Thursday, November 15, 2007

SNOW DAY!!!!!!!

Snow Day!!!!

Snow Day!!!!

Snow Day!!!!

SHOOT! I'm in home school.

But don't get me wrong I will play in this snow, no matter what! No matter what my parents say. No matter what my teacher says. No matter what! I will play in the snow. Nothing can stop me!!!!!!

What's this? A letter ! Wow, a free trip to the Bahamas! Life can be sooooo Cruel!!!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Feast of St. Martin of Tours

So tonight we celebrated the Feast of St. Martin of Tours. St. Martin was the saint Zach chose to dress up as on All Saints Day, since he was a young soldier (with a sword!!!!) He had nothing but weapons and clothing and one evening out in the cold rain saw a beggar who was almost naked, so he drew his sword and cut his coat in two and gave half of it to the beggar. A very honorable young man from Hungry, who gave to the least of his brother. That evening he received a vision of Christ dressed in the garment he had given to the poor beggar. "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me." Matthew 25:35-36 St. Martin went on to become one of the most celebrated Bishops of the 4th century. He died in 397.

What a fitting evening is was to take our home-aide lanterns out into the cold, bitter, rainy night and process around the church courtyard to honor St. Martin with all the Kartause Children. We processed singing to St. Martin in German and then went before the church altar to offer our lives once again to our Lord in honor of St. Martin. Then we went into an upper room to celebrate with hot chocolate, cider, and cookies. What a wonderful feast day celebrating a young mans life in service of our Lord.

So as you can see we have left our lights of St. Martin burning on our front steps for you. We just want you all to know that our home is always your home. You are always welcome here. There will always be a warm meal and a friendly face to greet you. So come on over!!!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

I realized that the post below was likely very confusing. It is hard to describe the Proofs of God in a few short sentences, but I didn't want a five page blog either (as I am sure you didn't). There is an excellent treatment of these arguments at Dr. Peter Kreeft's website. He is a professor of Philosophy at Boston College and brilliant scholar/teacher. You can find them here. Go thou and check it out!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

One Less Atheist in the World...

Found this interview with Antony Flew, via The Insight Scoop Blog. Mr. Flew was a life long atheist thinker who now has come to belief in God. Not the Christian God, mind you. He considers himself a Deist. In his view of God, God created the world and let it go to its own devices. Like a the classic watchmaker analogy. God made the world, wound it up, and then let it go.

Mr. Flew cites two decisive points for his "conversion". Interesting that both points fold into the classic argument for God from design:

There were two factors in particular that were decisive. One was my growing empathy with the insight of Einstein and other noted scientists that there had to be an Intelligence behind the integrated complexity of the physical Universe. The second was my own insight that the integrated complexity of life itself – which is far more complex than the physical Universe – can only be explained in terms of an Intelligent Source. I believe that the origin of life and reproduction simply cannot be explained from a biological standpoint despite numerous efforts to do so. With every passing year, the more that was discovered about the richness and inherent intelligence of life, the less it seemed likely that a chemical soup could magically generate the genetic code. The difference between life and non-life, it became apparent to me, was ontological and not chemical. (emphasis mine)

Thus, Mr. Flew finally recognizes the validity of one of the arguments for the existence of God that St. Thomas used in the Summa:

The fifth way is taken from the governance of the world. We see that things which lack intelligence, such as natural bodies, act for an end, and this is evident from their acting always, or nearly always, in the same way, so as to obtain the best result. Hence it is plain that not fortuitously, but designedly, do they achieve their end. Now whatever lacks intelligence cannot move towards an end, unless it be directed by some being endowed with knowledge and intelligence; as the arrow is shot to its mark by the archer. Therefore some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God. (STh I.2.3)

The last line of the quote from Mr. Flew I found interesting. He is saying, I believe, that he recognized that the difference between living things and non-living things wasn't simply a different chemical composition or arrangement of atoms, but the difference lies in that the living thing has something about its being that causes it to be alive. In other words, a soul. In Aristotelian terms, Mr. Flew recognized that a being (especially one that is alive - it is easiest to see there) has a unity about the thing and something else that makes it a certain thing as different from just a pile of parts. This principle of unity of a thing that individuates it is called the form of the thing. Thus, humans aren't merely an arrangement of molecules but a being standing in itself in distinction of other things. Our soul is our form. It is the principle that individuates matter into an individual thing of a certain sort. To accept that beings are composites of matter and form is a giant leap to accepting God because then there are logical consequences that make God necessary. Aristotle covered these arguments in the Physics and Metaphysics.

The interview continues with the interviewer asking him about the scientific data that supports the existence of God (which Mr. Flew claims convinced him). He then comments to the question of atheists being behind the curve on scientific evidence supporting God's existence:

Yes indeed. I would add that Dawkins is selective to the point of dishonesty when he cites the views of scientists on the philosophical implications of the scientific data.
Two noted philosophers, one an agnostic (Anthony Kenny) and the other an atheist (Nagel), recently pointed out that Dawkins has failed to address three major issues that ground the rational case for God. As it happens, these are the very same issues that had driven me to accept the existence of a God: the laws of nature, life with its teleological organization and the existence of the Universe. (emphasis mine)

Once again, Mr. Flew cites issues, that drove him to accept the existence of God, that are the basis for the arguments asserting God's existence from the time of Aristotle on. St. Thomas takes them up in the question from the Summa that is linked to above. The "laws of nature" and "life with its teleological (ordered to the end) organization" are answered in the argument from the Summa cited above (the so-called 5th way). The "existence of the Universe" is answered in the 2nd way where St. Thomas proves the existence of the First Efficient Cause. The First Efficient Cause argument basically states that there must be a cause of all existence that is in itself uncaused. It is because a thing cannot cause itself. Thus, it must be caused by another. This cannot go onto infinity in ordered causes, however, or there would never be the effect because there would not be a first cause. God is this First Efficient Cause of all being Who is not caused.

He wraps up by stating :

I accept the God of Aristotle who shares all the attributes you cite. Like Lewis I believe that God is a person but not the sort of person with whom you can have a talk. It is the ultimate being, the Creator of the Universe.

As Jesus said to the lawyer, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." (Mk 12:34); he would say the same to Mr. Flew. The God of Aristotle is the God of St. Thomas. Once Mr. Flew discovers how St. Thomas corrects and expands (via Divine Revelation) Aristotle's understanding he will be ready. Furthermore, if he carefully reflects on what it means to be person, he will realize that a essential aspect of a person to transcend himself to another. That in the very what it means to be person is to be self communicating, the highest form of that communication being love. When he realizes this, Mr. Flew will know that God as Person will be essentially self communicating, and since God's essence is his existence, God's very being will be to self communicate. We see this in the complete self communication between the three Persons of the Blessed Trinity. Thus, we can have that talk with God, Mr. Flew. He came in human form so he might speak to us face-to-face in the Person of Jesus Christ.

Friday, November 02, 2007

All Souls Day...

As most know, today we pray for all the souls that have departed this world for the next, especially those that are not Canonized Saints because we don't know their eternal disposition.

The Liturgy of the Hours celebrates the Office of the Dead today. As I prayed for those souls that have gone before, I began to think of my own death. Death is an evil. We were never meant to die. Death is a consequence of Original Sin. We are eternal creatures and deep down we know it. That is why death seems like such an evil. We are supposed to live eternally, and we face this experience that seems as though it will annihilate us. We sense that at the point of death we cease to exist - to be.

Some of the early Greek philosophers suggested that the human (rational) soul was eternal in a certain respect. Aristotle in De Anima thought that it was only the intellect that was eternal. Since the intellect only knows something through the passive intellect that is not eternal, our eternal soul then must not know anything.

We know through Christian Revelation that we are eternal beings. We die because of the Fall. However, the Father in his infinite love sent his Son to destroy death (the eternal death of being separated from God) by dying and rising again for the forgiveness of our sins. Now we know definitively through faith that we can live forever in the Beatific Vision. This eternal live is lived seeing God for who he is and being completely united to him in charity.

As I said, death is frightening and disturbing. I found great consolation in the writings of St. Ignatius of Antioch and wanted to share. He was the third Bishop of Antioch and lived on the late first and early second century (~50~110). He survived the Domitian persecutions but was called to martyrdom under Trajan. Trajan condemned him in Antioch. During the very long and arduous journey to Rome to die (he called the soldiers guarding him "ten leopards, even a company of soldiers, who only grow worse when they are kindly treated." (Letter to Romans)), he wrote to seven different Churches to exhort and teach them. The Letters were to the Magnesisans, Trallians, Ephesians, Philadelphians, Smyrnaeans, Romans, and to the Bishop of Smyrna St. Polycarp (who was martyred later). I would recommend reading every one of them. They are short and contain a lot of great teaching. St. Ignatius was the first to use the term "catholic " in reference to the Church and the name 'Christian' in a positive manner.
Anyway, in his letter to the Romans he is asking them not to save him from martyrdom. He wanted to be with his Lord:

I am writing all the churches to let it be known that I will gladly die for God if only you do not stand in my way. I plead with you: show me no untimely kindness. Let me be food for the wild beasts, for they are my way to God. I am God's wheat and shall be ground by their teeth so that I may become Christ's pure bread. Pray to Christ for me that the animals will be the means of making me a sacrificial victim for God.

No earthly pleasures, no kingdoms of this world can benefit me in any way. I prefer death in Christ Jesus to power over the farthest limits of the earth. He who died in the place of us is the one object of my quest. He who rose for our sakes is my one desire. The time for my birth is close at hand. Forgive me, my brothers. Do not stand in the way of my birth to real life; do not wish me stillborn. My desire is to belong to God. Do not, then, hand me back to the world. Do not try to tempt me with material things. Let me attain pure light. Only on my arrival there can I be fully a human being. Give me the privilege of imitating the passion of my God. If you have him in your heart, you will understand what I wish. You will sympathize with me because you will know what urges me on.

The prince of this world is determined to lay hold of me and to undermine my will which is intent on God. Let none of you here help him; instead show yourselves on my side, which is also God's side. Do not talk about Jesus Christ as long as you love this world. Do not harbor envious thoughts. And supposing I should see you, if then I should beg you to intervene on my behalf, do not believe what I say. Believe instead what I am now writing to you. For though I am alive as I write to you, still my real desire is to die. My love of this life has been crucified, and there is no yearning in me for any earthly thing. Rather within me is the living water which says deep inside me: "Come to the Father." I no longer take pleasure in perishable food or in the delights of this world. I want only God's bread, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, formed of the seed of David, and for drink I crave his blood, which is love that cannot perish.

I am no longer willing to live a merely human life, and you can bring about my wish if you will. Please, then, do me this favor, so that you in turn may meet with equal kindness. Put briefly, this is my request: believe what I am saying to you. Jesus Christ will make it clear to you that I am saying the truth. Only truth can come from the mouth by which the Father has truly spoken. Pray for me that I may obtain my desire. I have not written to you as a mere man would, but as one who knows the mind of God. If I am condemned to suffer, I will take it that you wish me well. If my case is postponed, I can only think you wish me harm. (Taken from the Liturgy of the Hours: St. Ignatius' Memorial; October 17th)

They wished him well. As soon as St. Ignatius arrived in Rome, he was fed to the lions in the Flavian Amphitheater...

What an amazing perspective! I so often cling to this life like it is the only one that is possible. I completely forget the admonition of Jesus: "For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it." (Mark 8:35) This life is but a shadow of the one that God has in store for us. Our true life, the one that was always intended for us, is found in the Beatific Vision. Let us allow, then, St. Ignatius' words and attitude to penetrate us deeply so that we live this life, not in fear of its end, but in hope for the true beginning of our life; to see God, to be united to him, that is our life. Let us on this day, where we pray for the dead, let go of the fear of death. Then we can begin to live our eternal life now and say with St. Paul: "'O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?' The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (I Corinthians 15:55-57)