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Monday, March 26, 2012

Daily Doctrine - Chastity

Oh, the beautiful words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church!

The integrality of the gift of self
2346 Charity is the form of all the virtues. Under its influence, chastity appears as a school of the gift of the person. Self-mastery is ordered to the gift of self. Chastity leads him who practices it to become a witness to his neighbor of God's fidelity and loving kindness.

2347 The virtue of chastity blossoms in friendship. It shows the disciple how to follow and imitate him who has chosen us as his friends,who has given himself totally to us and allows us to participate in his divine estate. Chastity is a promise of immortality.
Chastity is expressed notably in friendship with one's neighbor. Whether it develops between persons of the same or opposite sex, friendship represents a great good for all. It leads to spiritual communion.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Doctor Who

Oh my friends, this has been a long time in coming.

"Long time" is relative, as is Time And Relative Dimensions In Space... (TARDIS).

Now, if you have not watched Doctor Who, you will most likely have no concept of the cult following that occurs once you have watched Doctor Who.

Not everyone is disposed to become wild star-gazing dreamers and simultaneous defenders of earth...but if you find that the elements of adventure, danger and possibility captivate you, you are meant for this show.

There is no real way to explain or describe Doctor Who. This can be frustrating for the person who is inexperienced in its wildness (that would be me, as I began to watch). Moreover, the Doctor, and therefore, the whole of the show, is not interested in revealing or explaining much either. At least, not initially. Therefore, if you embark on this journey, you need to keep in mind that Doctor Who engages one in a slow revelation. However, this is not to say that the unveiling of the story does not include numerous sudden and swift enlightenments! To the contrary, it is the many smaller pieces of knowledge and experience that begin to fit together into a masterful tapestry that soon opens your eyes to all of the nuances and creativity that hold Doctor Who above all other shows.

It is not only the experience as far as the travel or the adventures that the characters take on that captures the viewer and requires his or her utmost attention; it is in fact, the characters themselves that are the reason one cannot stop watching. The slow-coming-to-know experience that takes place is not about the story, per se, but about the man. Well, about the Doctor. It is about the Doctor, who sees time and space as relative, and whose experience and knowledge is (forgive me) in a way ever ancient and ever new. The show is about this Doctor, and his life, and his love, and his sacrifice, and all of those whose lives are changed dramatically by friendship with him.

Now, I should be clear, I cannot help but watch Doctor Who with a lens of Catholicity, as I am imbibed with theological doctrine on a daily basis (comes with the job). Therefore, I am sure that I find many elements of the character and the story to mimic or reflect certain elements or aspects of the faith, while they are surely not explicitly meant for that purpose. You have a character who is in many ways above and beyond the natural world that we know, and yet, who desires and loves to be with and among people (humans). Moreover, the character believes in a certain inherent goodness in humanity and often struggles to convince people that they are better than they know themselves to be. This, while of course implicit and hidden, still seems rather Christian to me. However, I am not trying to argue for any secret Christian mission in Doctor Who, but simply pointing to an element that I found to be obvious.

On the whole, I have rarely felt that I am best friends and intimate companions with a character in general, much less a character in a television show. I can understand that level of attachment to a character in literature, because one's imagination holds so much power in the development and experience of the story. However, this show has managed to capture that same spark of freedom where the imagination is free to explore the story while experiencing the story coming to life in front of him or her.

Ah! I love it!

Please, please go watch. Begin at season one, that is very important. And do not make a judgement call on your affection or appreciation for the show until you have watched at least four episodes, as it does take some time to adjust. Ideally, watch into season two. At that point, you should be completely lost to it. If you are not, then no worries. Enjoy something else.

David Tennant, if you ever read this, THANK YOU. From the bottom of my heart.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Daily Doctrine - Do Not Be Ashamed

"Nevertheless, many, even among the authorities, believed in him, but because of the Pharisees they did not acknowledge it openly in order not to be expelled from the synagogue. For they preferred human praise to the glory of God.
Jesus cried out and said, 'Whoever believes in me believes not only in me but also in the one who sent me, and whoever sees me sees the one who sent me. I came into the world as light, so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness. And if anyone hears my words and does not observe them, I do not condemn him, for I did not come to condemn the world but to save the world. Whoever rejects me and does not accept my words has something to judge him: the word that I spoke, it will condemn him on the last day, because I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. So what I say, I say as the Father told me.'"
- John 12:42-50

Daily Doctrine - Penance

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the Sacrament of Penance:

1455 The confession (or disclosure) of sins, even from a simply human point of view, frees us and facilitates our reconciliation with others. Through such an admission man looks squarely at the sins he is guilty of, takes responsibility for them, and thereby opens himself again to God and to the communion of the Church in order to make a new future possible.
1456 Confession to a priest is an essential part of the sacrament of Penance: "All mortal sins of which penitents after a diligent self-examination are conscious must be recounted by them in confession, even if they are most secret and have been committed against the last two precepts of the Decalogue; for these sins sometimes wound the soul more grievously and are more dangerous than those which are committed openly."
1458 Without being strictly necessary, confession of everyday faults (venial sins) is nevertheless strongly recommended by the Church. Indeed the regular confession of our venial sins helps us form our conscience, fight against evil tendencies, let ourselves be healed by Christ and progress in the life of the Spirit. By receiving more frequently through this sacrament the gift of the Father's mercy, we are spurred to be merciful is he is merciful...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Daily Doctrine - Aim of Catechesis

This is a quotation taken from the Apostolic Exhortation Catechesi Tradendae, given by Blessed Pope John Paul II in 1979.

"To put it more precisely: within the whole process of evangelization, the aim of catechesis is to be the teaching and maturation stage, that is to say, the period in which the Christian, having accepted by faith the person of Jesus Christ as the one Lord and having given Him complete adherence by sincere conversion of heart, endeavors to know better this Jesus to whom he has entrusted himself: to know His "mystery," the kingdom of God proclaimed by Him, the requirements and promises contained in His Gospel message, and the paths that He has laid down for anyone who wishes to follow Him." - Catechesi Tradendae, 20

Who Defines "Person"

I will admit, it has been a while since I have been so sickened by the absolute audacity of "scientific progress" that I want to spit nails...

I will now attempt to do so, where "nails" are the figurative representation for the words I write.

First off, here is the article in question, titled "Killing babies no different than abortion, experts say". Secondly, this is not "new" as far as eugenics is concerned.

In the Netherlands, it is legal to euthanize in certain situations, and those "certain situations" map out a surprisingly broad horizon. Newborns have a place in that map. Does this shock you? Had you often thought of euthanasia as an issue only for the elderly and those in hospice?

Here's a nice little quote from the article to get your blood pumping:
They argued: “The moral status of an infant is equivalent to that of a fetus in the sense that both lack those properties that justify the attribution of a right to life to an individual.”
Rather than being “actual persons”, newborns were “potential persons”. They explained: “Both a fetus and a newborn certainly are human beings and potential persons, but neither is a ‘person’ in the sense of ‘subject of a moral right to life’.

The funny thing is, they have it right...and then so wrong. The moral status of an infant is equivalent to that of a fetus, because from the moment of conception, from the moment that the egg cell and sperm cell fuse into the zygote (baby) and the soul of that person is infused (sorry scientists, can't ignore that God is part of this), that person is a baby/baby is a person/cell is a person/etc... However you want to spell that out, the point is that I was me when my DNA was formed at the fusion of the oocyte and spermocyte of my parents. So they are correct there, but so sadly, they reverse the truth they just proclaimed and state that instead of the person existing from the moment of conception, the person isn't even a person until.. when? They have "reasonable cognitive functions"?

Now, if you haven't heard of Descartes (and you have, even if you don't know that you have), let me introduce you to him: "I think, therefore I am" (Part VI of Discourse on Method). Now, let's be clear about this statement - Descartes does not spend pages discussing that he exists simply by brain power, as if he was sure electricity was keeping his heart going. His philosophy is one that has been taken up by modern thought (along with Francis Bacon, Thomas Hobbes and others) to undermine natural law with a concept of general distrust of the material. However, the distrust of the material lead to a distrust of the spiritual as well, for the two cannot be without one another. In the end, the Cartesian separation is a dichotomy between body and soul that leads to a rejection of the reality of the state of being that we find ourselves in. There is far too much to be said on this topic for a paragraph, so it can be left to say that science (at least, as reflected in the article in reference here) has been influenced in a negative way by this philosophy.

Taken to the extreme, this understanding of what makes a human, "human", reduces man to something that excludes the natural facts of life. There are, sadly, a number of persons who have very low or non-existent brain functions, or at least are not able to present any rational thought, and yet they are people. However, this redefining of what is a person creates an unrealistic sieve where any of the "unwanted" can be safely "dropped through the cracks."

At the end of the day, we cannot stand for those trained in biology and science to claim that eugenics and infanticide are morally permissible, and almost worse, reasonable. To murder in a nonchalant and callous way is nothing short of irrational. And it is also sickeningly wrong.

Chew on that for a bit...