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, June 16, 2017


Everyone of us on Earth is connected to the others, as Pope Francis recently said based on scientific findings. It is most important because psychologically none of us is totally free, but always in need of "the other". Except for great saints and mystics such as the Blessed Virgin Mary Immaculate Mother of God, Saint Rita of Cascia, Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, and Saint Teresa of Avila, it is hard to find  any human creature that knows what love is.  Saint Teresa of Avila was a mystic who could talk to God; Saint Thérèse of Lisieux  is the greatest saint in modern times; Saint Rita of Cascia has her body intact among the incorruptible in Church history. How about the Blessed Virgin Mary? The pastor of Jesus the King, Fr. Ibrahim El-Haddad, BSO, beautifully prayed Hail Mary last night at the end of the meeting of the Knights of Columbus Council while Fr. Prof. Georges Farah described the Virgin Mary in linguistic terms "Batoul" from the Hebrew "Beit Il" or "Beit Elohim" i.e. the house of God. In her complete dedication to God, the Virgin Mary became the house of God! In fact, Beit Il was the name of the town in Canaan where Abraham first established his tent. It is also the symbol that Jacob used on escaping from Esau his rival twin brother to identify the stone that he slept on after his fight at night with the angel of God (Genesis 25). Rivalry has been studied in details by the famed René Girard thus concluded in his theory of mimetic rivalry and the scapegoat, that world religions in their sacred texts, whether ancient or more recent, were, in a way, myths in their stand against the victim scapegoat except that the Gospels narrate the opposite stand of God's love where the scripture writers witness to the innocence of the scapegoat Jesus of Nazareth in his crucifixion and death, powerfully shown in his resurrection. The readings told the truth that Girard finally came to believe in spite of widespread criticism of the Christian faith in the 20th, and 21st centuries. The reader may wish to read him here:
But the basic idea can be simply stated: If hatred does not benefit anyone, then mimetic rivalry increases the tendency for selfish desire! And selfish desire can lead the person to the angry god of hell!
When Girard passed away in November 2015, the highly-popular Bishop Robert Barron wrote about the philosopher Girard, possibly a "Church Father", here:

Today's civilization in the West developed from Christian roots and made its way in baptizing the barbarian tribes that conquered the Roman empire thus reinvigorating a new empire which flourished notably with the Renaissance since Charlemagne in the 9th century. The Church developed and expanded since it received gifts from emperors and kings which were used in building centers for learning  and churches. Pope Innocent III had a vision upon which he accepted the order of the Franciscans. Saint Francis of Assisi was particularly a humanist Christian who talked to the animals and birds and went all the way preaching to Muslims in Egypt. The Dominicans and Benedictines had already built their reputation around reform of the papacy to be less aristocratic and invested their resources in learning. In the 16th century, the Jesuits increased the demand for new members to be well educated when graduating with a focus on science. Missionaries continue in Africa, East Asia, and the Middle East. We note here that the Catholic Church accommodated its missionary work to the tune of the times.

Suddenly we discover from the above that we are, one way or the other, connected in history. According to Positive Psychology pioneered by Prof. Martin Seligman at the University of Pennsylvania, each one of us today can be happy if he treats the other with love, because each one needs to be loved. Love needs love.  Even in our social life, a child needs the love from his parents in order to grow up in a healthy way; a woman needs her husband's love and faithfulness to the end in order for her to trust him and the same with a wife to be considered trustworthy. Procreation is an act of love in which the parents participate with God to beget life. Well-behaved children are an investment in society whose consciences mature if they follow the demands of the New Testament. These demands have been met by over 5,000 saints including the Angelic Doctor who was the first professor to explore nature i.e. St. Thomas Aquinas  (taught at St. Thomas University by Basilian Fr. Prof. Daniel Callam, CSB  among others) and many before and after him including St. Basil the Great, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Charbel Makhlouf, and Saint Gianna Beretta Molla in the 20th century. 

Today Thursday June 15, 2017 the Melkite Catholic Church celebrates the solemnity of the Divine Body of Christ also known as Corpus Christi. Last Sunday June 11, 2017, the Melkite Catholic Church celebrated the solemnity of All Saints. But on the same day I attended the Mass with many including Msgr. Prof. Robert Nusca, pastor of Holy Rosary who is a Biblical scholar like Msgr. Prof. Paul Feghali in Lebanon.  On Sunday the Roman Catholic Church celebrated universally the solemnity of the Trinity. In his homily on Sunday at Holy Rosary, Fr. Prof. Daniel Callam gave an impressive homily on the development of the Nicene Creed that recognized the equality of the Son and the Father "Consubstantial". It will take a separate article to discuss what Fr. Callam explained about the Ecumenical Council in the year 325 AD at the city of Nicaea. At almost the same time, the Jesuit scholar Fr. Henri Boulad, S.J. as usual penetrated the minds of his listeners with a parable that he made (watch the homily here in French: Fr. Boulad (whose priority in his mission is to help the needy) spoke about a very rich person who could not find anyone else to communicate with - a solitary person that enriches himself without attention to anyone else. This would be the story of God if he were alone from eternity ! Fr. Boulad had a little discussion with a Muslim teacher. For Islam, God is one and solitary (A good reference on the interfaith dialogue with Islamic scholars is our friend Fr. Prof. Samir Khalil Samir, S.J.) But how do we read in Genesis that when God saw Adam alone, he created a woman for him to have love in the image and likeness of the Trinity?  If  heaven is love and communion then living a solitary life upon oneself is hell. How is it that the cosmos contains such diversity of creatures created by the same God?  It is an indicator of the generosity of God. This was a powerful homily as it opened the possibilities and connections which Pope Francis spoke about. God is not vicious.  God is love (1 John 4:  7-12). 
The above reminds me by the words "Love is strong as death" (Song of Songs) written by the brilliant mind of Prof. Joseph Ratzinger  who became Pope Benedict XVI. He had written this magnificent essay in his book "Introduction to Christianity" (You may wish to read "Joseph Ratzinger: The Truth of the Resurrection" here:

If one follows the two great commandments: (Love God with all your heart); and (Love your neighbor as yourself), he will discover the two dimensions of love - the "vertical" to heaven and the "horizontal" to the other in humanity. But this is only to tell us that God loves everyone since he created everyone out of love; and that if one wants to enjoy life, he needs to love the persons next to him especially those who need him most (see Positive Psychology which is not a religion). Love needs love!

And after all, what is life without love?  I thank God and those who prayed or suffered with me in my long health problems as I had lectured on them a year after my stroke ("A Living Miracle" here:
I also thank God for accepting my mother's vow through the intercession of St. George thereby I was given the name of the saint (see  "The Hero Saint George" here

This is the month of the sacred heart of Jesus. Love stems from his heart. Let us sing to him:

Today's Quote

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


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