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

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

God's Love Is Stronger Than Hell

On Sunday August 5, 2018, commenting on the Scripture readings of the Mass, the Jesuit scholar Fr. Henri Boulad said a homily in which he showed the psychological needs of humans from birth till adulthood. The little baby that comes out of the womb of his mother cries for the comfort that he left when he was being nourished inside to the discomfort of having to find the nourishment gradually withdrawn as he stops sucking the milk from his mother's breast. In a similar fashion the Israelites complained to Moses that in order to follow him into the desert, they had to leave the comfort of their homes in Egypt where they ate and now are hardly able survive. The Passover is a reminder that Christ will also use to describe how his body and blood will be given up in order to save us and to lead humanity into the joy of heaven. This is the body that is consumed by the faithful in the Eucharist on Sunday - the "Real Presence of Christ" among us.  At Holy Rosary parish in Toronto, the faithful are able to contemplate the Blessed Sacrament on their knees.
But this raises the question of doubts about God that many in our materialistic world, particularly the younger generations educated in only the physical sciences, have come to experience. Every metaphysical question is being examined today as if the world has not gone through thousands of years of worship.
I recall that in August last year, I asked the two Jesuit scholars that I know, Fr. Henri Boulad and Fr. Samir Khalil Samir about my own fear that because of my sins, God may send me to hell.  Fr. Boulad replied "Trust in God. Do not think of hell". Fr. Samir replied that Pope Saint John Paul II declared "Damnation" in hell should not be attributed to God's initiative since in his merciful love, God does not desire other than the salvation of his created beings. Bishop Robert Barron (who published the massively popular "Catholicism" series) commented here on the possibility of damnation in hell but wisely observed that while the Church declared many souls in heaven, she has never made a declaration of any human in hell. Furthermore, the greatest Catholic theologian in the 20th century, Hans Urs von Balthasar wrote his book "Dare We Hope That All Men Be Saved?" In his book, von Balthasar prays that God in his utter merciful love may save all. In his book "Introduction to Christianity" Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI) shows that God's love in Christ's Resurrection is stronger than death. His magnificent chapter may be read here.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta on Suffering

In an interview on Irish TV in 1974, St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta revealed her suffering because of the apparent absence of God as she constantly prayed and received holy Communion for so many years. Her mission to love and save the abandoned and dying in the streets of Calcutta had already been approved by the Holy See since 1950. Her Congregation of the "Missionaries of Charity" counted thousands of young sisters and other co-workers as well as many sponsors who adopted unwanted children instead of aborting them or wasting them as in the West. Yet, at the time of the interview, she had already experienced the "Darkness of the Night" and doubts that were experienced by great saints such as St.Teresa of Avila. Her response was to cling to Jesus the Saviour and love Him; for in her opinion suffering was the way in which souls are purified by God - If sufferings are accepted and existential doubts are brought to the light of Christ, the rest of temptations can be treated...The reader may wish to listen to this contemplative nun who dared to act in the world and "make the ocean one drop less" every time she went about helping the human person:
She said she was an instrument in God's hands which reminds us by the hymn of St. Francis of Assisi "Make me a channel of your peace":
During the 1975-1976 civil war in Lebanon, Mother Teresa wanted to cross from one side to the other in Beirut in order to care for the injured. As she prayed, the response of heaven was immediate and she could cross...In 1979, I was attending her talk and was seated near her in the first row at the Jesuit hall in Cairo. As she finished her talk, I had the privilege of a handshake by Mother Teresa!
A great saint whose missionaries are active in most countries, one of my cousins is a sister in her Missionary of Charity congregation in Congo...

Saturday, July 14, 2018

The Lord disciplines the one He loves

Last Sunday July 8, 2018 my wife and I attended the 10 a.m. Mass at Holy Rosary parish in Toronto. The celebrant was Fr. Daniel Callam, CSB who heard my confession after the Mass. Fr. Callam is a graduate of the University of Toronto. He earned a Master's degree in Mathematics. However he achieved much learning in pursuing his academic and pastoral work. With a doctorate in theology from Oxford University he is currently a Professor of Theology who teaches regularly at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas in the United States.
I had developed a great relationship with Fr. Callam since he was Pastor at Holy Rosary in 2009 and 2010. His open mind, and highly-developed sense of Catholic Tradition position him as a Thomist philosopher who is able to distinguish and critique today's age of post-modernism. His book "A Catholic Goes to the Movies" was published last year. I recall my conversation with Fr. Callam about the Christian philosopher René Girard and correspondence with him of what I believe was a "Development in the Doctrine of Salvation" that I found in an article by the late Jesuit Cardinal Avery Dulles in First Things here.
When I asked Fr. Callam to hear my confession, he listened patiently. He did not rush to give me absolution but became more interested as it turned to a dialogue on my life since I was conceived in my mother's womb. I told him how from an early age I like to imitate the priest and how I got more involved in youth and Church matters as the late saintly Bishop Paul Antaki invited me to meetings and conferences...As I mentioned my sins, he listened more. However, as I mentioned my suffering since 1986, he told me about suffering of others. I know many old persons who are suffering in silence. I believe this is why sick people and old ones who look for God get closer to Church and attempt to be in communion with the Savior. The Lord disciplines the ones whom He loves as a father the son in whom he delights...

Sunday, July 1, 2018

I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me

"I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me" (Psalm 30). The above verse is read today July 1st, 2018, Canada Day, in Sunday Mass according to the Roman Catholic Church. Although it comes from Psalm 30, it is part of the message found in Wisdom:
God did not make death,
nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living.
For he fashioned all things that they might have being;
and the creatures of the world are wholesome,
and there is not a destructive drug among them
nor any domain of the netherworld on earth,
for justice is undying.
For God formed man to be imperishable;
the image of his own nature he made him.
But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world,
and they who belong to his company experience it.
The Jesuit scholar Fr. Henri Boulad, who has experienced some serious health issues, has given an interpretation in his homily from the Jesuits Residence in Cairo (here in French: En Lui La Vie... According to him, God gives humanity access to eternal life in Christ Jesus raised from the dead. Christ himself experienced death in his humanity. In the Gospel, Christ carries divinity in his body - when a woman touched his clothes, her hemorrhage stopped immediately as Jesus sensed certain power brought out from him. Again, requested by a synagogue official named Jairus, Jesus was able to bring back to life his daughter who had died. This is a manifestation of the power of God in Christ. By reflecting upon the hours that preceded the betrayal of Christ, his crucifixion and death, one can only attempt to fathom the passion of Jesus in what St. John of the Cross described as 'The Dark Night of the Soul.' Although Fr. Boulad did not mention it in his homily, he said that his faith in Christ's power over evil and death and Christ's own assertion that He is the Way and Life to eternal joy are the basis of his faith. I believe that Fr. Boulad was able to cross 'The Dark Night of the Soul' in his health crisis from which he is recovering. Active in missionary work over nearly the past 50 years, including his missionary work in the Sudan, his electrifying lectures in Europe, Canada, and Egypt, it was hard for him to give up an active life to discern God's will for him in the next years. I can only admire his faith especially his recent discernment. When I asked him last week by email to pray for my health, he answered right away that he is praying for me. Together with the blessed Virgin Mary and other saints, let us continue to pray for this scholar yet humble priest.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Cry of Jesus on the Cross

And about three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?* which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27: 46).
The above words of Christ taken from the Gospel according to St. Matthew were interpreted in a way that justified the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ not only as the obedience of the Son to the will of his Father, but also that the Father was satisfied by the death of his Son to make up for the sins of the elect. In his Epistle to the Romans, St. Paul writes "But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, though testified to by the law and the prophets the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. for there is no distinction; all have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God. They are justified freely by his grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus" (Romans 3: 21-24). 
In the 20th century, a German theologian, Jurgen Moltmann, wrote his book "The Crucified God" in which he stated his conviction in salvation through Christ's death. There, Moltmann wrote that the Father suffered with his Son on the Cross. Jesus Christ died for humanity and not only for the few elect. The Father, who loves all his creation, desires that all be with him in his kingdom. In God's eyes, everyone is unique. everyone is precious...Pope Saint John Paul II wrote that God never damns anyone to hell. In his respect of the person's freedom, God lets us decide whether we want to live with him in an eternal state of love, or not with him in an eternal state of self-closed creature. Bishop Robert Barron explained hell here:

Yes. God desires that all shall be saved (Luke 12: 32). It is why Christians have a responsibility to show Christ to non-Christians by the way they live and behave so that they too may convert/have, in Christ, the possibility of being saved (Matthew 5: 43-48).

Today's Quote

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


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