Saturday, July 5, 2014

POPE FRANCIS' DOWN TO EARTH EXPLANATION OF WHAT THE CHURCH IS AND REVISITING SCIENTIFIC FUNDAMENTALISM ABOUT WHO AND WHAT IS AT THE CENTER

This outdoor Mass is lovely and the choir sings the parts of the Mass in Latin (Kyrie, Greek of course) the Gloria, the Sanctus and Agnus Dei. They sing a more complicated version that isn't even often heard at the Vatican. I am sure JN will tell us what version of the chant it is. The fly in the ointment is the Responsorial Psalm sung by a guitar strumming vocalist. It is so out of place and unintegrated.  Yikes! I still advocate that the parts of the Mass chanted in Latin should become the universal norm or law and the rest of the Mass optional in the vernacular. This would be closer to what Vatican II actually requested but was completely ignored by the implementation of Pope Paul VI's missal in 1970.

Pope Francis' homily at the Mass in Campobaso, Italia on Saturday July 5 (near my former parishioners who live in Trani which I visited in the fall which is near Padre Pio's Shrine in San Giovanni Rotondo, which they took me to visit,  Matt and Brandi Froehlich and a glorious Italian day it is there today. I wish I were there!

The homily: The first reading reminded us of the characteristics of divine wisdom, which liberates from evil and oppression those who place themselves at the service of the Lord.  In fact, he is not neutral, but in his wisdom he is close to people who are fragile, discriminated against and oppressed, who abandon themselves in trust to him. This experience of Jacob and Joseph, recounted in the Old Testament, reveals two essential aspects of the life of the Church. The Church is a people who serves God; the Church is a people who lives in the freedom that he gives. (My comment: God's freedom is found in Scripture, Tradition and Natural Law. It is found especially in the 10 Commandments and the Beatitudes. In all of these we are liberated from the slavery to evil and oppression and of course through Jesus Christ and the Christ Event, from eternal damnation, the ultimate loss of freedom in the eternal sense.)

First of all, we are a people who serves God. Service to God is realized in different ways, in particular in prayer, in adoration, in the proclamation of the Gospel and in the witness of charity. And always, the icon of the Church is the Virgin Mary, the “handmaid of the Lord” (Lk 1,38; cfr 1,48). Immediately after having received the message from the Angel and having conceived Jesus, Mary leaves in a hurry to go to help her elderly relative Elizabeth. And, in this way, she showed that the preferred way to serve God is to serve our brothers and sisters who are in need.

At the school of the Mother, the Church learns to become every day “handmaid of the Lord”, to be ready to go to encounter situations of greatest need, to be caring toward the small and the excluded. But we are all called to live the service of charity in ordinary life, that is, in the family, in the parish, at work, with neighbours. It is the charity of everyday, ordinary charity. ( My comment: I have always emphasized in my preaching that charity begins at home where parents provide for their children who are the poorest of the poor, house, clothe, educate, feed and care for them in their sicknesses--the family is the Church in miniature and where praise and worship, as well as reading and hearing the Gospel should take place. But our charity extends to our friends and acquaintances and to those we meet in the public square. There is nothing dramatic about this although others are called man soup kitchens, organize social work and the rest of it.)

The witness of charity is the main path of evangelization. In this, the Church has always been “on the front line”, a maternal and fraternal presence, which shares the difficulties and frailties of the people. In this way, the Christian community seeks to instill in society that “supplement of the soul”, which allows you to look beyond and to hope.

It's what you also, dear brothers and sisters of this Diocese, are doing with generosity sustained by the pastoral zeal of your Bishop. I encourage you all, priests, consecrated persons and lay faithful, to persevere on this path, serving God in the service of others and spreading everywhere the culture of solidarity. There is much need for this commitment, in the face of situations of material and spiritual precariousness, especially in the face of unemployment, a plague that requires every effort and much courage on everyone’s part. Because this challenge of work calls upon, in a particular way, the responsibility of institutions, of the business and financial world. It is necessary to place the dignity of the human person at the centre of every prospect and every action. Other interests, even if legitimate, are secondary. At the centre is the dignity of the human person. Why? Because the human person is in the image of God, he was created in the image of God and we are all in the image of God! (My comments: This ties in very much with our science fundamentalism discussion of a few weeks ago in which so many, like PI, simply do not grasp and do not understand that the earth is at the center of God's creation because as Pope Francis states marvelously, "at the center is the dignity of the human person." Of course the Holy Father doesn't mean this in some circular or linear trajectory as though the human person is at the center of some kind of physical space but in the ontological, philosophical, theological, and dogmatic sense. The same is true of the earth and that all revolves around the earth to sustain the crown of God's creation, mankind. It is mankind and his dignity that we must "place the dignity of the human person at the center of every prospect and every action!" So while Galileo was right in the physical sense that the earth revolved around the sun, not the sun around the earth, the Church was right in saying that the earth is at the center to sustain the dignity of the human person who is truly the center of God's creation. All revolves around the earth, including the sun, of course in the philosophical and ontological sense, to place the human person's dignity at the center!)

Therefore, the Church is the people who serve the Lord. For this, it is the people who experiences his freedom and lives in this freedom that He gives. The Lord always give true freedom. First of all, the freedom from sin, from selfishness in all its forms: the freedom to give of oneself and to do so with joy, like the Virgin of Nazareth, who is free from herself, she does not close in on herself in her condition – and she would have had reason! – but thinks of those who, in that moment, has greater need. She is free in the freedom of God, which is realized in love. And this is the freedom that God has given us and we must not lose it: the freedom to adore God, to serve God and to serve him even in our brothers and sisters. (My comments: Again we see where true freedom lies when we use our free-will to give ourselves to God's freedom, not to the devil's oppression and slavery. This has implications for the here and now of course, but certainly eternally for the hereafter. Eternal life does not necessarily mean life in heaven, it also means death in hell, the living dead! After all, the soul is immortal and God's judgement of us at our personal judgement determines where the soul will experience eternity, either in heaven or in hell. At the final judgment our bodies will join our souls. It is here that I am unclear or perhaps the Church is unclear, do our resurrected bodies go to hell if our soul is there or do they remain dust? Does anyone know what the Church's teaching is on this?) 

This is the freedom that, by the grace of God, we experience in the Christian community, when we put ourselves at each other’s service, without jealousy, without taking sides, without chatter… Serving one another. Serving! Then the Lord frees us from ambition and rivalry, which undermine unity and communion. He frees us from distrust, sadness — look, this sadness is dangerous because it casts us down. It casts us down. It’s dangerous. Be careful. He frees us from fear, internal emptiness, isolation, regret, and complaints. Even in our communities, in fact, there is no shortage of negative attitudes that make people self-referential, more concerned with defending themselves than with giving of themselves. But Christ frees us from this existential grayness, as we proclaimed in the Responsorial Psalm, “You are my help and my deliverer”. For this reason, we disciples of the Lord, though still always weak and sinners – we are all so – still weak and sinners, we are called to live our faith with joy and courage, communion with God and with our brothers, adoration of God, and to face with strength the labors and trials of life.

Dear brothers and sisters, may the Holy Virgin, who you venerate in particular with the title of “Madonna della Libera”, attain for you the joy of serving the Lord and of walking in the freedom that He has given us, the freedom for adoration... May Mary help you to be a maternal Church, welcoming and caring towards everyone. May she always be beside you, your sick, your elderly, who are the wisdom of the people, and your youth. For all your people, may she be a sign of consolation and sure hope. May the Madonna della Libera accompany us, help us, console us and give us peace and joy. (My comments: The Holy Father's profound and down to earth Marian spirituality is a model for all of us as the Blessed Mother is the Model of the Church, what we are and who we should be! From the ecumenical point of view, especially Protestantism, how unecumenical is it to hold up the Blessed Virgin Mary as the model of the Church--does it compute for them? Do they grasp this Catholic doctrine and dogma?)

53 comments:

Pater Ignotus said...

Good Father - The earlier discussion was not about the earth or humans or human dignity being the "center of God's creation."

I cited one Robert Sungenis, a Catholic, who argues that, according to Scripture, the earth is the center of the solar system. He posits that the sun and the other planets in our solar system orbit the earth.

You wrongly suggest that I believe that the earth/man is not at the center of God's creation. (This is very, very different from saying the earth is the center of the solar system.) Your suggestion is false, wrong, and, I think, intentionally so.

I never said anything about the earth or man as being or not being the center of God's creation.

When you have to make things up to make your point or to make yourself look wise or orthodox, and when you falsely accuse me of holding beliefs I plainly do not hold, you make yourself look foolish.

JBS said...

What had you two been drinking when you had this earlier solar system conversation? If it produces more bizarrely interesting dialogue like this,I'll be happy to send ya'll some Tennessee whisky.

Henry said...

As a mathematician with years of professional study of the dynamics of the solar system, I find bemusing if not amusing these faux theology discussions—e.g., of earth versus sun as center of motion—by folks who apparently comprehend neither the questions nor their answers.

From a mathematical or physical point of view, one can with equal validity choose either the sun or the earth as the fixed reference point. Then, in accordance with Kepler and Newton, each travels along an elliptical orbit that has the other as a focal point—thus the earth travels in an elliptical orbit around the sun, and the sun travels in an elliptical orbit about the earth.

THE question then is which choice renders simplest the mathematical descriptions of the motions of the other bodies in the solar system. The discovery of Copernicus was that these descriptions are most simplified by the choice of the earth as the reference point (though his own descriptions were not all that simpler than the ancient Ptolemaic descriptions, because he did not know about ellipses and still thought, as Ptolemy had, that all orbits must be based on circular motion).

Galileo was condemned not for saying that the earth is the center of all, but for claiming that scripture says this. The determination of what scripture says is the province of the Church and is not a scientific issue. In point of fact, scripture says nothing about this purely mathematical matter.

John Nolan said...

The Mass setting was Mass VIII (de Angelis), that mainstay of Catholic parishes in the 1950s. The C major Kyrie and Gloria are not, of course authentic Gregorian chant, any more than Credo III is, or the simple version of the Salve Regina. However, the Sanctus and Agnus Dei are authentic. As for the guy with the guitar, I would be prepared to cut him some slack.

The obvious liturgical solecism was the priests distributing Communion wearing baseball caps. If the sun is intense, have someone holding an umbrella. Even the pope when he gives Communion has no head covering whatsoever. However, I noticed that the faithful received on the tongue.

I am not the liturgical policeman that some people might like to make me out to be, and had I attended that open-air Mass I would have emerged spiritually edified, would have joined in the popular hymns as well as the familiar chants, and repaired to the trattoria afterwards in the company of fellow-Catholics.

rcg said...

It was pretty strange thread in the history of this blog. A study in willful blindness.

Pater Ignotus said...

Henry - One cannot posit, mathematically or otherwise, that the sun and the planets of our solar system orbit the earth.

This is Sungenis' contention, which he bases on his own idiosyncratic reading of Scripture.

Re: Galileo. The Scriptures do not say that the earth is the center of our solar system, which is Sungenis' contention. Galileo was right and those who think the Scripture teach that the sun and planets orbit the earth are wrong.

Gene said...

Theologically speaking, man is the center, or focal point, of God's creation. Other than that, I thought everybody knew that the planets are carried through the ether by large creatures resembling catfish.

Gene said...

Ignotus, It is math...you miss Henry's point...get it...point? Never mind...

Anon friend said...

Guys, let's not do this again!

Cameron said...

JBS, disgusting!

I am from Kentucky and I shall send, instead, some very fine bourbon. Much better than that atrocious Tennessee Listerine gasoline.

I feel very privileged to have had a bourbon storage building, quite literally, in my back yard.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Call out the AA!

Henry said...

PI,

I trust you do not share--with the ilk of your Robert Sungenis (whoever or whatever he may be)--an inability to comprehend the concept of a scientific or mathematical discussion of the solar system, nor the distinction between scientific and theological issues (if any).

In current scientific investigations of orbital mechanics it is as routine and acceptable to consider the motion of the sun with respect to the earth as a fixed point, as to consider the motion of the earth with respect to the sun as a fixed point. From a mathematical viewpoint, either can equally validly be taken as the origin of one’s coordinate system, and in current physics and mathematics texts, each frequently is.

The pertinent question is which choice yields the most useful and informative description of the solar system as a whole. There is no difference of opinion or controversy among qualified scientists about such a routine matter.

A common mistake of unqualified folks is to attribute scriptural, moral, or theological implications to what is solely a scientific or mathematical matter. People tend to embarrass themselves when they attempt to make definitive statements outside their own areas of competence. Anyone who cannot understand the statement that the earth and sun revolve about each other, each traveling an elliptical orbit focused at the other, would be well advised to remain silent about it.

In any event, anyone (Sungenis or otherwise) is wrong if he claims that scripture says that the sun orbits the earth, and one is equally wrong if he claims that scripture says that the earth orbits the sun. The matter simply does not among the categories addressed by scripture, and scripture rightly does not address it.

Anon friend said...

Yeah, I was thinking 12-steps from the get-go --- for ME! You guys, on the other hand are hopeless...
(-:

rcg said...

Now, this takes a good turn. Having the advantage of backgrounds in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Scotland I will say they are each according to their own suitable but I am inclined toward 'whiskey' where the purse supports it. There is, as far as I know, only one sure way to evaluate this. FrAJM must host a tasting on neutral ground in Georgia which is completely bereft of competing spirits.

rcg said...

My faith is shaken. Do you mean to tell me that Peter was not actually a rock, or that Jesus turned him into one?

Uncle Dave Macon had a song, "The Bible is True". Was he wrong?

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Henry. Your entry of July 5, 2014 at 9:27 AM is the is the winner of the "Pompous Posting of the Week" award. The cash prize is in the mail.

Pater Ignotus said...

Henry - You can consider the earth as a fixed point in order to consider the motion of the sun in relation to it.

You can consider the okra plant in my garden as fixed point around which the earth orbits, too. But, that's a thought exercise or a mathematic fantasy, but both have no relation to the facts as we know them.

"Sungenis claims the assumptions made by the cosmological principle can be ignored and the observable universe would fit a geocentric model of the universe, with the Earth immobile at the barycenter and everything else revolving around it."

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Okra Obit will be a character in my next book, "The Center"

Ted K said...

Henry is quite correct. Which frame of reference do we chose to explain celestial phenomena?
When I look at this world I see the sun rising in the east, travelling over me, and setting in the West.
No, non, niet, modern science says, that is an illusion. It is the earth that rotates with respect to the sun. Fine, but I still see what I see.
Modern science wants to choose the frame of reference of a god looking outside the universe at this universe, an impossible feat, but a philosophically interesting one.
To say that the heavens revolve around the earth as the centre of the universe is mathematically possible, but extremely complicated to map out. Science rejects that mapping because of the principle of simplicity which, although an unprovable assumption, uses it virtually as an axiom for its pursuits. Occam's razor is at work here, along with his Nominalism.

Gene said...

There was nothing pompous in Henry's post. Those with little understanding often accuse those with greater knowledge or intelligence of being pompous or arrogant, only to end by accenting their own ignorance.

Oh, and watch Ignotus wiggle...LOL!

JBS said...

The doctor of mathematics has explained in clear and concise terms the center around which orbits the myth that the science of God conflicts with the science of nature: the Galileo Affair. Galileo was simply wrong to publish his claim that the Bible requires acceptance of a particular model of the solar system. He should have stuck to the science of nature.

Thank you, Henry.

Anonymous said...

Preacher Gene, I could have written your response for you. You are TOTALLY predictable.

JBS said...

Cameron,

Kentucky, Tennessee...whatever keeps it interesting. Personally, I can't handle anything stronger than Sprite.

Gene said...

Anonymous, seems like several people agree with me.

George said...


Pope Francis:
" Service to God is realized in different ways, in particular in prayer, in adoration, in the proclamation of the Gospel and in the witness of charity."

St Thérèse of Lisieux never left the cloistered Carmelite community of Lisieux, Normandy, yet she is the patron saint of missionaries.

Testimony to the importance of human life:

"It is necessary to place the dignity of the human person at the centre of every prospect and every action. Other interests, even if legitimate, are secondary. At the centre is the dignity of the human person. Why? Because the human person is in the image of God, he was created in the image of God and we are all in the image of God! May Mary help you to be a maternal Church, welcoming and caring towards everyone. May she always be beside you, your sick, your elderly...

Anonymous said...

If it seems appropriate to you (It is very appropriate to me.) a glass of Sprite and ice with a couple of ounces of ANCIENT AGE makes a lovely beverage. I'm having one now.

Anonymous 2 said...

I am not sure that all those posting comments about competing mathematical constructs and competing beverages on this thread appreciate the gravity of the situation.

Gene said...

Ancient Age is cheap crap, fit only to be mixed with some horrible soft drink. Buy the good stuff and drink it on ice. I just had a glass of MacAllan 18 straight up.

Cheap liquor and cheap women are bad for you…
"I have loved fine women,
and I have loved Jim Beam,
and they both tried to kill me
back in 1973." Hank Williams, jr.

George said...

Mathematicians and physicists discover the mathematical language which describes God's Creation. God gave man an intellect to know and understand Him and His Creation, so man has the capability given to him by the Divine Creator to translate into a communicative language the processes, forces and mechanics of all that exists in the Temporal and Existential plane of Creation.The Catholic who is true to the Faith, even with minimal understanding of such things, is capable of knowing that our Universe had a beginning and it was brought into existence by our Divine Creator who continues to sustains it all. It was brought into existence by God, because only God Who is Superior to all could create and bring Creation out of nothing.

Gene said...

Anon 2,
Threads like this do have a centrifugal effect…tending to spin out other elements for discussion. Sometimes it is difficult to get from point A to point B without a tangent. Perhaps we can vector ourselves in the direction of the original focus lest entropy drain the discussion of all energy.

George said...

Anone2
I don't know about appreciating the "gravity of the situation" but there doesn't seem to be much gravitas here right now. It's good sometimes to have some light if not enlightened moments.

Anonymous said...

Preacher...Hank Williams Jr. is an ignorant, racist redneck. I'm not surprised at your quote...

Marc said...

Anonymous is using racial slurs again... I'm offended. This is a FARCE.

George said...

Gene:
Well, if we can keep from slipping into circular reasoning and likewise not go off into parallel lines of discourse and therefore stay within the "limits" of the parameters we'll have found a solution.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I'm watching Whi's Afraid of Virginia Wolfe and I née either a Kentuky bourbon or a Tenneessee whiskey to go with. What great acting! Don't make movies like that any more!

Marc said...

Based on those typos, I'd say you've had too much already, Father!

Ha!

Gene said...

Anonymous, what do you really know about Hank Williams, Jr? Speaking of predictable, you libs are all alike…you hate racial slurs and stereotyping unless you are applying it to conservatives. Then it is ok. LOL!

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Spell check on iPhone but no drinking but I feel like it watching this movie!

Gene said...

George, I'm sure there is a rational principle that is distributive over all factors in such a conversation. This discussion will continue to orbit around the same poles for an indeterminate amount of time. In all such discussions, constants aren't and variables won't.

Joseph Johnson said...

Father McDonald,
I was watching the same movie myself. By the way, was that a hand missal from which Ricard Burton was reading the Latin prayers, "Dominus vobiscum," and the Kyrie during Elizabeth's discourse on their son? I thought that was rather odd!

Anonymous 2 said...

George:

“It's good sometimes to have some light if not enlightened moments.”

I think you know from some other posts that I definitely appreciate such moments -- especially when I am sitting on my photon.



Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Yes, he was using a hand missal and reading the Latin prayers from the Requiem including the Dies Irae! I was exhausted after watching this movie and marveled at the amount of dialogue these actors had to commit to memory. I know that I've seen bits and pieces of this movie but I don't think I have ever watched it all the way through but I do remember when it came out in 1966 and it was so controversial especially the profanity in it which by today's standards is mild, but also how old Elizabeth Taylor was make to look.

Joe Potillor said...

As a resident physicist, the kinematics between the frame of reference being the earth or the sun being the same is absolutely correct as Henry has stated.

Dynamically the two are different, which I'll discuss later as it is 2:36 AM as I'm typing this, and I will not be giving any kind of physics lecture now :D

Cameron said...

Joe you don't look nearly old enough to be retired from anything.

Anonymous said...

Father McDonald,
Is this the same sermon given by Pope Francis where he advised against Sunday labor? I did not read all of the post carefully but I did not notice any words in that regard? We've discussed the Pope's ill-conceived views on economic theory, but in the instance to which I refer he used the appropriate link between religion and money issues without blaming the greedy capitalists for the problem. If this isn’t the article maybe you want to post something on that topic? I would be very happy if the Pope would reprimand the business world for engaging in sinful and criminal activities for the purpose of profit and forget about his political commentary.
I too liked Henry’s comments. The study of astronomy is fascinating and it helps our minds get a little sense what infinity is. On another point of great interest - I vote for Kentucky Bourbon.
Mike

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

It was yesterday but at another talk. I'll look for it later.

George said...

Gene:

It appears there are many domains congruent and and common factors integral to the focal point and it is possible to have a convergence.

Gene said...

Yes, George…but, I am thinking this whole progression has become a null set…LOL!

Joe Potillor said...

Cameron, I'm 28, no where close to retirement age (unless I somehow win the lottery), I'm a physics and math teacher, as my day job, when I'm not commenting here, or at my own blog....I did however "retire" from the Liturgy wars that take place in Church :)

Anonymous said...

Oh my, those ghastly "Novus Ordo" vestments. Fiddle backs please!!!!!!!!!! Oh I know not in this current papacy, oh Benedict the XVI we miss you terribly.

Cameron said...

Anon please calm down. Gothic vestments can be equally beautiful. Some of those Roman chasubles are atrocious skimpy curtains.

Anonymous said...

Hello Cameron, this is Franz and I am very calm, just telling it like it is with those ugly polyester "Novus Ordo" vestments. I mean really, Bergoglio is doing this on purpose because he is a man of Vatican II. We are allowed to criticize popes, we don't worship them. The true Mass of All Times will return to us. We wait very patiently because the "man made" Novus Ordo "meal" will die out soon.

Matthew Roth said...

It is a nice touch that although the Gospel was in the vernacular, they retained an adapted melody from the Graduale Romanum.