Advancing the Kingdom

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Advancing the Kingdom

Advancing the Kingdom

No why vs. Know why

Some time ago I asked a colleague if he knew how the date for Easter is set each year. As though it were a question beneath his dignity, he dismissed me with a curt reply: “Of course, it’s the Sunday after Good Friday”. Is such incuriousness so rampant? Do youngsters today ask themselves why things are? Why is the family the basis of society? Why is marriage supposed to be between a man and a woman? Why is it wrong to steal or lie? Why is it wrong to murder?  And what about sexuality? Why is virtue desirable? Why are we born? Who teaches young people the answers? It used to be that the prevailing culture did. The word ‘culture’ indisputably has the religious root of ‘cult’, a decidedly religious term. Though influenced by other factors Western Christianity arose from the ‘cult’ of Christianity which itself is the product of…

Pontifical Academy For Life

One of NCCF’s distinguished trustees has made available this translation of Pope Francis’ recent remarks to the Pontifical Academy For Life. This successor to St. Peter identifies our world’s situation as a ‘dangerous bewitchment’, one where the risk is that humanity will be technologized rather than technology be humanized. Brief but compelling. 2019 ANNUAL MEETING ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS, POPE FRANCIS FEBRUARY 25, 2019 My Dear Brothers and Sisters, I welcome you most cordially and I thank Archbishop Paglia for his kind words.  Our meeting is taking place during a great Jubilee for the Pontifical Academy for Life— the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of its Founding.  For this important occasion, last month I sent a letter entitled Humana Communitas to your President.  What led me to write that letter was first of all to thank all the Presidents who have succeeded one another at the helm of the Academy and all the…

Epicenity

To commemorate his first Confession, I presented my grandson with a book of bible stories written for youngsters and beautifully illustrated. Days later I received a thank you note from Max (written with penmanship my own begins to rival) in which he expresses his appreciation for the gift. He ends his letter by stating that when we’re next together he will ask me what my favorite bible story is. I will tell him I have two: one from each of the First and Second Testaments. With the former it would be the story in Exodus about the burning bush. Moses asks God by what name he should refer to Him when addressing his fellow Israelites, and the Lord answers: “I Am Who Am”, a response which declares and confirms the reality of existence. The second story would be that of the Annunciation found in Luke’s gospel. Mary, the young Jewish…

"....and great was the fall of it."

During the civil war that nearly split our country President Lincoln quoted the biblical phrase: “a house divided will not stand”. He likened our nation to a house. Another familiar scriptural reference from St. Matthew concerns building a house on rock versus building one on sand: “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like the foolish man who build his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the…

Modern Marcions

“The new lies hidden in the old and the old is unveiled in the new”. This is how St. Augustine described the organic relationship between the Old and New Testaments. He explained how passages in the former implicitly presage passages in the latter. Examples would be: Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son and God the Father’s willingness to sacrifice Jesus; young Isaac carrying the bundle of sticks for the altar on which he was to be immolated and Jesus carrying the cross of his own execution; the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve apostles; crossing the Red Sea and baptism; the Promised Land and the Kingdom of Heaven, et cetera. This type of study of the scriptures is called ‘typology’ (which is not the same as prophecy). But, there is more to the inter-testament relationship than typology and prophecy. The Old Testament is a literary account of how (and,…

"Safeguarding Human Dignity at Every Stage of Life"

Dear Reader: The arrival of Christmas is a perennial reminder that as a result of the Incarnation we are all children of God and therefore possess an indelible dignity marked by ’radical equality’.  I urge you to read these remarks by Archbishop Paglia, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life which earlier this month were delivered to the United Nations to mark the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is a timely and lucid exposition on the ‘filial and fraternal’ responsibility we all share. Please accept this with Christmas greetings from our board members. Read remarks by Archbishop Paglia here

"For the love of God"

When was the last time you heard this expression, so common just a generation ago? It seems to have dropped from our vernacular. My impression is that grace before meals is also on the decline. If so, one wonders how families, unused to such prayer, celebrate Thanksgiving, the feast we observe today. Many I expect pause a few moments – perhaps awkwardly – before the turkey is sliced or the roast is carved in order to identify generally or specifically the benefits they enjoy. Certainly this is a laudable practice – even one that should be pursued more frequently than annually. But, is it really giving thanks? Appreciation is not the same as gratitude. Appreciation is the acknowledgment of the value of something one has or receives. It involves no one other than the appreciating person. While gratitude is prompted by appreciation it goes beyond it for it is necessarily…

“The Poor Should Never Be Treated Poorly”

Pure evil. I heard these words spoken in reference to one of the murderous events that have occurred in our nation over the past month. While emotionally I resonate with the sentiment they express, intellectually I question the syntactical accuracy of these two words. How can evil be pure? I was thinking about this last week after attending a tribute dinner for the Bishop Malooly, the bishop of the Wilmington Diocese. The celebration honoring the bishop was a fund raiser for the Ministry of Caring, (www.ministryofcaring.org) an organization for which the bishop has been an ardent supporter. But the evening was also an eye-opener on how the Ministry’s founder, a Capuchin friar, has made such a difference in Wilmington over a forty-year period. Evil cannot be pure. It is an absence, an absence of good, an absence of love. Of itself it does not exist. It is made present by…

Non-fake Media

I had blood drawn this week for a routine physical exam. Though I arrived in time for my appointment I was obliged to wait a half hour in a sitting room with a dozen others. I didn’t mind the delay as I had brought reading material with me. What was irritating was that a television mounted on the wall was tuned to a loud talk show whose participants were vociferoulsy presenting their passionate and contradictory opinions as hard facts. In spite of the assault on our ears nobody was paying attention to this intrusion as everyone was occupied with his cell phone. It got me thinking about the relentless media barrage so commonplace today. In this country the media have been denigrated by both the so called left and right. What sources can be trusted? Is the 24/7 news enveloping us founded on fact, interpretation, or biased fantasy? Does the…

St. Gaspar Melchior Balthazar del Bufalo

I’ll tip my cap to those of you who recognize the name of this saint and know the name of the Congregation he founded.  (No fair consulting the Magi).* One treasured benefit of being involved with the NCCF community is meeting individuals and communities who quietly and constructively advance the Kingdom. Such introductions provide salutary perspective to the unrelenting barrage of negative news, fake or otherwise, of our Church, our nation and the world. A new member of our NCCF community are the Sisters of the Precious Blood. Eighteen years ago they and the Congregation of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood (the post-nominal initials are: C.PP.S) collaborated on the creation of what has become the Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation. They administer this apostolate in a neighborhood of Chicago that struggles with poverty, gangs and racial divisions. According to its website (www.pbmr.org) the spirituality of PBMR calls its members…

A Provocative Bumper Sticker

Instead of taking the bus I sometimes drive to work, a change that allows me to study bumper stickers. Recently I came across this one: “American Values Are Progressive Values”. I thought about this and now wonder if the correct articulation of the bumper’s intended point shouldn’t be: “Americans Value Progress”. As understood to mean ‘a principle’ (such as the rights of life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness enshrined in the Declaration of Independence) a value cannot change. Therefore it can be neither progressive nor regressive. It can be embraced or ignored, but not changed. Mitigating circumstances surrounding the invocation of a value may affect its application but they do not change the value itself. Progress itself is a value. The word comes from the Latin progressus, to step forward. For us Americans progress as a principal implies stepping forward to something better, as in improving our living standards. It…

Sinister Philanthropy

It may be a neologism. I have never come across it but an awareness of its significance and relevance has grown in me these past few years. Has any of you encountered the word ‘technarchy’? Monarchy is the rule of one; oligarchy the rule of a few. Plutarchy is the rule of the wealthy; hierarchy the rule of priests. Anarchy is the rule of no one. Technarchy would be the rule of technology. In a technarchical world a ‘perfection of means and confusion of goals’ (Einstein) gives rise to soulless and rootless atheism. There is no system of belief because there is no contemplation – only action. The sole purpose of life is production. The only absolute is efficiency and the only shared commonality among men is their capacity to produce and compete. There is no theology because there is no ‘theos’. No metaphysics because nothing transcends the physical. Philosophy…