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Homily — 20th Sunday OT A 8/17/8

Monday, August 18th, 2008

Homily — 20th Sunday OT A                    8/17/8

In the first Reading, the LORD speaks through the Prophet Isaiah and says: All who keep the sabbath free from profanation and hold to my covenant, them I will bring to my holy mountain and make joyful in my house of prayer; Their holocausts and sacrifices will be acceptable on my altar.

In this scripture passage and many others, we see God promising many blessings to those who keep the sabbath, the Lord’s Day, free from profanation.

I’d like to focus this week on what “Keeping Holy the Lord’s Day” entails, as this is one of the very few times the subject comes up in the three year cycle of Sunday readings.

When Moses received from the LORD the Ten Commandments, the 3rd Commandment as given in Exodus 20 verses 8—11 says:    “Remember to keep holy the sabbath day.   Six days you may labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD, your God. No work may be done then either by you, or your son or daughter, or your male or female slave, or your beast, or by the alien who lives with you.   In six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the LORD has blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.

God was able to do everything He needed to do Sunday through Friday, and He expected His people the Israelites to be able to do so as well. This Saturday day of rest the Jews took very seriously and they continue to take it very seriously.  For example, the Chinese government gave the President of Israel a room within walking distance from the Olympic complex, so that he could attend the opening ceremonies for the Olympics without violating the sabbath by driving in a car.  The other non-Jewish heads of state were put up in a hotel many miles distant.

The Saturday day of rest God commanded, however, was but a foreshadowing of Our Lord Jesus’ day of rest on Holy Saturday, as His crucified body lay dead in the tomb.

God the Father first created the world in six days, and then on the seventh day He rested.  But God the Son first rested on the seventh day, and on the eighth day He re-created the world and redeemed it through His glorious Resurrection on Easter Sunday.

And from that day on, Christians knew almost by Divine instinct that the Eighth Day, Sunday, was now the new and eternal Lord’s Day which must be kept Holy each week.   Jesus, who is, in his own words, the Lord of the Sabbath, moved the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday.

Keeping Holy the Lord’s day for the New People of God, the Church, is a two-fold commandment.

First and foremost, it entails being physically and spiritually present at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass every Sunday or Saturday Evening.

As my former pastor of my first parish, Fr. Donnelly, God rest his soul, used to say, “The prayers we say throughout the week are useless if we fail to join them to the great prayer Jesus offers in the Mass on Sunday.”

But while getting to Church is a very major part of keeping the 3rd Commandment, it’s not the only part.   In addition, we must also refrain from unnecessary work on Sunday.

Now, while the obligation to get to Mass if one is healthy and Mass is being offered nearby has always been a pretty black and white rule, refraining from work on Sunday has always admitted of a lot of gray areas and exceptions down through the centuries.

Certain professions have always been allowed to work, such as medical workers, policemen, food service workers.   On the other hand, one should refrain from other forms of work and business and commerce, especially manual labor if this is one’s main occupation the rest of the week.

Sadly, our American society over the past 50 years has got away from this second part of the 3rd commandment, and has turned Sunday into the biggest shopping day of the week.  Many people in the retail industry especially are forced to work on Sunday if they expect to keep their job.  In that case, an employee under these circumstances would not be violating the Commandment (although he should do everything he can to not work on Sunday).

However, certainly big business owners who claim to be Christian should examine their conscience on whether their decision to operate on Sunday and have sales that day is pleasing to God.   And also, we consumers who are Catholic should avoid unnecessary shopping on Sunday, for in doing so we are giving the business owners reason to force people to work on Sunday.   For if every Christian in this country refused to go shopping on Sunday, the stores wouldn’t bother staying open.

Now, the point of refraining from work and shopping on Sunday is so that everyone can spend time not only in prayer, but also with family and friends, visiting the sick, and getting needful rest to take on the coming week.

Let us my brothers and sisters examine our consciences on how well we have been keeping Holy the Lord’s Day.   When the Virgin Mary appeared to the children at LaSallette, she appeared crying, her face buried in her hands.   The children asked the Blessed Mother why she was crying and she said that it was because so many people were taking her Son’s name in vain and not keeping the Lord’s Day Holy.   May we not cause our Mother grief.

I will close with one of my favorite passages from Isaiah, which speaks of the great blessings we should expect if we obey the 3rd Commandment. Isaiah 58:12—14 states:

The ancient ruins shall be rebuilt for your sake, and the foundations from ages past you shall raise up; “Repairer of the breach,” they shall call you, “Restorer of ruined homesteads.”

If you hold back your foot on the sabbath from following your own pursuits on my holy day; If you call the sabbath a delight, and the LORD’S holy day honorable; If you honor it by not following your ways, seeking your own interests, or speaking with malice–

Then you shall delight in the LORD, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; I will nourish you with the heritage of Jacob, your father, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Homily – 17th Sunday OT A 7/27/08

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

Homily — 17th Sunday OT A 7/27/08

Jesus in today’s Gospel gives us an image of a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds . . . .and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

This treasure Jesus speaks about is our Catholic Faith.

When we think of buried treasure, probably the image that comes to mind is a big old wooden pirate’s chest. Brush the dirt off, take the skeleton key and unlock it, open the chest, and inside there are heaps and heaps of gold pieces, diamonds, and precious gems.

Certainly our Catholic Faith, handed down to every generation intact and unchanged from the time of the Apostles, is just like that treasure chest we picture in our minds.

How many priceless gems we find in this Treasure Chest which is our Faith. Each article of our Creed — the Creation, the Blessed Trinity, the Incarnation, the Passion and Redemption, the Resurrection and all the rest — each one is a separate diamond of infinite value and worth found in that treasure chest.

The books of Scripture, the sacraments, the Gifts and Fruits of the Holy Spirit, the Saints, the moral teachings of the Church, the hierarchy and the religious life — each one of these things is a unique and beautiful and precious jewel found in that large treasure chest, each one in it’s own way a pearl of great price, worth selling all this earth can offer us to possess.

Which leads me to comment about an the anniversary of an event that occurred 40 years ago this past week. This past Friday marked the 40th Anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical letter Humanae Vitae, released July 25, 1968.

40 years ago last Friday, Pope Paul VI reached into the Church’s Treasure Chest, shined up one of the jewels found therein, and held up to the modern world. This jewel the Pope held up was the precious jewel which is the Church’s teaching on human sexuality.

Let us examine this beautiful Jewel ourselves and strive to appreciate it. The Catholic Church since the time of the Apostles has always and everywhere taught that the only morally licit sexual relations are those between a married couple, between a husband and a wife.

Furthermore, the Catholic Church since the time of the Apostles has always and everywhere taught that, as God is the Author of Human Life and as humans are created in the image of God, it is gravely immoral for married couples to willfully and unnaturally separate the procreative or life-giving aspect of the marriage act from its unitive of love-giving aspect.

Simply put, the Catholic Church has from the beginning held that artificial contraception and sterilization are gravely immoral actions that can never be morally justified, even within the marriage bond.

And up until about 70 years ago, the vast majority of Catholics everywhere, for over 1800 centuries, understood, accepted and strove to practice and pass on to their children this jewel of an infallible teaching of our Holy Mother Church.

As a result, marriages were strong, the faith was strong, and children grew up in a culture which extolled chastity and self control.

In fact, up until 1930, every Christian denomination condemned artificial contraception and sterilization along with the Catholic Church. The Protestant reformers Martin Luther and John Calvin, while rejecting other precious jewels of the Faith, had the wisdom not to reject this one, nor did generation after generation of their followers up until the past century.

And furthermore, as this teaching is rooted in the natural law found in every human heart, great non-Christian thinkers like the famous Chinese philosopher Confucius, the Hindu leader Mahatma Ghandi, and even the atheist Sigmund Freud all saw the separation of the procreative and unitive dimensions of sex to be a perversion, and not something good for the individual or for society.

But over the past century, a concerted effort has been made in our Western world, and even scandalously to some degree within our Church, to bury this jewel of a teaching which Christ has given us; or if not to bury it, to claim it is not a priceless jewel but a worthless piece of junk that would be harmful to place one’s trust in.

And so 40 years after Humanae Vitae, the Church’s teaching on marriage and human sexuality is now buried under a towering and ever growing mountain of dissent, ridicule, ignorance, sexual license, and radical feminist and population control ideologies.

In the meantime, widespread rejection of Church teaching and acceptance of Contraception and Sterilization by Catholics has directly led, one could argue, to the closing of our Churches and Catholic Schools, to the shortage of men and women entering the priesthood and religious life, to the resulting rising cost of Catholic education, and to a mainstream movie, TV and music industry that mass markets immorality especially to our teens and adolescents and holds up Rock Stars and Madonna and Brittany and Jamie Spears as role models.

We also have, as an undisputed direct result of our embrace of contraception, 50 million legal abortions. As Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote in justification for the 1992 US Supreme Court decision Planned Parenthood vs. Casey, we must keep abortion legal because: “Abortion is (now) customarily chosen as an unplanned response to . . . . the failure of conventional birth control. . . .For two decades. . . .people have organized intimate relationships and made choices that define their views of themselves and their places in society, in reliance on the availability of abortion in the event that contraception should fail.” In other words, the Supreme Court will not protect unborn children because of the contraceptive lifestyle we have bought into!

My brothers and sisters in Christ, our society doesn’t have to be this way. We baptized and confirmed Catholics are called by Christ to be the Light of the World, the little bit of leaven Jesus spoke of in last week’s Gospel that raises the moral conscience of the World we live in. Unfortunately, many in the Church are more influenced by the ways of the world rather than being the ones who influence others to follow Christ.

This is not to say that the Church’s teaching on sexuality is easy. It takes great, perhaps heroic, virtue for married couples to live it out in today’s world. Which is one reason why the Church has given us the other jewels of our faith, especially the grace of the Sacraments.

Being a celibate priest is challenging, but God has given me the Sacrament of Holy Orders to help me live out this great vocation, and well as the Sacrament of Baptism, Confirmation, Penance and the Holy Eucharist. In the same way, God has given married couples a special Sacrament of Matrimony as well as the others, so that they “may assume the duties of marriage in mutual and lasting fidelity” (as the Marriage Ritual states).

The Church’s teaching on conjugal love and procreation, which is not optional but is a moral law binding on one’s conscience, is possible to live out, as thousands of Catholic couples who have embraced it can tell you. Many of these couples practice Natural Family Planning, which most people don’t realize has come a long way from the Rhythm Method, being a 99% effective way to space the birth of children. Natural Family Planning is morally accepted by the Church when practiced for serious reasons, and usually only requires at most 8 days of abstinence from relations a month.

But sadly for the past 40 years, God has endured a generation of Catholic clergy, college professors, doctors and nurses and politicians who have not known God’s ways and who have led many married couples astray to the point where many Catholics and medical professionals have never heard this Jewel of the Church’s teaching in a positive light nor been challenged on their duty to live it.

But the hopeful thing is that, as Scripture and Church History shows, God while merciful and forgiving, puts up with foolishness from His People for only so long. And 40 years, a generation, has now passed.

A new generation of young and faith filled Catholics have been on the rise of late; they include married and single, clergy and religious, educators and medical workers. This small but growing group of cradle Catholics, converts and reverts to the faith, schooled especially in the teachings of Our Late Great Holy Father Pope John Paul II and Blessed Theresa of Calcutta, are all very Catholic, very educated about their faith, and very up to the challenge Christ is offering them to practice their Catholic faith without compromise in today’s society.

This new generation gives me and others some hope that perhaps in another 40 years, the Catholics that remain in what’s left of the Western world will again all cherish and live and die for this great jewel Pope Paul VI so bravely held up to us in 1968, and wonder how we could have hesitated in selling all that we had to possess this pearl of great price.

Homily – Trinity Sunday May 18, 2008 “Then . . . . and Now”

Monday, May 19th, 2008

Homily — Trinity Sunday MMVIII May 18, 2008

“Then . . . .and Now”

The most fundamental of Christian beliefs is that the One True God is a Trinity of Persons — Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

This basic truth is hinted at in the Old Testament, began to be revealed in the New Testament, and was clearly the teaching of the ancient Church everywhere, for the first Three Centuries of Christianity.

But while today we take for granted this central Mystery of our Faith, there was a time in Church history when Christians suffered much for their belief in the Holy Trinity, and were under great pressure to renounce it.

For almost 100 years, roughly the whole 4th Century, this was the case almost everywhere in the Church. In the early 4th century, a heresy called Arianism, which denied the Divinity of God the Son, spread like wildfire throughout the Church. And no sooner had Arianism been taken care of than in the late 4th Century, a heresy called Macedonianism, which denied the Divinity of God the Holy Spirit, did almost as much damage.

Neither Arianism nor Macedonianism had a leg to stand on based on Scripture or Tradition. But these errors became so widespread that for a while, nearly every Bishop in nearly every diocese not only taught these things, but persecuted Bishops and others who believed that God is Father Son and Holy Spirit.

But what really made things bad was that the civil government at the time wasn’t a neutral bystander in this issue, it rather favored the heretics, and made life miserable for the Orthodox Catholics.

For example, St. Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, Egypt, was one of the few Bishops who refused to renounce his Catholic Faith that the Son is “God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God”, as the Council of Nicea in 325 had defined several years prior. Because of his orthodoxy, Athanasius was exiled five times from his diocese by the pro-Arian government.

And St. Basil, Bishop of Caesarea in Asia Minor, lived for years under constant threat of exile and confiscation of his possessions, because of his belief that the Holy Spirit is God, equal in dignity to the Father and Son, when every other bishop around him taught that the Holy Spirit is not God, not equal in dignity.

It was courageous men and women like St. Athanasius and St. Basil who stood against the rising tide and turned their culture back to Orthodox Catholic belief in the Holy Trinity. And by the 5th century and up until today, Christians everywhere have been able to believe this most fundamental belief in the Holy Trinity, and teach it in Churches and in Catholic Schools without hindrance from the government.

But while that is happily the case, and may it continue to be, there is another fundamental teaching of our Christian faith that currently under attack in the culture we now live in, and in certain parts of our country, it has already led to persecution of the Catholic Church by our government.  I am referring to the current movement to redefine the institution of Marriage.

We Catholics have always believed marriage to be the lifelong union of one man and one woman. We base our belief not only on Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, but also on the Natural Law, which men and women of all faiths have been given to live by.

But now, many states have moved toward changing the legal definition of marriage to include same sex couples. This past Thursday, the Supreme Court of California, the largest state in the country population wise, struck down a state law against same-sex marriage (that its citizens had voted in), and joined Massachusetts in legally recognizing gay marriage. Four other states — Vermont, New Jersey, Connecticut, and New Hampshire — have civil union laws which are marriage laws in all but name for same sex couples.

And just as Ss. Basil and Athanasius and others suffered in their day because they believed and taught that God is Father Son and Holy Spirit, so Christians in states that have legalized same sex unions are starting to suffer for believing and teaching that marriage is between a man and a woman.

Take the Church in Boston, just north of us, for example. The Archdiocese of Boston had one of the oldest adoption agencies in the United States. Notice I said “had.” Cardinal O’Malley was forced to close the agency, three years after the legalization of same sex marriages, as it was being forced by law to allow same sex couples the right to adopt.

Take the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, a Methodist Church-affiliated group in New Jersey. It lost the tax exempt status for it’s Chapel when it refused to allow a civil union ceremony for two women to be conducted in it. Note that New Jersey has only legalized same sex unions.

Finally, take what’s been happening in the state of Colorado. In 2007 a bill was presented that would forbid employers to discriminate based on sexual orientation. The law was amended to exempt religious groups who would be opposed and passed 60-2.

But this year, a new bill has been proposed saying that any religious organization that gets any state or federal funding wouldn’t be exempt. This would include Catholic Charities of Colorado. But Denver Archbishop Chaput isn’t being intimidated: “When (Catholic Charities) can no longer have the freedom it needs to be ‘Catholic’, it will end its services. This is not idle talk. I am very serious.”

My brothers and sisters in Christ, we need to wake up and see the serious threat same-sex marriage and civil unions are to our Catholic Church in America.

If marriage is legally redefined, it may one day be considered bigoted to teach in Catholic Schools that marriage is the union of one man and one woman; also, Catholic clergy who refuse to marry same sex couples will probably lose our right to witness marriages.

But while all of this is very sobering and scary to think about, we’ve got the truth on our side, as well as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, who is with us at all times.

May the Most Holy and Blessed Trinity give us the wisdom we need to see the truth, the courage we need to suffer if need be rather than compromise the truths of our Faith, and the virtue and charity we need to transform our culture with the Gospel message.

Homily – Corpus Christi MMVII

Sunday, June 10th, 2007

Homily – Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi Sunday) June 10, 2007

Holy Eucharist from http://www.thecatholiclibrary.org/gallery2/1058-1/cath_image1.gif

We are in a deserted place here,” the Twelve said to Jesus.

“It’s getting darker out here, and all we have to give these 5000 men, with their wives and children, is a little bread, just enough bread for one wafer-sized piece each.”

And as Jesus listens to all this, His face lights up and He says “Perfect! You Twelve, arrange these families in groups of about 50 families each.”

And so the Apostles that day, in that deserted place, created one hundred little congregations, one hundred little parishes out of those scattered families. Some of the families belonged to St. Peter’s Parish, others belonged to St. Matthew’s Parish, other belonged to St. John’s or St. Andrew’s, and so on.

And once that was done, Jesus took the loaves of bread that they gave to Him. And being a priest like Melchizedek, a priest who will forever offer God bread and wine, looking up to Heaven, He said the blessing over them, broke them, and gave them to the Apostles to give to their parishioners.

And that deserted place was no longer deserted; it was filled with the glory of Almighty God.

All ate and were satisfied. All the families of those 100 parishes created that day by Jesus gave praise to God with one voice.

And all went home that day changed people, people with a deeper faith in Christ, people with a greater hope that God was with them in their trials, people with a stronger love for God and for one another.

And Jesus Himself went home that day saying “I can’t wait. I can’t wait for the day when I really feed them with the Bread of Life.”

“I can’t wait for the day when these my apostles build Churches for these groups of families. I can’t wait for the day when in these Churches they again bring their bread before me; and then I will do something even more miraculous than multiply it, I will transubstantiate it into my very Body Blood Soul and Divinity.

“I can’t wait for the day when in Churches all over the world, until the end of time, I will give them Bread from Heaven, having all sweetness within it.”

“And He who eats this Bread will have life eternal: the fulness of life in this life, and life everlasting in the next life.”

My brothers and sisters in Christ, what the Apostles initially said to Jesus that day can still be said by us in our day: “Lord, we are in a deserted place here.”

For apart from the Eucharist, this world is a deserted place.

Without the Eucharist, my soul, your soul is a deserted place.

A place deserted and emptied of love, of peace, of unity.

But the Eucharist is capable of filling this world, capable of filling my soul and yours to the brim with the Love of God, the Peace of Christ, the Unity of the Spirit; It is capable of filling us with Truth, Mercy and Divine Life.

All who eat this bread will not feel deserted, but satisfied.

But sadly, in our day, how many Catholics have themselves deserted Jesus present in the Eucharist?

Jesus asks each of us for only one hour a week out of 168, to come to Church and adore Him in the Eucharist with our brothers and sisters, to unite our prayers to His one great prayer to the Father, and to unite our crosses to His one and only saving Cross.

In return, Jesus blesses us with supernatural graces in abundance and gives us the strength and wisdom to be His good and faithful servant for another week.

But each weekend, over half the Catholics in our country just blow Jesus off, cannot even give our Lord one hour of their week to publically worship Him. No wonder our Churches are closing, no wonder we have a shortage of priests if parents and godparents could care less about getting to church on Sunday.

But an even greater scandal are those Catholics who do receive Jesus in the Eucharist on Sunday, and then desert Jesus and His teachings Monday — Saturday in their words and actions.

Bishop Tobin has this past week spoken out about this problem, and Pope Benedict recently wrote about it as well, saying we all need to have Eucharistic Consistency — in other words, our partaking of the Body of Christ must be consistent with a moral life and faith life in keeping with the teachings of the Catholic Church.

For example, if we can’t say “Amen” to the Church’s teaching on the sanctity of Human Life from conception to natural death, we shouldn’t be saying “Amen” and receiving Jesus in the Communion Line.

On this Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, may we renew our commitment never to desert Jesus truly with us in the Blessed Sacrament.

Rather, may we spend as much time as we can with Him in Adoration, paying a visit to Him in Church during the week (or at least making the sign of the cross on our foreheads whenever we pass a Catholic Church where Jesus is present in the Tabernacle).

May Jesus, truly present to us in the Most Blessed Sacrament, turn all the deserted places into Gardens of Paradise by His Real Presence dwelling among us.

25th Sunday Ordinary Time B September 24, 2006

Monday, September 25th, 2006

Homily — 25th Sunday OT B September 24, 2006

Pope meeting with a delegation of Muslim Leaders from the U.S. in April 2006

To paraphrase a line in the 2nd Reading:

Justice is peacefully sown for those who cultivate peace. In other words, Justice is peacefully spread when we nourish and labor over peace making.

As probably all of us know by now, our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI a few weeks back visited his home land of Germany. While there, the Pope gave a speech to professors at the University of Regensburg where he used to teach. In the speech, the Pope briefly quoted a Byzantine Emperor of the 14th Century. The quotation, 32 words long, as we know greatly offended many Moslems throughout the world.

The Holy Father has at least twice publically stated that the medieval Emperors words “do not in any way express my personal thought”.

While that infamous quotation of 32 words doesn’t express Pope Benedict’s personal thought, the rest of the University Speech, some 3,735 other words, does express the Pope’s personal thoughts, and probably his official thought as spiritual leader of the Catholic Church.

So what else did Pope Benedict actually say to those University Professors? What was the Pope’s talk supposed to be all about?

Ironically enough, the Pope’s talk was all about cultivating peace between our Western Culture and the Eastern Islamic Culture! For the Pope says in the talk that both cultures are in “a dilemma which nowadays challenges us directly.” Our two cultures are clashing; we don’t understand one another at all, and this is leading to tensions and even violence and war on both sides.

The Pope says in the speech that to get out of this”dilemma”, both cultures need to change:

1) The Islamic Culture must stop spreading their faith through violence and oppression.

and 2) Our Western Culture must stop relegating God and Religion to the sidelines of society, as if faith were merely a private affair. In doing so, Benedict says our Western Culture becomes “incapable of entering into dialogue with other cultures.” Furthermore, Our banishing God from society is seen by other cultures as “an attack on their most profound convictions”.

Both of these issues must be addressed and corrected by both cultures. Which culture is better? We think ours is, they think theirs is. Jesus in the Gospel says that the greatest must be the child-like servant, eager to serve others as if they were superior to them, eager to learn from others about the good other cultures possess.

Furthermore, Pope Benedict says that the root cause of both culture’s problems lies in the same faulty notion of who God is: We both fail to see that the One, True God is reasonable.

Why should Islam not spread their faith by violence and oppression? Because God is rational, and violence is irrational.

(The Church admittedly has been slow in learning this, but she has learned it, and now repents and is ashamed of the times in the past when people may have been coerced into our faith through violent means. And so, kind of like a sober, recovering alcoholic who tries to convince a fellow alcoholic to join AA, the Pope is inviting Moslem leaders to reject the literal interpretation of jihad (Holy War) that many Moslems still hold, in favor of a spiritual interpration of waging jihad on one’s own sinful tendencies.)

The Pope mentions, however, the main problem Islam faces in changing. It is that Moslems have tended to have what is called a voluntaristic notion of God. In other words, God is all will and no reason, totally transcendent, totally beyond our human knowledge.

In other words, if you were to ask a Moslem why God commands what He does, he or she would tend to answer “He commands it because He is Allah” or “Because the Koran says so”. Period, end of story.

Whereas, Catholicism has traditionally tried to give reasons why God does what He does. In the words of St. Anselm, our “faith seeks understanding.” We attempt to do this because we hold that God is reasonable, He doesn’t act against good reasoning. Pope Benedict says “the faith of the Church has always insisted that between God and us . . . there exists a real analogy, in which unlikeness remains infinitely greater than likeness (God is so beyond and above us – ed.), yet not to the point of abolishing analogy and . . . language.”

The hopeful news is that the concept of a rational God isn’t totally foreign to the Moslem religion. In the High Middle Ages, the Moslem World began to produce theologians and philosophers who spoke of God in rational ways, very similar to how Catholic theologians and philosophers speak of Him. That big movement however suddenly died out in Islam centuries ago, never to be resurrected. The Pope in this speech is inviting the Moslems to start it up again.

But the Pope is also calling us Americans and Europeans to
resurrect a serious intellectual study of God and religion in our world today. For in our Western Culture, the place a reasonable God is most banished from is the world of Academia.

I was in Providence Thursday stopped at a traffic light, and in front of me was a car with Brown Universities new logo which the University adopted two years ago. It’s the same as the Old Logo, except the old University motto “In Deo Speramus” — In God we Hope” — has been dropped. It seems that the powers that be at Brown University no longer hope in God.

It is sad that many Professors and Intellectuals today have abandoned rational faith in God, especially since in the past, universities and intellectuals were very religious minded. How did we get to this point of dropping God and theology from higher education? The Pope gives three factors which have all led to a divorce between reason and faith:

1) The Protestant Reformation, which overemphasized private interpretation of Scripture and personal relationship with God to the detriment of communal, institutional religion, making religion more emotional than reasonable;

2) The Rise of the Natural Sciences (Physics, Chemistry, etc), which “narrowed the radius” of science and reason to the physical, whereas in the past the definition of science and reason also encompassed the spiritual; and

3) A faulty notion of inculturation (adapting the New Testament Teachings to different groups of peoples), which in order to make the Gospel message more “relevant” to a certain culture and time, sees certain essential parts of New Testament teaching as being only relevant for the 1st century Greek culture and therefore disposable today.

In response to the above factors, the Pope says we Westerners need to broaden our definition of science and reason to include not just the physical but also the spiritual. And He says that while we should try to make the Gospel relevant to all Cultures and Peoples, we cannot change the truth that the New Testament God is a God of Reason.

To prove this, Benedict quotes the famous opening lines of the Gospel of John, commonly translated as follows: In the beginning was the Word . . . . and the Word is God.

But what we normally translate into English as “Word” in the original Greek is “Logos.” Thus, St. John wrote: In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos is God.

But the word Logos not only means “Word”, Logos also means “Reason”! It is where we get the word “Logic” from.

So, Pope Benedict says, John 1:1 could also be accurately translated as saying In the beginning was Reason, . . . . and Reason is God.

Therefore, Benedict says “violence is incompatible with the nature of God, and not acting reasonably is contrary to God’s nature.”

(In many ways, this important university speech is Part II of the Pope’s First Encyclical, Deus Caritas Est (God is Love). Yes, Benedict says, God is Love, but God is also Reason.)

So there in a nutshell is what the Pope was trying to get at. And where the Pope thinks both the Christians and the Moslems need to change.

Moslem Spiritual Leaders and Western University Leaders are two tough crowds to dialogue with, but Pope Benedict is hopeful that he has God’s grace and the best interest of all parties on his side.

Let us pray my brothers and sisters for our Holy Father in his difficult job as the successor of St. Peter. And may we remember the words of the Apostle James, that Justice will be peacefully sown, peacefully spread, throughout our vast diverse world, if and only if you and I do our part in cultivating the peace our Lord Jesus, the Logos made Flesh, wishes to teach us.