Monday, September 26, 2005

John Paul II quote of the day (Sept. 26)

Every man is his "brother's keeper," because God entrusts us to one another.

-Evangelium Vitae

Reason #352 Why I Love Pope Benedict:

More gentle wisdom from the great Pontiff, at his Angelus address:
Continuing with the reflection on the Eucharistic mystery, heart of Christian life, today I would like to emphasize the bond between the Eucharist and charity. Love -- "agape" in Greek, "caritas" in Latin -- does not mean first of all a charitable act or sentiment, but the spiritual gift, the love of God that the Holy Spirit infuses in the human heart and that leads in turn to giving oneself to God himself and to one's neighbor.

The whole of Jesus earthly existence, from his conception until his death on the cross, was an act of love, to the point that we can summarize our faith in these words: "Jesus, caritas" -- Jesus, love. In the Last Supper, knowing that his hour had come, the divine Master gave his disciples the supreme example of love, washing their feet, and entrusted to them his precious legacy, the Eucharist, in which the whole paschal mystery is centered, as the venerated Pope John Paul II wrote in the encyclical "Ecclesia de Eucharistia." Take and eat, all of you, because this is my Body," "Take and drink all of you, because this is the cup of my Blood."

Jesus' words in the cenacle anticipated his death and manifested the consciousness with which he faced it, transforming it into a gift of himself, in the act of love that gives itself totally. In the Eucharist, the Lord gives himself to us with his body, with his soul and with his divinity, and we become one with him and among ourselves.

Our response to his love therefore must be concrete, and must be expressed in a genuine conversion to love, in forgiveness, in reciprocal acceptance and in attention for the needs of all. Many and varied are the forms of service that we can offer our neighbor in everyday life, if we pay a little attention. The Eucharist becomes in this way the source of the spiritual energy that renews our life every day and, in this way, renews the love of Christ to the world.

Exemplary witnesses of this love are the saints, who drew from the Eucharist the strength of an operative and often heroic charity. Now I am thinking in particular of St. Vincent de Paul, whose liturgical memorial we will celebrate day after tomorrow, who said: "What joy to serve the person of Jesus in his poor members!" and he did so with his life. I am also thinking of Blessed Mother Teresa, founder of the Missionaries of Charity, who, in the poorest of the poor, loved Jesus, received and contemplated every day in the consecrated Host.

Divine charity transformed the heart of the Virgin Mary before and more than that of all the saints. After the Annunciation, moved by the one she bore in her womb, the Mother of the Word incarnate went to visit and help her cousin Elizabeth. Let us pray so that every Christian, nourished by the Body and Blood of the Lord, will grow ever more in the love of God and in the generous service of his brothers.

Nod to Amy Welborn for the link.

Friday, September 23, 2005

John Paul II quote of the day (Sept. 23)

Much to be envied are those who can give their lives for something greater than themselves in loving service to others. This, more than words or deeds alone, is what draws people to Christ.

-Address at Carmel Mission, Monterey, 1987

The Effects of Conversion

Here's a quote from St. Gregory which poetically illustrates the transformation which is possible through conversion. This is referring to the penitent woman in Luke chapter 7:

For her eyes which once coveted after earthly things, she was now wearing out with penitential weeping. She once displayed her hair for the setting off of her face, she now wiped her tears with he hair... She once uttered proud things with her mouth, but kissing the feet of the Lord, she impressed her lips on the footsteps of her Redeemer. She once used ointment for the perfume of her body; what she had unworthily applied to herself, she now laudably offered to God... As many enjoyments as she had in herself, so many offerings did she devise out of herself. She converts the number of her faults into the same number of virtues, that as much of her might wholly serve God in her penitence, as had despised God in her sin.

John Paul II quote of the day (Sept. 22)

We must go to this Child, this Man, the Son of God, at whatever inconvenience, at whatever risk to ourselves, because to know and love him will truly change our lives.

-Homily at Central Park, 1995

John Paul II quote of the day (Sept. 21)

Science can purify religion from error and superstition; religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes. Each can draw the other into a wider world, a world in which both can flourish.

-in a letter to Jesuit Father George Coyne, director of the Vatican Observatory

John Paul II quote of the day (Sept. 20)

Many are the paths on which each one of us and each of our Churches must travel, but there is no distance between those who are united in the same communion, the communion which is daily nourished at the table of the Eucharistic Bread and the Word of Life. Every Sunday, the Risen Christ asks us to meet him as it were once more in the Upper Room where, on the evening of "the first day of the week" (Jn 20:19) he appeared to his disciples in order to "breathe" on them his life-giving Spirit and launch them on the great adventure of proclaiming the Gospel.

-Novo Millennio Ineunte


There's been a bit of a backlog here, what with my cramming for papers and all. Let's just say I did my final paper for this month last night, lickety-split, in 4 hours. Hope my grade doesn't reflect that...!

Meanwhile I'll quick post a few of the backlogged entries, and then I'm off to Green Bay for another weekend. Another mini-retreat!

Monday, September 19, 2005

John Paul II quote of the day (Sept. 19)

In the Third Millennium, Christianity will have to respond ever more effectively to this need for inculturation. Christianity, while remaining completely true to itself, with unswerving fidelity to the proclamation of the Gospel and the tradition of the Church, will also reflect the different faces of the cultures and peoples in which it is received and takes root.

-Novo Millennio Ineunte

John Paul II quote of the day (Sept. 16)

The Gospels do not claim to be a complete biography of Jesus in accordance with the canons of modern historical science. From them, nevertheless, the face of the Nazarene emerges with a solid historical foundation. The Evangelists took pains to represent him on the basis of trustworthy testimonies which they gathered (cf. Lk 1:3) and working with documents which were subjected to careful ecclesial scrutiny.

-Novo Millennio Ineunte

Thursday, September 15, 2005

John Paul II quote of the day (Sept. 15)

Yet again, the young have shown themselves to be for Rome and for the Church a special gift of the Spirit of God. Sometimes when we look at the young, with the problems and weaknesses that characterize them in contemporary society, we tend to be pessimistic. The Jubilee of Young People however changed that, telling us that young people, whatever their possible ambiguities, have a profound longing for those genuine values which find their fullness in Christ. Is not Christ the secret of true freedom and profound joy of heart? Is not Christ the supreme friend and the teacher of all genuine friendship? If Christ is presented to young people as he really is, they experience him as an answer that is convincing and they can accept his message, even when it is demanding and bears the mark of the Cross. For this reason, in response to their enthusiasm, I did not hesitate to ask them to make a radical choice of faith and life and present them with a stupendous task: to become "morning watchmen" (cf. Is 21:11-12) at the dawn of the new millennium.

-Novo Millennio Ineunte

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

John Paul II quote of the day (Sept. 14)

Understood in his divine and human mystery, Christ is the foundation and centre of history, he is its meaning and ultimate goal. It is in fact through him, the Word and image of the Father, that "all things were made" (Jn 1:3; cf. Col 1:15). His incarnation, culminating in the Paschal Mystery and the gift of the Spirit, is the pulsating heart of time, the mysterious hour in which the Kingdom of God came to us (cf. Mk 1:15), indeed took root in our history, as the seed destined to become a great tree (cf. Mk 4:30-32).

-Novo Millennio Ineunte

Ecumenism is not a dirty word.

Ecumenism, simply put, is the process by which Catholic and other Christian churches proceed in dialogue and prayer with each other, with the common goal of achieving the greatest degree of Christian unity possible.

Ecumenism sometimes gets a bad rap. Admittedly, this is directly resulting from some misguided applications of it, which serve little more than to say "I'm okay, you're okay, we're all okay. We all believe in God and love each other and that's all that matters."

Well, that's not quite the approach outlined by the Church. While fully desiring complete unity with her separated brethren in the Christian faith and rejoicing over the areas of doctrine which are held in common, the Church recognizes the importance of not glossing over the important differences that do exist. It's a difficult process, and more complicated by the fact that each partner in dialogue has a different set of doctrines, but it is essential that the effort continue.

Here are a few snippets from Vatican II's Unitatis Redintegratio, showing the principles and guidelines desired by the Church:

The restoration of unity among all Christians is one of the principal concerns of the Second Vatican Council. Christ the Lord founded one Church and one Church only. However, many Christian communions present themselves to men as the true inheritors of Jesus Christ; all indeed profess to be followers of the Lord but differ in mind and go their different ways, as if Christ Himself were divided. Such division openly contradicts the will of Christ, scandalizes the world, and damages the holy cause of preaching the Gospel to every creature. (art. 1)

Even in the beginnings of this one and only Church of God there arose certain rifts, which the Apostle strongly condemned. But in subsequent centuries much more serious dissensions made their appearance and quite large communities came to be separated from full communion with the Catholic Church-for which, often enough, men of both sides were to blame. The children who are born into these Communities and who grow up believing in Christ cannot be accused of the sin involved in the separation, and the Catholic Church embraces upon them as brothers, with respect and affection. For men who believe in Christ and have been truly baptized are in communion with the Catholic Church even though this communion is imperfect. The differences that exist in varying degrees between them and the Catholic Church-whether in doctrine and sometimes in discipline, or concerning the structure of the Church-do indeed create many obstacles, sometimes serious ones, to full ecclesiastical communion. The ecumenical movement is striving to overcome these obstacles. But even in spite of them it remains true that all who have been justified by faith in Baptism are members of Christ's body, and have a right to be called Christian, and so are correctly accepted as brothers by the children of the Catholic Church. (art. 3)

Catholics, in their ecumenical work, must assuredly be concerned for their separated brethren, praying for them, keeping them informed about the Church, making the first approaches toward them. But their primary duty is to make a careful and honest appraisal of whatever needs to be done or renewed in the Catholic household itself, in order that its life may bear witness more clearly and faithfully to the teachings and institutions which have come to it from Christ through the Apostles. (art. 4)

The way and method in which the Catholic faith is expressed should never become an obstacle to dialogue with our brethren. It is, of course, essential that the doctrine should be clearly presented in its entirety. Nothing is so foreign to the spirit of ecumenism as a false irenicism, in which the purity of Catholic doctrine suffers loss and its genuine and certain meaning is clouded. (art. 11)

Now that we have briefly set out the conditions for ecumenical action and the principles by which it is to be directed, we look with confidence to the future. This Sacred Council exhorts the faithful to refrain from superficiality and imprudent zeal, which can hinder real progress toward unity. Their ecumenical action must be fully and sincerely Catholic, that is to say, faithful to the truth which we have received from the apostles and Fathers of the Church, in harmony with the faith which the Catholic Church has always professed, and at the same time directed toward that fullness to which Our Lord wills His Body to grow in the course of time. (art. 24)

For the full text of this degree, go here.

Addendum: It's been 40 years since the council, and admittedly ecumenical activity has been a mixed bag. Undoubtedly some of this is due to misguided efforts which fell prey to the "false irenicism" that the Council very much wished to avoid. Other obstacles include the doctrinal movements of some ecclesial communities to positions farther from Catholic teaching. Whenever a church adopts a policy allowing the ordination of women, for example, they have distanced themselves further from the Church's understanding of the very nature of the sacrament of Holy Orders, and introduced a new obstacle to ecumenical activity.

Yet there have been some successes as well. A notable example is the 1997 Lutheran-Catholic Joint Declaration on Justification which agreed that both communities see justification as "by God's grace through faith in Christ." While there still are slight nuances of different understandings on how we obtain God's grace, this declaration clearly made a giant leap forward in understanding and good will between the two communities. And it most certainly clarified for any skeptics that the Catholic Church does not teach that one can "buy" their way into heaven.

We can hope and pray that in the years to come, Vatican II's call for ecumenical dialogue will prompt more success stories like this one. May we all be one in Christ!

Extra credit: If this topic interests you, I'd reccommend checking out this article from First Things which details further the exact agreements of the joint declaration, and the nuanced areas in which there isn't yet full unity.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

John Paul II quote of the day (Sept. 13)

Christianity is grace, it is the wonder of a God who is not satisfied with creating the world and man, but puts himself on the same level as the creature he has made and, after speaking on various occasions and in different ways through his prophets, "in these last days ... has spoken to us by a Son" (Heb 1:1-2).

-Novo Millennio Ineunte

Monday, September 12, 2005

John Paul II quote of the day (Sept. 12)

The word of God's revelation is profoundly marked by the fundamental truth that man, created in the image of God, shares by his work in the activity of the Creator and that, within the limits of his own human capabilities, man in a sense continues to develop that activity, and perfects it as he advances further and further in the discovery of the resources and values contained in the whole of creation.

-Laborem Exercens

Friday, September 09, 2005

Conversion and Mercy

Our God is a merciful God. This is an important point, because it is the very thing that makes conversion possible. Once Adam & Eve sinned, there was no way for mankind to redeem itself. God is the only one who could do so. So Jesus Christ was sent as the penultimate revelation of God's mercy. As John Paul II more eloquently phrased it: The Paschal Mystery is the culmination of this revealing and effecting of mercy, which is able to justify man, to restore justice in the sense of that salvific order which God willed from the beginning in man and, through man, in the world. (Dives in Misericordia)

So the only reason we have hope that we can continue on the path of conversion and turn away from our sins is because we have the confidence that God is merciful and will "restore justice" to all the injustices we have committed.

There's an important corollary to this. The only way that we can then truly experience God as a merciful God is by really experiencing our sinfulness. That's why conversion involves an element of suffering, or sorrow. By actually experiencing the alienation from God that occurs when we sin, we more deeply experience His mercy as well. Contrition for our sins is therefore an integral component to conversion.

John Paul II quote of the day (Sept. 9)

But sooner or later we must come to grips with this: that to forget God, to feign the death of God, is to promote the death of man and of all civilization. It is to threaten the existence of individuals, communities and all society.

-Homily given Sept. 17, 1987

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Great Quote

I think the best quote from the entire most recent class weekend was this, from the mouth of Professor Bushman: If sin is just a scratch, then we could just put on a band-aid. But if sin is a mortal wound, then we need heart transplant surgery and God needs to be the donor.

We then had a good lecture which touched on different distinctions among kinds of sin and the nature of conversion. But the central point of this startling statement held: that conversion is ultimately the infusion of God's life within us.

The goal of conversion is holiness. Remember the definition of holiness? "The perfection of charity." And Who is the perfection of charity? God. And so when we become holy we manifest what? The perfection of love which comes from God.

So the more we progress in conversion, the more we radiate love from our innermost being. And the source of that love, just like the source of the heart transplant, is God.

John Paul II quote of the day (Sept. 8)

The Church's fundamental function in every age, and particularly in ours, is to direct man's gaze, to point the awareness and experience of the whole of humanity toward the mystery of Christ.

-Redemptoris Missio

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

More on Conversion

An integral component in conversion is that it is something that is an interior process, taking place within the human heart.

The Catechism has this to say:
It is important for every person to be sufficiently present to himself in order to hear and follow the voice of his conscience. This requirement of interiority is all the more necessary as life often distracts us from any reflection, self-examination or introspection.
-CCC, 1779

This truth is something that is unfortunately all but lost in the world of the 21st century. Cell-phones, traffic jams, and the ever-present television set all are quite effective in distracting us from quiet time alone to listen to the voice of Christ. The fact is, we need silence to really experience the introspection necessary to progress in conversion. There's a reason there is a long tradition in Christianity, beginning with the example of Christ himself, of retreating to the desert to pray. Even if we can't escape in quite the same way, we still should be carving out a little piece of time each day to be silent, pray, and to examine our conscience. Vatican II taught us what we can expect to find when we truly and finally enter into our own heart:
Now, man is not wrong when he regards himself as superior to bodily concernts, and as more than a speck of nature or a nameless constituent of the city of man. For by his interior qualities he outstrips the whole sum of mere things. He finds reinforcement in this profound insight whenever he enters into his own heart. God, who probes the heart, awaits him there.
-Gaudium et Spes

New Blog Name!

By now you've noticed a slight name change to the title of this blog. Rather than "Lux Fidei" it is now "Lumen Fidei."

The reason for this is, in a nutshell, my inexpertise in the Latin language, which allows me to learn new things all the time. Today I learned this:
While both "Lux" and "Lumen" = Light, Lux is only translated as Light, whereas Lumen also has the connotation of "understanding".

Since "understanding" is more closely aligned with the english meaning I intended to convey by the title "The Light of Faith", so I changed the Latin accordingly.

I am confident that this is your favorite website in the world, and you have it bookmarked so you can check it easily every day. So make sure you change your bookmark to:

John Paul II quote of the day (Sept. 7)

Authentic Christian art is that which, through sensible perception, gives the intuition that the Lord is present in his Church, that the events of salvation history give meaning and orientation to our life, that the glory that is promised us already transforms our existence. Sacred art must tend to offer us a visual synthesis of all dimensions of our faith.

-Duodecimum Saeculum

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

John Paul II quote of the day (Sept. 6)

Nowadays it is sometimes held, though wrongly, that freedom is an end in itself, that each human being is free when he makes use of freedom as he wishes, and that this must be our aim in the lives of individuals and societies. In reality, freedom is a great gift only when we know how to use it consciously for everything that is our true good.

-Redemptor Hominis

Monday, September 05, 2005

John Paul II quote of the day (Sept. 5)

The Eucharist is the centre and summit of the whole of sacramental life, through which each Christian receives the saving power of the Redemption, beginning with the mystery of Baptism, in which we are buried into the death of Christ, in order to become sharers in his Resurrection, as the Apostle teaches.

-Redemptor Hominis

Friday, September 02, 2005

John Paul II quote of the day (Sept. 2)

The essential sense of the State, as a political community, consists in that the society and people composing it are master and sovereign of their own destiny.

-Redemptor Hominis


Hmmmmm.... This is a first.
As you can see from the previous post, I've apparently become a victim of "comment box spam".

Luckily, blogger just implemented a feature to prevent this, which I have now enabled. Now, however, if you post a comment, you will first be required to manually type in the word that is displayed on your screen.

Sorry for the extra hassle for anyone wanting to comment. But I gotta do what I gotta do. Better that than keep having ads for "discount cat furniture" fill up my comment box... :-)

Thursday, September 01, 2005

First Stage of Conversion

The first stage of conversion is simply the conversion from non-belief to belief. Specifically this stage culminates with the graces bestowed during baptism.

There is a second stage of conversion which is a continual process that we are to undergo for the rest of our lives. More on that later.

Here's a good quote from Vatican II's Dei Verbum illustrating the type of belief to which we should all aspire. This is the goal for both the first stage of conversion, as well as the second stage, during which we work to perfect it. Notice the importance of faith including the activity of the intellect and will - without both it won't be properly grounded.

The "obedience of faith" (Rom 16:26; cf. Rom 1:5; 2 Cor 10:5-6) must be given to God as he reveals himself. By faith man freely entrusts his entire self to God, making "the full submission of his intellect and will to God who reveals," and willingly assenting to the Revelation given by him.

John Paul II quote of the day (Sept. 1)

The Church, however, which has no weapons at her disposal apart from those of the spirit, of the word and of love, cannot renounce her proclamation of "the word … in season and out of season". For this reason she does not cease to implore each side of the two and to beg everybody in the name of God and in the name of man: Do not kill! Do note prepare destruction and extermination for men! Think of your brothers and sisters who are suffering hunger and misery! Respect each one's dignity and freedom!

-Redemptor Hominis