Get Flash to see
Once again Western nations, led by the United States and including Canada, are trying to impose a military solution on Middle East countries where terror has overrun any semblance of the common good. It has not worked in the past, and it won't work this time. Indeed, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) grew out of the situation created by the two Iraq wars of the last 25 years. The successful overthrow of dictator Saddam Hussein led, not to meaningful peace, but rather to the rise of an even more bloodthirsty monster intent on wreaking murder and mayhem.
Read More »
Most attention in preparation for the world synod of bishops on the family has focused on whether ways can be found to allow divorced-and-remarried Catholics to receive Communion without having their first marriage annulled. While this is an important topic for discussion, a singular focus on this issue is a symptom of overly legalistic times. When modern Western society has a significant social problem, it habitually seeks a juridical solution. In preparation for the synod, possible changes in Church law have been described in terms of a search for mercy. Mercy, according to Pope St. John Paul II, is "a superabundance of justice." Mercy is more powerful and more profound than justice, the late pope wrote in his encyclical Rich in Mercy (Dives in Misericordia, 4).
The rapidly growing Ebola crisis in West Africa, says Robert Walker, president of the Population Institute, has the potential to become "one of the greatest humanitarian disasters of our time." As of Oct. 9, the estimate of those dead from Ebola had reached 3,865 people worldwide. The disease could do much greater damage than it already has in developing nations with inadequate medical facilities and compromised public health systems, Walker said in an article in The World Post. Medical personnel are particularly susceptible to the disease, and if large numbers of them die, the people could be left to fend for themselves.
Helen Keller was deaf and blind from early childhood, yet she became one of the great humanitarians of the 20th century. When news of her death in 1968 came over the radio, I remember my father say, "There goes a great person." I was 15 years old at the time and too self-absorbed to understand. Only much later, in my own disability, did I begin to understand what my father meant. Helen Keller wrote: "When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door we do not see the one that has opened for us."
Have you ever noted how we spontaneously react to a perceived threat? Faced with a threat, our primal instincts tend to take over and we instantly freeze over and begin to shut all the doors opening to warmth, gentleness and empathy inside us.< That's a natural reaction, deeply rooted inside our nature. Biologists tell us that whenever we perceive something or someone as threatening us, paranoia instinctively arises inside us and has the effect of driving us back towards a more primitive place inside our bodies, namely, the reptile part our brain, that remnant inside us from our evolutionary origins millions of years ago. Reptiles are cold-blooded. So too, it seems, are we when we're threatened.
Troubles. So many they don't bear counting. Some are minor, some major. It's not only the individual upsets. It's the ones that blare out of the radio on the way home, the ones in the secular papers. Three a.m. became the usual wakeup time. Then a glimmer of change happened. It surprised me. I certainly didn't expect any relief from this ongoing strife.
A recent CBC segment featured a radio host who explained that she had received death threats following an unexpectedly controversial news story. The letter, she said, was filled with spelling errors and it was signed: the Angle of Death! Which, let's be honest, is not quite as scary as an Angel of Death, except perhaps for Grade 6 students studying geometry. The anecdote reminded me of a Michel de Montaigne quote: "The greater part of the world's troubles are due to questions of grammar." This in turn invoked a funny line by Jennifer Crusie: "His sentences didn't seem to have any verbs, which was par for a politician. All nouns, no action."
There are more refugees around the world than ever before – so why is your church having more trouble than ever in finding a way to receive, resettle and "welcome the stranger" (Matthew 25)? Canada's bishops are currently preparing a pastoral letter on refugees – will they raise this concern? In 2013, just over 12,000 refugees were accepted into Canada. Of these, 6,623 were sponsored by private groups who assisted their resettlement in Canada. Many privately-sponsored refugees are assisted by faith groups, but community or ethnic organizations, and even individuals can also play this role. The federal government supports the remainder.
Several years ago I attended a presentation by Christopher West on the theology of the body. At one point he asked an audience member if he wanted to murder his wife. Everyone laughed and the man said no, he didn't want to murder his wife. Whereupon West said, "Then you don't need the law to prevent you from murdering your wife." The point, of course, is that the "law" is there to keep us conformed to God's ways when our heart is not yet in conformity with God's ways. When our heart and mind is in union with God, we no longer need the law to tell us what to do.
Many devout believers in God have had their faith severely shaken by the death of a loved one. Even the great Christian apologist, C.S. Lewis, almost lost his faith when his wife died of cancer. It can be hard to believe that a God of love would allow us to experience something as cruel as grief. Yet grief is not a sin, even when it causes us to doubt God's goodness. Indeed, in our First Reading from Lamentations, the prophet Jeremiah bluntly expresses this sort of tortured grief over the destruction of Jerusalem and the massacre of the Jews.
My family and I went to listen to the McDade family playing Celtic music. I understand there is a Celtic spirituality, as well. What is Celtic spirituality, and does it conflict with the teaching of the Catholic Church?