I sent EWTN a question for Fr. Mitch Pacwa about judgment and Miley Cyrus (before the VMA controversy), and he answered it on air. If you muse on where our society is heading, it is a must listen.
If the link does not open when you click on it, Right click and “Save As” and then download it and listen to it on your computer.
August 29, 2013 No Comments
Desiring to start blogging again, I have decided that I would begin posting interesting quotes relating to Lenten practices. One of my friends has adopted a rigorous program of fasting, and since I have added positive habits to my routine as a Lenten resolution, I thought it fitting to concentrate my writing on encouraging her in her endeavour. While all the upcoming daily quotes may not relate to fasting, expect a large number to address this important discipline:
Abba John the Dwarf said, ‘If a king wanted to take possession of his enemy’s city, he would begin by cutting off the water and the food and so his enemies, dying of hunger, would submit to him. It is the same with the passions of the flesh: if a man goes about fasting and hungry the enemies of his soul grow weak.’
March 7, 2013 No Comments
I’ve always been fascinated by the numerical significance of scriptural passages. Even if the chapters and verses ascribed to sentences in the bible are coincidental - they don’t comprise a part of the official text, so who knows - it still remains interesting. The most striking example in my opinion is found in the Gospel of John. Following the discourse in which Christ expounds upon the true, transsubstantive nature of the Eucharist, many of his followers and disciples - Christians if you will - abandoned Him. The truth of the Eucharist and the faith required to accept it were greater than that which was required to accept Jesus’ divinity: “After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him.” To reject Jesus in the Eucharist was to reject Jesus Himself. The passage and verse is John 6:66
So it was with interest that I noticed a scriptural parallel this afternoon. The observation was of personal interest to me as it relates to one of my favourite passages from the book of Revelations and a second passage which you surely know. I felt it was worth sharing. I’ve always thought John 3:16 was a loaded verse: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Touted by evangelical and fundamentalist Christians alike as an affirmation that they are saved by faith alone, the passage is one of the most well known in Christianity. Yet even a basic textual analysis reveals ambiguity. In particular, the words “should not perish” - the translation given by both the RSV and the KJV - seem to imply no guarantees of salvation based on belief. Some translation say “may not perish” while a small few Protestant translations, including the NIV, say “shall not”. (This emphasises the complexity of bible translation and the importance of acquiring a good text. Clearly one translation is a poor translation, as the words may and shall are not interchangeable. Getting it right is paramount. As the NIV states in Rev 22:18 - “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: “If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book”) Catholic theology responds to the more accepted translation which adopts the permissive form “may” rather than the mandatory “shall”. The result is a comprehensive theology that recalls St. James’ admonition in 2:17: “So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.”
The consequence of this is that Catholic teaching stresses not only faith in Christ, but also a corresponding response. As Christians we are called first to accept Jesus and then to be transformed by him. It is in this second aspect that we allow the fullness of scripture to permeate our lives so that we are of service to Christ in prayer and our neighbour in action. For this to be accomplished we need a greater conversion than a mere intellectual acceptance of Christ. We need to be set on fire by His love and imitate Him in our words and deed. This fire and call to the authentic and encompassing Christian life is found in a passage numerically parallel to John 3:16. Revelation 3:16 proclaims: “So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.” We must not only believe in Christ but be alive in Christ, ardently striving to live the Christian life in its fullness. “It is possible to have just enough Christianity to inoculate you against the real thing.” (C.S. Lewis). Our life a Christians should be one of complete devotion and complete love. The essence of love is the essence of the love of Him who is Love.
November 17, 2011 No Comments
I spent hours uploading a video for about a Coptic Monk in Egypt - only to discover that it’s available for streaming online! It’s a video about Father Lazarus, a modern day St. Anthony of the Desert. A modern-early Christian Desert Father, if you will. The video primarily focuses on the struggles and challenges faced by an English Anglican/Episcopal Vicar who temporarily shares the life adopted by Fr. Lazarus.
The streaming link is: http://mycobwebs.wordpress.com/2009/02/07/father-lazarus-coptic-monk-in-egypt/
If you like it and want to download a hard copy to your computer (in case the streaming vid goes down), click on the “Downlaod now” button:
July 12, 2011 No Comments
This Monday I received an urgent email requesting that I immediately cast my vote in an online poll. One of Canada’s national news publications, the Globe & Mail, was posing the question to readers: “Should ads for assisted suicide be banned from Canadian TV?” The author of the email underlined his request by boldly bellowing in an all-caps voice – “Please VOTE YES NOW and forward this email to your contacts.” I didn’t vote or inform my friends. (http://alexschadenberg.blogspot.com/2010/09/euthanasia-tv-ad-approved-in-canada-or.html)
I commonly receive email solicitations from concerned Christians who take offence with such-and-such an issue and feel ‘something must be said.’ For example, when the Free-Thought Association of Canada won approval from the Toronto Transit Commission to place its ads on the sides of buses and trolley cars and inside subway cars – ads similar to those of an earlier campaign which included the slogan “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life” – not all Christians agreed with the decision. Dr. Charles McVety, president of both the Canada Family Action Coalition and Canada Christian College in Toronto opined:
“On the surface, I’m all for free speech. … However, though, these are attack ads …These ads are not saying what the atheists believe, they are attacking what other people believe …And if you look at the dictionary definition for … bigot, that’s exactly what it is, to be intolerant of someone else’s belief system. (http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2009/jan/09012909.html)
McVety’s not alone in expressing concern when things don’t go as we might like. Over six thousand people - 77% of respondents - went to the Globe & Mail poll to express their opinion that the assisted suicide ads should be banned. (http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2009/jan/09012909.html)
I support both McVety’s and the Globe & Mail respondents’ right to express their opinions, but I wonder how many people are “all for free speech” only “on the surface” and how many have a more deeply held conviction? I wonder how many of those who opposed both of the above-mentioned ads were also appalled when Fredericton Transit in New Brunswick refused to run pro-life ads stating, “Nine months: the length of time abortion is allowed in Canada. No medical reason needed” and then presenting the question: “Abortion, have we gone too far?” (http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2009/jul/09073008.html). I wonder how you could generally support the right to display any one of these ads and not the other.
Contradiction and incoherence is also apparent outside of the realm of advertising. While Chicago’s City Council was considering creating a 50 foot bubble zone for protestors outside abortion clinics, Ann Scheidler, a member of the Pro-Life Action League, opposed the ordinance, believing its goal was to scare pro-life advocates away from the sidewalks in order to save abortion facilities by protecting their business (http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2009/oct/09100705.html). However, when participants in a marriage renewal ceremony at Chicago’s Holy Name Cathedral were forced to pass by protestors who marched on the steps of the cathedral accusing Church hierarchy of hatred toward gays and telling parishioners to “stop funding the bigots!”, many wondered why bubble zone ordinances were not being enforced. (http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2010/feb/10022210.html)
In the movie “A Man for All Seasons”, there is a scene where St. Thomas More’s future son-in-law, Roper, urges him to arrest Richard Rich, the future Lord Chancellor of England whose vindictive and ambitious nature would later compel him to perjure More. However, at this stage Rich has not yet done anything illegal and More states that nothing ought to be done to Rich – even “if he were the devil himself” – until he broke the law. Roper is shocked that More would afford the benefit of the law to the devil, but the saint refuses to recant:
“What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? … And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you - where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s, and if you cut them down — and you’re just the man to do it — do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Man_for_All_Seasons)
More’s character recognizes that it is not Christian, but Machiavellian, to forsake coherent philosophical and theological principles simply to achieve an immediately desirable end. While laws may permit or even enable us to sin, there are few which compel us to do so (More, who so ardently defended the law as a corpus, died in opposition to one such rarity). It is not the law but our acts and how we abuse the law of God which results in sin. On the other hand, many human laws - be them private or those of the State - protect and shield us from those who would do evil against us. It may be necessary in some extraordinary circumstances to challenge certain laws, but never without consideration of the effect changing the law would have in other contexts and also of the principles which underpin the law.
While Christians readily see the sins of others and identify the circumstances which lead to an undesirable result, they are often blind to the repercussions of using any means necessary to pursuing an otherwise desirable end:
‘When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it wanders through waterless regions looking for a resting-place, but not finding any, it says, “I will return to my house from which I came.” 25When it comes, it finds it swept and put in order. 26Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and live there; and the last state of that person is worse than the first.’ (Luke 11, NRSV)
No law of man can ever successfully rid mankind of sin. Salvation must come through belief in Jesus and his Word. Our manmade laws which permit freedom of belief and access to the Word enable us to follow the law of God. Attacking these pillars will never compel another to love God. However, if we don’t respect the dignity of others and God’s gift of free will, we do more harm then good. These rights are both biblical and constitutional and they must be upheld in all our struggles.
 I realize there could be relevant distinctions which might allow someone to make a coherent argument for one and not the other. If you have done so, then you’ve thought about this issue and you’re not the intended audience!
October 2, 2010 No Comments
To the Virgins, to make much of Time Robert Herrick, 1591–1674
Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow will be dying.
The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he’s a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he’s to setting.
That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.
Then be not coy, but use your time,
And while ye may, go marry:
For having lost but once your prime,
You may for ever tarry.
Sadly, with the flying of time the relevance of this poem has dissipated for all but a graced few. The poetry of today erodes love and leaves people broken and wounded:
Starstrukk 3OH!3, 2009
Nice legs, Daisy dukes,
Makes a man go whoo-whoo
That’s the way they all come through
Like whoo-whoo whoo-whoo
Low-cut, see-through shirts That make you whoo-whoo
That’s the way she come through
Like whoo-whoo whoo-whoo
Tight jeans, Double D’s Makin’ me go whoo-whoo
All the people on the street Know [whoo-whoo-whoo-whoo]
Make the kids go whoo-whoo
All the people on the street Know whoo-whoo whoo-whoo
I think I should know how
To make love to something innocent
Without leaving my fingerprints out now
L-O-V-E’s just another word I’ll never learn to pronounce
How do I say I’m sorry
‘Cause the word is
Never gonna come out no
L-O-V-E’s just another word I never learned to pronounce
Push it baby
Push it baby out of control
I got my guns cocked tight And I’m ready to blow
Push it baby
Push it baby out of control This is the same old dance That you already know (x2)
I think I should know how
To make love to something innocent
Without leaving my fingerprints out no
L-O-V-E’s just another word
I’ll never learn to pronounce
The vast majority of today’s youth and young adults have the same pronunciation issues. The language of Love is not only being destroyed but eradicated:
“Without stimuli, the human being does not reach it’s psychological telos. Children who hear no language before their tenth year will never learn to speak; for disuse, the corelation of no excitation, breeds decay.” - Dale C. Allison Jr., The Luminous Dusk at 34.
Lord, help me let life unfold slowly, like the small rosebud whose petals unravel bit by bit, and remind me that in hurrying the bloom along, I destroy the bud and much of the beauty therein. Instead, let me wait for all to unfold in its own time. Each moment and state of growth contains a loveliness. Teach me to slow down enough to appreciate life and all it holds. Amen.
May 14, 2010 4 Comments
In today’s Gospel, Jesus presents a new commandment to his disciples:
“My children, I will be with you only a little while longer.
I give you a new commandment: love one another.
As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.
This is how all will know that you are my disciples,
if you have love for one another.”
Today’s homilist at St. Theresa’s Parish, Fr. Gabriel Achu, C.Ss.R., asked how this could be presented as a new commandment? Indeed, in Leviticus 19:18 a parallel law is presented:
You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.
Jesus makes this commandment new by both expanding those to whom it applies and by demonstrating the essence of love.
As the story of the Good Samaritan illustrates, Jewish understanding of how one loves their neighbour was confined by the place of Israel as God’s chosen people. This distinction created a chasm between Israelites and other nations. Members of other nations were simply not considered to be neighbours. Jesus’ extension of love and salvation to the Gentiles therefore scandalized the Pharisees and the Scribes. His commandment was not new in the sense that God did not before require love. It was new in that Jesus requested that we show love to all peoples.
As Father Gabriel touched upon, Jesus also presented a new understanding of the essence of love. As long as acts of love were constrained within the community of Israelites they remained self-serving. Most political philosophers extol the desirability of law and good works based on utility: as no one is permitted to harm another no one will see themselves harmed; if one is expected to provide benefit to their neighbour one may also expect to receive benefit. Sadly, these theories are often applied by most Christians. It’s the Christmas Gift Principle: give to those who give to you… and in equal value.
But Jesus demands a greater love. It must be a free gift and never an exchange. Love is not like a financial relationship which ought to have fulfilling benefits for both parties with a breach nullifying the agreement. True Christian love is always gift and sacrifice. God is Love, love is everything and love, like that given by Jesus on the cross, requires sacrifice…
May 2, 2010 2 Comments
When my father passed away several years ago my mother took it upon herself to visit his grave as frequently as possible. It wasn’t out of a sense of duty or obligation. Having been his constant companion for over thirty years she felt a visceral desire to continue to remain as close to his side as was now possible. And so his grave was transformed to a garden. While others planted sod my mother planted tulips and marigolds. She even had a planter box custom built in the shape of a cross. When it didn’t rain she would transport gallons of water from our home in whatever water receptacle was available: pop bottles, buckets, watering cans. Invariably, more water would fall onto the floor in the back of our car than would water the flowers at Topsoil Cemetery. She spent countless hours caring for those plants. She spent many more crying and in prayer.
All who walk this earth are filled with struggle and anxiety. Lives are shattered and rebuilt, only to crash again. Tragedy assuages us and troubles are unrelenting. But there are joyous moments, too. Marriages and first born children. Friends and laughter. A quiet night by a fire or the beauty of a smile which stuns you more than the most glorious sunset ever could. How insignificant are the falls when compared to the miracle of the human experience!?
From ever tear that waters a grave life will spring and blossom and the world will be changed forever.
April 29, 2010 2 Comments
Francis de Sales was born into a noble family on August 21, 1567. Intelligent and handsome, he studied at both the Universities of Paris and Padua, earning the title of “Doctor” in both Theology and Law. Despite lucrative offers in a variety of esteemed positions, Francis chose ordination over temporal wealth. His talents served the Church well and he was eventually consecrated as the Bishop of Geneva. He died on December 28, 1622 and was canonized in 1664.
His Introduction to the Devout Life (Download for Free) is a spiritual classic and this work, in addition to many other other significant writings, compelled Blessed Pope Pius IX to declare him a Doctor of the Church.
He is the patron of writers and journalists and of this blog.
The Everlasting God has in His wisdom foreseen from eternity the cross He now presents to you as a gift from His inmost Heart. This cross He now sends you He has considered with His all-knowing eyes, understood with His divine mind, tested with His wise justice, warmed with loving arms and weighed with His own Hands, to see that it be not one inch too large and not one ounce too heavy for you. He has blessed it with His Holy Name, anointed it with His grace, perfumed it with His consolation, taken one last glance at you and your courage, and then sent it to you from heaven, a special greeting from God to you, an alms of the all-merciful love of God.
Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow. The same Everlasting Father, who takes care of you today, will take care of you tomorrow, and every day. He will either shield you from suffering or give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace, then, and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations!
April 21, 2010 3 Comments
When I think of Pope Benedict, I don’t think of humorous cracks. But here’s his brief and well thought out analysis of the subject:
I’m not a man who constantly thinks up jokes. But I think it’s very important to be able to see the funny side of life and its joyful dimension and not to take everything too tragically. I’d also say it’s necessary for my ministry. A writer once said that angels can fly because they don’t take themselves too seriously. Maybe we could also fly a bit if we didn’t think we were so important.
God “has a great sense of humor”.
Humor is in fact an essential element in the mirth of creation. We can see how, in many matters in our lives, God wants to prod us into taking things a bit more lightly.
St. Philip Neri, known as ‘The Humorous Saint’, expressed similar sentiments:
Cheerfulness strengthens the heart and makes us persevere in a good life. Therefore the servant of God ought always to be in good spirits.
A joyful heart is more easily made perfect than a downcast one.
April 17, 2010 3 Comments