sábado, 14 de julho de 2012

Does the Church Hate Persons With Same-Sex Attraction?


Father Paul Check of Courage International puts the question of homosexuality in its proper context.


As the California Proposition 8 marriage case wends its way toward the U.S. Supreme Court, the Church is subjected to increasingly hostile attacks. The NewCivilRightsMovement.com, which reports on same-sex “marriage” issues, tells its readers, “The Catholic Church is the world’s single largest anti-gay hate group” and that Pope Benedict’s defense of the traditional family in January was “preposterous anti-gay hate speech.”

In such a verbally violent climate, how can Catholics explain the Church’s teachings of love, marriage and life? In search of answers, we recently spoke with Father Paul Check, executive director of Courage International, a 30-year-old Church apostolate ministering to people with same-sex attraction.

As an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps for nine years before entering the seminary, Father Check feels “very happy” to be doing this work and says it brings him “great peace.” Just as he saw his Marines as his sons, so he sees himself as a spiritual father to those struggling with same-sex attractions.
“I think Our Lord has a special heart for those who feel like lost sheep or estranged, as if the Church as an institution does not understand their struggle,” Father Check said. He said the Courage ministry has made him very aware of the many ways messages can become painfully garbled or mistranslated and of the urgency for the Church to communicate Christ’s pastoral charity for all people, whatever their difficulties.

Father Check, a priest of the Diocese of Bridgeport, Conn., became director of Courage in 2008, succeeding the late Father John Harvey, who directed the ministry since its founding.
You said in a talk posted on your Courage website that to explain Catholic teachings on homosexuality we need to start with the Trinity. 

Yes. The Church says that Christ has shown us the way to be fully human. Who are we? What does it mean to act in a way consistent with our human nature? A very basic and universal question is: What is the right thing to do? To arrive at the right answer, we need to begin with the Church’s anthropological understanding of who man is in Christ. And so to the point about the Trinity: God is first One, but he is three-in-one.
When we say man is made “in the image and likeness of God,” what do we mean? 

We mean we are created in the image of a communion of love and truth. Our true fulfillment, our true joy comes by entering into God’s life and living the joy of the Trinity’s self-giving, self-forgetful love, which has been made possible by the Incarnation.

We have immediate needs for food, shelter and medical attention for serious illness. But our most fundamental, basic human desire is to love and be loved, to know and be known.
We are made “blessedly incomplete,” in the words of University of Texas moral philosopher J. Budziszewski. This means we have to go out of ourselves to find that unity and joy that comes from uniting the heart not just to something else, but to someone else.
What happens when I refuse to open up to the joy of self-giving love, when I want to forget about God and have everything my own way? 

Then you are going to be at cross-purposes with yourself, engaged in a self-defeating search for happiness. By that I mean you will be acting in a self-centered way directly contrary to the way you were made. In John 15, Our Lord gives us a wonderful phrase that might explain the purpose of the Incarnation, which is the restoration of lost joy. Referring to the commandments, Christ says, “I have told you these things that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” The commandments express our human nature — that is to say, how to act in a way that is authentically human. To be faithful to the design of humanity is to preserve joy.
Fascinating. Before we talk more directly about homosexuality, can you give us a non-sexual example of an individual being at cross-purposes with himself? 

Take the appetite for food, for instance. I greatly enjoy chocolate cake and red wine. But if I eat half a cake and drink half a bottle of wine, I’ll spoil my enjoyment.

By failing to observe the proper order or limits on my appetite, I will be at cross-purposes with myself, and the very thing I desired — the enjoyment of that cake and wine — will slip away. Why? Because by acting outside the design — or limits — of my nature, I am engaged in self-harm. On the other hand, when we act in a way consistent with our human nature, then we’re on the path to the joy beyond joy, that supernatural joy received only through grace.
What happens if I try to fill my “blessed incompleteness” in an unchaste way? 

If you don’t follow the pattern of self-giving love for which you were made — if you act unchastely in any way — then you’ll be acting selfishly. Selfishness — sin — is the opposite of joy. Masturbation, pornography, prostitution, fornication, contraception, adultery and homosexual behavior are all, in one way or another, a desire for sexual fulfillment outside nature and God’s design for love and life.

In these ways, an individual attempts to fill the naturally human desire for intimacy and love with a counterfeit deception that may be intensely exciting for the moment but will bring neither lasting peace nor true joy.
How is contraception related to homosexual activity? 

The fundamental problem with contraception is that it is not natural to characterize something good (life) as an evil against which we must defend ourselves by deliberately trying to change the structure of human intimacy. That is why, as Blessed Pope John Paul II points out in Evangelium Vitae 13, it is a short step from contraception to abortion. Once we separate procreation from marriage by deliberately choosing sterile sex, then it is a short step to separating sex from marriage, and then separating sex from any recognizable design.
What makes homosexual behavior different from other forms of sexual activity? 

The erotic desire for a member of the same sex can never be fulfilled in a way consistent with nature’s design for human intimacy. The individual engaging in homosexual behavior will always be engaged in a self-defeating search for joy. But we must note that any use of the sexual faculty outside nature’s design will lead to the same result.
You said Courage never uses the word homosexual as a noun, as in “I am a homosexual.” Why not? 

Because no one should be defined exclusively or even predominantly by their sexual faculty. The same-sex-attracted person’s identity is far richer than that, and the use of words like “gay” and “homosexual” and “lesbian” are at best confusing or ambiguous.

In general, there is too much self-identification in the culture today with sexual activity. Promiscuity has not made people happier. We are sexual beings, but to understand that properly, we must return to the question of “What is man?”
In the heart and mind of the Church, what is the same-sex-attracted person’s identity? 

A son or daughter of God, redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, the beneficiary of grace in this life, and invited to glory in the life to come. That’s what essentially describes the human person, and it is the most important thing that can be said about us. The Church also tells us that our sexual identity is primarily defined as “man” or “woman,” as he created us, not by our sexual attractions or subjective sense of ourselves.
Why are same-sex couples living together denied holy Communion when cohabiting opposite-sex couples can receive the Eucharist? 

Sexual sins of any kind are considered by the Church to be a grave matter, and the person who knowingly or willingly commits them has placed himself or herself outside of communion; until the person repents and receives absolution, he or she would not be free to approach the altar for Communion.

But the question is this: Do we really consider chastity to be part of the “Good News”? If so, there will not be any inconsistency in our pastoral practice, which may be what some same-sex-attracted persons perceive … and they may be right.

That’s where the difficulty lies. A same-sex couple looks out among the people in the parish and says, “Well, here are two people who are cohabiting. Here are married people using contraception. Some of them are lectors or extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist. They all seem to be free to come up and receive holy Communion. Why are you singling us out?” And, in a sense, it’s a fair question.
What’s the answer? 

The answer is that even though we have a magisterial teaching that everyone knows, institutionally we have not done a good job of helping people understand why contraception puts them at cross-purposes with their own desire to love and be loved. Look at any Pew Forum poll, and it will indicate that Catholics in regard to sexual morality are little different from others in our culture.

We have to go back and recover the ground we’ve lost in order for the question of homosexuality to be situated in the proper context.
We need to teach Humanae Vitae with renewed fervor.

Yes … to foster generosity, self-giving and joy.
Easier said than done. Many Catholics find the Church’s teaching on contraception very hard to explain.

It’s actually not hard at all. It’s very simple. The philosophical or anthropological problem with contraception is this: It calls a good evil. It says the procreative power is something to be defended against.

Look at all the fields of medicine — neurology, pulmonology, cardiology. Which field is actively working to suppress the natural functioning of the body? None of them. Heart doctors aren’t trying to stop the heart. Lung doctors are not trying to stop the lungs from working. Optometrists don’t try to keep people in the dark. It’s only in that particular field of medicine which concerns itself with reproductive systems that some are actively engaged in deliberately trying to thwart the process of nature.

Medicine is supposed to be at the service of the body. Why would there be so-called “medicine” that’s trying to stop the natural functioning and fulfillment of the organs? And why do women bear the largest brunt of these medical assaults? Those are questions we all need to ask.
The Church has been accused of waging a “war on women” by opposing contraception. How does contraception interfere with a woman’s search for true love?

Everyone wants to be desired, first and foremost, for who and what they are, not for what they can do. It seems, to me, any woman who is using contraception can never be certain whether she is desired first for who she is and not just for what she can do. It’s an open question, because contraception makes her radically available in a way that it’s very easy for the man to set aside any concerns about the consequences for her, including pregnancy. The more unruly and immoderate the sexual appetite becomes, the more men and women may see each other as mere instruments for the sexual satisfaction they’re seeking.
Interesting. Returning to the many sexual questions of our age — from pornography to homosexuality — you suggested the Church already has an answer. What is it? 

We need to help people understand that chastity is part of the Good News. It’s that simple. Chastity is the virtue that liberates man from selfishness, so he can fulfill his natural desires for human intimacy and love in a way consistent with the way he was made.

Register correspondent Sue Ellen Browder writes from Ukiah, California.

sexta-feira, 13 de julho de 2012

Um de Nós - por Isilda Pegado

In Voz da Verdade

1 – Está a ser lançada em toda a Europa uma “Iniciativa de Cidadãos Europeus” dirigida à Comissão Europeia e cujo objectivo é impedir que sejam financiadas políticas e projectos que impliquem a destruição de seres humanos na sua fase embrionária.

2 - A Iniciativa de Cidadãos Europeus (ICE) antes de ser lançada exigiu aprovação prévia da Comissão Europeia, seguindo-se agora à recolha de um milhão de assinaturas em pelo menos 7 países dos 27 membros da Comunidade. A Portugal caberá recolher pelo menos 16.500 subscritores.

“Um de Nós” nome muito feliz, porque é imperioso tomar consciência de que o ser humano seja em que fase da vida for é, um de nós

3 – A Iniciativa Europeia – “Um de Nós” – partiu de um grupo de Eurodeputados inconformados com políticas Europeias que são fruto de pressões ideológicas contrárias às próprias raízes humanistas deste velho Continente, que se afunde numa crise.

4 – Na verdade, nos últimos tempos assistimos ao financiamento Comunitário de projectos que implicam indirectamente a prática do aborto (através dos chamados programas de “saúde reprodutiva”) ou o uso de embriões humanos em diversas formas de industriais ou de experimentação. Numa civilização em que os Direitos Humanos são a bandeira maior, assistimos por isso, com muita frequência à violação do 1º Direito Humano – O Direito à Vida. 

5 – O mais perturbador e subversivo aspecto dos ataques contra a vida Humana está em vastas áreas da cultura e das modernas legislações, onde esse ataque passou a ser um Direito.

6 – As grandes questões hoje são estas – Será o Ser concebido um Humano em todos os sentidos da palavra? Será a Igualdade e a Solidariedade aplicável ao ser humano desde a concepção? Devemos reconhecer que desde a concepção o ser humano se torna “Um de Nós”? Isto é, como sujeito e não como objecto? Como um fim e não um meio? Uma pessoa e não uma coisa?

7 – É indispensável colocar estas questões para que se possa construir uma verdadeira cultura da vida baseada na razão e por isso aberta a todos. A proclamação dos Direitos Humanos não terá sentido se o sujeito a quem se dirige não for reconhecido.

8 – O princípio da Igualdade será violado sempre que sejam estabelecidas categorias de seres humanos (os nascidos e os não nascidos, os concebidos há mais de 10 semanas e há menos de 10 semanas, etc.).

9 – A União Europeia define-se ela própria uma “União de Valores” e estes constam dos diferentes Tratados que a sustentam como sendo “a dignidade humana”, “Direitos Humanos”, “a igualdade” (art. 2.º do Tratado de Lisboa – T.U.E. sob a epígrafe “Princípio Fundados de União”). 

10 – Lançou-se agora mão de Iniciativa de cidadãos por ser um dos mais emblemáticos processos de participação cívica introduzida na orgânica da União Europeia através do Tratado de Lisboa, a qual se pretende que venha colmatar o deficit democrático que se vive hoje, levando os cidadãos a participar mais na vida da U.E..

11 – Em face desta Iniciativa – “Um de Nós” – a Comissão deverá também propor ao Parlamento Europeu e ao Conselho de Ministros da U.E., que sejam tomadas iniciativas políticas e legislativas que vão no sentido da protecção de Vida Humana desde a Concepção. 

12 – Em Portugal a Federação Portuguesa pela Vida deu já o seu Sim a esta Iniciativa que durante os próximos meses há-de correr o País e a Europa. Espera-se o debate em torno das questões da Igualdade e da Dignidade da Vida Humana. Também este pode ser motor de uma esperança que se deseja para impulso de toda a sociedade e economia. 

A Iniciativa – “Um de Nós” – deverá ser um estímulo cultural e educacional que torne presente o espírito do Povo Europeu e que desafie a sua resignação perante os ataques contra a vida humana e a Liberdade.

Espera-se uma campanha alegre, positiva e num verdadeiro relacionamento de povos que trabalham por uma mesma causa – A dignidade da vida humana por e para cada “Um de Nós”.

Dia Mundial da (falta) de população - 11 de Julho - por Ana Cid


 Está instalada a confusão!
Faz este ano trinta anos que Portugal não faz renovação das gerações. Isto é uma geração inteira que não se renovou… O buraco demográfico está já actualmente perto do milhão e meio de crianças e jovens.

Tudo isto implica que as empresas irão continuar a assistir ao encolhimento, primeiro de algumas áreas de mercado e depois, sucessivamente, de outras. Que a capacidade de empreender e de inovar para competir no mundo global fica seriamente comprometida. Que vão continuar a surgir bolsas de desemprego primeiro nos obstetras e pediatras, depois nos educadores e professores,…
Implica que as reformas vão continuar a diminuir e a idade da reforma a aumentar. Implica que, ou o Estado continua a aumentar os impostos, ou os gastos com a saúde vão começar, cada vez mais, a ser administrativamente reduzidos.
Há planos nacionais para tudo e mais alguma coisa, páginas, capítulos, volumes de metas, medidas e acções para o que se consiga e não consiga imaginar.

E sobre o brutal défice demográfico o que está a ser feito? Nada. 

Mas, questionemo-nos, todos os restantes países europeus também têm baixa natalidade? Verdade, mas todos adoptaram medidas, uns mais timidamente, outros de forma mais decisiva, e inverteram a tendência de queda.

Mas é uma decisão das pessoas? Claro que é, mas para as pessoas terem verdadeira liberdade para decidir ter filhos, tê-los não pode continuar a significar empobrecer da forma como se empobrece.

Mas é uma questão cultural e não uma questão de dinheiro? Claro. Mas as politicas públicas, os sinais que são dados ou a sua ausência também fazem a cultura.

Numa altura em que há, e bem, necessidade de apertar os orçamentos, faz sentido que os impostos tenham tido aumentos superiores para as famílias com dependentes?

Numa altura em que sobem todos os encargos com a saúde, faz sentido que o cálculo de isenção das taxas moderadoras, ignore por completo a existência de dependentes?

Hoje mesmo, mais uma medida que prejudica fortemente as famílias com filhos: um dos tímidos apoios existentes, a comparticipação dos passes escolares, para ajudar a suportar o ensino obrigatório, vai ser retirado…

É urgente agir e não podemos esperar pelo Estado. Temos que ajudar as pessoas a compreender a dimensão do problema e a mobilizarem-se para encontrar soluções.

Hoje, dia 11 de Julho, Dia Mundial da População centenas de personalidades, famílias e organizações juntam-se para lançar um Manifesto denominado “Um Filho Vale Um”.

Queremos uma sociedade que compreenda e valorize toda a importância do nascimento em cada família de um filho ou de mais um filho:
  • Queremos que se saiba que cada criança, ainda antes de nascer, representa crescimento económico para o país.
  • Queremos que se saiba que cada criança, ainda antes de nascer, representa emprego para o país.
  • Queremos que se saiba que cada criança representa a possibilidade de, no futuro, existir maior capacidade de pagar reformas e cuidar melhor dos nossos idosos.
  • Queremos que se saiba que cada criança representa a possibilidade de termos amanhã maior capacidade de ter um sistema de saúde sustentável e que abranja todos os que dele precisam.
  • Queremos que se saiba que cada criança representa a possibilidade de termos amanhã mais população activa e maior capacidade empreendedora.
  • Queremos que se saiba que cada filho que nasce numa família representa para toda a sociedade, para cada um de nós, também bem mais do que um.
Queremos que, connosco, olhem uma grávida e sorriam, olhem uma criança e sorriam.

Queremos que connosco fiquem contentes por nascerem mais crianças.

Queremos que seja reconhecido o contributo das famílias por cada criança que nasce e que elas se encarregam de durante anos, alimentar, vestir, educar, ensinar,… para que mais tarde exista Futuro.

Queremos que seja dada igualdade de oportunidades às famílias com filhos a cargo e que elas não sejam prejudicadas pelo contributo que deram.

Queremos que se juntem a nós!

Leia o manifesto

*Ana Cid é secretária-geral da APFN

Video Game Adiction - How video games kill the soul & body


About the author

Elizabeth Woolley founded Online Gamers Anonymous to people addicted to video games. Mrs. Woolley has been interviewed by the Catholic Herald Citizen, CBC, CBS, and the BBC. She has travelled internationally to speak at conferences on the dangers of gaming. In 2002, she started a website to warn society about the “dark” side of gaming and to provide help and counseling for those who are already addicted to video games.

Crusade: Could you please explain why you founded Online Gamers Anonymous?

Mrs. Woolley: In 2000, my son Shawn became addicted to an online video game called Everquest. Within three months he quit his job, got evicted from his home, and was up all night playing. Despite our efforts to help him get his life back together, he committed suicide only a year and a half after being introduced to the game.

Shortly after Shawn’s suicide, I did an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and that’s when I realized how many families are being broken up and suffering like us. In 2002, I founded the Online Gamers Anonymous site so these people would have a place to go and know they are not alone.

I want to warn people that these games can take control of their lives just like drugs or alcohol. Some gamers told me one can become addicted in less than 24 hours. Once a gamer has gone from social gaming to addicted gaming, he can’t go back. Games can be a drug of choice and need to be looked at that way.

Our website, www.olganon.org spreads research on how gaming affects children, stunting their mental growth and social development, and helps to warn parents. We host several meetings a week where addicted gamers can talk and support one another to turn their lives around and also have a very active forum where different topics are discussed.

Crusade: Do you have any tips for parents who have video games in the house?

Mrs. Woolley: The biggest key is to make sure that your child’s life is balanced. Children cannot be raised on just one activity otherwise they will run into difficulties. Even if the child protests. It is your job as parents to say “no” and guide him towards other activities.

Being a parent isn’t easy, but trust me, there was life before video games, and as parents we have to find or make activities to give our children besides sitting them in front of a screen. That means getting them into sports, social events, and educational activities. Alternatives need to be presented. If the child says he doesn’t want to leave the game, you have to set limits, otherwise he will develop problems.

Crusade: Who can get addicted and what are the consequences?

Mrs. Woolley: Anyone can get addicted. Colleges recognize that video games cause a huge percentage of their dropouts. Many now bring in counselors to deal with excessive gaming. Some are asking students if they play games before offering a scholarship. They know they might be wasting a scholarship on a gamer. I know several parents who lost their college funds to their gaming children this way.

Many teenagers being pulled into these games are actually geniuses. They are very intelligent and highly motivated. Proof of this is that many games require hours of tedious effort, concentration and patience. It is very sad to see how all this brilliant mind power is being wasted.

Besides considering how these games are affecting their personal lives and education, we should imagine what could be happening if these very capable people were solving the real problems of society. Instead, video games have become a big part of the dumbing-down of our society.

Fully grown, hard-working adults also get addicted. I know several who had a job and house but lost it all to the games. An extreme case is of a man in Florida who lost his job and had to start living on the street. Now he has a restaurant job and makes just enough to get himself to the gaming café, where he spends the rest of the day. When the café closes he sleeps on the street and does the same the next day.

Many fathers leave their families to spend more time gaming. They don’t care about their children, because all they feel they can do is play.

Grown women tend to play social games like Farmville, SIMS and Second Life because they like to do things with others. This often leads to problems because married women end up leaving husband and family, neglecting their real children, to be with someone in the game. There are many examples of this. An extreme case is the Korean couple who let their real child die of malnutrition because they spent all their time taking care of a virtual baby.

Crusade: Most video games give children a sense of worth and accomplishment. What’s wrong with that?

Mrs. Woolley: One of the main dangers is precisely that it is so very easy to get worth and accomplishment from a game. And if you don’t succeed or like what you did you can just restart until you get it right. Well, real life isn’t like that. Real life isn’t easy and you don’t often get do-overs. So the child grows disappointed with real life and ends up by quitting in real life. He says, “This is too hard,” and runs back to the games.

This poses a huge danger to the child’s social life. Instead of satisfying his desire for things like worth and accomplishment through social interaction, he obtains it through the game. Then he fails to get the experience he needs in real life, especially by suffering and learning how to deal with the bad as well as the good times. Real life isn’t easy for anybody, but allowing a child to use games as a drug to escape reality is not going to teach him how to cope with real life.

I could see this in my son. In the game he could easily do whatever he wanted and feel like he was accomplishing something. In the mean time, he was not spending time nurturing his real life, so there was nothing there to sustain him.  He no longer cared about the future and advancing in his real life. If most of your time is spent in games there isn’t enough time to enhance real life education, skills or friendships. Anyone who wants real accomplishment needs to get out of gaming and get working in real life.

Crusade: What would you tell parents who use video games to help entertain their children?

Mrs. Woolley: I have seen a lot of reckless behavior by parents because they want to use games as baby sitters. Unfortunately, a lot of it is because many are gamers themselves.

Firstly, giving children a game to get them out of your hair is not being a good parent. Be with your children in real life! I know of a father who taught his 3-year-old child to play World of Warcraft with him because he felt that if he could get his child addicted to it then he could interact with him through the game. I let parents know that gaming with your child is not interacting because almost no words are being exchanged; the child’s only communication with anything is through the controls.

Secondly, I recommend parents not allow any child under 16 to play games connected to the Internet, period. You never know who they are playing against, and pedophiles are figuring out ways to connect with children through these games. Somehow, because it is inside the home, parents think it is safe; but it isn’t. Giving them Internet games is like putting them in a public bar by themselves.

Also, many times parents tell me they can’t help but give what their children want and they don’t seriously look at what is in the game. These games can have sexually explicit material, cursing, drug use, senseless violence and destruction. If this stuff was in a movie, the violence alone would make it R-rated. Most of the Christian families I talk to would never hand their children an R rated movie, but they allow them to interact with violent games. This is very damaging.

Crusade: What if the games are non-violent and not online?

Mrs. Woolley: Just because it’s non-violent and not online doesn’t mean it cannot be harmful. That would be like saying it’s alright for kids to be handed non-violent drugs. Again, video games should be viewed as possible drugs and no one should be allowed to become addicted to them.

We really find that when a gamer crosses the line from having the choice of playing to being compelled to play, his mind has actually been rewired by the gaming. He is no longer playing because he wants to but because he has to. Then he starts hating the games but cannot stop. And then, as his life breaks down, he goes into a vicious circle of feeling guilty and having highs on the games, only to plunge back down and return to the game where it all starts again. And while tapping away at controls he becomes dehumanized, giving less importance to his senses, not going outside, getting exercise or sunshine eating good food; he turns into a human shell.

I also believe that more research has to be done but there is already enough information on how gaming affects especially the young, stunting their mental growth and social development. That’s one thing that startled me about my son. He stopped talking to people, including to me, his own mother.

Before getting into this game he was just like the rest of us. He had a future, plans, friends, and a job. After he became addicted it was like a light in his mind was switched off. He no longer cared about how he would spend his real life; he no longer saw a real future; and he had no more goals or principles. He just stopped thinking about reality and became depressed. His whole personality changed and he became anti-social. That’s why I always say these games can rewire the brain and a gamer can change and become a different person. My son’s friends were astounded by how much he actually changed.

Crusade: Could you give an example of how some parents intervene too late?

Mrs. Woolley: One of the boys I knew was a 15-year-old from Canada called Brandon. He was playing a game called Call of Duty and his parents were struggling with him to quit, as they knew it was causing problems. Brandon attached far too much importance to being a very powerful person in this game and wanted to stay in it because of all the fake power and attention he was getting. In 2008, his parents finally decided to put their foot down and took the game from him. Brandon ran away from home and a few weeks later some hunters found his dead body about seven miles from the house. It seems he jumped from a tree.  

Crusade: Have addicts talked to you about the gaming buzz causing emptiness in real life?

Mrs. Woolley: Yes, absolutely, and it makes perfect sense because in the games there are always more “missions” and more interesting challenges. The gamers get an adrenaline rush to be able to attain the next level and figure out what to do next. Going on quests and planning cities is all very exciting, and when you go back to real life there’s what? Parents telling you to go sweep the floor, do your homework, do the dishes, and eat at the table; talk with your sister. And then parents are surprised when their children say “life is so depressing,” “everything is boring,” “I have no friends.” It is all because they are spending all their time on games and not experiencing real life; if children had activities, their own groups and friends, real life would be interesting for them.

 Crusade: Could you share some more stories from your son’s addiction?

Mrs. Woolley: Yes. After my son became addicted to Everquest and was diagnosed with mental problems, he was admitted to a long-term support program. He was living in a group home five miles from my house. During the night I woke up and couldn’t sleep, which is very rare, so I went downstairs to check my e-mail and heard the front door opening. This was shortly past midnight. Thinking it was a burglar, I got a bat to challenge the thief. Then in walks my son, who was addicted to a game. He had walked five miles from the group home to play it. Who knows how many times he was getting up at night to play the game? Children admit it all the time on my forum that they are spending all night in front of these games without their parents knowing.

Another time my son was at his brother’s wedding, the first wedding in the family. He left during the ceremony to play and didn’t return for the rest of the day. People noticed that he wasn’t at the reception and I discovered he had left in the middle of the wedding and walked home to continue playing his game. My son would have never have done that before his addiction. He loved parties and socializing.

quinta-feira, 12 de julho de 2012

G.K.Chesterton: stealth evangelisation

In News.va

(Vatican Radio) - Vatican Radio's Veronica Scarisbrick recently caught up with Father Ian Boyd of the Congregation of the Priests of Saint Basil, President of the G.K.Chesterton Institute for Faith and Culture.

In this interview Father Boyd is asked in a special way to comment on Chesterton as a journalist, the ' rollicking journalist' this prolific author thought himself to be, as well as how his know- how of journalism might come across today in our media savvy world . According to Father Boyd, Chesterton who died in 1936 was prophetic in his writings, for example he had predicted that the next great heresy would be an attack on morality and especially sexual morality: "... he said not to be so afraid of the Russians and the Bolsheviks, because the madness of tommorrow is far more in Manhattan than in Moscow"...

In this interview Father Boyd remarks how Chesterton believed that a consumerist culture had a greater power to undermine morality than any totalitarian system: "he said that when real evil comes it always comes from within "..Asked by Veronica Scarisbrick whether Chesterton saw Christ as the remedy to the brokenness of humanity Father Boyd replies that this author : "..salutes Christ as the everlasting man . He was a sacramental writer, that's to say he was religious writer who hardly ever spoke about religion.
His wife Frances once said to him : "Why don't you write about God?". And he replied : ' I write about nothing else' . That's stealth evangelisation. That is he spoke through symbols and through signs, he loved riddles and allegories and believed the deepest truths could only be expressed through parables ..."

quarta-feira, 11 de julho de 2012

La sinfonia e l'architettura della Fede - di Carlo Caffarra

ROMA, sabato, 7 luglio 2012 (ZENIT.org).- Riportiamo il testo dell’intervento tenuto sabato 30 giugno a Vidiciatico dal cardinale arcivescovo di Bologna, Carlo Caffarra.
Uno dei più grandi Padri della Chiesa, S. Ireneo [130-202/203], commentando la parabola del figlio prodigo, scrive: «per quelli che ritornavano al Padre uccise (Dio) il vitello grasso e gli donò la veste più bella, disponendo il genere umano in molti modi alla sinfonia della salvezza» [Adv. Haereses IV,14,2; 331].

La concezione di tutta la storia della salvezza come una “sinfonia” è molto presente nel grande Padre della Chiesa. Questa chiave simbolica per leggere tutta l’opera divina è particolarmente sviluppata nel Libro II,24,2 della medesima opera [pag. 183-184]; e diventa il criterio interpretativo fondamentale della Sacra Scrittura [cf. II,28,3; pag 188-189]: «attraverso la polifonia della parole si sentirà in noi un’unica melodia armoniosa inneggiante a Dio che ha creato tutte le cose» [pag. 189].

Ma nello stesso contesto, Ireneo usa anche il simbolo dell’architettura: «per quelli che gli erano graditi disegnava come un architetto, l’edificio della salvezza» [IV,14,2; pag. 331].

Fermiamoci un momento a considerare questi due simboli. Essi vanno nella medesima direzione pedagogica: aiutarci a cogliere nella pluralità degli elementi della fede l’unità dell’insieme; aiutarci ad entrare nell’universo della fede percependone l’unità che lega fra loro le diverse realtà che lo abitano.

Perché i due simboli sono particolarmente adatti a raggiungere questo scopo?

La simbologia musicale denota una pluralità di suoni: è poli-fonia. Ma essi sono eseguiti assieme: sin-fonia; così che l’ascoltatore attento ed educato a questo ascolto, nella sin-fonia sente la poli-fonia. Cioè: la pluralità è una, e l’unità è plurale.

Noi sappiamo che ciò avviene perché esistono leggi dell’armonia, secondo le quali sono relazionate le singole parti.

Il grande Padre della Chiesa vuole dunque dirci: l’opera di Dio va intesa in modo analogo con cui noi ascoltiamo una polifonia. Essa (l’opera di Dio) ha un tempo lungo il quale si sviluppa: un inizio [l’atto creativo]; uno sviluppo [la prima Alleanza]; un momento culminante [la risurrezione di Gesù]; un finale [il tempo della Chiesa]. Ma nessuna voce “stona” messa assieme all’altra: il Dio dell’Antica Alleanza è lo stesso Dio della Nuova Alleanza; il primato della grazia non distrugge la libertà; le due espressioni primordiali della stessa umanità, la mascolinità e la femminilità, non possono essere uniformate ed omologate, ma sono armonizzate nel loro “suono diverso”. E così via. Da questo punto di vista, possiamo e dobbiamo dirci: “omofobi”, perché l’opera di Dio è “poli-fonica”. L’edificio medioevale non era mai perfettamente simmetrico, perché si riteneva che la perfetta simmetria era opera del diavolo.

Ogni polifonia, ogni musica ha il suo ritmo. Anche l’opera di Dio ha il suo ritmo: il ritmo trinitario. Esso si esprime nel modo seguente: tutto è dal Padre – per mezzo del Figlio – nello Spirito Santo; tutto è orientato [alla gloria del] al Padre – per mezzo del Figlio – nello Spirito Santo [cf. pag. 490].

Come vi dicevo, non è facile ascoltare in questo modo la musica composta da Dio. Bisogna educarci a questo ascolto. La Chiesa ha dei grandi educatori all’ascolto. Se non abbiamo questa capacità, corriamo un rischio molto grave: l’eresia; oppure, senza giungere a questo estremo, il rischio di esaltare un elemento sproporzionandolo rispetto all’insieme: allungate anche di un centimetro il naso della Madonna della Pietà di Michelangelo, ed avreste rovinato tutto!

Ma c’è anche un’altra simbologia che ci aiuta ad entrare nell’universo della fede: quella dell’architettura. Anzi, questa è perfino biblica!

Iniziamo ad usarla, facendo notare le differenze delle due simbologie. Nella polifonia è sottolineata la simultaneità delle voci: l’armonia concorde dei vari momenti ed elementi. Si pensi all’esegesi di Origene; si pensi alla “necessitas” di Anselmo d’Aosta; si pensi alla pagina di S. Teresa del Bambin Gesù sul “cuore” della Chiesa. La simbologia architettonica dispone invece i vari momenti ed elementi dell’universo della fede in uno spazio, cioè secondo una successione. Le varie realtà della fede [l’atto creativo, l’atto redentivo, l’atto santificante] sono considerate non nel loro insieme, ma successivamente, ciascuna al suo posto, il posto che deve avere secondo il progetto architettonico del divino Architetto.
Esiste poi uno stile architettonico [il gotico non è il barocco]; esistono leggi statiche che tengono insieme l’edificio [c’è la scienza delle costruzioni]. Esiste quindi uno “stile divino”, ed esistono leggi che la divina Sapienza segue nella costruzione. Per esempio: molti e grandi personaggi della storia della salvezza sono nati da donne sterili. Questa costante rivela una legge che regola la costruzione dell’edificio della salvezza.

Chi ha pensato la divina Rivelazione in questo modo è stato soprattutto S. Tommaso d’Aquino nella Somma Teologia, ed è rimasto maestro insuperato.

La simbologia architettonica è particolarmente educativa per l’intelligenza della fede.

Se voi entrate in S. Petronio dalla porta centrale, in silenzio e con una grande attenzione spirituale, voi siete portati, quasi istintivamente, verso un punto: il Crocifisso sull’altare maggiore. Ma vi giungete percorrendo uno spazio che è suddiviso dalle varie campate. Una suddivisione che non spezza lo spazio medesimo, ma vi fa camminare e vi orienta secondo una direzione, secondo un asse architettonico.

Così è l’edificio della fede. Chi vi entra veramente, vede che le varie parti [articoli della fede] conducono ad un “punto” che tiene unito l’insieme. Ciò comporta che si conoscano le leggi che tengono in piedi la costruzione.

Questo ingresso nell’edificio è la fede del battezzato [porta fidei!]. La fede cioè dà una capacità di vedere che è sua proprietà esclusiva. I teologi parlano di “occhi della fede”. Vedremo fra poco che cosa vuol dire. Certamente un edificio può essere visto anche dall’esterno, girandovi attorno senza entrare mai. E si può anche avere di esso una grande conoscenza vera [= uso della retta ragione]. Ma esso è costruito per entrarvi ed abitarvi.

Ora vorrei farvi ascoltare la “sinfonia” della fede, farvi entrare nell’“edificio” della fede. Esso non è altro che la «regola della fede» o «regola della verità», cioè il Simbolo: la sintesi della fede della Chiesa che ognuno di noi ha ricevuto al momento del battesimo. Siamo discepoli del Signore solo se custodiamo intatta questa regola della verità: questo che è lo spartito musicale di Dio; il progetto disegnato dal divino Architetto.

Ma prima di prendere lo spartito o leggere il progetto, devo fare una premessa di straordinaria importanza, specialmente oggi.

L’atto della fede è molto complesso. E’ un atto che sintetizza in sé molte dimensioni o attitudini della persona. Se, e lo si deve fare, analizziamo una ad una queste dimensioni, non dobbiamo tuttavia mai dimenticare che la dimensione che stiamo analizzando, si trova dentro un organismo vivente.

L’atto della fede comprende in sé (a) la conoscenza dell’evento salvifico; (b) la fiducia nella Parola di Dio che si rivela come nostro salvatore; (c) l’obbediente autodonazione dell’uomo a Dio che parla; (d) l’aspirazione ad un’unione con Dio priva di ogni oscurità. La complessità dell’atto di fede è dimostrata anche dalle tre espressioni usate nel vocabolario della Chiesa: credo in Dio; credo a Dio; credo che Dio … [esiste, ha creato il mondo, …].

Orbene è assai importante ritenere che considerato in sé e per sé, l’atto del credere consiste in un atto della ragione, in un giudizio della ragione, mediante il quale affermiamo con assoluta certezza che il contenuto della divina Rivelazione è vero. Mediante la fede la persona umana dà il suo assenso a ciò che Dio le dice, non perché le piace o perché lo vide utile, ma semplicemente perché lo ritiene vero.

La struttura intellettuale della fede, la sua dimensione veritativa è manifestata con grande chiarezza dal fatto che fin dall’inizio la Chiesa ha proposto come oggetto della fede verità espresse con formule precise [cf. 1Cor 15,3-5.11]. E su questo la Chiesa  ha sempre insistito. Perché? Rispondo brevemente. Se non si ammette che l’atto del credere è un atto della ragione, perciò stesso si deve ammettere che tutta l’economia della salvezza non è vera, cioè non è reale. Le due affermazioni simul stant – simul cadunt. Fermiamoci a riflettere un poco su questa connessione inscindibile fra la dimensione intellettuale della fede e la realtà dell’economia salvifica. 

Dio ha rivelato, cioè ha detto all’uomo che Egli vuole renderlo partecipe della sua stessa vita in Cristo e per mezzo di Cristo. Ora, delle due l’una. O Dio “scherza” quando mi dice questo: non mi dice ciò che realmente vuole; oppure mi dice quale è la sua intenzione reale. Accettare, affermare qualcosa come vero [= nel nostro caso, l’intenzione di Dio], cioè come reale, è proprio di quella facoltà spirituale mediante la quale l’uomo apprende la realtà, l’intelligenza. 

L’uomo non potrebbe consentire liberamente al progetto salvifico, se non pensasse che esso è reale: la prima risposta dell’uomo all’economia salvifica è di ammettere che essa è reale. Cioè affermare la sua verità.

Ho parlato di “universo della fede” Non denota una costruzione fantastica; un mito attraverso il quale l’uomo esprime il suo bisogno di salvezza; un universo separato da quello di cui abbiamo naturale esperienza. L’espressione “universo della fede” denota un insieme di realtà, che accadono dentro a questo universo. Si potrebbe anche dire: è questo stesso universo, ma visto con gli “occhi della fede”.

Se togliamo dalla fede questa dimensione veritativa, crolla tutto il cristianesimo. Esso sarebbe una mera costruzione umana, mentre si presenta sempre come «Parola di Dio».

Il Beato Newman riteneva che le sorti del cristianesimo si giocassero nella modernità interamente a questo livello. Lo chiamava “il principio dogmatico”.

Prendiamo finalmente in mano lo “spartito musicale” o il “progetto disegnato dal divino Architetto”. E concretamente il Simbolo Niceno – Costantinopolitano: la regola della verità.
Il ritmo è un ritmo trinitario: sono rivelate le Tre persone ed il loro agire.

L’edificio ha una costruzione cristocentrica, ed ha il suo asse orientato alla vita eterna.

Le leggi che regolano l’armonia intrinseca alla polifonia della fede, o che tengono assieme l’edificio sono: la legge delle divine missioni [il Padre manda il Figlio; il Padre e il Figlio mandano lo Spirito], che riflettono le divine processioni; la legge dell’e-e [Dio e l’uomo]; la legge della finalizzazione ecclesiale [l’opera salvifica è la Chiesa].

Concludo con due riflessioni. 

L’Anno della Fede è un’occasione da non perdere. In esso ci sarà data la possibilità di studiare la Regola della fede, in tutte le sue articolazioni, anche se nelle catechesi ci fermeremo sull’articolazione cristologica.

La fede è una fede non solo professata: è una fede pensata; una fede vissuta. La suola principale di musica e/o di architettura in cui si apprende a sentire la polifonia della fede e a vederne l’architettura, è la liturgia. Non c’è vera educazione alla fede senza la liturgia. Il grande maestro al riguardo è stato S. Leone Magno, ed ora – non da meno – Benedetto XVI. Una liturgia celebrata male, una liturgia inventata e creata da coloro che celebrano [popolo e sacerdote] è devastante per la fede.

Le citazioni sono prese da Ireneo di Lione, Contro le eresie e gli altri scritti [Introduzione e traduzione di E. Bellini], Jaca Book, Milano 1981.

The Many Disguises of Satan - Msgr. Charles Pope


It would be easy if Satan came as he is often portrayed, with horns and a pitchfork. We would naturally flee this ugliness.
Alas, he often comes cloaked in beauty, in sheep’s clothing:
  • He claims to offer us freedom and autonomy from an unreasonable God and Church, liberation from rules and being “told what to do.”

  • He cloaks himself in the false righteousness of being “tolerant” and “not judging others.”

  • He exalts us by telling us we have finally come of age and can disregard the “hang-ups” and “repression” our ancestors had of sex and pleasure.

  • He flatters us by extolling our scientific knowledge and inflates us by equating it with wisdom and moral superiority over our “primitive” fore-bearers.

  • He reassures us by insisting we are merely the victims here, victims of biological urges, bad parenting, economic injustice, that we are not depraved, just deprived.

  • He humors us by making us laugh at sin, making light of it in comedian’s routines, sitcoms, music and otherwise turning sin into a form of entertainment.

  • He anesthetizes the pain of guilt and sin by sending us teachers who tickle our ears and assure us that what we know deep down to be wrong is actually fine, even virtuous.

  • He affirms us by insisting that whenever shortcomings in us have been called to our attention it is simply unfair since other people are surely worse, that self esteem is something owed to us and others who lessen it are unkind.

  • He sings to us the lullaby of presumption assuring us that consequences and judgment will not be our lot and, with this lullaby, we drift off into a moral sleep of indifference and false confidence.
But in the end, there is a wolf under the sheepskin. Satan is ugly. He enslaves, condemns, ridicules and ensnares. His “reassurances” bring pain and grief as the awful effects of sin unwind: hatred, fear, resentments, revenge, suffering, disease, addiction, bondage, strife, divorce, estrangement, war, insurrection, disloyalty, scorn, bitterness, depression, anxiety, depletion, poverty, loss and deep, deep sorrow.

Beware, Satan has many disguises and he seldom presents as he really is. The movie The Passion of the Christ brilliantly presented Satan in the Garden. At first there was almost a strange beauty. But a closer look revealed increasingly hideous details: cold, fixed eyes, sharp and discolored nails, sickly pale skin, suddenly androgynous qualities, and a disgusting maggot crawling in and out of the nose. An audible moan came from the audience in the theater where I first saw it. Would that, beyond the movie, we could sense this revulsion and clarity as to the evil of Satan and his truest reality.


In Praise of Paul Claudel - By Robert Royal

In The Catholic Thing

Who’s the greatest modern Catholic poet? In a way, an absurd question. It’s like asking, who’s the greatest: Bach or Mozart? Francis or Thérèse? Just thank God for them all. In realms of the spirit, competition is misplaced.

Still, it’s important to identify the Catholic contenders in modern poetry because poetry can be a path to transcendence. And we know many people in our day believe, despite the evidence, that Catholics “don’t do” science or art.
There’s Gerard Manley Hopkins, a very great poet indeed. Or if you stretch “Catholic,” there are the Anglo-Catholics: T.S. Eliot or W. H. Auden.

In France there’s Charles Péguy, but he’s more a prophet like Dostoyevsky. A great artist, but embroiled in political questions that can take you from poetry back to newspaper stories.
We need holidays of the spirit that provide a foretaste of a realm not confined to getting and spending, liberals and conservatives, or even great moral questions – because someday all that will be past.

I believe the greatest modern Catholic poet, and the most unknown, even to Catholics, is Paul Claudel (1868-1955). His family was modest, his father a local government official. A strong creative streak was hidden somewhere because his sister Camille was a gifted sculptor and student, then mistress, of Rodin – but that’s a story for another day. Claudel studied for a diplomatic career, but was also attracted to poetry. He succeeded spectacularly in both realms.

Some of his predecessors – Baudelaire, Verlaine, Rimbaud – were poetes maudits (“cursed poets”), who more than dabbled in sin and occultism. Yet all finished as Catholics. Rimbaud in particular – who stopped writing in his teens and is today sometime a patron saint of self-indulgent rock musicians – helped bring Claudel to belief. 

Partly because of the marvelous realm beyond smug modern materialism that Claudel discovered in Rimbaud, he found himself in Notre Dame of Paris on Christmas Day1886 during Vespers: “The children in the choir were singing what I later learned was the Magnificat. In an instant, my heart was touched and I believed.” 

He passed through several moral problems and it took him a while to become fully Catholic, but his faith never wavered. Nor was it humorless or conventional. Even writing about the Virgin Mary, he could joke that she doesn’t listen to him, but she listens to Christ, who is listening to him: “The Virgin of Brangues is a Virgin that functions/ I have put myself into a system that’s fully functional.” 

His literary career took off like a rocket, despite the anti-Catholic bent of French men of letters, as did his diplomatic career. His first posts were in New York and Boston, followed by stints as ambassador in China, Japan, and Brazil. When he was sent to Washington (1927-33), Time magazine put a picture of the world famous poet/ambassador on its cover. In Washington, he wrote a brief libretto exploring the spirit of Columbus.

He was one of these very rare and exotic birds who lived two lives. A conscientious diplomat, until he retired, he set aside only one hour a day for writing. But what an hour! He churned out plays, poems, opera librettos, poetic reflections on the countries he visited, all animated by a vitality impossible to ignore. (In retirement, he wrote 2000 pages of commentary on the Bible.)

Though often abroad, he was a strong presence in mainstream French culture and was elected to the French Academy. Darius Milhaud, his secretary in Brazil, and Arthur Honegger – two distinguished French composers who testified to Claudel’s keen sense of drama – set several texts to music. When his play about Joan of Arc, Jeanne d’Arc au Bûcher, was performed in Paris, it starred Ingrid Bergmann.   
The work roams brilliantly over vast themes: love and its byways, Catholic historical subjects, and, in The Satin Slipper – a three-part, seven-hour epic – he traces the voyages of discovery to the new world, placing them in a complex love story linked to God’s providential ordering of the vagaries and reversals of human history.

 For me, his two most striking works are The Tidings Brought to Mary and the Five Great Odes. The first resembles a mystery play, a simple drama set in a medieval French village that somehow branches into eternal realities that continually intermingle with the everyday. By the end, Violaine, a young woman of deep wisdom exiled to a leper colony, mysteriously cures a leper and brings her sister’s dead baby back to life – in ways that fascinate without putting off non-Catholics.

       Her former fiancée comes and tells her how unhappy he is. She says simply:

No one ever promised you happiness, work, that’s all that anyone asks of you.
Inquire of the ancient earth and she will always reply to you with bread and wine.

Then there are the Five Great Odes where he doesn’t describe but makes you feel the Spirit at work in the great symphony of the world and in poetic inspiration. “The Muse who is Grace” explains the magic:   

The words that I use,

       Are everyday words, and are not the same!
      You will not find any rhymes in my verse, or any tricks. 

They are your own phrases. But there’s no phrase of yours that I don’t know how to remake!

These flowers are your flowers and you say that you don’t recognize them.

       And these feet are your feet, but look how I walk on the sea and how I tread the sea’s waters in triumph! 

We often lament these days the lack of great Catholic artists, but we neglect the ones who can still speak to us. The Spirit will inspire others in due time. Meanwhile, why neglect those with the gift of linking heaven and earth, who remind us: 

For things and for poems, there is but one way of being new, and that is to be true; there is only one way of being young, and that is to be eternal.