Catholic priest in Middle East struggles to preserve what remains of the faith

Four Horsemen

He is rounding up ancient manuscripts and relics and hiding them in secure locations around Kurdistan, hoping to save them from the iconoclastic fury of the terror insurgency.

“If Daesh burns down a church we can rebuild it, but the manuscripts are our history. They trace back our roots, they are part of our civilization,” he said, using the Arabic acronym for the group. “If they get destroyed, then we are lost, and our culture will be forgotten.”

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Minneapolis Archbishop John Nienstedt: Family as the foundation of culture.

Dear friends in Christ,

Since the beginning of man’s life on earth, the family has served as the cornerstone of society.  The integrity of the family set the standard for society from the beginning of time as the underpinning of our civilization, reflecting the beneficial differences between men and women and the complementarity of their hearts, minds, and bodies.

Aristotle argued that the natural progression of human beings flowed from the family via small communities out to the polisThe state itself, then, as a natural extension of the family, mirrors this critical institution.

Inspired by Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquinas writes, “man is by nature a social being since he stands in need of many vital things which he cannot come by through his own unaided effort. Hence he is naturally part of a group by which assistance is given him that he may live well.  He needs this assistance with a view to life as well as to the good life.”[1]  And Pope Leo XIII develops Aquinas’ thought further, recognizing that “man’s natural instinct moves him to live in civil society, for he cannot, if dwelling apart, provide himself with the necessary requirements of life, nor procure the means of developing his mental and moral faculties.”[2]  Indeed, just as our communities and the state itself imitate the structure of the family, our economy is also modeled after oikonomia—the Greek word for household management.

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Editor’s note: This is a fairly long piece, but it is worth a read. This is what good Catholic bishops are supposed to do – teach!

Fathering With Intentionality: The Importance of Creating a Family Culture.

familypic

My family preferred “Aqua-Culture”

Have you ever met one of those families that just seem to have it all together? Maybe you knew such a family growing up and loved hanging out over at their house – there was such a great atmosphere there that you kind of felt like you were coming home whenever you stopped over.

The parents were happy. The kids were all well-adjusted and generally did the right thing. Everyone in the family seemed to genuinely love, respect, and care about each other. They all truly enjoyed each other’s company and had a blast doing things together.

Sure, they had problems and struggles like any other family, but they supported each other and rallied together to take care of whatever they were going through. Maybe you joked about them being so good it was creepy – perhaps they were perfect aliens from another planet — but you envied them nonetheless.

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Editor’s note: The above photo is a self-portrait I took of my family while we were on a shipwreck diving trip beneath the chilly but clear waters of Lake Superior. It’s actually a composite of two different photos, shot using a wide-angle lens with good, old-fashioned “film”.

To avoid obscuring anyone with my exhaust bubbles it was necessary for me to break the cardinal rule of SCUBA diving, which is, “Never hold your breath.”

Warning: Don’t try this at home!

Here’s another wreck diving pic, shot at a different location, about 60 feet below the surface of Lake Michigan:

portholeenh

The “Fornication Pride” movement preceded the “Gay Pride” movement by about 40 years

The heterosexual equivalent of the “Gay Pride” movement occurred a generation or two ago in the so called sexual revolution of the sixties and seventies. The “free love” movement, epitomized by such cultural icons as Woodstock and Haight-Ashbury was as fundamentally challenging and shocking (if not more so), to the moral sensibilities of the Church and larger American culture when it occurred, as the “Gay Pride” movement has been more recently. Certainly it was at least as much a frontal attack on traditional norms and values.

Consider how quickly and thoroughly this revolution occurred. In the space of a few decades, America was transformed from a country where Elvis shaking his hips on TV created a national scandal to a country where TV shows like “Friends” depicted serial fornication among “friends” as harmless fun, indeed, as a charming and even hilarious indoor sport. And now it has gone to another level with shows like “Desperate Housewives” and “Mistresses.” What this shows I would suggest is that the “Fornication Pride” movement succeeded with extraordinary efficiency decades ago and is now so deeply woven into the fabric of our culture that we hardly ever notice it even occurred.

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The fatal mistake of Modernism

Every civilization has a theory about what man knows and how he knows it. The theory of a particular civilization will influence every area of human thought and action. Such fields as science, politics, economics, sociology, psychology, education, religion, and popular morality will be directly affected. Fields like art, music, poetry, and literature will be deeply, although indirectly, influenced, as well.

Theories about how man knows are found in a branch of metaphysics that philosophers callepistemology. Epistemology is a Greek compound word meaning the study of knowledge.

The intellectual leaders of the West took a sharp turn in the wrong direction in epistemology during the period 1750-1800, as a result of disillusionment with rationalism without understanding the fallacies of the rationalist philosophers. Empirical philosophy was offered as a substitute for rationalism, which had equally serious fallacies.

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) harmonized the two kinds of philosophy and temporarily curbed some of the fallacies. However, partly due Kant’s critique of metaphysics, the study of epistemology fell out of favor, and men lost their ability to detect epistemological errors. The dual errors of rationalism and empiricism have been steadily increasing in intensity since 1800.

After 1800, the general culture began to show the effects of this change in thought. The unraveling of Western culture in the twentieth century is in no small measure the cumulative effect of two centuries of bad epistemology.

Let us consider natural epistemology, or how every man thinks if they have not been corrupted with false epistemology, so that we can better understand the errors of Modernism.

Part one

Part two

Weigel: The days of Recreational Catholicism—Catholicism as a traditional, leisure-time activity absorbing perhaps ninety minutes of one’s time on a weekend—is over.

The challenge can be defined simply: Throughout the Western world, the culture no longer carries the faith, because the culture has become increasingly hostile to the faith. Catholicism can no longer be absorbed by osmosis from the environment, for the environment has become toxic. So we can no longer sit back and assume that decent lives lived in conformity with the prevailing cultural norms will somehow convey the faith to our children and grandchildren and invite others to consider entering the Church.

No, in our new situation, Catholicism has to be proposed, and Catholicism has to be lived in radical fidelity to Christ and the Gospel.

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Have we as pro-life Catholics been wrong to invest the lion’s share of our time, talent and energy in the political battle against abortion?

This question is forced upon us by the dramatic change in our social, cultural and political landscape over the past ten years or so, which has pushed problems every bit as important as abortion to the fore, for example the problems posed by the widespread breakdown of marriage and the family, the regularization of same-sex attraction and same-sex marriage, the triumph of a legal positivism utterly divorced from the natural law, our social dependence on a pagan bureaucratic State, the growing antipathy to Christianity, and the rapid erosion of religious liberty.

What we have learned in recent years is that we are not, as we have long thought, on the verge of winning the battle for human life. Rather, we must recognize that our culture as a whole has slipped into such darkness and error that addressing the problem of the sanctity of human life politically has become effectively impossible.

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