Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tony Abbott, you have it right!



I was appauled while reading the responses to Tony Abbott's comments concerning the upbringing of his daughters and his views on teenage chastity (full story here: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/01/27/2802087.htm).

Abbott, a devout Catholic, was tongue-lashed by Deputy Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, after he made comments in an interview with Woman's Day magazine about raising girls "today". Now, Abbott is making an earnest attempt to soften his image with female voters, so making an appearance in a women's magazine is a good idea. He was asked a question about what advice he would give his daughters about pre-marital sex, Abbott said, "I think I would say to my daughters if they were to ask me this question ... it is the greatest gift that you can give someone, the ultimate gift of giving, and don't give it to someone lightly." In response, Gillard claimed that Abbott was "lecturing" to Australian women.

What the?!? Are you SERIOUS Ms. Gillard?!?

Ms. Gillard, I'm going to ask you politely to remove those tufts of red hair from around your ears and instruct you to listen carefully to this (or read it):

ABBOTT WAS TALKING ABOUT WHAT HE WOULD SAY TO HIS DAUGHTERS, NOT TO THE WOMEN OF AUSTRALIA!

Now, if anyone was to pay any attention to how Abbott worded his response, you'd note that he said "... don't give it to someone lightly". The reality of this statement is that as a parent, you can tell your children what to do and model good and decent behaviour, but in the end you're not going to be able to physically stop your children from doing anything contrary to your wishes. As a parent myself, I can only hope and pray that when my own children come of age, that they think carefully about their actions.

No person can stop anyone from having extra-marital or pre-marital sex (e.g. the sexual "revolution"), but as parents, and this is a universal hope, we can do our best to make sure our children make good and responsible choices and not do anything that they are later going to regret. This does not just apply to sexual affairs.

But where the hypocrisy lies in this matter is where our Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, stands on issue of pre-marital sex himself. Rudd is also a father of children of similar ages to Abbott's own offspring, and Rudd has also been very forward in proclaiming his Christian faith. Rudd has been very, very silent on this issue; he has refused to but into it. If Rudd was a true Christian, he'd be backing Abbott's stance on pre-marital sex. Oh but no; that would make the Labor front bench look bad now, wouldn't it? We can't have a prime minister and his deputy not seeing eye to eye on any given issue, I mean, that would just be embarrassing!

Abbott was asked a direct question, and he gave a direct answer, and how refreshing: a politican that shoots straight and does not try and creep around a question with prolix retorts and nonsensical soliloquies! At least we know where Abbott stands on a range of issues. Rudd, on the other hand, we're still not too sure about and that, as voters and working adults, should concern us all. Rudd, you're lukewarm, and what is lukewarm is spat out (can you tell I'm excited it's an election year?).

Knowing that I will soon have a daughter to love and to raise, when she is of age, I will give her the same advice that Abbott has given his daughters. I also happen to have a son, and I will also teach him the same. My hope is that all of my children learn to respect their bodies and value their sexuality; to not treat it as some kind of play toy. But as eluded to earlier, we can only do so much. Every individual is left to their own devices and faculties and we hope and pray for the best, and if we fail - if we sin - we know that we have almighty God who is prepared to forgive the sins of the penitant. I hardly believe that Abbott would cease loving any of his daughters if they did decide to engage in a pre-marital act, but it's like he said, "...don't give it [virginity/your sexuality] to someone lightly".

The advantage we have as the younger generation of another is that we are able to learn from their mistakes. The advice of a parent is invaluable, and Abbott, despite this advice being aired to public response, should not be denied instilling Christian values in his chlidren. The "Mad Monk" madly loves his children, and it's heartening to see a father care about the wellbeing of his children so passionately.

Further reading:
Childless Gillard 'doesn't understand parents'

http://www.chastity.com/

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

"What is sin about?" by Fr. Larry Richards

Fr. Larry Richards tells his congregation what sin does to us by use of a very amusing personal anecdote.

Enjoy!



God bless, and happy Australia Day! :-)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Addressing student questions: Evolution

I would like to address another question a student of mine sent me two weeks ago. It's a follow up to the blog entry I posted on January 3 (http://thespiritmagnus.blogspot.com/2010/01/genesis-creation-stories-literal-or.html). But here's the thing: while I can answer most question concerning the Church's position on evolution quite well and can generally appease most inquisitive minds, my knowledge is very limited on the matter and I'm still learning about it myself. Fortunately, I know where to turn to if I need to brush up on a particular subject.

Catholic.com is a fantastic resource if you're keen to broaden your knowledge on all things Catholic (there's an in built search engine; just type in what you're looking for, hit enter, and walla!). I also recommend listening to Catholic Answers Live (CAL) and listening to the scheduled programs either live via the website, or by downloading a past program via the website directly or via podcast (I enjoy listening to the podcats while at the gym).

So anyway, there's a great article on the subject of evolution on the website, and that can be found here: http://www.catholic.com/library/Adam_Eve_and_Evolution.asp

Here's an extract: 

"The story of the creation and fall of man is a true one, even if not written entirely according to modern literary techniques. The Catechism states, 'The account of the fall in Genesis 3 uses figurative language, but affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man. Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents' (CCC 390)." 

And as is the case normally, I have backlog of Catholic Answers Live podcasts to listen to (I'm finally up to date as of this week), and last week I caught a show recorded on December 5, 2009. A listener called in and asked about evolution. CAL staff apologist, Tim Staples, gave this very concise answer:

Catholic Answers Live - December 5, 2009: Tim Staples.mp3

I hope that's helped somewhat. It's a lot to take in, but listen to it on repeat if you have to.

God bless.

Top Baseball Prospect Retires to Enter Priesthood

Top Baseball Prospect Retires to Enter Priesthood
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Associated Press

NEW YORK — As a top prospect for the Oakland Athletics, outfielder Grant Desme might've gotten the call every minor leaguer wants this spring.

Instead, he believed he had another, higher calling.

Read the full story here: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,583713,00.html

Exorcism caught on camera

VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED!


If you are easily disturbed then I don't recommend you watch these videos. If you are, however, brave enough and have ever wondered about the existence of darker powers, then go ahead and watch.


Part I of II



Part II of II



Pray constantly and stay close to the sacraments.


God bless.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Marky Mark, you're a tad confused!



I enjoyed a carb-loaded breakfast at McDonald's this morning before heading out to the gym for a workout, and while I feasted on a hash brown or two, I came across an article in the entertainment section of the newspaper (The West Australian, January 11 2010) which talked about how Mark Wahlberg (aka "Marky Mark" of "Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch" fame) courted his now wife, Rhea Durham.

Wahlberg took Durham to Mass for their first date after only meeting a day earlier. This is what Wahlberg said when he was asked about taking Durham to Mass, and what he said urked me:

"She [Durham] was raised a Christian, not a Catholic like me. She did come - and now she's converted."

At a first glance you might think there's nothing wrong with this statement, and like me you'll think it's fantastic that Wahlberg's wife is now a Catholic, but that's not the problem. Pay attention to the first sentence: "She was raised a Christian, not a Catholic like me..."

Every time I read or hear something of this effect, I bang my head against the nearest hardest surface (preferably horizontal). There seems to be this idea out there that "Catholic" and "Christian" are two different entities. One of the frustrations I have with my fellow Catholics is when they're asked the question, "Are you a Christian?" their immediate response is, "No, I'm Catholic". Oi vey!

CATHOLICS ARE CHRISTIAN! Mister Wahlberg: yes, you're a Catholic, but you're also a Christian! *slap* *slap* *slap*!

Here's how we can break it down:

All Catholics are Christian, but not all Christians are Catholic.

Christianity = Religion
Catholic = Denomination (i.e. "a large group of religious congregations united under a common faith and name and organized under a single administrative and legal hierarchy" - http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/denomination)

If Mister Wahlberg knew a bit more about his Church, he would have said this instead about his wife:

"She was raised a non-Catholic Christian. She did come - and now she's converted."

If you like Mr. Wahlberg think there's a difference between "Catholic" and "Christian", then I've hand-picked a few videos from Youtube for you to watch to enlighten you, but remember:

CATHOLICS ARE CHRISTIAN!
CATHOLICS ARE CHRISTIAN!

CATHOLICS ARE CHRISTIAN!



Say it with me:

CATHOLICS ARE CHRISTIAN!



Oh you're getting so good at this!

*Ahem*

Enjoy the videos.

God bless!



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHTHS_fpo_A&videos=GewBiYv0znc&playnext_from=TL&playnext=1 - Video series (playlist) by Catholic Apologist, Vic Scaravilli, entitled "Are Roman Catholics Christians?" (17 parts).


 
P.S. Marky Mark, if you're reading this: I'm a big fan! ;-)

Quick Thought: What is "Purgatory"?



Purgatory is a place of purification, where those who die in God's friendship but not in a state of grace, undergo a cleansing before entering the kingdom of Heaven.



"All who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven... The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned." - Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 1030,1031


Revelation 21:27 tells us that "nothing unclean shall enter it [the kingdom of Heaven]..." and this is one of the Biblical bases for the doctrine of Purgatory.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Genesis Creation stories: Literal or Figurative Six Days?

I received a question from a student of mine via email just after Christmas, and they wanted to learn the Church's position on a literal or figurative six-day creation as presented in the book of Genesis.


"How does the Catholic Church view the creation story that said the world was made in 6 days? Was it meant to be taken literally or was it symbolic for a larger time frame?"

This is a matter of personal faith. On the one hand we know we have God, an almighty and all knowing creator whom with all things are possible. God can do anything. So with this philosophy it is not unreasonable to believe that God could have created the world in six days (and Him resting on the seventh) or six days as we know them.

On the other hand, even though scripture (the Bible) tells us that the world was created in six days, was anyone there to witness it? No, of course not! So how can we believe the creation stories in the book of Genesis? It is reasonable to assert that these stories were generations older than the first of Abraham's people, and it was not until much, much later that someone decided to write down these accounts. It was not as if someone had quill to scroll (i.e. pen to paper) as these unique and individual events took fold.

The key thing to understand here is that every tribal culture has tribal stories, meaning that a tribe or culture will have stories that explain how things came to be, great events that took place within that people and stories that pertain to that group of people in particular. For example, the Australian Aboriginals have "Dreamtime" stories that explain how the birds got their colours, why the emu bird doe not fly, how particular star formations took shape, and so on. These stories, as well as other tribal stories, are not scientific and were creative ways for people with limited understanding of how things work understand how things came to be. We call this "mythology".

To understand the creation stories in Genesis, it's very important that we divorce the word "mythology" with its common or contemporary definition, and that is to parallel the word to "made up" or "make believe"

The word "myth" comes from the Greek word "mythos" which means "story" or "word", and we know the creation accounts in the book of Genesis to be creation stories. Basically, this is how generations of believers have explained and understood how the world and its inhabitants came to be however many years ago.

No one can ever fully understand the intricate details behind the creation of the world, even someone with an advanced scientific knowledge of physics or cosmology. We do know this, however:

You can't create something from nothing, therefore there has to be a creator.

Back to the question: literal or figurative six days? 

The Church does not specify or instruct us to believe in one or the other, so it is a matter of personal faith. In fact, believing in the literal or figurative six day creationism is an issue that separates many Christians on an individual basis. What the Church does tell us about creation, however, is this:

"Among all the Scriptural texts about creation, the first three chapters of Genesis occupy a unique place. From a literary standpoint these texts may have had diverse sources. The inspired authors have placed them at the beginning of Scripture to express in their solemn language the truths of creation - its origin and its end in God, its order and goodness, the vocation of man, and finally the drama of sin and the hope of salvation. Read in the light of Christ, within the unity of Sacred Scripture and in the living Tradition of the Church, these texts remain the principal source for catechesis on the mysteries of the "beginning": creation, fall, and promise of salvation." - CCC 289

We know that the truth of creation is found within Sacred Scripture, and believing all that is written within scripture requires faith: believing what is not seen. We are free to believe in a literal six day creation, or whether the number of six days is figurative. As Christians we are invited to investigate, using both faith and reason (understanding) to seek the fullness of truth in creation, examining all that is revealed to us with a faith-driven scrutiny; a desire to understand; a yearning of the human heart for truth.

Further reading:
The Six Days of Creation (Jimmy Akin) - http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/2003/0301bt.asp
You Can't Make Something From Nothing! (blog post July 31, 2009) - http://thespiritmagnus.blogspot.com/2009/07/you-cant-make-something-from-nothing.html
Evolution (John Salza) - http://scripturecatholic.com/evolution.html