All posts by techdecisions

Sola fides? Are you Saved? I’m working on it. I hope so.

philippians-2-2-word-our-your-salvation-white-copy

Phil 2:12

-by Patricia May, Arkansas Catholic, 3/26/11

“Many Catholics, especially those living in the South, have heard the question posed by Protestants. Unprepared by the Church to properly answer, they often shrug off the question or walk away.

But Catholics should not only respond, they ought to engage their questioners in discussion. That’s the position of Dr. C. Colt Anderson, dean of Washington Theological Union in Washington, D.C., and the featured speaker March 10 at St. Thomas Aquinas University Parish’s third annual theology lecture.

Originally from Georgia, Anderson said he’s faced the question. He asked the audience of mostly college students to answer, “Are you saved?” “Working on it,” responded one listener. A pretty good answer, Anderson acknowledged. Better, he said, is the response: “I hope so.”

Catholic doctrine supplies the proper foundation for response, Anderson said, and Catholics should be confident answering. “We can say we have hope, strong hope (that we’re saved), but we can’t know for sure.”

To believe one is saved is to risk a potentially dangerous smugness. “If we knew for sure (that we’re saved), it could lead to spiritual self-satisfaction … the equivalent of spiritual death,” Anderson explained. That’s because God expects us to continually grow. “We’re called to grow into being like Christ.”

He continued, “Ask yourself: Am I more faithful now than I was a year ago? Do I have more hope? Am I more loving now than I was?” Catholics must constantly be increasing in faith, hope and love, Anderson said.

“It’s not enough to think kind thoughts about hungry people. We must do something for them,” he explained.

Anderson cited references from the Council of Trent, the Catholic Church’s response to the Protestant Reformation, in his explanations. “Why don’t we make the effort to engage people about what we consider (to be) important?” He challenged listeners that, if they really believe in the possibility of eternal damnation as well as Christ’s admonition to love your neighbor, “You can’t just walk away from the question.”

To show they really care, Catholics “should try to help them.” They should explain that each person is given a gift of grace from God along with the freedom to accept it (and to love and grow in that grace), or to reject it. But, “How often do we fail to share our faith?”

And what about loving all people?

“We have to love the worst people. … We should love racists … violent people … greedy people because Christ came and loved all of us,” Anderson continued.

Just as individuals have different talents and gifts, so may the graces they receive differ, Anderson said. As an example, he noted that St. Francis of Assisi called himself the worst sinner in the world. A follower disagreed, pointing out the good Francis had done. The Italian saint demurred, saying that if the worst sinner got the grace I’ve got, he would have done a better job with it.

“Good things come from God. Sins are ours, but we don’t want to give them up,” Anderson continued.

Faith alone is not enough to save us, Anderson said. The gifts of faith, hope and love reflect the triad of the Trinity, he said, and “The Scriptures are on our side.” St. James said “Faith without works is dead.”

Asked for his thoughts on purgatory, Anderson said he doesn’t know what purgatory is, but it may be a place where “unfinished business has to be dealt with.” Sins are forgiven but there may still be lasting damage from those sins that must be addressed.

“You’re given absolution from your sins but you’ve done damage. … Some effort has to be made … Unfinished business has to be dealt with before you get into heaven,” he said.

Traditionally, Catholics have been taught to pray for the dead in purgatory — until now. “We haven’t taught this generation to pray for us,” he said.

But, Anderson said he’ll pray for people he thinks may be in purgatory. After all, “It doesn’t do any harm to pray.”

last_judgment
-Michaelangelo’s “Last Judgment”, Sistine Chapel

Love,
Matthew

Jun 22 – St Thomas More, (1477-1535 AD), Martyr, Husband & Father

Hans_Holbein,_the_Younger_-_Sir_Thomas_More_-_Google_Art_Project

-by Hans Holbein the Younger, 1527

“omnium horarum homo” -a man for all seasons, referring to his wide scholarship and knowledge

Excerpts taken from “Married Saints” by John F. Link, pp 1-3; 6-15.

“…[Thomas] More is known in literary circles as one of the best authors of the Renaissance.  He was widely known as both a poet and an author…The most famous of his works was Utopia, the literary masterpiece he wrote when he was 39 years old.  Its publication opened the doors to other literary figures of his time…More hosted mainly literary figures and educators in his home; one of the things he was known for was his talents as a host.

More was born on February 7, 1477 in London, to John and Agnes More.  His mother died when he was a child and was not an influence on him.  His father, though, was.  Like his son Thomas would become, John More was a lawyer.  He attended very closely to Thomas’ personal and professional development.  Left to his own preferences, Thomas would not have become a lawyer since his preferences in school were for theology and the other liberal arts – literature, history, and philosophy.  Like many scholars of his time, he became fluent in both Latin and Greek.  In fact, he wrote Utopia in Latin for the intelligentsia of Europe.  It was translated into English after his death.

Thomas studied at Oxford from age 14 to 16, was a pre-law student in London from 16 to 18, a law student from 18-23, and admitted to the bar at 23…More also entered politics, being elected a member of Parliament at age 27 by the merchants who were his clients.  His reputation as a lawyer grew, especially his reputation for honesty and integrity.

By the time More reached his 40’s, he had become the most successful lawyer in England.  Because of his reputation for integrity and prudent judgment, both as a lawyer and as a judge, More’s law practice grew enormously and he became quite wealthy.  More’s reported income was 400 pounds sterling per year.  A substantial amount, considering ordinary people in London of that time lived on ten pounds sterling per year.

More’s career continued to spiral upward.  At age 46 he was elected Speaker of the House of Commons. At 52, Henry VIII appointed him Lord Chancellor of England, the highest appointed office in the country.

At 58, More refused to approve Henry’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon and remarriage to Anne Boleyn, as the Lord Chancellor, chief judge and legal authority of the nation, was required to do to make the divorce legal and the remarriage possible. Thomas was forced to resign, eventually imprisoned, and on July 6, 1535 was executed for treason by beheading.

More’s last prayer was the Miserere, Psalm 51:

“Miserere mei, Deus, secundum magnam misericordiam tuam…Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving kindness…”

“What does it avail to know that there is a God, which you not only believe by Faith, but also know by reason: what does it avail that you know Him if you think little of Him?”
– Saint Thomas More

“Occupy your minds with good thoughts, or the enemy will fill them with bad ones. Unoccupied, they cannot be.” -St. Thomas More

“Although I know well, Margaret, that because of my past wickedness I deserve to be abandoned by God, I cannot but trust in His merciful goodness. His grace has strengthened me until now and made me content to lose goods, land, and life as well, rather than to swear against my conscience.

God’s grace has given the king a gracious frame of mind toward me, so that as yet he has taken from me nothing but my liberty. In doing this His Majesty has done me such great good with respect to spiritual profit that I trust that among all the great benefits he has heaped so abundantly upon me I count my imprisonment the very greatest. I cannot, therefore, mistrust the grace of God.

By the merits of His bitter passion joined to mine and far surpassing in merit for me all that I can suffer myself, His bounteous goodness shall release me from the pains of purgatory and shall increase my reward in heaven besides.

I will not mistrust Him, Meg, though I shall feel myself weakening and on the verge of being overcome with fear. I shall remember how Saint Peter at a blast of wind began to sink because of his lack of faith, and I shall do as he did: call upon Christ and pray to Him for help. And then I trust He shall place His holy hand on me and in the stormy seas hold me up from drowning.

And finally, Margaret, I know this well: that without my fault He will not let me be lost.

I shall, therefore, with good hope commit myself wholly to Him. And if He permits me to perish for my faults, then I shall serve as praise for His justice. But in good faith, Meg, I trust that His tender pity shall keep my poor soul safe and make me commend His mercy.

And, therefore, my own good daughter, do not let your mind be troubled over anything that shall happen to me in this world. Nothing can come but what God wills. And I am very sure that whatever that be, however bad it may seem, it shall indeed be the best. – from a letter written by Saint Thomas More from prison to his daughter Margaret

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Prayer to St Thomas More

St Thomas More, counselor of law and statesman of integrity, merry martyr and most human of saints: Pray that, for the glory of God and in the pursuit of His justice, I may be trustworthy with confidences, keen in study, accurate in analysis, correct in conclusion, able in argument, loyal to clients, honest with all, courteous to adversaries, ever attentive to conscience. Sit with me at my desk and listen with me to my clients’ tales. Read with me in my library and stand always beside me so that today I shall not, to win a point, lose my soul.

Pray that my family may find in me what yours found in you: friendship and courage, cheerfulness and charity, diligence in duties, counsel in adversity, patience in pain—their good servant, and God’s first.

Amen.

Love,
Matthew

Roman Catholic cleric-scientists/engineers

Even I was blown away by this list.   Who knew?  Apparently, Wikipedia and its generous contributors!  Wikipedia, et al, gratias!  And just think, this does not include laity-scientist/engineers!  Fides et ratio!  Deo gratias!  Amen.

  • José de Acosta (1539–1600) – Jesuit missionary and naturalist who wrote one of the very first detailed and realistic descriptions of the new world
  • François d’Aguilon (1567–1617) – Belgian Jesuit mathematician, physicist, and architect.
  • Albert of Saxony (philosopher) (c. 1320–1390) – German bishop known for his contributions to logic and physics; with Buridan he helped develop the theory that was a precursor to the modern theory of inertia
  • Albertus Magnus (c. 1206–1280) – “One of the most famous precursors of modern science in the High Middles Ages.”[6] Patron saint of natural sciences; Works in physics, logic, metaphysics, biology, and psychology.
  • José María Algué (1856–1930) – Meteorologist who invented the barocyclonometer
  • José Antonio de Alzate y Ramírez (1737–1799) – Scientist, historian, cartographer, meteorologist; wrote more than thirty treatises on a variety of scientific subjects
  • Francesco Castracane degli Antelminelli (1817–1899) – Botanist who was one of the first to introduce microphotography into the study of biology
  • Giovanni Antonelli (1818–1872) – Director of the Ximenian Observatory of Florence; collaborated on the design of a prototype of the internal combustion engine
  • Nicolò Arrighetti (1709–1767) – Wrote treatises on light, heat, and electricity.
  • Giuseppe Asclepi (1706–1776) – Astronomer and physician; director of the Collegio Romano observatory; The lunar crater Asclepi is named after him.
  • Roger Bacon (c. 1214–1294) – Significant contributions to mathematics and optics; forerunner of modern scientific method.
  • Bernardino Baldi (1533–1617) – Mathematician and writer
  • Eugenio Barsanti (1821–1864) – Possible inventor of the internal combustion engine
  • Bartholomeus Amicus (1562–1649) – Wrote on philosophy, mathematics, astronomy, and the concept of vacuum and its relationship with God.
  • Daniello Bartoli (1608–1685) – Bartoli and fellow Jesuit astronomer Niccolò Zucchi are credited as probably having been the first to see the equatorial belts on the planet Jupiter
  • Joseph Bayma (1816–1892) – Known for work in stereochemistry and mathematics
  • Giacopo Belgrado (1704–1789) – Experimental works in physics, professor of mathematics and physics, and court mathematician
  • Mario Bettinus (1582–1657) – Jesuit philosopher, mathematician and astronomer; lunar crater Bettinus named after him
  • Giuseppe Biancani (1566–1624) – Jesuit astronomer, mathematician, and selenographer, after whom the crater Blancanus on the Moon is named
  • Jacques de Billy (1602–1679) – Produced a number of results in number theory which have been named after him; published several astronomical tables; The crater Billy on the Moon is named after him.
  • Paolo Boccone (1633–1704) – Cistercian botanist who contributed to the fields of medicine and toxicology
  • Bernard Bolzano (1781–1848) – Mathematician and logician; other interests included metaphysics, ideas, sensation, and truth.
  • Anselmus de Boodt (1550–1632) – One of the founders of mineralogy
  • Theodoric Borgognoni (1205–1298) – Medieval Surgeon who made important contributions to antiseptic practice and anaesthetics
  • Christopher Borrus (1583–1632) – Mathematician and astronomy who made observations on the magnetic variation of the compass
  • Roger Joseph Boscovich (1711–1787) – formulation of modern atomic theory, important contributions to astronomy
  • Joachim Bouvet (1656–1730) – Jesuit sinologist and cartographer who did his work in China
  • Michał Boym (c. 1612–1659) – One of the first westerners to travel within the Chinese mainland, and the author of numerous works on Asian fauna, flora and geography.
  • Thomas Bradwardine (c. 1290–1349) – Mathematician who contributed to mean speed theorem; one of the Oxford Calculators
  • Henri Breuil (1877–1961) – Archaeologist, anthropologist, ethnologist and geologist.
  • Jan Brożek (1585–1652) – Polish polymath, mathematician, astronomer, and physician; the most prominent Polish mathematician of the 17th century
  • Louis-Ovide Brunet (1826–1876) – One of the founding fathers of Canadian botany
  • Francesco Faà di Bruno (c. 1825–1888) – Mathematician beatified by Pope John Paul II
  • Giordano Bruno (1548–1600) – Dominican philosopher, mathematician, and astronomer who believed in the infinity of the universe; burned at the stake for other heretical views.
  • Ismaël Bullialdus (1605–1694) – Astronomer and member of the Royal Society; the Bullialdus crater is named in his honor
  • Jean Buridan (c. 1300 – after 1358) – Early ideas of momentum and inertial motion; sowed the seeds of the Copernican revolution in Europe
  • Niccolò Cabeo (1586–1650) – Jesuit mathematician; the crater Cabeus is named in his honor
  • Nicholas Callan (1799–1846) – Best known for his work on the induction coil
  • Jean Baptiste Carnoy (1836–1899) – Founder of the science of cytology
  • Giovanni di Casali (died c. 1375) – Provided a graphical analysis of the motion of accelerated bodies
  • Paolo Casati (1617–1707) – Jesuit mathematician who wrote on astronomy and vacuums; The crater Casatus on the Moon is named after him.
  • Laurent Cassegrain (1629–1693) – Probable namesake of the Cassegrain telescope; The crater Cassegrain on the Moon is named after him
  • Benedetto Castelli (1578–1643) – Benedictine mathematician; long-time friend and supporter of Galileo Galilei, who was his teacher; wrote an important work on fluids in motion
  • Bonaventura Cavalieri (1598–1647) – He is known for his work on the problems of optics and motion, work on the precursors of infinitesimal calculus, and the introduction of logarithms to Italy. Cavalieri’s principle in geometry partially anticipated integral calculus; the lunar crater Cavalerius is named in his honor
  • Antonio José Cavanilles (1745–1804) – A leading Spanish taxonomic botanist of the 18th century
  • Francesco Cetti (1726–1778) – Jesuit zoologist and mathematician
  • Tommaso Ceva (1648–1737) – Jesuit mathematician and professor who wrote treatises on geometry, gravity, and arithmetic
  • Christopher Clavius (1538–1612) – Respected Jesuit Astronomer and mathematician who headed the commission that yielded the Gregorian calendar; wrote influential astronomical textbook.
  • Guy Consolmagno (1952– ) – Jesuit astronomer and planetary scientist
  • Nicolaus Copernicus (1473–1543) –Renaissance astronomer famous for his heliocentric cosmology that set in motion the Copernican Revolution
  • Vincenzo Coronelli (1650–1718) – Franciscan cosmographer, cartographer, encyclopedist, and globe-maker
  • George Coyne (1933– ) – Jesuit astronomer and former director of the Vatican Observatory
  • James Cullen (mathematician) (1867–1933) – Jesuit mathematician who published what is now known as Cullen numbers in number theory
  • James Curley (astronomer) (1796–1889) – First director of Georgetown Observatory; determined the latitude and longitude of Washington D.C.
  • Albert Curtz (1600–1671) – Jesuit astronomer who expanded on the works of Tycho Brahe and contributed to early understanding of the moon; The crater Curtius on the Moon is named after him.
  • Johann Baptist Cysat (1587–1657) – Jesuit mathematician and astronomer, after whom the lunar crater Cysatus is named; published the first printed European book concerning Japan; one of the first to make use of the newly developed telescope; most important work was on comets
  • Jean-Baptiste Chappe d’Auteroche (1722-1769) – Astronomer best known for his observations of the transits of Venus
  • Ignazio Danti (1536–1586) – Dominican mathematician, astronomer, cosmographer, and cartographer
  • Armand David (1826–1900) – Zoologist and botanist who did important work in both areas in China
  • Charles-Michel de l’Épée (1712–1789) – Known as the “father of the deaf” and established the world’s first free school for the deaf
  • Francesco Denza (1834–1894) – Meteorologist, astronomer, and director of Vatican Observatory
  • Václav Prokop Diviš (1698–1765) – Studied the lightning rod independent of Franklin; constructed the first electrified musical instrument in history
  • Johann Dzierzon (1811–1906) – Pioneering apiarist who discovered the phenomenon of parthenogenesis among bees, and designed the first successful movable-frame beehive; has been described as the “father of modern apiculture”
  • Honoré Fabri (1607–1688) – Jesuit mathematician and physicist
  • Jean-Charles de la Faille (1597–1652) – Jesuit mathematician who determined the center of gravity of the sector of a circle for the first time
  • Gabriele Falloppio (1523–1562) – One of the most important anatomists and physicians of the sixteenth century. The Fallopian tubes, which extend from the uterus to the ovaries, are named for him.
  • Gyula Fényi (1845–1927) – Jesuit astronomer and director of the Haynald Observatory; noted for his observations of the sun; The crater Fényi on the Moon is named after him
  • Louis Feuillée (1660–1732) – Explorer, astronomer, geographer, and botanist
  • Placidus Fixlmillner (1721–1791) – Benedictine priest and one of the first astronomers to compute the orbit of Uranus
  • Paolo Frisi (1728–1784) – Mathematician and astronomer who did significant work in hydraulics
  • José Gabriel Funes (1963– ) – Jesuit astronomer and current director of the Vatican Observatory
  • Joseph Galien (1699 – c. 1762) – Dominican professor who wrote on aeronautics, hailstorms, and airships
  • Jean Gallois (1632–1707) – French scholar and member of Academie des sciences
  • Pierre Gassendi (1592–1655) – French astronomer and mathematician who published the first data on the transit of Mercury; best known intellectual project attempted to reconcile Epicurean atomism with Christianity
  • Agostino Gemelli (1878–1959) – Franciscan physician and psychologist; founded Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan
  • Johannes von Gmunden (c. 1380–1442) – Mathematician and astronomer who compiled astronomical tables; Asteroid 15955 Johannesgmunden named in his honor
  • Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora (1645–1700) – Polymath, mathematician, astronomer, and cartographer; drew the first map of all of New Spain
  • Andrew Gordon (Benedictine) (1712–1751) – Benedictine monk, physicist, and inventor who made the first electric motor
  • Christoph Grienberger (1561–1636) – Jesuit astronomer after whom the crater Gruemberger on the Moon is named; verified Galileo’s discovery of Jupiter’s moons.
  • Francesco Maria Grimaldi (1618–1663) – Discovered the diffraction of light, and indeed coined the term “diffraction”; investigated the free fall of objects; built and used instruments to measure geological features on the moon
  • Robert Grosseteste (c. 1175 – 1253) – One of the most knowledgeable men of the Middle Ages; has been called “the first man to write down a complete set of steps for performing a scientific experiment.”[7]
  • Paul Guldin (1577–1643) – Jesuit mathematician and astronomer who discovered the Guldinus theorem to determine the surface and the volume of a solid of revolution
  • Bartolomeu de Gusmão (1685–1724) – Known for his early work on lighter-than-air airship design
  • Johann Georg Hagen (1847–1930) – Director of the Georgetown and Vatican Observatories; The crater Hagen on the Moon is named after him.
  • Nicholas Halma (1755–1828) – French mathematician and translator
  • Jean-Baptiste du Hamel (1624–1706) – French natural philosopher and secretary of the Academie Royale des Sciences
  • René Just Haüy (1743–1822) – Father of crystallography
  • Maximilian Hell (1720–1792) – Jesuit astronomer and director of the Vienna Observatory; the crater Hell on the Moon is named after him.
  • Michał Heller (1936– ) – Templeton Prize winner and prolific writer on numerous scientific topics
  • Lorenz Hengler (1806–1858) – Often credited as the inventor of the horizontal pendulum
  • Hermann of Reichenau (1013–1054) – Historian, music theorist, astronomer, and mathematician
  • Pierre Marie Heude (1836–1902) – Jesuit missionary and zoologist who studied the natural history of Eastern Asia
  • Franz von Paula Hladnik (1773–1844) – Botanist who discovered several new kinds of plants, and certain genera have been named after him
  • Giovanni Battista Hodierna (1597–1660) – Astronomer who catalogued nebulous objects and developed an early microscope
  • Victor-Alphonse Huard (1853–1929) – Naturalist, educator, writer, and promoter of the natural sciences
  • Maximus von Imhof (1758–1817) – German Augustinian physicist and director of the Munich Academy of Sciences
  • Giovanni Inghirami (1779–1851) – Italian astronomer; there is a valley on the moon named after him as well as a crater
  • François Jacquier (1711–1788) – Franciscan mathematician and physicist; at his death he was connected with nearly all the great scientific and literary societies of Europe
  • Stanley Jaki (1924–2009) – Benedictine priest and prolific writer who wrote on the relationship between science and theology
  • Ányos Jedlik (1800–1895) – Benedictine engineer, physicist, and inventor; considered by Hungarians and Slovaks to be the unsung father of the dynamo and electric motor
  • Georg Joseph Kamel (1661–1706) – Jesuit missionary and botanist who established the first pharmacy in the Philippines
  • Otto Kippes (1905–1994) – Acknowledged for his work in asteroid orbit calculations; the main belt asteroid 1780 Kippes was named in his honour
  • Athanasius Kircher (1602–1680) – The father of Egyptology; “Master of a hundred arts”; wrote an encyclopedia of China; one of the first people to observe microbes through a microscope
  • Wenceslas Pantaleon Kirwitzer (1588–1626) – Jesuit astronomer and missionary who published observations of comets
  • Jan Krzysztof Kluk (1739–1796) – Naturalist agronomist and entomologist who wrote a multi-volume work on Polish animal life
  • Sebastian Kneipp (1821–1897) – One of the founders of the Naturopathic medicine movement
  • Marian Wolfgang Koller (1792–1866) – Professor who wrote on astronomy, physics, and meteorology
  • Franz Xaver Kugler (1862–1929) – Jesuit chemist, mathematician, and Assyriologist who is most noted for his studies of cuneiform tablets and Babylonian astronomy
  • Nicolas Louis de Lacaille (1713-1762) – French astronomer noted for cataloguing stars, nebulous objects, and constellations
  • Eugene Lafont (1837–1908) – Jesuit physicist, astronomer, and founder of the first Scientific Society in India
  • Antoine de Laloubère (1600–1664) – The first mathematician to study the properties of the helix
  • Bernard Lamy (1640–1715) – Philosopher and mathematician who wrote on the parallelogram of forces
  • Pierre André Latreille (1762–1833) – Entomologist whose works describing insects assigned many of the insect taxa still in use today
  • Georges Lemaître (1894–1966) – Father of the Big Bang Theory
  • Thomas Linacre (c. 1460–1524) – Humanist translator and physician
  • Francis Line (1595–1675) – Magnetic clock and sundial maker who disagreed with some of the findings of Newton and Boyle
  • Juan Caramuel y Lobkowitz (1606–1682) – Prolific writer on a variety of scientific subjects; a earlier writer on probability
  • Jean Mabillon (1632–1707) – Benedictine monk and scholar, considered the founder of palaeography and diplomatics
  • James B. Macelwane (1883–1956) – “The best-known Jesuit seismologist” and “one of the most honored practicioners of the science of all time”; wrote the first textbook on seismology in America.
  • Paul McNally (1890–1955) – Jesuit astronomer and director of Georgetown Observatory; the crater McNally on the Moon is named after him.
  • Pierre Macq (1930– ) – Physicist who was awarded the Francqui Prize on Exact Sciences for his work on experimental nuclear physics
  • Manuel Magri (1851–1907) – Jesuit ethnographer, archaeologist and writer; one of Malta’s pioneers in archaeology
  • Emmanuel Maignan (1601–1676) – Physicist and professor of medicine who published works on gnomonics and perspective
  • Charles Malapert (1581–1630) – Jesuit writer, astronomer, and proponent of Aristotelian cosmology; also known for observations of sunpots and of the lunar surface, and the crater Malapert on the Moon is named after him
  • Nicolas Malebranche (1638–1715) – Philosopher who studied physics, optics, and the laws of motion; disseminated the ideas of Descartes and Leibniz
  • Marcin of Urzędów (c. 1500–1573) – Physician, pharmacist, and botanist
  • Joseph Maréchal (1878–1944) – Jesuit philosopher and psychologist
  • Marie-Victorin (1885–1944) – Botanist best known as the father of the Jardin botanique de Montréal
  • Edme Mariotte (c. 1620–1684) – Physicist who recognized Boyle’s Law and wrote about the nature of color
  • Francesco Maurolico (1494–1575) – Made contributions to the fields of geometry, optics, conics, mechanics, music, and astronomy; gave the first known proof by mathematical induction
  • Christian Mayer (astronomer) (1719–1783) – Jesuit astronomer most noted for pioneering the study of binary stars
  • Gregor Mendel (1822–1884) – Augustinian monk and father of genetics
  • Pietro Mengoli (1626–1686) – Mathematician who first posed the famous Basel Problem
  • Giuseppe Mercalli (1850–1914) – Volcanologist and director of the Vesuvius Observatory; best remembered today for his Mercalli scale for measuring earthquakes which is still in use
  • Marin Mersenne (1588–1648) – Philosopher, mathematician, and music theorist who is often referred to as the “father of acoustics”
  • Paul of Middelburg (1446–1534) – Wrote important works on the reform of the Calendar
  • Maciej Miechowita (1457–1523) – Wrote the first accurate geographical and ethnographical description of Eastern Europe; also wrote two medical treatises
  • François-Napoléon-Marie Moigno (1804–1884) – Jesuit physicist and mathematician; was an expositor of science and translator rather than an original investigator
  • Juan Ignacio Molina (1740–1829) – Jesuit naturalist, historian, botanist, ornithologist and geographer
  • Louis Moréri (1643–1680) – 17th century encyclopaedist
  • Théodore Moret (1602–1667) – Jesuit mathematician and author of the first mathematical dissertations ever defended in Prague; the lunar crater Moretus is named after him.
  • Landell de Moura (1861–1928) – Inventor who was the first to accomplish the transmission of the human voice by a wireless machine
  • Gabriel Mouton (1618–1694) – Mathematician, astronomer, and early proponent of the metric system
  • Jozef Murgaš (1864–1929) – Contributed to wireless telegraphy and help develop mobile communications and wireless transmission of information and human voice
  • José Celestino Mutis (1732–1808) – Botanist and mathematician who led the Royal Botanical Expedition of the New World
  • Jean François Niceron (1613–1646) – Mathematician who studied geometrical optics
  • Nicholas of Cusa (1401–1464) – Cardinal, philosopher, jurist, mathematician, and astronomer; one of the great geniuses and polymaths of the 15th century
  • Julius Nieuwland (1878–1936) – Holy Cross priest, known for his contributions to acetylene research and its use as the basis for one type of synthetic rubber, which eventually led to the invention of neoprene by DuPont
  • Jean-Antoine Nollet (1700–1770) – Physicist who discovered the phenomenon of osmosis in natural membranes.
  • Hugo Obermaier (1877–1946) – Distinguished prehistorian and anthropologist who is known for his work on the diffusion of mankind in Europe during the Ice Age, and in connection with north Spanish cave art
  • William of Ockham (c. 1288 – c. 1348) – Franciscan Scholastic who wrote significant works on logic, physics, and theology; known for Ockham’s Razor
  • Nicole Oresme (c. 1323–1382) – One of the most famous and influential philosophers of the later Middle Ages; economist, mathematician, physicist, astronomer, philosopher, theologian and Bishop of Lisieux, and competent translator; one of the most original thinkers of the 14th century
  • Barnaba Oriani (1752–1832) – Geodesist, astronomer and scientist; greatest achievement was his detailed research of the planet Uranus; known for Oriani’s theorem
  • Luca Pacioli (c. 1446–1517) – Often regarded as the Father of Accounting; published several works on mathematics
  • Ignace-Gaston Pardies (1636–1673) – Physicist known for his correspondence with Newton and Descartes
  • Franciscus Patricius (1529–1597) – Cosmic theorist, philosopher, and Renaissance scholar
  • John Peckham (1230–1292) – Archbishop of Canterbury and early practitioner of experimental science
  • Nicolas Claude Fabri de Peiresc (1580–1637) – Astromer who discovered the Orion Nebula; lunar crater Peirescius named in his honor
  • Stephen Joseph Perry (1833–1889) – Jesuit astronomer and Fellow of the Royal Society; made frequent observations of Jupiter’s satellites, of stellar occultations, of comets, of meteorites, of sun spots, and faculae
  • Giambattista Pianciani (1784–1862) – Jesuit mathematician and physicist
  • Giuseppe Piazzi (1746–1826) – Theatine mathematician and astronomer who discovered Ceres, today known as the largest member of the asteroid belt; also did important work cataloguing stars
  • Jean Picard (1620–1682) – First person to measure the size of the Earth to a reasonable degree of accuracy; also developed what became the standard method for measuring the right ascension of a celestial object; The PICARD mission, an orbiting solar observatory, is named in his honor
  • Edward Pigot (1858–1929) – Jesuit seismologist and astronomer
  • Alexandre Guy Pingré (1711–1796) – French astronomer and naval geographer; the crater Pingré on the Moon is named after him, as is the asteroid 12719 Pingré
  • Jean Baptiste François Pitra (1812–1889) – Bendedictine cardinal, archaeologist and theologian who noteworthy for his great archaeological discoveries
  • Charles Plumier (1646–1704) – Considered one of the most important botanical explorers of his time
  • Marcin Odlanicki Poczobutt (1728–1810) – Jesuit astronomer and mathematician; granted the title of the King’s Astronomer; the crater Poczobutt on the Moon is named after him.
  • Léon Abel Provancher (1820–1892) – Naturalist devoted to the study and description of the fauna and flora of Canada; his pioneer work won for him the appellation of the “Father of Natural History in Canada”
  • Louis Receveur (1757–1788) – Franciscan naturalist and astronomer; described as being as close as one could get to being an ecologist in the 18th century
  • Franz Reinzer (1661–1708) – Wrote an in-depth meteorological, astrological, and political compendium covering topics such as comets, meteors, lightning, winds, fossils, metals, bodies of water, and subterranean treasures and secrets of the earth
  • Louis Rendu (1789–1859) – Bishop who wrote an important book on the mechanisms of glacial motion; the Rendu Glacier, Alaska, U.S. and Mount Rendu, Antarctica are named for him
  • Vincenzo Riccati (1707–1775) – Italian mathematician and physicist
  • Matteo Ricci (1552–1610) – One of the founding fathers of the Jesuit China Mission; co-author of the first European-Chinese dictionary
  • Giovanni Battista Riccioli (1598–1671) – Astronomer who authored Almagestum novum, an influential encyclopedia of astronomy; The first person to measure the rate of acceleration of a freely falling body; created a selenograph with Father Grimaldi that now adorns the entrance at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C.
  • Richard of Wallingford (1292-1336) – Renowned clockmaker and one of the initiators of Western Trigonometry
  • Johannes Ruysch (c. 1460–1533) – Explorer, cartographer, and astronomer who created the second oldest known printed representation of the New World
  • Giovanni Girolamo Saccheri (1667–1733) – Jesuit mathematician and geometer
  • Johannes de Sacrobosco (c. 1195 – c. 1256) – Irish monk and astronomer who wrote the authoritative medieval astronomy text Tractatus de Sphaera; his Algorismus was the first text to introduce Hindu-Arabic numerals and procedures into the European university curriculum; the lunar crater Sacrobosco is named after him
  • Gregoire de Saint-Vincent (1584–1667) – Jesuit mathematician who made important contributions to the study of the hyperbola
  • Alphonse Antonio de Sarasa (1618–1667) – Jesuit mathematician who contributed to the understanding of logarithms
  • Christoph Scheiner (c. 1573–1650) – Jesuit physicist, astronomer, and inventor of the pantograph; wrote on a wide range of scientific subjects
  • George Schoener (1864–1941) – Became known in the United States as the “Padre of the Roses” for his experiments in rose breeding
  • Gaspar Schott (1608–1666) – Jesuit physicist, astronomer, and natural philosopher who is most widely known for his works on hydraulic and mechanical instruments
  • Franz Paula von Schrank (1747–1835) – Botanist, entomologist, and prolific writer
  • Berthold Schwarz (c. 14th century) – Franciscan friar and reputed inventor of gunpowder and firearms
  • Anton Maria Schyrleus of Rheita (1604–1660) – Astronomer and optrician who built Kepler’s telescope
  • George Mary Searle (1839–1918) – Paulist astronomer and professor who discovered six galaxies
  • Angelo Secchi (1818–1878) – Pioneer in astronomical spectroscopy, and was one of the first scientists to state authoritatively that the Sun is a star
  • Alessandro Serpieri (1823–1885) – Astronomer and seismologist who studied shooting stars, and was the first to introduce the concept of the seismic radiant
  • Gerolamo Sersale (1584–1654) – Jesuit astronomer and selenographer; his map of the moon can be seen in the Naval Observatory of San Fernando; the lunar crater Sirsalis is named after him
  • Benedict Sestini (1816–1890) – Jesuit astronomer, mathematician and architect; studied sunspots and eclipses; wrote textbooks on a variety of mathematical subjects
  • René François Walter de Sluse (1622–1685) – Mathematician with a family of curves named after him
  • Lazzaro Spallanzani (1729–1799) – Biologist and physiologist who made important contributions to the experimental study of bodily functions, animal reproduction, and essentially discovered echolocation; his research of biogenesis paved the way for the investigations of Louis Pasteur
  • Valentin Stansel (1621–1705) – Jesuit astronomer who made important observations of comets
  • Johan Stein (1871–1951) – Jesuit astronomer and director of the Vatican Observatory, which he modernized and relocated to Castel Gandolfo; the crater Stein on the far side of the Moon is named after him
  • Nicolas Steno (1638–1686) – Often called the father of geography and stratigraphy (“Steno’s principles”); beatified by Pope John Paul II
  • Pope Sylvester II (c. 946–1003) – Prolific scholar who endorsed and promoted Arabic knowledge of arithmetic, mathematics, and astronomy in Europe, reintroducing the abacus and armillary sphere which had been lost to Europe since the end of the Greco-Roman era
  • Alexius Sylvius Polonus (1593 – c. 1653) – Jesuit astronomer who studied sunspots and published a work on calendariography
  • Ignacije Szentmartony (1718–1793) – Jesuit cartographer, mathematician, and astronomer who became a member of the expedition that worked on the rearrangement of the frontiers among colonies in South America
  • André Tacquet (1612–1660) – Jesuit mathematician whose work laid the groundwork for the eventual discovery of calculus
  • Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881–1955) – Jesuit paleontologist and geologist who took part in the discovery of Peking Man
  • Francesco Lana de Terzi (c. 1631–1687) – Referred to as the Father of Aeronautics for his pioneering efforts; also developed the idea that developed into Braille
  • Theodoric of Freiberg (c. 1250 – c. 1310) – Dominican theologian and physicist who gave the first correct geometrical analysis of the rainbow
  • Joseph Tiefenthaler (1710–1785) – One of the earliest European geographers to write about India
  • Giuseppe Toaldo (1719–1797) – Physicist who studied atmospheric electricity and did important work with lightning rods; the asteroid 23685 Toaldo is named for him.
  • José Torrubia (c. 1700–1768) – Linguist, scientist, collector of fossils and books, and writer on historical, political and religious subjects
  • Franz de Paula Triesnecker (1745–1817) – Jesuit astronomer and director of the Vienna Observatory; published a number of treatises on astronomy and geography; the crater Triesnecker on the Moon is named after him.
  • Basil Valentine (c. 15th century) – Alchemist whom author James J. Walsh calls the father of modern chemistry[8]
  • Luca Valerio (1552–1618) – Jesuit mathematician who developed ways to find volumes and centers of gravity of solid bodies
  • Pierre Varignon (1654–1722) – Mathematician whose principle contributions were to statics and mechanics; created a mechanical explanation of gravitation
  • Giovanni Battista Venturi (1746-1822) – Discovered the Venturi effect
  • Fausto Veranzio (c. 1551–1617) – Bishop, polymath, inventor, and lexicographer
  • Ferdinand Verbiest (1623–1688) – Jesuit astronomer and mathematician; designed what some claim to be the first ever self-propelled vehicle – many claim this as the world’s first automobile
  • Francesco de Vico (1805–1848) – Jesuit astronomer who discovered or co-discovered a number of comets; also made observations of Saturn and the gaps in its rings; the lunar crater De Vico and the asteroid 20103 de Vico are named after him
  • Vincent of Beauvais (c.1190–c.1264) – Wrote the most influential encyclopedia of the Middle Ages
  • János Vitéz (archbishop) (c.1405–1472) – Archbishop, astronomer, and mathematician
  • Martin Waldseemüller (c. 1470–1520) – German cartographer who, along with Matthias Ringmann, is credited with the first recorded usage of the word America
  • Godefroy Wendelin (1580–1667) – Astronomer who recognized that Kepler’s third law applied to the satellites of Jupiter; the lunar crate Vendelinus is named in his honor
  • Johannes Werner (1468–1522) – Mathematician, astronomer, and geographer
  • Witelo (c. 1230 – after 1280, before 1314) – Physicist, natural philosopher, and mathematician; lunar crater Vitello named in his honor; his Perspectiva powerfully influenced later scientists, in particular Johannes Kepler
  • Julian Tenison Woods (1832–1889) – Passionist geologist and mineralogist
  • Theodor Wulf (1868–1946) – Jesuit physicist who was one of the first experimenters to detect excess atmospheric radiation
  • Franz Xaver von Wulfen (1728-1805) – Jesuit botanist, mineralogist, and alpinist
  • John Zahm (1851–1921) – Holy Cross Priest and South American explorer
  • Giuseppe Zamboni (1776–1846) – Physicist who invented the Zamboni pile, an early electric battery similar to the Voltaic pile
  • Francesco Zantedeschi (1797–1873) – Among the first to recognize the marked absorption by the atmosphere of red, yellow, and green light; published papers on the production of electric currents in closed circuits by the approach and withdrawal of a magnet, thereby anticipating Michael Faraday’s classical experiments of 1831
  • Niccolò Zucchi (1586–1670) – Attempted to build a reflecting telescope in 1616; may have been the first to see the belts on the planet Jupiter; corresponded with Kepler
  • Giovanni Battista Zupi (c. 1590–1650) – Jesuit astronomer, mathematician, and first person to discover that the planet Mercury had orbital phases; the crater Zupus on the Moon is named after him

May 3 – Sts Timothy & Maura of Antinoe, (d. 286), Husband & Wife, Martyrs

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I love the story of Sts Timothy & Maura.  I hold a special devotion to them for Kelly & I.  Mara’s name is inspired by the story of Sts Timothy & Maura. They provide an example, firstly, of the devotion to duty, despite the circumstances, a love of Scripture, and the ability to love when we would be justified by human reason in anything but.  They provide an example for all Christians and especially those vowed in the heroic vocation of marriage, that love and forgiveness is possible no matter what, with God’s grace.  I hope and trust you will concur.  (If you’re squeamish, take my word.)

Coming from the Eastern Christian tradition, and so not usually included on the American Roman liturgical calendar, Timothy was a deacon, a lector, and a catechist of the Church in Egypt (then called Kemet) in 286 AD, during the persecutions of the Emperor Diocletian.

As a deacon, it was traditional that each deacon serve some particular practical function, and Timothy’s was to safeguard the scrolls on which the Scriptures were written.  He was betrayed by an enemy to the local Roman authorities as a Christian, and when the Romans learned of his unique function they demanded the Scriptures from Timothy so they could defile them.  Timothy refused saying it would be like giving up one of his children to them.  Timothy had only recently been married to Maura, a fellow Christian, and a fellow catechist in the community at Penapais.  They had only been married twenty days.

The Roman governor said to Timothy: “You see, don’t you, the instruments prepared for torture?” Timothy replied: “But don’t you see the angels of God, which are strengthening me?”

Because of Timothy’s refusal to hand over the scrolls containing the Scriptures, the Romans tortured him by inserting white hot irons into his ears, which also blinded him.  They then hung him upside down and tied a very heavy stone to his head. The cut off his eyelids.  The Romans then brought Maura in.  The Romans had put a piece of wood in Timothy’s mouth so he could not speak.  At Maura’s request, they removed the wood and Timothy incited her to give witness by her suffering.

The Romans believed any harm done to Maura on Timothy’s behalf, and for his refusal, would be far less bearable to Timothy than any pain inflicted on him directly.  Maura never encouraged Timothy to submit, rather, she encouraged him to be strong.

This enraged the Romans and they pulled all the hair from her head.  They chopped off her fingers.  And they lowered her into boiling water, making Timothy aware all the time of what was going on despite his injuries.

Finally, Timothy and Maura were each crucified at Antinoe on opposite walls facing each other.  They both lingered for nine more days, during which they encouraged one another.  They died of shock, blood loss, and dehydration.

It is reported the Roman governor, Arian, who ordered and oversaw the torture of Timothy & Maura later repented, became a Christian, and suffered martyrdom for Christ, as well.  His feast day is December 14.

timothy and maura icon

Troparion (liturgical hymn) of Sts Timothy & Maura – Tone 4

Your holy martyrs Timothy and Maura, O Lord,
Through their sufferings have received incorruptible crowns from You, our God.
For having Your strength, they laid low their adversaries,
And shattered the powerless boldness of demons.
Through their intercessions, save our souls!

Kontakion (Tone 4)

You accepted many humiliations,
And deserved to be crowned by God.
Great and praiseworthy Timothy and Maura,
Intercede with the Lord for us
That we may celebrate your most pure memory;
That He may grant peace to our land and people,
For He is a powerful stronghold for the faithful!

Love,
Matthew

Jun 3 – St Charles Lwanga, Kizito, & companions, (d. 1886), Martyrs

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-Excerpts from “My Life with the Saints”, Rev. James Martin, SJ, pp 319-323, Loyola Press, © 2006.

“Christian missionaries…arrived in the interior of Africa during the late nineteenth century…The largest and most powerful of the local ethnic groups was the Baganda…(accounts of) the Baganda were that they were among the richest and most advanced tribes in Central Africa…Yet the civilization also had a cruel side…with both rulers and subjects having the reputation of being ‘unnaturally cruel’.

Mutesa, the ruler of the Baganda, exemplified this cruel streak.  When he took the throne in 1860, to ensure his own political survival, he buried his brothers alive – all sixty of them.

Conversion to Christianity among the Baganda meant a rejection of the traditional religions…(but was tolerated under Mutesa).

With the accession of Mutesa’s son, Mwanga, to the throne, the situation altered dramatically.  Mwanga was also a practicing pedophile, and upon discovering the the young men who converted to Christianity were beginning to reject his sexual advances, he grew enraged.

In January of 1885, Mwanga had three Christians, whom he referred to as “those who pray”, dismembered and their bodies burned.  In October of the same year, the newly arrived Anglican bishop…was murdered.  Mukasa, a senior advisor to the king, reproached Mwanga for not allowing the bishop the customary opportunity to defend himself.  In response, Mwanga had Mukasa beheaded.

Mukasa’s successor, Charles Lwanga, now was in danger.  Upon witnessing Mukasa’s death, Charles, went to the Catholic mission and immediately had himself baptized along with the other catechumens.  Among those baptized was Kizito, age fourteen.

The next day Charles, Kizito, and their companions were summoned into the royal court.  Mwanga demanded all the young men confess their allegiance.  All but four of them, including Charles and Kizito, did.  Baffled by this refusal, Mwanga put off their executions until the next day.

A fire forced the royal court to relocate to a lodge on the banks of Lake Victoria. During this time, Charles protected several of the young men from Mwanga’s violent sexual advances.  Mwanga finally sentenced twenty-six Christians to be burned alive.

On June 3, Charles was wrapped tightly in a reed mat and was throne into a pyre.  Eventually, a total of forty-five Christians were burned alive.”

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-photo of Charles Lwanga, #13, please click on the image greater detail.

Prayer in Honor of Sts Charles Lwanga, Kizito, and companions

Father, you have made the blood of the martyrs the seed of Christians. May the witness of Saint Charles Lwanga and his companions and their loyalty to Christ in the face of torture, mistreatment, and cruelty inspire countless men and women to live sincerely and faithfully the Christian life.

“If I have all the eloquence of men or of angels, but speak without love,…if I let them take my body and burn it, but have not love, it will do me no good whatever.”  -1 Cor 13: 1,3

“Perfect love casts out fear.”
-cf 1 John 4:18

Love,
Matthew

Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus #2

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This unique iconographic presentation of a beloved theme combines the classic pose of “Christ the Teacher” with devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Heart of Christ is burning with love for mankind, most vividly manifest in His suffering and sacrifice on the Cross.

Devotion to the loving heart of Christ first appeared in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, and has been credited to several saints, including Saints Margaret Mary Alacoque, Bonaventure, Gertrude and Bernard. The devotion became popularized in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, especially through the Society of Jesus and the Visitation Order, and widespread devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus continues to this day.

One of my favorite prayers of devotion to the Sacred Heart…

“O Most Sacred Heart of Jesus,
I adore You,
I love You,
I praise You,
I cry to You for mercy,
I return You thanks,
I invoke You,
And confide myself entirely to You.

O most holy Heart of my Lord and Savior,
Who for the salvation of us all
Accepted a birth into poverty,
Endured sorrow and contempt here on earth,
Lived a life of labor and contradictions,
Suffered a shameful death,
But Who remain
In the most Blessed Sacrament of the altar
Until the end of time;
Accomplish, O Most Sacred Heart,
Your will in my heart,
Which I now dedicate and consecrate to You forever.
Amen.”

“O Sacred Heart of Jesus, we place our trust in Thee.”
-Robert L. & Mary D. McCormick

“The family, just like the Church, must always be regarded as a center to which the Gospel must be brought and from which it must be proclaimed.  Therefore in a family which is conscious of this role all the members of the family are evangelists and are themselves evangelized.”
-Evangelii Nuntiandi, (Evangelization in the Modern World), #71, Pope Paul VI, 1975, as cited in the US Catholic Catechism for Adults, p. 404, July, 2006, USCCB.

“To fall in love with God is the greatest of all romances; to seek Him, the greatest adventure, to find Him, the greatest human achievement.”
-St. Augustine

Love,
Matthew

Ego te baptizo…

“Ego te baptizo in nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti.”  I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Priest:  “What name do you give your child?”
Parents:  “Mara Constance”
Priest:  “What do you ask of the Church of God?”
Parents:  “Faith”   

Priest:  “What does Faith offer?”
Parents:  “Life everlasting”  


Priest:  “If then you desire her to enter into life, teach this child to keep the commandments. ‘You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind; and your neighbor as yourself.’ “

Priest:  “Go forth from her, unclean spirit, and give place to the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete.”   

The priest now makes the Sign of the Cross with his thumb on the child’s forehead and breast.

Priest:  “Mara Constance, receive the Sign of the Cross both upon your forehead + and also upon your heart +; take to you the faith of the heavenly precepts; and so order your life as to be, from henceforth, the temple of God.”

Priest:  “Let us pray: mercifully hear our prayers, we beseech You, O Lord; and by Your perpetual assistance keep this Your elect, Mara Constance, signed with the sign of the Lord’s cross, so that, preserving this first experience of the greatness of Your glory, she may deserve, by keeping Your commandments, to attain to the glory of life everlasting. Through Christ our Lord….”

Priest:  “Do you reject Satan?”
Parents (answering for child):  “I do reject him.”
Priest:  “And all his works?”
Parents:  “I do reject them.”
Priest:  “And all his pomps?”
Parents:  “I do reject them.”
Priest:  “Do you believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth?”
Parents:  “I do believe.”
Priest:  Do you believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son our Lord, Who was born and Who suffered?”
Parents:  “I do believe.”
Priest: “Do you believe in the Holy Ghost, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting?”
Parents:  “I do believe.”

Priest:  “Receive this white garment, Mara Constance.  Never let it become stained, so that when you stand before the judgment seat of our Lord Jesus Christ, you may enter into life everlasting. Amen.”

Priest:  “Receive this burning light, Mara Constance, and keep the grace of your Baptism throughout a blameless life.  Observe the commandments of God.  Then, when the Lord comes to His heavenly wedding feast, you will be able to meet Him with all the Saints in the halls of heaven, and live for ever and ever. Amen.”

The Pope & condoms

OK.  Where angels fear to tread, and always attempting to seek reason and clarity in the midst of every argument, as a certified catechist in the Archdiocese, and in training to be a catechetical leader, I certainly am no expert on Humanae Vitae, Theology of the Body, or the biology/pathology of HIV/AIDS.  Is that enough of a disclaimer, or does that convince you of the uselessness of reading any further.

Please do not crucify me for this vain attempt at clarification.  A debate amongst friends prompting my amateurish attempt at it.  I am, however, by general inclination, the devil’s advocate, much to the woe and chagrin of those who know, and yes, perhaps even love me.  Had I found as simple or certainly simpler explanation online as I am attempting here from a certainly more authoritative source, I would have immediately referred you to it and saved myself the time and trouble.  However, I am still seeking such a resource.

This question is one of those many Catholic answers which do not lend themselves to sound bites.  Most Catholic answers do not lend themselves to sound bites.  The modern world operates on sound bites and cannot tolerate any explanation longer than fifteen seconds with lots of pictures, music, and fun, pleasing imagery.  If the Church is guilty of anything, it is guilty of brilliant theology, and lousy reduction of that brilliant theology into sound bites, as if that were even possible.  Hence, the joie de catechesis.  Seriously, can you think of a more thrilling challenge in the 21st century?  I can’t.  Hence, here I am, amateur though I may be.

This particular instance regarding the pope’s latest comments in Africa, in my amateur opinion, is one of those many exquisite and regular moments.  It really does depend on what your definition of “is” is, and understanding the milieu of either side to understand how either side could sincerely be saying what they are saying, and not merely being ideological.  Please let me attempt to explain.  

Being an amateur student of the Theology of the Body and having trained myself using Ascencion Press’ “Theology of the Body for Teens”, and having some experience in amateur reduction of brilliant theology into teen speak, I sally forth to my own destruction below.

Let us begin with the facts, the simplest first.  Always a solid and reasonable place to begin in debate.  AIDS is a horrific, terrible disease of which I know nothing.  Deo Gratias.  Secular and Catholic thought wants to prevent AIDS.  Laudable and understandable and commendable.  Agreed.  See that wasn’t so bad.  We can agree.  Secular thought assumes human beings are devoid of the ability to control themselves and that that is even a laughable suggestion; therefore, the next best suggestion is some mechanical device which allows the sexual act, but may prevent the spread of the disease.  I get it.

Catholic thought has such a radically different approach to sexual union than the secular world.  For the secular world, sexual gratification is utilitarian.  The individual gets something for themselves out of it.  Catholic thought sees the sexual union as giving of oneself to the other.  It is not intended at all or whatsoever for self-gratification, that is a side benefit, although the joy of the moment is God’s gift, too.  

Catholic thought is so poetic in terms of this mutual self-giving, and ultimate union of God and mankind, in a very theological and beautiful, and not scatological way, it is difficult for most people, if not all, to wrap their minds around these ideas, and they only begin to illuminate in the depths of reflection and contemplation on the Theology of the Body.  Children are the fruit of this union.  The union is so sacred and so reflective of the Divine union, that placing anything that might interrupt or impede this union between two persons of the opposite sex expressing sincere love for one another is anathema, hence the Church’s opposition to same sex unions, contraception, or perversion of any kind.  Notice, please, I did not say Catholics always live this ideal consistently, sinners that we are, but this is the ideal.

Besides the theological objections, the Holy Father would appear to have had in mind, forgive my boldness in assuming I know his intentions, the practical reality that the great majority of human beings over-simplify, and if offered a false panacea such as a condom and infected with HIV/AIDS, and lacking, potentially, the love and concern of the other, as Catholic thought would require, the infected person because they believe a condom is a rock solid preventative may resume sexual activity indiscriminately, as if they were not infected with HIV/AIDS.  Catholic thought would call to that individual to consider morally and conscientiously the implications of their continuing sexual activity and exercise love of the other manifested in self control, with the aid of grace.  What if it breaks?

It is these considerations which I understand led the Holy Father to suggest condoms may not be the ultimate preventative against the spread of HIV/AIDS, but rather, may lead to more infection than abstinence.  Did that make any sense?  I would really appreciate a professional Catholic moral theologian correcting my many mistakes I know are extant from my ignorance.

In Christian love,
Matthew

Holy Spirit Gift #7 – The Holy Fear of the Lord

I recently (5/18/09) finished reading Dr. C. Colt Anderson’s book “The Great Catholic Reformers:  from Gregory the Great to Dorothy Day”.

As someone who has, in the past, prepared young Catholics for the sacrament of Confirmation, and who hopes to again, someday, I have been trained and know from experience the effective catechist preparing others for Confirmation constantly keeps in mind the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit which, by Catholic doctrine, the Confirmandi (those to be confirmed) will receive through the sacrament.  

They are:

·     Wisdom

·     Understanding

·     Counsel

·     Fortitude

·     Knowledge

·     Piety

·     Fear of the Lord (traditionally)

In the last few decades, there has been a creeping, unhealthy, in my opinion, obsession with avoiding what some, especially the untrained and uninitiated, popularly motivated, or the merely timid, may perceive as “negative” language.  I refer to this heresy, if you will allow me the term, as the “Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy”, with apologies and/or royalties to Ren & Stimpy, syndrome.  As if, an institution, the saving act of which was carried out through a cruel and brutal execution on a shameful instrument of torture:  the cross; and which is the chief bulwark against a cosmic, spiritual battle of good vs. evil, could somehow only focus on the positive to the exclusion of reality, and keep on using the word Truth, without smirks both internal and external, and full body eye rolls teenagers are so fond of, cynics that they are or pretend to be.  How pleasant, how easy, how politically convenient, and how unrealistic, that is.  To that end, gift #7, the fear of the Lord, got a makeover.  The name “awe” is now, and has been for some time, in fashion.

I take exception. While not doomsayer, I do not feel, as an experienced and certified catechist, this term accurately conveys the meaning intended.  Receipt of this gift is never, was never defined as a sniveling, obsequious, groveling of the damned, deprived of human dignity type of fear, but rather in defining the only right, healthy relationship between beloved creature and loving Creator, in “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom.” (Prov 1:7)

When I look at the Sears (now Willis) Tower, I feel awe.  When I think about God, it is so much more than that, which is why I found the following excerpts from the Conclusion of Dr. Anderson’s book so poignant:

“They (the Great Catholic Reformers) believed the ultimate measure of accountability is found in the great commandment:  to love God with all your heart and soul and to love your neighbor as yourself…

The reformers’ commitment to the idea that we will be held accountable for truly loving God and our neighbors…The notion of accountability to God and neighbor was traditionally grounded in the spiritual gift of the fear of the Lord.  Unfortunately, the connection between fear of the Lord and accountability has largely been severed in current magisterial teaching.

Traditionally, the fear of the Lord did not simply mean that God was grand or awesome; instead, it was interpreted in light of the scriptural and creedal affirmations that Christ will return as judge.  Because they believed in the authority of scripture, they held that the measure of the final judgment will be whether we loved God with our heart and our neighbors as ourselves.  They accepted that those who fail to commit themselves to love and mercy will be punished, as Christ warned, even for the thoughtless words they use (Mt 13:36).  Fear of the Lord gave the reformers the courage to obey God rather than people, customs, laws, or institutions;…

For the victims (of clergy sexual abuse), the loss of the sense of accountability to God makes it more difficult to heal their wounds.  God’s justice is a mercy for those who have suffered real evil…

The imperfections of the church and of its members should not surprise or scandalize us.  Jesus Christ warned us to expect ongoing problems and wicked members of the church.  Even as we work to address sin in the church, the Messiah taught us to leave judgment to Him.  To console those who have been wronged and to urge people to convert, Christ vividly drew out the consequences of malice and complacency with His parables. Reformers should keep the Lord’s description of the church in mind to avoid presumption and discouragement:

‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind.  When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets. What is bad they throw away.  Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’  -Mt 13:47-50
 
The fact that the pilgrim church contains both the bad and the ugly within her communal life is no reason to lose heart and to reject her ability to fulfill her mission, nor should the mixed nature of the church lead us to despair of ever experiencing the healing sweetness of justice.”


“What good fortune for those in power that people don’t think.”  – Adolf Hitler
“It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it’s the parts that I do understand.” -Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
Love,
Matthew

May 22 – St Rita of Cascia (1381 – 1457), Patroness of Abuse Victims & Impossible/Desperate Situations

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Whoever said life would be easy?  Plus, you know I have a special weakness for married saints, like Kelly.

Born late to Antonio & Amata Lotti in the village of Roccaparen, Umbria, Italy in 1386, from her early youth, Rita visited the Augustinian nuns at Cascia, Italy, and showed interest in a religious life. However, when she was twelve, her parents betrothed her to Paolo Mancini, an ill-tempered, abusive man who worked as town watchman, and who was dragged into the political disputes of the day.

She begged her parents to allow her enter the convent, but they would not relent.  If she married, her parents had the chance of being cared for in their later years by her and her husband’s family.  If she entered the convent, there would be no such support.  Disappointed but obedient, Rita married Mancini when she was 18, and was the mother of twin sons. She put up with Paolo’s physical and verbal abuses for eighteen years before he was ambushed and stabbed to death by his political enemies, although near the end of his life, Rita’s positive influence began to take hold on him. Her sons swore vengeance on the killers of their father, but through the prayers and interventions of Rita, they forgave the offenders.

Upon the deaths of her sons, Rita again felt the call to religious life. However, some of the sisters at the Augustinian monastery were relatives of her husband’s murderers, and she was denied entry for fear of causing dissension. As a condition of being allowed to enter the monastery, Rita was given the seemingly impossible task of reconciling the family of her husband’s murderers with her husband’s own.  Asking for the intervention of Saint John the Baptist, Saint Augustine of Hippo, and Saint Nicholas of Tolentino, she managed to bring the warring factions together, not completely, but sufficiently that there was peace, and she was admitted to the monastery of Saint Mary Magdalen at age 36.

Rita lived 40 years in the convent, spending her time in prayer and charity, and working for peace in the region. She was devoted to the Passion, and in response to a prayer to suffer as Christ did, she received a chronic head wound that appeared to have been caused by a crown of thorns, and which bled for 15 years.

Confined to her bed the last four years of her life, eating little more than the Eucharist, teaching and directing the younger sisters. Near the end, she had a visitor from her home town who asked if she’d like anything; Rita’s only request was a rose from her family’s estate. The visitor went to the home, but it being January, knew there was no hope of finding a flower; there, sprouted on an otherwise bare bush, was a single rose blossom.

Rita is well-known as a patron of desperate, seemingly impossible causes and situations. This is because she has been involved in so many stages of life – wife, mother, widow, and nun, she buried her family, helped bring peace to her city, saw her dreams denied and fulfilled – and never lost her faith in God, or her desire to be with Him.  Rita died of tuberculosis on May 22, 1457.

Recently, St. Rita has been referred to as the patron saint of baseball, due to the several references made to her in the Walt Disney movie The Rookie (2002), in which the chances of Dennis Quaid’s character of playing professional baseball is considered a lost cause. This has sparked a small movement in Roman Catholic baseball circles of considering St. Rita the patron saint of the sport: in support of the connection religious medals have been printed with an image of St. Rita on one side and a batter on the other.

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-“St Rita of Cascia”, aka Santa Rita, window, 19th century, Austin, TX, Cathedral of St Mary.

Prayers to St Rita of Cascia

Dear Rita, model Wife and Widow, you yourself suffered in a long illness showing patience out of love for God. Teach us to pray as you did. Many invoke you for help, full of confidence in your intercession. Deign to come now to our aid for the relief and cure of {name of sufferer}. To God, all things are possible; may this healing give glory to the Lord. Amen.

Holy Patroness of those in need, Saint Rita, you were humble, pure and patient. Your pleadings with your divine Spouse are irresistible, so please obtain for me from our risen Jesus the request I make of you: {mention your petition}. Be kind to me for the greater glory of God, and I shall honor you and sing your praises forever. Glorious Saint Rita, you miraculously participated in the sorrowful passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. Obtain for me now the grace to suffer with resignation the troubles of this life, and protect me in all my needs. Amen.

Hymn to Saint Rita of Cascia

Come, virgins chaste; pure brides, draw near
Let Earth exult and Heaven hear
The Hymn that grateful accents raise,
Our song of joy in Rita’s praise.

By fast her sinless frame is weak;
Her livid flesh the scourges streak.
In pity for her Savior’s woes,
Her days and even nights are closed.

The thorn-wound on her brow is shown,
The crimson rose in winter blown,
And full-ripe figs on frozen tree
At Rita’s wish the wonders see.

The widowed spouse and wedded wife
The way to heaven see in her life;
The way secure our Rita trod,
In life’s dim day, through paint o God.

Praise to the Father and the Son,
Praise to the Spirit, Three in One;
O grant us grace in heaven to reign
Through Rita’s prayer and life-long pain.

Thou hast signed thy servant Rita
With the sign of thy Love and Passion.

O God! who didst deign to confer on Saint Rita for imitating Thee in love of her enemies, the favor of bearing her heart and brow the marks of Thy Love and Passion, grant we beseech Thee, that through her intercession and merit, we may, pierced by the thorns of compunction, ever contemplate the sufferings of Thy Passion, who livest and reignest forever and ever. Amen.

-translation of the hymn of Lauds, office of Saint Rita of Cascia, approved by Decree of S.C.R. 24 November 1900

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Love,
Matthew