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

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Desire for Christ

Christmas in 2014 was a prayer for peace to the Incarnate Word of God Jesus Christ: peace in my soul and the souls of many friends; peace and health for fellow friends struck by disease; peace in the Church where Satan her enemy is actively seeking to diminish her mission; peace eternal for those who passed away recently, including the dad of a fellow Knight of Columbus in Toronto and the many victims killed recently in the Middle East like the children of Bethlehem whom Herod in his rage against the new king of the Jews had killed (Matthew 2: 16); and a prayer too for peace in a world divided by power-hungry politicians and aggressive materialists whose selfishness has already caused a large gap between the few rich and the many poor as well as many lost jobs for the young generation.

We watched the Holy Father Francis deliver a rare rebuke to the powerful prelates and officials of the Roman Curia in the Vatican where he listed 15 illnesses of power-seeking and coldness towards others. We also noticed a somber pope with a rising tone in his voice giving the Christmas Urbi et Orbi when he urged the listening world to be open to God, prayed for the victims of atrocities in so many countries especially for children and other victims of the radical Islamist war on everyone else in the Middle East.

With the above unresolved, The Economist published a report titled "Islamism is no longer the answer" which, at last, recognizes what Christians in the Middle East have been suffering since the beginning of the failed "Arab Spring" supported by Western powers. The same materialist publication published an extensive report too titled "Why is everyone so busy?" lamenting the fact that contemporary workers have no time for the family in an age of excessive individualism and selfish capitalism.

And yet in spite of the sad news, I enjoyed Christmas in more than one way: First we participated in the Christmas Eve Mass at St. Basil's Roman Catholic Church with my family; contacted some of our extended family in the Middle East, Europe, and North America...Second, I listened to the inspiring words by Most Reverend Bishop Ibrahim on the Incarnation (in Sawt el Rab last Friday here in Arabic); and the recent homily by the Jesuit scholar Fr. Henri Boulad on the desire for Christ (here in French).

Bishop Ibrahim said: The Son of God chose our human weakness to experience us and save us through his humanity united to his divinity. In his incarnation, the Son of God assumed our humanity in everything except sin in order to restore our state to the original one willed by God... We need to grow every year in faith and in understanding of the mystery of the incarnation where we increasingly deepen our faith and touch the presence of God in our lives... Jesus is the "Prince of peace" in spite of suffering. The real Christian carries the peace of Christ in his heart even if he, like Christ, is crucified on the cross.  As for Christians suffering violence in the East today, they can live Christmas as did Jesus. As a  human person, Jesus had no power over history and was probably the first immigrant when Mary and Joseph took him to Egypt to escape from the threat of Herod. As God, Christ respects the freedom of humanity and offers himself in a mysterious dialogue with her to become aware of his closeness and return to him who said "I am the way, and the truth, and the life" (John 14:6). I respect human freedom to immigrate away from the dangers in the East but we also encourage Christians in the Middle East to remain and be active in their lands. However, if they want to immigrate and are accepted by the civil authorities, no one should stop them...

Bishop Ibrahim continues: We cannot see the birth of Christ except through the eyes of the Virgin Mary who was chosen by God to be the mother of his Son in the flesh. She carried him in her womb, delivered him, cared for him, and was with him to the end and yet remained ever-virgin,..She is our mother... Question: How can we understand so much suffering in the world? Is God only watching people suffer and die? He answers: This is a big question. But for people who have faith and want to build bridges to perceive the presence of God, they understand that suffering and joy are two sides of the same coin. Suffering is only the outer shell of the essence of life and deeper joy which we often go through to realize love. Suffering is not required but if we encounter it, we have the choice of accepting it and working to relieve ourselves and others of pain. A Christian who carries Christ in his heart cannot really be Christian unless he loves and gives of himself to the other like Christ our God who is love gave himself and his life for all.

To answer a question on social services by the Melkite Catholic Church in Canada, Bishop Ibrahim said that the Church has founded a center "Bonheur du Ciel" with the active Fr. Majdi Allawi to care for the lost, forgotten, and needy in Montreal.  How can we live joy? Unless we give of ourselves and our needs, we cannot have joy. The goal of Jesus is for us to live in joy in union with God who is the eternal love and joy. How about children in Church? When the angels sang in the birth of Christ, their center of joy was the infant Jesus. In the same way we must not forbid children from singing in the church which is the house of Christ. To a Muslim brother who wanted to know why Christians believe that God became human, the answer is simply that "God is love" (1 John 4:8)! When we fell in sin, God, out of profound love, still gives us the free choice to be reunited with him through Christ.

Finally, Bishop Ibrahim advises the faithful: We need to reflect on God, so close to us who assumed our nature in Christ and who gives us the truths of faith, and love - abundant love!

Now with Fr. Henri Boulad, S.J. a profound question is addressed. The question of joy versus pleasure was the topic addressed in his homily on the last Sunday before Christmas. In his charismatic and intriguing style, Henri Boulad takes his listeners from the natural to the supernatural. "Which period is more beautiful in love: The time of engagement or the time after marriage? In engagement each one there awaits and desires the other, while marriage is the consummation of this desire.  The dialectic of desire and pleasure is developed in my book 'Chastity and Consecration' but the question frequently asked is about the meaning. Desire is a tendency towards another, a waiting and a nostalgia for the other. Pleasure comes to complete desire and suppresses it. It is a paradox and a contradiction of terms! Let us reflect... In the heart of this question, consider the state of consecrated celibacy. This is the state of men and women who renounced marriage...We can consider them monsters, illuminated, psychopath, or rather a path for escape or some old-fashioned detraction... Desire goes up...up...and when completed it drops to nothingness. Realizing this desire kills it! Is there a way for a solution to this opposition between desire and pleasure? I have always looked for a justification of my vow for chastity. It is not at all natural. Probably someone would think it is anti-natural, but I would say it is supernatural. It is not understood except in faith and is not lived except in grace! What does this mean? It means that there is a certain taste, profundity, and beauty in the waiting period that does not exist in the act of completion of desire."

Henri Boulad, S.J. is a profound thinker who is never satisfied with simple explanations. Like the late Jacques Dupuis. S.J., another Jesuit theologian, he attempts to find common elements with other religious experiences as encouraged by Dominus Iesus which was approved by St. Pope John Paul II. In this context he read a text by Salah Mukhaimer on Islamic Sufism that he had translated from Arabic. In his search he read the ancient Tantric Buddhism and Hindu esoteric mysticism too, in spite of its deficient character in adherence to monism, an experience that is probably older and different from Judaism and Christianity. Scholars date this non-revelation cult to as early as 1500 BC.

A translation of the text authored by Salah Mukhaimer thus reads "Delay of attaining pleasure in the total completion of the sexual act opens a path of waiting that would imply a blessedness in torment that supposes a continuity of desire in tension with a tendency towards...Thus joy is a continuing desire and tendency towards..." Henri Boulad sees here a valid point: The joy of a child is wholly a tendency.The adult person looks to put his hand or possess the object which is the attainment of pleasure. Once the adult person attains pleasure, the object of his desire becomes like a fleeting wind. "What is Sufism (mystical experience) if it is not this? Mystical experience is a hope and tendency to in a state of suffering pleasure without allowing the surpassing of the state of waiting." Mukhaimer wrote.

In Mukhaimer's text, Fr. Boulad finds a torture, yet joy is defined in this context as a tendency of desire towards the beloved.  In Tantric Buddhism, Fr. Boulad found a "profound text" on sexuality by accepting desire without looking for completing it (called accepting "emptiness" without attempting to fulfill the emptiness)! This is called consecrated chastity!

For Fr. Boulad, the most beautiful moments of love are those of waiting because "waiting enlarges the heart." It was the last Sunday before Christmas. "The manger was without Jesus.The emptiness in life... spiritual life...The emptiness of the desert (The desert Fathers?).  My sentiments are here: It is a reminder that humanity was awaiting the coming of the Divine...God let humanity grow her desire for him until in Mary's womb the desire was accomplished... Come Divine Messiah...Come, come, come...In Mary's heart and womb, the desire of Mary (alone) grew so intense that she attracted the God of heaven (or "forced" heaven) as a lover. In Mary humanity attained her fulfillment. She is the consecrated virgin and remained a virgin all her life. Consecrated celibacy means that nothing human fills my heart. You may ask 'Should we stop getting married?' No. Get married. It is fine. But know that human love does not fulfill the human heart. Nothing human fulfills your hearts. It is clear that in love there is an essential poverty which means not to possess the other and not to possess pleasure. 'Eat this fruit and you shall be like God' is Satan's lie to die. Yes, we need to live in a state of emptiness and a state of waiting. Marriage is good but care not to turn it into selfish pleasure. In his first letter to the Corinthians Chapter 7, St. Paul advised those who are married to live as if they are not and those who possess as if they possess nothing.  This is the foundation of my spirituality: Total attachment in total detachment; neither attachment which makes us slaves nor detachment which is indifference."

"Amin Maalouf wrote 'Love is thirsty. Rain is there but I will retain my thirst rather than get a sip of water in my mouth. Love is a flower and not a fruit. Love is a promise before it can be an accomplishment'! Think of love versus pleasure. Reflect and pray..."

"The virginity of Mary is this response: Love attains its culmination in the Incarnation of the Word for it was the hope of humanity for thousands of generations"!

O Come All Ye Faithful Joyful and Triumphant...O Come Let us Adore Him Christ the Lord. Listen here:

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Joy of Christmas with Georges Farah

While we celebrate Christmas, we miss Fr. George Farah, the priest who was pastor of Jesus the King parish for the past-twenty one years. A man of joyful character, his last name “Farah”means joy. He joked with me that he and I not only carried the same name “George” but almost the same last name except that mine “Farahat” meant multiple joys. In reality George Farah has been an outstanding minister of joy, not only at Christmas but all the time in preaching and action. A man for people, he celebrated with all and invited all to enjoy their gifts together in the Church and elsewhere whether in the Eucharist, lectures, church festivals, or outings. Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, he said quoting St. Paul. It is the sign of Christians who, in spite of their weakness and sufferings, are called to rejoice in meeting the other and grow in faith to Christ.

His high learning. a doctorate in philosophy and another in theology from the highly-esteemed Sorbonne in Paris, did not alter his joyous character but only deepened his faith in the love of God. God, he preached, is not only the generous father, but is an outpouring love for all human beings; sinners and saints. As taught by St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, God is the eternal self-sacrifice abandonment or love of the Father to his eternal Son Jesus Christ and the Son returning love with gratitude to his eternal Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit who is the binding love. The Church is the minister of love who, by the power of the Holy Spirit, witnesses to Christ in the entire world. “The Holy Spirit reveals the Son and the Son reveals the Father” he said.

A philosopher himself, George Farah was interviewed about God and freedom since his doctorate thesis in philosophy dealt with Nietzsche's post-modern philosophy. Nietzsche had questioned the morality of power in religion. For him, a God who presses his power on humans through an agency or religion is not real because he strips humanity of their freedom and creativity. In George Farah, the God of Christians offers the only real freedom that guarantees human development, not only in eternal love, but in appreciating human creativity and dignity too here on earth. The entire philosophical and scientific explorations rooted in Christian civilization are only the beginning of realizing that God is in us, encourages us and moves us to him. It is this freedom of Man's dream in becoming God, one with God, for which the Word of God assumed our nature. How was it possible that God could assume our nature in the incarnation of the Word (Christ)? George Farah responds “God could not stay away from his beloved creation. His love made him become one of us and dwell with us 'Emmanuel'.” God does not wish anyone to be lost. He came for the lost (Cf. Matthew 18:14; Luke 15: 4, 9, 24, 32; Luke 19: 10; John 6: 12).

Today we need to examine our conscience and return Christ to Christmas by educating ourselves and children guided by the Church, exiting ourselves and our worries, thinking of others, praying for the sick, an helping as much as we can the needy in our community and especially the suffering Christians in the Middle East.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

What Could We Learn from Liberal Sociology?

Sam Richards?
In Progress

Return Christ to Christmas

On Friday December 12, 2014 Fr. Ibrahim El Haddad prayed to Christ that, as Christmas is close, He would bring peace and help us and the rest of the world, see him in the needy especially the many others suffering in the Middle East.
Exploring how to return Christ to Christmas, I returned to the homily by Fr.Henri Boulad, S.J. on the scandal of the Incarnation of Christ in reflection on Isaiah  63: 19 "Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down..."  According to Henri Boulad: "You, who created heavens and earth, are enthroned in the seventh heaven. For God to be God he must be the Most High, inaccessible One. This the God of the Greeks, the God of Pagans, the God of Muslims and, to some extent, the God of the Old Testament. Except that in the Old Testament we discern a God that is close, a God that descends, is interested in Man, and speaks to Man... Is it possible that the Most High descends and becomes the Most 'debased' ? If Jesus Christ is an illusion...If Christianity is a sheer mystification...If God did not come to us and did not descend from his heaven...If he did not take the radical and seemingly impossible leap of the incarnation, then he ceases being credible - he ceases being love - he ceases being God. The scandal of the Incarnation, which means that people cannot believe that God could debase himself or else he loses his honor, becomes the key and the supreme proof  that this is the truth. If I can walk the walk to help the needy, can't God descend and walk with me?" In the Incarnation God descended to the manger and became a needy person like us. God is here among us in every good will and act - He is particularly present in the Eucharist, the Blessed Sacrament, giving us his body and blood. Reflect on it. We have priests here, so we can reconcile with everyone we hurt and go to confession to receive Christ in the Eucharist with pure hearts for eternal joy.
The story of St. Ignatius Loyola is an example to reflect upon. Ignatius Loyola was brought up in Spain. The founder of the order of the Society of Jesus in the 16th century was not born a monk. He was born to a Basque noble family, a man of pride ascending the ladder of fame in Spain, then manifested in the military honour and power of knights, and the dating of nice girls until he was seriously wounded in the battle of Pamplona in 1521. In Ignatius of Loyola we see again the power of the transformation God uses in us -weak humans - so that we can become one day united to him in Christ. God who is the eternal Mystery is also the approachable father who calls everyday his servants to become closer to his eternal Son.  While being hospitalized, Ignatius read De Vita Christi written by the influential theologian Ludolph of Saxony and there he contemplated in a vision the "discernment of spirits." From the hospital emerged the conversion to Christ when Ignatius experienced the joy of being with Christ and likewise the experience devoid of joy when he projected his glory without Christ. True joy is a fruit of the Spirit as written in the New Testament. And here Ignatius discerns the true joy which will carry him, with some friends, to Jerusalem and then to Rome. The Jesuits or Society of Jesus, approved by Pope Paul III in 1540, carried the missionary work to China in the Far East, to the Middle East, and the New World. Ignatius of Loyola was beatified then canonized in 1622. In his active life as a disciple of Christ, Ignatius educated many followers in the Spiritual Exercises.

How can we return Christ to Christmas in the noise of commercialized materialism? I suggest we start by reflecting on Christ, his humility in the manger, his teachings to the disciples to love everyone including our enemies, and his self-sacrificing love of all creation until death on the cross, and how he uses everyone's good deeds to offer through them his saving grace to others. Let's reflect on him and saints when we are walking or in the train or the bus without being distracted. Let's reflect on him, recall our families, the needy and sick in our communities, in prayers and in helping as much as we can those we encounter. 

Fr. Ibrahim El Haddad commented briefly "Christ suffered out of love for his Father. He had a choice to reject the cross, yet he said to his Father 'Not my will but yours be done' (Luke 22: 42)...Christ taught us to pray 'Our Father ...Thy Kingdom come. Thy Will be done' (Matthew 6: 10). In the first 3 centuries of Christianity many martyrs sacrificed their lives rather than denying their faith. This is happening today. It is, however, the duty of armies to defend their countries against aggressors as it is the duty of police to defend homes against thieves. It is the order of peace, good society and human dignity of everyone that we must uphold. Help each other and all to receive Christ not by standing in the streets and shouting out the Gospel but by incarnating Christ in your actions, services, and prayers."  Fr. Ibrahim replied to questions regarding heresies in the early church. He said "Heresies arose mainly because of emphasis by some theological schools on Christ's divinity leading to the heresy that he only appeared and was not truly human but as St. Paul had said, Christ is, in every way, like us human except in sin. Other theological schools emphasized Christ's humanity to the point that a heresy arose which separated his humanity from his divinity and claimed that the one who died on the cross is not God but only a man. These groups caused some divisions among Christians and were to some extent the source of Islam's teaching on Jesus. This is why the Church is active for regaining Christian unity today." More reflections by friends included how to be a Christian model as a parent, and how to strive as much as possible to love and pray for your opponents whether at work, in school,  or with people who violate your faith, your family  and your home.

In closing, Fr. Ibrahim gave the pastoral blessing while the attendees sang the closing hymn "Akathist to the Virgin Mary" Listen here.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Henri Boulad: The Scandal of the Incarnation

In spite of spiritual sickness and weakness with the temptations of materialist attractions by the media that surround me, I turned to the homily delivered in French by the Jesuit scholar Fr. Henri Boulad, S.J. on the first Sunday of Advent. I heard the magnificent and beautiful story of God which I wish to share here. Henri Boulad took his point of departure from Isaiah 63: 19 "Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down..." This reading, in which Isaiah cries out to God, is very moving, said Boulad. "You, who created heavens and earth, are enthroned in the seventh heaven, inaccessible. For God to be God he must be the Most High, inaccessible One. This the God of the Greeks, the God of Pagans, the God of Muslims and, to some extent, the God of the Old Testament. Except that in the Old Testament we discern a God that is close, a God that descends, is interested in Man, and speaks to Man. There is already in the Old Testament a development in the way in which God prepares Man for the revelation of the incarnation of Jesus Christ." This cry for God to rend the heavens and come down - Is it possible? Is it possible that the Most High becomes the Most 'debased' a theme taken up by Christian Bobin in his book "Le Très-Bas"?questions Boulad. This is a question that probably many of us ask or eventually ask: Is it humanly-speaking possible that if God exists, he would not only respond to prayers, but come in the flesh to deliver us from evil and grant us freely eternal joy? It is not that I care about God. I care about myself. I want to live without decay and grow without aging or disease nor suffering and death. Let us listen.
Henri Boulad then asks "Why do we love Pope Francis?But what is the relationship?" And I add "Why do we love St. Pope John Paul II?" John Paul II danced with the youth, reached out to them in the four corners of the earth, kissed children, blessed the sick, and showed that solidarity between peoples exist in both joy and suffering when days before his death he was unable to speak to the crowds, yet insisted on showing them the suffering man himself. This is also the courage of Pope Francis. Fr. Boulad said "You may not remember Pope Pius XII, a serious man and a saint, that reigned in the 1940s and 1950s. And Pius XII was carried by 10 men over the 'Sedia Gestatoria' and enthroned with his head bearing the papal tiara (made of three crowns and bearing a globe surmounted by a cross). Hardly accessible, Pope Pius XII contemplated and blessed the crowds from the throne. Today Pope Francis descends into the street to visit the people on-drugs, street kids, and the refugees. These are two faces of the Church and two faces of God. Which one impresses you most?  The first who makes people tremble - a bit like Moses who was naive. People who do not understand any language other than force need such an awesome God. This inapproachable God is on the mountain. He does not reveal himself except through lightning, thunder, and earthquakes. People tremble in his presence. Anyone who came close to the mountain was immediately electrocuted. At least 'you will know that I am GOD'! There are people who do not understand a language other than this. There is a religion that is yet built upon this image of God -The Olympic god Zeus was a bit like [the Israelites understood] God in Sinai."

Fr.Henri Boulad then briefly traces the development of an "imperial" Church since Emperor Constantine's Edict of Milan in 313 (which granted Christians their religious freedom in the Roman Empire). He thinks that a powerful papacy was not necessary. It took generations and centuries of development for the Church to recognize the new 'style' of the papacy ushered by St. Pope John XXIII (pope 1958-1963). Who said the reform undertaken by the Church could be finished in one year or one century? Those are millions, if not billions, of souls that need the Church. Here I would like to remind my fellow Christians about St. Pope Pius X (pope 1903-1914). Pius X was a humble pontiff too like Pope Francis with disdain for the material riches and luxury dwellings in the Vatican who wanted to "restore everything in Christ". Pope Pius XII, mentioned above, canonized Pius X and moreover it was precisely Pius XII who ushered the reforms in Biblical studies which the Ecumenical Council Vatican II proclaimed (see the documents of Vatican II here). It was Blessed Pope Pius IX in the 19th century whose words of "invincible ignorance", inspired by the Gospel as interpreted by the Fathers, opened the way for Vatican II to recognize the possibility of salvation of non-Christians if they sincerely repent and follow the dictates of their conscience developed under the guidance of the Spirit of God. The chain goes back all the way to heroes of faith such as St. Francis of Assisi, the first humanist, and St. Thomas Aquinas, the Angelic Doctor. The openness of the Church to the Greek philosophy allowed him to baptize Aristotle (with approval by the papacy) and usher the great scientific exploration of nature on its own. Go to earlier centuries and you will discover St. Pope Gregory the Great who evangelized entire nations in the 6th century. But still earlier on, you will find St. Pope Leo I whose diplomatic skills convinced Attila the Hun not to sack Rome but rather to receive Christ and form the beginning of a growing civilization in the 5th century...In my opinion, I could not imagine the great evangelization of the world throughout many centuries without a powerful Roman papacy. How could a whole Western civilization develop if the papacy surrendered to the greed of non-Christians? How would an education system have been built without the influence of the papacy for many centuries? How could the Aquitanian Christian army defeat Muslim forces threatening Christian Europe at Toulouse in 721 AD if they did not have the Christian support of the papacy?   How could Charles Martel defend Europe against the Muslim forces at Tours in 732 AD if he did not have the Christian support of the papacy?  How could Charlemagne initiate the Carolingian Renaissance and open Europe to the Greek classics in the 9th century? It was providential that St. Peter, rock of the Church appointed by Christ, was martyred in Rome for the eventual recognition by the Roman Emperors of his Lord Jesus. When today the Catholic Church is persecuted along with other Christian Churches, it is only the pope's voice that is listened to while the Christian mission has reached out to nearly all of Asia and Africa.  The Church is in Latin America where Pope Francis came from. She is in North America, Europe, and Australia. Thanks to a papacy that united the faithful, remained faithful to the ancient tradition yet developed the Catholic moral teachings and doctrines under the Holy Spirit's inspiration. It is not Pope Francis who is carrying the Church but the Holy Spirit moving her from within.

"Jesus is a revelation. Jesus is a revolution" says the Jesuit scholar Henri Boulad. But what kind of revolution? "Jesus empties heaven and moves the [Divine presence] to be among us: Emmanuel." and continues "Is it possible that God makes such a radical move? I have a response here to our Muslim brothers who think it is impossible. For them God cannot descend from heaven without losing his honor and dignity."

Now listen carefully because here Henri Boulad summarizes the Christian Mystery in as simple language as possible "If Jesus Christ is an illusion...If Christianity is a sheer mystification...If God did not come to us and did not descend from his heaven...If he did not take the radical and seemingly impossible leap of the incarnation, then he ceases being credible - he ceases being love - he ceases being God."

Let us reflect. Here is the message: 

"The scandal of the Incarnation, which means that we cannot believe that God could debase himself , becomes the key and the supreme proof  that this is the truth"

"But a God in heaven well served who looks to me and says 'You suffer. Have courage. Perhaps one day you will be with me in my heaven' is not God. A God who says 'Patience. I am fine here but you over there can suffer' is not God. This is the false God that we, often, figure that he sends us prophets from time to time to console us' . NO, NO. NO. This God who looks to me with a telescope is not my God. I do not want him."

"If there is a phenomenon of atheism today in the West as well as in Egypt, it is precisely because men say we are in fact better than God. The walk that I walk to help when I see a hungry person or a thirsty one or a person without faith, can't God do it? Has he no choice regarding his honor?"

"No. He did it. This is the supreme proof of the Christian Mystery. Do not look somewhere else. 'Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down...' He descended. No more seventh heaven..."

"The only God I can believe, love and worship is the God Jesus Christ because he descended to me."

"'Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down...' "

And the great preacher and Jesuit scholar Henri Boulad finished here his homily.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Jim Reposkey on Awaiting Christ

Yesterday Sunday November 30 marked the first Sunday of Advent celebrated in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto. In the homily of the Mass at St. Alphonsus Church, Fr. James Reposkey, C.PP.S., one of the most prolific homilists in Canada, reflected on the Biblical readings. Here I paraphrase him on a few points as I understood them. Referring to the first reading from Isaiah 63, 64 "Why do you let us wander, O LORD, from your ways, and harden our hearts so that we fear you not?  Return for the sake of your servants" (Is. 63: 16B-17) Fr. Jim spoke passionately about our need for God in time of desolation when everything seems to have been desecrated. In his fear for the People of God eight centuries before Christ, Isaiah cried out to God asking the Lord to deliver Israel from the hands of tyrants who had taken them captives. Are not we captives today to the materialist world? Is not the Church under attack today? But as St. Paul declares to the Corinthians "I give thanks to my God always on your account for the grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus, that in him you were enriched in every way,
with all discourse and all knowledge, as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you, so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Cor. 1) we too must thank God for the grace and gifts he bestowed on us in Christ. God knows the hearts that prayed, and the hands that worked for his glory. He knows the services given in the day care, school, parish, catechists and the new council of the Knights of Columbus to those in need of help both spiritual and material. And yet, Christ alerts us “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come. It is like a man traveling abroad. He leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his own work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch. Watch, therefore; you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’” (Mk 13: 33-37). In Advent we are called to watch and watch. He was already born 2000 years ago -He will not be reborn. Yet, we need to be reborn and renewed in Christ. For this, he sent his Holy Spirit and left us himself in his body and blood,which we partake of  in the Eucharistic thanksgiving. The body of Christ is holy. Please go to confession to receive it in grace. In all Churches of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto, there will be on December 10 a full day for confession in the sacrament of Penance/Reconciliation all morning, afternoon and evening. May the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Debate of Christianity and Materialism

Why do Christians need to be concerned about materialism? The answer may lie in this excerpt published November 24, 2014 by CNS about the Ebola's panic spiritual roots:

As I was preparing this text, I realized that Sunday November 23, 2014, the Roman Catholic Church celebrates the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the universe. On this day, which is also the celebration of Jesus the King Melkite Catholic Church in Toronto, the Biblical Gospel reading recounts Jesus words in the Last Judgment (Matt 24: 31-46). This Gospel has been traditionally the most powerful of all of Christ's pronouncements. In his homily on the same day Biblical readings, Fr. Henri Boulad, S.J. who helps children and families in Egypt, illuminates the picture of Christ the King, not a king of slaves as humanity has seen until today, but a king who looks after his people. Jesus brings us from our doubts and uncertainty into his heart, goes after the lost child, rescues the scattered sheep, does not send another to find it, but he himself rushes to bring the lost sheep. The Good Shepherd is the real king. The elect on the Day of the Last Judgment are those who fed the hungry, gave drink to the thirsty, welcomed strangers, clothed the naked, cared for the sick, and visited prisoners because the good that they did to the little ones are, in Jesus eyes, done to him. Henri Boulad, in his amazing style, said "God is not interested in slaves to give him glory. He is interested in hearts that love. Christ said he is king, not when he was gloriously elevated by the crowds but when he was in great pain experiencing the wounds and insults inflicted upon him because he dared to say the truth" (John 18: 37) (The homily can be watched in French here). The question today is whether people materially comfortable at home do give to the needy facing untold uncertainty in the Middle East, Christian families who are persecuted whose men are killed and whose women  are violated, raped, and sold by terrorists such as ISIS and Boko Haram. One way to donate a bit from our comfort can be found in this website: Food for Syria here. Another is to help Jerusalem students get better education here.

Another deep  reflection was given by Fr. Georges Farah at Jesus the King parish in September 2008: The gospel of the Crucified shows the forces that stood against Christ on his way to save them: the high priests, the people, and Pilate. The crowds were singing to Jesus a week earlier and now they turned against him. The high priests thought they were not doing anything wrong. Their duty was to keep the Law and to make sure that no revolution will take place when they are occupied by a staunch enemy: the Roman empire. They thought it is better for one man to die than the whole nation to perish. Pilate was a foreign governor who had no interest in religious Jewish quarrels. His dialogue with Christ before ordering his crucifixion sheds light on us today as much as it did then. He questioned Christ at length, prompted by his wife’s request to release him. But Christ remained silent! He then asked him “So you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth hears my voice." Pilate said to him, sarcastically, "What is truth?" as if saying to him: You have nothing. You are going to be killed for saying things. Be wise. Forget about truth-Just worry about your life and survival here.  I can release you and you can go to Rome. Live your life there as a free man…
Pilate could have said that to any other person but the answer of Christ is the same. The Truth is a big thing in Christ’s way of thought and life. He must defend the Truth to the end. He is not politically correct. And he cares for everyone even when everyone is against him. “Behold the Man” Pilate tells the Jews when he surrenders Christ to them. Christ is said to have been  crucified on the place called Golgotha i.e. The Skull, the skull of Adam- the skull of humanity. His blood went into the skull of humanity and he went to Hades so that he could save by his death the dead humanity. Christ’s Cross is tied to his Resurrection. No life without death. Now look at Pilate and think of us: Do what you want – Just be silent in matters of truth. Is not this how we think today? Do not we crucify Christ everyday?

If we look again in Apocalypse, written near the end of the first century, we find seven warnings to seven churches. The warning to the church in Laodicea is particularly relevant to Christians today.
"And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: `The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's creation. "`I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing; not knowing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. Therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, that you may be rich, and white garments to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and chasten; so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. He who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I myself conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'" (Revelation 3: 14-22).

Laodicea is a city about 80 miles east of Ephesus in Asia Minor, a wealthy commercial center that exported fine woolen garments and was famous for its eye salves. So rich was it that it was rebuilt without external aid after the earthquake of 61 AD hit it.

Having introduced the Christian community in Laodicea near the end of the first century, let us briefly comment on the above message. The word 'the Amen' is a divine title found in Isaiah 65: 16 applied here to Christ who is also the beginning of creation or through whom creation is made (Cf. John 1:3). But the crux of the message is the contrast between a wealthy and blind church that says she needs nothing and her need to be clothed by Christ. Christ knows her works that she is neither cold nor hot and warns her that her commitment to faith and to helping the needy in faith is so low that she has become nauseating to him. This is the major obstacle to our lives in the Spirit. Materialism is globally widespread that the Church herself has grown childless in many places. The denial of the European Union of Europe's Christian roots is the result of atheist materialism which results in lives lived without hope of eternal joy. When nominally Christian young people feel that their lives are meaningless, they embrace other ideologies and religions. It is the reason that radical Islam is spreading in Europe and the reason why ISIS, as violent as it is, attracts them.

But it is strange that so many difficulties are put in the way of Christ the King even though the West recognizes today the human dignity of every person.  The contemporary scholar and Professor (now emeritus) of civilization at Stanford University René Girard spoke about the Last Judgment in an interview with him here. Watch it again to better understand the relationship of Christianity, violence, and Islam. But more than ever, according to Girard, the contemporary world is very much apocalyptic. An example he gave in the interview is the hurricane that destroys much life not caused by nature alone but by Man and nature combined. The fact that humanity is being conquered by advances in technology (talk about robots!) which could overpower the human rational thought not far from today is the result of materialism. This is the challenge of materialism. It is with this fear that we live today. If this sounds too complex, the reader may wish to read my lecture titled "Apocalypse Now" given in July 2009. We are now used to be consumers. We love to spend much time on entertainment and only little on learning.

In his 2007 encyclopedic book "A Secular Age", Charles Taylor critiques the secular influence that the liberal Western world has experienced since the 18th century revolutions and the Enlightenment. The Canadian Professor (now emeritus) of political science and philosophy at McGill University has become an icon in the debate over human values in societies that embrace human development yet ignore Christianity that has inspired human dignity. Charles Taylor makes the distinction between degrees of secularity in countries in terms of how much the public space has been emptied of God. In Europe, God is hardly recognized in the public space or institutions. In the United States, however, the secular state does not forbid worship of God. Although religion is separate from state. all religions are freely practiced by their followers in pubic institutions (except those that violate the freedom of religions as found in the American Constitution). A third category is found in states where religion is an influential identifier of the state such as Islamic countries and primitive societies in Africa and Asia.  It seems that the misuse of freedom in the West leads to slavery to the more politically -correct.
The author discusses our story as it seems to lie in the increasing interest in nature for its own sake, not simply as a manifestation of God. Atheism starts with doubts and evolves in the rejection of religion in the public sphere of social and institutional gatherings. But more on that later...

In the global societies we live in, it is understandable that kids and young adults may be hooked to materialistic attachments as is obvious in peer pressure.  Lack of proper education contributes to ignorance and immoral behaviour. There are many ways for the serious persons to educate themselves and their families. I had written on the power of education here. Ignorance and shallow knowledge make it easier for unscientific ideologies to penetrate the minds of people. The Gurus of Hindu mythology have been popular with the simplistic minds of many North Americans. Only check libraries that contain books written by the "New Age" guru Deepak Chopra. In 2008, I documented a video on how science discovered evidence for God presented in a summit that included the radical atheist Antony Flew here. Flew acknowledged his conversion to theism at the end of the summit. We watched the video and should get more people to watch it. In 2013, I wrote a brief article on quantum physics where we find evidence for the Trinity in the cosmos. The reader may wish to read it here.

Materialists are not content with their gains. In order to influence consumers into buying their own products rather than others, some businesses have already contracted neuromarketing scientists who research and analyze the brain's sensory centers in response to data that influence decision making.  I have listened to Thomas Zoega Ramsoy and Per Moller, both Associate Professors in marketing and neuroscience at the University of Copenhagen. A shoe store that sells expensive leather shoes may add a tiny small amount of smell-producing leather in the store only to get the visitor to smell it and think that the shoes are high-quality shoes.This marketing technique raises the probability of buying the shoes from the store.

As yet, the explorations in neuroscience are constrained to material stuff in the brain. Over the past 3 decades, philosophy of mind has become a field of research. In 2009, Oxford University published "Did my neurons make me do it? Philosophical and Neurobiological Perspectives on Moral Responsibility and Free Will" written by two leading scholars: Nancey Murphy and Warren S. Brown. Although the book contains certain errors, the authors nevertheless debunk Determinism of atheist philosophers such as Daniel Dennett based on evolutionary scientific findings.  The deterministic universe of Newton has already been discarded since the advent and explorations of quantum physics. It can only get more complex. One example the authors give is the behavioral pattern of the Sphex ichneumoneous, a type of wasp, that illustrates how it builds a burrow for the purpose of egg laying. The wasp stings a cricket in such a way as to paralyze it but not kill it. She drags the cricket inside the burrow, lays her eggs and closes the burrow. The same wasp goes back to inspect the cricket, now paralyzed, and see if it moved to bring it inside for the wasp grubs coming out of the hatched eggs in time. Although it is genetically predetermined, the behavioral pattern of moving the cricket closer several times and changing the strategy suggests goal-directedness. What is missing is memory which is obviously found in humans.

We cannot address here the harm that materialism is doing but hope that greed will give way to love and charity. We will have to come back to the Christian Spiritual Exercises proposed by St. Ignatius Loyola. It is essential that Christians and their leaders become more Christ-like. If we believe that the life-giver Holy Spirit of God guides the Church, we have hope and pray that we too will find our joy in God.

For further readings Cf. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy particularly its entries in Philosophy of History.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Why Christianity Will Not Die

Do ISIS extremists scare Christians?

On Friday November 14, 2014, Jesus the King Church hosted another video-event on the growth of the Church in the world from the early Biblical testimonies of the Apostles. The video featured the lives and struggles of St. Peter and St. Paul in a lively documentary recorded in old cities they preached in. It was narrated by Fr. Robert Barron in the extremely popular Series "Catholicism."

On Pentecost Peter spoke about the risen Christ to thousands gathered from many nations for the feast. When they heard him, Luke writes, "they were cut to the heart" (Acts 2: 37) and three thousand were baptized in one day!

Another great Christian witness is an ordinary man who, in his conversion, sought to find God in all things...
Ignatius Loyola was brought up in Spain. The founder of the order of the Society of Jesus in the 16th century was not born a monk. He was born to a Basque noble family, a man of pride ascending the ladder of fame in Spain, then manifested in the military honour and power of knights, and the dating of nice girls until he was seriously wounded in the battle of Pamplona in 1521. In Ignatius of Loyola we see again the power of the transformation God uses in us -weak humans - so that we can become one day united to him in Christ. God who is the eternal Mystery is also the approachable father who calls everyday his servants to become closer to his eternal Son.
While being hospitalized, Ignatius read De Vita Christi written by the influential theologian Ludolph of Saxony and there he contemplated in a vision the "discernment of spirits." From the hospital emerged the conversion to Christ when Ignatius experienced the joy of being with Christ and likewise the experience devoid of joy when he projected his glory without Christ. True joy is a fruit of the Spirit as written in the New Testament. And here Ignatius discerns the true joy which will carry him, with some friends, to Jerusalem and then to Rome. The Jesuits or Society of Jesus, approved by Pope Paul III in 1540, were active in the Counter Reformation preaching. They carried the missionary work to China in the Far East, to the Middle East, and the New World. Ignatius of Loyola was beatified and then canonized in 1622. In his active life as a disciple of Christ, Ignatius educated many followers in the Exercises. The Jesuits have been at the forefront of Catholic education. Not an easy task in an increasingly secular environment, they continue to teach and found universities and schools in the entire world. Among them you will recognize such giants as the twentieth/21st centuries Henri de Lubac, Karl Rahner, John Courtney Murray, and Avery Dulles with their suffix S.J. or sj which means Society of Jesus.

And finally we move to today...

Let us only review the great testimony by Christian children who were killed recently by extremists before the eyes of their horrified parents in Iraq and Syria.Those kids could not betray their faith in the face of death. Or let us count the Christian girls raped by Boko Haram and other terrorists in Nigeria and beyond. In spite of human weakness, heroism is manifested everyday by ordinary persons who clothe the naked, and feed the hungry. What Mother Teresa sought is now being done on a larger scale. Heaven celebrates the little ones.

Is it possible that Christianity dies? Not really. The scores of missionaries come today from Asia and Africa. They are here to stay and move when needed and where needed. In America alone, in spite of evil, the academia and media dedicate new channels for Catholics because they know their global reach and their religious roots. In Europe, Catholic schools are filled with Muslim students.Their parents insist on giving them the good education found in Catholic schools and universities. It is quite possible that the new evangelization will be carried out by Muslims converted to Christianity. In a recent homily Fr. Henri Boulad, S.J. cites an Egyptian Muslim, Nahed Mahmoud Metwalli, who converted to Christianity and wrote a number of books: "Ma rencontre avec le Christ" and "Islam encounters Christ."

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Why should Man be loved?

Why Man Should Be Loved - You ask me,  Why should Man be loved??
I answer: the reason for loving Man is Man himself. And why should Man be loved for his own sake? Simply because Man is created to reflect the majesty and love of God. 
The First Degree of Love: Love of Self for Self's Sake
Love is a natural human affection. It comes from God. Hence the first and greatest commandment is, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God." But human nature is weak and therefore compelled to love itself and serve itself first. In the human realm people love themselves for their own sake. This is planted within us for who ever hated his own self?
The Second Degree of Love: Love of  Others for Self's Sake 
I cannot be happy alone, but in need for others for my own security. The first person that cares for me is my mother. I love her because she cares for me. Although I build my relationships around me, I learn that my parents love me unconditionally.  In life, I reflect what I learned  from them and/or sincere friends. Then, when I suffer some calamity, some storm in my life, I  turn to friends and ask their help. In my relationship with them, I discover the value of true love implanted in Man by God.
The Third Degree of Love: Love of Man for Man's Sake
In the first degree of love we love ourselves for our own sake. In the second degree of love we love others for our own sake, chiefly because they have provided for us. But if trials and tribulations continue to come upon us, God sends us other people to brings us through. Even if our hearts were made of stone, we will begin to be softened because of the rescuer. Thus, we begin to love others not merely for our own sakes, but for themselves.
However, the truth is in God....
Without God who grants love, there is no true love because in my self-idolatry  I die. This is why I hope that God will save me and save everyone else in his eternal love. Saints are examples that reflect God's love for us and everyone in Christ, because Christ willed and trusted his Father...(For more reflection see The Trinity here).

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Bringing Joy to Man?

In a distressed, polarized, and often violent world, is it possible to live in joy? We are threatened by extremists forcing themselves on the rest and vowing to replace civilization with their own government and law of Sharia. We are bombarded by consumerist-based media, surrounded by the politically-correct minds, wounded by materialism in the soul like the man wounded by thieves on his way to Jericho (Luke 10). and challenged by the racing computer machines of all sizes whose builders increasingly control our lives as if we too are robots.

In this divided world, is it possible to bring joy to myself, my family, and my friends? Do I need you in the individualism I learn everyday as already taught to our kids in schools and universities?

Is it true that joy is a product of love? Here we show:
1. How to enjoy a relationship with God and with others based on the four loves of St. Bernard;
2. The courage to step out of the self in two real stories: Oscar Romero, and Mother Teresa;
3. The heroic love of a wife and mother: Rita of Cascia in 15th century Italy - The tenderness of a woman's heart brings joy to her children and family that exudes joy to generations of the community;
4. The hero of all who brought joy - eternal joy - to so many : Jesus Christ; and the wonder his mother experienced in everything related to him;
5. How I learned to look for joy and why - If a smile on your face, that reduces your stress, makes me happy, how much happier would we be if we strive to listen to each other;
6. How science confirms the necessity of upbringing kids in places of virtue and joy and emphasizes positive relations;
7. The courage to be possessed by God's love - The way of Christian mysticism: Contemplation of Love;
Conclusion from Apocalypse - Surprise!

First: In the 11th century, the great mystic St. Bernard, wrote on the four loves (Read him here) while in the twenty-first century, as I try to love others, I am still tied at the very first love but I have hope that God will secure me and mine eternally in his love (Read me here).  In this "hell" of passions and self-idolatry where I enclosed myself, do I have the inclination to bring joy to my fellow people? Do I have the courage to step up to the next level of love? Do I have the courage to step out of fear? Do I have the courage to remove my mask and live the life of true freedom?

Second: Heroism is not merely the share of military leaders but is a capacity found in ordinary persons who struggle with fear and insecurity but still make a difference in their own decisions. We have seen it in the life of Oscar Romero archbishop of San Salvador from 1977 to March 1980 when he was assassinated by pro-Government junta. Oscar Romero was embattled by two devils: the Church's hierarchy concerned for the support of a dictatorial regime, and a widespread assassination of his own people, friends and priests who sided with them. He found out that he could not tolerate the injustice against the many poor and soon organized large protests and prayers for their safety. His eloquence in defending human dignity was more than rhetoric speeches from his Cathedral but a deep reflection and continuous examination of conscience. His love of the people of El Salvador, with whom he shared his daily life, made him "ascend the mountain to meet God" as in Christ's transfiguration which transformed Romero's inner life as he sought to find God in everything...a renewal taken from St. Ignatius of Loyola. When Romero dared to rescue men he found Christ! (for more read his story here.)

A second hero is found in Mother Teresa. At the age of 18, she joined the sisters of Loreto as a missionary in India and became known as Mother Teresa. Like  St. Teresa of Avila who questioned God,  Mother Teresa was a woman of steel. She radiated joy and humility, but  experienced the seemingly absence of God in her prayer. This did not deter her from following her unique vocation that she experienced as a "call within the call." On the contrary she trusted in the outpouring love of God, not only to the chosen but to every single human being. Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity with the Church's approval in 1950. The mission in her own words was "to care for the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society, people that have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone." When Teresa dared to care for the unwanted dying in the streets of India, she found Christ shining more in the needs of humanity.She died in 1997 and was beatified by St, John Paul II in 2003 (for more read her story here).

Third: Heroes are found everywhere and in all ages. St. Rita of Cascia was a wife and mother of twin boys in the 15th century.She also struggled but her struggle was to convert her unfaithful husband from his abusive behavior - a behavior we still see today in families that often ends in divorce, the compounded abuse of children or the insanity in murder and suicide. When her husband was murdered by another feuding family, Rita pleaded with her sons not to take revenge and asked God to spare them from committing such a crime. Her prayer was answered as both sons died a year later from dysentery. Her heroic prayer life culminated in accepting her request to become a nun in the convent of St.Mary Magdalene. As she asked the Crucified to share in his suffering, a miraculous thorn on her forehead was a sign found by her superiors. She was beatified in 1626 and canonized in 1900. Her incorrupt body is venerated today as millions of people visit it at the shrine that carries her name in Cascia (for more read her life here).

Fourth: The most heroic person was and remains Jesus Christ of selfless love. Out of love he healed the sick of his people and against the customs of Israel's teachers he healed the sick of the enemies of his people, visited the robbers, broke the Sabbath for the sake of Man, challenged the teachings of the masters of the Law, rejoiced with the outcast, forgave sinners and prostitutes, and while dying on the cross, instigated by the religious authorities and executed by the Romans, he forgave everyone entrusting himself to his Father and inaugurating by his death his own resurrection and victory over death, St Paul writes about Jesus being “the image of the invisible God” (Col 1, 15-20) and in the very nature of God “Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness” (Ph 2:6-7).

Joy is at the center of the Gospel. In one night, the disciples were in their boat in a stormy sea. Having spent his night in prayer away from them, Jesus walked to them on the sea. "But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, 'It is a ghost!' And they cried out for fear. But immediately he spoke to them, saying, 'Take heart, it is I; have no fear.' And Peter answered him, 'Lord, if it is you, bid me come to you on the water.' He said, 'Come.' So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus; but when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, 'Lord, save me.' Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, 'O man of little faith, why did you doubt?' And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, 'Truly you are the Son of God.'" (Matthew 14: 25-33). Fr. Georges Farah says that the story has a deeper meaning for it reminds the listeners of Jesus' victory over the waters of the sea considered the abode of death. He is the One who takes Peter by the hand to deliver him from death. Jesus not only says the word "have no fear" he also removes fear from the hearts and delivers us from death! The message of joy is to everyone who listens and follows Jesus!

Luke writes that the Archangel Gabriel greeted the Blessed Virgin Mary with "Hail, full of grace. The Lord is with you" and Mary greatly amazed and troubled "pondered in her heart" what she was to make of such greeting (Luke 1: 28-30). This translates into wonder, and amazement mixed with joy. Do we make it our own and greet each other with that blessing? Here with Mary we find the key to God in our midst as she already pointed us to him at the wedding of Cana “Do whatever he tells you.” (John 2:5). In bringing him up, she pondered and knew the heart of her son Jesus, trusted what he would do for her and us. And today in our relationships, families, cultures, sciences, and nature we will find him if we seek his truth and train our consciences according to the teachings he gave the Church and still guides her through his Spirit to renew herself in him.

Fifth: In the 20th century, in reference to Jesus washing the feet of the Apostles on the night he was betrayed, Maurice Zundel wrote "God knelt before Man." That is one contemporary statement about God's love in Christ for his creation...Can we really betray the Triune God whose love created and redeemed us? If there is still love in the world can we find love? Can I find joy away from love? Can I find joy in my loneliness? Can I find joy in my selfishness? Can I find joy if the entire things around me do not fully satisfy my thirst for the infinite?

But I learned that joy is the product of love. In 1973, Fr. Henri Boulad, S.J. taught us in a retreat that, for lovers, time is a moment. The joy they have in their encounter makes time go fast. This is why children enjoy time with what they love and for them there is no time. Henri Boulad has been a missionary for over 50 years. He worked for many years as a missionary in the Sudan and Egypt, organized retreats and was invited to others in many countries around the world. A scholar he also authored some 30 books, some of them translated to 16 languages. In June, 2013 I wrote a little reflection on his thought here, and in 2014, I wrote a little hymn in gratitude to God for his birthday here. As far as I understand, he preaches and lives the joy found in the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola (founder of the Jesuits) articulated in his Spiritual Exercises for the discernment of spirits and thus finding God in everything around us.

I recall the days when my parents, of blessed memory, cared for everyone of us, I recall the days when my wife and I sacrificed many hours at work in order to raise our kids in good schools. I recall the night a few years ago when, in darkness, I did not see the side-walk, fell, and broke my eye-glasses but a woman I did not know hurried to lift me up and cared for me. All these events are still alive in my memory, and surely other events of care by relatives and strangers alike can be recalled by many more people. The world is full of goodness by ordinary people but we have to see it and thank God for it.

Sixth: What do scientists think? Contemporary psychology demands finding happiness through others in my life to love and be loved by. Positive psychology scientists, such as Professor Martin Seligman, emphasize the importance of values, virtues, and talents. Positive experience and relationships that provide a meaning and purpose in life greater than oneself are studied methodically. This is too the basis of today's social networks that attempt to create small talks between friends across geographic boundaries on the Internet such as Facebook. They do not satisfy the search for meaning but can be used by Churches to connect people virtually at a starting level then direct them to in-depth discussions and reflections. Since I do not exist by myself, it makes sense that I need the other to exist as a person. I am really only a potential person until I find and love God in the other.This is not only contemporary psychology but is also found in St. Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century. My joy is in the other. Heaven is not an illusion, but, as is written in the Bible, it is where God lives. But God is not somewhere out there. The infinite love that is God is here, and wishes that we receive him. The Spirit of Christ thus says “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will enter his house and dine with him and he with me. I will give the victor the right to sit with me on my throne, as I myself won the victory and sit with my Father on his throne." (Revelation 3: 20-21). We do not pretend that any human person is God, but Christ is God who is also a human person that loves us to the end. In his judgment Christ, the Alpha and the Omega, grants eternal joy to the persons who find him in the needy and help them with the gifts that are always freely given to us (Matthew 25: 34-40).

On November 1st, 2014, The Economist published a report on genes and behavior that summarizes the latest scientific findings in genetics. An experimental study by Dr. Tiihonen and his team on violent persons shows the importance of interactions between someone's upbringing and his genes which, if not controlled, can trigger violence as manifested in high levels of alcohol drinking. You may be able to access the full report here. Although more study is needed for a useful medical conclusion, the results confirm what St. Augustine had already written in the 5th century: Be moderate in everything except in love.

Seventh: In Christian mysticism we find joy in  God. Here is a little text from the mystical theology of the 20th century evolutionary scientist Teilhard de Chardin, S.J. which fascinates our wonder: “Lord Christ, you who are divine energy and living irresistible might: since of the two of us it is you who are infinitely the stronger, it is you who must set me ablaze and transmute me into fire that we may be welded together and made one. Grant me, then, something even more precious than that grace for which all your faithful followers pray: to receive communion as I die is not sufficient: teach me to make a communion of death itself.” (Hymn of the Universe by Teilhard de Chardin, NY: Harper and Row, 1965.) 

ConclusionIn spite of continuing threats by materialism and extremism, the Church, following her founder Christ, continues to open herself and welcome humanity in her bosom. As the ages advance so does the kingdom of Christ spread in the entire human race.  The development of civilization itself is rooted in Christianity for eternal life starts on earth.

In spite of its many gloomy warnings, the Book of Apocalypse remains open to hope. The number of the eternally happy elect is so great that the visionary in Apocalypse could not count it. He had to give it a symbolic number of one hundred and forty four thousand (Revelation 4: 7) which reflects  12 (a symbol for the complete tribes of Israel) multiplied by 12 (the complete number of the Apostles) multiplied by one thousand (the perfect number 10 times ten times ten) indicating the New Israel of Christ.Why is 10 a perfect number as a symbol? In modern physics, 1 and zero are binary numbers in computer native language. They complement each other and together they become perfect. Thus 144,000 is a symbolic number of the outpouring love of God enjoyed by the multitudes.  This is the glory that St. Irenaeus referred to in his writing "The glory of God is man fully alive and the life of Man is the vision of God". (AH IV, 20, 7).

If the above interpretation is true, then we can hope against all hope that all nations may come to share in the joy and glory of Christ.

Thursday, October 30, 2014


Why do Canadians celebrate Halloween? "Halloween" comes from the Scottish "Hallowed Evening" i.e. The eve of celebrating saints and remembering the dead in prayers.

The Lord's Prayer to the Father starts with "Our Father Who Art in heaven - Hallowed be Thy Name..." The Father is the Father of all of us who gives life to every person and loves all humans...

On this day, we ask the saints to intercede for every person on earth, and ask God to forgive all, and have his abundant mercy on all the departed souls.

However, Halloween is important to Christians, not only to remember the dead but also to live with the joy that God brought to humanity in his abundant love fully manifested in the incarnation, passion, death, and resurrection of Christ and present in the Church through the sacraments by the power of the Holy Spirit. Why would we care about this festival of Dracula and "evil spirits"?  Let us think a bit of history.

The Church does not live a separate life from humanity. She is the seed of the kingdom of God on earth and must always strive to reflect in her members the eternal love that is the Triune God. The act of creation is an act of love in which God wishes to reflect the joy and love of Father and Son in the Holy Spirit by abundantly bringing life and letting the entire creation develop from nothing. The start of the Big Bang is what scientists today call a singularity. In the 2nd century AD, St. Irenaeus of Lyon wrote "For with Him were always present the Word and Wisdom - the Son and the whom also He speaks saying 'Let Us make Man after Our image and likeness' (Genesis 1: 26)," (Adversus Haereses - Cf. also Ecclesiastical History, Book V by Eusabius of  of Caesarea (260-340)). This is the eternal Trinity outpouring love brought to our attention in the earliest canonical Biblical book. It was manifested in Christ's life on earth, his humanity that he shared with all is fully united to his divinity.  St. Irenaeus wrote too against Gnostics who denied the intrinsic value of Man. He wrote "The glory of God is man fully alive and the life of Man is the vision of God". (AH IV, 20, 7)  The more we become human the more we become one with God. According to the Eastern Fathers of the Church, God became man so as to restore us to him. This love of God endures and continues to expand in the entire world thanks to the work of the Holy Spirit in Christian missions.

It is in that vision that St. Pope John Paul II teaches the Church based on Christian personalism. Since its beginning and throughout its history, the Catholic Church has always penetrated and renewed the lives and civilizations of humanity sometimes with suffering but always with the hope that as many souls as possible will find the joy of living eternally in Christ and with him. This is found in the humanism of St. Francis of Assisi who not only had the first Stigmata recorded in history, but also spoke to birds and animals, called the Sun a sister and the Moon a brother, wrote hymns to celebrate the peace of Christ (Listen to Make Me a Channel of Your Peace here:
This is also found in St. Thomas Aquinas whose spiritual insight and philosophical inquiry opened the way for humanity to explore nature on its own. The same openness is found in St. Teresa of Avila among many mystics whose dialogue with God inspired untold number of faithful. The retrieval of classics from the ancient Roman and Greek literature found expression in the Renaissance which started with Pepin and Charlemagne and flourished in the 15th century and beyond and in the polyphony in sacred music by the 15th century which added to the majestic expressions of faith in the music of Mozart, Bach, Handel and others in the so-called Baroque Age. From the 16th century on, the Counter-Reformation insisted on reforming the Catholic Church. St. Thomas More, a great humanist, encouraged generations to follow his example. St. Ignatius of Loyola founded the Society of Jesus whose champions made great inroads in all the way to the Far East, Asia, Africa, North America and South America. In the 20th century, St. Pope John XXIII convoked the Second Vatican Council which sought Christian unity and made it possible for the Church to have dialogues with other religions and ideologies. On this basis, the Christian-inspired human dignity is the at the center of the Western civilization even when materialism claims new powers. Humanity is looking to the Church for guidance. In a recent homily, Fr. Henri Boulad, S.J., described the situation in the West. It is true that radical Islam is increasing in Europe, but, he said, Catholic schools in Europe are full of Muslim students.The evangelization of the world may well be carried out by Muslims converted to Christianity...

If the above is of any significance to us, it is that Christ penetrates, through his Spirit, the entire globe and is the only answer to today's mixed and polarizing ideologies.

Here is again today's celebration of Halloween. What good is there in it? May be we can learn from the past.
An example may be sufficient. The early Church used to celebrate Christmas or the Nativity of Jesus Christ on the 6th of January, a custom still followed by a few Eastern Churches while other Eastern Christians celebrate it on January 7th. However, the date to celebrate Christmas was moved to December 25 as early as the year 336 AD by St. Pope Julius I. The reason for this decision was to attract as many people as possible in the Roman empire and beyond to the Christian faith since pagans (Polytheists) used to celebrate, on the same day or close to it, the feast of the unconquered Sun in Mithraism (a god of the military widely worshiped at the time in the empire), December 22 or 25 was found to be the day where there is the shortest time between Sunset and Sunrise.  the ancient pagans celebrated in it the end of Winter and the coming of Spring which brings flowering to sleepy nature. Christ is the unconquered Sun. It was therefore found fitting to move Christmas to December 25.

Let us now consider celebrating Halloween. How can we transform a day of fun for children into a holy day for them and us? First, it is not about us versus them. It is about the entire Church. They are the future. How can we attract them? They do not listen to boring lectures. They love to share an innocent toy or get a treat. This is why parents love to go trick or treat with their kids. They simply want them to have innocent joy by knocking on doors in the neighborhood.  Other parents or grandparents who open the door to them play with them and give them anyway a little treat - chocolate or candy. Everyone is aware of a few mentally-ill persons who in the past gave them poisonous treats. If parents are careful they will bring joy to their kids.

Second, click this link and watch the meaning beyond Dracula and Halloween:

Have you listened to the video?  The presenter Dr. Taylor Marshall speaks of the historical events that made this festival popular in the West. Pope Pius II (1405-1464) subsidized a Romanian prince by the name of Vlad III or Vlad Dracula. In 1453 the Turkish Muslims conquered Constantinople. This opened the gateway for the Muslims to begin to move west, invade Europe and take over St. Peter's. This alarmed Pope Pius II who sent funds to Prince Vlad Dracula in order to defend Europe against Muslim conquest. Now a myth developed around the personality of Dracula that made him sell his soul to the Devil in order to get superpowers to fight and defeat the Turks. The myth of Dracula the vampire is born. He is the person who bites human flesh and drinks human blood. In the Gospel Jesus said "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him." (John 6:53-56). This is why the Eucharist or the Blessed Sacrament is central to Catholics and Orthodox Christians. Now note how Christ in the Eucharist is at the center of this liberal custom. While Dracula and the Vampire bite human flesh and drink human blood and mock the resurrection by going down in the coffin and faking the resurrection, Christ offers his flesh and blood to Christians for their resurrection and eternal life. Jesus in the Eucharist repels Dracula who is possessed by the Devil. Christ and the saints conquer the Devil who "possessed Dracula".

We could find the good things that God implants in everything in the world and carry them as insufficient as they are, to Christ'grace, for in Christ everything can be redeemed. More to come on this.

Third, we need to learn and help others to become like saints. The meaning of Halloween is to become hallowed like saints. In the recent wars of the Middle East, let us remember how many Christians chose to be killed rather than renounce their faith. The Church is strong because of the martyrs whose blood was shed following Jesus in spite of threats by ISIS and other Islamic extremists. This is a celebration in heaven.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Who Will Triumph?

The terrorism events that took place in Quebec and Ottawa this week on October 20 and October October 22, 2014 have left an indelible mark on Canadians that they have entered a decisive moment of fight against global terrorism linked to the tragic massacres of innocents by Radical Islam whether in the Middle East or outside its geographic boundaries. This is only the beginning of calamities if people of good will do not recognize the signs of times and act decisively to turn things around.
If you look at our world today this is what you will see:
1. A global economic recession, never seen in its scope before. Millions have lost their jobs or are going to lose them - This is particularly critical for young adults who have just graduated from university or college but cannot find a permanent job in their careers AND requires Churches/Christian organizations to help ours where possible (Professor Thomas Edsall wrote about this issue in a New York Times June 2014 column here);
2. A global political crisis, where America and the European Union have hardly been able to contain the claims of Russia in Ukraine while Russia and the Far East are bringing back memories of the Cold War and a dictatorial regime in North Korea is again playing with nuclear weapons;
3. Israel and radical Muslims are making every effort to escalate the situation in the Middle East to a violent war - The Arab Spring (over 3 years now) supported by the Obama government has failed to improve the lives of people it promised and was hijacked by Muslim extremists which in turn started wars of divisions between Sunni and Shiite Muslims in Syria and Iraq, killed many innocent Muslims and minority Christians (the scapegoat in Girardian language) and are now attempting to recreate an Islamic Caliphate which threatens to raise the black flag of ISIS over the entire free world;
4. A global food crisis continues to rage in Africa, South America and the underdeveloped countries caused in part by insufficient resources that are already controlled by local dictators and an increasing imbalance between the wealth of the North and that of the South caused in part by an imperialistic American and Western European free-market monopoly;
5. The most influential moral voice in the world, Pope Francis, is challenged by conservative prelates in the Church over his pastoral reforms to attract the lost young generation and broken families back to Church - In his closing address to the Synod of Bishops on the Family, October 18, 2014, Francis wisely noted the temptation "to hostile inflexibility" of "traditionalists" but cautioned too against the temptation to a destructive tendency to goodness that, in the name of a deceptive mercy, "treats the symptoms and not the causes and the roots" attempted by "progressives and liberals" (Read speech here).

Can we read the beginning of the end in today's events? We know that, according to modern Biblical scholarship, the book of Revelation was written in the late 90s, as Apocalyptic literature to warn Christians and give them hope in the persecutions of the 1st century. Having said that, let's look afresh at Revelation and see whether there can be any interpretation for our world today as well. Sometimes the same text can reflect a myth and a literal event too. Can this be the case here? The New American Bible Revised Edition (approved by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops) in the introduction to the Book of Revelation says "The Book of Revelation had its origin in a time of crisis, but it remains valid and meaningful for Christians of all time. In the face of apparently insuperable evil, either from within or from without, all Christians are called to trust in Jesus' promise, 'Behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age' (Matthew 28:20)"

Revelation is a complex book, so I intend only to show similarities from the Book to what we are seeing today. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, there are 5 important symbolic figures: The Lamb, the woman, and her seed; and opposed to them, the dragon, the beast from the sea, and the beast from the land.

Scholars dig deep into the Old Testament: The main idea is taken from Genesis 3:15. "I will put enmities between you (the serpent) and the woman, and your seed and her seed". The woman is arrayed in heavenly splendour; a crown of twelve stars on her head and the sun and the moon under her feet (cf. Genesis 37:9-10). She is in travail. Her first-born is destined to rule all the nation (Psalms 2:8, 9). She herself, and her other seed, are persecuted for three and a half years by the great dragon who tries to kill them. The great dragon is Satan (Genesis 3:1). He is cast out of heaven. With his tail he drags after him one-third of the stars. Taken from Daniel 8:10. The fallen stars are the fallen angels. The beast from the sea is in great part taken from Daniel's description of the four beasts (Daniel 7). It arises from the sea; has seven heads marked all over with blasphemies (probably a reference to Rome - City of the Seven Hills, called also Babylon or the Harlot in the New Testament since at the time it was the center of evil and idolatry for Christians). It had also ten horns, like the fourth beast of Daniel; it resembled a leopard, the third beast of Daniel, it had feet like a bear, the second beast of Daniel; and teeth like a lion, the first beast of Daniel. The great dragon gives full power to the beast, where all the world will worship it. The followers of the beast have its mark on their head and hand. The beast from the land has two horns like a ram. Its power lies in its art of deceiving by means of tokens and miracles. Throughout the remainder of the book it is called the false prophet. Its office is to assist the beast from the sea, and to induce people to adore its image.

The first act of the drama concludes with a promise of victory over the beast by the Lamb of God. We can safely see in the woman Mary immaculate whose seed is Jesus the Lamb of God. Other interpretations think of it as a symbol of the Church in her suffering and ultimate glory. The drama completes when the "New Jerusalem" is founded. She will need no light because the Father and the Lamb will be her light - the light of the Holy Spirit. A great number of people; thousands over thousands will be in the triumphant city. Meanwhile let's attempt to follow the visionary.

We can see in the Dragon the Devil. But who are the Beast and the False Prophet? The New Jerome Biblical Commentary in 1990 gives a contemporary interpretation pointing out that the beast from the sea and the beast from the earth have both mythic and historical references. Sea in the Old Testament is an opponent of God (Cf. Ps. 74:13). In Revelation, the beast from the sea is a mythical symbol of chaos and rebellion. The beast from the earth (13:11-18) is also a counter image to the Lamb. The beast from the earth is described as a false prophet, probably an agent of the Roman empire who promoted the cult of the emperor and the goddess Roma.

The following is my own interpretation based on my readings, but mostly based on what we are seeing today. I think, and I stand to be corrected, that the False Prophet is Radical Islam and the Beast is the materialist postmodern world of the West. We can consult the "Clash of Civilizations" that Samuel Huntington wrote in the 1990s, although this is not necessary.

The False Prophet: From a historic perspective, I do note that the human race was warned in 1917 by Our Lady at Fatima and that the "Third Secret of Fatima" was officially interpreted as the assassination attempt on the life of Saint Pope John Paul the Great. But may be that attempt was only the first of calamities that humanity will have to suffer as the sons and daughters of Abraham, Jews and Muslims, fight to death. Recall also that for 60 years now, Israel is back as one Jewish nation, and since 1967 it has reoccupied Jerusalem thus fulfilling the prophecy of the end of time attributed to Christ "and Jerusalem will be trodden down by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled." (Luke 21: 24). Furthermore, we can go back to the early 1930s and find the established "Muslim Brotherhood" which claims support from Muslims worldwide. But two centuries earlier Mohammed Ibn Abdel-Wahhab had preached a puritan form of Islam that forbids devotional customs such as shrines for saints and visitation of tombs. He and his followers made a pact with Mohammed bin Saud whose successors prevailed in Arabia and were given the land by the British after World War I.  Today Saudi Arabia, a rich Arab Sunni Muslim country, exports the Wahabbi/Salafist thought (with oil from its oil reserves) to other countries in the world and has its own agenda as a regional power. In addition since 1979, the Islamic Republic of Iran has been tirelessly exporting its strict Shiite doctrine to the entire Islamic world. In 1972, President Sadat released Muslim extremists from jail and was subsequently assassinated by one of their groups in 1981. By 1982, the motto "Islam is the Solution" had appeared in Egypt. It is no accident that the revival of fundamentalist Islam has spread in all the Arab world and the Muslim nations in spite of persecution by governments loyal to the West. From Sudan, Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India there is a huge following of fundamentalist Muslims. There have been incidents of fundamentalist rebellion in the Philippines (Abu Sayyaf).

This is only a general picture. Now, I would like to give some details: Although many people are driven to think that this is a Western propaganda and political conflict, I believe that the Vatican would not have protested repeatedly in recent years against persecution and killing of Christians in Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, India, Algeria, and Egypt unless there was ground for such violation of human freedom and dignity. Fr. Henri Boulad, S.J. who lives in Egypt explained in 2002 that Christians there were being forced to convert to Islam and up to 20,000 conversions have been taking place according to the late Pope Shenouda of the Coptic Orthodox Church. Fundamentalist Islam today, spreading in Europe at a huge rate of 230%, is one of the major forces that Western Europe had to deal with since 9/11 and is still unable to contain. The late Libyan leader Qaddafi was quoted to have said in 2007 that by 2050 Europe will be completely Muslim. Huge money is spent on building mosques and Islamic schools and supporting Muslim organizations in the entire world. Financing is coming from Saudi Arabia, Iran, Qatar and Libya. In Ontario, Canada, the Muslim community attempted, in 2007, to have its own Sharia legalized for Muslims living in Ontario, but their attempt was declined. Add to this the violent character of such organizations as Hamas, governing Gaza in Palestine and until now refusing to recognize the right of Israel to exist, and Hizbullah which has a majority support in Lebanon since its victory over Israel in 2006. Iran, another regional power hopeful and opposed to Turkey and Saudi Arabia, is attempting to build its nuclear power and its leaders have vowed to extinguish Israel. Is this enough for describing a false prophet?

The Beast: This is the great desolation of Western civilization. If I have to explain it in detail it will take me a full week. Just briefly: It started with the Reformation in the 16th century. Martin Luther thought that every individual Christian is free to interpret Scriptures according to what he feels the Holy Spirit is telling him. This idea created "individualism." Individualism is rampant today, thanks to other modern philosophers such as the existentialist Sartre. Only me counts. "The other is my hell." It is interesting to note how this has been applied successfully in contemporary thought and technology too. Nothing is done in a vacuum. One thing you must understand is that we are all related in this cosmos. Following Luther in interpreting St.Paul, Calvin thought that God predestined people as he willed to heaven or hell so if they were destined to heaven they will also be blessed here on earth. John Courtney Murray, S.J. who was the main contributor to Vatican II's "Declaration on Freedom of Religion" wrote how Calvinism re-emerged in North-America. Calvinism was brought by the early Europeans to America.  Soon enough the idea of individualism combined with the idea of blessedness on earth and produced the idea of Capitalism long before Adam Smith thought of it in economic terms. In simple terms, if I am blessed here as a Christian, I would rather use all the resources available to me to realize this blessing on earth as much and as wide as possible. This is greed in the form of Capitalism. Sure I will help the needy but I will also help myself much more from what they have. The earth is mine and I will explore its richness to the end! Today, Capitalism rules the earth. Free market enslaves people. Recall the political and economic pressure by the IMF on the underdeveloped countries to free their economy in the 1980s and 1990s. What is the global crisis but the result of that greed globally? Why is the globe in economic recession today but because of the powerful wanting more power and meanwhile robbing the nations of Africa and Asia from their resources? It is part of the nationalist movements' claims in the underdeveloped world. The entire U.N. charter is only ink on paper...Along with Capitalism a twin ideology was born: materialism.

Since the Enlightenment in the 19th century West, philosophers and scientists have been asking whether there is indeed any reality beyond matter. Some great materialist/atheist philosophers include Hume, Voltaire, Marx, Carnap, Wittgenstein, Derrida, Michel Foucault and many others. The "New Atheists" of today such as Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss are scientists who devote much time attacking religion because they constrain their research to what is observable in the cosmos. In schools today, our children learn mostly what constitutes physics but very little, if any, about metaphysics (i.e. beyond physics).

Today we see how our consumerist society has invested in this ideology. Businesses flourish based on selling products to consumers. The more we consume the more business flourishes. This is the child of materialism married to capitalism. With globalization in the 1980s-1990s and beyond, large businesses and huge investors were able to reach the entire globe. Europe and the Far East imitated America and did the same. Who paid the price? Small business, and ordinary people like you and me. Materialism also bore the ideology of Communism which was carried out in Russia and persecuted religion from 1917 to 1989 in the USSR and Eastern Europe. Today Communism still lives in political pockets in Europe and is widely known under a more moderate name as socialism. Communism robbed people of their rights to private property. People became enslaved to the government of their land. It engulfed a whole generation of thinkers, even within the Church particularly in Latin America where people remain quite poor. Capitalist America supported dictatorial regimes in Latin America in order to suppress these movements.

Another twist of the moral order took place in the two World Wars. Because many men were sent to the battlefield women were forced to work in order to support their families. The radical feminist ideology was born  in the early 1920s and grew quickly in the 1940s and 1950s. Women started building their own career like men. Equality with men, not in dignity as known in traditional Christianity, but in all aspects of roles in business as well as at home was furiously demanded. This started the collapse of the family as we know it. Today we know many men and women who are, contrary to the moral Law, legally divorced. The feminist movement also produced legalization of abortion as the right of woman according to the land's law has a priority over the existence of the fetus in her womb. The Western civilization lost millions of unborn babies in this genocide. By the 1960s the sexual revolution was in the making, this time freeing people from the sex complex as defined by Freud. Soon afterwards, it became common that young people practice their intimate sexual "love" in the public with no shame. Today we know of couples who live together a life of sexual promiscuity and adultery without marriage or within marriage by prior agreement.

The last evil came under the influence of the philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (died 1900). The ideology is known as Moral Relativism: Nietzsche sees the slave-morality as a social illness that has overtaken Europe — a derivative and resentful value which can only work by condemning others as evil. In Nietzsche's eyes, Christianity exists in a hypocritical state wherein people preach love and kindness but find their joy in condemning and punishing others for pursuing those ends which the slave-morality does not allow them to act upon publicly. Nietzsche calls for the strong in the world to break their self-imposed chains and assert their own power, health, and vitality upon the world. In Relativism (called also Postmodernism), everyone is right. There is no absolute right and absolute wrong. This helps political correctness in the pluralistic world of today.

In my humble opinion, we need to pay attention to the present, learn lessons from the past, and pray for the future. We seem to have lost our way between the False Prophet (Radical Islam) and the Beast (Western Civilization).

There is a tremendous thirst in the young generations for spiritual nourishment that gives meaning to their lives. Let us focus on those ones for their deprivation of spiritual nourishment leads them to emptiness and depression which in turn cause suicide or worse they could join the extremist Jihadists (as we already see in Europe and North America) and we end up having a crazy army of terrorists killing themselves and us in the name of God as prophesied "children will rise against parents and have them put to death"(Matthew 10:21). Churches are "not museums" according to Saint Pope John XXIII. They must be the light for nourishment of Christians, notably the young and (almost) lost generations, in everything that they need to learn to live spiritually and survive materially i.e. to develop in their knowledge and love of God and of others.Virtual websites for Church activities and online social networking need to be developed for those who are far.

The world needs a lot of prayer and intelligent collaboration in good faith to avoid a clash of civilizations and a third World War, something that Pope Francis warned about. Christians need to respect and love their fellow Muslims who worship the same God - The crimes of extremists cannot be counted against the vast majority of Muslims. We hope that the warnings of Fatima will be avoided. Mary is the mother of both Christians and Muslims, and as Bishop Fulton sheen said, Mary will bring them all to her Son.

But more prayers are needed to save the civilization of the West from destroying itself internally. This is the harder one. We believe in what the Saviour said 'Behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age' (Matthew 28:20).

Today's Quote

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


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