Sunday, June 23, 2024

12th Sunday of Ordinary Time: Jesus Calms the Storm

The 12th Sunday of Ordinary Time in the liturgical year B offers a profound opportunity for reflection and spiritual growth. The readings selected for this day invite the faithful to contemplate the majesty of God's creation, the depth of Christ's love, and the transformative power of faith.

The first reading from the Book of Job (Job 38:1, 8-11) presents a humbling dialogue where God addresses Job out of the storm. This passage reminds us of the limits of human understanding and the boundless wisdom of the Creator who commands even the seas and the winds. It is a call to trust in God's omnipotence and to find peace in the acknowledgment of our own limitations.

The Responsorial Psalm (Psalm 107) echoes this theme of God's dominion over nature. It speaks of those who have seen the works of the Lord and His wonders in the abyss. The psalmist invites us to give thanks to the Lord for His everlasting love, especially when He rescues us from distress and brings calm to our storms.

In the second reading, St. Paul's letter to the Corinthians (2 Cor 5:14-17) explores the compelling love of Christ. Paul emphasizes that Christ's death and resurrection were for all, urging us to live not for ourselves but for Him. This passage challenges us to view our lives and others through the lens of our faith in Christ, recognizing that in Him, we are a new creation.

The Gospel of Mark (Mk 4:35-41) narrates the familiar story of Jesus calming the storm. This powerful account not only displays Jesus' authority over nature but also addresses the disciples' fear and lack of faith. Jesus' question, "Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?" resonates with us as we face our own storms in life. It invites us to reflect on the strength of our faith and our trust in God's providential care.

These readings collectively offer a rich tapestry of themes for reflection: the awe-inspiring power of God, the redemptive love of Christ, and the call to a faith that overcomes fear. They encourage us to look beyond our immediate circumstances and to trust in the God who stills the waves and guides us to safe harbor.  

Deepening one's faith is a personal and ongoing journey that can be enriched through various practices and disciplines. Here are some practical ways to strengthen your faith:

1. Develop a Consistent Prayer Routine: Prayer is the cornerstone of a strong faith. Setting aside dedicated time for prayer each day helps to maintain a connection with the divine and fosters spiritual growth. Without prayer, a Catholic cannot thrive.  Prayer is the respiration of the human soul and spirit. 

2. Engage with Sacred Texts: Regular reading and study of sacred texts provide deeper understanding and connection. It's not just about reading but also about reflecting on the words and applying them to your life. The Sacred Scripture is the education and mental, spiritual, and psychological food a Catholic soul needs to learn and grow as a Christian. 

3. Participate in Community Worship: Attending Mass and becoming involved in your faith community can offer support and deepen your sense of belonging and belief.  The Church is a community. It is not about the individual only, but the entire Body of Christ.  The Eucharist is the summit of this community. In the Eucharist, we have Jesus truly present who presents Himself as Sacred Food to nourish the body, soul, and spirit

4. Practice Mindfulness and Meditation: These practices can help you become more aware of the divine presence in every moment and cultivate a sense of peace and centeredness.

5. Serve Others: Acts of service are a practical expression of faith. By helping those in need, you can embody the principles of your beliefs and experience the joy of giving. Remember that Jesus is present in others, especially the least of our brothers and sisters. 

6. Seek Fellowship: Surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals can provide encouragement and accountability. Sharing experiences and insights with others can reinforce your faith journey.

7. Embrace Trials as Opportunities: Challenges in life can be seen as opportunities for growth. Trusting in your faith during difficult times can strengthen your resolve and deepen your trust in the divine.

8. Express Gratitude: Cultivating an attitude of gratitude can shift your focus from what you lack to the abundance you have. Recognizing and appreciating the blessings in life can enhance your spiritual perspective.

9. Set Spiritual Goals: Just like any other area of life, setting goals for your spiritual practices can provide direction and motivation. These could include reading a certain number of sacred texts, volunteering a set amount of time, or mastering a particular form of meditation.

10. Attend Retreats or Workshops: These can be powerful ways to focus on your faith, free from the distractions of daily life. They often provide new insights and practices that can invigorate your spiritual journey.

11. Journaling: Keeping a journal of your prayers, thoughts, and spiritual experiences can serve as a tangible record of your faith journey. It can be a source of encouragement and a tool for reflection.

12. Practice Forgiveness: Forgiveness is a powerful act that can release you from past burdens and open your heart to deeper faith.

13. Cultivate Patience: Faith often requires patience, as answers or signs may not come immediately. Learning to wait with a trusting heart is a sign of a maturing faith.

14. Learn from Faith Leaders: Reading books, listening to talks, or attending lectures by respected faith leaders can inspire and inform your spiritual path.

15. Stay Open to Learning: Recognize that your understanding of faith will evolve over time. Stay open to new interpretations and understandings as you grow.

Remember, deepening your faith is a unique process for each individual. It's important to find practices that resonate with you and integrate them into your daily life.  Do not take on too much. Some Catholics want to do everything pray everything and wear everything in regard to sacramentals.  This does the opposite with our faith. Our faith becomes mechanical and based on rituals instead of its true essence, Jesus Christ. 

Jesus is the sole reason we exist and have our being. He is the sole reason we have the Catholic Church, the Sacraments, the Bible, and, so on.  The life we live in often makes it hard for us to have faith and to thrive in it. There are many challenges. Life itself is not the cause nor is it bad. Life is good! However, original sin has tarnished the things in life making it often unbearable. There will be storms.  Storms have their natural purpose of watering the earth, moving old materials (fallen branches, leaves, and so on), cooling the temperature, moving ozone, and overall maintenance of nature. However, they can be scary and can cause harm due to man's construction. 

The storm in the Gospel refers to both a historical event and a metaphorical one.  By metaphorical, we mean that in our lives we often have "storms" that rock our boats, so to speak. They bring us a lot of suffering, stress and anxiety. In many instances, they may force us to question our faith. This is normal. We have a thing we have to suffer in this life.  Recently, my sister was called home by the heavenly Father. She was battling cancer but passed from natural causes.  We were left distraught. She has so much to live for, especially her two beautiful children, one who is autistic. These two children also lost their dad in 2021 so they are now basically orphans.  

It is painful to even write this, but this is the reality now. It is a huge storm my family and I are facing. However, we know Jesus calms the storm. We cannot see what will happen nor can anticipate it but know Jesus is in control. Death affects our faith often enough. We wonder what happened.  We prayed and prayed. Why did a healing not occur? Why do others get better but not her?  We cannot answer this because we are still on earth on a different plane of existence and perception. However, we have faith that God has a plan. He had a bigger purpose.  Jesus calms the storm. He will calm the storms in your life as well. He will not let you be tossed about by the winds, nor drenched in the rain. If the storm knocks you overboard, He will not let you float or drown in the dark rowdy waters. 

As we participate in the Mass and listen to these readings, we are invited to deepen our relationship with God, renew our commitment to live in Christ, and strengthen our faith in the face of life's challenges. Let us embrace the message of hope and trust that these readings convey, carrying it with us into the week ahead and beyond.  

Saturday, June 22, 2024

Louisiana Lighting Law: 10 Commandments in Schools

The Intersection of Education and Law: Louisiana's Ten Commandments Mandate

Louisiana has recently passed a law that has sparked a nationwide conversation on the role of historical documents and religious texts in public education. The new legislation requires that the Ten Commandments be displayed in all public school classrooms across the state, from kindergarten through state-funded universities.

This law has been met with a variety of responses, ranging from support to opposition. Proponents argue that the Ten Commandments are not only religious in nature but also hold historical significance as foundational documents of American law and governance. They believe that such displays can provide moral guidance to students and serve as a reminder of the historical underpinnings of the nation's legal system.

On the other hand, opponents of the law raise concerns about the separation of church and state, a principle enshrined in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Civil liberties groups have announced plans to challenge the law in court, arguing that it violates the constitutional promise that the government should not favor one religion over another or impose religious practices on its citizens.

The debate is not new; it echoes previous legal battles over religious symbols in public spaces. The Supreme Court of the United States has addressed similar issues in the past, balancing the historical significance of religious texts with the constitutional mandates regarding religion and government.

Louisiana's law also authorizes the display of other historical documents, such as the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence, and the Northwest Ordinance, in K-12 public schools. These documents, along with the Ten Commandments, are to be accompanied by a context statement explaining their historical relevance to American public education and governance.

As the law is set to take effect by the start of 2025, with posters funded through donations rather than state funds, the nation watches closely. The outcome of the impending legal challenges could have far-reaching implications for the interpretation of the First Amendment and the presence of religious and historical texts in public education.

The situation in Louisiana serves as a reminder of the ongoing dialogue about the role of religion in public life and the enduring question of how to honor the nation's historical heritage while upholding constitutional values. As this conversation unfolds, it will undoubtedly add to the rich tapestry of American legal and educational discourse.

This new law is tricky. While separation of Church and State is NOT found in the Constitution and derives from a letter by Jefferson to a Baptist minister, this law does seem to present a conflict to the idea.  The US Constitution does state that it cannot endorse an official religion.  However, is the display of the 10 Commandments endorsing any religion?  

Law is based on Judeo-Christian principles and philosophies.  There is no denying this. In fact, many courthouses around the United States have images of the Commandments and even Moses. Are they torn down or presented in lawsuits? The answer is no.  These images are allowed to remain as reminders of the origin of the legal system.  

The display of the Commandments in school is a bit different because normally children do not learn the law in public schools. I took paralegal in high school, but this was a special program at the school at the time.  It is no longer offered today to younger students.  That being stated, is it appropriate to display the Commandments in schools?  Some argue that the laws present a sense of morality to students. However, this is difficult to ascertain due to the fact that not every student subscribes to the Commandments of the faiths behind them, namely Judaism and Christianity.  

What about atheist students or Muslims?  What about Buddhists or Pagans?  This is a big problem in a pluralistic society. Moreover, what if some teachers proselytize students into adopting their faith?  This is what led the Knights of Columbus to sue the school system to stop Bible studies. Catholic students in public schools were being proselytized by being taught Protestant heretical biblical views.  

In any event, the motto of the nation is "In God We Trust" and despite many lawsuits, the courts have defended its use. It does not promote religion or faith in God and the "God" in the words can be any deity an American worships.  So this is why the issue is tricky.  Nevertheless, we cannot deny the importance of the Ten Commandments in a historical sense and how it led to the development of the legal system.  As long as this is the intention for the display in schools, then we do not see any issue. However, if school officials use it to preach their personal theologies to students, then that is a problem. 


: [New law requires all Louisiana public school classrooms to display the Ten Commandments](https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/us/new-law-requires-all-louisiana-public-school-classrooms-to-display-the-ten-commandments/ar-BB1owTsA)

: [Trump, late night hosts weigh in on Louisiana putting Ten Commandments in schools](https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/trump-late-night-hosts-weigh-in-on-louisiana-putting-ten-commandments-in-schools/ar-BB1oF3V9)

: [Louisiana lawmaker behind Ten Commandments bill is eyeing more culture war wins](https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/louisiana-lawmaker-behind-ten-commandments-bill-is-eyeing-more-culture-war-wins/ar-BB1oBwlr)

: [Louisiana law requires the Ten Commandments to be displayed in every public school classroom](https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/louisiana-law-requires-ten-commandments-displayed-every-public-school-rcna157949)

Friday, June 21, 2024

V is for Vaticana Giustizia

The Vatican and the Case of Archbishop Viganò

In a recent turn of events, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the former Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, has been summoned to the Vatican to face charges of schism. This development follows a series of public statements by Archbishop Viganò that have been critical of Pope Francis and the Second Vatican Council, leading to a significant amount of controversy within the Catholic Church.

The charge of schism is a serious one in the Catholic Church, referring to the act of willfully and persistently rejecting the authority of the Pope and the teachings of the Church. The Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, which is responsible for promoting and safeguarding the doctrine on the faith and morals throughout the Catholic world, has initiated an extrajudicial penal process against Archbishop Viganò.

Archbishop Viganò has been a vocal critic of Pope Francis, accusing him of various misdeeds and calling into question his legitimacy as the Pontiff. In a statement, Archbishop Viganò has said, "I consider the accusations against me an honor," and has referred to the Second Vatican Council as an "ideological, theological, moral, and liturgical cancer," with the current Synodal Church being a "metastasis".

The Vatican has not publicly commented on the proceedings, but the situation has sparked discussions among the faithful and observers of the Vatican's internal affairs. The outcome of this trial could have significant implications for the Church, particularly in how it handles dissent and manages its doctrinal integrity.

This case is reminiscent of the trial of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre fifty years ago, who was also accused of schism for rejecting Vatican II. The parallels drawn by Archbishop Viganò between his case and that of Lefebvre highlight the ongoing debates within the Church regarding tradition, reform, and the authority of the Vatican Councils.

The specific charges against Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, as reported by various sources, revolve around the canonical crime of schism. The allegations suggest that Archbishop Viganò made public statements that claimed to deny the fundamental elements necessary to maintain communion with the Catholic Church. These statements reportedly include denying the legitimacy of Pope Francis as the rightful pontiff and outright rejection of the doctrines established during the Second Vatican Council.

The Vatican's Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, which is tasked with safeguarding the doctrine on faith and morals in the Catholic Church, has initiated an extrajudicial penal process against Archbishop Viganò. If convicted, the consequences could be severe, including excommunication and possibly being removed from the clerical state.

The case has attracted considerable attention, not only because of the high-profile nature of the accused but also due to the implications it may have for the Church's handling of dissent and the preservation of its doctrinal integrity. The trial of Archbishop Viganò is set to be a significant event in the contemporary history of the Catholic Church, as it grapples with issues of tradition, authority, and reform.

Vigano could face excommunication and even laicization if the Vatican court decides against him. Unfortunately, he left a lot of evidence out there on social media for a quick conviction.  He has only himself to blame. Other social media grifters such as Taylor Marshall, Father Z, One Peter Five, and Rorate Caeli have been trying to defend him but with this announcement have become desperate. Even Marshall found it hard to find viewership during his YouTube broadcast and found many are not defending Vigano.  These people are just defending the defensible. We first agreed with Vigano early on. He spoke on things that were truly of concern in the Church. However, when he began attacking the pope, the papacy, Vatican II, the Mass, etc, that was when we realized this man had gone Luther. There was no way to take him seriously.

Schism is not the way to go even if you have huge disagreements with the hierarchy. Dialog and understanding are a must. If not, the Catholic Church becomes something else. It becomes an institution based on your views, misunderstandings, and nostalgia. This is what we see in Marshal and others. They created their own religion. Tradition is not based on what we think is tradition or measured on a specific timeline we want to apply it to.  Tradition is a living organism that develops. Like with all organisms, it is the same creation but just grows and adapts to wherever it finds itself without losing its identity and purpose.  

We need to accept the Catholic Church in her all or just walk away and do our own thing and pray God has mercy on us at our deaths.  The Catholic Church is not ours. We do not decide what to believe and what not to believe. We do not decide who is the valid pope or what is the Mass and what is not. The Catholic Church does. We are just members.  If Marshall, Father Z, One Peter Five, Rorate Caeli, Mike Lewis and others do not believe this, then they need to leave and do their own thing and stop pretending to be Catholics. Maybe the Vatican needs to go after them and all these other armchair grifters who use the faith to make money and promote falsehoods and excommunicate them as well.  Enough is enough. The Church has to be respected.  

As the situation unfolds, many are watching closely to see how the Vatican will navigate this delicate issue and what precedents it may set for handling charges of schism in the future. The trial of Archbishop Viganò is not just about the man himself but about the larger questions of unity, authority, and the future direction of the Catholic Church.







Source:

EXCLUSIVE: Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano Summoned to Vatican to be Excommunicated | The Gateway Pundit | by Guest Contributor

Attendite a falsis prophetis - Fondazione EXSURGE DOMINE Ets


Thursday, June 20, 2024

Remembering Willie Mays: A Tribute to the 'Say Hey Kid'

Remembering Willie Mays: A Tribute to the 'Say Hey Kid'

Baseball has lost one of its brightest stars, Willie Mays, who passed away at the age of 93. Known affectionately as the 'Say Hey Kid,' Mays was a beacon of excellence in Major League Baseball (MLB), a symbol of the sport's rich history and an inspiration to countless fans and players.

Willie Mays' journey from the Negro Leagues to the MLB is a testament to his indomitable spirit and exceptional talent. He began his career with the Birmingham Black Barons before joining the New York Giants, where he made an immediate impact with his charismatic play and infectious enthusiasm for the game. His move with the team to San Francisco only expanded his legend, as he continued to display his prowess on the field.

Mays' statistics speak volumes about his skill: 660 home runs, 12 Gold Glove Awards, and a place in the top echelons of baseball's all-time greats. But numbers only tell part of the story. Mays was a trailblazer, becoming the first player to join the 300 home run and 300 stolen base club, showcasing a rare combination of power and speed.

Beyond his athletic achievements, Willie Mays was a cultural icon. He broke barriers and served as a role model during a time of significant social change in America. His legacy extends far beyond the diamond; it is etched in the annals of American history, symbolizing progress, perseverance, and the love of the game.

Willie Mays, known as the "Say Hey Kid," is remembered not only for his exceptional talent and statistics but also for the indelible moments he created on the baseball field. Here are some of the most memorable moments that define his legendary career:

1. The Catch - Perhaps the most iconic moment in World Series history, Willie Mays made "The Catch" in the 1954 World Series against the Cleveland Indians. With the score tied in the eighth inning, Mays made an over-the-shoulder basket catch on Vic Wertz's deep fly ball to center field. This play has been hailed as one of the greatest defensive plays ever made.

2. Four Home Runs in One Game - On April 30, 1961, Mays achieved the remarkable feat of hitting four home runs in a single game against the Milwaukee Braves. This extraordinary performance showcased his power-hitting ability and solidified his status as one of the game's greats.

3. Breaking the NL Home Run Record - On May 4, 1966, Mays hit his 512th career home run, surpassing Mel Ott's National League record. This historic moment was a significant milestone in Mays' career and earned him a standing ovation from the Candlestick Park crowd.

4. 24 All-Star Appearances - Mays was selected to 24 All-Star Games throughout his career, a testament to his consistent excellence and popularity among fans and players alike.

5. 12 Gold Glove Awards - Reflecting his defensive prowess, Mays won 12 consecutive Gold Glove Awards from 1957 to 1968. His defensive skills were as much a part of his legend as his batting.

6. 660 Career Home Runs - Mays ended his career with 660 home runs, placing him among the all-time leaders in MLB history. This achievement highlights his longevity and sustained power at the plate.

These moments are just a few highlights from Willie Mays' storied career, which spanned over two decades. His impact on the game of baseball is everlasting, and his legacy continues to inspire future generations of players and fans. Willie Mays will always be remembered as one of the greatest to ever play the game. Rest in peace, Willie Mays. Your contributions to baseball will never be forgotten.

The baseball community has come together to mourn the loss of Willie Mays, with tributes pouring in from all corners. Barry Bonds, Keith Hernandez, and others have expressed their deep respect and admiration for Mays, highlighting the profound impact he had on their lives and careers.

As we reflect on the life of Willie Mays, we are reminded of the joy he brought to the game of baseball. His iconic over-the-shoulder catch in the 1954 World Series, his magnetic personality, and his unparalleled talent have left an indelible mark on the sport.

Willie Mays' passing is a poignant moment for baseball fans around the world. It is a time to celebrate his life, to honor his contributions to the sport, and to acknowledge the void his absence leaves in the heart of baseball. The 'Say Hey Kid' may have left the field, but his spirit will forever roam the outfield, catching every fly ball and stealing every base in the eternal game of baseball.

Rest in peace, Willie Mays. Your legacy will live on, inspiring future generations to play the game with the same passion, dignity, and excellence that you embodied.

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

New York: You Can Grow Marijuana at Home

New York's Green Thumb: The State's Progressive Step Towards Homegrown Marijuana

In a landmark move, New York State has legalized the home cultivation of marijuana for adults aged 21 and over, marking a significant shift in the state's approach to cannabis regulation. This progressive step not only reflects the changing attitudes toward marijuana use but also empowers individuals with the freedom to grow their own plants for personal use.

Under the new guidelines, residents can cultivate up to three mature and three immature plants individually, with a maximum of six mature and six immature plants per household, regardless of the number of adults residing there. This initiative aims to provide a safe and regulated framework for home cultivation, ensuring that individuals can enjoy the benefits of marijuana without the risks associated with unregulated use.

The state has put forth clear regulations to ensure the safety and security of home cultivation. For instance, the use of flammable materials for at-home cannabis-based product extraction is prohibited due to safety concerns. Instead, residents are encouraged to explore alternative methods such as heat, water, or fermentation. Additionally, measures must be taken to prevent cannabis odor from becoming a nuisance to neighbors and to secure plants from unauthorized access or theft.

The legalization also comes with an educational push, providing resources for residents to learn about safe cultivation practices. The Office of Cannabis Management has made information readily available on its website and through a dedicated hotline, guiding individuals on everything from purchasing seeds to controlling indoor air quality to reduce the risk of mold and fungus.

This move by New York is not just about allowing the growth of marijuana plants; it's about fostering a responsible culture around cannabis use. It's about recognizing the therapeutic and recreational benefits of marijuana while also acknowledging the importance of regulation and education in preventing potential misuse.

As New Yorkers begin to exercise their newfound rights, it's essential to remain informed and compliant with the state's regulations. By doing so, residents can ensure that they are contributing to a safe and sustainable cannabis culture in New York State.

This news will not be well accepted by people who value quality of life.  New York is clearly lost. Whether or not this state will return to reason is left to be seen. However, we can assume that it is on a downward spiral and will bring about election changes when crime gets worse and quality of life disappears.  Marijuana use as recreation is not safe, see:Sacerdotus: Dangers of Marijuana Use.  Studies are already coming out showing that the legalization of it has made things worse in states that have legalized it.  

For more detailed information on the rules and regulations of homegrown marijuana in New York, interested individuals can visit the official state cannabis website or consult the comprehensive guide provided by local news outlets.


---

References:

https://pix11.com/news/local-news/marijuana-in-ny-nj/growing-weed-allowed-in-new-york-homes/

: New York State's official guidelines on home cultivation of cannabis.

: Local news outlet's detailed breakdown of the rules for legally growing marijuana at home in NY.

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Pope G7 Summit: Artificial Intelligence

The Intersection of Faith and Artificial Intelligence: Insights from the G7 Summit

In a historic moment, Pope Francis addressed the Group of Seven (G7) summit, marking the first time a pontiff has spoken at this global forum. His speech focused on the profound implications of artificial intelligence (AI) on society, emphasizing the need for ethical considerations and human control over this rapidly advancing technology.

Pope Francis' engagement with AI is not new; his interest in the ethical dimensions of technology has been evident for years. The Vatican's active participation in discussions about AI's future underscores the importance of a moral compass in guiding technological development. The pope's message to the G7 leaders was clear: AI should serve humanity, not the other way around.

The pope warned of the potential risks associated with AI, such as exacerbating inequalities between developed and developing nations and between social classes. He urged political leaders to take urgent action to ensure that AI is harnessed for the common good, advocating for the ban of lethal autonomous weapons and calling for AI to be a "bulwark" against technocratic paradigms.

His speech also highlighted the potential benefits of AI, including expanding access to knowledge, advancing scientific research, and relieving humans of demanding tasks. However, he cautioned that these advancements should not come at the cost of human dignity or exacerbate social injustices.

The pope's address at the G7 summit is a significant moment that brings to the forefront the ethical considerations of AI. It serves as a reminder that as we navigate the complexities of AI, we must ensure that it aligns with values that promote human flourishing and the common good. The pope's call to action is not just for political leaders but for all stakeholders involved in the development and deployment of AI technologies.

As AI continues to transform every aspect of our lives, from medicine to education, the guidance of ethical principles becomes increasingly crucial. The pope's message resonates with the broader conversation about the role of AI in society and the responsibility of ensuring it is developed and used in ways that respect human rights and dignity.

The G7 summit's focus on AI, with the pope's participation, marks a pivotal moment in the global dialogue on technology and ethics. It is a call to action for leaders and citizens alike to engage thoughtfully with the challenges and opportunities presented by AI, ensuring that it serves as a tool for positive change and not a source of division or harm.

The pope has some good reason to be concerned. AI has been used to imitate him and other leaders. It has also been used to rob people of their bank accounts and other assets using their images and voices. However, AI is still not as advanced as some people believe it is. It can be fooled and tricked. It can be outsmarted. We are not at the point some people fear in regard to popular movies like The Terminator where Skynet takes over the world.  Consciousness and morality are two traits in human beings that psychologists, philosophers, and even theologians are still trying to figure out. In light of this, human beings may never be able to create a facsimile of it on computers. The real threat are the people behind AI who may use it for evil. As stated, we already have bad actors abusing the technology to scam. 

As we reflect on the pope's words, it is clear that the conversation about AI and ethics is not just about technology; it is about the kind of world we want to create and the values we choose to uphold. The pope's address at the G7 summit is a powerful contribution to this ongoing dialogue, one that will continue to shape the future of AI and its impact on humanity.

Monday, June 17, 2024

CUNY Failed to Protect Students During Palestinian Protests

Recent Developments in Campus Civil Rights: The Case of CUNY

The City University of New York (CUNY) has recently been under scrutiny following a series of investigations by the U.S. Department of Education, which found that the institution failed to adequately protect Jewish students from discrimination. This has raised significant concerns about the enforcement of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance.

The investigations were prompted by incidents that occurred in the aftermath of the October 7 attacks on Israel by Hamas. These events led to a surge in campus activism, which, according to some Jewish students, fostered an antisemitic climate. The Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) concluded that both CUNY and the University of Michigan did not comply with Title VI requirements to investigate whether the protests created a hostile environment for students.

In one reported incident at the University of Michigan, a Jewish student's request for conflict resolution was denied after they reported harassment on social media. The university's response, citing free speech, highlights the complex balance between protecting civil rights and preserving freedom of expression. Similarly, at CUNY, the OCR found that the university did not take appropriate action regarding reports of antisemitic discrimination, leading to resolutions aimed at addressing these failures.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona emphasized that hate has no place on college campuses and acknowledged the challenging moment for school communities across the country. The commitments made by CUNY and the University of Michigan to improve training about antisemitism and reevaluate past allegations are seen as a positive step forward.

Specific Incidents at CUNY: A Closer Look at Campus Civil Rights Issues

The City University of New York (CUNY) has been the focus of several federal complaints alleging a failure to protect students from discrimination. These incidents have brought to light the challenges that institutions face in maintaining a safe and inclusive environment for all students. Here are some specific incidents that have been reported:

1. Brooklyn College: In the fall of 2020, white and Jewish students in the Graduate Program for Mental Health Counseling reported being bullied and labeled as "privileged." When a student raised a complaint, they were allegedly advised by the deputy director of the program to "keep quiet" and "keep their heads down".

2. Hunter College: During two Zoom sessions of a Hunter College course in 2021, students and professors reportedly hijacked the meeting to read a statement calling for the decolonization of Palestine and demonizing Israel. This incident left several students expressing fear in the Zoom chat. The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) found that Hunter College concluded without interviewing students present that the disruption did not deny access to education.

3. CUNY Law School: A video from 2020 showed a CUNY Law School student holding a lighter flame close to a sweatshirt with the emblem of the Israel Defense Forces, claiming she was going to set it on fire. The complainant alleged that this constituted antisemitic harassment and that the response from the Law School was inadequate.

These incidents, among others, prompted the U.S. Department of Education to investigate and conclude that CUNY did not comply with Title VI requirements to investigate whether the protests created a hostile environment for students. The resolution agreements require CUNY to reassess their policies and practices to better protect students' civil rights.

The settlements and the ongoing federal monitoring are steps toward ensuring that CUNY addresses these issues adequately. It is a reminder of the importance of vigilance and responsiveness from educational institutions to uphold a safe and inclusive academic environment for all students. The details of the settlement and the specific steps that CUNY will take to actively address discrimination are crucial for the university community and will be closely monitored by stakeholders and civil rights advocates.

This situation underscores the importance of clear policies and proactive measures to protect students from discrimination. It also serves as a reminder of the ongoing need for vigilance and responsiveness from educational institutions to ensure a safe and inclusive environment for all students.

The resolutions agreed upon by the universities will require them to reassess their policies and practices to better protect students' civil rights. These agreements serve not only to rectify the current issues but also to set a precedent for how similar incidents should be handled in the future.

As the conversation around campus civil rights continues, it is crucial for universities to engage in open dialogue with their communities, establish clear guidelines, and provide adequate resources to address and prevent discrimination. The actions taken by CUNY and the University of Michigan will be closely watched as indicators of the broader commitment to upholding civil rights in higher education.


Sources:

Probe finds Michigan, CUNY failed to protect Jewish, Muslim students - The Washington Post

Michigan, CUNY failed to protect Jewish students, Education Department investigation finds - JNS.org

CUNY and University of Michigan mishandled Gaza protests: Feds (usatoday.com)


Sunday, June 16, 2024

11th Sunday of Ordinary Time: The Kingdom of God

The Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time in the Catholic liturgical calendar is a time of contemplation and growth, as reflected in the readings for Year B. These readings offer a rich tapestry of themes and lessons that speak to the heart of Christian life and faith.

The first reading from Ezekiel (Ez 17:22-24) presents a powerful image of God's sovereignty and care. It speaks of God taking a tender shoot from the top of a cedar and planting it on a high mountain, where it grows into a majestic tree, providing shelter for all kinds of birds. This passage symbolizes God's ability to bring life and vitality from small beginnings, a theme that resonates with the Gospel reading for the day.

The Responsorial Psalm (Ps 92:2-3, 13-14, 15-16) echoes this sentiment of growth and flourishing in the presence of the Lord. It is a song of thanksgiving for God's faithfulness and the blessings that come from being rooted in Him. The psalmist uses the imagery of a flourishing tree to describe the righteous, who thrive under God's loving care.

In the second reading, Paul's letter to the Corinthians (2 Cor 5:6-10) reflects on the Christian journey of faith. Paul encourages believers to be courageous and to walk by faith, not by sight, knowing that life in the body is temporary and that the ultimate goal is to be at home with the Lord. This passage invites reflection on the transient nature of earthly life and the eternal significance of our actions.

The Gospel of Mark (Mk 4:26-34) offers two parables about the Kingdom of God, both centered on the theme of growth. The first parable describes the mysterious growth of seed sown on the land, which sprouts and develops without the sower's understanding. The second parable of the mustard seed illustrates how the smallest of seeds can grow into the largest of plants, providing shelter for the birds. These parables emphasize the Kingdom of God's humble beginnings and its potential for expansive growth.

The readings for the Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time invite the faithful to reflect on the nature of God's Kingdom and the role of faith in personal growth. They remind us that God often works in ways that are beyond our understanding, bringing about transformation from the smallest of seeds. As Christians, we are called to nurture the seeds of faith planted within us, trusting in God's power to grow and sustain us.

The message of these readings is particularly relevant in today's world, where patience and trust are needed amidst challenges and uncertainties. They encourage believers to remain steadfast in faith, to give thanks for God's faithfulness, and to look forward to the full realization of God's Kingdom.

Applying the readings from the Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time to daily life can be a fulfilling and enriching practice. Here are some practical ways to live out the messages from the scripture readings:

1. Embrace Small Beginnings: Just as the mustard seed starts small and grows into a large tree, recognize and appreciate the small beginnings in your own life. Whether it's starting a new habit, learning a skill, or building a relationship, have patience and trust in the process of growth.

2. Nurture Growth: The readings speak of growth and flourishing. In your daily life, this can translate to nurturing your personal development and the growth of others. Invest time in education, spiritual practices, and community involvement.

3. Provide Shelter: The cedar tree in Ezekiel and the mustard tree in the Gospel provide shelter for birds. Similarly, strive to be a person who provides support and refuge for those in need. Volunteer at local shelters, donate to charities or simply be a listening ear for a friend.

4. Live Faithfully: Paul's letter to the Corinthians encourages us to walk by faith. Make decisions in your life that reflect your faith and values. This could mean choosing integrity over convenience or standing up for what you believe in, even when it's difficult.

5. Cultivate Thankfulness: The Responsorial Psalm is a song of thanksgiving. Cultivate a habit of gratitude in your daily life. Keep a gratitude journal, share your appreciation with others, and acknowledge the blessings around you.

6. Reflect on God's Sovereignty: The first reading reminds us of God's sovereignty over all creation. Reflect on this in your daily life by acknowledging that not everything is within your control. Surrender your worries to a higher power and find peace in the knowledge that you are cared for.

7. Connect with Nature: The imagery of growth and trees invites us to connect with nature. Spend time outdoors, care for plants or a garden, and let the natural world teach you about the mystery and beauty of life.

8. Engage with Scripture: Make it a habit to read and reflect on the scripture regularly. Use resources like Loyola Press to deepen your understanding and connection to the readings.

9. Participate in Community: The Kingdom of God is often described in communal terms. Participate actively in your local community or faith group. Share your talents, engage in dialogue, and build relationships that reflect the inclusive nature of God's kingdom.

10. Act Justly: The readings call us to act justly in our lives. Advocate for justice in your community, stand against inequality, and work towards creating a society that reflects the justice and love of God's kingdom.

By integrating these practices into your daily life, you can bring the wisdom of the Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time into the everyday. It's about growing in faith, hope, and love, and extending that growth outward to touch the lives of others. For more insights and activities related to the readings, consider exploring the resources provided by the National Catholic Reporter and other Catholic educational organizations.

In summary, the Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time offers a moment to pause and consider the gradual unfolding of God's plan in our lives. It is a time to appreciate the small beginnings from which great things can grow and to trust in the nurturing presence of God who brings all things to fruition in His time.

Saturday, June 15, 2024

Situationism

Exploring the Revolutionary Ideals of Situationism: A Guide to Understanding and References

Situationism, a term often associated with the Situationist International (SI), represents a revolutionary ideology that emerged in the late 1950s. It was a movement that sought to critique and transform the capitalist society by altering the way people interact with their surroundings and everyday life. The SI was formed by a group of avant-garde artists, intellectuals, and political theorists who believed that the capitalist system reduced human experiences to mere spectacles, leading to passive consumption of images and a detachment from authentic life.

The core of Situationist thought revolves around the construction of situations—moments of life deliberately constructed for the purpose of reawakening and pursuing authentic desires. This approach was a direct response to the passive consumption of the media and the monotony of everyday life imposed by capitalist structures. The SI's methods included the dérive (a form of aimless wandering that encourages new perspectives on urban landscapes), détournement (the subversion of mainstream cultural elements to create new, revolutionary meanings), and psychogeography (the study of the effects of the geographical environment on the emotions and behavior of individuals).

The Situationists were heavily influenced by Marxist theory, but they rejected the orthodox Marxist focus on the industrial proletariat as the sole agent of revolutionary change. Instead, they saw the potential for revolution in the everyday life of all people, advocating for a society where individuals could freely construct their own lives.

One of the most influential texts from the SI is Guy Debord's "Society of the Spectacle," which argues that authentic social life has been replaced with its representation: the spectacle. This spectacle is a social relation mediated by images that serve to maintain the status quo by pacifying the masses.

Another key figure in the movement was Raoul Vaneigem, whose work "The Revolution of Everyday Life" serves as a handbook for subverting the banalities of daily existence and reclaiming the power of individual creativity and autonomy.

For those interested in delving deeper into the rich and complex ideas of Situationism, here are some essential references:

1. "Society of the Spectacle" by Guy Debord - This seminal work lays out the theory of the spectacle and its implications for society.

2. "The Revolution of Everyday Life" by Raoul Vaneigem - A complementary text to Debord's, focusing on the possibilities of individual rebellion and liberation.

3. Oxford Reference provides an overview of Situationism, its historical context, and its lasting impact on political and artistic movements.

4. SpringerLink offers an entry that discusses the relevance of Situationist theory for critical psychology and the study of space and place.

Situationism remains relevant today as it continues to inspire activists, artists, and thinkers who seek to challenge the status quo and envision a society where individuals can live authentically. Its critique of the commodification of life and the alienation of individuals from their true desires and from each other resonates in a world where technology and media continue to dominate the landscape of human interactions.

By studying Situationism and its methods, we can gain insights into the ways in which our society operates and how we might begin to enact change at the most fundamental levels of daily life. The references provided offer a starting point for anyone interested in understanding the depth and breadth of Situationist thought and its potential for inspiring revolutionary change.

Situationism in Psychology

Situationism in psychology is a perspective that emphasizes the influence of environmental contexts over innate traits in determining human behavior. This theory contends that people's actions are primarily shaped by external factors and situational variables rather than by fixed personality traits. The debate between situationism and trait theory has been a central theme in psychology, with situationism challenging the notion that behavior is consistent across different contexts. 

The famous Stanford prison experiment by Zimbardo is often cited as evidence for situationism, where participants adopted behaviors based on their assigned roles as prisoners or guards, suggesting that the situation had a profound effect on their actions. Critics of situationism argue that it underestimates the role of individual dispositions and overlooks the complexity of how traits and situations interact to produce behavior. Despite the controversy, situationism has contributed significantly to our understanding of human behavior, highlighting the power of situational forces and the dynamic nature of personality.

In Situationism, human beings decide how they will act, behave or respond based on the situation they find themselves in. For example, we often see in teenagers a big change in their personality. They do not behave like elementary children anymore. Even elementary children seem to change from a simple infant or toddler watching Noggin, Nick Jr, Disney or PBS and making friends of the characters on television into children who seem to move past that into playing with toys and others of their own age. It gets more complicated during puberty when children leave all of this behind and even their friends to form new friends in other situations. They often feel embarrassed to associate with friends from their younger years and even family. This new situation forces them to behave differently and think differently. They decide things based on their new situation. Moreover, after high school, we often see young adults lose contact with friends they made in their teen years and seem to shift from a life that seemed based on socialization to a life of hardships and a life of trying to survive by getting a job and being "an adult."  Again, the situation forces psychological changes.

This can often bring about emotional changes that can lead to depression and isolation fueled by nostalgia for times long past. There is a sense that the self is lost. The human being becomes a prisoner of situations. He or she behaves and interacts differently based on the company around him or her and the situation. We can often find online many "Dear Abby" type articles that touch on this, in particular, when friends do not act like friends anymore and "move on."  The authors of these letters show their nostalgia and confusion as to why their friends are all-of-a-sudden disconnecting from them and behaving as if they never had a friendship. The new movie "Inside Out 2" touches on this psychological phenomenon which seems to trump the idea that human beings are controlled by their traits.  

In other situations, we often run into old friends or cousins we have not seen in decades and they seem to be a completely different person. The situations in life forced them to change and behave differently. Again, these changes can lead to confusion and hurt. 

Situationism, while influential in the field of psychology, has faced several criticisms. One of the primary critiques is that it may underestimate the role of enduring personality traits in behavior. Critics argue that situationism overemphasizes the power of situational factors and neglects the consistency of individual behavior across different contexts. This perspective is supported by evidence suggesting that when people are observed in a variety of situations over time, the correlation between their behavior and their personality traits can be quite strong, contrary to what situationism might predict.

Another criticism is that situationism relies on a false dichotomy between situational and dispositional factors. Human behavior is complex and often a result of the interaction between a person's traits and their environment. By focusing solely on environmental influences, situationism may overlook this interplay. Moreover, some argue that situationism's reliance on studies like the Stanford prison experiment, which have been criticized for ethical concerns and methodological issues, weakens its claims.

Furthermore, situationism has been challenged for its potential cultural bias. It may not adequately account for the influence of cultural norms and values on behavior, which can vary significantly across different societies. Critics also point out that situationism does not always consider the role of conscious choice and personal agency in human behavior, which can be a significant factor in how individuals respond to different situations.

In addition, the reproducibility of situationist experiments has been questioned. Some studies have found that small changes in experimental conditions can lead to different outcomes, suggesting that the influence of situational factors may not be as strong or as predictable as situationism implies. This raises concerns about the generalizability of situationist findings.

Lastly, situationism has been critiqued for its implications for moral and ethical reasoning. If behavior is predominantly determined by situations, it could diminish personal accountability and the importance of character and virtues. This perspective could have significant implications for how society understands and addresses moral responsibility.

In summary, while situationism has contributed valuable insights into the power of situational forces, it is not without its detractors. The criticisms highlight the need for a more nuanced understanding of the complex interplay between individual dispositions and environmental influences in shaping human behavior.

Friday, June 14, 2024

Movie Review: Inside out 2

"Inside Out 2" is a captivating journey back into the mind of Riley, now a teenager navigating the complexities of adolescence. Set one year after the original, the sequel introduces a new section in Riley's mind called the Sense of Self, reflecting the evolving aspects of her personality. As Riley prepares to enter high school and strives to make the hockey team, her emotions—Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust—are joined by new ones, including Anxiety, which brings a fresh dynamic to the emotional control center. 

The film explores the impact of these emotions on Riley's life, as they grapple with the challenges of growing up and the pressures of fitting in. With a mix of humor and heart, "Inside Out 2" delves deeper into the emotional landscape of its characters, offering a story that resonates with both young audiences and adults. The film's portrayal of mental and emotional development is both entertaining and educational, providing insights into the human experience through the lens of animation.

This movie was well-made and takes on a child psychology approach. We see a lot of Situationism in regard to when a child hits puberty and begins to live life via the lens of others, certain situations, and his or her own will. If you are a student taking Child Psychology courses or psychology in general, this movie is for you. Moreover, the movie is great for families to discuss life dynamics with children. The changes humans go through is normal but can have dire effects on socialization, the family, and overall development into an adult. It can "make or break," if you will.

Inside Out 2 dwells on these factors showing that though "new emotions" or sensations often appear as humans mature, the most important thing is to keep the self going and always strive for what is authentic and what brings joy. I saw the movie with my nephew and sister and we enjoyed it. The theater had a nice crowd of many adults and children who all applauded at the conclusion of the film. They were very much engaged with the film and rightfully so. This movie dealt with heavy psychological and sociological topics and managed to present them in a way a child can understand (ages 8 and older). 

This movie was very well made.  

Thursday, June 13, 2024

St. Anythony of Padua

St. Anthony of Padua: The Saint of Lost Things

St. Anthony of Padua, a name that resonates with many across the globe, is not just a saint from the past but a timeless figure whose influence extends to the present day. Born in Lisbon, Portugal, in 1195, St. Anthony was originally named Fernando Martins de Bulhões and came from a wealthy family. His journey of faith led him to join the Augustinian canons and later the Franciscan order, taking the name Anthony in honor of St. Anthony of Egypt.

St. Anthony's life was marked by his profound theological knowledge, his dedication to the poor, and his reputation as a miracle worker. He is celebrated as the patron saint of lost things, a title that has brought comfort to countless individuals over the centuries who have turned to him in their search for missing items. His intercessory powers are considered formidable, and the traditional prayer, "Dear St. Anthony, please come around: something is lost, and it cannot be found," is a testament to the faith people place in his assistance.

The Miracles of St. Anthony of Padua

St. Anthony of Padua, revered as the patron saint of lost items, is also celebrated for his numerous miracles, which have been a source of fascination and faith for centuries. His miracles range from the profound to the poignant, each carrying a message of faith's power and the divine's presence in the everyday lives of believers.

One of the most famous miracles attributed to St. Anthony is the "Sermon to the Fishes." In the town of Rimini, faced with the challenge of converting heretics who refused to listen to him, St. Anthony turned to the sea and began preaching to the fishes. It is said that the fish raised their heads above the water in reverence, a sight that moved the hearts of the people and convinced many to return to the Christian faith.

Another well-known miracle is the story of "The Mule's Adoration." In an attempt to prove the presence of Christ in the Eucharist to a nonbeliever, St. Anthony is said to have presented the Holy Sacrament to a hungry mule, which, despite being offered food, chose to kneel before the Eucharist in veneration. This event is often cited as a testament to the truth of the Real Presence of Christ in the sacrament.

St. Anthony's miracles also include instances of healing and even resurrection. The "Miracle of the Re-attached Foot" tells of a young man who, in a fit of rage, kicked his mother. Regretting his action and seeking penance, he approached St. Anthony, who miraculously reattached the man's severed foot, restoring him physically and spiritually.

The "Miracle of the Drowned Child" recounts how St. Anthony prayed for a child who had drowned, and the child was miraculously brought back to life, to the joy and amazement of his parents and the onlookers.

These stories, and many others, are not just tales of wonder but also serve as reminders of St. Anthony's deep compassion and the belief in the possibility of redemption and divine intervention. They continue to inspire faith and hope among the faithful, reinforcing the saint's enduring legacy as a powerful intercessor and a beacon of Christian virtues.

St. Anthony's miracles are celebrated and remembered not only in religious texts but also through art, literature, and the many churches dedicated to him worldwide. His life and works remain a testament to the enduring power of faith and the impact one individual can have on the lives of many. As we reflect on these miracles, we are reminded of the profound ways in which faith can manifest in our lives, offering guidance, comfort, and the promise of the miraculous in the midst of the ordinary.

The saint's legacy is not confined to the spiritual realm; it also has a tangible presence in the form of churches dedicated to him around the world. One such church is the Roman Catholic parish church of St. Anthony of Padua in the Morrisania section of the South Bronx. This church stands as a beacon of hope and a community center, providing spiritual guidance and support to its parishioners.

St. Anthony's teachings and life story continue to inspire and guide people. His message of love, forgiveness, and concern for others' needs is as relevant today as it was during his lifetime. His ability to deal with life's challenges with courage and to maintain a steadfast trust in God serves as a model for all.

As we commemorate his feast day on June 13, we remember not only the miracles attributed to him but also his unwavering commitment to living a life of Christian virtue. St. Anthony of Padua's story encourages us to find strength in our faith and to believe in the power of divine intervention in our daily lives.

Whether one is seeking solace in times of loss or inspiration to lead a life of service and compassion, St. Anthony of Padua stands out as a figure of immense spiritual significance. His legacy is a reminder that even in our modern, fast-paced world, the values of the past can still provide guidance and comfort. St. Anthony's life and works are a testament to the enduring power of faith and the impact one individual can have on the lives of many.

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Pope Uses 'Gay' Slur Again

Pope Francis allegedly used the word frociaggine (Italian word for "Faggotry) again account to the Italian news service ANSA. They claim that in a closed meeting with priests at the Pontifical Salesian University in Rome that the Pope said, “In Vaticano c’è aria di frociaggine” – meaning “In the Vatican, there is an air of faggotry.”  He also said to have stated that gay men can be "good boys" but that they should not be let into seminaries.  

This claim of his use of the word comes shy of a monthly apology for using the same phrase at a May 20th meeting with Italian bishops (see: https://www.sacerdotus.com/2024/05/pope-francis-too-much-faggotry-in.html). The Pope's usage of the word is worrisome to those who call themselves "progressive" and who have seen his papacy as such. He did say "Who am I to judge" in reference to gay people and has been more open towards the homosexual community than any previous pope. There is no confirmation as of yet if this latest incident is accurate or truthful or is just an attempt by the Italian media to garner attention for their outlets.  

Moreover, some believe the pope is intentionally doing this in order to be more forceful about the no-gays-in-seminary policy and does not want the media to control him. In any event, the use of the word does contradict his open and pastoral work with homosexuals and the comments he made to an expelled seminary student who wrote to him regarding his expulsion after informing seminary officials that he was gay (see: Sacerdotus: Pope to Gay Man Rejected By Seminary: Continue On!).  

This time there is no news of an apology so we can assume that the word was not used again and this is just the Italian media publishing tabloids for hits, so to speak.  


Sources:

What’s going on with the Pope? | Dazed (dazeddigital.com)

Pope Francis reportedly uses offensive term for homosexuality a second time | Crux (cruxnow.com)

Why Did a Progressive Pope Use a Gay Slur? | The Nation

The Pope Has Reportedly Once Again Used the F-Slur in a Closed-Door Meeting | Them

Did Pope Francis use that word again? And other Vatican confusion. – Catholic World Report

Pope Francis accused of repeating homophobic slur in another closed-door meeting | The Independent


Tuesday, June 11, 2024

St, Barnabas

Exploring the Legacy of Saint Barnabas: A Pillar of Early Christianity

Saint Barnabas stands as a significant figure in the history of Christianity, known for his role as an early Christian missionary and his association with Saint Paul. His story is woven into the fabric of the New Testament, particularly within the Acts of the Apostles, where he emerges as a key figure in the spread of Christianity during the first century.

Originally named Joseph, he was a Jewish Levite from Cyprus who embraced the teachings of Jesus Christ shortly after the crucifixion. His generosity and commitment to the early Christian community are highlighted in the Acts of the Apostles, where it's noted that he sold his property and donated the proceeds to the apostles in Jerusalem. This act of kindness earned him the name Barnabas, which means "son of encouragement" or "son of consolation."

Barnabas is perhaps best known for his missionary work alongside Saint Paul. The duo embarked on several journeys together, spreading the Christian faith and establishing churches. One of their notable contributions was the founding of the church in Antioch, which played a pivotal role in the history of early Christianity. It was in Antioch that followers of Jesus were first called Christians.

The Council of Jerusalem, a significant event in the early church that addressed the relationship between Jewish traditions and the growing Christian faith, also saw Barnabas as a key participant. His efforts helped shape the direction of Christian teachings and practices.

Despite his influential role, the details surrounding Saint Barnabas's death remain a subject of tradition and conjecture. Some accounts suggest he was martyred in Cyprus, while others propose various locations for his final days. The Monastery of Saint Barnabas in Cyprus claims to be near his tomb, marking an important pilgrimage site for those honoring his legacy.

The writings attributed to Barnabas, such as the Epistle of Barnabas, offer insight into early Christian thought, although their authorship remains debated among scholars. The Letter of Barnabas, for instance, is an exegetical treatise on the Old Testament and was once considered scriptural in certain Christian communities.

Saint Barnabas's feast day is celebrated on June 11, and he is venerated across various Christian denominations. His life and works continue to inspire Christians worldwide, serving as a testament to the enduring power of faith and the spirit of encouragement that he so aptly personified.

For those interested in delving deeper into the life and contributions of Saint Barnabas, the Encyclopaedia Britannica provides a comprehensive overview of his biography, traditions, and the facts surrounding his role in Christian history. Additionally, the biblical narrative of his journey can be further explored through the Acts of the Apostles and the epistles of Saint Paul, enriching our understanding of this apostolic father's impact on the world.


: [Encyclopaedia Britannica](https://www.britannica.com/biography/Saint-Barnabas)

: [Wikipedia](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barnabas)

: [Bible Study Tools](https://www.biblestudytools.com/topical-verses/bible-verses-about-barnabas/)

: [Britannica - Letter of Barnabas](https://www.britannica.com/topic/Letter-of-Barnabas)

Monday, June 10, 2024

Decline in Belief in the True Presence in the Holy Eucharist and How We Can Reverse This

The Eucharist, known as the source and summit of Christian life, has been a central element of Catholic worship for centuries. However, recent studies and surveys have indicated a decline in the belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist among Catholics. This trend is a complex issue that encompasses theological, cultural, and educational factors.

One significant aspect contributing to this decline is the lack of understanding of the Church's teachings. A study by the Pew Research Center found that only 31% of U.S. Catholics believe that during the Eucharist, the bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Jesus Christ, a process known as transubstantiation. This is a fundamental doctrine of the Catholic faith, yet it seems that many Catholics are either unaware of this teaching or do not accept it.

Another factor is the role of clergy in communicating and reinforcing Church teachings. An article from Catholic Answers Magazine discusses how clergy who do not fully understand or believe in the doctrine of the Eucharist can inadvertently lead to a weakening of faith among the laity. The article highlights the importance of clear and coherent teaching from the clergy to prevent confusion and maintain the integrity of Eucharistic faith.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also had an impact on religious practices, including Mass attendance. A survey conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) and NORC revealed a decline in weekly Mass attendance, which fell from 24% in 2019 to 17% post-pandemic. This reduction in participation may also contribute to a weakening of Eucharistic belief, as regular attendance at Mass is closely linked to a deeper understanding and appreciation of the Eucharist.  This makes sense due to the fact that churches were closed, sick and dying people were denied the Eucharist and last rites. This sent a message that not even the Church believed God is stronger than a virus and pretty much invalidated the Eucharist and Sacraments.  Many Catholics found themselves asking what is the point of even being Catholic or following the rules, so to speak, if not even Church leaders had faith and many even believed Holy Communion could spread viruses and was not necessary for the sick and dying to receive the Sacrament.  

Education and catechesis play a crucial role in fostering a robust Eucharistic faith. The same CARA and NORC survey found that those who learned about the Eucharist from the Bible or through formal religious education were more likely to believe in the Real Presence. This underscores the need for effective catechetical programs that can address misconceptions and provide a clear exposition of the Church's teachings. Unfortunately, after Vatican II some took it upon themselves to water down catechetical programs and curriculum in order to align to secular values and views. We saw clerics, religious and lay people toy around with the Liturgies of the Church and set aside devotions, processions, even relics as superstitious outdated practices. Even today we see on social media some alleged Catholics calling the Eucharist an "idol,"  Eucharistic processions as "idolatrous" or vain displays and the Brown Scapular and Rosary as superstition.  

In response to these challenges, many within the Church are calling for a renewed emphasis on Eucharistic education and devotion. Eucharistic adoration, for example, is a practice that can deepen one's reverence and understanding of the Real Presence. By spending time in adoration, the faithful can cultivate a more intimate relationship with Christ and, in turn, strengthen their belief in the Eucharist.

Reversing the Decline in Belief in the Holy Eucharist: A Multifaceted Approach

The decline in belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist is a concern that has been echoed by many within the Catholic Church. Addressing this issue requires a multifaceted approach that encompasses education, liturgical reverence, and personal witness. Here are some strategies that could be employed to foster a deeper understanding and belief in the Eucharist.

1. Enhanced Catechesis and Education: There is a pressing need for improved catechetical programs that clearly articulate the Church's teachings on the Eucharist. This could involve the development of engaging educational materials, workshops, and courses that delve into the scriptural and theological foundations of the Eucharist. For this to work, the material must be properly vetted. Catechists and religious education coordinators, seminary professors must be aligned with Church teaching. They must be orthodox in their doctrinal views and not use the Church and scholarshop as their personal fellowship where they can toy around with ideas that are foreign to the faith. 

2. Liturgical Renewal: The way the Eucharist is celebrated can profoundly impact belief.  Priests and deacons need to be retrained and that training refreshed every year.  They must be reminded of the rubrics and how to engage them pastorally while simultaneously adhering to Liturgical norms and regulations that present an authentic lex orandi lex credendi situation.  Encouraging practices that promote reverence, such as receiving Communion on the tongue while kneeling, receiving on the hand properly and reverently could help underscore the sacredness of the sacrament.  Our people need to genuflect before passing the Tabernacle. They need to know how to properly receive and to be in the state of grace before receiving Holy Communion. They need to know the church building and each part, in particular, the Sanctuary Lamp, its significance and the Tabernacle, Altar and other items used.

3. Eucharistic Adoration: Promoting and increasing opportunities for Eucharistic adoration can provide the faithful with a space to contemplate and worship the Real Presence of Christ in a quiet and prayerful setting.  Parishes need to be open daily for people to come. There is nothing sadder than seeing a church with its doors shut while the Church says all are welcome.  How can we say Jesus is truly in our churches while keeping the people locked away from Him?

4. Personal Testimonies: Sharing personal experiences of how the Eucharist has impacted individuals' lives can be a powerful tool for evangelization. Testimonies can be shared through various platforms, including social media, parish websites, and community gatherings. This is key and part of the New Evangelization. People learn more from others who are like them, think like them and are familiar with their customs and cultures.  

5. Clergy Formation: Ensuring that seminarians and clergy have a robust and orthodox understanding of the Eucharist is crucial. They are, after all, the primary educators and role models for the laity in matters of faith.  It is crucial for seminary instructors to be orthodox Catholics and not whatever scholar you found and hired. Deacons, priests and bishops must continue their education. Four or even seven years is not enough. Humans forget. They lapse overtime. It is important for them to get refreshment courses.  

6. Community Involvement: Creating parish groups focused on deepening Eucharistic devotion and understanding can help build a community that supports and grows in faith together.

7. Family Catechesis: The family is often referred to as the "domestic church," and as such, it plays a vital role in faith formation. Providing resources and programs for families to learn about and pray before the Eucharist together can help instill belief from a young age.

8. Integration into Parish Life: The Eucharist should be the center of parish life. Activities, from social events to service projects, can be tied back to the Eucharistic mission of the Church, thus reinforcing its importance.  More Eucharistic processions need to be held, especially on streets to give witness.  

9. Art and Music: Utilizing the beauty of sacred art and music can draw people into a deeper appreciation and awe of the mystery of the Eucharist. This can include Eucharistic hymns, art exhibitions, and educational tours that explain the Eucharistic symbolism found in church architecture and iconography.

10. Regular Preaching on the Eucharist: Homilies that frequently highlight the Eucharistic teachings of the Church can help keep the doctrine at the forefront of parishioners' minds.

11. Inviting Non-Practicing Catholics: Outreach to those who have fallen away from regular practice can include invitations to special Eucharistic celebrations and events designed to reignite faith and understanding.

12. Intercessory Prayer: Encouraging the faithful to pray for an increase in Eucharistic belief can be a powerful spiritual practice, recognizing that faith is ultimately a gift from God.

By implementing these strategies, the Church can work towards reversing the decline in Eucharistic belief and fostering a renewed love and reverence for this central tenet of Catholic faith. It is through education, worship, and personal witness that the mystery of the Eucharist can once again be recognized and cherished by the faithful.

The decline in belief in the Holy Eucharist is a multifaceted issue that requires a comprehensive approach to address. It involves not only educating the faithful about the doctrine but also ensuring that the Church's teachings are presented clearly and compellingly. As the Church navigates this challenge, it is essential to remember the transformative power of the Eucharist and its place at the heart of Catholic life.


References:

: When Priests Weaken Eucharistic Faith - Catholic Answers

: Majority of US Catholics Misunderstand the Real Presence in the Eucharist - uCatholic

: Eucharistic Adoration - What is it and How do We Practice it? - Catholic Heart Ablaze

: Survey on Catholic belief in the Eucharist prompts calls for better catechesis - Catholic News Agency

Study Shows Declining Belief in the Eucharist – The Torch | Boston College's Catholic Newspaper (bctorch.com)

One-third of U.S. Catholics believe in transubstantiation | Pew Research Center

What Should We Do About the Loss of Belief in the Real Presence?| National Catholic Register (ncregister.com)

New study shows that now almost two-thirds of US Catholics believe in Real Presence  | Catholic News Agency

The Crisis Behind the Crisis of Faith in the Real Presence – Catholic World Report

The Eucharistic Revival is missing something: the Blood of Christ | America Magazine


Sunday, June 9, 2024

Reflection For Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B: The Human Condition

The Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time is a moment in the Catholic Church's liturgical calendar that invites the faithful to pause and reflect on the human condition, God's mercy, and the path to redemption. The readings for this Sunday offer a rich tapestry of themes that resonate with the experiences of believers across ages.

The first reading from Genesis presents the narrative of the Fall, where Adam and Eve's disobedience leads to their expulsion from Eden. This story sets the stage for a reflection on the human propensity to stray from God's commandments and the consequences that follow. Yet, even in this account of disobedience, there is a glimmer of hope. God's question, "Where are you?" is not merely an inquiry about physical location but a profound call for self-examination and recognition of one's state of being.

The responsorial Psalm 130 echoes this theme of mercy and forgiveness. It is a cry from the depths, a plea for God's unfailing love and redemption. The psalmist assures us that with the Lord, there is mercy and fullness of redemption, a promise that uplifts the spirit of the penitent.

In the second reading, Paul's letter to the Corinthians speaks of faith and conviction. Paul encourages the community to hold fast to their belief in the resurrection of Christ and, by extension, their own resurrection. This passage reminds the faithful of the transformative power of faith and the assurance of God's fidelity.

The Gospel according to Mark confronts the audience with the stark reality of Jesus' ministry—misunderstood by many, including his own family. Yet, it also presents the inclusive vision of the new family of God, bound not by blood but by the shared commitment to do God's will. This redefinition of kinship is radical and comforting, offering a place for all who seek to align themselves with divine purpose. Jesus seems to dismiss His mother and family but He really is not. He is literally saying that those who follow God and do God's will are His mother and family. In other words, they are PART of His family. They are God's children because they are aligned to God and God's will.  Many of our separated Protestant friends often cite this passage to attack our devotion to Mary and the saints. But in close inspection, any rational person who loves reading Scripture can see that Jesus attacking or dismissing His mother would go against the Commandment to Honor Father and Mother. Jesus would then have sinned. This of course is not possible. This is why we know what Jesus meant. He did not dismiss His mom or family. He was making a comparison that if we follow God's will we become His mom and family; literally His family!  

These readings collectively urge believers to contemplate the nature of sin, the boundlessness of God's mercy, and the call to live in accordance with God's will. They challenge the faithful to move beyond a preoccupation with the limitations of human frailty and to embrace the liberating truth of God's love and forgiveness.

For those reflecting on these readings, the message is clear: despite the fallibility of humanity, God's grace is sufficient. It is an invitation to rise from the depths of despair and to sit in union with Christ, becoming part of the spiritual family that transcends earthly ties. In the ordinary time of the Church's year, the faithful are reminded that every moment holds the extraordinary potential for renewal and sanctification.


 

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