Monday, February 29, 2016

Worldviews

Fr. John J. Pasquini, Th.D.

It is always interesting to observe a debate between two knowledgeable people.  Both know each other’s arguments relatively well, and yet they often fervently disagree.  Why?  The answer is because the two individuals have a different vision of the world, and this vision of the world determines the perspective priorities they place upon each tenet of their argument.
 
For example, there are those who view abortion as being pro-woman, for a woman should have, they argue, a right to her own body and her own future.  Others view abortion as anti-woman, for it rips apart an infant in the womb and from the womb, and consequently leads--too often--to post-traumatic stress disorders and all the consequences associated with those disorders.  Likewise, some find no problem with same-sex relationships and same-sex marriages--despite all the studies that point to the negative dimensions to such relationships--while others argue that traditional families and relationships are healthier for individuals and cultures.  Some believe in having “designer babies,” while others view this as being detrimental to the gene pool and to the proper balance of the sexes.  Some favor invitro fertilization despite the loss of many embryos in the process, while others prefer adoption to infertility issues.  Some feel no pangs in destroying embryos in the acquisition of pluripotent stem cells, while others argue for the obtaining of pluripotent cells through umbilical cord blood, placentas, miscarriages or Oocyte Assisted Reprogramming.  Some view all forms of genetic engineering, assisted reproduction and scientific research as permissible, while others view it as only permissible when done with the dignity of the human person or persons in mind.  Some view the access to healthcare as a privilege and others view it as a right.  Some view the death penalty as a necessity in all cultures, others view it as unnecessary in modern societies.  Some view science as incompatible with religion, and others view that scientific inquiry is diminished without the spiritual impetus and creativity associated with a belief in a divine mind, a divine designer.  The list goes on….

There are many visions of the same reality.

One way or another we accept a vision of reality; we accept a worldview!  The worldview we accept will determine every dimension of our lives.

What worldview do you accept?

For Christians, if Jesus is who we say he is then our worldview must be molded by Christ’s vision of reality.  And just as people of other worldviews have no trouble expressing and promoting their worldviews, we should be as adamant as they are.   Sadly, today, we have been intimidated and almost silenced by the secular-atheistic worldview, and we are paying the price for that!   Christianity saved ancient Rome from disintegration; Christianity saved pagan Europe from collapse.  Christianity brought the West out of the dark ages and built the best in the West with its emphasis on the dignity of the human person from conception to natural death.  Christianity gave birth and life to the Renaissance and the Enlightenment.

Why then are we turning away from the Christian worldview?

The 20th and 21st Century is discernible by its turning away from its Christian roots.  What has been the consequences of this?  More people have died and been denied human rights by atheistic regimes in the 20th century than in all the previous centuries combined!   Nazi Germany brought the world to the brink of obliteration.

Must we wait for a future collapse?  Must we wait till political correctness completely silences our worldview?

The Christian worldview can never be overcome for it is the one that gives the fullest, most abundant means to life.  It may be quieted for a while, but grace can never be silenced for too long, for the heart was made for God and will never rest until it rests in God.  Society was made for God and will never function properly until it reposes in God!

Unfortunately, history teaches us that revivals are preceded by collapses.  Hopefully the inevitable catastrophe we are headed for will not be too severe.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

God and Scientists

Fr. John J. Pasquini, Th.D.


Many believe that God and science are at odds.  The reality is quite the contrary. 

Roger Bacon, a Franciscan, and Bishop Grosseteste are often referred to as the forerunners of the modern scientific method. The priest Roger Boscovich is often referred to as the father and forerunner of atomic physics, the father of modern atomism. The priest Athanasius Kircher was a master chemist who debunked alchemy and astrology and laid the foundation of Egyptology.  Kircher made the interpreting of the Rosetta stone possible. The priest Nicolas Zucchi invented the reflecting telescope.  Jean Buridan, the Catholic professor at the Sorbonne, laid the foundation for much of Newton’s work, particularly his first law.  The priest Nicolaus Steno is acknowledged as a pioneer in modern geology and is considered the father of stratigraphy. The monk Gregor Mendel became the father of genetics and the laws of inheritance.  The Abbot Richard of Wallingford is known for being among the greatest pioneers of Western trigonometry. The priest Giambattista Riccioli laid the foundation and principles that would be responsible for all of modern astronomy. The Belgian priest, astronomer, and professor of physics, Monsignor Georges Henri Joseph Édouard Lemaître was the first to derive what is now known as the Hubble constant.  He is also the originator of what is now called the big bang theory for the origin of the universe.  The paleontologist, geologist, philosopher and Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was part of the team that discovered Peking Man.  Antoine Laurent Lavoisier is associated with the revolution in chemistry, Erwin Schrodinger with wave mechanics, Blaise Pascal for his theory of probability and the mechanical adding machine, Enrico Fermi with atomic physics, Marcello Malpighi with microscopic anatomy, and Alexander Fleming with penicillin.  And the list goes on. 


The greatest scientific minds in history believed in God and in fact got their creativity and impetus from seeing the world as being a designed, minded reality.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Biological and Sociological Causes for Same-Sex Attraction

Fr. John J. Pasquini, Th.D.

It is clear that in the process of development, from conception to adulthood, many factors can go wrong in the formation of one’s gender identity, orientation and role.  The more we move away from the traditional family and the traditional roles played by men and women, the more we will distort the authentic nature of manhood and womanhood.  Political correctness may lead us down a very sad and troubling path.

The biological determination of sex is based on the presence or absence of the Y chromosome in the one-cell zygote.  As early as the eight-cell stage of development a person with the Y chromosome begins to move toward maleness, and a person without the Y chromosome, at conception, develops toward femaleness. 

Hormones are crucial to the development of the male and female sexual system.  Likewise, hormones are crucial in the development of the differences in the male and female brain.  

Causing imbalances in the proper current of hormones will have an impact on the brain, and therefore on one’s sexual orientation.  With the rise of the use in hormonal contraceptives we must query those mounting studies that correlate homosexuality with hormonal contraceptives.  While there is still much research to be done on the topic in order to make any conclusive claims, the fact that contraceptives affect hormonal levels in women is something that should not be taken lightly. 

Likewise, with the rise of adoption from same-sex couples, further study should be made regarding the biophysical or imprinting events at the unconscious level of infants, such as the way a mother or father cares for a male child versus a female child— imprinting or biophysical events impact the sexual differentiation and orientation of boys and girls in the early stages of development.  Unconscious environmental influences that impact gender identity and one’s gender role in life must be further studied. 

It is clear that in the process of development, from conception to adulthood, many factors can go wrong in the formation of one’s gender identity, orientation and role.  The more we move away from the traditional family and the traditional roles played by men and women, the more we will distort the authentic nature of manhood and womanhood.  Political correctness may lead us down a very sad and troubling path.



Cf. Ashley, O’Rourke, Health Care Ethics (Washington: Georgetown University, 2006), 63-67; Celia Roberts, “Biological behavior? Hormones, Psychology and Sex, National Women’s Studies Association Journal 12 (3); 1-20; Charles Sultan, Reproductive Medicine 20:181-88, 2002.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Transcript of Pope Francis’ Comments on Trump


Cf. AP, 2/18/16, Aboard Papal Plane

Question:

Good evening, Your Holiness. Today you spoke eloquently about the problems of migrants. On the other side of the frontier there's a very tough electoral campaign going on. One of the Republican candidates for the White House, Donald Trump, in a recent interview, said you are a "political man" and that maybe you are a pawn of the Mexican government as far as immigration policy is concerned. He has said that if elected, he would build a 2,500-kilometer-long wall along the border. He wants to deport 11 million illegal immigrants, thus separating families, etc. I would like to ask you, first off, what do you think of these accusations against you, and if an American Catholic can vote for someone like this.

Answer:

Thank God he said I was a politician because Aristotle defined the human person as "animal politicus." So at least I am a human person. As to whether I am a pawn, well, maybe, I don't know. I'll leave that up to your judgment and that of the people. And then, a person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not in the Gospel. As far as what you said about whether I would advise to vote or not to vote, I am not going to get involved in that. I say only that this man is not Christian if he has said things like that. We must see if he said things in that way and in this I give the benefit of the doubt.


Catholic Post Journal Comment:

Whether one builds a wall or not, one does not cease to be a human being worthy of human dignity when one crosses a border, legally or illegally.  

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Works of Mercy during the Year of Mercy


 Fr. John J. Pasquini, Th.D.

There is a monastery in France with a corpus of Jesus over its door.  The odd thing about the corpus is that it has no arms, legs, or head.  It is simply a statue of Jesus’ chest.  Visitors are often baffled by the artwork.  They often ask the monks what is meant by such a depiction of our Lord. 

The monks like to explain that Jesus came to show us how to live life abundantly and everlastingly.  And when Jesus ascended he entrusted us with carrying on his mission, of being his eyes to see, his ears to hear, his mouth to speak.  He entrusted us with the mission of being his hands and feet in meeting the needs of all people. 

As Christ was merciful to us, so now we are entrusted with being Christ for others.  We do this by fulfilling, in imitation of Christ, the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. 

We, like our Lord, are called to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirst, clothe the needy, visit the sick, shelter the homeless, visit the imprisoned, and assure a dignified death and burial for others.  We are called to warn sinners, instruct the ignorant, counsel the doubtful, comfort the sorrowing, bear wrongs patiently, forgive injuries, and pray for the living and the dead.  In other words, we are called to do what has been traditionally known as the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

Just as others are called to fulfill the corporal and spiritual works of mercy for us, we are called to do the same for others. 

“Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”

St. Teresa of Avila

Monday, February 15, 2016

Conquering Temptations through Fasting and Mortification




Fr. John Pasquini, Th.D.

There is a television program called Intervention.  It is a program where men, women and teenagers are out of control because of their addictions to drugs or alcohol.  It is one of the saddest programs on television because it shows the damage that is caused by addiction.  Drugs destroy the life of the person addicted, enslaves that person, and destroys and enslaves the family and loved ones of the person addicted.
    
Sin is a form of addiction that can enslave a person and the people around them.
    
Jesus teaches us how to overcome this addiction and enslavement.  Jesus teaches us about the importance of fasting and doing acts of mortifications.  Fasting and acts of mortification train the body in self-mastery; they train the body to overcome temptations to sin, to enslavement. 

Fasting is an act that helps one to master one’s appetites or desires.  When one falls to a temptation, one becomes a slave to that temptation.  One loses one’s freedom to be authentically human and to live abundantly.  When one overcomes a temptation, then one is freed from that temptation.  The more one conquers temptations, the more one ceases to become enslaved.  Sin enslaves; holiness which is founded on the grace of self-mastery is the only means of living in freedom.

In self-mastery and conquering temptations, we must follow the example of the Savior by absorbing ourselves “on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.”  We are not to test God by commanding him to give us what we want; rather, we are called to accept what he gives, for he gives what is best for our salvation. 

Friday, February 12, 2016

Principles for the Proper Development of Culture

Gadium et Spes

57. Christians, on pilgrimage toward the heavenly city, should seek and think of these things which are above. This duty in no way decreases, rather it increases, the importance of their obligation to work with all men in the building of a more human world. Indeed, the mystery of the Christian faith furnishes them with an excellent stimulant and aid to fulfill this duty more courageously and especially to uncover the full meaning of this activity, one which gives to human culture its eminent place in the integral vocation of man.

When man develops the earth by the work of his hands or with the aid of technology, in order that it might bear fruit and become a dwelling worthy of the whole human family and when he consciously takes part in the life of social groups, he carries out the design of God manifested at the beginning of time, that he should subdue the earth, perfect creation and develop himself. At the same time he obeys the commandment of Christ that he place himself at the service of his brethren.

Furthermore, when man gives himself to the various disciplines of philosophy, history and of mathematical and natural science, and when he cultivates the arts, he can do very much to elevate the human family to a more sublime understanding of truth, goodness, and beauty, and to the formation of considered opinions which have universal value. Thus mankind may be more clearly enlightened by that marvelous Wisdom which was with God from all eternity, composing all things with him, rejoicing in the earth, delighting in the sons of men.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Recovering Modesty

USCCB

We need to maintain the concern for chaste living in our hearts.  Faith is the proper foundation in the quest for a clean heart.  Growth in modesty requires loving support from family and friends as well as wise counsel and the practice of virtues.

The attitude of modesty is difficult to maintain in a culture that prizes sexual permissiveness.  Countless appeals for erotic satisfaction assail us daily from all the major forms of communication.  This environment of indecency challenges all men and women of faith to choose and to witness to modesty as a way of life and as a method for healing a culture that has strayed from God’s plan for sexuality and marriage.

Those who have accepted the approach of the permissive culture have been persuaded that freedom is the right to do what we want to do, not what we should do.  At the beginning of Christianity, the Apostles preached and witnessed Christ’s Gospel to the permissive cultures of Greece and Rome, a fact well-illustrated in St. Paul’s Letters to the Corinthians.  Difficult as it was, the first preachers prevailed over the allurements of the culture, won numerous converts, and encouraged the virtue of modesty.

The Church calls us to be signs of contradictions in an overly eroticized society.  All members of the Church should respond to the immodest aspects of society and culture with a deep and conscious spirituality.  The Gospel can renew and purify what is decadent in our culture and gradually can displace the attraction of sin.  We must assert Christ’s Gospel by word and witness to transform the moral tone of our culture.  This approach fosters virtue in the human heart and its development through the grace of the Holy Spirit.

The gifts of faith and grace enabled Paul to meet the demands of the Gospel of Jesus.  They will do the same for us.


Cf. United States Catechism, 442-3.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Lenten Regulations and the Meanings behind Them

Abstinence
One is called to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday, Fridays of Lent, and Good Friday.  Catholics fourteen and older are bound to abstain from meat.  The ill and those pregnant and nursing are exempt.

Fasting
One is called to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.  Fasting is usually understood as one full meal and two small meals.  Catholics between the ages of eighteen and fifty-nine are bound to fast.  The ill and those who are pregnant and nursing are exempt.

Goal of Fasting and Abstinence
Freedom is about self-mastery.  Love is self-giving, self-sacrificing.  Freely mastering one’s hungers and desires, mastering the giving up or sacrificing of some thing or things trains the body in the free exercise of one’s will, even amidst times of temptations.

If one cannot give up a meal, a dessert, how is one going to sacrifice one’s life for the Gospel?  If one cannot give up a little, how is one going to be a sign of contradiction in a world hostile to the Gospel?


Ashes
We will all return to dust, to ashes.  When we keep our eye on death, on our eternal destiny, we learn to prioritize the truly important which in turn guides us in living this life fully, abundantly, and everlastingly.

Flexibility and Faithfulness: Formula for True Greatness


Benedict XVI

Jesus would not want to stop anyone reacting to flexible challenges.  His own disciples had to be flexible enough to turn from their everyday lives as fishermen to accompany him on a way that was mysterious, toward a goal they could not yet see—and then in the end to make the great leap out of the heart of Judaism, where they all had deep roots, into the mission to the Gentiles.

At the same time, they had to be steady and faithful as far as their basic decision was concerned.  To that extent, we should not set faithfulness in opposition to flexibility.  It is faithfulness in particular that has to sow its worth in changing situations.  Anyone who lives fifty years today as a priest, or as a faithful marriage partner, has to live through many changes in that time.  He has to mature as he passes through each alteration and to develop his complete identity.

It is unfortunately often the way in modern situations that only change, only flexibility for its own sake, counts for anything.  I would like to disagree with this.  Today, if ever, we need people to stand by their mission, their calling; today above all we need people who give themselves entirely.  Let’s think back again to development aid.  It is useful if people go and do something for two or three years, but we also need very many who give themselves entirely.  There are callings that demand the whole of a person.

Lives that follow such a course are not a sign of a lack of imagination or of rigidity.  In this very faithfulness people can become inwardly so broad and mature and noble that change and continuity become interwoven.  The two together build true greatness.


Cf. God and the World (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2002), 256-7.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Suffering, the Inner Side of Love


Pope Benedict XVI

Today what people have in view is eliminating suffering from the world.  For the individual, that means avoiding pain and suffering in whatever way.  Yet we must also see that it is in this very way that the world becomes very hard and very cold. 

Pain is part of being human.  Anyone who really wanted to get rid of suffering would have to get rid of love before anything else, because there can be no love without suffering, because it always demands an element of self-sacrifice, because, given temperamental differences and the drama of situations, it will always bring with it renunciation and pain.

When we know that the way of love—this exodus, this going out of oneself—is the true way by which man becomes human, then we also understand that suffering is the process through which we mature.  Anyone who has inwardly accepted suffering becomes more mature and more understanding of others, becomes more human.  Anyone who has consistently avoided suffering does not understand other people; he becomes hard and selfish.

Love itself is a passion, something we endure.  In love I experience first a happiness, a general feeling of happiness.  Yet, on the other hand, I am taken out of my comfortable tranquility and have to let myself be reshaped.  If we say that suffering is the inner side of love, we then also understand why it is so important to learn how to suffer—and why, conversely, the avoidance of suffering renders someone unfit to cope with life.  He would be left an existential emptiness, which could then only be combined with bitterness, with rejection, and no longer with any inner acceptance or progress toward maturity.  


Cf. God and the World (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2002), 322-3.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Catholic Charter of Family Rights


US Catholic Catechism

In his apostolic exhortation On the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World, Pope John Paul II cites a list of rights of the family.  Among those rights we note the following:

·       the right to exist and progress as a family, that is to say, the right of every human being, even if he or she is poor, to found a family and to have adequate means to support it;
·       the right to exercise its responsibility regarding the transmission of life and to educate children;
·       the right to the intimacy of conjugal and family life;
·       the right to the stability of the bond and institution of marriage;
·       the right to believe in and profess one’s faith and to propagate it;
·       the right, especially of the poor and the sick, to obtain physical, social, political, and economic security;
·       the right to housing suitable for living family life in a proper way;
·       the right to form associations with other families and institutions, in order to fulfill the family’s role suitably and expeditiously;
·       the right to protect minors by adequate institutions and legislation from harmful drugs, pornography, alcoholism, etc.;
·       the right of the elderly to a worthy life and a worthy death;
·       the right to emigrate as a family in search of a better life;
·       the right to bring up children in accordance with the family’s own traditions and religious and cultural values, with the necessary instruments, means and institutions.

Cf. FC, n.46.

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Universal Call to Holiness in the Church

Vatican II

40. The Lord Jesus, the divine Teacher and Model of all perfection, preached holiness of life to each and everyone of His disciples of every condition. He Himself stands as the author and consumator of this holiness of life: "Be you therefore perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect".(216)(2*) Indeed He sent the Holy Spirit upon all men that He might move them inwardly to love God with their whole heart and their whole soul, with all their mind and all their strength(217) and that they might love each other as Christ loves them.(218) The followers of Christ are called by God, not because of their works, but according to His own purpose and grace. They are justified in the Lord Jesus, because in the baptism of faith they truly become sons of God and sharers in the divine nature. In this way they are really made holy. Then too, by God's gift, they must hold on to and complete in their lives this holiness they have received. They are warned by the Apostle to live "as becomes saints",(219) and to put on "as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved a heart of mercy, kindness, humility, meekness, patience",(220) and to possess the fruit of the Spirit in holiness.(221) Since truly we all offend in many things (222) we all need God's mercies continually and we all must daily pray: "Forgive us our debts"(223)(3*)

Thus it is evident to everyone, that all the faithful of Christ of whatever rank or status, are called to the fullness of the Christian life and to the perfection of charity;(4*) by this holiness as such a more human manner of living is promoted in this earthly society. In order that the faithful may reach this perfection, they must use their strength accordingly as they have received it, as a gift from Christ. They must follow in His footsteps and conform themselves to His image seeking the will of the Father in all things. They must devote themselves with all their being to the glory of God and the service of their neighbor. In this way, the holiness of the People of God will grow into an abundant harvest of good, as is admirably shown by the life of so many saints in Church history.