Friday, August 29, 2014

Normalization of #SameSexMarriage Bears Fruit: Federal Judge Overturns Utah Polygamy Ban

Brethren, Peace be with you.

This, according to Aleteia.org:


On Wednesday, Federal Judge Clark Waddoups finalized his December order striking down a key part of Utah’s statute banning the practice of bigamy.
Kody Brown, his four “wives” and their 17 children are Lehi, Utah, residents and members of the Apostolic United Brethren, a fundamentalist Mormon sect that continues to practice polygamy, which in 1890 was formally eschewed by the official Mormon Church, also known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS). That decision was critical to the recognition of the Utah territory as an American state in 1896. The ban on polygamy is written into both the Utah Constitution and statutory law...
Read the whole thing here.

Commentary. Defenders of same-sex "marriage" denied repeatedly that their quest to redefine marriage would have any effect whatsoever on the institution of marriage itself, that their quest would actually expand, not redefine the institution of marriage in our country. They accused us of fear-mongering and worse. They got their way around the country, due in part to the acquiescence of a Federal judiciary completely ungrounded and out of control.

By now you they were lying and we were telling the truth. The institution of marriage has now become fair game for activist judges bent on applying pseudovalues to such a delicate matter, the sovereign right of the people as expressed to many a vote and referendum notwithstanding.

The institution of marriage may have been in trouble due to the indifference of people whose marriage vows were worth nothing. However, the solution was to strengthen a culture of life and family, not to attack it by destroying the basic institutions of society that gave shape to the latter.

Thanks a lot, #SSM agitators and propagandists. We are all about to share in the consequences of the evil you have brought us.

Russian Orthodox Patriarchate Collaborates with Putin's Propaganda Machine

Brethren, Peace be with you.

Today we remember the Passion of St. John the Baptist whose prophetic ministry aimed against those in power stands in stark contrast with the following news from the Catholic Herald:
Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kyiv-Halych
The Russian Orthodox Church is helping to spread propaganda about the crisis in Ukraine, a Ukrainian Catholic bishop in Britain has said. 
Bishop Hlib Lonchyna, eparchial bishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of the Holy Family of London, endorsed a call by the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church for observers to evaluate information about Ukraine critically. 
Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kyiv-Halych wrote an open letter on August 21 to the world’s bishops’ conferences, denouncing violence against religious minorities in eastern Ukraine. 
Bishop Lonchyna said: “The letter of the Primate of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church is a heartfelt appeal for prayer and support for the Ukrainian people of all faiths in this most dangerous and volatile situation, as well as a plea to be wary of many forms of misinformation coming not only from government sources (the media), but – regretfully – even from the Russian Orthodox Church.” 
In his open letter the major archbishop also criticised the Russian Orthodox Church. He wrote: 

“In recent documents issued in Moscow at the highest level of the Russian Orthodox Church, particularly in a letter to the Primates of the Orthodox Churches, Greek Catholics and the Ukrainian Orthodox of the Kyivan Patriarchate, disrespectfully called ‘Uniates’ and ‘schismatics’, are defamed. They are held responsible for the military conflict in Eastern Ukraine and are accused of generating the warfare, especially the violence against Orthodox clergy and faithful endured as a result of military operations. Russian Orthodox leaders spread libelous information about Greek Catholics and other confessions thereby putting them in danger from the separatist militants who identify themselves as warriors for Russian Orthodoxy. 
“We strongly reject these claims and accusations. The Ukrainian military is not structured as a denominational entity. Therefore, chaplains of various denominations serve in the zone of the Antiterrorist Operation. Chaplains are not permitted to interfere in the life of local religious communities. Accusations that chaplains of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church have committed acts of violence against members of other churches and religious groups are not true.”
Comments. St. John Chrysostom once preached a fiery sermon against Byzantine Empress Eudoxia. Various artists have depicted the moment. The portrayal below is by artist Joseph Wencker:


This brings me to my next point: emulating St. John Chrysostom is far from the minds of the Patriarch and major hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC). Just the opposite, they bless Caesar and carry his boots.

Their words and actions carry real consequences; real people are dying. Reputations are being destroyed and the ecumenical implications of the ROC's actions are being and will continue to be deleterious. I think their actions and attitudes will have an adverse impact upon the upcoming Pan-Orthodox Synod, the first such assembly in the Orthodox Church since the 7th Ecumenical Council in the ninth century. Russian imperialistic gains and military power may embolden Russian hierarchs to demand concessions to their church, the largest and more populous of the communion. Other Orthodox Church may have to acquiesce in order to keep their Church intact. I am afraid all this may come to pass.

Let us pray for the ROC, that a new prophetic figure may arise there, one full with the Holy Spirit who will tell the truth to power. Let us also pray for our brothers and sisters in the Ukraine, now suffering under Russia's neoimperialistic boot and war machine: may the Lord strengthen them in this hour of trial.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Let's talk about the "multiverse" - briefly


The Multiverse (credit: Detlev van Ravenswaay / Photo Researchers, Inc)

Brethren, Peace be with you.

Dr. Paul Harpern, physicist and prolific author, has written a fascinating piece over at PBS' Nova blog, titled A Guide to Different Kinds of Parallel Universes, which I think you ought to read.

If you don't know what the "multiverse" is "the hypothetical set of infinite or finite possible universes (including the historical universe we consistently experience) that together comprise everything that exists: the entirety of space, time, matter, and energy as well as the physical laws and constants that describe them" (Wikipedia)1.

Fascinating as the multiverse hypothesis might be, testing it will be a bear. Direct proofs will be mighty difficult, for it will require us to leave our universe and go into the other and then return and file a report. Not addressed in this report are those hypothetical universes having different physical properties than our own. Can we imagine a universe where π is not equal to 3.14159265359..., where maybe it is 2.168593249? We won't we able to even probe it using energy or particle beams from our universe, nurtured and grown with "our π" built within them. In other words, universes with different physical constants will be "firewalled" from ours.

Indirect proofs will also be difficult to ascertain, for these will depend on observable phenomena taking place in our own universe, not lacking simpler explanations of processes taking place in our own universe, not from outside influences.

To end, the multiverse theory is analogous to "i", the
√-1. Sure, we can use such number in equations, but it is imaginary, probably as imaginary as the multiverse. For that reason, I am a man who prefers a single universe.
- Read A Guide to Different Kinds of Parallel Universes by Dr. Paul Harpern

=====
Notes

1. Remember to use the Wikipedia, not as a source, but as a pointer system or index to multiple original sources.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Continuing my summer reading into autumn

Brethren, Peace be with you.

My summer reading season is almost over and I’ve read many books and listened to another. Among my reading, I finished A. Lincoln: A Biography by Ronald C. White Jr; three-quarters of the way through True or False Possession: How to Distinguish the Demonic from the Demented; and finished listening to After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters as an audiobook, by Anglican Bishop Dr. Tom Wright. What a wonderful, inspiring book! So Catholic in contents and so timely! I’ve also listened to a number of different lectures courtesy of iTunes University on a diversity of political, historical, and religious themes.

Right now, I’m busy in a thorough rereading of David McCullough’s John Adams, in preparation for my reading of Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power and Fred Kaplan’s John Quincy Adams: American Visionary. I’m into refreshing my knowledge on the thought of the Founding Fathers now and I’m very enthusiastic at it. I’ve also downloaded to my Nook and are a third through Conscience and Its Enemies: Confronting the Dogmas of Liberal Secularism by Robert P. George.

This, a very busy summer work season, and several bouts of gastric malaise – due to, I suspect, gall-bladder issues – have made my blogging output rather mediocre. But please, hang in there, I’ll keep plodding along and taking you to new vistas no Catholic Christian, no Christian, no man or woman of good will should miss. May the Lord bless us all, Father, Son, and + Holy Spirit.

Friday, August 22, 2014

A Reflection on the Queenship of Mary (Repost)

Brothers and Sisters: Peace be with you.

The Crowning of the BVM
Today's the liturgical feast of Mary, Queen of Heaven. First, I want to share with you an image of that event as contained in our family Bible which has always captivated me and I think it is both different and rare. I tried to enhance the colors a bit because the picture is fading. I hope that by making it available in the Internet, others may be able to draw inspiration from it, as as well as preserving it "for ever".

Second, I want to reflect a bit on the mystery of Mary's Queenship. Why is Mary of Nazareth "Queen of Heaven" and in fact "Queen of Creation." She is so not because she's some sort of goddess or quasi-deity. Far from it! Mary of Nazareth's dignity derives from her divine motherhood of the Word made Flesh. Her queenly dignity is extrinsic, it comes from without, by grace. Her Son's Kingship, on the other hand, is intrinsic to Him, for He's both God and Man.

We should reflect also that Christ's kingship is one of humble service and abasement, without guile; so is Mary's. When we talk about Christ being a King - and Mary being a Queen - we're not talking about "authority" as we normally understand it. We're not talking about a set of legal strictures that our King and Queen apply coercively to their subjects - us. In fact, it is in Christ where mercy and truth, and justice and peace meet both eternally and in history (cfr. Psalm 84:11, Douay-Rheims). Our Queen's "authority" lies on her powerful intercession, on her ability to intercede for everyone, a grace granted by the Triune God as her badge of queenly office. This is what queens usually did in antiquity, everyone understood that, as they also understood that the Messiah's mother will somehow participate of His glory. Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Langrange -of blessed memory- even referred to the BVM as the "supplicant omnipotence" (cfr his work, The Mother of The Saviour ). By divine dispensation, there is "no case" that she cannot raise before the Throne of the Lamb, her son. She also gets what she asks for, always.

Again, I want to belabor the fact that these exercises of kingly and queenly authority by the Lord and his Mother are not what we associate with the acts of secular monarchs - King George VI comes to mind immediately to Americans, mind you. No, theirs are exercises in mercy and service: the Queen asks for it and the King grants it.

One more thing to reflect upon: Salvation, for a Catholic, is first and foremost deification: what Jesus is by nature we become by grace. We first receive the grace of deification through Baptism:
1999 The grace of Christ is the gratuitous gift that God makes to us of his own life, infused by the Holy Spirit into our soul to heal it of sin and to sanctify it. It is the sanctifying or deifying grace received in Baptism. It is in us the source of the work of sanctification: (CCC).
By the grace of Christ, we have been made partakers, sharers, of the divine nature:
2 Grace to you and peace be accomplished in the knowledge of God and of Christ Jesus our Lord:

3 As all things of his divine power which appertain to life and godliness, are given us, through the knowledge of him who hath called us by his own proper glory and virtue.

4 By whom he hath given us most great and precious promises: that by these you may be made partakers of the divine nature: flying the corruption of that concupiscence which is in the world.
(2 Peter 1: 2-4, Douay-Rheims).
Furthermore, the Bible tell us that every one of us will get a crown. In the Book of Revelation, those who are faithful until the end will receive "the crown of life" (2:10); as well as those who "hold fast" (3:11); the twenty-four "ancients" wore "crowns of gold" (4:4) and they would take theirs off when worshipping the Lamb (4:10) as well as the first horseman (6:2). The "woman clothed with the sun and the moon under her feet" wore "a crown of twelve stars" (12:1) and, finally, He who sits upon the white cloud "like a Son of man" had on his head a "crown of gold" (14:14).

We note immediately that the crown wore by the Woman was not made of gold, but of "stars". The nature of her crown sets her apart, even from the Son of man. It is a unique crown, a special crown, denoting special royalty. In this figure we see both Mary, the Mother of the Messiah and the Church, who gives the Messiah/Christ to the world as a mother. Crowns will be common in heaven, but the one worn by the Queen stands out.

We haven't received our crowns yet, because that's conditioned upon our perseverance and that's still being tested. But the Queen Mother has already entered into heaven, body and soul united. The Resurrection of the Dead has already taken place for her: she lives with her Son in the escathon, the End Times. Therefore, she wears her crown already and that's also why that, even now, she exercises her queenship; and that's what we celebrate today.

May the intercession of the holy Mother of God, our Theotokos and Queen, help us to persevere until the end and receive from the King our own imperishable crowns. Amen.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

A sobering thought: some evil can only be killed

Slain American journalist James Foley
Brethren: Peace be with you.

The gruesome murder of freelance journalist James Foley - who, btw, was a praying Catholic - by a terrorist from the so-called Islamic State (IS) graphically depicts the despicable barbarism of this murderous gang. Though his cowardly murder brought to home in bright colors the capabilities and intent of the IS, this evil is but the tip of the iceberg. The IS has engaged in genocide and ethnic cleaning of Christians and other religious or ethnic minorities, as well as taken possession or destroyed holy sites in Syria and Iraq. The death toll is in the thousands.

Judging by yesterday's speech, President Barack Obama seems to have become fully awake as to the strategic threat IS poses to the West and also to other countries in the Middle East and beyond. I can only hope he meant what he said and I also take some comfort in the growing European effort to stop the IS and provide humanitarian relief and asylum to its victims.

Brethren, I have said it before and say it again: there are some evil people in the world who refuse to talk and in fact, can't be talked to or persuaded otherwise to stop their evil, or even bring them to justice. These can only be killed and sent to God for final judgment. This should be the lot of the terrorists of the "Islamic State." Their deaths will put a stop to their genocidal, jingoistic fanaticism and restore a measure of peace in Syria and Iraq, allowing for the displaced populations to return home, start healing, and resume their lives.

Let us pray for the eternal rest of James Foley, for his family's comfort during this difficult time, and for our Christian brethren in Syria and Iraq, for their protection and perseverance during these difficult times.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Pope Francis (@Pontifex) backs qualified intervention in Iraq to stop 'aggressor'

Brethren, Peace and Good to all of you.

This, according to the Catholic News Agency:
.- Pope Francis supports international intervention in Iraq and is willing to go to there personally if it will help end the violence against Christians and other religious minorities.
“In these cases where there is an unjust aggression, I can only say that it is licit to stop the unjust aggressor,” Pope Francis told reporters.
“I underscore the verb 'stop.' I don't say 'to bomb' or 'make war,' (but) 'stop it.'”
Speaking to journalists aboard the Aug. 18 plane flight back to Italy from South Korea, the Pope noted the Holy See's diplomatic efforts to end the violence in Iraq, especially against Iraqi minorities.
In response to the question on Iraq posed by CNA and EWTN News Rome bureau chief Alan Holdren, Pope Francis said that a papal visit to Iraq was “one of the possibilities.”
“And in this moment, I am ready.” He added: “and right now it isn't the most, the best thing to do but I am disposed to this.”
Military victories by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS or ISIL) have resulted in persecution and murder of Iraqi Christians and other religious minorities. Tens of thousands have fled their homes.
Many have taken refuge in the northern region known as Kurdistan.
A papal communique against the violence has been sent to all the nunciatures and a letter written to the United Nations’ Secretary General. The Pope has met with the governor of Iraqi Kurdistan and has named Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, as his personal envoy to Iraq.
Pope Francis stressed that the means to stop violence in Iraq must be evaluated and that the violence cannot be used as a pretext for other goals.
“To stop the unjust aggressor is licit. But we also have to have memory, as well, eh. How many times under this excuse of stopping the unjust aggressor the powers have taken control of nations. And, they have made a true war of conquest,” he said. “One single nation cannot judge how you stop this, how you stop an unjust aggressor.”
The Pope noted the establishment of the United Nations after World War II and the need to discuss unjust aggression there.
“I am only in agreement in the fact that when there is an unjust aggressor that he is stopped,” he said. “Stopping the unjust aggressor is a right that humanity has but it is also a right of the aggressor to be stopped so he doesn't do evil.”
The Pope stressed the plight of Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq.
“They speak to me of the Christians, poor Christians, and the martyrs – and yes, there are so many martyrs – but here there are men and women, religious minorities, and not all Christian and all are equal before God, no?”
The Pope also condemned “cruelty” in warfare, especially towards children and other non-combatants.
“Today, children don’t count. Once they spoke of ‘conventional warfare.’ Today this doesn't count,” he lamented. “I’m not saying that the conventional war is a good thing, but today the bomb goes and kills the innocent with the culpable with the child and the women and mother. They kill everyone. But, we need to stop and think a bit about what level of cruelty we have reached. This should scare us.”
This comment is “not to create fear,” but rather a cause for more study, the Pope said.
“The level of cruelty today of humanity is a bit scary,” he added. He also vocally rejected torture.
“Today, torture is one of the almost ordinary means of acts of intelligence services, of judicial processes. And, torture is a sin against humanity. It is a crime against humanity. And, to Catholics I say that torturing a person is a mortal sin. It is a grave sin. But, it’s more. It's a sin against humanity.”
The Pope’s remarks also touched on the prayer for peace at the Vatican, where he hosted the presidents of Israel and the Palestinian state as well as the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople.
“These two men are men of peace. They are men who believe in God. They have lived so many nasty things, so many nasty things. They are convinced that the only path to resolve that situation is negotiation, dialogue, peace.”
“Was it a failure? No, I think that the door is open.”
“Now the smoke of the bombs of the wars don't allow us to see the door but the door is still open from that moment,” Pope Francis said. “As I believe in God, I believe that God is watching that door and all who pray and ask that he help us.
Commentary. The Pope's words are in agreement with St. John Paul's assertion that "states no longer have a right to indifference' prevailed. Humanitarian intervention became in practice a recognized, though not unquestioned, just cause", stated during the Balkan War.

However, as a retired military man, I must point out that Pope Francis' caveat that said intervention is meant to "stop" the aggressor, not "make war [against it], not bomb [them]" but just "stop them" is sadly unrealistic barring a miracle - and I do believe in miracles. These just don't come along often enough, perhaps because our lack of faith, or maybe because God has the purpose to extract much good from much evil.

In the meantime, I'm heartened to read that the Pope supports an intervention of some kind to stop the ISIS evil, I urge to share this petition with your friends and social networks promptly. Thank you.

Finally, I bring your attention to the highlighted portion on torture. These words should guide us as we read the soon-to-be-released report on torture that the U.S. Senate is about to release. This report allegedly describes acts of torture in which the U.S. was involved during the War on Terror. More on that when it is released and I get a time to read it.