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THIRD SUNDAY IN ADVENT

From Rev. Fr. Leonard Goffine's The Church's Year

On this Sunday again, the Church calls on us to rejoice in the Advent of the Redeemer, and at the Introit sings:

INTROIT Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Let your modesty be known to all men: for the Lord is nigh. Be nothing solicitous; but in every thing by prayer let your requests be made known to God (Phil. 4). Lord, thou hast blessed thy land; thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob (Ps. 84). Glory be to the Father.

COLLECT Incline Thine ear, O Lord, we beseech Thee, unto our prayers: and enlighten the darkness of our mind by the grace of thy visitation. Through our Lord.

EPISTLE (Phil. 4:4-7). Brethren, rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Let your modesty be known to all men. The Lord is nigh. Be nothing solicitous; but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your petitions be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasseth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.

What is meant by "rejoicing in the Lord"?

By "rejoicing in the Lord" is meant rejoicing in the grace of the true faith we have received, in the hope of obtaining eternal happiness; rejoicing in the protection of the most High under which we stand; and in the persecution for justice's sake in which Christ Himself exhorts us to rejoice, and in which the Apostle Paul gloried (II Cor. 7:4).

What else does St. Paul teach in this epistle?

He exhorts us to give all a good example by a modest and edifying life, to which we should be directed by the remembrance of God's presence and His coming to judgment (Chrysostom. 33, in Joann.); he warns us against solicitude about temporal affairs, advising us to cast our care on God, who will never abandon us in our needs, if we entreat Him with confidence and humility.

In what does "the Peace of God" consist?

It consists in a good conscience (Ambrose), in which St. Paul gloried and rejoiced beyond measure (II Cor. 1:12). This peace of the soul sustained all the martyrs, and consoled many others who suffered for justice's sake. Thus St. Tibertius said to the tyrant: "We count all pain as naught, for our conscience is at peace." There cannot be imagined a greater joy than that which proceeds from the peace of a good conscience. It must be experienced to be understood.

ASPIRATION The peace of God, that surpasseth all understanding, preserve our hearts in Christ Jesus. Amen.

COMFORT AND RELIEF IN SORROW

"Is any one troubled, let him pray" (Jas. 5:13).

There is no greater or more powerful comfort in sorrow than in humble and confiding prayer, to complain to God of our wants and cares, as did the sorrowful Anna, mother of the prophet Samuel, (I Kings 10) and the chaste Susanna when she was falsely accused of adultery and sentenced to death (Dan. 13:35). So the pious King Ezechias complained in prayer of the severe oppression with which he was threatened by Senacherib (IV Kings 19:14). So also King Josaphat made his trouble known to God only, saying: But as we know not what to do, we can only turn our eyes on Thee (11 Para. 20:12). They all received aid and comfort from God. Are you sad and in trouble? Lift up your soul with David and say: To Thee I have lifted up my eyes, who dwellest in heaven. Behold as the eyes of servants are on the hands of their masters, as the eyes of the handmaid are on the hands of her mistress: so are our eyes unto the Lord our God, until He shall have mercy on us (Ps. 122:1-3). Give joy to the soul of Thy servant, for to Thee, O Lord, I have lifted up my soul (Ps. 85:4).

GOSPEL (Jn. 1:19-28). At that time the Jews sent from Jerusalem priests and Levites to John, to ask him, Who art thou? And he confessed, and did not deny; and he confessed: I am not the Christ. And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he said: I am not. Art thou the prophet? And he answered, No. They said therefore unto him, Who art thou, that we may give an answer to them that sent us? what sayest thou of thyself? He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Isaias. And they that were sent were of the Pharisees. And they asked him, and said to him: Why then dost thou baptize, if thou be not Christ, nor Elias, nor the prophet? John answered them, saying: I baptize with water: but there hath stood one in the midst of you, whom you know not: the same is he that shall come after me, who is preferred before me, the latchet of whose shoe I am not worthy to loose. These things were done in Bethania beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

Why did the Jews send messengers to St. John to ask him who he was? Partly because of their curiosity, when they saw St. John leading such a pure, angelic and penitential life; partly, as St. Chrysostom says, out of envy, because St. John preached with such spiritual force, baptized and exhorted the people to penance, that the inhabitants of Jerusalem came to him in great numbers; partly, and principally, they were impelled by the providence of God to demand publicly of St. John, if he were the Messiah, and thus be directed to Christ that they might be compelled to acknowledge Him as the Messiah, or have no excuse for rejecting Him.

Why did the Jews ask St. John, if he were not Elias or the prophet?

The Jews falsely believed that the Redeemer was to come into this world but once, then with great glory, and that Elias or one of the old prophets would come before Him, to prepare His way, as Malachias (4:5) had prophesied of St. John; so when St. John said of himself that he was not the Messiah, they asked him, if he were not then Elias or one of the prophets. But Elias, who was taken alive from this world in a fiery chariot, will not reappear until just before the second coming of Christ.

Why did St. John say, he was not Elias or the Prophet?

Because he was not Elias, and, in reality, not a prophet in the Jewish sense of the word, but more than a prophet, because he announced that Christ had come, and pointed Him out.

Why does St. John call himself "the voice of one crying in the wilderness"?

Because in his humility, he desired to acknowledge that he was only an instrument through which the Redeemer announced to the abandoned and hopeless Jews the consolation of the Messiah, exhorting them to bear worthy fruits of penance.

How do we bear worthy fruits of penance?

We bear fruits of penance, when after our conversion, we serve God and justice with the same zeal with which we previously served the devil and iniquity; when we love God as fervently as we once loved the flesh-that is, the desires of the flesh-and the pleasures of the world; when we give our members to justice as we once gave them to malice and impurity (Rom. 6:19), when the mouth that formerly uttered improprieties, when the ears that listened to detraction or evil speech, when the eyes that looked curiously upon improper objects, now rejoice in the utterance of words pleasing to God, to hear and to see things dear to Him; when the appetite that was given to the luxury of eating and drinking, now abstains; when the hands give back what they have stolen; in a word, when we put off the old man, who was corrupted, and put on the new man, who is created in justice and holiness of truth (Eph. 4:22-24).

What was the baptism administered by St. John, and what were its effects?

The baptism administered by John was only a baptism of penance for forgiveness of sins (Lk. 3:3). The ignorant Jews not considering the greatness of their transgressions, St. John came exhorting them to acknowledge their sins, and do penance for them; that being converted, and truly contrite, they might seek their Redeemer, and thus obtain remission of their offences. We must then conclude, that St. John's baptism was only a ceremony or initiation, by which the Jews enrolled themselves as his disciples to do penance, as a preparation for the remission of sin by means of the second baptism, viz., of Jesus Christ.

What else can be learned from this gospel?

We learn from it to be always sincere, especially at the tribunal of penance, and to practice the necessary virtue of humility, by which, in reply to the questions of the Jews, St. John confessed the truth openly and without reserve, as shown by the words: The latchet of whose shoe I am not worthy to loose, as the lowest of Christ's servants, giving us an example of humility and sincerity, which should induce us always to speak the truth, and not only not to seek honor, but to give to God all the honor shown us by man. Have you not far more reason than John, who was such a great saint, to esteem yourself but little, and to humble yourself before God and man? "My son," says Tobias (4:14), "never suffer pride to reign in thy mind, or in thy words: for from it all perdition took its beginning."

ASPIRATION O Lord, banish from my heart all envy, jealousy and pride. Grant me instead, to know myself and Thee, that by the knowledge of my nothingness, misery and vices, I may always remain unworthy in my own eyes, and that by the contemplation of Thy infinite perfections, I may seek to prize Thee above all, to love and to glorify Thee, and practice charity towards my neighbor. Amen.
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THE PROPHECY OF SOPHONIAS or Zephaniah - From The Latin Vulgate Bible

Chapter 1

INTRODUCTION.

Sophonias, whose name, saith St. Jerome, signifies "the watchman of the Lord," or "the hidden of the Lord," prophesied in the beginning of the reign of Josias. He was a native of Sarabatha, and of the tribe of Simeon, according to the more general opinion. He prophesied the punishments of the Jews, for their idolatry and other crimes; also the punishments that were to come on divers nations; the coming of Christ, the conversion of the Gentiles, the blindness of the Jews, and their conversion towards the end of the world. (Challoner) --- Some editions read, Ezechias. (Haydock) --- But this opinion is not well grounded no more than that of the Jews, who assert (Calmet) that all the ancestors mentioned by the prophets were endued with the prophetic spirit, for which reason Amos specifies none, as he was not the son of a prophet, Amos vii. 14. (St. Jerome) --- Sophonias appeared a little before Jeremias, Ezechiel, Baruch, and Daniel, foretelling the captivity and return of the two tribes, the destruction of various nations, the conversion of the Gentiles, and of the Jews also towards the end of the world. (Worthington) --- Many of the promises regard only the Christian Church. (Calmet)

Chapter 1

For divers enormous sins, the kingdom of Juda is threatened with severe judgment.

1 The word of the Lord that came to Sophonias, the son of Chusi, the son of Godolias, the son of Amarias, the son of Ezechias, in the days of Josias, the son of Amon, king of Juda.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. Lord. Thus the prophets insinuate that they are not the authors but the ministers of God's word. (Worthington)

2 Gathering, I will gather together all things from off the face of the land, saith the Lord:

Ver. 2. Gather, &c. That is, I will assuredly take away and wholly consume, either by captivity or death, both men and beasts out of this land. (Challoner) --- To gather commonly implies a benefit, but the sequel shews that the contrary is here meant. (Worthington) --- It often signifies to kill or bury, Jeremias viii. 2. The whole country round Judea to Babylon, shall be a sepulchre for men and beasts, Osee iv. 3. (Calmet)

3 I will gather man, and beast, I will gather the birds of the air, and the fishes of the sea: and the ungodly shall meet with ruin: and I will destroy men from off the face of the land, saith the Lord.

Ver. 3. Sea: the waters and air shall be pestilential. (Haydock) --- St. Jerome frequently observes that when a country is depopulated, as the Roman empire was in his days, the most fertile regions were soon abandoned even by beasts and birds. --- Meet. Septuagint, "be weak." Hebrew, "I will gather (Calmet; Protestants, "consume;" Haydock) scandals (or idols) with the wicked." (Symmachus)

4 And I will stretch out my hand upon Juda, and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem: and I will destroy out of this place the remnant of Baal, and the names of the wardens of the temples, with the priests:

Ver. 4. Baal. Josias had not yet begun his reformation, 4 Kings xxiii. 4. (Calmet) --- At least he had not brought it to perfection, though from his infancy he had encouraged religion. (Haydock) --- Wardens of the temples of the idols. Ædituos, in Hebrew, the Cemarim, that is such as kindle the fires or burn incense. (Challoner) --- Literally, "the blacks, (Haydock) or those in black," whether it alludes to their clothes or to the colour of their bodies, in consequence of their going almost naked. Camilli, which may be derived from this root, (Calmet) cemarim, (Haydock) in Tuscan, signifies priests, or rather (Calmet) children who went naked before them. (Macrob. iii. 8.) --- The priests of Baal appeared in this manner, and cut themselves, (3 Kings xviii. 28.) committing great indecencies, while God ordered his ministers to be clothed in white with the utmost gravity. (Calmet) --- The very remembrance of such idols and priests shall be abolished, Osee ii. 16. They were designed for the worship of fire. Baal was the sun. (Haydock)

5 And them that worship the host of heaven upon the tops of houses, and them that adore, and swear by the Lord, and swear by Melchom.

Ver. 5. Houses. The roofs were flat. Josias afterwards reformed this abuse, 4 Kings xxiii. 5. (Calmet) --- It continued among the Arabs. (Strabo xvii.) --- Melchom. The idol of the Ammonites. (Challoner) --- Those who join idols with God do not worship Him indeed. (Worthington) --- Swearing was an act of religion, Matthew v. 33. God will not allow his glory to be given to another. Such lame worship or divided hearts he rejects, 3 Kings xviii. 21. (Calmet)

6 And them that turn away from following after the Lord, and that have not sought the Lord, nor searched after him.

Ver. 6. No explanation given.

7 Be silent before the face of the Lord God: for the day of the Lord is near, for the Lord hath prepared a victim, he hath sanctified his guests.

Ver. 7. Silent. Hebrew has, (Haydock) an interjection, (St. Jerome) like our hush. (Haydock) --- This denotes the importance of what he is going to say. --- Guests. The blood of the wicked is his victim, Jeremias xlvi. 10., and Ezechiel xxxix. 17. (Calmet) --- The day of punishment is commonly styled the day of the Lord, Isaias ii., and 1 Corinthians iii. (Worthington)

8 And it shall come to pass in the day of the victim of the Lord, that I will visit upon the princes, and upon the king's sons, and upon all such as are clothed with strange apparel:

Ver. 8. Victim. Hebrew, "sacrifice." But Manuscript 1. Camb. has, "in that day, says the Lord," eeva nam being substituted for zebach, (Haydock) which is "a very remarkable variation." In ver. 7, it has Jehovah Elohim printed Adonai Jehovah. (Kennicott) --- Princes. After the death of Josias all fell to ruin. His sons were deposed, and led into captivity with the chief nobility and priests, who were richly adorned, and imitated the manners of idolaters, or kept the garments of the poor, Exodus xxii. 26., and Deuteronomy xxii. 5, 11, &c. (Calmet) --- All the posterity of Josias was afflicted. Joachaz died in Egypt; Joakim was harassed and put to death; Sedecias taken, and his eyes put out, when his children had been slain. Jechonias, or Joachin, was detained in prison at Babylon for a long time. (Worthington)

9 And I will visit in that day upon every one that entereth arrogantly over the threshold: them that fill the house of the Lord their God with iniquity and deceit.

Ver. 9. Entereth the temple, as if to shew themselves, Amos vi. 1. Hebrew, "jumpeth over," &c., denoting the Philistines. (Chaldean) (1 Kings v. 5.) (Calmet) --- Septuagint, "I will take vengeance on all openly before the gate in that day," (Haydock) on all who have cast themselves out of the Church. (St. Jerome) --- Lord. Hebrew, of their masters with," &c. This may relate to the Philistines, (Calmet) or to those who made the house of God a place of traffic, (Matthew xxi. 13.) and offered victims unjustly acquired. (Haydock)

10 And there shall be in that day, saith the Lord, the noise of a cry from the fish-gate, and a howling from the Second, and a great destruction from the hills.

Ver. 10. Gate, looking towards Joppe. (St. Jerome) --- The news of the defeat at Mageddo came this way, or the cries of the Philistines were heard. (Calmet) --- Second. A part of the city so called, (Challoner) built by Manasses on the same side of the city, 2 Paralipomenon xxxiii. 14. (Calmet)

11 Howl, ye inhabitants of the Morter. All the people of Chanaan is hush, all are cut off that were wrapped up in silver.

Ver. 11. The Morter: (Maktesh) a valley in or near Jerusalem. (Challoner) --- All the people shall suffer in the city. (Sanctius) (Tirinus) --- Mactes was rendered famous by Samson, (Judges xv. 19.) and was in or near the country of the Philistines, who seem to be designated. The original is variously interpreted. (Calmet) --- Septuagint, "of the city cut in pieces, because all the people resemble Chanaan." (Haydock) Chanaan. So he calls the Jews, from their following the wicked ways of the Chanaanites. (Challoner) --- The merchants (Grotius) are confounded, or (Haydock) the Philistines are still meant. (Calmet)

12 And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and will visit upon the men that are settled on their lees: that say in their hearts: The Lord will not do good, nor will he do evil.

Ver. 12. Lamps, with the utmost diligence, (Luke xv. 8.) so that none shall escape even in the most filthy places. (Calmet) --- The Romans found many Jews in the common sewers. (Josephus, Jewish Wars vii. 16, 20, and 26.) --- Lees. That is, the wealthy, and such as live at their ease, resting upon their riches, like wine upon the lees. (Challoner) --- Evil, denying Providence. (Calmet)

13 And their strength shall become a booty, and their houses as a desert: and they shall build houses, and shall not dwell in them: and they shall plant vineyards, and shall not drink the wine of them.

Ver. 13. Strength. Children or riches. (Haydock)

14 The great day of the Lord is near, it is near and exceeding swift: the voice of the day of the Lord is bitter, the mighty man shall there meet with tribulation.

Ver. 14. Near. When all these miseries shall overtake the wicked, (Worthington) after the death of Josias, 4 Kings xxi. 14. (Calmet) --- The mighty. Septuagint, "and dreadful, powerful is the day of," &c. --- Meet. Protestants, "cry bitterly." (Haydock)

15 That day is a day of wrath, a day of tribulation and distress, a day of calamity and misery, a day of darkness and obscurity, a day of clouds and whirlwinds,

Ver. 15. Day, is a day. The repetition elegantly describes the great danger. (Worthington)

16 A day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high bulwarks.

Ver. 16. Trumpet, when Nachao came and deposed Joachas.

17 And I will distress men, and they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the Lord: and their blood shall be poured out as earth, and their bodies as dung.

Ver. 17. Blind. Not knowing what course to take, Deuteronomy xxviii. 29., and Isaias lix. 10. (Calmet) --- Such will be the horror preceding judgment. (Haydock)

18 Neither shall their silver, and their gold be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the Lord: **all the land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy destruction of all them that dwell in the land.

Ver. 18. Gold. Ezechiel vii. 19. Thus the Medes despised riches, Isaias xiii. 17. (Calmet) --- Jealousy. God regarded the synagogue as his spouse. (Menochius) --- "If he loved not the soul of man, he would not be jealous of it." (St. Jerome) (Haydock)
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Looking for Answers – Explore What The Catholic Church Really Teaches – Part 29

Question 28:

Why don't Catholic priests marry? The Bible says that a bishop should be blameless, the husband of one wife, (1 Timothy 3:2) which certainly indicates that Christ approves of marriage for the Christian clergy.

Answer:

Catholic priest do not marry because, while Christ does indeed approve of marriage for the Christian clergy, He much prefers that they do not marry. He made this quite clear when He praised the Apostles for giving up all to follow Him, saying: And every one that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for my name's sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and shall possess life everlasting. (St. Matthew 19:27 – 29). The Apostle Paul explained why the unmarried state is preferable to the married state for the Christian clergy: He that is without a wife, is solicitous for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please God. But he that is with a wife, is solicitous for the things of the world, how he may please his wife: and he is divided. (1 Corinthians 7:32 – 33).

In other words, matrimony is good – Christ made it one of the holy sacraments of His Church – but it is not conducive to that complete dedication which is incumbent upon those who submit themselves to another of Christ's holy sacraments – that of Holy Orders. Even so, the unmarried state of the Catholic priesthood is not an inflexible law – under certain conditions a priest may be dispensed from this law.
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Catholic Physics - Reflections of a Catholic Scientist - Part 42


Galileo redux: When should the Church meddle in science?

“Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger.” J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

"Science can purify religion from error and superstition; religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes. Each can draw the other into a wider world, a world in which both can flourish." St. John Paul II, Letter to Rev. George Coyne, S.J., Director of the Vatican Observatory.

The spur for this post is, of course, the rumor that Pope Francis is about to issue an encyclical proposing that we in the Church get on the AGW bandwagon (Anthropic Global Warming). My views on AGW are given in a post on this blog, Scientific Integrity: Lessons from Climategate), so I don't propose to debate that issue extensively here. Rather, I should like to put a more general question: what science should the Church pronounce as correct, and which should be left to the scientists.

HISTORICAL INTRODUCTION

Let me state at the beginning that I'm with Fr. Stanley Jaki and Stacy Trasancos, that science is the child of Medieval Christianity, that belief in a rational universe ordered by God and the devotion of Catholic religious and lay scholars (Roger Bacon, Albertus Magnus, Jean Buridan, Copernicus...) laid the foundations for Galileo and Newton, who each believed in a Divine order that man could understand.

The split began in the Renaissance, with the condemnation of Galileo and his house arrest. The issue nominally involved in his arrest, whether his support of the heliocentric hypothesis contradicted Scripture, was complicated by the politics of Church leaders in the Holy See and by attempts to counter the effects of the Reformation. I've discussed this in another post, in which links and references are given to the historical context of Galileo's condemnation.

SAINT JOHN PAUL II'S INTERACTION WITH SCIENCE

The Church's error in condemning Galileo was recognized by St. John Paul II, who made an apology and an explanation of the error. (This was just one of St John Paul II's efforts to effect a rapprochement of the Church with science. ) A lesson to be learned here is that there need be no conflict between the teachings of the Church and science even though the Church should be knowledgeable about science that relates to ethical and moral issues intrinsic to Church teaching.

The ideal of Church/Science interaction is illustrated by St. John Paul II's message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on evolution:

"...some new findings lead us toward the recognition of evolution as more than an hypothesis....What is the significance of a theory such as this one? To open this question is to enter into the field of epistemology. A theory is a meta-scientific elaboration, which is distinct from, but in harmony with, the results of observation. With the help of such a theory a group of data and independent facts can be related to one another and interpreted in one comprehensive explanation. The theory proves its validity by the measure to which it can be verified. It is constantly being tested against the facts; when it can no longer explain these facts, it shows its limits and its lack of usefulness, and it must be revised [emphasis added]

...And to tell the truth, rather than speaking about the theory of evolution, it is more accurate to speak of the theories of evolution. [emphasis added] The use of the plural is required here—in part because of the diversity of explanations regarding the mechanism of evolution, and in part because of the diversity of philosophies involved. There are materialist and reductionist theories, as well as spiritualist theories. Here the final judgment is within the competence of philosophy and, beyond that, of theology.

The magisterium of the Church takes a direct interest in the question of evolution, because it touches on the conception of man, whom Revelation tells us is created in the image and likeness of God. [emphasis added]... In other words, the human person cannot be subordinated as a means to an end, or as an instrument of either the species or the society; he has a value of his own. He is a person. By this intelligence and his will, he is capable of entering into relationship, of communion, of solidarity, of the gift of himself to others like himself... if the origin of the human body comes through living matter which existed previously, the spiritual soul is created directly by God ("animas enim a Deo immediate creari catholica fides non retimere iubet"). (Humani Generis)

As a result, the theories of evolution which, because of the philosophies which inspire them, regard the spirit either as emerging from the forces of living matter, or as a simple epiphenomenon of that matter, are incompatible with the truth about man. They are therefore unable to serve as the basis for the dignity of the human person. [emphasis added]. St. John Paul II, Message to Pontifical Academy of Science, 22 Oct. 1996.

What a fine example! St. John Paul II shows that he knows what science is about, that it requires empirical confirmation of hypotheses. Unlike many scientists, he distinguishes the scientific fact of evolution, the descent of species, from theories/mechanisms used to explain evolution (e.g. the neo-Darwinian model). And most important, he shows why and how the Church should be concerned with theories that impinge on its teachings. We cannot accept theories which "regard the spirit either as emerging from the forces of living matter, or as a simple epiphenomenon of that matter".

WHEN THE CHURCH SHOULD NOT PRONOUNCE ON SCIENCE

When should the Church not make judgments on scientific matters? Clearly if the science itself is not settled, Church dignitaries should carefully consider whether it is necessary that they support one of contending interpretations. Cardinal Schonbrun caused much controversy by publishing an essay in the New York Times, "Finding Design in Nature", that seemed to support the theory of Intelligent Design as opposed to the neo-Darwinian mechanism of evolution. The essay was criticized by a number of Catholic scientists, including the then director of the Vatican Observatory, and Stephen Barr in an article in First Things. (By the way, in his article I'm not sure that Barr makes the same distinction that Pope John Paul II did, between the facts of evolution, and the theories proposed for the mechanism of evolution.) Cardinal Schonbrun enlarged on his position in a later article in First Things to explain that he was not necessarily supporting Intelligent Design theory, but that God guided all events, including evolution, and that our universe is not the product of chance. And we all certainly agree with that opinion.

I'm very much afraid that Pope Francis is about to repeat the mistake made by Cardinal Schonbrun by taking an official Church position for the truth and perils of Anthropic Global Warming. I don't know what will be in the proposed Encyclical, but if it is based on statements in his interviews and from the article from the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, there will be judgments and statements that are contentious, that are not held by all scientists. For example, it is not the case that polar ice and Himalayan snow are decreasing (they melt, as ice does, but the net amount is not decreasing due to global warming--see evidence from satellite images.) (For a harsh critique, see the PowerLine post by John Hinderaker; for a more charitable and hopeful view of the upcoming encyclical see the post by Matt Briggs.)

As I said above, I don't propose in this article to debate extensively the merits of AGW. On the other hand, it is essential that two points be made.

First, it is not true that a "97% consensus" of scientists support the AGW / Climate Change proposition. See, for example the 97% myth. And in any case, scientific theories and propositions are not judged by majority vote, but by empirical confirmation. Before the Michelson-Morley experiment a majority of scientists believed in the ether as the medium for propagation of electromagnetic waves; afterwards, not many.

Second, the extent of data massaging ("fudging") revealed in the Climategate excerpts and (more recently) of fiddled temperature data from Paraguayan weather stations should cause one to regard reported temperature increases with more than usual skepticism.

Accordingly, unlike evolution, global warming caused by human production of CO2 is by no means a settled scientific issue.

I'll not discuss at length the unintended consequences for the poor of measures taken by governments to combat the threat of AGW, but only mention a few:

rising food costs for third world populations due to diversion to biofuels;

replacement of rain forest by palm tree groves for biofuels;

the loss of jobs by coal miners and utility plant workers;

the risk of pollution by elements used in wind turbines and hybrid automobile batteries (there is a greater carbon footprint from mining lithium and shipping batteries than in the corresponding use of gas fuels);

the despoilation of landscapes and loss in property values due to wind turbines;

the decimation of migrant bird and bat populations by wind turbines;

For a fuller account see Andrew Montford's "The Unintended Consequences of Climate Change Policy". The Danish statistician/economist, Bjorn Lomberg, believes in AGW but also believes that resources used to deal with it would be better expended for the Third World poor by improving water supplies, agricultural resources and dealing with disease.

HOW THE CHURCH SHOULD DEAL WITH SCIENCE

The ideal is illustrated by St. John Paul II's efforts (see above) and the Church's stance on questions dealing with bioethics. In bioethical issues, it is the Church's position on the sanctity of life and the uniqueness of the human person created in the image of God that determines Her position on abortion, euthanasia and the use of human embryos for stem cell research. The biomedical science is settled; the point is whether the technology arising from the science should be used. An area in which confusion might arise is that of genetic modification of humans: the position of the Church is that genetic modification for therapy--to cure a genetically induced disease--is permissible but not for enhancement, not to create the "supermensch"; see "Human or Superhuman?"

How the Church deals with bioethical questions is a different thing from whether the Church should pronounce a scientific theory true. The Church has not said that one of the 17 or more interpretations of quantum mechanics is correct. She has not said that the Big Bang hypothesis is correct, even though it was suggested by LeMaitre, a Belgian Abbe and is consistent with the Church's teaching of Creatio ex Nihilo.

If it is indeed necessary that the Church, in the person of the Holy Father or other ecclesiastical authority, gives an edict on the truth or falsity of a scientific theory, it should employ the same standards of rigor as it does in the canonization process, when it employs a Devil's advocate to decide whether miracles due to the intervention of a saint have occurred.

REFERENCES

Climate Change: The Facts. A collection of articles by various authors including Delingpole, Lindzen, Watts.

BioMedicine and Beatitude; an Introduction to Catholic Bioethics. Nicanor Austriaco, OP

From a series of articles written by: Bob Kurland - a Catholic Scientist
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The "O Antiphons" of Advent

The Roman Church has been singing the "O" Antiphons since at least the eighth century. They are the antiphons that accompany the Magnificat canticle of Evening Prayer from December 17-23. They are a magnificent theology that uses ancient biblical imagery drawn from the messianic hopes of the Old Testament to proclaim the coming Christ as the fulfillment not only of Old Testament hopes, but present ones as well. Their repeated use of the imperative "Come!" embodies the longing of all for the Divine Messiah.

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If asked to name an Advent hymn, most people would reply, "O Come, O Come Emmanuel." In fact, that may be the only Advent hymn they know by name, and small wonder: It is the most popular of all Advent hymns, and most parishes start singing it on the First Sunday in Advent.

But do you know where the hymn comes from?

Its origins go back almost 1,500 years, to medieval Europe, where an unknown author wrote seven antiphons—short lines to be sung before and after psalms. Those seven antiphons all begin with the "O," and thus became known as "The O Antiphons."

Composed in the sixth or seventh century, the O Antiphons are used in vespers (evening prayer) and the Masses for December 17-23. Each begins with a title for Christ, drawn from the Book of Isaiah, and the first letters of the titles in Latin are SARCORE. Read backward, that is ero cras, which means "Tomorrow I come" (or "shall be"). (Traditionally, feasts were said to begin on the eve of their celebration, so Christmas begins at sundown on Christmas Eve.)

We can make the O Antiphons part of our Advent preparation by including them in our prayers or Advent Scripture readings on the appropriate day. The Latin text is below, with a common English translation.

December 18—"O Adonai"/ Lord of Israel

The O Antiphon for December 18, "O Adonai," is drawn from Isaiah 11:4-5 and 33:22.

LATIN TEXT OF THE O ANTIPHON FOR DECEMBER 18

O Adonai, et Dux domus Israel, qui Moysi in igne flammae rubi apparuisti, et ei in Sina legem dedisti: veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extento.

ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF THE O ANTIPHON FOR DECEMBER 18

O Adonai, and Leader of the house of Israel, Who didst appear to Moses in the flame of the burning bush, and didst give unto him the Law on Sinai: come and with an outstretched arm redeem us.

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Daily Meditation

The Lights Of Christmas

Pope Francis writes, “In our personal history too, there are both bright and dark moments, lights and shadows.” As you watch the light of Christmas—twinkling tree lights, the soft glow of candlelight, the tasteful (or garish!) house displays—let your heart recall the lights and shadows of your life and the ways in which God’s love and mercy have been present in both light and darkness.

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Prayer For The Day

THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT: THE JOY OF ADVENT

PRAYERS

“With our whole heart, our whole soul, our whole mind, with our whole strength and fortitude, with our whole understanding, with all our powers, with every effort, every affection, every feeling, every desire and wish, let us love the Lord God. Who has given and gives to each one of us our whole body, our whole soul and our whole life, Who has created, redeemed and will save us by His mercy alone, Who did and does everything good for us.”



“O Almighty God, gracious provider and giver of life, we anxiously await the celebration of your birth. Like the people of long ago, our ancestors in faith, we, too, are in need of light, in need of direction, in need of your Word, to show us the way. Our busy lives and the consumerism that surrounds us make it difficult to recognize your kingdom and to hear your voice. Help us Lord, to focus on you.We pray that you hear our prayer in the name of Jesus. Amen.”



REFLECTION

“Let us get ready for Christmas by being close to Our Lady. Let us try, as well, to get ready for the Holy Season by encouraging an atmosphere of Christian peace where we live and work, and by doing all we can in small ways to bring pleasure and affection to those around us. People tend to be convinced that Christ has really been born in Bethlehem, and few things are more convincing that the habitual happiness of the Christian, even in the midst of pain and contradictions. Our Lady knew many such contradictions when she came to Bethlehem tired out and after such a long journey, and unable to find a place fit for the birth of her Son. But these problems did not cause her to lose her joy when god became Man, and dwelt amongst us. “
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Commentary by Cornelius a Lapide on Luke - Chapter 10: 21-24 - Latin Vulgate

Today’s text reveals the depth of the Heart of Jesus, the reason for his joy that comes from the Holy Spirit.

Verses:

21 In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Ghost, and said: I give thanks to thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to little ones. Yea, Father: because so it hath pleased thee.

22 All things are delivered to me by my Father: and no one knoweth who the Son is, but the Father: and who the Father is, but the Son, and to whom the Son will reveal him.

23 And turning to his disciples, he said: Blessed are the eyes that see the things which you see.

24 For I say to you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see the things that you see, and have not seen them; and to hear the things that you hear, and have not heard them.

Commentary:

Ver. 21.—In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit (Spiritu Sancto, Vulgate), because the Holy Spirit had, according to His promise, granted the disciples, though weak and unlearned men, the power of working wonders, and had thus led others to believe in Christ and to glorify God.

And hast revealed them unto babes, i.e. that thou hast revealed to my humble and unlearned disciples the truth, so that they might acknowledge Thee, the one true God, and Me whom Thou hast sent, and might be predestinated to eternal life; and that many others also, whom they have healed of their diseases, and from whom they have cast out devils, might be brought to the knowledge of God, and believe to the salvation of their soul.

Ver. 22.—All things are delivered to Me of My Father. As all things were created by My Father, so all things are created anew by Me, and redeemed from the curse of sin. That thus I might raise up those who had fallen away, and might sanctify them, and might renew all the other creatures which had become corrupt through the sin of man.

“For,” says S. Athanasius (Serm. iv. contra Arianos), “after the fall of man, all things were made partakers of his transgression. And so death reigned over all from Adam even unto Christ. The earth was given over to the curse, hell was opened, paradise shut, heaven became an enemy, and mankind being corrupted and lost, the devil triumphed over us.”

“Then He gave Him a human nature, that the Word Himself might take upon Him our flesh, and might renew in all the nature He had taken.

“All things were delivered unto Him as the physician who could heal the serpent’s bite, as the life which could restore the dead, as the light which could illuminate the darkness, as the understanding which could renew the Powers of the mind.”

And in explanation, he adds, “After all things were delivered to Him, and he was made man, all things were renewed and made perfect again. The earth received a blessing instead of a curse, paradise was unlocked. Hell drew back from fear, the graves gave up their dead, and the gates were thrown open that He might enter from Eden.”

Christ does not speak here of the essence and attributes which were communicated to Him from the Father by His divine generation, as S. Chrysostom, Hilary, and S. Ambrose explain, but of the plenary power which was given to Him as man, to effect the salvation of men.
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Daily Meditation

Companions On Our Advent Journey

The journey through Advent brings us to the Christmas celebration of God’s intimate presence in human existence. What we discover is that in our waiting for Christmas, God is with us all the way along the journey. In ancient times, people traveled together for safety and support. Often they needed to set aside differences and overcome a fear of unknown traveling companions because the world outside their caravans held too many threats to travel alone. We too find that the more we try to set ourselves apart from others, the more we are threatened by a world “out there.” We need companions on this journey.

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Looking for Answers – Explore What The Catholic Church Really Teaches – Part 28

Question 27:

Why do Catholics practice fasting and abstinence from meat on certain days? Does not St. Paul call abstaining from meats a doctrine of devils? (1 Timothy 4:1 – 3).

Answer:

Catholics give up eating meat – for example, on Good Friday – to commemorate and honor Christ's Sacrifice on that day, and to follow His instruction to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him. (St. Matthew 16:24; St. Mark 8:34; St. Luke 9:23). It is a practice that dates back to the earliest days of the Christian Church. Tertullian and Clement of Alexandria both mention it in their writings. It is a practice which is thoroughly Christian, for we note that Christ Himself recommended fasting, saying: When thou fastest anoint thy head, and washed thy face… And thy Father, who seeth in secret, will repay thee. (St. Matthew 6:17 – 18). In the same vein the Apostle Paul described his own suffering for Christ:… In hunger and thirst, in fastings often… (2 Corinthians 11:27).

Fasting was practiced both by Christ's followers (Acts of the Apostles 14:22) and by Christ Himself. (St. Matthew 4:1 – 2). And Our Lord told His disciples that some devils cannot be cast out but by prayer and fasting. (St. Matthew 17:20). Paul's denunciation of those who abstain from eating meat applies to those who reject the eating of meat entirely, as though it were evil in itself. His denunciation has nothing to do with the abstinence of Catholics, for on other days Catholics eat as much meat as do other people. Moreover, the abstinence from meat is not binding on all Catholics. Young children, old people, sick people, and all Catholics where meat is the principle diet, are excused.
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