Saturday, October 31, 2015

God's Existence: Proof from Psychological Development

Fr. John Pasquini, Th.D.

Stunted Psychological Development and Atheism

A kindergarten concept of God or the academic sciences is very much different from a college-level concept of God and the academic sciences.  Often people go to college with at best an eighth grade understanding of God, and yet have a high school or above understanding of the academic sciences and arts, and of almost everything else.  And then we wonder why people lose their faith in college.  They are still stuck in their eighth grade or kindergarten concept of God.

If we look at the psychological development of persons, we find similarities to the above analogy.  If we do not nourish our being, if we do not foster psychological growth, similar consequences follow.

If a person has not moved, psychologically, beyond a childhood concept of God, then that person is likely to have great difficulties believing in God in his or her adult years.  Anything that stunts a person’s psychological and/or spiritual development will either lead to a distorted spiritually or no spirituality at all. 

Prior to puberty a child is predisposed to immanentism, egocentricism, narcissism, or self-centeredness.  Healthy childhood development is marked by an expanded vision of reality where concepts of transcendence, self-giving and other-centeredness develops—qualities essential for belief in God.   If a child has not progressed during this stage of development, in this pre-puberty stage, this childhood stage, then the child will enter into adolescence and likely adulthood with an inability to grasp the possibility of God, since the possibility of belief in God requires a sense of transcendence, self-giving and other-ness.  Atheism, studies have shown, is characterized by egocentrism, immanentism, and many argue narcissism—many psychologist argue that atheism is a narcissist-related disorder.  If one does not develop psychologically and properly through childhood into adolescence then the likelihood of atheism is more likely than less likely. 

Friday, October 30, 2015

The Id, Ego, Superego Proof of God Argument

Fr. John Pasquini, Th.D.

Traditional psychology often describes the human person in terms of the Id, Ego, and Superego. 

The Id is a term used to describe a human’s innate, instinctual drive for pleasure and immediate gratification.  It is marked by need, desire, urge, compulsion, libido and aggression.  The Id is only concerned with self-gratification.  Uncontrolled it would lead to debauchery.

The Superego is marked by the internalization or introjection of attitudes and norms of behavior, especially those instilled by parents, educators, or admired role models.  The superego has often been referred to as an “inner critic,” or “conscience.”  It is engaged in fostering socially appropriate responses to internal and external realities.  When the superego is infected by extremes, repression or capitulation, the superego can have negative consequences (i.e., inappropriate guilt feelings, depression, obsessions. anxiety, inferiority, compulsivity, and so forth).

The Ego is often referred to as the “reality principle” of the “I.”  It is where self-mastery takes place. It is where reason and common sense is active.  It is directed to modulation, direction, and regulation.  It is focused on the harmonious functioning of the Id with the Superego.

Comfort and Atheism

Fr. John Pasquini, Th.D.

Comfort Predisposes One to Atheism

The devil’s greatest weapon is not convincing us there is no God, but that we have plenty of time.
                           C.S. Lewis, Oxford Scholar and Novelist

There is an account of three demons preparing to depart for earth with the intention of corrupting the souls of as many people as possible. 

Before their departure to earth the demons each met for a final briefing with the chief of demons, Satan.  Satan asked the first demon, “How do you plan on corrupting souls?”  The first demon responded, “I plan to convince people that there is no God?”  Satan then turned to the second demon and asked, “What do you plan?” I plan” he responded, “to convince people there is no hell?”  Satan seemed well pleased.  Then he addressed the third demon, “And what about you?” The third demon responded, “I’m simply going to tell people that there is plenty of time to prepare for death and that the second coming of Jesus is far away.”  Satan giggled and jumped with joy in front of the third demon and said with great enthusiasm, “Do that my child and you will corrupt many!” 

Advances in the health sciences, improved hygienic living conditions and nutrition have led to improved health and longer life span potentials.  This corresponding improved quality and length of life has dulled the need for God.  When death is on one’s mind, questions involving one’s destiny--eternal or not--come to the fore. As the question of death and personal suffering and quality of life is less significant so too is the need for God.  

Taking into account numerous variables (i.e. plaques, wars, climate, civility) associated with the determination of life expectancy, the following general ages are associated with the following epochs: 

·       Pre-Neo-Paleolithic, 13
·       Neo-Paleolithic, 18
·       Classical Rome and Greece, 28
·       1200-1300, 43
·       1300-1400, 34
·       1400-1500, 48
·       1500-1550, 50
·       1600, 35
·       1700-1800, 25-40
·       1900, 48
·       2000, 77
·       2010, 78

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Evolution Proves God's Existence

Fr. John J. Pasquini, Th.D.

The scientific principle of natura non facit saltum is one that is held by many, particularly those in the study of evolution.  The atheist Charles Darwin held to this principle fervently:  “Nature makes no jumps; only God does!”  But is this the case?

What does the fossil record teach us?

Some 550 million years ago the fossil record was inhabited by single or simple celled organisms such as algae and bacteria.  As we approach the 530 million year time period, multi-cellular organisms such as sponges appear, and then an explosion takes place, an explosion that takes place within a geological instant, five to ten million years—often referred to as the Cambrian Explosion.  Within this geological instant, we find an explosion of cells as well as an explosion of genetic information within organisms.  The geological record radically changes from simple celled (five or less) organisms to organisms with fifty or more cell types.  The first bodied animals appear: insects, crustaceans, and chordates are found for the first time, organisms with new structures and new functions.

Statisticians and philosophers of science have estimated the odds of such an explosion or evolutionary jump as being 10 to the 150th to one--that is, 10 with 150 zeros behind it to one.  The chances of a Chihuahua composing the complete works of Dante and Shakespeare are more likely! 

If the scientific cliché holds that “nature makes no jumps, and only God does” then God is more likely the cause of this jump.

The jumps continue.  Around four hundred million years ago, within a fifty million year period, we have a vertebrate explosion.  Most of all fish groups appear, with no apparent ancestors or descendants, and with no apparent transitional or intermediate forms. 

Around three hundred and fifty million years ago, within a fifty million year span, we have an amphibian explosion, with no apparent ancestors or descendants, with no apparent transitional or intermediate forms. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Christianity Formed Western Civilization

Fr. John J Ppasquini, Th.D.

Western civilization, as we know it, owes, it can be argued, its existence to the Catholic Church.

The Role of Monks
The monks and their monasteries were responsible for fostering a common language (Latin), for protecting, copying, and preserving ancient texts, for developing and elevating astronomy, art, music, arithmetic, geometry, logic, grammar, and rhetoric to heights never before achieved.  They developed a common script with letters, punctuation, spaces, and paragraphs.  Through Cathedral Schools they preserved and reproduced for all generations the works of Aristotle, Cicero, Seneca, Lucan, Pliny, Statius, Trogas, Pompeius, Virgil, Horace, Martial, Suetonius, Plato, Ovid, etc.  Upon the request of Pope Damasus I, they compiled a book which would eventually be known as the Bible.
With over 37,000 monasteries, the monks, known as the agriculturists of Europe, saved and perfected the art of agriculture and laid the foundation for industry.  They transformed much of Europe, such as modern day Germany, from a forest into a country, while at the same time planting and conserving trees in what we would now call preserves.  The monks were the first environmentalists.
The monks introduced crops, developed new production methods (such as complicated irrigation systems), raised better producing bees, produced better fruits and vegetables, invented champagne, perfected the brewing of beer and the making of cheese.  They reared cattle and horses, developed the corn trade, managed and perfected wine through the vineyards, and even developed salmon fisheries.
The monks became the great technical advisors to the west, and became rightly the fathers of what would eventually become the Industrial Revolution.  They were the leading iron producers, and the leading miners of salt, lead, iron, and marble.  They were masters of glasswork and master clock workers.  They were among the first to use the byproducts of their iron production as fertilizer for crops.
The monks would become the educators of Europe by opening schools for all who desired an education, no matter what their economic or social status was.  The world’s first comprehensive school system for the populace was created by the monks.  Individual monasteries became known for their specialties.  St. Benignus of Dijon was known for its education in medicine, the monks of St. Gall were known for their painting and engraving.  The German monasteries were known for their work in teaching Greek, Hebrew and Arabic.  Others schools were known for astronomy, philosophy, law, rhetoric, mathematics, geometry, metallurgy, agriculture, navigation, food production, landscaping and preservation. 
Some of the greatest artists in world history were Catholic.

Pope Francis: Danger of Secular Intolerance toward Religion

His Holiness, Pope Francis

The…respect for religious freedom…is a fundamental human right.  This includes the ‘freedom to choose the religion which one judges to be true and to manifest one’s beliefs in public.’  A healthy pluralism, one which genuinely respects differences and values religions as such, does not entail privatizing religions in an attempt to reduce them to the quiet obscurity of the individual’s conscience or to relegate them to the enclosed precincts of churches, synagogues or mosques.  This would represent, in effect, a new form of discrimination and authoritarianism.  The respect due to the agnostic and non-believing minority should not be arbitrarily imposed in a way that silences the convictions of the believing majority or ignores the wealth of religious traditions.  In the long run, this would feed resentment rather than tolerance and peace.

When considering the effect of religion on public life, one must distinguish the different ways in which it is practiced.  Intellectuals and serious journalists frequently descend to crude and superficial generalizations in speaking of the shortcomings of religion, and often prove incapable of realizing that not all believers—or religious leaders—are the same.  Some politicians take advantage of this confusion to justify acts of discrimination.  At other times, contempt is shown in writings which reflect religious convictions, overlooking the fact that religious classics can prove meaningful in every age; they have an enduring power to open new horizons, to stimulate thought, to expand the mind and the heart.  This contempt is due to the myopia of a certain immanentism.  The question:  Is it reasonable and enlightened to dismiss certain writings simply because they arose in the context of religious belief?  These writings include principles which are profoundly humanistic, and albeit tinged with religious symbols and teachings, they have a certain value for reason, even for the non-believer. 

[Truth is truth, wherever it may be found; Truth, goodness, and beauty are universal values that all seek, religious or not].  Learning what it means to defend human dignity, building peaceful coexistence between peoples, being good stewards of the world’s goods and creation, and being authentic workers in the field of social justice are universal goals that dialogue between all worldviews can bring to fruition.]

An Addendum by Fr. John
In our attempt to be pluralistic, we must not end up homogenous--a society that discriminates against all but those who hold to secular worldviews.  To tolerate only one worldview, a secular worldview, is to endorse a worldview that is no different than endorsing an official state religion with its unique cultus and praxis.

Evangelii Gadium, nos. 255-258.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Francis, Divorce-and-Civil-Remarriage, and the Synod

Fr. John Pasquini, Th.D.

What can we conclude from the Synod on the Family regarding divorce and civil remarriage? 

First, we need to understand the Catholic view of sin.  What is objectively a sin may not be so subjectively.  What does this mean?  Sin requires sufficient knowledge and freedom; if one has no knowledge of sin then one does not sin, subjectively speaking.  If one is coerced or lacking in freedom then one does not sin, subjectively—even though objectively an act may be sinful. 

Second, we need to understand the Catholic view of marriage.  Marriage is, according to the Catholic understanding of the natural law, a unitive, exclusive and procreative bond between a man and a woman in the sight of God.  

Marriage between two validly baptized people is viewed as a sacrament by the Catholic Church, no matter the denomination.  The marriage between one baptized person and one non-baptized person or the marriage between two non-baptized people is recognized by the Catholic Church as a valid marriage.  It is viewed as a natural marriage, a life-long, non-sacramental covenant between a man and a woman.

Assuming that there are no prior bond or lack of form issues, and assuming that a Pauline or Petrine privilege is not applicable, those who divorce need, in the Catholic Church, an annulment before remarrying.  For Catholics, remarrying civilly after a divorce is prohibited by Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the natural law (Eph. 5:31; Mk. 10:8-9; 16:18; 1 Cor. 7:10-11).  Annulments, or more appropriately, declarations of nullity, find their origins, it is often argued, in what Jesus called “unlawful marriages,” invalid marriages (Mt. 19:5-9; Acts 15:20, 29; Lev. 18). Extending the natural law theme of Leviticus, any defect in a person--the natural operation of a person--which would make him or her unable to make a valid consent to marriage would make the union "unlawful."   Thus, a declaration of nullity.  

Given the above two points on sin and the nature of Catholic marriage, what did Catholic priests prior to the Synod do in a situation where an annulment, or declaration of nullity, was not granted? 

Grace--Offered to All

Fr. John Pasquini, Th.D.

Existential Presence of Grace

Grace is an engulfing, embracing gift offered to all of humanity.  Grace is present—existentially present—at the very center of the person waiting to be accepted or rejected.

Grace is the dwelling of God himself, God’s self-communication in the very core of the person.  Grace is a truly supernatural gift of God that requires a response from the person’s very center of being.  The response given to this divine offer of grace determines the person’s destiny.  A “yes” to God moves one deeper into the mystery of God; a “no” response moves one away from this experience.  Because grace is always present as an offer, one’s choice, one’s yes or no or indifference, determines one’s existence. 

The human person in his transcendentality cannot be seen as simply a so-called natural man; rather he is a being who is on a journey in response to the call of grace to supernatural salvation.  One’s being is determined by this response to the call, a call instituted by grace, by God himself.  As a result, when a person truly seeks to understand his very center, he is bound to end up finding grace, finding God.[i] 

[i][i] Cf. Pasquini, Atheism and Salvation (New York: UPA, 2002).

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Mysticism of Everyday Life

Fr. John J. Pasquini, Th.D.

“Mysticism is simply loving knowledge, the wisdom or knowledge of ‘the inner eye of love.’  Radical fidelity to the demands of daily life, even if only through implicit, hidden, or anonymous faith, hope, and love—in short, self-surrender to the Mystery that haunts one’s life—grounds the mysticism of everyday life.”[i]

God is to be found and experienced in all of reality.  All of reality is screaming out God’s presence.  All we must do is seek to unwrap the gift of grace to discover God.  We must look to our experiences to see the reflection of the power of grace, the power of God active in our lives.

The handprint of grace, of Christ, of God, the experience of the Spirit in one’s actual life is found
·       where one dares to pray into silent darkness and knows that one is heard, although no answer seems to come back about which one might argue and rationalize,
·       where one lets oneself go unconditionally and experiences this capitulation as true victory,
·       where falling becomes true uprightness,
·       where desperation is accepted and is still secretly accepted as trustworthy without cheap trust,
·       where a man entrusts all his knowledge and all his questions to the silent and all-inclusive mystery which is loved more than all our individual knowledge which makes us such small people,
·       where we rehearse our death in everyday life and try to live in such a way we would like to die, peaceful and composed,
·       where…[ii]

This is the mystical walk with and in God.  This is the “mysticism of everyday life” which occurs in a life of self-less love and absolute faithfulness to conscience.  This is the walk of the cross, the self-surrender of one’s life to the mystery of the crucifixion.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Id, Ego, Superego, and Grace

Fr. John Pasquini, Th.D.

Id, Ego, Superego and Grace

In our culture, being sinful is considered a part of what it means to be fully human.  For the Christian, however, to be fully human is to be sinless.  We call Jesus fully divine and fully human.  Jesus is fully human because he is without sin. 

Sin diminishes humanity.  The Christian journey is one marked by the goal of being Christ-like, of being fully human.  In fact, in heaven that is what we shall be! 

Subconsciously or even consciously we recognize this reality.  How many times have we heard the cliché, “What an animal?” when describing the character of someone who has done something atrociously evil or sinful?  Implicit in such a statement is the recognition that sin diminishes our humanity.

So how are we to be fully human?  Grace is necessary.  Let us explore the traditional psychology of the human person, and let us see where grace fits in.

Traditional psychology often describes the human person in terms of the Id, Ego, and Superego. 

The Id is a term used to describe a human’s innate, instinctual drive for pleasure and immediate gratification.  It is marked by need, desire, urge, compulsion, libido and aggression.  The Id is only concerned with self-gratification.  Uncontrolled it would lead to debauchery.

The Superego is marked by the internalization or introjection of attitudes and norms of behavior, especially those instilled by parents, educators, or admired role models.  The superego has often been referred to as an “inner critic,” or “conscience.”  It is engaged in fostering socially appropriate responses to internal and external realities.  When the superego is infected by extremes, repression or capitulation, the superego can have negative consequences (i.e., inappropriate guilt feelings, depression, obsessions. anxiety, inferiority, compulsivity, and so forth).

Friday, October 23, 2015

Future Christian

Fr. John Pasquini, Th.D.

Christian as Mystic

“[The] devout Christian of the future will either be a ‘mystic,’ one who has ‘experienced’ something, or he will cease to be anything at all.”[i]
                                           Fr. Karl Rahner, S.J.

The Christian mystic is one who responds to live out his life in love—love of God, of neighbor, of creation, and of self.  The mystic is one who is moving toward total authenticity, toward total and full human-ness.  Mysticism is a response to one’s ultimate destiny of union with the God of love.  Mysticism is a call to reality, to see reality as it truly is and to see oneself as one truly is.

By being faithful to authentic living in everyday situations, one lives the life of faith, hope, and love.  This is what is called the mysticism of everyday life.  It is a life of self-surrender to the mystery of grace, the mystery of Christ—whether one is explicitly aware of it or not. 

Life for the Christian, in the words of the theologian Harvey Egan, “begins and ends in a mystical moment: the experience of the lived, root unity of self-possessing knowledge and love penetrated by God’s self-communication.”[ii]  Any authentic experience of God is to be understood as essentially a mystical experience.  To know God is to have experienced the mystical.

A Christian’s life, if it is authentic, in the thought of the theologian of grace, Karl Rahner, explores what is being lived out in everyday life in the mystery of the core of the human person. To be an authentic Christian is to simplify, compress, and concentrate all of one’s Christian beliefs into the one all-consuming experience of the crucified and risen Christ who is the summit of God’s loving self-communication.  

It is in the mystical experiences of life where the God who is beyond the limits of all understanding can be grasped at in the silence of the person’s being; that is, in the “silent call of God.”[iii]

In an age of militant secularism, in an age of sloppy-thinking, superficiality, and political correctness, in an age of relativism and godlessness, in an age that says “lie until they believe it,” what will you be? 

“[The] devout Christian of the future will either be a ‘mystic,’ one who has ‘experienced’ something, or he will cease to be anything at all.”

[i] Karl Rahner, Theological Investigation, vol. 7.
[ii] Harvey Egan, Theology and Discovery, 142.
[iii] Theological Investigations, vols., 12, 20.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Persecution of Christians: A Silent Holocaust

Fr. John Pasquini, Th.D.

A Silent Holocaust

Concupiscence is a condition that Christians believe in.  It is a belief that people are by nature self-centered and self-absorbed.  What moves a person away from concupiscence?  Grace!

It is estimated that over 200 million Christians in over 60 nations are experiencing persecution, being denied religious liberty, being enslaved, raped, imprisoned, brutalized, burned, hanged, crucified and beheaded. Ancient cities are being wiped off the map, houses and churches are being burned, and those churches that are not burned are turned into mosques. 

The Center for the Study of Global Christianity estimates that 100,000 Christians die every year for their faith, approximately eleven every hour.  The Vatican Report to the United Nations has likewise cited the 100,000 mark.  The Observatory of Intolerance and Discrimination argues that the total is not as high, arguing that a Christian dies every five minutes for his or her faith.  The secular organization, International Society of Human Rights, has cited that 80% of all acts of persecution in the world are directed toward Christians. A 2012 Pew Research report argued that Christians are being persecuted in 139 countries—that is, in three-fourths of the world's nations.  The United States Department of State argues that persecution is occurring in 60 countries.

The Guardian, a British Newspaper, in its August 2014 edition, argued that a genocide, an ethnic cleansing, was taking place in Syria and Iraq.  Tens of thousands of men, women and children have been forced to flee for their lives.  In Nineveh and Mosul 150,000 Chaldean Catholics were forced to flee their homes as Isis launched mortar attacks.  200,000 were forced to flee Sinjar, and approximately 1.2 million Iraqis were displaced in 2014 for their faith. 

According to a report by Di Giovanni, Gaffey, Adoumie, and Ziv in the Newsweek March 2015 edition, the following statistics were cited regarding persecution in the Middle East.  Over the past few decades Christianity in the Middle East has gone from 20 percent to about 5 percent, and the number is likely to drop even further.  There are nearly 4 million Syrian refugees living in Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon.  The European parliament has said that 700,000 Christians were forced to flee Syria, and that about 6.5 million Syrians were internally displaced.  In 2003 there was an estimated 1.4 million Christians in Iraq; the current estimate is 260,000.    The Arab Spring forced an estimated 100,000 Coptic Christians to emigrate from Egypt.  In February of 2015, twenty-one Coptic Christians were beheaded and 200 Assyrian Christians were taken hostage in Hasakah.  At the current rate of persecution, Christians that have lived in the Middle East for 2000 years may cease to exist.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Atheism--Sign of an Underdeveloped or Ill Brain?

Fr. John Pasquini, Th.D.

The greatest gift for theists, God-believers, has been the rise of the “New Atheism” movement.  In their attempts to disprove the existence of God, they have unintentionally given more proof for God’s existence than ever in the history of the sciences.  One such example is found in the advances in the field of neuroscience. 
The father of modern atheism, Nietzsche, believed that God could be "selected-out" of the human brain.  Nietzsche believed in the use of eugenics to accomplish this. Most atheists are either outright or secret believers in eugenics.  They believe that God-belief is detrimental to life and therefore must be removed from the gene pool or evolutionary line of progression. 

What has science taught us?
First, science has proven irrefutably—and that is a strong word--that belief in God—whether God exists or not—is beneficial for life. 

God-believers have better mental and physical health and a general better quality of life.  The Mayo Clinic report of 350 studies regarding physical health and 850 studies regarding mental health found that God-centered religions and spiritualties brought about better health outcomes and quicker recovery times from ailments.[1] Stephen Joseph from the University of Warwick, after studying the relationship between belief in God and disbelief, found that believers are happier and healthier in every dimension of their lives. Such people who have had religious experiences score lower on psychopathology measures and higher on psychological well-being scales.[2]

A recent study by the University of Illinois, after studying two million tweets from 16,000 active Twitter users, found that God-believers are more positive in their thoughts and emotions, as indicated by the words they used in their tweets—words such as “love,” “happy,” “great,” “family,” “friend,” “team.”  Social relationships and intuitive thinking are the focus of the majority of their tweets.  On the other hand, the same study found that atheists tended to be unhappier emotionally.  Their tweets were sprinkled with words such as “bad,” “wrong,” “awful,” “question.”  Good mental health is marked by optimism and positive self-impressions.  Atheists lack both.  God-believers have both.[3]

In 2000 the Iona Institute reported, from its examination of forty-two studies involving approximately 126,000 subjects, that active God-believers tended to live longer than atheists by 29 percent, and that Church attending believers increased their chances of living longer by 43 percent.[4] 

Human Trafficking: Modern Day Slavery

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

What is Human Trafficking?
Human trafficking is a horrific crime against the fundamental rights and dignity of the human person.  The United Nations Protocol on Human Trafficking defines it as the “recruitment, transportation, harboring or receipt of persons by means of force, fraud or coercion.”

According to the U.S. State Department, every country in the world is affected by trafficking.  The United States is no exception, serving as a source, transit and destination country for men, women and children—both U.S. citizens and foreign nationals.  According to the State Department 2012 annual Trafficking in Persons Report, federal and state human trafficking data indicate more investigations and prosecutions have taken place for sex trafficking than labor trafficking in the U.S.; however, victim service providers reported assisting significantly higher numbers of foreign national victims in cases of labor trafficking than in cases of sex trafficking.  Non-governmental and religious organizations, such as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, have noted increasing reports of children recruited into criminal activity, particularly at the U.S.-Mexico border, as well as traveling sales crews and peddling rings utilizing the forced labor of children and adults.

Human Trafficking Statistics
The United Nation’s International Labor Organization’s 2012 Estimate on Forced Labor provides some shocking statistics on the prevalence of human trafficking worldwide:

·       Of the 20.9 million victims of trafficking and human slavery worldwide, 9.1 million victims (44 percent) have been trafficked internally or internationally.
·       11.8 million are subjected to forms of modern slavery in their place of origin or residence within their own national borders.
·       Nearly 11.5 million victims are currently laboring in conditions of forced labor, sexual exploitation and servitude in the United States, Canada and developed countries of the European Union.
·       55 percent of forced labor victims are women and girls, as are 98 percent of sex trafficking victims.
·       Children aged 17 years and below represent 26 percent of total victims, representing a total of 5.5 million child victims worldwide.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Mainline Protestantism, Fundamentalism, and Catholic Christianity

Fr. John Pasquini, Th.D.

The Catholic Church has a stability in teaching by virtue of the nature of its structure.  The Church’s moral and faith teachings are based on Sacred Tradition—the Bible is a product of this Sacred Tradition and therefore is interpreted within this Sacred Tradition.  The consequence:  Teachings in the area of morals and faith cannot contradict Sacred Tradition.  This leads to stability, consistency, and an unchanging faith.

Protestantism rejected Sacred Tradition as an infallible dimension of the faith.  Subsequently, for mainline Protestantism this has permitted contemporary beliefs (such as same-sex marriages, abortion, etc.) to infect its belief systems. 

This incorporation of secular beliefs was done in an attempt to remain relevant to an ever increasing secular West.  This, however, has failed catastrophically.  It has failed to make Christianity relevant to secularists, for secularists do secularism better than Christians, and it has led to a radical decline in membership--for one becomes a Christian to be a Christian, to be a sign of contradiction in the world.  Unintendedly, and unexpectedly, through compromise mainline Christians have made a divine religion seem like a man-made religion.  Mainline Christianity has infected itself with an incurable cancer that will eventually kill it.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Pope Francis: Fighting Compulsive Consumerism

Pope Francis:  Toward A New Lifestyle

A New Paradigm
Since the market tends to promote extreme consumerism in an effort to sell its products, people can easily get caught up in a whirlwind of needless buying and spending. [We have developed a consumerist lifestyle, a compulsive consumerism that is lived at the cost of the less fortunate.]
[We are living in] “a seedbed for collective selfishness.”  When people become self-centered and self-enclosed, their greed increases.  The emptier a person’s heart is, the more he or she needs things to buy, own and consume.  It becomes almost impossible to accept the limits imposed by reality.  In this horizon, a genuine sense of the common good also disappears.  As these attitudes become more widespread, social norms are respected only to the extent that they do not clash with personal needs…. Obsession with a consumerist lifestyle, above all when few people are capable of maintaining it, can only lead to violence and mutual destruction.

Yet all is not lost.  Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start, despite their mental and social conditioning.  We are able to take an honest look at ourselves, to acknowledge our deep dissatisfaction, and to embark on new paths to authentic freedom.  No system can completely suppress our openness to what is good, true and beautiful, or our God-given ability to respond to his grace at work deep in our hearts.  I appeal to everyone throughout the world not to forget this dignity which is ours.  No one has the right to take it from us.

[We are called to a new lifestyle, one that awakens a] new reverence for life, the firm resolve to achieve sustainability, the quickening of the struggle for justice and peace, and the joyful celebration of life.

We are always capable of going out of ourselves toward the other.  Unless we do this, other creatures will not be recognized for their true worth; …[The] rejection of every form of self-centeredness and self-absorption is essential if we truly wish to care for our brothers and sisters….   If we can overcome individualism, we will truly be able to develop a different lifestyle and bring about significant changes in society. 

Quoted from Laudato SI’#203f.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Mystery of Suffering and the Means to Happiness

Hubert Van Zeller

Mystery of Suffering and the Means to Happiness

God does not condemn man to suffering; man condemns himself to suffering.  God tells man what is needed for happiness, and, in refusing God’s terms, man condemns himself to unhappiness…. 

Christ has told us the secret of His happiness in the Father.  The only happiness that is resilient against suffering is the happiness that Christ came on earth to bring. 

Suffering is powerless to extinguish the happiness that is conditioned by faith and hope.  Why?  Because faith and hope are evidence of the love that accepts the essential condition of being obedient to God’s will.  Original sin condemns man to suffering; actual sin condemns man to suffering; mistaking pleasure for happiness condemns man to suffering.  If man thinks he can make better rules for happiness than those laid down by God, he must bear the consequences of his arrogance: he must bear the weight of suffering.

In the choice between the peace that God guarantees—a peace that spells happiness even in this life, let alone the peace that spells happiness in the next—and that which the world promises, man is fatally inclined to grab at what is offered [in this world—which neither give happiness here or in the next].  [The world’s offer of happiness is only illusionary].  The world does not always keep its promises, and even on the rare occasions when it does, the peace that it provides is an illusionary affair.  A happiness that is immediately appreciable, that supplies an escape or serves as a compensation, will turn out to be a wasting asset; we shall want more and more of it; we shall be unable to do without its satisfactions; we shall come to look in every possible direction for something that will assure us of its possession.  And even then, precisely because we are being greedy about it, it will elude us. 

Happiness is there, waiting for us, but we are too busy with pretenses of happiness to notice it.  Lacking the happiness that we are meant to have, we go on being unhappy….  “This is going to be satisfying at last,” we say, concentrating on the satisfaction of the moment.  Then the desire fades, and we find ourselves back to worrying about another. 

Principle of Legitimate Cooperation

Fr. John Pasquini, Th.D.

Principle of Legitimate Cooperation

People must not cooperate in the evil actions of others. 

The problem: What do you do in a situation where paying your taxes has the result of doing some evil in the process? Our taxes support groups that perform abortions, supply abortion-causing contraceptives, provide for physician assisted suicides (in some states), etc.  The list of immoral acts supported by our taxes leads to a dilemma:  Do we pay our taxes, thus cooperating in evil, or do we refuse to pay our taxes and end up in jail—causing a cascade of other evils.

This is where the principle of legitimate cooperation comes in.

The principle of legitimate cooperation makes a distinction between formal cooperation, mediate material cooperation and immediate material cooperation

Formal cooperation occurs when one approves, advises, encourages, supports, or performs an evil being done. This is not permissible. 

If one disapproves, discourages, and advises against the evil being done, yet has no way of preventing it—such as the paying of taxes—then one is still participating materially in evil.  One, however, may pay taxes because the evil that is caused by the use of some of the tax money will occur with or without one’s participation in the paying of taxes.  One is not a willful or intentional participant in the evil, and one recognizes that another great evil will follow by not paying taxes. The consequence of not paying taxes leads to imprisonment, an inability to support one’s family financially, and the psychological and sociological consequences associated with the breakup of the family unit. This is referred to as mediate material cooperation—which is permissible.  Thus, one may pay one’s taxes. 

If one however were to cooperate in the active performance of an evil action where the evil act could not be performed without one’s cooperation, then this is prohibited and is referred to as immediate material cooperation.  A person driving a woman to an abortion clinic is an example of immediate material cooperation.  Without the cooperation of the driver, the abortion could not take place. 

Thus, mediate material cooperation is permissible, but immediate material cooperation and formal cooperation is not.

So you can pay your taxes, albeit under duress.  

Hillary Clinton, Sanger Award Recipient

Fr. John Pasquini, Th.D.

Hillary Clinton, Sanger Award Winner

Hillary Clinton is proud of being a Sanger Award winner, named after Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood.  Why is she proud of this award?  Why is the media silent about her acceptance of this award?

What did Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, believe?  What are the implications of those who accept the Sanger Award?

Instead of describing Margaret Sanger’s beliefs, let her words speak for herself:

“Give dysgenic groups [people with “bad genes”] in our population their choice of segregation or [compulsory] sterilization” (Birth Control Review, April 1932, pg. 108).

“Birth control must lead ultimately to a cleaner race” (Woman, Morality, and Birth Control, NY: New York, 1922, pg. 12).

 [There should be] more children from the fit, less from the unfit” (Birth Control Review, vol. 3, n. 5, May 1919, 2).

 [We should] apply a stern and rigid policy of sterilization and segregation to that grade of population whose progeny is tainted, or whose inheritance is such that objectionable traits may be transmitted to offspring” (Plan for Peace in Birth Control Review, April 1923), 107-108.

 “We are paying for, and even submitting to, the dictates of an ever-increasing, unceasingly spawning class of human beings who never should have been born at all” (The Pivot of Civilization,” The Cruelty of Charity,” Swarthmore College Library Edition, 116, 122, 189).