Archive for the ‘Discernments and thoughts’ Category

May 10 is Mother’s Day!

Beautiful portrait of our Holy Mother.

Beautiful portrait of our Holy Mother and baby Jesus with the Angels soothing the baby with celestial music.

Most cultures around the world recognize central figures in their social order to give order to their world and credence to their customs and validate their existence. One such central figure is mom. Yes. That woman, who for most of us has either given birth to us, or has adopted us into their fold, that is woman who has been provided nurturing behaviors so that we can continue on our merry way so that we become independent beings with what little she may have made available to her; she is the one we celebrate.

But there is one issue, however, I’d like to point to. Mother’s around this planet have been, for best or worse, that guiding arm in their child’s rearing–daily. That’s 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Reading this blog may offer a hint of  nudging you to go and appreciate her just by the sheer numbers of how long she has been your mother. But I offer you this: not just celebrate her this Sunday. I say every day is a Mother’s Day and every day she should be celebrated. Typically folks can relate the notion, despite that not all circumstances are ideal around the world, that we do have mothers amidst us that should not have been mothers to begin. But still, we offer them our prayers. Given this picture of mothers, we should still offer our moms out there some form of gratitude. Even if it’s a prayer or a thought. How about visiting her? That would make a great Mother’s Day. For those of us whose mothers may have passed away, those Mass Intentions work just as well, or perhaps even a visit to her grave to spend a few moments remembering her.

So this Mother’s Day, don’t just make a call if you are long distance, offer her a Holy Mass with intentions for her. If she is in your vicinity, respect her and visit the woman who loves you. Notice I said ‘loves,’ and not ‘loved’ in the past tense. She loves you. Go and make her day. Because in the end, it would make your day and all days from that, a stepping stone to love and celebrate mom not just for a day.

God bless you all this Mother’s Day and Happy Mother’s Day to all of you wonderful mothers out there.

Why a study of philosophy is good for you, good for me and good for us.

Years ago when I was studying Philosophy at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, the only realization at the time is that my course of action to be enrolled in this school was simply a “means to an end”; that these studies would help me satisfy any effort at finally completing a degree. As days at the DSPT turned into weeks, which turned into semesters, there was finally a point that the “means to an end” did not seem to farewell with my own experience with the study of Philosophy. I was beginning to understand something, even though it was a tiny glimmer. It was a sense as if it was being revealed. This sense of awakening in knowledge, which would grow and take hold of both my ability to reason, and my love for truth, which would slowly become part of my being. That much I believe was me, the rest I give to God’s blessings.

My school’s motto was a Latin phrase “deus providebit,” which translates, “God will provide.” Right off the back this phrase represented to me (and it was my own reflection at the time), a theological implication that God is involved only theologically. But as I grew in my studies, I realize that to relegate theology as the only means to discover God, however innocent, would be a serious privation of the person and the search of truth, and therefore the search for God. How can I come to know, if I don’t understand how these courses will help me see God?

To put in perspective, let’s look at this course of thought, which became very clear to me: “I walked in not knowing, and have graduated knowing that I do not know.” So how is this good?

To answer how it is good, I must anchor what I said to the things which are clearly for me, the argument which best serves the relationship between faith and reason and theology and philosophy. So what then is the purpose of Philosophy? Can it serve to be good or is it ‘a’ good? Perhaps if we visit that last statement, “and have graduated knowing that I do not know,” I will attempt to shed a glimmer of light of why I believe it is so.

The courses at the DSPT in Berkeley were designed to fulfill requirements, that when completed, leads the student to a degree in Philosophy. And having done that, the student (in this case the seminarians of the various religious orders enrolled at DSPT, would share immersion as that of the Dominican Friars, into theological and pastoral studies). This would prepare them in all aspects of their program right into the priesthood. In my case, it led lay students who were not seeking religious vocations, to the same ratio of the Dominican tradition. To some end, I suppose, I too would have been be prepared for the priesthood given this rote. But this is not finally the point of this thought. The point is why Philosophy? And with all the sorts of readings which were expected of its students to complete, the DSPT faculty has for certain supported its curriculum with current scholarship in all the areas of Philosophy one could imagine, i.e., Philosophy of Nature, Aristotelian Logic, Ancient Philosophy, Medieval and Contemporary Philosophy, Ethics, etc., so that education in Philosophy would satisfy the rigor expected of its Dominican Friars leading to theological studies.

Then something happened. At the end of each course there was a way I looked at the world around me, and I realized that I would think about things with interest. For example I became protective of words which would be used to describe something common, when it would otherwise be best used to describe the highest form which, in my training and understanding of the world, is God. Words like “good,” “perfect,” “awesome,” “highest,” and many similar terms, seem only fair to keep away from things which we experience daily. Like food. The use of words to describe finite and material objects such as food or cars appear vulgar. It was as if I took the red pill.

But Philosophy does not end with examining the world around us and of the things which we occupy our thoughts. It also contributes to the way we handle ourselves as well as others. It is exactly in this way which we can discern all that is possible in the discovering of our place in this world and with God. So the question then remains to be answered: Is Philosophy good? For all of us? It seems a legitimate view point is if Philosophy strives to uncover truth which is hidden or unrevealed, and it causes our belief to change how we view or handle one another, and that we hold the dignity of the person above our own needs and desires, then it is good. It must therefore be an objective moral good.

I happened upon the following article and am sharing it here in case folks have not seen it. It touches on the idea of Philosophy handling human tendencies such as that which is iracible and concupiscent.

 

Philosophy as antidote to anger and fear

By Thomas Van

At the Huffington Post, Michael Shammas has written an excellent blog piece calling for a renewal of philosophy education in high schools. American politics is increasingly characterized by fear, anger and bitterness; according to Shammas this is caused at root by “the iron certainty we grant our opinions.”

Why philosophy? Because the study of philosophy, the “love of wisdom,” creates and nurtures thoughtful minds, minds that can — as Aristotle suggests — entertain a thought without accepting it. With a philosophic worldview, a Republican who despises any tax increase or economic stimulus could at least consider the notion of tax hikes or Keynesian economics. A Democrat facing antithetical ideas could do likewise. Thought rather than anger could become the default response to opposing worldviews.

Indeed, philosophy can do a great deal to lessen the anger that is growing like a cancerous tumor in modern America.

In addition, Shammas argues, philosophy helps us to learn virtue and, as Socrates said, makes us realize how little we truly know—which would replace irrational anger and fear with humility and curiosity. Philosophy leads us to ask the ultimate questions about truth, justice, suffering, the afterlife, all of which most people in our society are afraid to consider.

While only faith in Jesus Christ can ultimately save our society, it seems reasonable to believe that the widespread study of philosophy would make our nation’s politics, at least, more rational and discourse-friendly.

Taken from: http://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/the-city-gates.cfm?id=982

Holy Father Pope Francis on Ecclesial elites

Having read an article on our Holy Father’s position on Ecclesial elites and those who take an exclusive approach to faith, prompted me to reflect on this with the following.

As posted on Facebook January 30, 2015

http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2015/01/29/pope__no_to_ecclesial_elites_who_privatize_the_faith/1120518

And to further the distinction by those practicing a faith in a myopic sense of self while maintaining the exclusivity and practice of ecclesial elitism, is shunned in Pope Francis’ plain and simple reminder to us of humanities own salvation history. Jesus’ words on loving and the unconditional inclusion of the other in all aspects and dimensions of love strengthens in our frailty God’s gifts of the theological virtues. Our Christian faith is a living faith and the very heart and foundation and definition of a unified people who approach communion which the God of Salvation History has given us in his new covenant, and renewed in his passion, death and resurrection. Therefore to be a Church in union with each other and with God comes together on the same altar of sacrifice which we all share!

Happy New Year

May God bless and keep you in 2015.

A quick reflection about my own year in 2014 makes me wonder where has the year gone? To be clear, my year has not gone to the way of waste and non-productiveness, but the opposite. So much has been done that it can be a difficult task to remember them all. And the reflection of that busyness? I am seeing change for 2015. And I pray that it is what God continually wants of me.

Also that the things I have done last year would have built and strengthen my resolve to work harder for the people I hold dear and love. This morning I will go to New Year’s Mass at Santa Teresita Catholic Church in an hour or so and offer my prayers and thanksgiving to God for keeping me and loved ones safe and present. I will pray for you too, the reader of my blog.

God bless you now and always.

My discernment on environment and creature

This is my opinion on the distinction of an environment which is changing.

I often discern the question of how much our ancestors may have understood their economy. I am not speaking of an economy of market, but rather of ecology. Taking what is necessary to sustain, and not from compulsion or over-harvesting–could tie in to how ancient farmers understood this dichotomy (of the relationship of nature and man) and hence would plant back into the earth–putting back what was taken–a demonstrable harmony between nature and creature. There is some evidence of the adverse change of this harmony. All one has to do is reflect on what our island and homes looked like prior to “modernization.” We all grow from our “healthy” economy. But our ecology suffers, therefore human kind suffers alongside. The understanding of new and deadlier diseases arising from the many conditions in which man is exposed to, reflect the pace in which humanity has sped up and away from the forest and into the concrete jungle. I for one agree that modernity to some extent helps keep the balance between nature and creature. But let us not confuse this with material goods as representative of being modern or being healthy.

While nature (by its nature) is sustainable, it seemingly offers enough for future harvesting, therefore, a place for future generations to continue to be as such. The justification of this notion could have been measured by the balance between what is in nature and whether humanity harvests from it, or the depletion of resources based upon an unnatural inclination to consume, thereby destroying one form of habit in relation to nature and its resources. It is a contrasting reminder of our predicament today. Small islands like those in the Marianas and the FSM demonstrate this point. The replacing of agricultural lands for residential and business provisions show the obvious warning signs between a developed property and what potential it has for the dollar and the eventual absence of a life sustaining plot of land where nature can flourish. Should there be a point where one has come to the realization that we are creating a future Easter Island for ourselves? I believe that nature will reclaim what was once hers. The human condition has seen much in its life as a creature hand in hand with nature. It will endure. But it will have to work harder to sustain itself once nature is gone. The replacement of nature’s place in relation to man’s desire to own some sense of “security” and the original place nature served man, will soon be buried under a new and improved paved highway. When and where do we start or stop?

Again one should read this opinion as simply that. But it does offer an interesting reflection of an economy of ecology of man and nature. Thank you for taking time to read this.

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