Today's Wisdom

Those who do not pass from the experience of the cross to the truth of the resurrection condemn themselves to despair! For we cannot encounter God without first crucifying our narrow notions of a god who reflects only our own understanding of omnipotence and power
Pope Francis

Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Truth About Social Decadence And Life

In the Gospel according to Saint John the Apostle, our Lord Jesus Christ, The Good Shepherd,  in reference to his sheep, says "A thief comes only to steal, and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it abundantly" (John 10: 10).
Prostitution is an old occupation in which women expose their bodies to men seeking sexual pleasure in return for money. Wars, however, are marked by increased violation of hostage women. In the 20th century, women gained economic value as they started to work along with men in offices and banks. This value strengthened feminism which became more radical as women demanded now their equality with men in all fields of learning and work. But it also meant that women regarded their bodies when pregnant as only their own thus denying the reality of babies in the wombs.
In view of  widespread Atheism since the beginning of the 20th century,  a strengthened Radical Feminism after two World Wars and "The Sexual Revolution" that started in the 1950s and the 1960s in contemporary times, the Church saw the need to re-emphasize the words of the Gospel.
In his Encyclical published in 1995 and titled "Evangelium Vitae" ("The Gospel of Life"), Pope Saint John Paul II identified the incomparable worth of the human person giving the example of the birth of Jesus Christ that brought joy to the world (see the full text here). He insisted on the Christian tradition of respecting the life of every person from the moment of conception until natural death. In one of his harshest criticisms of  abortion during his general weekly address to crowds on October 10, 2018, Pope Francis condemned it saying that "a contradictory approach to life allows the suppression of human life in the mother's womb in order to safeguard other values" (see report here). Another Pope (Paul VI), who will be canonized on October 16, 2018, had issued his Encyclical "Humanae Vitae" in 1968 defending natural procreation and love in marriage and insisting on the beauty of every new life (full text here). In an interview by British TV with Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta in 1974, she also showed the beauty and necessity of carrying the child to full term in pregnancy since this is a gift from God (see it on YouTube here) and showed how she contacted many homes that wished to adopt little children and raise them since those parents were not able to have their own.
Today's young adults need to learn from the above lessons. Every life is beautiful. Since the times of the Sexual Revolution, many families have been broken by divorce and legalizing abortion in the West. Individualism and liberalism crept into society. Premarital sex became widespread and the so-called LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Trans-sexual) relationships gained official recognition especially in Scandinavia and much of the "civilized" world. In Ontario, Canada, as in other parts of the world, sex-education in schools was promoted by the Liberal government of Ontario under Kathleen Wynne (2013-2018) which saw the peer pressure of students and their use of iphones/smartphones as signals of economic changes. Supporting single mothers and divorced ones became a social priority although the break-up of the family contradicted Christian social and moral values. The new government of Ontario is Conservative which may be able to stop sex education in schools. However, there has been some resistance from teachers unions that are generally liberal-oriented. Of particular concern is the adoption of "Assisted Suicide" by the Liberal government of Justin Trudeau in Canada since 2016. The Archbishop of Toronto, Cardinal Thomas Collins as well as Archbishops of other major cities, appealed to the legislators and distributed their appeal in all parishes in order to reverse "Assisted Suicide" and respect the conscience of Christian physicians and other health-care providers whom the government requires to provide lethal injection to patients or refer them to other health-care providers that will carry out the government "Euthanasia" program (here). However, in its issue published on October 7, 2018, The Catholic Register reported about plans for minors' assisted suicide at Sick Children Hospital in Toronto whereby children are not required to inform their parents if they wish to terminate their own lives due to sickness or distress (here). Christian physicians who are committed to Christ's teachings would not cooperate with such anti-life programs; for they are, in effect, crimes against humanity. I personally admire my family physician Dr. Michael Vecchio who continues his Christian missionary work and sees his patients with much patience. I equally admire my cardiologist Dr. Antonio Rocca for his devotion to Christ and the Church. Those physicians, I must say, are among the committed Christian physicians who refuse to administer assisted-suicide "Euthanasia" which the government imposes on consciences. There is no freedom in Justin Trudeau's pro-abortion Liberal government which refuses to fund pro-life agencies in Canada, and yet accommodates Islamists including terrorists for political reasons.
While we are at it, it is important to note the violent character of radical Islam represented by the so-called "Islamic State" (IS). Canadian members of the IS who spread their radical Islam in much of Europe, are operating in Canada and other major cities in North America. They were found in North Syria but will come back to Canada (see here and here).
May Our Lord, the "Good Shepherd", inspire people to seek Him and reverse their violence and violations against Him.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Without me you can do nothing

Our Lord Jesus Christ said "Without me you can do nothing" (John 15: 5). In the atheist world, especially with progress in science and technology and continuing research in the academia, this statement is ignored if not outright contradicted. When I wrote my post "What sets humans apart from other creatures", a number of readers responded with different opinions. Their responses helped me to continue my research in today's technology, psychology, and the Christian understanding of the ineffable God. One of my lectures in 2009 addressed the fact that while sentient life is found in plants, consciousness exists in animals but only the human mind is capable of relating things and building advanced civilizations. I gave some examples from the work of NASA's complex projects; the work of Marc Hauser, past professor of psychology and evolutionary biology at Harvard University that shows the uniqueness of the human mind; and the entanglement between subatomic particles that "once interacted with each other remain a single system however far they may subsequently separate spatially- a counterintuitive togetherness-in-separation that has been abundantly confirmed experimentally as a property of nature - The physical world looks more and more like a universe that would be the fitting creation of the trinitarian God, the One whose deepest reality is relational.”- See it here.
If anyone thinks that the above contradicts the words of Jesus "Without me you can do nothing", I would rather reply that everything in the cosmos reflects the same words of Jesus, The Word of God,  "through whom all things were made" (John 1:3). The entire scientific findings are made possible in development of thought and action through Christian minds going back to St. Thomas Aquinas with his development of "Natural Theology" in the 13th century (See Thomism here) and more recently to Blessed John Henri Newman's "Development of Christian Doctrines". Fr. Georges Lemaitre was a Belgian Catholic priest and a professor of physics at the Catholic University of Leuven when he proposed the Big Bang Theory and that the universe is expanding since the Big Bang - It was not a coincidence that Einstein's work on his Theory of General Relativity was experimentally confirmed together with that of Georges Lemaitre by Edwin Hubble and it was Georges Lemaitre who was the first to estimate what became known as The Hubble Constant in physics.
In April 2018, a report aired on CBS showed innovations and advances in technology made in the MIT Lab in the so-called "The Future Factory" here.
When I sent the report to my readers in September 2018, Professor Dr. Michael Sole, who was my cardiologist since 1986 until his retirement from medical practice in 2014, responded that it reminded him by the years that he spent at MIT. He wrote:
"I saw the episode. I was at MIT 1972-74 where I was sent by my supervisors at Harvard to develop my ideas on the neurochemistry of heart failure. At MIT I came into contact with experts on nutritional control of neurotransmitter synthesis and also experts looking at the dark hormone, melatonin. Twenty five years later that knowledge rose into my consciousness stimulating my interests in nutrional treatments for heart failure and the role of circadian rhythms in heart health and disease. I actually wrote a grant to prevent iron overload heart disease (Thalassemia etc) last fall. It has been fully funded - we enroll our first patient in November. It was a great place to work and learn. They let me develop my own ideas and gave me the money to do it. My work from MIT won the Research Award of the Canadian Cardiovascular Society in 1974 and was recognized for as one of the best papers published in basic cardiovascular science that year."
Professor Dr. Sole continues his research with grants from MIT. After I had my stroke in July 2007, we asked him to see me. In my visit to his clinic he spent an extraordinary time to reassure me that the stroke did not cause heart failure but on the contrary it has corrected my blood pressure. He said "You fell on the right side...God is smiling on you." See my lecture in July 2008 here. In Early November 2018, I will be seen by my current cardiologist Professor Dr. Antonio Rocca, a devout Christian who teaches too at the University of Toronto and has worked with Dr. Sole. I was referred to Dr. Rocca by my current physician Dr. Michael Vecchio who continues his Christian missionary work and sees his patients with much patience. His clinic is decorated by images and statues of saints who loved to care for the dying and distressed persons including the contemporary Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Dr. Vecchio saved my life when in January 2017 he found low oxygen in my blood and asked me to seek hospitalization immediately. Since then, doctors at Toronto General Hospital found that my aortic aneurysm was getting larger and caused my difficulty in breathing. I have been helped by Dr. Ryan who observed me at the hospital and in January 2018 ordered a BiPap machine to be installed at home for my daily use - The BiPap machine not only helps me sleep well with much oxygen going to my lungs but also clears Carbon Dioxide from my system. When I was seen by her in early July 2018, the blood test showed a better picture of my over-all breathing system.
Back to "The Future Factory" Report (here) the advances in research at MIT may lead to the point that humanity will one day be controlled by artificial intelligent machines. The generations of our species need to get trained on how to use these machines properly for two reasons:
1. avoid hackers from taking control of machines and using them to dictate ideologies that contradict human freedom...
2. learn how to cooperate with fast machines in the high tech future in order to maintain human freedom...
Let us ask our Lord Jesus Christ to help every one with his merciful love; for without him we can do nothing good REALLY!

Friday, September 21, 2018

What Sets Humans Apart From Other Creatures ?

After reading the introduction to Homo Sapiens by Dr. Yuval Noah Harrari, I stumbled across a fascinating video that explains what sets Homo Sapiens apart; how their physiological features and brains helped them to use language and therefore gave them the edge over their competitors to build empires and conquer the planet earth.
Titled "Homo Sapiens vs Neanderthals | The Evolution of Language" it can be found here:
Dr. Jean-Michel Geneste at the National Centre for Prehistory in France described how 200 thousand years ago Homo Sapiens and Neanderthals developed technical skills and tools to make food of animals and possibly Neanderthals had thoughts similar to ours. However, only homo sapiens were able to develop complex relationships of objects which in turn allowed them to represent objects and animals in paintings - some of the more recent paintings are found in the 30,000 years old Lascaux Caves. What advantage do modern humans or Homo Sapiens have over Neanderthals who at one time made extensive wars for survival and controlled much of the land? Dr. Jefferey Laitman at Mount Sinai School of Medicine continued research and found that it was at the base of the skull that the larynx in modern humans developed and made it possible for humans to communicate through language. Human babies in their very early years are similar to monkeys as they breathe through the nose and eat through the mouth. However, as human babies get older the larynx can choke the person on food. This remains a possibility throughout life. But in human children, the  larynx leads through the throat to a wider tube which in turn makes it possible for humans among all animals to use the vocal cords connected to the brain. To be able to articulate in language what we mean gives us an advantage to communicate much faster and create cultures around tribes which then developed in ancient civilizations.
Dr. Ian Tattersall at the American Museum of Natural History comments: The essential advantage of  Homo Sapiens Cro-magnons in Lascaux over Neanderthals is precisely the ability to communicate in symbolic mental processes, and throughout their descendants produce sculptures, and artistic works that reflected their thought, and allowed them to share their findings. From generation to generation, Homo sapiens have been able to accumulate knowledge and use it for their societies.
Dr. Richard Dawkins, professor of evolutionary biology at Oxford University, indicated that genetics lasted for the first four billion years of life's history then, quite suddenly, genetic evolution gave rise to creatures with big brains which developed a second kind of genetics which is language and the transmission of linguistic information down through generations. It is clear from what he said that the the language development was recast into cultural development. This was the beginning of ancient civilizations but with advances in thought we not only left behind the old thoughts but have also attained complex technology. Development in human understanding continues to impress many people. The well-known Dr. Noam Chomsky, professor emeritus of history and philosophy at MIT, says that the choice in the future is a question of history not evolution and it is up to us in using human intelligence to save life on this planet and to support the needy with the technology developed in so many fields - Humanity is capable from the study of its history, to bring about its own destruction or live in peace and preserve life.
It is really relationship that sets humanity apart from animals...The possibility of life is embedded in mankind created in the image of God (Genesis, 1: 27). The world only reflects God's goodness and providence. In Christ, God prepares us and restores us through his Spirit to eternal life...
In his "introduction to Christianity", Joseph Ratzinger wrote "God, too, is absolute permanence, as opposed to everything transitory, for the reason that he is the relation of three Persons to one another, their incorporation in the 'for one another' of love, act-substance of the love that is absolute and therefore completely 'relative', living only 'in relation to'. As we said earlier, it is not autarchy, which knows no one but itself, that is divine; what is revolutionary about the Christian view of the world and of God, we found, as opposed to those of antiquity, is that it learns to understand the 'absolute' as absolute 'relatedness', as relatio subsistens."

Saturday, September 15, 2018

The Cross

Last night,  Friday September 14, 2018, the Melkite Catholic parish in Toronto celebrated "The Exaltation of the Cross." The elaborate Mass was presided over by the Pastor Fr. Ibrahim El-Haddad and his Assistant Pastors, Fr. Michel Chalhoub, and Fr. Youhanna Hanna and served by the renowned Homsy choir. The Gospel's reading reminded me by a lecture given in September 2008 by Fr. Georges Farah, Ph.D. on the dialogue of Pilate with Jesus before his crucifixion. The comment by Fr. Farah applies to us today. The reader may wish to read the lecture here:
The illumination of fire is a tradition which to-date is followed by the faithful in Lebanon. The reason of illuminating mountains with fire on this day is precisely that fire used to be the fastest way of communication between different locations and mountains in the empire. Horses, which were then the fastest method of communication, would take weeks or months to transport messages. Christian leaders understood the message since they had agreed on it generation after generation.
In his book "Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind", a Professor of history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and holder of a doctorate from the University of Oxford, Yuval Noah Harari shows how the first homo sapiens evolved and challenged by their intelligence other forms of animals, building primitive cultures in Africa and eventually moving to Eurasia. The "imagination" of homo sapiens distinguished them with respect to other animals, but above all allowed them to develop social connections to live together and conquer the known world. Primitive religions unified people to worship deities.
Now we continue with history: Kings made themselves gods to control the rest of their tribes, which created a class of priests that assist them. This is found in ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Babylon. In Rome the emperor claimed to be a god, The Greeks worshiped many gods; one for each star...
However, the Hebrews believed in one God who revealed himself to Abraham and ordered him to leave Ur in Babylon. When Abraham had to go to Egypt due to a famine in Palestine, the Hebrews mixed with the Egyptians until Moses, resisted by his Israelite people, led them out across the Red Sea according to the Old Testament.
In his homilies, the Jesuit scholar, Fr. Henri Boulad says that Christ who started a revolution of love in Judea is the axis of history. Jesus Christ was a man who equated himself to God the Father and was crucified by the chief priests because of  "blasphemy". Christians believe that Christ rose from the dead and ascended to heaven (or rather brought heaven to earth). Following his commands to the Apostles they went preaching in his name to the known world.
Today we seem to have forgotten the cross of Christ. Atheism is rampant while most Christians hardly go to Church and receive Christ in the Eucharistic meal. Pilate seems to still ask sarcastically "What is Truth?"

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Read me

In his homily today,  the Jesuit scholar Fr. Henri Boulad commented on the second reading in today's Mass according to the Roman Catholic Church (James 2: 1-5): (Découvrir la valeur de l'être French, subtitled in English here). Fr. Boulad gives some real-life examples of a lady whose husband was a minister of the state - their son was in the Jesuit College in Cairo so she thought that Fr. Boulad would seat her in the front row but she was upset when he invited her to sit anywhere in the hall with other less classy parents. Although God created everyone in his image (Genesis 1: 27), Fr. Boulad wonders how we seem to deny this reality and are still prisoners of how things and people appear. We seem to respect rich persons driving expensive Mercedes cars but do we respect the woman carrying bags of food and tired of going upstairs in the same way we respect the rich? This reminds me by the Parable of the rich to whom God said "You fool, this very night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong" (Luke 12: 20).
However, if we read the Gospel's reading in the same Mass, we find this text about how Jesus healed the deaf man with speech impediment:
He put his finger into the man’s ears
and, spitting, touched his tongue;
then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him,
“Ephphatha!”— that is, “Be opened!” —
And immediately the man’s ears were opened,
his speech impediment was removed,
and he spoke plainly. 
He ordered them not to tell anyone. 
But the more he ordered them not to,
the more they proclaimed it. 
They were exceedingly astonished and they said,
“He has done all things well. 
He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

Jesus heals the sick and takes care of the despairing and lonely ones...He calls us to become His Father's children. I wrote on May 14, 2018 about Our Generous Father based on the Parable of the Prodigal Son as interpreted by Fr. Georges Farah (Luke 15: 11-32). I also remember the Lord's Prayer which the congregation recite before receiving the Eucharist in the Mass. The Lord's Prayer starts with putting ourselves in God's will. We need to trust Him who is the purpose of our existence. We start the petitions with "Give us this day our daily bread". This has a very special meaning that links it to receiving the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharistic meal...See this research that I wrote on August 23, 2018 here. Christ heals us physically, psychologically, and spiritually in the time accorded by God and according to His providential plan for each one.
On April 21, 2018, I wrote how since my conception in my mother's womb I have been particularly blessed by heaven through the intercession of St. George (here). I have also shared my illnesses and thanked God that in His merciful love He gave me more life to live (see this post written on April 3, 2018 here and an earlier one written in 2008 here).
As I was recovering from the partial nephrectomy surgery that Professor Dr. Michael Jewett performed in early 2005 at Toronto General Hospital (TGH), the chief in residence physician warned me that I may bleed due to gradually increasing counadin (an anticuagulant agent). When this happened in the same night that I was released I had to go back to TGH and be re-admitted in emergency. There I stayed 20 days as Dr. Jewett visited me several times. The physician in charge noticed that I was continuously losing blood. After many attempts to restore my hemoglobin level to 100, I was vomiting, and starting to lose consciousness as my hemoglobin went down to 80. He started to warn me that he may have to stop the process in which case I would likely die...But somehow, my  hemoglobin started to go up to 90 at which point I started to feel better and eat. As I remember this today - 13 years later - it seems that a little miracle took place! I recall that in my long recovery I received requests from friends to pray with visiting priests for the recovery of one of their relatives who had cancer. Earlier this year 2018 two dear persons passed away because of cancer. I remember them as do others in our prayers...I also pray for eternal peace that God would grant in His merciful love to all those of our families, relatives, and friends that passed away.
It is particularly in my requests to the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, that I ask her to pray for the sick, the lonely, the elderly, and those who departed.

Today's Quote

"Behold I make all things new." (Revelation 21:5)


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