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

Sunday, January 4, 2015


As I was finishing this post, the good news from Egypt reached us. The Egyptian President El-Sisi, a moderate Muslim, has just visited St. Mark's Cathedral in Cairo to congratulate the Coptic Orthodox Christians for Christmas 2015 where the Coptic Orthodox Patriarch, Pope Tawadros II,  was celebrating the mid-night Mass of Christmas. This is definitely a great gesture for Christians and Muslims in Egypt that we hope will find its way throughout the rest of the suffering Middle East. It does not, however, eliminate violence and excessive materialism in the world.

This is what materialism tells us: Three things can trouble the human person: Fear; Death; and God. We usually wish to be in peace without any worries about them. We only need an "exit" (i.e. "exodus") from them.  

In biological sciences, Darwin is credited with the principle "Survival for the fittest." 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 where survival of the stronger or larger necessarily eclipses the smaller. In schools today, our children learn mostly what constitutes physics but very little, if any, about metaphysics (i.e. beyond physics).

In post-modern philosophy, Frederick Nietzsche is credited with moral relativism and "the death of God." Nietzsche (died in 1900) 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.

Sigmund Freud and later schools of psychology, introduced psychological repression that repels one's own desires for pleasure. Therefore sexual promiscuity and playing with sexual organs for pleasure only, are considered something normal taught to students in schools of the academic minds in the West. In more materialist studies the mind is reduced to the material brain which then abolishes real human freedom. Everything becomes an illusion akin to the deterministic world of Daniel Dennett and the Far East philosophy of reality as an illusion.

Exodus is therefore not only the name of a Biblical book that ushers the blessings of God when in response to his servants God liberates his people from slavery but also a pattern in today's materialist culture augmented by today's exodus of Christians and non-Christians from the lands in which the early Church developed. The psychological and material impacts of wars in the Middle East since 2011, or probably since 2003 in Iraq, have reduced the lives of many inhabitants to a mere survival of ghosts. The entire region from North Africa to Turkey has produced much violence. For survival that every reasonable person seeks, exodus to the West has been growing. 

Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan too have seen refugees from Syria and Iraq. But the swelling of numbers (over a million refugees in Lebanon) calls for immediate rescue efforts by governments. Nonetheless sectarian tensions are growing in Europe and North America fearing for the security of their citizens threatened by violent Islamic extremists who could infiltrate their borders and cause much destruction. Exodus is therefore a moral issue that must be addressed. It is life, above all, that is being destroyed. Pope Francis lamented: No one cares when a poor person dies of hunger, but the media rushes to give us the news if the stock market lost a few points.

See some of the latest news here (in The Guardian): 

See also how you can help needy Christians in Syria here: and needy Christians in Iraq here: (both websites have been built by the Knights of  Columbus at Jesus the King Church).

Let's get simpler...An anecdote that I read years ago in The Catholic Register goes like this: Satan was making a grand plan to deceive humanity so he gathered all his troops and asked them: What lie shall we tell the world to fall into our traps. One of the little devils came to him and said: Tell them there is no God! Satan thought and answered him: This is not hard - Every thoughtful person knows that there is God. Another devil came to him and said: Tell them there is no right or wrong! Satan thought a little and answered him: But everyone who goes back to his conscience knows that there is indeed right and wrong - It depends on what you make of it. A third devil jumped up and down and said: I found it - Tell them there is time! There is ample time to do as you please. And Satan praised this devil for he found the lie that people would fall for...

The above anecdote is relevant to us. Yes, we think that there is a lot of time here. But more so, it has become fashionable to think less and waste our time in entertainment with shallow thoughts (Facebook has over a billion registrants who mainly exchange congratulations, party pictures and the like with friends - Many persons I know built their entire discussions like the herd imitating others in taking their own pictures and showing them off to the rest of friends). The excuse is simply that everyone is busy (See The Economist research article here) but is only free for a few minutes a day. Yet, in a contradiction of terms, we believe the devilish lie "There is time"! It is self-destructive! Why? Because I can make hundreds of friends on virtual social networks, yet fail to know them. How sad would it be when I find out that none of them was close by when I needed her or him most! The entire Web experience is intended for open education and business development, as well as increased social development but not to replace our own families and social life. Selfishness creates wolves in us driven by greed and human weakness of the flesh. You will be surprised to see how the Web has been infected not only by hackers (from North Korea!) but also by ads on cheap sex as if women are for sale!

Today we see how our consumerist society has invested in the ideology of self-empowerment. 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. The new generation is busy with spending on new stuff or trying it. Let's have fun today. Leave tomorrow and its worries. No need for marriage if half of the marriages end up in divorce. Young adults who choose to get married can hardly afford to beget kids. Let humanity end itself and its civilization?? Can we allow civilization to disintegrate before our eyes when we claim that Christianity carries the spirit of humanization?

In view of the above, it is hard to avoid today's exodus: An exodus from the true reality beyond matter; an exodus from true love and true joy; an exodus from values that lead to eternal life!

But if anyone thinks of Biblical Exodus, he will find hope that God is liberating many today in spite of human weakness and sin. To quote Fr. Henri Bolulad, S.J.: "As the magi were sincere in their search for the king of truth, sincere atheists and non-Christians searching for the truth will be the first to worship little Jesus." In this way God brings the far to his kingdom and awakens "dormant Christians",

Christians cannot reject modernity. On the contrary Christians need to always maintain a good dialogue with today's world of thought and systems. Christians have always been at the forefront of science and technology. However, Christians need also much education in Christianity and the love of God who created us and redeemed us. We need not fear for God himself came from heaven to be with us and is there to embrace all. "Open the doors to Christ," said St. Pope John Paul II.  For this I propose Christians start with prayers and reflections such as St. Ignatius' spiritual exercises even if for 10 minutes a day. I also propose that Christians keep a moderate stance with regard to the media and interaction with everyone. Christians are, after all partakers, of the human development. The enmity between the People of God and the world was broken by Christ and his disciples.

Use the Web: Will you look up the lives of saints on the Web? Learn from the Bible about Jesus Christ our Lord and the saints. Try St. Irenaeus of LyonSt. Athanasius,  St. Basil the Great, St. John of Damascus, St. Bernard of ClairvauxSt. Francis of Assisi, St. RitaSt. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Charbel Makhlouf, St. Gemma Galganni, or St. Maximilian Kolbe. Those are worthy of imitation.

On another occasion, I will explain some of the good system technologies that can benefit Christians as tools in helping the Church.

Any sincere person with good intentions will find Christ in others. If men really need to spend time after work, they may better join the Knights of Columbus or other Christian organizations where both men and women are active in the vineyard of the Lord for the Church needs her young adults in creative projects to assist the community and for the world to come to Christ The Truth (John 14, 6).

Today's Quote

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


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