Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Metaphysical Quote of the Day

I recently struggled through Fr. Spitzers’ book entitled “New Proofs for the Existence of God”. The new Pope should give this priest the new title of “Utmost Scary-Smart” since his book is bursting with such heavy physics and metaphysics; it often had me in a physical posture similar to this:
Glad I’m done. Walking around the house like this
was starting to scare the wife & kids.

Joe prefers pod casts from Fr. Spitzer; see his post HERE. I will post some things I can relate to from the book in the near future; things that I can connect to other things. Since I need time for my brain to recover (from the parts I could actually understand), I’ll just share this quote for now:

“An apprehension of truth entails seeing unity amongst differences, for any act of understanding involves a comparison, and comparison involves bringing together distinct images or ideas.”

OR, as G.K. Chesterton likes to put it, “Thinking means connecting things”. It is true of material things as well as spiritual things and they come together eventually if you keep digging. In the words of physicist Werner Heisenberg, “The first gulp from the glass of natural sciences will turn you into an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass God is waiting for you.”

I’d challenge members of the new internet generation to read this book because it goes deep; it’s the exact opposite of “surfing”, so it may be quite a shock for “surface-dwellers”.
God? But the internet told me we
come from nothing for the purpose of nothing. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

It's Still Alive!

Continuing the notion from the last post of the Church as a living body, let us compare a person as an infant to the same person as an adult; the changes over time are staggering. In fact, no one would even recognize you as an infant unless they knew you and knew your history. Even a super intelligent extraterrestrial could think a human as an infant, and the same human as an adult, are two different people.

So let’s imagine an alien has, in fact, come to earth. It does not understand how humans grow & change over time because the members of its species, and all life on its planet, reproduce asexually. They just split in two, so they are always “born” as mature adults. No distinctions are evident between the parental unit and the resulting offspring.
If this E. T. is shown a human as an infant and then as an adult, it might assume that the adult and the infant are not the same person, or that the two are not even of the same species. Although the adult insists that he IS the infant from years ago, the alien could conclude that the adult human is clearly an imposter (either lying or delusional).

It’s the same with the Catholic Church if we don’t know the history; if we don’t see the Church as the mustard seed we read about in (Matt 13:31). Remember too what Jesus said to The Twelve in John 16:12-13, "I still have many things to tell you, but you can't bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth…” Why could they not bear them now? The Holy Spirit had not come yet AND because growth takes time. The developments in doctrine such as the Trinity, Hypostatic Union, Mary as Theotokos and the Canon of Scripture ALL took centuries.
Transport an original Apostle, or any first century Christian, to the Vatican, or to visit other Catholic churches and institutions and they would be stunned at the size and look of it.  Show them a copy of the current Catechism of the Catholic Church and they would be stunned at the knowledge in it. In fact, some early Christians might even conclude that this modern church is an imposter.

Christians today may reason that we need to get back to how early Christians did things 20 centuries ago, or at least, how they imagine they did things. The Church is too complex now, too many things “added-on” to what should be a simple faith. All you need is Love. Let’s remove the unnecessary doctrines, disciplines, liturgy, hierarchy, traditions and sacraments. Let’s just meet in our homes, sing some hymns, read some scripture, say some prayers, enjoy some fellowship, eat some bread and drink some wine.
Not that the Church is necessarily “full grown” at this point in history, but all this reminds of an adult trying to become a baby again. Who needs complex balanced meals when we can just drink milk? Who needs intricate language to express ourselves when we can babble and scream? Who needs clothes when we can be naked? Who needs bathrooms with indoor plumbing when we can use diapers?

There is nothing wrong with being an infant when you are an infant, but there is something wrong (or undeveloped) about an adult trying to become an infant again. What comes after does not destroy what comes before. What comes after finds its reason for being in what comes before.

It's Alive!

In his Farwell address last Thursday, B16 referenced Romano Guardini and compared the Church to a living body.

Guardini says: “The Church is not an institution devised and built at table, but a living reality. She lives along the course of time by transforming Herself, like any living being, yet Her nature remains the same. At Her heart is Christ.”

B16 then said: “This was our experience yesterday, I think, in the square. We could see that the Church is a living body, animated by the Holy Spirit, and truly lives by the power of God. She is in the world but not of the world. She is of God, of Christ, of the Spirit, as we saw yesterday. This is why another eloquent expression of Guardini’s is also true: 'The Church is awakening in souls.' The Church lives, grows and awakens in those souls which, like the Virgin Mary, accept and conceive the Word of God by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Since a lot of this blog is about the connections between spiritual realities and physical realities, here is some information on (physical) living things as they could compare to the Church:

A Living Thing: Any organism or living form that possesses or shows the characteristics of life or being alive. Living things are those that display the following characteristics:

Ø  An organized structure, being made up of a cell or cells
Since God is orderly, His Church is also orderly; not just a bunch of people that “believe”. Every baptized person is a cell grafted into “the body”. Of course, one could become a dead cell via mortal sin, but is still a cell nonetheless.
Ø  Requires energy to survive or sustain existence
I would call the power of the Holy Spirit and the spiritual food of the Eucharist a kind of energy; wouldn’t you?
Ø  Ability to reproduce
Although it remains as one and only one body, quite a few dioceses and parishes have popped-up over the centuries.

Ø  Ability to grow
Could relate to reproduction in this context, but the Church has not only grown in size & number, but also in the knowledge of God.

Ø  Ability to metabolize
Metabolism is a set of life-sustaining chemical transformations within the cells of living organisms. This compares to the set of life-sustaining sacraments that provide Sanctifying Grace resulting in transformations inside of us.

Ø  Ability to respond to stimuli
This made me think of the many counsels held over the centuries in order to properly and definitively “respond” to problems and heresies.

Ø  Ability to adapt to the environment
Simply stated, “The Church in the Modern World”. The Church's on going teachings about humanity's relationship to society, especially in reference to economics, poverty, social justice, culture, science, technology and ecumenism. We might add, however, that the Church adapts more IN the world than TO the world.

Ø  Ability to move
Animated by the Holy Spirit, the Church has gone and continues to go forth and make disciples of all nations, even to the farthest reaches of the newest continent…the internet.

Ø  Ability to respire
Respiration is sometimes just another way to say “breathing”. The breath of God is often related to the Holy Spirit or God giving life. In Genesis, God breathed into Adam to make him a living being (see Gen 2:7); in the New Testament Jesus breathed on the apostles so they could receive the Holy Spirit (see John 20:22). The Church continues to breathe God’s life into the world today.

If Church is a living organism as described in 1 Corinthians 12,  it makes sense that it would change, mature, grow and gain knowledge over the centuries; if it did not it could be described as something “dead”.
It is common fallacy to say things like the Immaculate Conception, Papal Infallibility or the Assumption of Mary are just man-made doctrines, made-up as time went on. The reality is that they were finally and properly understood with the guidance of the Holy Spirit as the Body grew; a natural consequence of a living thing. Although “Non Habemus Papam” for now, we can still enthusiastically say, “It’s Alive!"