The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

...and things just get stranger.

I haven't posted much of late simply because I've been so busy. But even though I haven't written anything, I have pondered a few things. As a result of these rather random musings, I have become more firm in my conviction that the world we live in is insane.

Symptoms and problems. Since our return from Rome two weeks ago, much has happened to bolster this conviction. It seems like only yesterday (perhaps it was) that people's major concern was the rapidly increasing price of gasoline along with a corresponding decline of the dollar against the Euro. And so what's happened? The price of gasoline is falling like a rock and the dollar is gaining just as quickly. Why, then, aren't people happy? Because these seemingly positive reversals were brought about by some very unwelcome changes. And it's these changes, the disruptions in our worldwide financial system, that have become the new concern. Who's talking about the price of gas today? Who's celebrating the dollar's growing value?

Yes, we love to focus on the symptoms of our problems simply because we can all see them, we are all affected by them, and we all believe that if we only remove them, the problem will go away. It's also a lot easier to focus on today's very evident symptoms than to try to uncover the problem's root cause, which often enough was brought about by our own past stupidity. But, of course, the symptoms change over time as the problem worsens and so fighting symptoms is always a losing battle. That's one reason that price controls never work. They always address yesterday's symptoms, and therefore only generate new problems.

But I'm neither an economist nor a politician, so what do I know? And I really shouldn't enjoy watching all the supposedly smart people blame each other and make fools of themselves, but I can't help myself. It's such good entertainment.

God's Word and Prayer. At the Synod of Bishops currently taking place at the Vatican, the bishops are focusing on "The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church." One of the more interesting comments came from a bishop of an Eastern Catholic Church, Bishop George Punnakottil of India. Bishop Punnakottil is a bishop of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, which traces its origins back to the Apostle Thomas and is one of 22 Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with Rome. The bishop, unhappy with the Synod's failure to address the spirituality of Eastern Catholics, made the point that Scripture is both historical and spiritual. He went on to say, "Reasoning is not enough. Spiritual contemplation of the Word is required. True theologians are true saints. Reading presupposes a state of prayer. Prayer illumines the mind to grasp what one reads. Reading of the Word should lead to the substantial Word, that is Jesus." I agree, and based on what Pope Benedict has written over the years, I'm pretty sure he would too. Unfortunately, I suspect many of our scriptural scholars would not. The good bishop from India is another example of the Catholic Church as a bastion of sanity. (The image is of the St. Thomas Cross, the official symbol of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church.)

Oh, and here's some interesting information on the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church. The Church, to serve its 3,675,000 members, has 3,500 priests and 2,400 seminarians. They also have 30,000 women religious and about a thousand brothers. It would seem they're doing something right.

Portugal says "No!" The Portuguese parliament overwhelmingly defeated a proposal to legalize same-sex marriage. The proposal was supported by only a handful of far-left legislators from the Green Party and a far-left Bloc. Three cheers for Portugal and let's pray that they don't buckle under the pressure that will no doubt come from the European Union and the European courts. Click here for the AP story. Sanity still has a grip in Portugal...if not in the place of my birth, Connecticut.

Electoral hatred. Last week I asked a parishioner why he planned to vote for Senator Obama. (He had an Obama bumper sticker on his car.) His answer was telling: "Because I hate Bush." Here again we brush up against insanity, the kind of thinking that takes a single irrational idea (hatred of another human being) and makes it the driving force behind one's actions and decisions. Because the president cannot run for office, this man is unable to express his hatred of George Bush in any meaningful way, so he compounds his insanity by joining other Bush-haters in their opposition to...not George Bush, but John McCain. Go figure.

Pope Pius XII. I can think of no man who has been the object of more vicious slander than Pope Pius XII. The revisionist historians (aka, liars) have rewritten history in an attempt to portray this saintly, courageous pope as an anti-Semite and Nazi collaborator. Fortunately, his defenders, particularly his Jewish defenders, are fighting back against the bigots (the insane bigots) and telling the world the truth about this wonderful man. Click here for some current insight. If you want to read a complete intereview of Paolo Mieli, a secular Jewish journalist, that appeared in the Vatican's newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, click here.

And yet, despite all the insanity, the Lord of History remains in charge...Praise God!

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