Saturday, December 31, 2011

Looking Forward

The headlines of the past year suggest few accomplishments toward peace and for the progress of humans. Yet accom-plishments toward human progress were made. The Catholic Near East Welfare Association names a few it made in 2011 with the help of its friends. People chose to make those and other accomplishments happen. See the day-after-Christmas-CSM post, “The (surprisingly upbeat) state of the world,” for a larger perspective.

Personal responsibility to act in ways consonant with peace one day at a time is a fine resolution for anyone. For Christians it is the Christmas vocation. The anthem, “Before the Marvel of This Night,” reminds that people the bear the message today that heavenly messengers first proclaimed.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Real Rather Than Quaint

Twelve days have been given to celebrate and enter the mystery of the Incarnation. One carol was for shepherds rather than about shepherds. Entering the Incarnation means imagining it “for me.” Kevin Clarke helps people do that.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

How Much?

ne concludes that distance from constituents and greed are related.

This NYT report on a failure by most members of Congress to answer an informal survey is not cheerful. It is in sync with standing observations and concerns about the disconnect between Congress and people.

Wiki-image by Vincent.Mar of bar graph meeting is used according to CC BY-SA 2.0.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Perhaps the Best Gift

Cultivating wonder: suggestion for New-Year resolve. 
Wiki-map by Iain Thompson of snow-covered road is used according to CC BY-SA 2.0.

Monday, December 26, 2011

More Extensive Anti-Christian Violence

Roundly condemned, senseless bombings on Christmas in Nigeria this year were more extensive than last year.

Boko haram claimed responsibility for the bombings of churches in five locations.

Today’s CSM report by Correspondent Tom A. Peter acquaints readers with an Islamist extreme group, described as the “Nigerian Taliban.” His report includes a video.
Wiki-map by DragonFire1024 of Nigeria is used according to CC BY-SA 3.0.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Pandora, Christmas and Arab Christians

A sober and sobering view from that part of the world to which Christmas draws Christian imaginations. Conditions, however, continue to cause anxiety, fear and Christian emigration.

One lesson of this CSM post: to stop cultivating peace seems to guarantee its loss.

New Light

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 24, 2011


The Word enfleshed.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Davidic Key

A reflection on today’s evening antiphon.
In the United Kingdom non-Christians are supporting Christmas. As Alexander Goldberg noted:
The ‘War on Christmas’ myth needs to be debunked. I share similar concerns to my closest Christian neighbours that the festival risks becoming on one hand a secular consumerist feast or on the other a time when the majority of the population wrongly believes it has to play down celebrations so as not to offend others.
Read his remarks about the HappyChristmas4All campaign.

Monday, December 19, 2011


The lineage of important people was common in ancient Near East societies. This evening’s antiphon recalls Jesse as the primogenitor of the Second David, Jesus.

One of the earliest images of this line in stained glass is in Chartres Cathedral.
Wiki-image of the Jesse Tree window is in the public domain.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Outstretched Arm

This evening’s antiphon recalls God’s mighty power to save. The 18 December antiphon begins with the title of Lord. Its Hebrew word, adonai, replaced the divine name, which was 
not pronounced. Paragraph 3 at the site Hebrew for Christians explains. It also lists the several uses of adonai.
Two years ago, Paul Zalonski, posted a summary of all the O Antiphons with a graphic: read vertically and left then right to see their order for the week.
Wiki-image of  O Adonai chant is in the public domain.

Sunday word, 18 Dec 2011

Advent Sunday 4 (18 Dec 2011)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Reconciled By the Incarnation

Today’s liturgy and its scripture selections shape our immediate preparation to celebrate our Savior’s birth. The opening prayer reminded us that our celebration of God’s birth among us also asks God that “[Jesus’] Passion and Cross…[may bring us] to the glory of his Resurrection”1 and our participation in it. One way this divine-human participation functions is reconciliation. A brief word on the Incarnation as reconciling us to God.
St. Ignatius of Loyola imagined the Incarnation  as flowing from the heart of the Trinity from their eternity. He invited us to consider the Divine Persons gazing upon the surface of the earth 
seeing humans being born and dying, loving and hating, happy and sad, flourishing and struggling, “so many people aimless, despairing, hateful and killing; so many undernourish-ed, sick and dying, so many struggling with life and blind to any meaning. With God I can hear people laughing and crying, some shouting and screaming, some praying, others cursing.”2 That is an accurate assessment of things today.
Staying close to reality allows us to be real about God. God is not an idea. God is our Creator and Redeemer. God’s intimate desire to remain involved with creation and fulfill it Ignatius expressed this way: the Divine Persons “decide in their eternity that the Second Person should also become a human being to save the human race.”3
The Incarnation is about us! God in Jesus by their Spirit desired to restore our original dignity to us. That restoration shapes our vocation in life. Each of us begins with oneself. Whom do I love? What is alive in me? What do I nourish? What gives me meaning? As one considers these gracious gifts, their opposites surface in our minds and hearts: Who irritates me, or worse? What is not life-giving for me? What do I neglect or refuse to cultivate within me? How do I squander my gifts and my purpose in life?
When we are honest about ourselves this way, then we open ourselves to the mystery of God working in us, with us and for us. We notice more clearly how each of us is an image of our Creator and Redeemer, and we tend to see others that way. We also—and this is often a steeper challenge—we notice our need to be saved. We increasingly dispose ourselves to know in a felt way that Jesus is our Savior.
The more honest we are about ourselves, the more compassionate we become. Things that seemed too much for us we see in truer perspective. Our worries and fears do not evaporate, although our confidence to contend with them increases. We grow more alert that by Holy Spirit our Savior is with us wherever we may be. As we cultivate this awareness through daily moments of quiet, prayer and celebrating the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, our personal confidence flows into our daily living.  We desire others to enjoy it.

The Incarnation is the most exquisite relationship. Over 1500 years ago Pope St. Leo wrote that “divine nature and the nature of a servant were…united in one person.”4 The service of the Incarnation is twofold: first, to restore us, reconcile us to our true and original dignity as images of God; and second, to deepen our relationship with God and restore our relationship with each other.
The Incarnation has many practical effects. One is the desire for others to enjoy it, to make it known to all. Evangelizing—passing on our Incarnation faith by our choices and behaviors and styles of living—deepens our relationship with God and makes us ambassadors of reconciliation5 day to day.

In your 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Pause in the love of the Trinity. 
  • Ask Mary to present you to her Son.
  • In your words thank Jesus, our Divine Savior, for becoming human for you.
  • Ask him to increase your confidence in his presence with you and deepen your felt knowledge of his presence.
  • Close by saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus gave us his prayer so that we may grow more confident that his union with us and us with him through his Incarnation will bring us to the glory of his Resurrection.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise
  1. Roman Missal, Fourth Sunday of Advent.
  2. This paraphrase of St. Ignatius belongs to James L. Fleming, S.J., Draw Me Into Your Friendship: The Spiritual Exercises: A Literal Translation & A Contemporary Reading. St. Louis: IJS, 1996, p. 91.
  3. Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius, trans. & comm. George E. Ganss, S.J., St. Louis: IJS, 1992, p. 56 [at #102].
  4. Letter 31, which is excerpted in the Liturgy of the Hours on 17 December.
  5. The language is St. Paul’s. See 2Corinthians 5.16-21.
Wiki-image by 3268zauber of an Advent wreath is used according to the CC  BY-SA 3.0 license. Wiki-image of an Annunciation window is in the public domain.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

O Antiphons Commence Today

In the Roman Catholic liturgy the days17-23 December have their own formulae. During each Evening Prayer one of seven antiphons is sung before and after the Marian canticle, The Magnificat. They are drawn from images from Old Testament writings. We know them in a familiar Advent song. 

[Source: YouTube]
The first words of the antiphons are titles given to Jesus as Messiah. Because they begin with the letter O in the Latin, they are called the O AntiphonsToday’s is Wisdom, O Sapientia.

For all of them, a brief history and their Latin acronym, see the Dominican Friars blogpost of yesterday, on which the above video was embedded.

Thermal Theme

For those who live far from active volcanoes, their activity goes unnoticed. Much of humanity learns to cope with them and their eruptive forces. In a collection of vivid photographs taken in 2011, The Atlantic allows viewers to appreciate better one way the earth continues to function.

It concludes with links for those who wish to learn more.
Wiki-image by Wolfgangbeyer of Stromboli eruption is used according to the CC BY-SA 3.0 license.

Friday, December 16, 2011

David, Goliath and Robots

Patrick Lin, Ph.D. is the director of the Ethics + Emerging Sciences Group, based at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.  Yesterday The Atlantic published a readable post of some length. Mr. Lin’s “briefing about the ethics of drones…[is] a thorough and unnerving survey of what it might mean for the intelligence service to deploy different kinds of robots.

The “usual reason” robots are deployed, Mr. Lin summarized, is to do jobs, which are dull, dirty and dangerous. Those three Ds are disquieting. To them Mr. Lin added an unnerving one: “a new, fourth ‘D’ that’s worth considering, [is] the ability to act with dispassion.” Some examples:
  • If doctors won’t violate their oath to do no harm and refuse to torture others or inject them with dangerous materials, would robots be used for that?
  • If robots can fire with near-total accuracy, then states using them would “violate a rule by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which bans weapons that cause more than 25% field mortality and 5% hospital mortality.”
  • How do we clean up after [microbots and disposable robots]? If we don’t, and they’re tiny—for instance, nanosensors—then they could then be ingested or inhaled by animals or people.
How did humans get to this? That question was not entertained in this briefing.

Wiki-diagram by Leonidl of a Skeet drone is used according to the CC BY 2.0 license.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Defusing Pressure

Need help in getting ready to celebrate Christmas? Fearful of too much pressure? Consider laughter. Read Jesuit Fr. James Martin’s post, “When Thanksgiving Is Filled with Turkeys.”

Monday, December 12, 2011

Climate for Life

Global warming is accelerating at an unexpected rate. It is a “life issue,” as the title of Elizabeth Groppe’s essay in today’s America Magazine indicates. The situation is not simple because the
global climate is a very complex reality in which a small
change in average temperature has ripple effects on ocean currents, precipitation patterns and other climate systems. An apparently small temperature increase is already destabilizing the energy balance of the climate and spawning changes adverse to human beings and other species.
Ms. Groppe summarizes effects on agriculture, sea level, oceans, weather and extinctions. She explains that climate change is a life issue because “failure to protect the earth [endangers] generations unborn.”
Wiki-diagram of an array of systems effected by global warming is in the public domain.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sunday word, 11 Dec 2011

More in Unison

Advent Sunday 3 (11 Dec 2011)
Is 61:1-2a, 10-11; Resp Luke1; 1Th 5. 16-24; Jn 1. 6-8, 19-28
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.

In my childhood the beginning of Advent seemed to mark a long time. Before I knew it Advent’s midpoint arrived. While Advent’s month of Sundays no longer seems as long, it unfolds no less quickly. We have again reached its Third Sunday. Its liturgy focuses on the coming Solemnity of our Lord’s Nativity.

The Nativity of our Lord is the beginning of redemption: Jesus embodied God, who would release humans from the bondage of sin.1 That alone moved people to rejoice. Yet the mystery of God
releasing people from sin by becoming human with us and for us fills each human life with something greater than our glad rejoicing: God’s delight over us. That has been so from the beginning of the Christian experience. In the language of our tradition we name that new life, salvation, which is nothing less than living divine life. The first Christians did not think of salvation as reserved for a distant future; they experienced salvation; they were being saved 2 by risen Jesus, as St. Paul often said, in their daily living. Being saved registered as a power to live with freedom in every circumstance.
Living Christian freedom, the liberty for which Messiah Jesus freed us,3 is what the Prayer Over the Offerings points when it calls, May the sacrifice of our worship, Lord, we pray, be offered to you unceasingly. It does not mean that we are in church 24 hours a day. It means we live the communion we offer and receive gathered as one; each of us living what we offer and receive here in our many places of living, working, learning and playing. When each of us complete[s] by how we live what was begun in [this] sacred mystery, we incarnate and advance God’s saving work in Jesus by their Spirit.
The church has extolled God’s incarnation, the union in Jesus of human and divine,4 as a marriage of humanity with God.5 As they enter into married life, human spouses “think in unison,” as Pope Benedict has observed.6 The way human spouses honor and celebrate marriage is by living their unison more readily. In the marriage of the Incarnation we Christians are to think in unison with our Savior. We begin that when we confess Jesus with our lips7 as our God and brother and act on our words. We act so as not to pay lip-service to what God does for us in Jesus by their Spirit. Jesus reminded us that our deeds confirm or negate our words.8 Today we say it is not enough to talk Christian things; witnesses to Jesus walk the Christian way. The Christian way is not a refined human way of living. The Christian way, living Christian freedom in every circumstance, flows from Jesus’ Spirit: it is of God.
John the Baptizer was one sent from God. The good news of our salvation in Messiah Jesus is alive today because of Jesus’ Spirit at work in prophets and disciples, past and present. You and I make straight the way of the Lord when we do not get in the way of the Spirit but let our lives manifest the power of Jesus’ Spirit, given us in word and sacrament.
“How do we do that?” one may ask. Another may say, “I don’t recognize the Spirit at work in me.” The Spirit is not present in the same way you and I are present to each other. However, traces of the Spirit—we might say, the fingerprints of the Spirit—are in good deeds; in expressions of gratitude for life, for people, for our faith; in the fruits of personal prayer; and in communal worship,

especially around the tables of God’s word and God’s son. When we are faithful to those practices and to others of our Catholic heritage, we begin to recognize the Spirit at work in us and in the world, and others recognize the Spirit, too.
The result: we are reshaped by the mystery of the Incarnation. We move closer to God who united with us. It is breathtaking to pause and ponder it. “By His incarnation the Son of God has united Himself in some fashion with every person. He worked with human hands, He thought with a human mind, acted by human choice and loved with a human heart.”9 Allowing our Messiah Jesus to work in us is being saved. To think in unison with our Savior is to live God’s delight over us.
In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week

  • Pause in the Trinity’s saving love for you.
  • Ask John the Baptizer to present you to Jesus.
  • Praise Jesus for embodying God’s goodness and mercy for you.
  • Ask Jesus for the grace to live more in unison with his words and example.
  • Close, saying slowly the Lord’s PrayerJesus’ prayer schools us to pray and live in greater harmony with others and our Savior, who is with us and who is to come.
Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise
  1. See Matthew 1.21, which specified the name of Jesus, which means the Lord saves.
  2. 1Corinthians 1.18 is one example from Paul. Peter too, was emphatic, 1Peter 3.21. In Revelation 12.10 the seer, John, heard no less an authority than the voice in heaven announce, “Now have salvation and power come.”
  3. Galatians 2.4 and Galatians 5.1.  
  4. John 1.14; Philippians 2.6-8; Colossians 2.9; 1Timothy 3.16; Hebrews 2.14-17.
  5. Psalm-Prayer at Evening Prayer, Monday, Week2. Recently, Pope Benedict XVI summarized this tradition in his encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, 13.
  6. His 2009 encyclical, Caritas in Veritate, 54.
  7. Hebrews 13.15.
  8. Luke 6.46-49 recalled a vivid parable.
  9. Second Vatican Council, Pastoral Constitution: Church in the Modern World, 22.
Wiki-images of light from a star-forming region and an artist's depiction of Holy Spirit in the Annunciation are in the public domain.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Need To Know Aid

Economic news doesnt seem good anywhere. Looking to 2012 in the United States Charles Davi of The Atlantic offered A Glossary and Guide to the Key Issues in 2012.” Its subhead
was precise.
 What you need to know about the debt debate      that will dominate the 2012 election, thanks to the supercommittees failure to come up with a  deficit deal.
Explore the glossary-guide.
Wiki-image of U.S. currency is in the public domain.

Friday, December 09, 2011


When he led the company NEXT, Steve Jobs hired Paul Rand to create its logo. Walter Isaacson resumed some of that history in his biography, Steve Jobs. Readers of the biography have background viewers did not have of an interview Jobs gave in 1983 (at the link above). Background supplied by the biography add depth to some smiles and pauses of Mr. Jobs in the interview.
History about other logos and remarks by their creators were the subject of an essay in The Atlantic yesterday. Fascinating facts, including: fire and water do mix. Learn how and more.
Wiki-image by Joanjoc of a classic prism schema is used according to CC BY-SA 3.0 license.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Thursday word, 08 Dec 2011

Given and Received
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception (08 Dec 2011)
Gn 3. 9-15,20; Ps 98; Eph 1. 3-6,11-12; Lk 1. 26-38
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.

Creation runs through scripture from beginning to end. To use musical language, creation is a principle theme with many variations. Sunday, the Second Letter of Peter reminded us that God assures and encourages us to look forward to new heavens and a new earth.1 How we live, how we witness to our Savior testifies to that new creation. How we live shapes how we anticipate what
has been emerging in creation from the first Advent of Mary’s son, when he lived, died and rose to absolutely new life. Jesus offers us a taste of that new creation in word, sacrament and service, each given and received.
Recalling Mary’s immaculate conception previews new heavens and a new earth. Mary was conceived without sin to be a fitting vessel for the Son of God. The Mother of God was full of grace for that very reason! This dogma of ours has a practical aspect because Mary’s immaculate conception blesses us with new confidence.
Hers is new confidence because confidence evaporated early in the first creation. The first stewards of creation had the noble vocation to cultivate and care for2 their garden-home and to name every living thing.3 Both took confidence: a trust; a self-possession; and a feeling at home with oneself as well as with one’s surroundings. The enemy of our human nature, which Genesis depicted by a serpent to impart the subtle, crafty wiles abroad in creation, twisted trust into pride. God had given the first humans a single prohibition, “You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden except the tree of knowledge of good and bad. From that tree you shall not eat.”4 Pride made that tree like the others for the first human stewards. After eating it they grew afraid to meet God, who accompanied them and moved with them day by day. Humans have suffered a crisis of confidence ever since. Mistrust, loss of self-composure and not feeling at home with oneself or one’s surroundings have warped humans from our beginnings.

Yet time has always been pregnant with God’s salvation. In the fullness of time,5 that is to say, when the Lord made known [the Lord’s] salvation to Mary, she overcame her anxiety at the angelgreeting and announcement that she would be the Mother of God.
Not easy at all! Some forget, others ignore Mary was greatly troubled: the human crisis of confidence insinuated itself in her mind while she was in her own home! If that moment were to have a center, it would be the angel’s greeting, “Do not be afraid, have found favor with God.” Mary made everything—present and future—revolve around that center by taking the angel, and thus God, at God’s word: “Let it happen to me as you say.”
We might easily dismiss Mary’s compact response as the reply of a greatly troubled girl, whose married life was soon to begin. Her reply was anything but! Mary’s response was her unequivocal Yes, her confidence in God and God’s promise of salvation. She was different after it, and the world is different because of it. Our world counts on us and all who revere her to imitate Mary’s new confidence so we may transform crisis to renewed faith and be witnesses by our choices and actions of new heavens and a new earth. They continue emerging because of Mary’s son and his life, death and resurrection. Christian faith and its incarnation by action is the Lord’s salvation, given and received.
  1. Chapter 3.13. This rests between its early mention in Isaiah 65.17 and 66.22 and the Book of Revelation (22.1), which specified it with vivid imagery.
  2. Genesis 2.15.
  3. Genesis 2.19.
  4. Genesis 2. 16-17.
  5. Galatians 4.4; also see Mark 1.15.
Wiki-image by Gryffindor of interior of the National Basilica of the Immaculate Conception is used according to CC BY-SA 3.0 license. Wiki-image of Tanners Annunciation is in the public domain.