Sunday, April 10, 2016



I"m glad to let you know that I've been modernized, and after receiving much advice, I've decided to move my blog to another platform trying to spread the content to the five continents. :) 

Now you can read my posts on www.actingpersonblog.wordpress.com and you can follow me on facebook www.facebook.com/actingpersonblog 

I'm trying to learn how to post the pictures that are worth 1,000 words. I put up Bp. Barron on Pope Francis' Amoris Laetitia which is very helpful  I'm sure he will have more to say. And I will have something to say after this. Thanks for putting up with the inconvenience for the switch. Fr. Bob

Barron: Amoris Laetitia

On a spring day about five years ago, when I was rector of Mundelein Seminary, Francis Cardinal George spoke to the assembled student body. He congratulated those proudly orthodox seminarians for their devotion to the dogmatic and moral truths proposed by the Church, but he also offered some pointed pastoral advice. He said that it is insufficient simply to drop the truth on people and then smugly walk away. Rather, he insisted, you must accompany those you have instructed, committing yourself to helping them integrate the truth that you have shared. I thought of this intervention by the late Cardinal often as I was reading Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia. If I might make bold to summarize a complex 264-page document, I would say that Pope Francis wants the truths regarding marriage, sexuality, and family to be unambiguously declared, but that he also wants the Church’s ministers to reach out in mercy and compassion to those who struggle to incarnate those truths in their lives. 
In regard to the moral objectivities of marriage, the Pope is bracingly clear. He unhesitatingly puts forward the Church’s understanding that authentic marriage is between a man and a woman, who have committed themselves to one another in permanent fidelity, expressing their mutual love and openness to children, and abiding as a sacrament of Christ’s love for his Church (52, 71). He bemoans any number of threats to this ideal, including moral relativism, a pervasive cultural narcissism, the ideology of self-invention, pornography, the “throwaway” society, etc. He explicitly calls to our attention the teaching of Pope Paul VI in Humanae Vitae regarding the essential connection between the unitive and the procreative dimensions of conjugal love (80). Moreover, he approvingly cites the consensus of the recent Synod on the Family that homosexual relationships cannot be considered even vaguely analogous to what the Church means by marriage (251). He is especially strong in his condemnation of ideologies that dictate that gender is merely a social construct and can be changed or manipulated according to our choice (56). Such moves are tantamount, he argues, to forgetting the right relationship between creature and Creator. Finally, any doubt regarding the Pope’s attitude toward the permanence of marriage is dispelled as clearly and directly as possible: “The indissolubility of marriage—‘what God has joined together, let no man put asunder’ (Mt 19:6) —should not be viewed as a ‘yoke’ imposed on humanity, but as a ‘gift’ granted to those who are joined in marriage...” (62).
In a particularly affecting section of the exhortation, Pope Francis interprets the famous hymn to love in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians (90-119). Following the great missionary Apostle, he argues that love is not primarily a feeling (94), but rather a commitment of the will to do some pretty definite and challenging things: to be patient, to bear with one another, to put away envy and rivalry, ceaselessly to hope. In the tones of grandfatherly pastor, Francis instructs couples entering into marriage that love, in this dense and demanding sense of the term, must be at the heart of their relationship. I frankly think that this portion of Amoris Laetitia should be required reading for those in pre-Cana other similar marriage preparation programs in the Catholic Church. Now Francis says much more regarding the beauty and integrity of marriage, but you get my point: there is no watering down or compromising of the ideal in this text.
However, the Pope also honestly admits that many, many people fall short of the ideal, failing fully to integrate all of the dimensions of what the Church means by matrimony. What is the proper attitude to them? Like Cardinal George, the Pope has a visceral reaction against a strategy of simple condemnation, for the Church, he says, is a field hospital, designed to care precisely for the wounded (292). Accordingly, he recommends two fundamental moves. First, we can recognize, even in irregular or objectively imperfect unions, certain positive elements that participate, as it were, in the fullness of married love. Thus for example, a couple living together without benefit of marriage might be marked by mutual fidelity, deep love, the presence of children, etc. Appealing to these positive marks, the Church might, according to a “law of gradualness,” move that couple toward authentic and fully-integrated matrimony (295). This is not to say that living together is permitted or in accord with the will of God; it is to say that the Church can perhaps find a more winsome way to move people in such a situation to conversion.
The second move—and here we come to what will undoubtedly be the most controverted part of the exhortation—is to employ the Church’s classical distinction between the objective quality of a moral act and the subjective responsibility that the moral agent bears for committing that act (302). The Pope observes that many people in civil marriages following upon a divorce find themselves in a nearly impossible bind. If their second marriage has proven faithful, life-giving, and fruitful, how can they simply walk out on it without in fact incurring more sin and producing more sadness? This is, of course, not to insinuate that their second marriage is not objectively disordered, but it is to say that the pressures, difficulties, and dilemmas might mitigate their culpability.  Here is how Pope Francis applies the distinction: “Hence it is can no longer simply be said that all those in any ‘irregular’ situation are living in a state of mortal sin and are deprived of sanctifying grace” (301). Could the Church’s minister, therefore, not help such people, in the privacy of the rectory parlor or the confessional, to discern their degree of moral responsibility? Once again, this is not to embrace a breezy “anything-goes” mentality, nor to deny that a civil marriage after a divorce is objectively irregular; it is to find, perhaps, for someone in great pain, a way forward.
Will Amoris Laetitia end all debate on these matters? Hardly. But it does indeed represent a deft and impressive balancing of the many and often contradictory interventions at the two Synods on the Family. As such, it will be of great service to many suffering souls who come to the Field Hospital.


Thursday, April 07, 2016

The Ultimate Reality: Jesus Christ, and Therefore, The Epistemic Trump.


All authentic indicators point to Jesus Christ - God Man - as the ontological center of all that is.  Therefore, Christ is the Epistemic Trump and only key to authentic Knowledge.

1) Joseph Ratzinger: " Psalm 18... It begins like this: “In aeternum, Domine, verbum tuum constitutum est in caelo... firmasti terram, et permanet”. This refers to the solidity of the Word. It is solid, it is the true reality on which we must base our life. Let us remember the words of Jesus who continues the words of this Psalm: “Sky and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away”. Humanly speaking, the word, my human word, is almost nothing in reality, but a breath. As soon as it is pronounced, it disappears. It seems like nothing. But already the human word has incredible force. It is words that create history, it is words that form thoughts, the thoughts that create the word. It is the word that forms history, reality.

      "Even more, the Word of God is the foundation of everything, it is the true reality. And to be realistic, we must rely upon this reality. We must change our notion that matter, solid things, things we can touch, is the most solid, the most certain reality. At the end of the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord speaks to us about the two possible foundations for building the house of one’s life: sand and rock. He who builds on sand only builds on visible and tangible things, on success, on career, on money. Apparently these are the true realities. But all this one day will vanish. We can see this now with the fall of two large banks: this money disappears, it is nothing. And thus all things, which seem to be the true realities we can count on, are only realities of a secondary order. Who builds his life on these realities, on matter, on success, on appearances, builds upon sand. Only the Word of God is the foundation of all reality, it is as stable as the heavens and more than the heavens, it is reality. Therefore, we must change our concept of realism. The realist is he who recognizes the Word of God, in this apparently weak reality, as the foundation of all things. Realist is he who builds his life on this foundation, which is permanent. Thus the first verses of the Psalm invite us to discover what reality is and how to find the foundation of our life, how to build life" (Keynote Address, Synod on the Word of God, October 6, 2008).



2) Robert Barron (commenting on Col. 1, 15)“In this Jesus, all things have come to be; he is the prototype of all finite existence, even of those great powers that transcend the world and govern human affiars. If we re tempted to understand his influence as only a thing of the past, we are corrected: 'in him all things hold together' v. 17).  Jesus is not only the one in whom things were created but also the one in whom they presently exist and through whom they inhere in one another. And if we are inclined to view the future as a dimension of creation untouched by Christ, we are set straight: ‘Through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross’(v. 20). Individuals, societies, cultures, animals, plants, planets and the stars – all will be drawn into an eschatological harmony through him. Mind you, Jesus is not merely the symbol of an intelligibility, coherence, and reconciliation  that can exist apart from him; rather, he is the active and indispensable means by which these realities come to be. This Jesus, in short, is the all-embracing, all-including, all reconciling Lord of whatever is to be found in the dimensions of time and space;" "The Priority of Christ" Brazos (2007) 134-135. 

3) Romano Guardini: "The person of Jesus is unprecedented and therefore measurable by no already existing norm. Christian recognition consists of realizing that all things really began with Jesus Christ; that he is his own norm - and therefore ours - for he is Truth.
   Christ's effect upon the world can be compared with nothing in its history save its own creation: 'In the beginning God created heaven, and earth.' What takes place in Christ is of the same order  as the original act of creation, though on a still higher level. For the beginning of the new creation is as far superior to the love which created the stars, plants, animals and men. That is what the words mean: 'I have come to cast fire upon the earth, and what will I but that it be kindled"' (Luke 12, 49). It is the fire of new becoming; not only 'truth' or 'love,' but the incandescence of new creation" ["The Lord" Henry Regnery (1954) 306-307]

Barron's Conclusion: “Now what follows from these breathtaking descriptions is a centrally important epistemic claim: that Jesus cannot be measured by a criterion outside of himself or viewed from a perspective higher than himself.”[1] BloggerThat is, you cannot apply a metaphysic of “being” taken “from below” – i.e. from the experience of the created world [except the created human person going out of himself]. And this because there cannot be any created things without the Creator. The Being of God and the being of things have two totally different meanings save that they are (or can be). Barron writes: “He cannot be understood as one object among many or surveyed blandly by a disinterested observer. If such perspectives were possible, then he would not be the all-grounding Word or the criterion than which no more final can be thought. If we sought to know him in this way, we would not only come to incorrect conclusions but also involve ourselves in a sort of operational contradiction. To be consistent with these accounts, we must say that Jesus determines not only what there is to be known (since he is the organizing principle of finite being) but also how we are to know what is to known (since the mind itself is a creature, made and determined through him).
                “A Christ-illumined mind in search of Christ-determined forms seems to be the epistemology implicit in Colossians and the Johannine prologue. Further, as Bruce Marshall has argued, this primacy implies that the narratives concerning Jesus must, for Christians, be an epistemic trump, that is to say, an articulation of reality that must hold sway over and against all rival articulations, be they scientific, psychological, sociological, philosophical, or religious. To hold to Colossians and the prologue to John is to have a clear negative criterion concerning all claims to ultimate truth: whatever runs contrary to the basic claims entailed in the narratives concerning Jesus must certainly be false.”[2]




[1]Ibid 135.
[2]Ibid

And now, Richard Rohr: 


Dying and Living in Christ
Thursday, April 7, 2016
Paul uses the phrase en Christo, in Christ, around seventy times. He's trying to describe this larger life in which we are participating. He speaks of belonging to Christ, of being possessed by Christ, captured by Christ, apprehended by Christ. He says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13). Paul speaks of being clothed by Christ. He tells us to put on Christ. He says he suffers with Christ, he's crucified with Christ, he dies with Christ, he's buried with Christ. He's raised up with Christ, he lives with Christ, and Paul says he's making up in his body the afflictions which still must be undergone by Christ.
Paul writes, "All belongs to you, you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God" (see 1 Corinthians 3:21-23). He's grasping at mystical language for describing how we participate in this reality that is larger than our individual lives. Being "in Christ" will eventually lead us to join in the universal pattern of death and resurrection that Christ went through. This is the universal initiation experience, the transformative experience that all human beings go through whereby we come to know what's real. We must go into the death of the small self in order to discover the Big Self, the True Self. At the mystical level, all the world religions say this.
In contemplation we're consciously choosing to let go of our identification with our mind and our identification with our life situation or our false self so that we can fall into the One True Life, which is bigger than each of us, which is moving into a different body, a different state, a different consciousness that Christians call Christ consciousness. For Paul it is his participation in Christ which gives him the courage to walk through each state: passion, death, and resurrection--all of which are brought to focus in the life of Jesus. Most people were told to love Jesus without being invited to love Christ. "The Christ" is the Big Picture of God's enfleshment in all of creation since the beginning of time (Colossians 1:15-20); Jesus is the distilled, personal enfleshment that brings this primal "anointing" of the material world to one concrete loving and loveable moment.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Dying To Self


Dying to Self
Wednesday, April 6, 2016


In truth, we must change our very self-image rather than just be told some new things to see or do. To be a Christian is to objectively know that we share the same identity that Jesus enjoyed as both human and divine, which is what it means to "follow" him. In fact, I believe that this is the whole point of the Gospel and the Incarnation! (Read John 14 and 15 in their entirety, lest you think I am overstating my position; or study the early Fathers and Mothers of the Eastern Church, who understood this much more clearly than the Western Church.)

This realization that Someone is living in us and through us is exactly how we plug into a much larger mind and heart beyond our own. Afterward, we know in a different way, although we have to keep relearning this truth over and over again (the point of daily prayer). But it demands a major dying of our own small self, our ego. Maybe that's why so few go there. As Jesus clearly puts it, one "self" must die for another "Self" to be born. That message is quite explicit in all four Gospels (Matthew16:25; Mark 8:35; Luke 9:24; John 12:24). In the practical order, this mostly feels like taking my "self," my ego--both its hurts and its importance, which are largely manufactured by my mind--less seriously day by day. Growth in salvation is growth in liberation from the separate self and falling into ourfirst nature, which is our "foundational holiness" or original, ontological union with God.

God has always--and only--been in union with an obviously imperfect humanity. That is the essential character of divine mercy. Salvation is always pure and total gift from God's side. Living and thinking autonomously, separately, or cut off from such a Vine or Source is what Paul means by being foolish and unspiritual. Living in union is wisdom.

One must fully recognize that mystics like Francis and Clare were speaking from this place of conscious, chosen, and loving union with God, and such union was realized by surrenderingto it and not by any achieving of it. Surrender to Another, participation in Another, and divine union are finally the same thing. Once we are aware that we participate in this union, we look out at reality from a much fuller Reality that now has eyes beyond and larger than our own. This is what it means to "live in Christ" (en Christo), to pray "through Christ," or to do anything "in the name of God," phrases with which Christians are quite familiar.
Rohr

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Deals Make Contracts; Covenants Engender Identities

How Covenants Make Us


David Brooks APRIL 5, 2016

When you think about it, there are four big forces coursing through modern societies. Global migration is leading to demographic diversity. Economic globalization is creating wider opportunity but also inequality. The Internet is giving people more choices over what to buy and pay attention to. A culture of autonomy valorizes individual choice and self-determination.
All of these forces have liberated the individual, or at least well-educated individuals, but they have been bad for national cohesion and the social fabric. Income inequality challenges economic cohesion as the classes divide. Demographic diversity challenges cultural cohesion as different ethnic groups rub against one another. The emphasis on individual choice challenges community cohesion and settled social bonds.
The weakening of the social fabric has created a range of problems. Alienated young men join ISIS so they can have a sense of belonging. Isolated teenagers shoot up schools. Many people grow up in fragmented, disorganized neighborhoods. Political polarization grows because people often don’t interact with those on the other side. Racial animosity stubbornly persists.
Odder still, people are often plagued by a sense of powerlessness, a loss of efficacy. The liberation of the individual was supposed to lead to mass empowerment. But it turns out that people can effectively pursue their goals only when they know who they are — when they have firm identities.
Strong identities can come only when people are embedded in a rich social fabric. They can come only when we have defined social roles — father, plumber, Little League coach. They can come only when we are seen and admired by our neighbors and loved ones in a certain way. As Ralph Waldo Emerson put it, “Other men are lenses through which we read our own minds.”
You take away a rich social fabric and what you are left with is people who are uncertain about who they really are. It’s hard to live daringly when your very foundation is fluid and at risk.
We’re not going to roll back the four big forces coursing through modern societies, so the question is how to reweave the social fabric in the face of them. In a globalizing, diversifying world, how do we preserve individual freedom while strengthening social solidarity?
In her new book “Commonwealth and Covenant,” Marcia Pally of N.Y.U. and Fordham offers a clarifying concept. What we want, she suggests, is “separability amid situatedness.” We want to go off and create and explore and experiment with new ways of thinking and living. But we also want to be situated — embedded in loving families and enveloping communities, thriving within a healthy cultural infrastructure that provides us with values and goals.
Creating situatedness requires a different way of thinking. When we go out and do a deal, we make a contract. When we are situated within something it is because we have made a covenant. A contract protects interests, Pally notes, but a covenant protects relationships. A covenant exists between people who understand they are part of one another. It involves a vow to serve the relationship that is sealed by love: Where you go, I will go. Where you stay, I will stay. Your people shall be my people.
People in a contract provide one another services, but people in a covenant delight in offering gifts. Out of love of country, soldiers offer the gift of their service. Out of love of their craft, teachers offer students the gift of their attention.
The social fabric is thus rewoven in a romantic frame of mind. During another period of national fragmentation, Abraham Lincoln aroused a refreshed love of country. He played upon the mystic chords of memory and used the Declaration of Independence as a unifying scripture and guide.
These days the social fabric will be repaired by hundreds of millions of people making local covenants — widening their circles of attachment across income, social and racial divides. But it will probably also require leaders drawing upon American history to revive patriotism. They’ll tell a story that includes the old themes. That we’re a universal nation, the guarantor of stability and world order. But it will transcend the old narrative and offer an updated love of America.
In an interview with Bill Maher last month, Senator Cory Booker nicely defined patriotism by contrasting it with mere tolerance. Tolerance, he said, means, “I’m going to stomach your right to be different, but if you disappear off the face of the earth I’m no worse off.” Patriotism, on the other hand, means “love of country, which necessitates love of each other, that we have to be a nation that aspires for love, which recognizes that you have worth and dignity and I need you. You are part of my whole, part of the promise of this country.”
That emotion is what it means to be situated in a shared national life.


Monday, April 04, 2016

Feast of the Annunciation – April 4, 2016 (because Good Friday and the Annunciation of Our Lady fell on the same day: the date of the Incarnation of God and the date of His death].


1)      Our Lady is the first Christian believer. What she has done is the meaning of Christian faith. The absence of sin in her made her capable of saying “Yes” to the invitation to receive God in her, and to give Him a complete humanity. All the humanity of Christ [soul, body, faculties of intellect and will, etc.] are all from her. Not that she creates the soul of Christ, but the egg from her and therefore all the DNA must have an organizing principle reasoned to by the Greeks, and that must be present for the material of the body to be body.  The soul, however, is not the Person. The soul is created; the Person is uncreated. The gift that she was asked to give was her entire humanity. Any demurral in her faith would have meant a lack in Christ’s humanity, which would have jeopardized a full redemption.

2)      Consider that Christ wants to be incarnated  again  - and over and over again – throughout history in each one of us. If you make the same gift of yourself as she, and you therefore become Ipse Christus, Creation has achieved the fullness of its meaning.

3)      This act of faith is not ideological but anthropological. Faith is not a book you can put in your pocket. It is a living act of divinization whereby you become what you were meant to be: God as Son of God, “another Christ.” Faith as obedience set the Jews apart as “the People of God.” It creates a culture, a people. Sokolowski writes:

“The Jewish religious understanding was centered on Yahweh, who was taken to be different from any of the gods worshipped by other nations. The understanding, however, did not concern only God; it also concerned God as having elected Israel and as having made a Covenant with them, a Covenant that raised them to responsibility and obligation and not just to privilege. The understanding was about God in his actions, about the people toward whom he acts, and about the world as a setting for these actions. In all this the Jews sharply distinguished themselves and their God from other people and their gods; indeed, the myriad distinctions enjoined by the Torah – between different kinds of animals and different kinds of food, different periods of time, different forms of clothing and utensils – may have been not just ceremonial rubrics or practices useful for preserving health and public order; they may have served as a training for the Jews in the very habit of seeing that this is not that, so that they would be all the more able to realize that ‘they, the other nations, are not ‘us,’ because their ‘gods’ are not Yahweh…

                NOW, “Within this Jewish tradition, which had already distinguished itself so sharply from the others, another distinction was drawn when Christ and his Church appeared. The new distinction, between the New Covenant and the Old, was not like that between Israel and the Gentiles. The God of the New Covenant is the same as that of the Old. The Father whom Jesus addresses is not somehow the truth of which Yahweh is only the shadow: the Father by whom and from whom Jesus was sent is Yahweh, And yet a slight new distinction is drawn between the God  who could not eer become part of this creation – it would be degrading to hm and blasphemous to make him part of what he created – and the God who became incarnate. It isnot just that we must now distinguish between the Father and the Son, but that we must now distinguish a deeper sense of the divinity, a deeper sense of the Godhead. It is not another and different God, as Yahweh is other than and different from the ‘elohim, from Baal and Moloch and Zeus, but it is the same God newly understood. No new proper name is revealed, but Yahweh is now called Father in a distinctive way; he is called Father instead of being called Yahweh. There is a change in the way the transcendence of God is understood. Not only does God create the world and sustain it, not only does God act toward his people, but he also enters into his creation, without diminishing his divinity. He is so transcendent that even this will not compromise the God-head. The Old Covenant educated Israel in the transcendence of God by preventing any embodiment of the divinity, even any image of it. This pedagogy was necessary to distinguish Yahweh from the gods of the Gentiles. But in Christ the New Covenant shows that God could become incarnate, that he could humble himself and take on the form of fallen man and become obedient even to death on the cross, and this humiliation, rather than dishonoring the divine majesty, showed forth its glory in a way that no other act of power could have done.[1]





[1] Robert Sokolowski, “Eucharistic Presence,” CUA (1994) 144-147.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

I Just Visited Mimi Silbert's Delancy Street in San Francisco and It Taught Fr. Paul Donlan, Fr. Mark Manion and Myself that the Following Text of Richard Rohr Holds For Us

Rohr

In Need of Mercy
Thursday, March 31, 2016

Why does the Bible, and why does Jesus, tell us to care for the poor and the outsider? Is it first of all because people need help? Maybe, but I believe it has a much deeper genius. We are the ones who need to move into the worlds of powerlessness for our own conversion! We need to meet people whose faith, patience, and forgiveness tell us we are still in the kindergarten of love. We need to be influenced by people who are happy without having all the things we think are essential to happiness.
When we are too smug and content, we really have little need for the Gospel, so we make Christianity into pious devotions that ask nothing of us and do nothing for the world. We are never in need of forgiveness because we have constructed a world that allows us to always be right and "normal." We are highly insulated from the human situation. When we are self-sufficient, our religion will be corrupt because it doesn't understand the Mystery of how divine life is transferred, how people change, how life flows, how we become something more, and how we fall into the great compassion.
Only vulnerable people change. Only vulnerable people change others. Jesus presented us with an icon of absolute vulnerability, and said, "Gaze on this until you get the point. Gaze on this until you know what God is like!" That demanded too much of us, so we made the cross instead into a juridical transaction between Jesus and God ("substitutionary atonement theory"), which in great part robbed the cross of its deep transformative power.
It has been said that religion is largely filled with people who are afraid of hell, and spirituality is for people who have gone through hell. As all initiation rites say in one way or another:you have to die before you die, and then you know. Jesus is always on the side of the crucified ones. Jesus is what mythology called a "shape-shifter." He changes sides in the twinkling of an eye to go wherever the pain is. He is not loyal to one religion, to this or that group, or to the worthy; Jesus is loyal to suffering!
Do you realize that takes away all of our usual group-think? Jesus is just as loyal to the suffering of Iraqi and Russian soldiers as he is to the suffering of American and British soldiers. He grabs all our boundaries away from us, and suddenly we are forced to see that we are a universal people. Most people do not like being that exposed and that shared. Yes, God is on the side of the pain, and goes wherever the pain is (which is abundantly clear in the Gospels). We can no longer preempt Jesus for our own group, religion, or country. People seeking power cannot use him for their private purposes. He belongs to the powerless.  
A lawyer who joined the Catholic Church and then became a Franciscan said to me one day, "You know, this Church is harder and harder for me to understand. We claim to have the perfect medicine, the healing power to restore and renew hearts and souls, but we seem to say in the same breath, 'But make sure you don't really need it! Because if you really need it, you are a less than ideal member!'"  
Too often it seems forgiveness, reconciliation, compassion, and healing are mere concessions, carefully doled out, to those unfortunate sinners and outsiders, instead of the very path of salvation itself. Thank God, we live in a time where we have a Pope who is shouting mercy from the housetops--for everybody who needs it and wants it. Desire is the only pre-requisite. Some cardinals and bishops who apparently don't think they need mercy are very stingy and regulatory in handing it on to others. What does not come around, does not go around, it seems.

The Disturbing Fact of the Resurrection


“If Jesus was not raised from death, Christianity is a fraud and a joke; if he did rise from death, then Christianity is the fullness of God’s revelation, and Jesus must be the absolute center of our lives. There is no third option”


The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the be-all and the end-all of the Christian faith. If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, all bishops, priests, and Christian ministers should go home and get honest jobs, and all the Christian faithful should leave their churches immediately. As Paul himself put it: “If Jesus is not raised from the dead, our preaching is in vain and we are the most pitiable of men.” It’s no good, of course, trying to explain the resurrection away or rationalize it as a myth, a symbol, or an inner subjective experience. None of that does justice to the novelty and sheer strangeness of the Biblical message. It comes down finally to this: if Jesus was not raised from death, Christianity is a fraud and a joke; if he did rise from death, then Christianity is the fullness of God’s revelation, and Jesus must be the absolute center of our lives. There is no third option.
I want to explore, very briefly, a handful of lessons that follow from the disquieting fact of the Resurrection. First, this world is not it. What I mean is that this world is not all that there is. We live our lives with the reasonable assumption that the natural world as we’ve come to know it through the sciences and discern it through common sense is the final framework of our lives and activities. Everything (quite literally, everything) takes place within the theater of our ordinary experience. And one of the most powerful and frightening features of the common-sense world is death. Every living thing dies and stays dead. Indeed, everything in the universe, scientists tell us, comes into being and then fades away permanently.
But what if this is not in fact the case? What if the laws of nature are not as iron-clad as we thought? What if death and dissolution did not have the final say? What if, through God’s power and according to his providence, a “new heavens and a new earth” were being born? The resurrection of Jesus from the dead shows as definitively as possible that God is up to something greater than we had imagined or thought possible. And therefore we don’t have to live as though death were our master and as though nihilism were the only coherent point of view. After he had encountered the risen Christ, Paul could even taunt death: “Where is your sting?” In light of the resurrection, we can, in fact, begin to see this world as a place of gestation, growth and maturation toward something higher, more permanent, more splendid.
Here’s a second lesson derived from the resurrection: the tyrants know that their time is up. Remember that the cross was Rome’s way of asserting its authority. Roman authorities declared that if you run afoul of our system, we will torture you to death in the most excruciating (ex cruce, from the cross) way possible and then we will leave your body to waste away being devoured by the beasts of the field. The threat of violence is how tyrants up and down the centuries have always asserted their authority. Might makes right. The crucified Jesus appeared to anyone who was witnessing the awful events on Calvary to be one more affirmation of this principle: Caesar always wins in the end.
But when Jesus was raised from the dead through the power of the Holy Spirit, the first Christians knew that Caesar’s days were numbered. Jesus had taken the worst that the world could throw at him and he returned, alive and triumphant. They knew that the Lord of the world was no longer Caesar, but rather someone whom Caesar had killed but whom God had raised from death. This is why the risen Christ has been the inspiration for resistance movements up and down the centuries. In our own time we saw how deftly John Paul II wielded the power of the cross in Communist Poland. Though he had no nuclear weapons or tanks or mighty armies, John Paul had the power of the resurrection, and that proved strong enough to bring down one of the most imposing empires in the history of the world. Once again, the faculty lounge interpretation of resurrection as a subjective event or a mere symbol is exactly what the tyrants of the world want, for it poses no real threat to them.

The third great lesson of the resurrection is that the path of salvation has been opened to everyone. Paul told us that “though he was in the form of God, Jesus did not deem equality with God something to be grasped. Rather he emptied himself and took the form of slave…accepting even death, death on a cross.” In a word, Jesus went all the way down, journeying into pain, despair, alienation, even godforsakenness. He went as far as you can go away from the Father. Why? In order to reach all of those who had wandered from God. Then, in light of the resurrection, the first Christians came to know that, even as we run as fast as we can away from the Father, all the way to godforsakenness, we are running into the arms of the Son. The opening up of the divine life allows everyone free access to the divine mercy. And this is why the Lord himself could say, “When the Son of Man is lifted up, he will draw all people to himself,” and why Paul could assert in 1 Corinthians, “When everything is subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who subjected everything to him, so that God may be all in all.” The resurrection shows that Christ can gather back to the Father everyone whom he has embraced through his suffering love.
So on Easter Sunday, let us not domesticate the still stunning and disturbing message of resurrection. Rather, let us allow it to unnerve us, change us, set us on fire.

Bishop Robert Barron is an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the founder of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries.


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Pope Francis: Mercy and love have conquered sin at Easter



2016-03-28 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis said “we also stand today before the empty tomb of Jesus, and meditate with wonder and gratitude on the great mystery of the Resurrection of the Lord” during his  Easter Monday Regina Coeli address.
“Life has conquered death. Mercy and love have conquered sin! There is need of faith and hope to open this new and wonderful horizon,” Pope Francis said.
“And we know that faith and hope are a gift from God, and we have to ask: ‘Lord, give me faith, give me hope! We have so much need!’. Let us by pervaded by the emotions that resonate in the Easter sequence: ‘Yes, we are certain: Christ is truly risen.’ The Lord has risen among us! This truth marked in an indelible way the lives of the Apostles who, after the Resurrection, again felt the need to follow their Master and, receiving the Holy Spirit, went without fear to proclaim to all what they had seen with their own eyes and personally experienced.”
The Holy Father said “in this Jubilee Year we are called to rediscover and to welcome with particular intensity the comforting announcement of the resurrection: ‘Christ, my hope, is risen!’”, adding “if Christ is risen, we can look with new eyes and hearts at every event of our lives, even the most negative.”
“The moments of darkness, of failure, and also of sin can be transformed and announce a new path. When we have reached the base of our misery and our weakness, the risen Christ gives us the strength to lift ourselves up. If we have faith in Him, His grace saves us!” – Pope Francis continued – “The crucified and risen Lord is the full revelation of mercy, present and active in history. This is the Easter message that still resonates today and that will resonate throughout the time of Easter until Pentecost.”
The Pope said “the silent witness to the events of the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus was Mary.”
“She was standing next to the cross: She did not collapse in the face of grief, but her faith made her stronger” – he explained – “In the broken heart of a mother, there was always the flame of hope. We ask her to also help us to accept in fullness the Easter proclamation of resurrection, to embody it concretely in our daily lives.”
He then invoked Our Lady before reciting the Regina Coeli prayer, which is prayed instead of the Angelus during the Easter season: “May the Virgin Mary give us the certainty of faith that suffered every step of our journey, illuminated by the light of Easter; that it will become a blessing and joy for us and for others, especially for those who suffer because of selfishness and indifference.”
After reciting the Regina Coeli, Pope Francis condemned the “reprehensible” terrorist attack in Lahore, Pakistan, and called on civil and other authorities to “do everything possible to restore security and peace to the population and, in particular, to the most vulnerable religious minorities.”
At the end of his address, the Holy Father encouraged everyone to spend a little bit of time every day reading from the Gospels.
“It takes no more than five minutes to read a passage from the Gospel. Remember this!...And do not forget to pray for me!” Pope Francis concluded.

Damage Done to the Human Sexuality as Self-Gift (and therefore the Holiness and Validity of Marriage)


Cardinal Carlo Cafarra asks the following question: ""Theologians, canonists, and pastors are rightly asking about the faith-sacrament relationship of marriage. But there is a more radical problem. Those who are asking for sacramental marriage, are they capable of natural marriage? Has there been such devastation, not of their faith but of their humanity, that they are no longer capable of marriage? 










Positivism and the De-mystification of Sex:


Roger Scruton

The difficulty with matrimony lived in a culture which is positivistically dominated is its superficiality of an experience that is on the level of the purely sensible and rational. There is no commitment of the self because there is no self, and what we are is merely an individual.
          
  In the realm of sexuality, consider what the reductive epistemology of sexuality to mere facts has does to validity. Roger Scruton writes: “There is a picture of human sexuality that is propagated by the media, by popular culture, and by much sex education in our schools, which tries both to discount the differences between us and the other animals and also to remove every hint of the forbidden, the dangerous, and the sacred. It is a picture that makes no place for shame, save as a lingering disability, and which describes the experience of sex as a kind of bodily sensation. Sexual initiation, according to this picture, means learning to overcome guilt and shame, to put aside our hesitations, and to enjoy what is described in the literature as ‘good sex.’ The function of sex education in schools – and especially in those schools controlled by the state – is to rescue children from the commitments that have been attached to desire by displaying sex as a matter of cost-fee pleasure. Even to describe desire as I have done in the foregoing paragraphs is regarded, by many educationists, as an offense – a way of cluttering the minds of children with unmanageable guilt. Such educationists regard the free play of sexual titillation as a far healthier option than the death-encompassing passions associated with the old conception of erotic love.”[3]

            Scruton offers the kiss as a synecdoche of the whole of pre- and post- modern sex.“When the erotic kiss first became obligatory on the cinema screen, it was construed as a coming together of faces, each fully personalized through dialogue. The two faces had carried the burden of a developing drama, and were inseparable in thought from the individuals whose faces they were. When, in the last seconds of the Hollywood movie, the faces tremblingly approached each other, to be clichéd together in a clinch, the characters sank away from us into their mutual desire. This desire was their own affair, a kind of avenue out of the story that took them quickly off the screen and into marriage.
           
 “Pornography is the opposite of that: the face is more or less ignored, and in any case is endowed with no personality and made party to no human dialogue. Only the sexual organs, construed not as agents but as patients, or rather impatient, carry the burden of contact. Sexual organs, unlike faces, can be treated as instruments; they are rival means to the common end of friction, and therefore essentially substitutable. Pornography refocuses desire, not only the other who is desired, but on the sexual act itself, viewed as a meeting of bodies. The intentionality of the sexual act, conceived in this disenchanted way, is radically changed. It ceases to be an expression of interpersonal longing, still less of the desire to hold, to possess, to be filled with love. It becomes a kind of sacrilege – a wiping away of freedom, personality, and transcendence, to reveal the passionless contortions of what is merely flesh. Pornography is therefore functional in relation to a society of uncommitted partnerships. It serves to desecrate and thereby neutralize our sense that the object of desire is made sacred and irreplaceable by our longing. By shifting the focus downwards, from the end to the means, from the subject to the object, pornography diverts sexual feeling away from its normal course which is commitment, and empties it of its existential seriousness.”[4]

   In the light of the above, Cardinal Carlo Cafarra asks: "Those who are asking for sacramental marriage, are they capable of natural marriage? Has there been such devastation, not of their faith but of their humanity, that they are no longer capable of marriage?" 


"The first dimension of the anthropological question is the following: it is well known that according to Catholic teaching the sacrament of marriage coincides with natural marriage. I think that there can no longer be any theological doubt about the coinciding of the two, even if with and after Duns Scotus - the first to deny it - there has long been discussion in the Latin Church in this regard.

"Now what the Church meant and means by “natural marriage” has been demolished in contemporary culture. If I may put it this way, the “matter” has been removed from the sacrament of marriage.

"Theologians, canonists, and pastors are rightly asking about the faith-sacrament relationship of marriage. But there is a more radical problem. Those who are asking for sacramental marriage, are they capable of natural marriage? Has there been such devastation, not of their faith but of their humanity, that they are no longer capable of marriage? Attention must certainly be paid to canons 1096 (“For matrimonial consent to exist, the contracting parties must be at least not ignorant that marriage is a permanent partnership between a man and a woman ordered to the procreation of offspring”) and 1099. Nevertheless, the “praesumptio iuris" of § 2 of canon 1096 (“This ignorance is not presumed after puberty”) must not be an occasion of disregard for the spiritual condition in which many find themselves with regard to natural marriage.


" - The anthropological question has a second dimension. This consists in the inability to perceive the truth and therefore the preciousness of human sexuality. It seems to me that Augustine described this condition is the most precise way possible: “Submerged and blinded as I was, I was not capable of thinking of the light of truth and of a beauty that was worthy of being loved for its own sake and was not visible to the eyes of the flesh, but within” (Confessions VI 16, 26).

"The Church must ask itself why it has in point of fact ignored the magisterium of Saint John Paul II on human sexuality and love. We must also ask ourselves is this: the Church possesses a great school in which it learns the profound truth of the body-person: the liturgy. How and why has it been unable to draw upon this also with regard to the anthropological question of which we are speaking? To what extend is the Church aware that “gender” theory is a real tsunami that is not aimed primarily at individual behavior but at the total destruction of marriage and the family?

In summary: the second fundamental problem that is raised today for the Christian presentation of marriage is the reconstruction of a theology and philosophy of the body and of sexuality capable of generating a new educational effort in the Church as a whole.

   In the realm of matrimony there is no difference between Christian faith as self-gift and the conjugal act as self-gift. For this reason, if matrimonial consent is not an intentionally total giving of the self, there is no marriage. That is why Cardinal Cafarra raises the question of the withering of the human capacity due to a pornographic and contraceptive culture.