Thursday, January 29, 2015

The numbers behind our life expectancy and awareness of the present moment

Brethren: Peace be with you!

As I approach my half century of life I began thinking about the lifespan for an American male like me. I've begun to reflect in all seriousness about my mortality. The Bible tells us that the typical lifespan for a man is 70 years, or 80 for "those who are strong" (Psalm 90:10). Contemporary scientific estimates fall within this ballpark for those of us who live in developed societies: between 75 and 80 years old. What does that mean?
  • 75 years are almost 27,394 days; 657,450 hours; 39,447,000 minutes; or 2,366,820,000 seconds.
  • 80 years are 29,220 days; 701,280 hours; 42,076,800 minutes; or 2,524,608,000 seconds.
That's if we don't die first due to illness or an accident.

Consider this: our bodies have a finite duration; the time of testing we call "life" may seem to us onerous, but it's nothing compared to the eternity awaiting us. The value of the time allotted to us lies in the choice we must make while living in time: we either choose for, or against, God. We will stick to that choice for all eternity.

Think for a moment how much we can do in a second: it takes a second - or less - to shoot someone and kill or main him, perhaps unjustly. In one second we insult or curse someone, wishing him evil. In one second we say or do something impure, a demeaning joke perhaps, or a fornication or adultery. It takes us a second to steal something or to lie. It takes us a second to look the other way when we see an evil taking place, or a poor person approaching us asking us for something to eat. It takes a second to decide to do nothing before these evils and continue on our own way. It takes us a second to call "good" something that's evil or "evil" something that's clearly good.

Consider that the Lord will hold us accountable for what we have done each and every second of our lives. Our lives develop at the speed of one second every second, but we barely notice. We like to think ourselves thoroughly good and near immortal.

What is this thing we call "the present moment"? You would be surprised, but scientists have determined that what we call "the present moment" is a summary our brain makes of the last 15 seconds of sense-perception, a composite of past and present images. How many "present moments" do we undergo?
  • If you live to be 75 years old, you would have lived 155,788,000 "present moments."
  • If you live to be 80 years old, you would have lived 168,307,200 "present moments."
How do you fill your present moment? Do you fill them with hatred, lust, envy, and impurity? Or do you endeavor to fill them with love, generosity, compassion, and purity? Do you pray during the present moment or do you just do navel-gazing?

Brethren, please remember that the grace God grants us in not to be found in the future, but in the present moment. It is in the present moment where you will find either salvation or condemnation.

One day we will render account to the Lord for each second, for each present moment we failed to make a moment of encounter with Him and with our neighbor. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

John L. Allen Jr.: Apocalyptic beliefs may drive Pope Francis' urgent sense of ministry

Brethren, Peace and Good to all of you in Jesus Christ.

John L. Allen wrote an intriguing piece over at Crux which I think you all should read. It is titled Apocalyptic beliefs may explain why Francis is a pope in a hurry. Here's an excerpt:
As he has before, Francis went out of his way to invoke an apocalyptic 1907 novel by an English convert from Anglicanism called “Lord of the World.” The novel lays out a dystopic vision of a final conflict between secular humanism and Catholicism, with the showdown taking place on the fields of Armageddon.

Author Robert Hugh Benson depicts a world in which Marxism and secularism have run the table, culminating in a charismatic “savior” figure, increasingly recognizable as the Anti-Christ, who arises to lead a one-world government. Attacks on Christian symbols and believers mount, and euthanasia is widely practiced.

That’s not to say Francis believes doomsday is around the corner. However, his fondness for the novel seems to track with his belief that humanity is making some definitive choices today, from the economy to the environment, and that if we get those choices wrong, the consequences may be far worse than we realize.

Since his election two years ago, Francis has launched a whirlwind of initiatives — from Vatican reform to blockbuster documents, from bold diplomatic initiatives to spontaneous meetings and gestures. It sometimes seems as if he’s trying to cram activity that would last most papacies a decade into his first two years, raising the question of why he’s in such a hurry.

Given his repeated references to “Lord of the World,” his rush may not be related only to a hunch that at 78 he’s got limited time, or his knowledge that he was elected on a reform mandate.
 Read it all here.

Commentary. I too have a certain, yet very subjective feeling, that humanity is about to cross a Rubicon, if we haven't already, facilitating the full manifestation of the mystery of iniquity (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:7). Since the Catholic Church is neither millenarian nor dispensationalist - for the simple reason that neither view is biblical nor held by the majority of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church - our theological framework regarding end times is very simple, yet straightforward. It is to be found in the as expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

1042 At the end of time, the Kingdom of God will come in its fullness. After the universal judgment, the righteous will reign for ever with Christ, glorified in body and soul. The universe itself will be renewed:
The Church . . . will receive her perfection only in the glory of heaven, when will come the time of the renewal of all things. At that time, together with the human race, the universe itself, which is so closely related to man and which attains its destiny through him, will be perfectly re-established in Christ.631
1043 Sacred Scripture calls this mysterious renewal, which will transform humanity and the world, "new heavens and a new earth."632 It will be the definitive realization of God's plan to bring under a single head "all things in [Christ], things in heaven and things on earth."633

1044 In this new universe, the heavenly Jerusalem, God will have his dwelling among men.634 "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away."635

1045 For man, this consummation will be the final realization of the unity of the human race, which God willed from creation and of which the pilgrim Church has been "in the nature of sacrament."636 Those who are united with Christ will form the community of the redeemed, "the holy city" of God, "the Bride, the wife of the Lamb."637 She will not be wounded any longer by sin, stains, self-love, that destroy or wound the earthly community.638 The beatific vision, in which God opens himself in an inexhaustible way to the elect, will be the ever-flowing well-spring of happiness, peace, and mutual communion.

1046 For the cosmos, Revelation affirms the profound common destiny of the material world and man:
For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God . . . in hope because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay. . . . We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.639
1047 The visible universe, then, is itself destined to be transformed, "so that the world itself, restored to its original state, facing no further obstacles, should be at the service of the just," sharing their glorification in the risen Jesus Christ.640

1048 "We know neither the moment of the consummation of the earth and of man, nor the way in which the universe will be transformed. The form of this world, distorted by sin, is passing away, and we are taught that God is preparing a new dwelling and a new earth in which righteousness dwells, in which happiness will fill and surpass all the desires of peace arising in the hearts of men."641

1049 "Far from diminishing our concern to develop this earth, the expectancy of a new earth should spur us on, for it is here that the body of a new human family grows, foreshadowing in some way the age which is to come. That is why, although we must be careful to distinguish earthly progress clearly from the increase of the kingdom of Christ, such progress is of vital concern to the kingdom of God, insofar as it can contribute to the better ordering of human society."642

1050 "When we have spread on earth the fruits of our nature and our enterprise . . . according to the command of the Lord and in his Spirit, we will find them once again, cleansed this time from the stain of sin, illuminated and transfigured, when Christ presents to his Father an eternal and universal kingdom."643 God will then be "all in all" in eternal life:644

True and subsistent life consists in this: the Father, through the Son and in the Holy Spirit, pouring out his heavenly gifts on all things without exception. Thanks to his mercy, we too, men that we are, have received the inalienable promise of eternal life.645
The Holy Father is clinging to this teaching to the letter and preaching it with great courage, to the letter. It is a subject that doesn't come easily to the Church's pastors. I know for experience, as one wise, saintly, well-regarded prelate once chastised me for asking him the question "are we near the end", referring me to my own local pastor for the question and an answer. I don't blame this beloved prelate for his answer, since the question is a hot potato and I bet he wasn't sure what I was to do with the answer. That's why I appreciate Pope Francis' drive and eschatological vision.

As for me, I cling to the Church's teaching on this matter and as for my own opinion, all I could tell you is: look for the signs. Arm yourself with the Armor of Christ. Get ready to function as a catacomb Catholic. Live your life as if the end were near, for you don't know when you'll be called to account anyway. Remember that Christ overcame the world and in Him, so have we.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Fr. Richard McBrien called to appear before the ultimate Theological Review Board

Brethren, Peace be with you.

Father Richard McBrien, who chaired the University of Notre Dame’s theology department for 11 years, died on January 25 at the age of 78. Fr. McBrien cut a controversial figure in the Church. He's best known for his work Catholicism, which I appreciated for its broad description of theological, philosophical, and intellectual currents within the Church. This broad description was also the book's principal defect and why I don't recommend it as a an authoritative exposition of Catholic doctrine. The USCCB pointed these errors years ago and I will refer you to their review. In the meantime, let us pray for his repose. Fr. Richard McBrien, called before the ultimate Theological Review Board, yesterday at age 78.

Friday, January 23, 2015

@NancyPelosi Avoids Answering Humanity of the Unborn Question - Again

Brethren, Peace be with you.

This, according to
nancypelosipic6Pro-abortion Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi refused to say today during a press conference if an unborn baby is a human being.
When asked directly by a reporter, she deflected the question and went on to another aspect of the abortion debate.

A reporter from CNS News asked: “Is an unborn child 20 weeks into pregnancy a human being?”
Pelosi responded by saying: “You know what, what we’re talking about on the floor of the House is something that says politicians should determine what effects the health of a woman, her life, her health, and the rest. I don’t think it’s up to politicians to do that. And that’s why we are very overwhelmingly opposing what is going on on the floor of the House.”

Trying to hold Pelosi accountable, the CNS News reporter asked a followup: “My question is pretty simple. On the abortion issue, I understand your position on the legislation, but even the legislation aside, when it comes to the matter of whether or not an unborn child is a human being at 20 weeks gestation, what is your personal take on it. If it is not a human being, then what do you believe it is?

Pelosi said: “You know it is really interesting that you would come to these meetings to talk about it. The fact is is what we have said: The life and the health of the mother is what is preeminent in when a decision is made about a woman’s reproductive health. It isn’t an ideological fight, it is a personal health issue.

“And as a mother of five, in six years, I have great standing on this issue, great understanding of it, more than my colleagues. In fact, one day many years ago, perhaps before you were born, when I was a new member of Congress, as a Catholic and a mom of five, opposing some of the initiatives similar to what–in the same vein as–what we have today, one of the Republicans stood up and said: Nancy Pelosi thinks she knows more about having babies than the pope.
Commentary. Ms. Pelosi's evasive answer is to be expected because were she to recognize the humanity of the unborn, her whole house of cards would tumble down and blown away.

Ms. Pelosi's position is grossly immoral and quite contrary to the Catholic principles she "devoutly" claims to adhere to. She's an accomplice in the greatest holocaust of our time. There's no excuse for her stance. No rationalization will ever justify her opinion. Let's pray for her and for her conversion.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Mr. John L. Esposito: Is he the blind man leading the blind?

Brothers and Sisters: Peace be with you!

I am Nazarene

John L. Esposito, Founding Director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University; consultant to the U.S. Department of State; member of the E. C. European Network of Experts on De-Radicalisation; Editor-in-Chief of Oxford Islamic Studies Online and Series Editor of The Oxford Library of Islamic Studies;  and author of over 45 books and monographs, was interviewed by John Burger of the portal. When questioned about the Islamic propensity for violence, Mr. Esposito said:
It’s interesting. If you actually look at the Quran and compare it to the Bible, the Bible wins hands down when it comes to violence and the advocating of violence, doesn’t it. The Old Testatment is the only sacred book, for example, that calls for genocide, if you look at the number of passages....
That's where I choked while reading and had to stop.

Oh my, where to start. Tell me, Mr. Esposito, which Christian or Jewish terrorist justify their ideological stance by quoting the Old Testament's narratives - not INJUNCTIONS - regarding ethnocide? On the other hand, who considers their holy book's DUTY to destroy or subject people not belonging to their religion and make sure those people FEEL subject to their rule?

Let me give you a hint, Mr. Esposito: not the Christians and as far as I know, not the Jews either.

Your irenic approach is deeply flawed, Mr. Esposito. It glosses over the differences and ignores otherwise blatant facts in your quest for peace, at the expense of Jewish and Christian revelation and self-understanding. That's why I reject efforts such as yours.

Understanding between Christians and Muslims will start happening when the latter understand their religion is no replacement for Christianity, that Christians - especially Orthodox and Catholic Christians - have interpreted their religion very well without Muslim input and that, in fact, Christians reject the Muslim reinterpretation of Christianity to beef up Mohammed's prophetic credentials.

Central differences like the one above should be laid out plainly and discussed, not swept under the rug, much less manhandle Christian hermeneutics while lifting up Muslim self-understanding.

Mr. Esposito, you owe all your Christian and Jewish readers an apology.

Vivificat E-mail Issue Repaired

Brethren: Peace be with you.

I've just realized that my e-mail form wasn't forwarding e-mails to my designated account properly. This has been going on for quite a while. I apologize for that. I've fixed the problem. Feel to e-mail me any time now. I regret the malfunction and the long time it took me to realize it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Three must-read First Things articles

Brethren, Peace and Good to all of you.

I want to share with you links to three, must-read articles over at First Things:
The Civic Project of American Christianity, by Michael Hanby

To See Things as They Are, by George Weigel

Christian and Countercultural, by Rod Dreher
Why, you may ask, I want you to read these excellent essays? You'll be surprised about this but it is for eschatological reasons: persecution is coming and we need to retrench and regroup and decide how are we going to impact our culture despite the reigning irrationality in our nation - regardless who is in power - and the world.

I see myself exercising the "Benedict Option" described variously by the authors above: the recognition that we're really a minority in this country and in the world, and that our labor is not dissimilar to that of the monks of old: that of our preserving and protecting the culture from the Dark Age while evangelizing the heathen.

Preparation is needed, and fortitude. Remember: Christ overcame the world and in Him, we will too.