Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Today on Kresta - Nov. 18, 2009

Talking about the "things that matter most" on Nov. 18
Live from the USCCB Fall Meeting in Baltimore, MD

4:00 – Bishops Approve Translations of Final Five Sections of Roman Missal – Not Without Controversy However

The U.S. bishops approved the English translation and U.S. adaptations of five final sections of the Roman Missal in voting late yesterday afternoon. With overwhelming majority votes, the bishops approved translations of the proper of the saints, specific prayers to each saint in the universal liturgical calendar; the commons, general prayers for celebrating saints listed in the "Roman Martyrology"; the Roman Missal supplement; the U.S. propers, a collection of orations and formularies for feasts and memorials particular to the U.S. liturgical calendar; and U.S. adaptations to the Roman Missal. There was some debate on the floor about a separate piece of the translations -- the antiphons -- which has not come to the bishops for consideration, but instead has advanced through the Vatican's approval procedures without the consultation of the English-language bishops' conferences around the world. We talk about the votes with Fr. Peter Stravinskas.

4:20 – Fulton Sheen: His Life, Example and Cause for Canonization
Fulton John Sheen was born on May 8,1895 in El Paso, Illinois. The oldest of four sons, he was baptized Peter John in St. Mary’s Church, but soon became known by his mother’s maiden name, Fulton. The family moved to Peoria where the young Sheen attended school and served as an altar boy at St. Mary’s Cathedral. Turning down a significant scholarship for graduate school, he followed his desire to become a priest and entered St. Paul’s Seminary in Minnesota. Father Sheen went on to become Archbishop Fulton John Sheen, a universally popular evangelist, radio/TV personality, writer and missionary. He is most known for his television series, “Life is Worth Living” which had a viewing audience of over 30 million people. Archbishop Fulton John Sheen, a Son of Peoria, a Son of the Church, died on December 9, 1979 in his private chapel in his Manhattan apartment. In 2002, Bishop Daniel Jenky, CSC, of the Diocese of Peoria, IL officially opened the cause for Sheen’s beatification and canonization. We talk with Bishop Jenky about Sheen’s life, example and cause for canonization.

4:40 – “Life-Giving Love in an Age of Technology”
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops approved a document on reproductive technologies, and a proposed revision to the directives that guide Catholic health care services yesterday. “Life-Giving Love in an Age of Technology,” which addresses Catholic teaching on a range of infertility treatments, passed with 220 in favor, 4 opposed and 3 abstaining. The document looked at morally problematic procedures including in vitro fertilization, embryo adoption, sperm and egg donation and surrogacy and recommended therapeutic means that help a couple conceive through sexual intercourse rather than replacing the act itself. We talk about it with Dr. John Haas of the National Catholic Bioethics Center who advised on the document.

5:00 – USCCB Fall Meeting: An Analysis
With the major work of the USCCB Fall Meeting now completed, we get a report from Raymond Arroyo. What were the highlights, and what will have the greatest impact on the Church? What will be felt by those in the pews, and what happened behind the scenes? Raymond has it all.

5:20 – A Catholic View of Literary Classics – Part 8 of 10: Merchant of Venice
We continue our 10-week series examining Classic Literature from a Catholic perspective. Acclaimed literary biographer Joseph Pearce is the editor of the Ignatius Critical Editions and will be our guide. We will ensure that traditional moral readings of the works are given prominence, instead of the feminist or deconstructionist readings that often proliferate in other series of 'critical editions'. As such, they represent a genuine extension of consumer choice, enabling educators, students, and lovers of good literature to buy editions of classic literary works without having to 'buy into' the ideologies of secular fundamentalism. Today, we examine Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice.

5:40 – “2012”
When we got word recently that the movie “2012” depicts the Vatican being blown up, along with the famous statue from Rio, Christ the Redeemer, we were unmoved. Why? Because this occurs during the end of the world in a massive destruction. This kind of sensationalism, we reasoned, is standard fare for director Roland Emmerich: he is the guru of the “blow ‘em up” genre of movies. But now we’ve learned that while Catholics get theirs, Muslims are spared. Out of fear, of course. Emmerich is more than a coward—he is a liar who has it out for Catholics. Last year, he was quoted saying, “I would like to erase all nations and religions.” Not true. He is quite content to live with Islam, even though he readily admits it is a religion of terror. When asked why he did not show the destruction of Kaaba, the religious structure in the Grand Mosque in Mecca, he said, “I wanted to do that, I have to admit. You can actually let Christian symbols fall apart, but if you would do this with [an] Arab symbol, you would have…a fatwa.” We talk about the film with Fr. Robert Barron.


  1. Can't wait to hear this interview. But really, this anti-Catholicism is so frustrating.

  2. Re: "2012"

    "2012" does sound like an anti-Catholic movie to me. I won't find out for sure until it is broadcast on TV. If it offends you, I suggest doing what my godmother used to tell me when things weren't going my way -- give it up to the Lord.

    Later in the interview Al mentioned a book by Justin Barrett, "Why Would Anyone Believe in God?" Al said Barrett has a chapter in the book called, "Why would anybody NOT believe in God?"

    Consider this. Before creation, God existed alone in the optimal state of infinite perfection. It would be illogical for God to change that optimal state of perfection into an imperfect one. Therefore, the very existence of this imperfect world (to say the least) brings doubt upon God's existence.

    Viscerally, we can go further. We can hope that God does not exist. Why? Because we hope the pain ends here -- that it's finite.

  3. mauman,

    You're an absolute riot. Are you sure you're in the right blog?

  4. The pain still ends if God doesn't exist mauman. But wait, we can't even know that can we.
    What is this religious experience phenomenon then? It is man seeking God and Truth but for the Catholic it is man FINDING God because only in the Catholic Church can you walk back through historical documents to find God as the origin. The existence of an organization that has demonstrated infallibility in teachings on moral issues also causes the Church to stick out as unique. What man made institution can demonstrate morally infallible teaching that has not changed in 2000 years? Only the Catholic Church can claim it and demonstrate it.

    Have hope mauman! Man is more than food for worms. God DID take on a human face and He set up His Church while He walked the earth with human feet.

  5. Mauman, it may be best for you to reconsider the way you've stated your argument against God, for the use of the word "before" unravels what you try to accomplish. It is only charitable to help someone rescue their own argument. I would suggest perhaps "outside", as in "outside of creation", or "external", as in "external of creation". For you see, if you say "before" you've built the strawman you then demolish. But your strawman is not the "God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob" nor is it the God to whom we rightly, perhaps imperfectly give glory "as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be." God bless your journey my friend.


    Matthew Wade

  6. Mauman,

    The world may seem imperfect to our eyes because we do not think as God does, we do not know all He knows, nor are we able to observe the full breath or depth of His action in the world.

    Having given this much thought over the years and having experienced many times how God brings good out of my folly and the folly of this world, I now understand that underneath the apparent chaos and imperfection in the world, there is a deeper activity that guides everything according to God's purposes.

    In other words, God has allowed a certain amount of chaos and imperfection on a certain level, the level most accessible to us, but the chaos and imperfection are used by God to serve His purposes. Some of it is directly observable and understandable, if you are attuned to it, but most of it is not. Paraphrasing Jesus, there is much that we cannot know on this side of natural life because we "could not bear it now."

    This is where faith comes in. Faith allows us to tie together, and extrapolate from, two sources of knowledge: what our human experience and understanding have been able to accumulate over time, and what God has revealed throughout history (from Abraham to Moses to the prophets to Jesus and the apostles to the saints).

    I hope some day you are able to discover what we believers have already discovered: God exists, and He is everything we could ever hope He would be.


  7. Thanks for all of your responses.


    When I refer to the hope that pain is finite, I'm referring to the pain experienced by each individual sentient being. If God doesn't exist, then it's thumbs up. On the other hand, if God does exist, then Hell becomes a possibility, and that is the most hideously evil concept imaginable.


    Good point. However, Genesis starts out this way: In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth .... We should leave it at that. I'm just saying that God's act of creation seems illogical. His tinkering only made things go downhill.


    God gave us the ability to observe reality and make reasonable judgments about it. Don't you think it's a bit of a stretch to maintain that in some higher sense, beyond our grasp, this world is not imperfect? If the world is perfect in God's eyes, the only eyes that really count, why did the Father send the Son to redeem it?

    Let me try again in graphic detail. Had God not created anything, then only God would exist, and existence would have been perfect: no hate, no killing, no cursing, no pain, no sin. With creation, God hates (Deuteronomy 7:25), kills (Genesis 7:21, Exodus 12:29), regrets and grieves (Genesis 6:6), curses (Exodus 20:5, Deuteronomy 30:7, Mark 11:14), invents (or intensifies) pain (Genesis 3:16), and allows sin (starting with Lucifer?).

    It's a huge mess, and if something's not done about it, all of us humans will be condemned to unending pain in Hell. But God has infinite love for us and he will save us from that horrible fate. So one of the Persons, the Father, wills that one of the other Persons, the Son, enter the muck of sin and depravity and dwell among us as man. The Son teaches us what we need to do to escape a future of unending pain, but this can only be accomplished by allowing us to torture and murder Him.

    They (God) could have had it all, perfect love and bliss. But They blew it. And look what They wound up with.

  8. mauman
    "most hideously evil concept imaginable"

    Expecting mankind to act responsibly is an evil concept?
    Seeking forgivenes when we offend is evil?
    Are the beatitudes an evil teaching or do they liberate man from his smug self centeredness?

    It is clear that the only person who should be afraid of hell is the person who believes that man is the beginning and end of all things.

    Forgiveness is always granted to those who honestly seek it. But yes the doors to heaven are closed to the men who think they can save themselves. Evil? Not to men and women of good will.


  9. Mauman, your arguments continue to faulter. I can't help but feel sorry for them, as a mother giraffe looks upon her newborn. Eventually it will stand but the moments when it struggles are probably the most vulnerable moments of life on earth, unless you're a child in your mother's womb in America today. I think in dialogue you have to be willing to accept your assumptions, and those of the other person. Dialectic is the process of uncovering these assumptions, but Christian discussion moves beyond that to the discovery of truth. We are in a Christian discussion. My assumptions begin with Faith. I won't deny or cover that up. But you've tried to trick us! And it's not a good tactic to attempt to trick your opponents.

    But unlike your arguments, God is perfect. Being imperfect as we are - even you recognize this - we always fail to completely grasp the perfect. But to claim that we know the optimal state of perfection is to claim to know that God's optimal state of perfection is without us.

    I would like to use your scriptural evidence as another point of departure between our levels of understanding - because you seem to accept our "data" (the Bible) - but we've got to clear away these errors first. I'm still here with you on the journey.


    Matthew Wade

  10. Mauman,

    I am going to attempt a short but comprehensive answer, knowing this topic is huge and much of what I can put in this limited space can be totally misunderstood.

    Among the many gifts our Creator endowed us with, to use the language of a very famous document, is our free will. This truly amazing gift, however, does not come without its problems because of course it introduces the problem of evil. No free will, no evil, but also no freedom, no need for a developed capacity to reason or to feel, no exalted dignity for human creatures. So why did God decide to give us free will after all? The answer is to afford us the highest possible share in God’s own nature.

    Keep in mind that the gift of free will does not come in a vacuum. Along with free will comes a world bound by time and space in which we get to test out, so to speak, this gift of free will (hence the chaos and imperfections). Furthermore, this world provides consistent, predictable feedback on how well or poorly we utilize our free will, and we also have the crucial capacity to learn from the use or misuse of this free will. Finally, though we may not realize it, we are not left alone to play with such a potentially dangerous gift: God is always looking after us, we are assured of that over and over again in the bible. Not to play gotcha, but to assist our soul's growth and development (the only thing that counts in the final analysis).

    Now, if free will is to be what it claims to be, it has to have consequences. There has to be a reward or a punishment attributed to it, commensurate to the choice and its effects. How else would we be able to draw anything from it? And over our lifetimes, there is an accumulated effect of all of those choices and their consequences, a final “accounting” to use a popular term. Here again, there is a temptation to look negatively on the gift of free will, as if God is giving us the noose with which to hang ourselves, but that is not the case. The fact is that God foresaw that we would fall short, which is why natural life and the world are “rigged” to provide instruction the way they are, and ultimately why Someone had to cover our shortfall, why Someone had to redeem us. God foresaw the need for our redemption because He knew from the beginning that we would not be able to handle this gift of free will without help from above.

    What is Christian redemption anyway? It is receiving our very being and existence once again, pure and pristine, this time knowing from Whom we receive it, knowing how much it cost Him to give it to us (by considering Jesus’ death on the cross), and knowing this is something we could never give to ourselves (cardinal sin of atheism!). This time we receive it consciously and we accept it freely (this beautifully parallels the sacrament of Confirmation). You see, natural human life is the beginning stage of our eternal destiny with God our Creator, it is where our human powers begin to be perfected (brought to maturity), and where our soul begins its hidden dialogue with God. You are mistaken if you think that natural human life is all there is, and your appraisal of God’s activity in the world will be flawed if you do not consider what happens beyond death.

    (continued in next post)

  11. (Continued from previous post...)

    But why redeem us through the bloody cross? Why the torture and the nails Jesus had to endure? Here again, the Wisdom of God shows itself to be far above our frail human minds. First and foremost, God chose to take on human flesh to speak to us directly from our human context. He could have continued to do it from a cloud or a burning bush, but He ultimately chose to speak to us using the language we ought to know best, that is, the language of human existence. But though the death of Jesus on the cross sheds light on a zillion things at the same time, two things are critical here: Jesus’ death on the cross illustrates graphically the truly horrendous and final consequences of human error and sin, and it also illustrates with unending eloquence the depths to which God is willing to sacrifice to redeem us. In the words of John Paul the Great: “Jesus reveals God to man, and man to himself.” Jesus on the cross shows what humanity does to God and to itself when it rejects Him, but Jesus on the cross also shows what God is willing to do for us in order to give us eternal blessedness. I hope this helps you to see the cross from a new perspective.

    Why hell? Why such grim consequences to the accumulated choices over our lifetime? Because the goodness, beauty, truth, justice, love, etc, that we reject in this world by persisting in choosing evil over good is the first stage in rejecting God Himself. When we reject the created order, we are rejecting the Creator of the order. That is why our earthly life must not be taken lightly, for it contains the seeds of our eternal destiny. The soul’s dialogue with God does not end in this world, which is why we as Catholics cannot know for sure who ultimately ends up in heaven or hell. One thing you ought to know for sure, though, is that it is neither God’s design nor desire that anyone be “lost”, as the bible also tells us over and over again. Hell is the “place” where those who want a life apart from God get their wish fulfilled, and unfortunately that life is eternally painful because the creature never achieves the end for which it was created.

    Final thought: Satan’s signature work is to destroy our confidence in our Creator by confusing us and frustrating us, by making us believe that God is cruel or capricious (essentially, but making us believe that God behaves as Satan does), thereby setting us up for ultimate rejection of God. It’s not a coincidence or an understatement that he is described in the bible as the “father of lies”. Please pray to God that He will help you to understand Catholic Christian revelation properly, as the apostles and the saints have understood it, so that you will not be deceived into rejecting this most sacred and beautiful gift from God and thus into putting your eternal soul at risk. Humble yourself, and God will lead you to the Truth.

    I hope this helps,