Thursday, April 19, 2007

Another Great Showing By the Parousians

Our own Angela Miceli was invited to participate in a panel tonight entitled "Women in Religion." In short, she was supposed to discuss how it is to be a Roman Catholic woman. Other panelists included a Sunni Muslim, an Atheist, and a Wiccan/Buddhist/Unitarian (and no, that's not a joke. She's a Wiccan who loves Buddhist dancing and incorporates it into her spirituality which she uses as a professional youth minister in the Unitarian Church).

This event was sponsored by W.O.W., Women Organizing Women, a very feminist group. As a result, we knew Angela would face some opposition at the panel so we endeavored to try to get as many Catholics to come and support her. We've had success with this already this year, successfully matching VOX (the campus chapter of Planned Parenthood which is incidentally run by the same person) person for person. e

Not only did we duplicate that result, we exceeded it. The room count was, including the Atheist and Unitarian, 11 people against Catholicism. This did include 2 Protestants, so WOW only got about 9 of their people there. We had 15. So that's 6 more people then WOW could get and 4 more people overall in the room. That's assuming some of the people I didn't know were in fact not Catholic.

So the panel started and Angela did not fail to impress the now home crowd. She was obviously the best prepared and most consistent speaker there. A few Parousians asked really intelligent questions to the panel. To be frank, the panel doesn't flow without us there.

This is exactly what we want to do by engaging the community. We helped make the dialogue richer by adding to it the truth of the Catholic faith. We hope to be able to put on some panels of our own next year.

Once again, I was very impressed with the LSU Parousians. Thanks to everyone who managed to come out. Thanks to Mary-Grace & Emily specifically for helping to tell us about the event and inviting people to make sure that we had the turnout we did. And special thanks to Angela and everyone who helped her this week for putting on an incredible defense of the faith.

Emily Byers Analyzes Supreme Court Decision Upholding Partial Birth Abortion Ban

Ban may lead to abortion law change

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Empowerment and Liberation

Part two of Melinda Selmys's article from National Catholic Register on feminism, titled: Faith & Feminism, Part 2: Liberation and Empowerment. She discusses the feminist goals of achieving "empowerment" and "liberation" for women and how the Church offers true empowerment and liberation that isn't vague and doesn't depend on external circumstances.


Supreme Court UPHOLDS the BAN on Partial Birth Abortion

#15 Screwtape Letters: the Present

Screwtape brings back the subject of the war. There is a lull in the war and Wormwood wants to know how to take advantage of this, whether to pursue “tortured fear” or “stupid confidence?” For Screwtape this brings up the question of time. He explains,

“The humans live in time but our Enemy destines them to eternity. He therefore, I believe, wants them to attend chiefly to two things, to eternity itself, and to that point of time which they call the Present. For the present is the point at time at which time touches eternity. Of the present moment, and of it only, humans have an experience analogous to the experience which our Enemy has of reality as a whole; in it alone freedom and actuality are offered them. He would therefore have them…either meditating on their eternal union with, or separation from, Himself, or else obeying the present voice of conscience, bearing the present cross, receiving the present grace, giving thanks for the present pleasure.”

So Screwtape’s advice is to get the patient off from the Present. The past is a possibility but limited because the past itself is limited. So the future holds the most promise. It is, “the least like eternity” because it most invites us to think entirely imaginary. Sin itself is a type of looking to the future as we are concerned with the future pleasures when we commit to sin. As Screwtape says,

“Nearly all vices are rooted in the future. Gratitude looks to the past and love to the present; fear, avarice, lust, and amibition look ahead…When the present pleasure arrives, the sin is already over.”

Now, Screwtape is not looking forward to encourage all types of thinking about the future. Planning for the future is good. What Screwtape wants is agonizing & focusing on the future even after the planning so that the patient will be

“haunted by visions of an imminent heaven or hell on earth…We want a whole race perpetually in pursuit of a rainbow’s end, never honest, nor kind, nor happy now, but always using as mere fuel wherewith to heap the altar of the future every real gift which is offered them in the Present.”

Thus Screwtape succeeds twofold when we look too much towards the future. 1) We miss out on the graces that are being offered right now to us which prevents us from growing closer to God. 2) We become obsessed with a unreal world and the pleasures of it which makes us more likely to sin as sin is based on the hope of future pleasures.

I want to conclude using the lyrics of a Garth Brooks song:

If tomorrow never comes
Will she know how much I loved her
Did I try in every way to show her every day
That shes my only one
And if my time on earth were through
And she must face the world without me
Is the love I gave her in the past
Gonna be enough to last.

Tomorrow might not come. We can do our greatest good now; let us not keep putting things off. We have the opportunity to tell our loved ones we love them today; we have the opportunity to love people today; we have the opportunity to love and serve God today. If tomorrow never comes we shouldn’t have to wish that it had.

Next Letter: the Liturgy

Monday, April 16, 2007

Sacred Art

Why We Need Sacred Art

We've talked a lot of about the transcendental of beauty this semester so I figured this article which talks about why Protestants largely reject the use of this transcendental would interest many of you.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Screwtape Letter #14-Humility

The patient, having recovered from the his lapse, is now more mature in the faith. No longer is he making “lavish promises of perpetual virtue” but now “only a hope for the daily and hourly pittance to meet the daily and hourly temptation!” The patient then has now become humble and as Screwtape says, “This is very bad.”

Bad, but not hopeless for the demons. Humility is a difficult virtue to practice and Wormwood has a chance to ensnare him in it. Screwtape first proposes trying to get him to be prideful.

“Catch him at the moment when he is really poor in spirit and smuggle into his mind the gratifying reflection, ‘By jove! I’m being humble,’ and almost immediately pride - pride at his own humility - will appear. If he awakes to the danger and tries to smother this new form of pride, make him proud of his attempt - and so on.”

This is something discussed by Christ in the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. The Pharisee prays to God thanking Him for making him better than everyone else and more virtuous. Perhaps the best way to avoid this is not to declare that we’re not humble but simply to remind ourselves that we can be more humble and have failed to be humble in the past.

So then what is this humility that we are striving for? Screwtape says of the virtue that “By this virtue, as by all the others, our Enemy wants to turn the man’s attention away from self to Him, and to the man’s neighbours.” The easy way for Screwtape to counteract humility then is to pervert it so that the attention is refocused on the self.

“Let him think of it not as self-forgetfulness but as a certain kind of opinion…of his own talents and character. Some talents, I gather, he really has. Fix in his mind the idea that humility consists in trying to believe those talents to be less valuable than he believes them to be. No doubt they are in fact less valuable than he believes, but that is not the point. The great thing is to make him value an opinion for some quality other than truth, thus introducing an element of dishonesty and make-believe into the heart of what otherwise threatens to become a virtue. By this method thousands of humans have been brought to think that humility means pretty women trying to believe they are ugly and clever men trying to believe they are fools…. their minds (are) endlessly revolving on themselves in an effort to achieve the impossible.”

What Screwtape is saying is that if humility is about not taking joy in our gifts, then the focus is still on ourselves and not on God. It is also focusing on falsehood which is contrary to the truth that is Christ. Instead a realistic and accurate portrayal of our abilities is necessary.

Screwtape goes on to discuss how true humility is practiced. What it means is to be indifferent to the fact that we have the gifts. That is, if we’re arguing with the people in free speech alley, it doesn’t matter who delivers the logical blow that topples their house of cards. It matters that the blow is delivered and we should rejoice in the accomplishment in argumentation. Humility then is an indifference to the self which allows us to more fully love others and most importantly love God. The paradox is, as Screwtape points out, that “when they have really learned to love their neighbors as themselves, they will be allowed to love themselves as their neighbors.”


Women's Rights & Wrongs

Tonight the LSU bunch is going to have a presentation on Edith Stein's Feminism & then on Thursday many of us will be going to a panel discussion on Women in Religion hosted by the campus chapter of W.O.W. This article gives a good brief outline of feminism so I thought it would be helpful to us tonight & the rest of the week.