Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Updates, updates, updates!

Wow, how does this thing work again?

Seriously, it's been a while since I last posted to the blog and there's pretty good reason for that: not enough time to do so! July and August have been pretty intense months for myself and my family and September looks pretty busy for us as well.

I've got a stack of draft blog entries in my "To finish" pile so it's just a matter of finding the time to grind them out gradually. I hope to have something new for you all very soon.

In the mean time if you could please keep me in your prayers. I'm on the lookout for a new job at the moment (still in teaching). Things have gotten to a point at the school that I work at at the moment where I feel I could be giving more but not given the opportunity to do so. It's as though I'm starting to outgrow this shell and I need to find a new home... just as a hermit crab would.

There's much to discern and much to pray about.

Thank you, as always, for your support and for reading.

God bless.

Pax vobiscum.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Trinity... in Genesis??

Did you know that the truth of the Blessed Trinity is revealed in the Old Testament? You might answer "yes" to that question, but what if I told you that the truth of the Blessed Trinity - the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit - is revealed in the first three verses of the first chapter of the Book of Genesis? Now you might be thinking "Oh really? Tell me more!"

This is something I never noticed until someone else pointed it out to me, and all credit is given to Dr. Scott Hahn who makes this mind-blowing observation. Let's read the first three verses of Genesis 1 first:

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters. And God said, 'Let there be light'; and there was light." - Genesis 1:1-3

Broken down, verse by verse:

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." - Genesis 1:1
--That one's pretty obvious; God the Father "creator of the heavens and the earth" (CCC, par. 239)

"The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters."  - Genesis 1:2
--"... and the Spirit of God" i.e. The Holy Spirit "... was moving over the face of the waters". This is a really cool one. The first thing that came to mind for me with this verse was John 3:5...

"Jesus answered, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.'" - John 3:5

Through Baptism we are made anew; the baptismal waters are the wellspring of holiness (CCC, par. 1218). It is the Holy Spirit that gives life to the unformed earthly void.

Furthermore, through Christ's own baptism in the River Jordan by St. John the Baptist, as Christ is revealed as the "beloved Son" (Matthew 3:16-17), the inheritance of the eternal life is revealed to us (CCC, par. 1224; ibid., par. 2009).

"And God said, 'Let there be light'; and there was light.'" - Genesis 1:3
--Light distinguishes from darkness; darkness is the absence of light. One could suggest that without Christ, the light, evil prevails. The light of Christ casts away the darkness of sin (CCC, par. 1691, 1695).

"And this is the judgement, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God." - John 3:19-21

"Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, 'I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'" - John 8:12

Do you see how the dots are connected?

In summary:

Genesis 1:1 = God the Father
Genesis 1:2 = God the Holy Spirit
Genesis 1:3 = God the Son

Nifty. :)

Sunday, May 25, 2014

My 'Pratically Apologetic' talk at Turrist Orationist Ministry, Friday May 16 2014

On Friday, May 16 I gave my 'Practically Apologetic' talk at the Turrist Orationist Ministry, an Indonesian Catholic prayer, praise and worship group. Here's the audio:

In the ~48 minute talk I covered the following topics:

- St. Peter "the Rock" and the foundation of the Catholic Church;
- the Blessed Virgin Mary, Ark of the New Covenant; and
- the Eucharist, source and summit of the Christian life

I had a lot of fun giving this talk; I hope that you enjoy listening to it.

God bless. :)

Monday, May 12, 2014

Barbershop philosophy, Love and Responsibility...

I had my haircut before my younger brother's wedding a couple of weeks ago, and as you do with your barber/hair dresser, you engage in some small talk and before you know you're having a conversation and solving all the world's problems... or are you?

My barber asked me what I do for work (be assured that in turn I did not bother to ask him), so I told him that I'm a high school theology teacher. He admitted that he wasn't too familiar with theology so he asked me what that entailed. I told him in summary that it entailed teaching about the Catholic Church (I teach at a Catholic high school after all), Her teachings and doctrines, key beliefs, responses to contemporary issues, moral theology, a bit of philosophy, and so forth. His interest seemed piqued. "I'm a bit of an atheist, myself" my barber replied. With my interest piqued, I replied with "Oh really?"

Before I could ask my barber anything about his atheism, he began to inquire about why I teach theology. I gave him my life story in cliff notes and explained that I have a love for my faith, so why not make a living teaching it? He then asked, "So why not become a priest?" Good question! For a time after leaving high school I did in fact discern the priesthood. The priesthood was always something at the back of my mind as I went through university, even as I dated some girls during my late teens and very early 20s. Ultimately, as I explained to my barber, I felt the undeniable call from God to family life and to fulfil my vocation as a husband, parent, and teacher. I am grateful to God that I can make a career of the vocation of teaching.

I suspected that a question about the priesthood was imminent, and before I knew it...

"Do you think that by allowing priests to marry all of those... 'problems' might get solved?" my barber asked.

If by "problems" he meant the sexual abuse scandals and so forth, it's something I had already pondered. When I was in Sydney giving presentations for Parousia Media back in February, I received a question very similar to that one. Basically it was suggested that by allowing priests in the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church to marry, it would either eradicate or lower the incidence of sexual abuse against minors by Catholic clergy. "We're animals after all, aren't we?" by barber suggested, "... we have needs, right?"

A few things:

1. Let's assume that a clergyman with a inclination to pederasty or with a sexually oriented attraction to minors is allowed to be married because the Church has changed its position on the discipline of celibate clergy. Does allowing this clergyman to marry suddenly rid him of his inclination to pederasty or his sexual attraction to minors? Let's answer that this way: if there exists a person with a inclination to alcoholism, does replacing all of their drinks with water or other non-alcoholic beverages remove their inclination to alcoholism? Not necessarily. One's inclination to pederasty or sexual orientation to minors may have a psychological genesis and therefore must be managed at its genesis. Permitting marriage for clergymen with such an inclination is not a solution or treatment.

2. If marriage for priests of the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church is permitted as a "solution" to the sexual abuse scandals, are we not then advocating an attitude that objectifies women, dehumanises them, and treats them as beings that exist simply for the sexual gratification of men (i.e. lust)? Would we not then be warping the true meaning of marriage and distorting the act of conjugal love between a husband and wife? Marriage is not a license which permits coitus exclusively with one's spouse. This "solution" - apart from being counter-intuitive - degrades the integrity of the human person. While sex is pleasurable, we should be reminded of the wisdom of St. Pope John Paul II regarding the human person:

“A person’s rightful due is to be treated as an object of love, not as an object for use.” - Love and Responsibility, 1993

3. "We're animals after all, aren't we?" This is a depressing attitude. What separates us from the animals is our ability to rationalise and ponder things that are beyond the perception of the human senses: sight, taste, touch, sound, and smell. For example: the reality of God, or - if you're on the agnostic end of the spectrum - the possibility that there exists a being beyond our human comprehension that somehow put everything into existence and desires to have a personal and intimate relationship with us. Yes, we're mammals with an instinctive drive, but we are not solely driven by instinct. As St. Thomas Aquinas describes, humans possess what is called a "rational soul" which allows us to communicate using complex language, have abstract thoughts, experience a complex range of feelings and emotions, etc. If we are merely animals then why bother bathing, going to work, engaging with others in dynamic and thought-provoking dialogue and so forth? Why not just devolve to the days of pre-historic man and sort out our problems with blunt objects?

I wasn't trying to be argumentative with my barber (a lot of what's up there are after thoughts) but my opinion was asked for and I gave it in the most non-confrontational way I could muster at the time (he was holding a razor at the time).

Some things to note/references:

In Eastern rites of the Catholic Church, priests are allowed to marry. It is important to clarify that when the Catholic Church is being spoken of as a whole, there exists more than the Roman Catholic Church. Yes, it is the Roman Catholic Church that you often see in the media, but not all Catholics are Roman. Recommended reading: What Catholics Really Believe - Priestly Celibacy

Regarding the Catholic Church's teachings on Homosexuality:

It's very important to note - despite what the mainstream media, certain lobby groups, and secular institutions may tell you - that the Catholic Church does not advocate hatred towards homosexuals and does not tolerate it either. Quite the contrary:

"The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfil God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition." - Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 2358 (bolded for emphasis)

Regarding the Catholic Church's teachings on Marriage (more specifically concerning the objectification of women and distorting the meaning of conjugal love), St. Pope John Paul II in his September 17, 1980 Theology of the Body address to the general audience stated:

"Lust has the internal effect, that is, in the heart, on the interior horizon of man and woman, of obscuring the significance of the body, of the person itself. Femininity thus ceases being above all else an object for the man. It ceases being a specific language of the spirit. It loses its character of being a sign. I would say that it ceases bearing in itself the wonderful matrimonial significance of the body. It ceases its correlation to this significance in the context of conscience and experience. Lust arising from concupiscence of the flesh itself, from the first moment of its existence within the man—its existence in his heart—passes in a certain sense close to such a context. (Using an image, one could say that it passes on the ruins of the matrimonial significance of the body and all its subjective parts.) By virtue of axiological intentionality itself, it aims directly at an exclusive end: to satisfy only the sexual need of the body, as its precise object." - 'Mutual Attraction Differs from Lust', St. Peter's Square General Audience, September 17, 1980

* * * * *

It ended up being a very good discussion between myself and my barber. We didn't get that detailed or go that deep, but I feel that at my next haircut (a couple of weeks away) we may pick things up where we left off and pose some more challenging questions. In the meantime I'm going to be praying for my barber. Please too pray for him and for myself.


Sunday, April 27, 2014

Shadows of the New

About four and a half years ago I blogged about how the Chair (or "Throne") of St. Peter (i.e. The Holy See) was prefigured in the Old Testament, specifically in the book of Isaiah. You can find that blog entry here

What I found this evening on Facebook was a chart that clearly and with more detail identifies the parallels between the Vicar of the Throne of David in the book of Isaiah and the Vicar of the Throne of David in the New Testament. All credit goes to St. Joseph Studios; it came from their Facebook page:

Feel free to share. 

God bless. :)

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Quick Thought: Chameleon Evangelisation

Since Westboro Baptist Church's "elder" Fred Phelps died, the attention the church has gained has intrigued me. At the same time, however, it embarrasses me that members of WBC call themselves "Christian". What they do - and more specifically how they do it - is diametrically opposed to Christianity. They want to win souls for God, but sometimes you can win the battle but lose the soul.

The church's actions have made me seriously think about how I evangelise and how I talk to people about Christ and the Catholic Church. I have also thought about my own failings as a human being. I'm a Christian. I am a Catholic-Christian. I'm not a perfect Catholic-Christian nor am I perfect human being. What I am is this:

I am a person made in the image and likeness of God doing his best to cooperate with God's grace and liveout the Gospel message. This means that at times I will strongly disagree with some societal trends, certain behaviours, and even go as far as to call them "sinful". At times I may fall, stumble, and seem hypocritical, but such failings are not indicative of what I believe in or what I stand for, no; they are indictments on my own failings as a human being. I desire to continue to grow in holiness and become more Christ-like.

The world is changing and it has become so diverse. As a Christian, to help bring the Gospel message to others, I may be required to speak differently to others depending on their personal context - as Christ did - in order for the Gospel message to be heard. As St. Paul writes in Corinthians, I must "become all things to all men":

"For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews; to those under the law I became as one under the law—though not being myself under the law—that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law—not being without law toward God but under the law of Christ—that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings." - 1 Corinthians 9:19-23

This does not mean that I compromise my beliefs or suddenly become tolerant of sin or actions that are contrary to Natural Law, but rather I am required to look at others through the eyes of Christ and to see Christ in the eyes of others. Blend in, but remain steadfast in who you are:

"Learn who you are in the eyes of God." - St. Eugene de Mazenod


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A brief reflection on fatherhood/motherhood/parenthood

My wife is away overseas for work at the moment so I'm taking care of the kids on my own for a little while. This time has provided for me a few opportunities to ponder the gift of parenthood and the unique role of fatherhood. At the same time I'm able to appreciate the work that a more does and the care she has for her children.

Yes, I'm the proverbial "Mr. Mum", but the only issue I have with that term of endearment (don't get me wrong, I do take it as a compliment) is this:

There is absolutely NOTHING I can do which will match the love, care, and nurturing that my wife gives to our children; everything that I do falls terribly short. To say that I am a fill-in or replacement would be an affront to motherhood. I am, however, a father and trying to be the best dad I can be. What I give is different and how I give it is different. Put the shoe on the other foot: why aren't mothers called "Ms. Dad" when the fathers are out of town?

Growing up I was very blessed to have a mother and a father who - despite the breakup of their marriage - were every bit the mother and father to me. Mum was mum to me; Dad was dad to me. Plain and simple. Neither attempted to compensate for any absences; I had exactly what I needed.

No, I'm not offended by being called "Mr. Mum" but what I'm doing is called "parenting". Secondary to that, what I am is a father and a father to my children I will always be. As a father I give my children my best. My wife - the mother of my children - inspires me to be more for my children. It's during times like these when Shannon is away that I appreciate ALL that a mother does for their children. Immeasurable, irreplaceable, invaluable.

"As a father has compassion for his children, so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him." - Psalms 103:13