Speaking of poultry farmers' problems: "URBANA, Ohio (AP) - Farmers worried about making a living off their land are turning to water. A growing number of Midwest farmers are diversifying into fish farming ..." more
"EDGECOMB COUNTY, N.C. (CNS) -- Holy Cross Brother David Andrews, executive director of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference ..., says contract poultry farmers have become cogs in 'megasystems' that are organized by big corporations. ..." more
"PITTSBORO, N.C. (CNS) -- Mary Clouse says she has good news for contract poultry farmers: 'There's life after chickens.' Clouse ... said ... that she and her husband, John, were lucky. They got out with their home and farm mostly intact. ..." more
"VATICAN CITY, NOV. 1, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II condemned all forms of abuse against children and adolescents, particularly sexual abuse, and appealed for a determined response especially by supporting families. ..." more
From the alternative reading for today in the Dominican Office:
All agree that the knowledge of God is the fountain and foundation of all our joy and happiness. This is the true knowledge and genuine theology of Christians, being the queen and mistress of all the sciences. For if, as Aristotle says, the greatest science is that which treats of most noble matters, what is more noble and lofty than God. Indeed, God praises this knowledge through Jeremiah saying: Do not let the wise boast of their wisdom, nor the mighty boast of their strength, nor the rich boast of their wealth, but let whoever boasts, boast of their learning and knowledge of me. This knowledge is the most lofty, the most divine, the most useful, the most delightful and the most needed of all the sciences which the human mind can grasp.
The blessed in heaven have this knowledge for they see the divine essence clearly. ...
From today's Office of Readings; worth blogging in full.
Why should our praise and glorification, or even the celebration of this feast day mean anything to the saints? What do they care about earthly honors when their heavenly Father honors them by fulfilling the faithful promise of the Son? What does our commendation mean to them? The saints have no need of honor from us; neither does our devotion add the slightest thing to what is theirs. Clearly, if we venerate their memory, it serves us, not them. But I tell you, when I think of them, I feel myself inflamed by a tremendous yearning.
Calling the saints to mind inspires, or rather arouses in us, above all else, a longing to enjoy their company, so desirable in itself. We long to share in the citizenship of heaven, to dwell with the spirits of the blessed, to join the assembly of patriarchs, the ranks of the prophets, the council of apostles, the great host of martyrs, the noble company of confessors and the choir of virgins. In short, we long to be united in happiness with all the saints. But our dispositions change. The Church of all the first followers of Christ awaits us, but we do nothing about it. The saints want us to be with them, and we are indifferent. The souls of the just await us, and we ignore them.
Come, brothers, let us at length spur ourselves on. We must rise again with Christ, we must seek the world which is above and set our mind on the things of heaven. Let us long for those who are longing for us, hasten to those who are waiting for us, and ask those who look for our coming to intercede for us. We should not only want to be with the saints, we should also hope to possess their happiness. While we desire to be in their company, we must also earnestly seek to share in their glory. Do not imagine that there is anything harmful in such an ambition as this; there is no danger in setting our hearts on such glory.
When we commemorate the saints we are inflamed with another yearning: that Christ our life may also appear to us as he appeared to them and that we may one day share in his glory. Until then we see him, not as he is, but as he became for our sake. He is our head, crowned, not with glory, but with the thorns of our sins. As members of that head, crowned with thorns, we should be ashamed to live in luxury; his purple robes are a mockery rather than an honor. When Christ comes again, his death shall no longer be proclaimed, and we shall know that we also have died, and that our life is hidden with him. The glorious head of the Church will appear and his glorified members will shine in splendor with him, when he forms this lowly body anew into such glory as belongs to himself, its head.
Therefore, we should aim at attaining this glory with a wholehearted and prudent desire. That we may rightly hope and strive for such blessedness, we must above all seek the prayers of the saints. Thus, what is beyond our own powers to obtain will be granted through their intercession.
"... The best way to stop children from becoming sexually active is for their parents to discourage them, said Ann Brownfield, chair of the Mequon-Thiensville chapter of Positive Parent Involvement. ..." full story
NEW YORK, Oct 31, 02 (CWNews.com) -- In what might have been his last major address to the UN before ending his assignment as the Vatican's representative to the international body, Archbishop Renato Martino argued forcefully against the assumption that population growth causes poverty. ... more (subscription required)
VATICAN, Oct 31, 02 (CWNews.com) -- The authoritative Jesuit magazine Civilta Cattolica argues that an American military strike on Iraq would be legitimate if there is an imminent danger of aggression by Iraqi regime. But the Jesuit journal says that a purely "preventive" military strike cannot be justified. ... more (subscription required)
"VATICAN CITY, OCT. 31, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II warned about the dangers of euthanasia, when he received the new Belgian ambassador to the Vatican. Belgium is the second country, after the Netherlands, to legalize this type of killing. ..." more
HMS's Greg Popcak blogs an article about parents' worries about the popular culture's effect on their kids.
This worry has long been known to be a well-founded one. Socrates suggests in the Republic that if, in the face of the "education" provided by what we'd call popular culture, anything in the human person "is saved and turns out well," then "in saying that the providence of God preserves it you will not be speaking ill."
"Waukesha - The fatal mob beating of Charlie Young Jr. is stirring racial tensions on a college campus here after a student newspaper column linked the Milwaukee incident to lifestyles and struggles in the African-American community. ..." more
"Waukesha - In an episode that has attracted national attention over the collision of free-speech rights and racial sensitivity, a standing-room-only crowd Wednesday packed a forum where tensions over a college newspaper column continued to play out. ..." more
Does the columnist have a point, or is he racist, or both, or neither?
"ST. PAUL, Minn. (CNS) -- Archbishop Harry J. Flynn of St. Paul and Minneapolis praised the late Democratic Sen. Paul Wellstone of Minnesota, who died in a plane crash Oct. 25, for his 'unceasing advocacy on behalf of the poor and disenfranchised.' ..." more
"... 'In almost every issue that Catholic social teaching is about, Paul was behind that,' said Peter Eichten, St. Joan of Arc parish administrator and peace committee facilitator. ..." full story
Catholics should extend condolences to Wellstone's loved ones. Catholics should pray for Wellstone's soul. But should Catholics eulogize as supportive of Catholic concern for the weak a man who accumulated a 0% pro-life voting record?
NEW ORLEANS, Oct 30, 02 (LifeSiteNews.com/CWNews.com) - The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals has agreed to stop discriminating against a public health nurse from New Orleans who was threatened with termination for refusing to dispense pregnancy-ending medication. ... more (subscription required)
RANDOLPH, New Jersey, Oct 29, 02 (LifeSiteNews.com/CWNews.com) - A New Jersey Appellate Court issued an opinion on Tuesday which clears the way for a trial which requires a jury to determine if a first trimester abortion terminates the life of a living human being. ... more (subscription required)
"Pursuit of Goodness Is Way to Union with God, Says Pope"
VATICAN CITY, OCT. 30, 2002 (Zenit.org).- The Bible shows that the path to communion with God is summarized in a profound rejection of evil, John Paul II says.
"God is not indifferent before good and evil," the Pope said during his address at today's general audience in St. Peter's Square. Indeed, in the pursuit of goodness, man can discover God's dwelling, he said. ... more
... And this is the most important consideration: These bishops are successors to the apostles as much as is the Bishop of Rome. They are, to be sure, "with and under" Peter, but "with" is chiefly a matter of sacramental communion, and "under" is qualified by the aforementioned institutional factors. We believe they were made such by the Holy Spirit, and we cannot unmake them unless they have demonstrated beyond moral doubt that they have repudiated what the Spirit did or have otherwise created grave public scandal. ...
Robert A. J. Gagnon, The Bible and Homosexual Practice (Abingdon, 2001).
Vatican II's Decree on Priestly Training says: "The students are to be formed with particular care in the study of the Bible, which ought to be, as it were, the soul of all theology." More specifically, the Council teaches: "Special care must be given to the perfecting of moral theology. Its scientific exposition, nourished more on the teaching of the Bible, should shed light on the loftiness of the calling of the faithful in Christ and the obligation that is theirs of bearing fruit in charity for the life of the world" (no. 16).
One might think that Scripture could be especially helpful in dealing with the moral issue of homosexual practice, since, as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's "Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons" (no. 6) reminds us, there are numerous texts from both Testaments that seem to speak to that issue. Unfortunately, recent scholarship in the area of biblical moral theology has been dominated by revisionist claims that the Bible does not rule out homosexual practice. The texts that have been thought to do so, it is claimed, do not actually address homosexual practice per se, but only cultic prostitution or non-consensual sex or the like, or do not address sexual behavior at all, or for other reasons are not definitive.
Gagnon's new book (see also some related articles of his online) should now be considered the "gold standard" for scholarship on this matter, and it thoroughly refutes the revisionist claims. This is important not only because arguments against the morality of homosexual acts are more likely to be convincing to Christians if they're grounded in Scripture as well as in natural-law reasoning (I do think the latter are a necessary complement, though, especially given the references to "nature" in Romans 1). It's important also because, as Vatican II recognized, what matters most is our "calling ... in Christ" and consequent "obligation ... of bearing fruit in charity," and it is Scripture and Tradition that speak of these things. If Scripture's prohibition of homosexual acts isn't recognized, the whole Christian vision of our call to charity becomes distorted.
By the way, Gagnon, of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, will be speaking on his book at FUS this Friday (11/1) at 7:30 p.m.; yours truly will give a brief response. Come if you're in the area.
In Between Naps's Amy blogs a Washington Post article on the Bush Administration's position "that embryos in experiments are 'human subjects' whose welfare should be considered along with that of fetuses, children and adults." And she adds some good comments on the journalistic biases reflected in how the article was written.
"DENVER, Oct 29, 02 (CWNews.com) -- In his second blunt message in as many weeks on the responsibilities of Catholic voters, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver has insisted the issue of abortion should provide a clear-cut choice. ..." more (subscription required)
"VATICAN, Oct 29, 02 (CWNews.com) -- Cardinal Walter Kasper, the Vatican's chief representative for relations with Judaism, has issued a sharp new condemnation of anti-Semitism, which he calls 'a subtle, insidious, and multi-faceted sin.' ..." more (subscription required)
VATICAN CITY, OCT. 29, 2002 (Zenit.org).- In the face of troubling uses of technology, the Vatican appealed for a defense of human life in its annual message to Hindus.
The message was published today for the occasion of Diwali, the feast of lights that most Hindus celebrate Nov. 4. The feast represents the victory of truth over lies, and light over darkness, and marks the start of a new year. ... more
I wonder how long it'll be before the critics of Assisi start complaining about this ... ?
One commenter on the post by Mark Shea that I mention below objects: "You also haven't even attempted to justify the Pope's unwillingness to extend a single word of sympathy for the victims of abuse."
Is the premise accurate (as has also been claimed by others in past months)? Consider:
Like you, I too have been deeply grieved by the fact that priests and religious, whose vocation it is to help people live holy lives in the sight of God, have themselves caused such suffering and scandal to the young. ... The abuse which has caused this crisis is by every standard wrong and rightly considered a crime by society; it is also an appalling sin in the eyes of God. To the victims and their families, wherever they may be, I express my profound sense of solidarity and concern ...
God alone is the source of holiness, and it is to him above all that we must turn for forgiveness ... (John Paul II, Address to U.S. Cardinals and Bishops at Vatican, 4/23/02)
"The harm done by some priests and religious to the young and vulnerable fills us all with a deep sense of sadness and shame" (John Paul II, Homily at Concluding Mass of World Youth Day, 7/28/02).
If we're going to argue about whether the pope is right not to remove 2/3 of the US's bishops, let's do so. But let's get straight what the pope has done and said.
In less than four weeks, the Church will again celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King. I bring this up because of items I've recently seen in blog comment boxes and elsewhere on the web claiming that the Catholic political response to abortion is to establish some sort of theo-/ecclesiocracy in the name of Christ the King.
So, for example, the American Life League's Judie "Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud" Brown quotes Pius XII's statement that "religious and moral error must always be impeded, when it is possible, because toleration of them is in itself immoral." (Apparently the "amazing Catholic priests" who have been "tutoring" Brown neglected to have her read Vatican II.)
Deploying some of the same slogans at the service of an even more extreme ideology is one Charles M. de Nunzio, who made a recent appearance in the comments box under this post on Amy Welborn's blog. (De Nunzio has absorbed the ideas of such "orthodox Catholic" writers as Fr. Denis Fahey, promoter of the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion.")
Thus, the fourth and final chapter of his first encyclical, The Redeemer of Man (1979), is structured around Christ's "triple office" of Prophet, Priest, and King. In the section of that chapter entitled "The Christian vocation to service and kingship" (no. 21), the pope reminds us:
Christ teaches us that the best use of freedom is charity, which takes concrete form in self-giving and in service. For this "freedom Christ has set us free" and ever continues to set us free. ... The full truth about human freedom is indelibly inscribed on the mystery of the Redemption. The Church truly serves mankind when she guards this truth with untiring attention, fervent love and mature commitment and when in the whole of her own community she transmits it and gives it concrete form in human life through each Christian's fidelity to his vocation.
Similarly, the fourth and final chapter of the more recent (1995) The Gospel of Life is structured around the themes of "proclaiming," "celebrating," and "serving" the Gospel of life as the ways in which we must live out our share in Christ's triple office in order to build a culture of life. In the section called "'What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works?' (Jas 2:14): serving the Gospel of life," John Paul "encourages political leaders, starting with those who are Christians, not to give in, but to make those choices which, taking into account what is realistically attainable, will lead to the reestablishment of a just order in the defence and promotion of the value of life" (no. 90). But he integrates this teaching into a broader concern for a "service of charity" in which "we must care for the other as a person for whom God has made us responsible" (no. 87), and "is thus an immense and complex task" (no. 91). And he holds up the family especially as the "sanctuary of life" in which our participation in Christ's Servant-Kingship is "expressed through solidarity as experienced within and around the family in the form of concerned, attentive and loving care shown in the humble, ordinary events of each day" (no. 93).
Let's keep these themes in mind as we approach the Solemnity of Christ the King. Let's remember that it's at the end of the liturgical year because it points forward to the eschatological consummation of the reign of Christ, and that we must not fall into the Gnostic trap of trying by ourselves to "immanentize the eschaton" (in the words of Eric Voegelin), into the ecclesiological error of trying to reduplicate politically the One Church (as David Schindler has pointed out that pre-Conciliar integrism tried to do). And let's remember that in the liturgical cycle this celebration also points forward to the humble birth among animals and shepherds of the Servant-King.
I don't always agree with J. Budziszewski's take on natural law, and I would want to nuance some of the claims in his recent First Things article, "The Second Tablet Project." But I also greatly appreciate some of its insights, and especially the one in the following excerpt:
The second difference it makes to acknowledge biblical revelation has to do with providence. Self–interest is not the only thing that tempts us to commit injustice. One of the strongest motives to do wrong is to make everything go right, for sometimes justice requires allowing bad things to happen to other people. If we forbid hanging innocent men, the mob may break out in a riot. If we forbid bombing noncombatants, the war may be prolonged. If we forbid giving perjured testimony, the murderer may go unpunished. Surely it isn’t right, we reason, that there are riots, longer wars, and murderers free in the streets. Let us do evil for the sake of good. It doesn’t seem just to do justice.
Christian faith undercuts the urge to fix everything on our own through conviction of the final helplessness of man and confidence in the providence of God—through certainty that only God can set everything to rights and faith that in the end, He will. Man can merely ameliorate, not cure; but there will be a Judgment, and there will be a hand that wipes every tear from the eyes of those who mourn.
The final helplessness of man to fix himself may seem fatuously obvious after a century that killed hundreds of millions of people, all with the idea of improving human life. If it is a fatuity, however, it is an unbearable fatuity, one that we persistently refuse to accept. I commented earlier on the idea that one may play God if no one is God already. What we have in view here is the conviction that one must play God if the Creator is not Judge and Healer too. Immanuel Kant thought that morality would be undermined without a belief in divine judgment, but Kant did not say the half of it. The wrongs of the world would not merely dismay the desire to do right. They would taunt, torture, and drive men to a despair that could be relieved only by committing yet greater wrongs, on the principle that if God does not save us then we must save ourselves.
It might be interesting to use Chapter 72 of the Rule St. Benedict (The Good Zeal of Monks) as the backdrop for today's first reading, taken from the fifth chapter of the epistle to the Ephesians. The cement that holds a marriage together, just like the cement that holds the cenobium together, is mutual love.
There was a time when people chose to ignore the Pauline comments on married life. They did this in the effort to avoid accents in Paul's teaching that they found offensive. I think this was an overreaction. Anyone who refuses to defer to another, be it in the context of marriage or in the context of community life, is just as wrong-headed as the person who insists on being controlling or domineering. Let us consider Chapter 12 of the Letter to Romans. "Do not let your love be a pretense, but sincerely prefer good to evil. Love each other as much as brothers should, and have a profound respect for each other" (Rom. 12:9-10). We who have vowed ourselves to live as cenobites, just as those who have vowed themselves to live as husband and wife, must strive to make love real and effective in our lives. ...
We live in distressing times. It is painful to stand by and watch people we love build their lives on the shifting sands of hubris and sensual appetite. Speaking to people engaged in such efforts, Jesus said, "The rains came down, the flood waters rose, the gales blew and struck that house, and it fell; and what a crash it made" (cf. Mat. 7:27). Because God's love is everlasting, it is never too late to begin again. People still have time to dig down to the bedrock of faith. In his first epistle St. Peter wrote, "See how I lay in Zion a precious cornerstone that I have chosen and the man who rests his trust on it will not be disappointed" (1 Pet. 2:6). A life built upon the rock of faith can withstand the harrowing of hell (cf. Mat. 16:18). ...
One who has been conformed to Christ can love his wife with the self-sacrificing love of Christ (cf. Eph. 5:25). One who has been conformed to Christ can support with the greatest patience his brothers’ weaknesses of body or behavior (cf. RB 72.5). The love between husband and wife, just like the love of brothers in the monastery, is a symbol of the love Christ has for the church.
Preferring nothing to Christ (cf. RB 72.11), those who partake of the Banquet of Life can become ministers of life and hope in the world. Those who share in the Sacrament of the Altar can become sacraments whereby the world encounters Christ. "May He bring us all together to everlasting life" (RB 72.12).
"LONDON, Oct 28, 02 (CWNews.com) - London police said they will investigate claims of unlawful killing against a doctor who allegedly aborted an unborn child because he had a cleft palate. ..." more (subscription required)
Weekly Standard review of Leon Kass's new bioethics book
... Kass ... is a twenty-first century Jeremiah, trying to revive our appreciation for humility, mystery, and human finitude. He could not be more out of step with his times. His work, and this book especially, is a reminder of the original promise of bioethics. It is brave, wise, and doomed. full review
"ROCKVILLE, Md. — A growing number of officials said Sunday that the state of Maryland should defer prosecution of the two sniper suspects to another jurisdiction where the death penalty could be more easily applied. ..." more
... Cardinal Karl Lehmann, president of the German bishops' conference, confirmed the Church's position on Sunday work. "The celebration of Sunday is a necessity of human dignity, a protest against the commercialization of the person, and against enslavement by the world of work," he said. ...
The cardinal pointed out the danger of Sunday losing its meaning.
"Sunday and feast days could be eliminated or turned into simple weekends, time to go out and to enjoy sports events," he said. "Sunday is not at our free disposal. Among the conditions for real freedom is the proper celebration of Sunday."
He added: "It is not accidental that the Jewish sabbath is a most special gift of God to humanity, as Sunday is." full story
... As an "antidote to hypocrisy" -- a flaw not unknown in academic circles -- the Holy Father suggested "a constant exchange between what is known and what is lived; between the message of truth received as a gift with the Christian vocation, and concrete personal and communal attitudes." ... full story
"Their" quadruplets? In what sense? This is, frankly, parenting-as-ownership, rather than -as-overflow-of-spousal-love. Because however well the men treat each other, neither their sexual acts, nor the in-vitro fertilization by which the quads were conceived, are acts of spousal love.
This is an inauspicious beginning of the children's lives. They will grow up fundamentally miseducated about the meaning of love, including about the meaning of the love of Christ for the Church that was made sacramentally present when they were baptized. Their baptism will not bear all its proper fruit, for the reasons that HMS's Greg Popcak explained some weeks ago.