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Posts Tagged ‘Pope Francis’

For those of you who weren’t aware, Fr. Robert Barron, whom I’ve admired and followed for years now and whose videos I have often shared on this blog, was recently appointed an auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles.  Hence, Into the Dance extends hearty congratulations to him!

Bishop Barron was one of the commentators on MSNBC’s coverage of Pope Francis’ Mass in Philadelphia, along with Brian Williams, Chris Matthews, and Notre Dame professor Kathleen Sprows Cummings.  In this short segment of the commentary, he offers a very concise, charitable, and brilliant defense of priestly celibacy within the Church.  Take a look!

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For parts 1-3, click here

Ok — so where exactly do the issues we touched on in part 1 figure in the analyses of parts 2 and 3?  Well, let’s take them one-by-one, but going in reverse order:

It may be that there are some in our society for whom even if these Planned Parenthood videos are true, it is irrelevant (I haven’t met any such people, nor could I name any; I’m just saying that it would not shock me overmuch).  Fetuses lack autonomy, and their “parts” can be made useful without infringing on the “rights” of the “right” people.

Albino ChildNext, the albinos: In part 1, I talked about the sense we all have of the inviolable dignity of the human person.  This sense is fundamental.  It doesn’t go away when we try to deny or suppress it; but it does require more extreme and intense examples in order to be alerted (much like when we find that the more impaired a person’s hearing, the louder we must shout to get his/her attention).

CecilFinally, there is the affair of the animals.  Inattention to certain classes of human beings and over-attention to the beasts can co-exist, and here’s why: Any time you either add or remove items from a scale on a balance, the other is raised disproportionately high or dropped disproportionately low accordingly.  It’s only natural that this should happen, and I think it helps to explain why in some ancient cultures people worshiped animals while immolating their children in human sacrifices.

Pope Francis 2By contrast, we could all benefit greatly from the human ecology of the current (and, contrary to what many people think, the previous) pope, which ties inseparably a legitimate and loving care for the whole created world with a proper understanding of the great “hierarchy of being” — in which the higher care for the lower, and the joy of the Creator shines through all things.

To those who have stuck with me through all four posts, many thanks.  I guess I just can’t say a whole lot without saying a whole lot, if that makes any sense.

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Acknowledgements

1. “Albinisitic man portrait” by The original uploader was Muntuwandi at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Albinisitic_man_portrait.jpg#/media/File:Albinisitic_man_portrait.jpg

2. “Cecil the lion at Hwange National Park (4516560206)” by Daughter#3 – Cecil. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cecil_the_lion_at_Hwange_National_Park_(4516560206).jpg#/media/File:Cecil_the_lion_at_Hwange_National_Park_(4516560206).jpg

3. “Pope Francis Korea Haemi Castle 19 (cropped)” by Korea.net / Korean Culture and Information Service (Photographer name). Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pope_Francis_Korea_Haemi_Castle_19_(cropped).jpg#/media/File:Pope_Francis_Korea_Haemi_Castle_19_(cropped).jpg

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If you haven’t yet heard the buzz about “Joke With the Pope,” a project of the Pontifical Mission Societies, then you heard it here first 🙂

I’ll let Conan O’Brien explain, and then I’ll provide the link:

Link: http://www.jokewiththepope.org

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Instead of trying to answer that myself, I will defer to Fr. (soon-to-be Bishop) Robert Barron.  Do I do that too often?  Maybe…but consider it an exercise in humility on my part 🙂

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Pope_Francis_Korea_Haemi_Castle_19_(cropped)“Pope Francis Korea Haemi Castle 19 (cropped)” by Korea.net / Korean Culture and Information Service (Photographer name). Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pope_Francis_Korea_Haemi_Castle_19_(cropped).jpg#/media/File:Pope_Francis_Korea_Haemi_Castle_19_(cropped).jpg

Every month, the Pope comes out with two specific prayer intentions: Universal and Missionary.  I have identified these in the past, but this time I decided they deserved a brief bit of commentary.

Scientists

InvestigadoresUR” by Urcomunicacion – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:InvestigadoresUR.JPG#/media/File:InvestigadoresUR.JPG

Universal Intention: 

That those involved in scientific research may serve the well-being of the whole human person.
Let’s be clear: Science is good.  It has been, and still is, an invaluable tool for humanity and has made a tremendous difference in so many ways.
The problem, from the Church’s (and, I hope, from any reasonable person’s) perspective, is not science, but scientism.  Scientism is the misguided belief that science can answer virtually everything, rendering religion invalid.  It reduces all knowledge to what is quantifiable, empirically discoverable, and verifiable by means of the scientific method.
In its most extreme form, scientism reduces the human person at the individual level to mere biology, and at the collective level to numbers or to marks on a “grid.”  With this view of humanity in place, matters of importance are not decided by the question, “Should we do it?”  Rather, they are decided by the question, “Can we do it?  Do we have the capability?”
And if carrying out our capabilities for what we consider the greater good means shutting down a particular biological configuration (the individual) or clearing out a few marks on a grid (groups), then so be it.  As the saying goes, “If you want to make an omelette, you have to break a few eggs.”
Let us always make sure that scientific endeavors serve the genuine good of humanity, rather than subjugating the human person to the advancement of science.
I would like to mention, in passing, a fascinating and eye-opening book on this subject for those who are interested in exploring the notion of scientism further: “Technology as Symptom and Dream,” by Robert D. Romanyshyn.
Dorothy_Day_1934“Dorothy Day 1934” by New York World-Telegram & Sun Collection – New York World-Telegram & Sun Collection. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dorothy_Day_1934.jpg#/media/File:Dorothy_Day_1934.jpg
 Missionary Intention:
Contribution of Women:  That the unique contribution of women to the life of the Church may be recognized always.
It may surprise many people to learn that the Catholic Church has a very robust and inspiring theology of womanhood.  In fact, the Church is at one and the same time more feminist and more “masculinist” than most of Western culture, which tends to regard gender as a mere biological accident (here again is the scientistic view of the human person).
Genesis 1:27 tells us that God made humankind in His image, and in the same sentence tells us this: “[M]ale and female he created them.”  Man and woman image God together; neither gender fully does so by itself.  Therefore, men and woman share equal dignity and offer unique gifts to the world, humanity, and the Church.
For more information on this, see my Mother’s Day and Father’s Day posts from 2013.
Images from Wikipedia

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LonelinessPope Francis’ general intentions for the month of November, 2014:

That all who suffer loneliness may experience the closeness of God and the support of others.

Image from Wikipedia

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Pope_Francis_in_March_2013

Pope Francis’ general intentions for the month of September, 2014:

Down_SyndromeThat the mentally disabled may receive the love and help they need for a dignified life.

Please Lord, let it be so.

Image from Wikipedia

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Pope_Francis_in_March_2013I wanted to share a key segment of Pope Francis’ most recent Angelus message, delivered yesterday in Rome.  In this message, he responded to the conflict in Syria and the threat of military response thereto:

All men and women of good will are bound by the task of pursuing peace. I make a forceful and urgent call to the entire Catholic Church, and also to every Christian of other confessions, as well as to followers of every religion and to those brothers and sisters who do not believe: peace is a good which overcomes every barrier, because it belongs to all of humanity!

I repeat forcefully: it is neither a culture of confrontation nor a culture of conflict which builds harmony within and between peoples, but rather a culture of encounter and a culture of dialogue; this is the only way to peace. May the plea for peace rise up and touch the heart of everyone so that they may lay down their weapons and be let themselves be led by the desire for peace.

To this end, brothers and sisters, I have decided to proclaim for the whole Church on 7 September next, the vigil of the birth of Mary, Queen of Peace, a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East, and throughout the world, and I also invite each person, including our fellow Christians, followers of other religions and all men of good will, to participate, in whatever way they can, in this initiative.

(bold mine)

For the entire transcript, go to http://catholiclane.com/angelus-message-for-sunday-september-1-2013-fast-and-pray-for-syria/#sthash.dKECvxKO.dpuf

Photo from Wikipedia

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Hubble_Ultra_Deep_Field_part_dScience fiction reaches its peak in space travel.  There is no more imaginative or enchanted “room” in the sci-fi household than the one that houses aliens, spacecrafts, and intergalactic quests.

In part one, we talked about the connection between myth and wonder.  In the great space operas of Gene Roddenberry, George Lucas, and others, science fiction speaks most poignantly in the language of myth.

The imaginative elements, while marvelous and very important to the genre, are only part of the picture.  The whole consists, I believe, of the unnamed, upward-reaching hunger of the soul…of longing in the form of a journey.

The very idea of technological development as a means of launching ourselves to the stars speaks of man’s boundless ambitions.

DanteDetailSuch ambition did not have to wait for the advent of modern technology to be given a voice.  Dante Alighieri, the great medieval Italian poet, ended each of the three books of his “Divine Comedy” with the same word: Stars.

As he emerges from the depths of hell, he rejoices that he can once again see the stars.

At the end of his long climb to the peak of Mount Purgatory, he is now prepared to journey unto the stars.

Having toured heaven and at last experienced the vision of God, he sings the praises of that Love that “moves the stars” (italics mine).

Incidentally, what was it that led the three Magi to the birthplace of Christ?  That’s right — a star.

Imagine lying on the ground and looking up at the starlit sky on a clear night.  What in the world could more evoke awe, wonder, and even a certain holy fear than this?  Beholding the vast expanse of the universe, who of us would not sympathize with the Psalmist, who says:

When I see your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you set in place —

What is man that you are mindful of him, and a son of man that you care for him?

(Psalms 8: 4-5)

Yet by faith we know that we are created for a destiny greater than worlds, greater than universes…literally.

Because of his transcendence, God cannot be seen as he is, unless he himself opens up his mystery to man’s immediate contemplation and gives him the capacity for it. [T]he Church calls this contemplation of God in his heavenly glory “the beatific vision” (CCC 1028)

…no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him. (1 Cor. 2:9)

And in this sense our hope is transcendent.  We know what our destiny is by name: Eternal relationship with God.  But in a very real sense, we must have faith that this is the fulfillment of our desires without yet knowing what it is.  Because while we know it by name, we cannot describe it the way we would describe anything that is within the scope of our creaturely experience.  That’s probably why the premise of venturing beyond earth to unknown worlds is so intriguing to the human spirit.

Prometheus02PR180512I am reminded of Ridley Scott’s 2012 “Alien” prequel “Prometheus,” in which a team of space explorers venture to a faraway planet in search of the origins of life.  By the end, they are quite disappointed and nearly all killed — but (SPOILER ALERT), one intrepid archeologist escapes and determines to journey even further, carrying hope with her…

…in the form of a crucifix.

Batoni_sacred_heartIndeed, such hopes and aspirations as we have been discussing cannot be considered apart from the Eternal Word, Jesus Christ, Who, being God, deigned to become a human being, like the rest of us in all things except sin.

As God-become-man, Jesus bore our sins, infirmities, and death upon Himself, and then in His Resurrection raised human nature to new and eternal life.  As Pope Francis repeatedly indicates in his encyclical, “Lumen Fidei,” it is He who opens up vast, untold new horizons for humanity.

These horizons are open to everyone…not just people who wear funny suits and fly big ships into space 🙂

“Prometheus” image obtained through a Google image search; other images from Wikipedia.

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