By James Stoner
BATON ROUGE, Louisiana, JULY 10, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Faithful Catholics in America today often seem tempted by cultural hostility to withdraw into our own circle of faith and family, asking of law and government only that we be left alone.
To this tendency, Pope Benedict's new encyclical on the social teaching of the Church, "Caritas in Veritate," is a thorough rebuke, for it is a call to engage the world—not only through evangelization, but through economic, social, and political thought and action; through commitment to the cause of integral human development and social progress.
One can see why liberal commentators quickly seized on the encyclical as friendly to their agenda. The Pope is critical of contemporary market society, with its "scandalous speculation," its emphasis on short-term profit, its ambivalent record in combating poverty, and its disregard of the cultural fabric of societies it would modernize; moreover, he calls for extensive global reform and even "for a reform of the United Nations...so that the concept of the family of nations can acquire real teeth."
One doubts liberals will cheer so loudly when they read more carefully, because he also insists that the culture of life needs to be recovered, that atheism and relativism are threats to genuine human development, that "a metaphysical understanding of the relations between persons" is essential, that cultural and religious syncretism is dangerous, and that freedom is not autonomous license but formation under the natural moral law.
And he warns against "a dangerous universal power of a tyrannical nature," which must be countered by the principle of subsidiarity.
On the one hand, the failure to think and act boldly for world-wide justice indicates a dearth of charity, while on the other, charity needs to be anchored in universal truth -- as the title of the encyclical makes plain.
Vast in its sweep of topics -- the Pope comments not only on major institutions of governance and finance but on the environment, on migration, on international aid, even on tourism -- there is much that will bear further study and ought genuinely to provoke fresh thought.
I found suggestive his notion that the categories of most 20th century Catholic reflection on social justice have been altered, as many economic and social institutions in contemporary global civilization cannot be identified as clearly public or private; to debate state versus market solutions to social problems is thus to miss the question.
The Pope's attention to the centrality of "the astonishing experience of gift" or "gratuitousness," while not completely unknown in social science, might prove fertile in the development of paradigms of social and economic life that transcend the pinched model of economic man as rational maximizer, without falling into the trap of totalitarian socialism.
His discussion of technology, as simultaneously a testimony to the power of the human spirit and the characteristic engine of soulless materialism, is lucid; recovering respect for nature as God's gift is an imperative not only for planetary survival, but for self-knowledge.
Papal encyclicals studiously avoid being partisan documents -- that's one reason why they are sometimes hard to read -- but citizens who heed the Pope's call to enter the fray of political "praxis" in the search for justice and the common good will rarely be able to escape the pull of partisanship.
By giving each side a picture of its own strengths and failings and by urging sustained dialogue over global policy, the Pope deepens his project of reconciling faithful Christians and the children of Enlightenment. His term "praxis," an ancient Greek word for "action," "deed," or even "business," known to modern intellectuals chiefly through its use by Marxists, is, after all, in its plural form, the title of the New Testament's fifth book.
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James Stoner is a professor of political science at Louisiana State University. He is the author, most recently, of "Common Law Liberty: Rethinking American Constitutionalism" (University Press of Kansas).
Friday, July 31, 2009
Take, O Lord, and receive my entire liberty, my memory, my understanding and my whole will. All that I am and all that I possess You have given me: I surrender it
all to You to be disposed of according to Your will. Give me only Your love and Your grace; with these I will be rich enough, and will desire nothing more.
Lord, teach me to be generous.
Teach me to serve you as you deserve;
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to ask for reward,
save that of knowing that I do your will.
Above is the painting by Andrea Pozzo, a wonderful fresco in the Church of St. Ignatius in Rome. If you ever have the opportunity to do a pilgrimage to the Eternal City visit this wonderful church and you will be astounded by this incredible painting. St. Ignatius is being carried up into heaven and I believe that at the same time he is lifting us up to God. Ad maiorem Dei gloriam
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save his soul.
And the other things on the face of the earth are created for man and that they may help him in prosecuting the end for which he is created.
From this it follows that man is to use them as much as they help him on to his end, and ought to rid himself of them so far as they hinder him as to it.
For this it is necessary to make ourselves indifferent to all created things in all that is allowed to the choice of our free will and is not prohibited to it; so that, on our part, we want not health rather than sickness, riches rather than poverty, honor rather than dishonor, long rather than short life, and so in all the rest; desiring and choosing only what is most conducive for us to the end for which we are created.Ignatian spirituality is incarnational; it views the world as a place where Christ walked, talked and embraced people. It views the world, therefore, as a place of grace, a place of being able to give life to others. We are called to find and to pursue how God wants other men and women to be forgiven, to be free, to utilize all their talents and opportunities in ways which build up this world as a place where faith, justice, peace, and love can flourish.
At the same time, Ignatian spirituality is realistic. The world Christ faced was also a world of cruelty, injustice and the abuse of power and authority. Consequently, Ignatian spirituality affirms our human potential but also is dedicated to the ongoing, day-in-day-out struggle between good and evil. The Jesuit norm is: to find where God will best be served and where people will best be helped. (courtesy of St Igantius Catholic Church, Boston, MA)
It is by developing our spiritual life, that we can best serve God, discover and live out our true vocation, evangelize, and live the Gospel.Ad maiorem Dei gloriam - For the Greater Glory of God
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Blood to His Disciples, and made them a discourse, after Judas went to sell his Lord.
The second, a composition, seeing the place. It will be here to consider the road from Bethany to Jerusalem, whether broad, whether narrow, whether level, etc.; likewise the place of the Supper, whether large, whether small, whether of one kind or whether of another.
The third, to ask for what I want. It will be here grief, feeling and confusion because for my sins the Lord is going to the Passion.
You can see that in the contemplation of the Scriptures it is imperative to see the persons, hear the words, and observe the actions. Placing oneself in the narrative. I will write here my thoughts over contemplating John's Gospel account of the Raising of Lazarus in Chapter 11
So the sisters sent word to him, saying, "Master, the one you love is ill." When Jesus heard this he said, "This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it."Jesus demonstrates that even in a terrible situation, the death of a friend that our life is about giving glory to God the Father.
So the disciples said to him, "Master, if he is asleep, he will be saved."But Jesus was talking about his death, while they thought that he meant ordinary sleep. So then Jesus said to them clearly, "Lazarus has died. And I am glad for you that I was not there, that you may believe. Let us go to him." Jesus is saying to me that He is glad to help me in my faith journey so I too will believe.
When Jesus arrives, Martha who in the above account from Luke is worrisome, has learned her lesson and comes out to greet Jesus while Mary stays behind. I too can learn from Martha what are truly the important things.
In the discourse that follows you can almost detect Jesus seeing just where Martha is in her journey and likewise Martha is cautious in her responses. Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.(But) even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you." Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise."Martha said to him, "I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day. How many times has my faith been lacking asking Jesus "if only you had done this or that"
Jesus then announce what the Truth is "I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" My answer is yes Lord I do believe, for in You is my Hope & my Salvation.
In this meditation and contemplation one can go very deep into Scriptures discovering truths about God, man and ourselves , even mystical revelations. St. Ignatius gave us a wonderful gift in learning to pray with the Scriptures. God Bless
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Monday, July 27, 2009
Inigo de Loyola was born in 1491 in Azpeitia in the Basque province of Guipuzcoa in northern Spain. He was the youngest of thirteen children. At the age of sixteen years he was sent to serve as a page to Juan Velazquez, the treasurer of the kingdom of Castile. As a member of the Velazquez household, he was frequently at court and developed a taste for all it presented, especially the ladies. He was much addicted to gambling, very contentious, and not above engaging in swordplay on occasion. In fact in a dispute between the Loyolas and another family, Ignatius and his brother plus some relatives ambushed at night some clerics who were members of the other family. Ignatius had to flee the town. When finally brought to justice he claimed clerical immunity using the defense that he had received the tonsure as a boy, and was therefore exempt from civil prosecution. The defense was specious because Ignatius had for years gone about in the dress of a fighting man, wearing a coat of mail and breastplate, and carrying a sword and other sorts of arms - certainly not the garb normally worn by a cleric. The case dragged on for weeks, but the Loyolas were apparently powerful. Probably through the influence of higher-ups, the case against Ignatius was dropped.
Eventually he found himself at the age of 30 in May of 1521 as an officer defending the fortress of the town of Pamplona against the French, who claimed the territory as their own against Spain. The Spaniards were terribly outnumbered and the commander of the Spanish forces wanted to surrender, but Ignatius convinced him to fight on for the honor of Spain, if not for victory. During the battle a cannon ball struck Ignatius, wounding one leg and breaking the other. Because they admired his courage, the French soldiers carried him back to recuperate at his home, the castle of Loyola, rather than to prison.
His leg was set but did not heal, so it was necessary to break it again and reset it, all without anesthesia. Ignatius grew worse and was finally told by the doctors that he should prepare for death.
On the feast of Saints Peter and Paul (29 June) he took an unexpected turn for the better. The leg healed, but when it did the bone protruded below the knee and one leg was shorter than the other. This was unacceptable to Ignatius, who considered it a fate worse than death not to be able to wear the long, tight-fitting boots and hose of the courtier. Therefore he ordered the doctors to saw off the offending knob of bone and lengthen the leg by systematic stretching. Again, all of this was done without anesthesia. Unfortunately, this was not a successful procedure. All his life he walked with a limp because one leg was shorter than the other.
The Exercises recognize that not only the intellect but also the emotions and feelings can help us to come to a knowledge of the action of the Spirit in our lives. Eventually, completely converted from his old desires and plans of romance and worldly conquests, and recovered from his wounds enough to travel, he left the castle in March of 1522.I was, from a child, always fascinated with the human mind. What made people different? What made one man a coward and another brave. I had a wonderful Catholic upbringing but was never exposed to St. Ignatius teachings (I wish I had) I sought the truth in psychology. I was fascinated by Freud, Fromm, Adler, Maslow, Jung, Skinner, and Rodgers. A bevy of psychological theories explained to me theses differences among individuals. I pursued the field in college and post graduate school but after a while I began to believe that although there was much useful information and skills to be had there wasn't any one particular school that explained everything. When my son joined the Jesuits last year I began to step up my reading of St. Ignatius, his Spiritual Exercises, Examen Prayer, I read a marvelous book by Father Robert Spitzer (a Jesuit) titled "The Five Pillars of the Spiritual Life" and even did a two part presentation on it last November at Adult Education at our church. I have posted here about the Examen Prayer see Febuary 10, 2009. Here are some other thoughts...I have made a profound change in my life over the last several months in that I discovered by way of examing my spirtual life that I find much joy in thinking and speaking about my Catholic faith and about Jesus and the good news of the Gospel and not much joy in all the other things in the world today. Last July I began volunteering as an extraordinary minister of the Holy Eucharist at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital and the joy that the Holy Spirit has brought to me has been nothing short of miraculous. I am aware of these things where as previously I would not take notice of what Ignatius calls Consolations. My point is this: you too can discover where you are in your spiritual life and what you derive joy in. You can by doing some simple exercises take grasp of your spiritual life and make conscious movements towards God. You can find greater awareness in your prayers and especially in Scripture reading. St Ignatius believed that gratitude was the starting point in your spiritual life. I had always practiced this but never realized it. I truly give thanks to God for my life and for each and every day that He as given me as a gift. I consider it an honor to be one of His creations and now I use this gratitude to desire to be closer to Him. I will be making a retreat soon and will share what I have learned. I will being posting bits and pieces of this wonderful spirituality. If you haven't been exposed to it or have haven't experienced it in a whiole I hope this will be helpful. God Bless.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Friday, July 24, 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009
took place in the instant of his will's expression;
and with that design and perfection foreseen by him.
Yet there remained still uncreated
another work of creation which would surpass what he had already done.
You, Mary, are, as it were, another world,
a world which God foresaw with greater joy,
a world the Angels were more pleased to contemplate,
a world of more benefit to those of good will
that the whole earth and all it contains.
Mary, we may see in God's act of creation and in all created things
an image of your creating.
We read that it pleased God to separate the darkness from the light
when he created the earth.
How much more it pleased him to enlighten you from childhood.
The darkness, the time of your infancy,
was made light by your knowledge of God,
your understanding of God,
and the will to love for God
which day by day led you on
to a love surpassed only by the love of God.
St. Bridget of Sweden
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
PRAYER TO MARY MAGDALENE
Saint Mary Magdalene,
woman of many sins, who by conversion
became the beloved of Jesus,
thank you for your witness
that Jesus forgives
through the miracle of love.
You, who already possess eternal happiness
in His glorious presence,
please intercede for me, so that some day
I may share in the same everlasting joy.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Bless the LORD, my soul! LORD, my God, you are great indeed!
You made the moon to mark the seasons, the sun that knows the hour of its setting.
- You bring darkness and night falls, then all the beasts of the forest roam abroad.
- Young lions roar for prey; they seek their food from God.
- When the sun rises, they steal away and rest in their dens. Man goes forth to their work, to their labor till evening falls.
- How varied are your works, Lord! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your richness.
I find joy in the Lord, Bless the Lord my soul
Monday, July 20, 2009
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Friday, July 17, 2009
Pope Benedict slipped and fell at his vacation house fracturing his right wrist.
VATICAN CITY, July 17, 2009 — Pope Benedict XVI, who turned 82 in April, went to the hospital this morning in Aosta, in northern Italy, after slipping and falling during the night and fracturing his wrist, according to Italian press reports.
The reports said that a cast would be placed on his right wrist, but that otherwise the Pope was fine.
The Pope's Press Secretary, Father Federico Lombardi, said in a press release:
"As a consequence of a fall in his own bedroom, during the night, the Holy Father suffred a light fracture to his right wrist.
"The Holy Father during the morning nevertheless celebrated Mass and had breakfast, after which he was accompanied to the hospital in Aosta where he was doagnosed with a light fracture and it was determined to immobilize his wrist." COURTESY ZENIT
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Let me highlight just a few of the major themes. Very much in line with his predecessor Pope John Paul II, Benedict XVI insists on the tight connection between love and truth. In a telling phrase, the Pope says that love without truth devolves into sentimentality, and truth without love becomes cold and calculating. The coming together of the two, which is the structuring logic of the Church's social teaching, is grounded in the God who is, simultaneously, Agape (love) and Logos (reason).
A real innovation of this letter is the connection that Benedict XVI makes between "social ethics" and "life ethics." He argues that Pope Paul VI's "Populorum Progressio" -- whose 40th anniversary "Caritas in Veritate" celebrates -- is best read in tandem with that Pope's controversial encyclical "Humanae Vitae." The radical openness to life, which Paul VI defended in "Humanae Vitae," should be the inspiration for the Church's social doctrine, which is intended to foster the full flourishing of communal life at all levels. Benedict XVI makes this point even clearer when he comments that societies that de-emphasize life, even to the point of fostering artificial contraception and abortion, suffer quite practical economic hardships.
Another "novum" in this remarkable text is the Pope's insistence that, alongside of the contractual logic of the marketplace (one gives in order to receive), and the legal logic of the political realm (one gives because one is obliged to give), there must be the logic of sheer gratuity (one gives simply because it is good to do so). Without this third element, both the economic and political devolve into something less than fully human.
As many have already commented, Benedict XVI places special emphasis on the obligation to care for the environment. In fact, nowhere else in Catholic social teaching is there such an extended discussion of this issue. He makes the helpful clarification that, as believers in creation, we must avoid both an idolization of nature and an exploitation of it. As created, the world is not divine, but it is a kind of sacrament of God; hence it shouldn't be seen as absolute, but it should be cared for in a spirit of stewardship.
What might prove most controversial in the encyclical is Benedict XVI's call for a kind of world government, a truly international political entity with the requisite power to preside over world political and economic affairs. In saying so, he echoes Pope John XXIII's praise of the United Nations in "Pacem in Terris." One might be forgiven for suspecting that this proposal, given political realities on the ground, might be a bit utopian.
A final note concerning style. I must say that much of "Caritas in Veritate" didn't "sound" like Benedict XVI. Joseph Ratzinger is a very gracious writer, and his style is marked by a deep Scriptural and patristic sensibility. I must say I found this literary and theological élan missing in large sections of this letter.
Nonetheless, there is much to learn from this wonderful text -- a worthy addition to the impressive collection of papal letters that constitute the social teaching of the Catholic Church.
* * *Father Barron is the Francis Cardinal George Chair of Faith and Culture at University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein, Illinois.
James Stoner: Encyclical Forces Catholics Out of the Bunker
"Caritas in Veritate" Presents a Challenge to Everyone
By James Stoner
Monday, July 13, 2009
Thursday, July 9, 2009
My greatest sense of frustration in my faith journey is that often I leave Christ and venture in the world without Him. I really am not very good as a solo act. I disappoint the people I love on routine basis. I don't take action when I should and I speak when I should be silent. I let the things of the world influence me and I fall to the temptations I should avoid. I cry out as the psalmist; "Be a rock of refuge for me, a mighty stronghold to save me, for you are my rock, my stronghold. For your name's sake lead me and guide me" "Release me from the snares they have hidden for you are my refuge, Lord. Into your hands I commend my spirit. It is you who will redeem me Lord." Psalm 31 Everyday I feel like Peter sinking into the water. I haven't truly placed into my heart what my head knows. If it were not for My Lord I would surely drown. I will remain steadfast in my love and devotion for Christ. If I suffer, I suffer with Him.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
The sharing of goods and resources, from which authentic development proceeds, is not guaranteed by merely technical progress and relationships of utility, but by the potential of love that overcomes evil with good (cf. Rom 12:21), opening up the path towards reciprocity of consciences and liberties.
Without the perspective of eternal life, human progress in this world is denied breathing-space. Enclosed within history, it runs the risk of being reduced to the mere accumulation of wealth; humanity thus loses the courage to be at the service of higher goods, at the service of the great and disinterested initiatives called forth by universal charity.
Technology, viewed in itself, is ambivalent. If on the one hand, some today would be inclined to entrust the entire process of development to technology, on the other hand we are witnessing an upsurge of ideologies that deny in toto the very value of development, viewing it as radically anti-human and merely a source of degradation.
A vocation is a call that requires a free and responsible answer. Integral human development presupposes the responsible freedom of the individual and of peoples: no structure can guarantee this development over and above human responsibility. The “types of messianism which give promises but create illusions” always build their case on a denial of the transcendent dimension of development, in the conviction that it lies entirely at their disposal. This false security becomes a weakness, because it involves reducing man to subservience, to a mere means for development, while the humility of those who accept a vocation is transformed into true autonomy, because it sets them free.
As society becomes ever more globalized, it makes us neighbours but does not make us brothers. Reason, by itself, is capable of grasping the equality between men and of giving stability to their civic coexistence, but it cannot establish fraternity. This originates in a transcendent vocation from God the Father, who loved us first, teaching us through the Son what fraternal charity is.
We recognize, therefore, that the Church had good reason to be concerned about the capacity of a purely technological society to set realistic goals and to make good use of the instruments at its disposal. Profit is useful if it serves as a means towards an end that provides a sense both of how to produce it and how to make good use of it. Once profit becomes the exclusive goal, if it is produced by improper means and without the common good as its ultimate end, it risks destroying wealth and creating poverty
Yet it should be stressed that progress of a merely economic and technological kind is insufficient. Development needs above all to be true and integral. The mere fact of emerging from economic backwardness, though positive in itself, does not resolve the complex issues of human advancement, neither for the countries that are spearheading such progress, nor for those that are already economically developed, nor even for those that are still poor, which can suffer not just through old forms of exploitation, but also from the negative consequences of a growth that is marked by irregularities and imbalances.
I would like to remind everyone, especially governments engaged in boosting the world's economic and social assets, that the primary capital to be safeguarded and valued is man, the human person in his or her integrity: “Man is the source, the focus and the aim of all economic and social life”
One of the most striking aspects of development in the present day is the important question of respect for life, which cannot in any way be detached from questions concerning the development of peoples. It is an aspect which has acquired increasing prominence in recent times, obliging us to broaden our concept of poverty and underdevelopment to include questions connected with the acceptance of life, especially in cases where it is impeded in a variety of ways.
Openness to life is at the centre of true development. When a society moves towards the denial or suppression of life, it ends up no longer finding the necessary motivation and energy to strive for man's true good
God is the guarantor of man's true development, inasmuch as, having created him in his image, he also establishes the transcendent dignity of men and women and feeds their innate yearning to “be more”. Man is not a lost atom in a random universe: he is God's creature, whom God chose to endow with an immortal soul and whom he has always loved.
Charity does not exclude knowledge, but rather requires, promotes, and animates it from within. Knowledge is never purely the work of the intellect. It can certainly be reduced to calculation and experiment, but if it aspires to be wisdom capable of directing man in the light of his first beginnings and his final ends, it must be “seasoned” with the “salt” of charity. Deeds without knowledge are blind, and knowledge without love is sterile.
I love Pope Benedict XVI. He is truly the voice of Christ in the world, a world devoid of the true message of hope and salvation. Pray for him.