such a serious task and such a great responsibility for our life and our salvation, in which faithfulness to Christ coincides with “obedience” to the needs dictated by the redemption of those souls, there is not even room to doubt the grace received. We can only ask to surrender as much as possible to his Love so that he will act through us, for either we let Christ save the world, acting in us, or we risk betraying the very nature of our vocation. The measure of dedication, dear confreres, is totality, again and anew. Yes, “five loaves and two fishes” are not many but they are all! God's Grace makes of all our littleness the Communion that satisfies the People. Elderly and sick priests who exercise the divine ministry daily, uniting themselves with Christ's Passion and offering their own priestly existence for the true good of the Church and the salvation of souls, share especially in this “total dedication”.

Lastly, the Holy Mother of God remains an indispensable foundation of the whole of priestly life. The relationship with her cannot be resolved in pious devotional practice but is nourished by ceaseless entrustment to the arms of the ever Virgin of the whole of our life, of our ministry in its entirety. Mary Most Holy also leads us, like John, to beneath the Cross of her Son and Our Lord in order to contemplate, with her, God's infinite Love: “He who for us is Life itself descended here and endured our death and slew it by the abundance of his Life” (St. Augustine, "Confessiones," IV, 12).

As a condition for our redemption, for the fulfillment of our humanity, for the Advent of the Incarnation of the Son, God the Father chose to await a Virgin's “Fiat” to an angel's announcement. Christ decided to entrust, so to speak, his own Life to the loving freedom of the Mother: “She conceived, brought forth, and nourished Christ, she presented him to the Father in the temple, shared her Son's sufferings as he died on the Cross. Thus, in a wholly singular way she cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope and burning charity in the work of the Savior in restoring supernatural life to souls. For this reason she is a mother to us in the order of grace” ("Lumen Gentium," No. 61).

Pope St Pius X said: “Every priestly vocation comes from the heart of God but passes through the heart of a mother”. This is true with regard to obvious biological motherhood but it is also true of the “birth” of every form of fidelity to the Vocation of Christ. We cannot do without a spiritual motherhood for our priestly life: let us entrust ourselves confidently to the prayer of the whole of Holy Mother Church, to the motherhood of the People, whose pastors we are but to whom are entrusted our custody and holiness; let us ask for this fundamental support.

Dear confreres, the urgent need for “a movement of prayer, placing 24-hour continuous Eucharistic adoration at the centre so that a prayer of adoration, thanksgiving, praise, petition and reparation will be raised to God, incessantly and from every corner of the earth, with the primary intention of awakening a sufficient number of holy vocations to the priestly state and, at the same time, spiritually uniting with a certain spiritual maternity -- at the level of the Mystical Body -- all those who have already been called to the ministerial priesthood and are ontologically conformed to the one High and Eternal Priest. This movement will offer better service to Christ and his brothers -- those who are at once ‘inside’ the Church and also ‘at the forefront’ of the Church, standing in Christ's stead (cf. "Pastores Dabo Vobis," No. 16), and representing him as head, shepherd and spouse of the Church” (Letter of the Congregation of the Clergy, 8 December 2007).

A further form of spiritual motherhood has recently been outlined. It has always silently accompanied the chosen ranks of priests in the course of the Church's history. It is the concrete entrustment of our ministry to a specific face, to a consecrated soul who has been called by Christ and therefore chooses to offer herself, with the necessary suffering and the inevitable struggles of life, to intercede for our priestly existence, thereby dwelling in Christ's sweet presence.
This motherhood, which embodies Mary's loving face, should be prayed for because God alone can bring it into being and sustain it. In this regard there are plenty of wonderful examples; only think of St Monica's beneficial tears for her son Augustine, for whom she wept “more than mothers weep when lamenting their dead children” (St. Augustine, "Confessions," III, 11).

Another fascinating example is that of Eliza Vaughan, who gave birth to 13 children and entrusted them to the Lord; six of her eight sons became priests and four of her five daughters became women religious. Since it is impossible to be true mendicants before Christ, marvelously concealed in the Eucharistic Mystery, without being able in practice to ask for the effective help and prayers of those whom he sets beside us, let us not be afraid to entrust ourselves to the motherhoods that the Spirit will certainly bring into being for us.

St Thérèse of the Child Jesus, aware of the extreme need of prayer for all priests, especially those who were lukewarm, wrote in a letter to her sister Céline, “Let us live for souls, let us be apostles, let us save above all the souls of priests.... Let us pray and suffer for them and on the last day Jesus will be grateful” (St. Thérèse of Lisieux, Letter 94).

Let us entrust ourselves to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Queen of Apostles, our sweetest Mother, let us look to Christ with her, ceaselessly striving to be totally, radically his; this is our identity!

Let us remember the words of the Holy Curée d’Ars, Patron of Parish Priests: “If I already had one foot in Heaven and I was told to return to the earth to work to convert sinners, I would gladly return. And if, to do this, it were necessary that I remain on earth until the end of the world, always rising at midnight and suffering as I suffer, I would consent with all my heart” (Brother Athanase, "Procès de l’Ordinaire," p. 883).

May the Lord guide and protect each and every one, especially the sick and those who are suffering the most, in the constant offering of our life for love.

Cardinal Cláudio Hummes

Mauro Piacenza
Titular Archbishop of Victoriana