Does Muhammad Yunus have an idea that might be adapted to improve America? - Perhaps there is a need for a new kind of corporation in the United States. Such a corporation would:
1) provides basic goods or services,
2) limits its profit to no more than 2% of revenues each year,
3) be exempt from gov't regulations (except those it accepts as being logical and after negotiation with the government on the details),
4) agrees that the maximum compensation of the top managers shall not be more than 8 times the compensation of the current minimum wage, and
5) is exempt from the normal legal system and is instead its litigation is governed by a compulsory mediation system with limited possibility for punitative judgements.
The forgoing idea grows out of the work of Muhammad Yunus, an economist from Bangladesh. He has set up 16 companies that operate with low profit margins providing much needed goods and services, such as:
1) a small solar panel unit with batteries that provides small amounts of electricity for rural huts,
2) clinics around the country that provides cataract surgeries for $30 each,
3) specially treated nets that effectively repel mosquitoes and thus control malaria, etc.
Does Muhammad Yunus have an idea that might be adapted to improve America?
One might ask what low cost goods or services could be provided in America that is not already being provided, all be it, at higher prices. Think of the things that America's underclass needs to get a list of the things these companies might provide. Everything from cheaper breakfast cereal to inexpensive neighborhood heath clinics would be possible.
The implementation of this system would have some beneficial impact on other American organization that interacts with business:
First, government regulators would suddenly learn to be reasonable in their regulatory demands - if they were not the "low profit corp" could appeal the government's decision to a review board composed of the officers of other low profit corporations.
Second, the legal fraternity would find their "current clear field of fire" against corporations greatly curtailed because these "low profit corp's" would be exempt from most legal processes and procedures that really help lawyers generate fees.
Third, greedy American managers who are use to clearing millions per year in salary and bonus would find their organizations would have to mimic the "low profit corp." model or lose customers.
Four, much capital currently tied up in traditional corporations making everyday products or delivering run of the mill services could be redirected to innovative start up companies, as "low profit corp's" took over these more mundane activities.
Of course, corporations that truly had something special or innovative to offer could still earn a premium price and profit, so Apple and Google would not be affected by implementation of this idea. .................... (prepared by Hugh Murray on 07/04/2010)
Lead Us Not into Temptation - This is a line from the Our Father and is often overlooked. But it is in fact extremely important. God's desire is to have us with him in heaven. But, of course, He gave us free will so that we might freely love Him and chose to follow His guidelines for living. In other words, God has created human beings, given them free will, and wants each person to freely chose a path that leads to heaven, The barrier to this is sin; and sin, of course, results from temptation.
Thus the importance of this line from the Our Father, if God arranges the occurrences of our life such that we do not experience much temptation, it is likely we will have less sin in our life. Accordingly we will have a greater likelihood of eventual success in getting into heaven.
There are two related thoughts on this subject -
1) if we pray to be kept from temptation, we are praying that we experience less of worldly pleasure and worldly goods because these usually lead to temptation and sin. It is the unusual man who experiences a surfeit of worldly pleasures and is simultaneously able to keep his focus on God.
2) as a practical matter each person must make a personal decision to avoid those places and things that are particularly difficult, that provide particularly strong temptations to sin. The lustful man must avoid standing around swimming pools where teenage girls congregate. The woman who is inclined to shop lift must avoid stores where she knows security is lax.. The slothful person must seek working situations where other people or the situation itself dictates the tempo of daily activity, where the natural tendency to sit and waste time is difficult to indulge........................ (prepared by Hugh Murray on 7/14/2010)
Regular Allusion to Christ's Life and the Lives of the Saints is a Good Idea - In everyday life Catholics should develop the habit of alluding to incidences in the life of Christ and of the Saints to illustrate points in everyday conversation. Doing this will cause the other persons in the conversation to:
a) recall that incident from their own memory,
b) make a mental note to look up the incident so they might more fully understand the point being made, or
c) actually ask for an explanation of the incident then and there giving the opportunity to elaborate and thus educate everyone in the group about the religious or moral principle or historical incidence alluded to.
Of course, such an approach does require regular effort, by those who would pursue such an approach, to acquire knowledge through Bible reading and watching such shows as The Supersaints on EWTN.
So how might knowledge of a Saint's life help during an ordinary coffee break conversation. Here is a hypothetical example:
First person, glancing at headline, says "Look isn't it terrible that this girl was almost killed fending off a would be rapist",
Second person says "Yes its terrible, I heard on the radio driving in they think they caught the guy",
Third person says "It sure is terrible for this girl, but its also bad because it creates mistrust and fear across the whole city", and
Finally the Christian student in the group says "You know this story is very much like the story of Marie Goretti - she was stabbed by a would be rapist and before she died of her wounds she forgave her attacker - her action created widespread discussion in Italy - and her attacker was so touched by her forgiveness that he became an active Christian apologist while serving his life sentence"......................(prepared by Hugh Murray on 7/14/2010)
Kagan Lacks a Minimum Regard for America’s Families and Its Culture - Elena Kagan's true colors on social issues came out in spades during the hearings on her confirmation:
1) She is adamant on forcing open homosexuality onto American life. She flouted the Solomon Amendment, that requires schools that receive federal funds to allow Army recruiters on campus, by banning them from the Harvard Law School because of the "don't ask don't tell" policy which forces gays into the closet when they are serving in the military.
2) She wrote memos while in the Clinton White House condemning the law that outlawed partial birth abortion and succeeded in tricking the OB/GYN medical association into amending their condemnation of partial birth abortion by inserting language into their filing on the bill that says "partial birth abortion may be a necessary procedure for the health of the mother". This was done even though the OB/GYN medical professionals could not think of any instance when that might be so. This phoney language has already found its way into Federal Court decisions supporting partial birth abortion.
3) She used her position in the White House to change Federal regulations to ban over 50 different types of rifles from sale in the US even though all who looked at the applicable fire arms law said she was clearly going beyond the scope of Congressional intent. Further in regulating rifles she wanted to set up different standards for those who use rifles for hunting and those who use them for target shooting.
4) As Solicitor General she argued for extreme civil rights preferences in school admissions in the face of evidence that such preferences only lead to subsequent failure by the preferred minority when they either fail to graduate or fail to pass the qualifying exam (e.g. bar exam) that is necessary to function in their chosen field.
With such extreme pre-existing ideas, she is obviously unqualified to serve on the Supreme Court. If America is to have an unqualified person on the court, it would be better that they be unqualified for lack of intellectual ability. An intellectually limited person is likely to do less damage as the others work around and compensate for their inability. A intelligent, smiling, glad-hander possed of un-American value system is likely to be quite dangerous to the long term health of this polity. .........................(prepared by Hugh Murray on 7/14/2010)
"Cafeteria Plan” Catholics Undermine the Church's Cohesion and its Message to the World - This essay should begin by setting forth a working definition of the term “cafeteria plan catholic". Such a Catholic is one who knowingly or unknowingly holds beliefs and/or engages in practices which are contrary to accepted Church teaching, which gives scandal to other Catholics, and which are sinful.
The definition needs a little elaboration particularly with regard to the terms "knowingly or unknowingly" and "accepted Church teaching".
+ Because many Catholics, certainly a significant majority, have little or know idea of what the Church teaches on many important matters of Faith and Morals, it is not surprising that there are huge numbers of Catholics essentially going their own way, doing what they want, and believing what they want. These unwitting dissenters are augmented by a second more significant but less numerous group of Catholics that give knowing, vocal support for various positions that are in opposition to Church teaching.
+ Because there is active obfuscation from this latter activist group about what is and what is not "accepted Church teaching" there is wide spread confusion among the less informed about Catholic teaching and where the line between acceptable and unacceptable discussion lies.
So what are some of the examples of Church teachings regarding Faith and Morals that are given "short shrift" by these many Catholics. The list is long, so this essay will have to focus on just a few examples:
First, the belief in the real presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharistic is at a low ebb particularly among Catholic below the age of 50. This group experienced original formation in the particularly turbulent times of the 70's and 80's . This group is not in open rebellion against this belief so much as they simply don't understand it. The meaning of sacrifice in the Old Testament sense, combined with the meaning of the Last Supper, and finally the ultimate gift of Christ's death on the cross, all must be integrated with a sense of human sinfulness and the need for forgiveness to understand the Mass. The average person without help will never grasp how all this is tied together in the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
Second, the Church's teaching against the use of birth control pills has placed the Church in opposition to modern man's desire to gain maximum control over his life. Rather than explain the Church's teachings, many dissenters have spread the false ideas that it is the couples' underlying intention in using these chemicals that determines right or wrong. If the couple is simply spacing children, the pill is "ok"; if they are rejecting children completely, then the pill is not "ok". These dissenters many of whom are priests have led an immense number of people into sin.
Third, there are a group of Catholics that want to see women ordained to the priesthood. These people are small in number, but very vocal and active. They have in fact been able to organize events where renegade retired bishops have actually tried to ordain women. These are really just publicity stunts designed to undercut the Church's leadership and make the Church appear to be out of touch.
These three examples were selected to illustrate different problems:
(1) non-belief in the real presence is a "cafeteria" practice that is mostly a problem of poor formation of youngsters in the age 6 to 16 period and can be blamed on lazy parish educators who don't feel the details of the Faith are very important,
(2) the widespread use of artificial contraception has developed from two forces working in conjunction. While the average Catholic simply desires to control his life, there are certain very knowledgeable, very unorthodox Catholics who are anxious to force a change in Church teaching; this combination has created a unity of purpose that has proven particularly hard to counter.
(3) the ordination of women is a "cafeteria plan" practice done almost exclusively by knowledgeable dissenters who want to push the Church to places it will never go; or, in the alternative, hold the Church's leaders up to ridicule in this modern "politically correct" world.
It is easy to see how the Church suffers because of these "cafeteria plan" Catholics............(prepared by Hugh Murray on 7/25/2010)
Don Blankenship Clings to Truth as Others Dissemble - In the third week of July 2010, the Nat'l Press Club had Don Blankenship, the CEO of Massey Energy, as their luncheon speaker. They were evidently anxious to have a guest that they might carve up over some recent disaster and/or regulatory infraction. Although the title of the speech was nominally "The Future of Surface Coal Mining", the 29 miners who had died at a Massey facility a few months earlier were the news event that induced the Blankenship invite. This was attested to by the fact that the overwhelming number of questions from the reporters dealt not with surface mining but with the mine disaster.
However, before the questions came, the Press Club go a very thoughtful speech about the state of the American economy with glimpses at the green movement, the trade balances, the struggle of labor to rise despite the greed of capitalists, etc.
Here are few of the truths that Blankenship put forward (and which generated little interest from the nation's most highly regarded news people).
In the historic observations department:
1) capitalists have used slaves, immigrants, off shoring of work, and political contributions to gain preferences and access to the least costly labor for their businesses.
2) coal moved America into the industrial revolution during the 1900's and is now moving places like China into the industrial revolution as well.
3) Southern West Virginia's coal producing region had a 26% unemployment rate in the early 1980 when nearly every worker was unionized and now has an unemployment rate in the single digits. This transition from mostly unionized to mostly non-union was marked by heavy strife with several people suffering violent deaths in the process.
4) Coal has been responsible for providing low cost, plentiful electricity which in turn has allowed people to fight off the heat and the cold and develop products that has allowed people to live longer lives.
Regarding foreign trade the follow points were made:
1) America's trade deficit is $1 billion per day which translates into the loss of 2000 jobs per day; all totaled America has lost 7.3 million jobs because these chronic trade deficits.
2) American emissions of CO2 has actually declined in the last few years because American manufacturing has been steadily moving offshore. This movement of manufacturing jobs offshore has been so profound that America has actually complied with Kyoto protocols without passing any law or taking any other gov't action.
Regarding the state of life in the third world:
1) Every 3.6 seconds someone dies from starvation,
2) 40 % of the people of the world lack basic sanitation and therefore suffer from chronic disease.
3) 1.5 million per year die from "in home" air pollution caused by burning animal manure to cook food.
4) 100% of CO2 increases world wide has come from outside the US (actually US production of CO2 has declined as pointed out earlier).
5) in China coal production has allowed 400 million to move out of grinding poverty and coal promises to move a billion more people out as well.
6) 80% of the world's families are trying to live on less than $10 per day.
7) Africa generates 18% of the world's annual increase in airborne mercury while Asia generates 51% of this increase. (the US is generating 1% of this increase) .
Regarding America’s financial situation:
1) Today America has 13 trillion of debt not including state and local debt .
2) 1.5 trillion of debt is being added every year.
3) The stock market does not move with the American economy because much of Wall Street's money is invested off shore.
4) Coal fired electrical generation gives the typical household a monthly bill of about $80 whereas wind generated power yields a typical monthly bill of about $400. The $400 is reduced by government subsidies to renewable producers so the actual bills are smaller, but of course tax bills have to be higher to pay for the subsidies. Most American families are not in a position to pay either higher electric bills or higher taxes.
These facts should have generated many questions from the press but the day of Mr. Blankenship's speech was not the day to explore such things - the questions focused on the death of the 29 miners and the environmental damage done by surface mining which Massey also employees.
The speaker responded explaining that the laws of geology and physics dictate a lot of what has to happen. He said the Massey standard recommended 120,000 cu feet per min. of moving fresh air where underground mining is underway; because the US government requires the moving fresh air be treated as it exits the mine, Massey was only running 57000 cu ft at the time of the blast which was still 27000 above the gov't min. requirement. More diluting fresh air might or might not have frustrated the explosion.
Regarding surface mining the speaker remarked that Massey agreed with the early rules that required landscaping of old surface mining sites after the coal was removed, but today the rules are beyond the ability of the company to comply. For instance, now the water running off the site has to be purified to such a high quality that it is far cleaner than the water in the stream it is discharged into.
.............(prepared by Hugh Murrasy on 07/26/2010)
American Muslims Speak on Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Speech - Anthropologist Akbar Ahmed has written a book, entitled Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam. He recently visited Politics and Prose book store in the District of Columbia to promote his work. The author gave a very balanced presentation about his exploration into the various Muslim communities around America. The author is truly an intelligent academic with more than a small dose of sincere Sufi humility in his presentation.
Akbar Ahmed goes careful through the many communities that comprise the 7 million Americans who embrace Islam. Most blacks who came in slave ships were Muslims but over the generations they lost knowledge of their faith and took up Christianity. Much later other blacks adopted Islam and created the black Muslim faith. Of course, other large groups of Muslims came as immigrants from such places as Iran, Palestine, Egypt, and Bosnia.
Akbar Ahmed left the impression that American Muslims are strong supporters of America and strongly embrace the religious freedom provisions of the US Constitution. At one point he said the only quarrel Muslims have with America’s freedoms are the attacks that are regularly directed against the prophet Mohammad and certain practices of Islam which are set forth in the Koran and therefore for Muslims are the direct teaching of God.. He pointed out that blacks and Jews would never tolerate the kinds of criticism that is regularly directed against Islam.
These comments need to be parsed and analyzed with great care:
1) it is true that blacks and Jews are basically off limits when it come to serious criticism. The blacks get a pass because of past slavery and segregation; the Jews because of the holocaust. But the Catholic Church which in America is bigger than the Muslims, Jews, and blacks combined is subjected to a steady flow of vitriol: why don't Catholics employ open homosexuals in their schools? why don't Catholics ordain women? why don't Catholics dump every bishop that ever reassigned an abusing priest? why won't Catholics give communion to anyone that wants communion? why? why? why? So if Akbar Ahmed thinks Islam has difficulty with the American press and freedom of speech tell him to call any Catholic bishop for an adjusted perspective.
2) Religious freedom in America grows out of the Treaty of Westphalia which ended decades of religious bloodshed in Europe. Under the settlement each king can declare that his territory was affiliated with a certain religion, but individuals everywhere got the right to pick their own religion. So Catholics living in the Lutheran areas of Germany could remain Catholic and practice their faith. There are a couple correlative truths that grow out of this settlement. Because of social needs (such as interfaith marriages, individual conscience, etc.) all people were allowed to change their religious affiliation. This reality runs counter to an important Islamic principle which says "once a Muslim, always a Muslim, no conversion allowed". If Akbar Ahmed is to be taken seriously he has to deal with this problem.
3) Parental control of teens is also an issue. In America, because of public education and the “melting pot” theory, the parents are expected to begin Americanizing their children and to have their children interacting with the outside society by late childhood (e.g. public schools, scouting, the little league, etc) . With females particularly, this can run strongly counter to mainline Islamic society which wants their maturing females to dress very modestly, become more home focused, stop all social contact with non-related males, etc. Is all of Islam prepared let their females engage with modernity or are they going to continue to advocate corporal punishments if a woman departs from the Islamic “norm”?.
The ability of Islam to change is severely constrained by the fact that the Koran is the direct word of God, which is not subject to re-interpreted by any earthly authority. The Judeo-Christian bible is the inspired work of God. Therefore, it is not always to be understood as literal truth, in some places it is interrupted as allegory. This allows room for authoritative interpretation. Fortunately for Christianity there is a thoughtful, well informed group who has for 2000 years been issuing informed thoughtful interpretations from central Italy to help the entire Christian world stay relevant to both the unchanging demands of God and the constantly changing circumstances of daily life. It is surprising how closely most self identified Christian groups have adhered to this guidance.
If Islam is to adapt smoothly to Western Europe and North America, it must develop a unified, authoritative leadership that can issue interpretations of the Koran as needed so Muslims can live peacefully and productively in a constantly changing Western Culture. This is not to say the religion must always accept everything that becomes popular, but it must accept that some of it adherents may be attracted to western popular culture and want to leave Islam to pursue modern ways. The yet to emerge, unified Islamic authority must have enough authority to reign in Islamic fathers and uncles who might object to the departure of these young adults, particularly the young women................ (prepared by Hugh Murray on 8/22/2010)
After the 2009 Market Crash Retail Brokerage Must Shrink -
When the Dow Index fell from 14000 to 6500 in just a few months many retail stock investors realized that the stock market was too volatile for them. They began to go toward bonds, cash, and a few alternative long term investments.
All this happened at the same time that several brokerage firms got into financial trouble and faced bankruptcy. The match was, in a sense, perfect. Brokers were going to be taken out of the system as their firms went broke just a millions of retail investors were pulling in their horns, doing far fewer trades. Fewer trades and fewer broker, just what the economist ordered for new equilibrium in the supply and demand equation for retail brokerage services.
Unfortunately it wasn't to be. Hank Paulson and friends decided the big brokerages that were essentially bankrupt were to "big to fail"; these firms like Merrill, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, Wachovia, etc. had to be saved. A series of mergers and TRAP bailouts were arranged so these large retail brokerage operations could survive. The only one allowed to fail was Lehman Bros.
However, the retail clients continued to hold back on their brokerage trading. So the reduction had to come from the "non TRAP protected" part of the brokerage industry, otherwise known as the small broker-dealer community. In the last 18 months from Jan '09 to July '10 about 600 small broker dealers, out of a universe of about 4500, have ceased to exist. These firms were not responsible for the problems. They did not create CDO's and CDS's, but they are suffering the down sizing that must necessarily occur following such a financial crisis.
An economist named Joseph Schumpeter is famous for his idea as of "creative destruction". Under his idea the capitalist system uses the economic cycles to destroy the poorly managed, less efficient and less creative firms and thus create elbow room for the more efficient and more creative firms to grow and provide better and cheaper services. During these crisis firms that have operated efficiently and controlled their risks find themselves able to spread their wings and fill the gaps left as the profligate firms go out of business because they took on excessive risk, or allowed their costs to get to high, or pushed their prices too high, or simply got greedy an engaged in fraud.
Another phenomenon has occurred during recent years, FINRA has been stepping up their regulatory activity. More rules are being issued and these rules are being more aggressively enforced during the periodic exams of the firms. The exam cycles were stretched out from 18 months to 4 years. With more rules being issued, with fewer exams, and with more aggressive enforcement policies, the firms which could not afford dedicated compliance staff found themselves in violation of various rules mostly of questionable usefulness. The rules violations use to be handled with Letters of Caution that required the firms to adjust their procedures going forward. Now the end of an exam is often accompanied by disciplinary notices, called Wells Notices, that lead to demands for cash settlements (fines) or a threat of a hearing in Washington DC that would require retaining a lawyer to represent the firm. FINRA creates a "heads you lose, tails we win situation" for rules violations where no client has been injured (or even complained) but are simply violations of FINRA records keeping requirements. Of course, this approach to enforcement has helped to push many small broker-dealers out of business.
FINRA recently held an election of its Board of Governors. Three of these seats were reserved for representatives of small firms. The FINRA management had hand picked three candidates for these spots. Needless to say several very experienced owners of small broker-dealers challenged these hand picked candidates. The three challengers were overwhelming elected. Obviously three board members on a board of over twenty members means nothing is going to change at FINRA, but at least a message was sent.
Additionally at the time of this board election, there were several ballot measures asking FINRA to disclose past and future financial dealings (such as the salaries of FINRA officers, the size and use of the pool of money created by the many fines levied on member firms, etc.) These ballot measures overwhelmingly passed, but the FINRA Board has indicated, that since they were only advisory recommendations, the Board is going to ignore all these ballot measures.
..............(prepared by Hugh Murray on 9/7/2010)
On Sacrifice and Particularly The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass (This essay will cover quite a bit of ground. Starting with pre-historic man, moving through ancient Jewish culture, then to the 2000 year history of the Mass as a sacrifice perfected, to the practice of offering up personal self-denials as well personal psychic or physical pain, to the failure of pastors and priests to educate their flocks about the role of sacrifice throughout human history, etc..)
MAN’S INNER NEED TO SACRIFICE
Since the beginning of man's time on earth, humans have looked around, noted order and beauty, and decided there is a master creator of all they surveyed. Man has always sought ways to align himself with this all powerful being. Additionally, man has noted within himself a sense of the good and bad; he has noticed within himself urges to do good on some days and urges to do bad on others. So man has been seeking ways to get in touch with his creator from the beginning; seeking ways to express thanks, to adore, to petition, and to express sorrow for having done bad things. Man has found that the offering of prized things by a priest using an altar, special words, traditional robes, and ancient gestures, has caused a special bond to develop between the divine and himself. Some times people have separated the deity into multiples. The "sun god", the "rain god", and so on. Sometimes people have gone far off the track acting on their evil urges and sacrificing members of their community to their "gods",
GOD REVEALS HIS DESIRES REGARDING SACRIFICE
Fortunately the one, true God selected a small group, called the Jews, through whom He decided to communicate about Himself, about how He wanted to be honored, about how He wanted people to behave toward each other, etc. This revelation continued for over two thousand years and is recorded in what is known as the Old Testament.
There is a lot of wisdom in this document, but among the most important is instruction on how to honor and worship God. It turns out God wants to be honored by sacrifice - the offering up of the best that is available from the herds and crops. Priests, from the tribe of Levy, were designated to make these offerings. And once offered, priests and believers were sometimes instructed to consume the remains of the sacrifice.
Of course, sacrifice is not the whole of the Old Testament. There is much about the source of these feeling of good and evil. This was found in the Adam and Eve narrative but also in the David and Bathsheba story and in the account of Cain and Abel. There are steady references to a Messiah to come who will lift oppression from the Jewish people.
JESUS CHRIST, THE MESSIAH, ENTERS HUMAN HISTORY
The Jews were confused when the Messiah finally came because the Messiah did not lift the Roman oppression of the day but rather gave the Jews, and everyone else a gift to help resist evil urges and, a way to deal with the terrible consequences of evil, that all mankind is inclined toward because of the original sin of Adam and Eve.
This Messiah, known to history as Jesus of Nazareth, came to Israel and taught a new law of love for God and other people to replace the many detail laws that were set down in Old Testament times. This teaching challenged the status quo and eventually led to total estrangement between Jesus and the Sanhedrin, the leaders of the Jewish priesthood and religious judiciary governing the Jews.
During his time on earth Jesus mentioned to his followers that they would have to eat his flesh and drink his blood if they were eventually join him in heaven. This they could not understand, and, he lost followers because of this comment. However, those that stayed with Jesus developed a greater faith in Him, even though they didn't understand.
Eventually this all came to a head during a Passover in Jerusalem during the reign of the Roman Emperor Tiberius. Two major things happened that need to be fully understood
First, on the Thursday night before the Saturday Passover, Jesus met with his close followers and had a meal, at that meal he explained and showed what he had meant by the "eat my flesh and drink my blood" comments. At that meal he took bread and wine and blessed them and pronounced that they were now his body and blood. Jesus further said that they should eat these items. Additionally He told them to do this in the future in commemoration of Him.
Second, early the next day the Sanhedrin judged and condemned Jesus to death but could not kill him because Rome controlled Judea and retained sole discretion over capital punishment. So the Jewish authorities organized a phony demonstration to get the Romans to actually detain, torture and ultimately kill Jesus.. At about 3 PM on the Friday before Passover Jesus died nailed to a cross outside of Jerusalem. The bottom line is that Jesus of Nazareth a perfect, innocent man was sacrificed.
Third, on the Sunday following Passover this same Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead thus certifying that He was the master of death, was the Messiah and was, as He had said many times, the Son of God.
THE HOLY SACRIFICE OF THE MASS
Following Christ's death and resurrection, His apostles began following His injunction to bless bread and wine thus creating the body and blood of Christ himself. They also consummed the consecrated species as instructed. But additionally, the connection between the the supper and the next day's crucifixtion was not lost on the apostles. After all Christ had actually said at the Thurday night supper that both His body and blood would be given up for mankind. They quickly realized that in the midst of this ceremony there was present the most perfect gift man has ever had available to be offered to God the Father. So the early Church added words to the Mass making it a formal sacrificial offering of the living Christ to His Father in heaven, a bloodless re-enactment of the bloody sacrifice of Christ on Calvary.
This part of the Mass is not very prominent. There are no bells, or raised voices, or special priestly gestures. In the Mass the actual offering comes after the Doxology when the faithful says "dying you destroyed our death, rising you restored our life, Lord Jesus come in Glory". The sacrifice in each Eucharistic prayer is slightly different but the gist of each is wording to the effect that "God is the greatest being, we are dependent on him, here the faithful says through the priest God the Father we now offer you the most perfect offering we can possibly obtain. We ask you to accept our offering; we ask you not to notice our sins. But rather please focus on the perfect character of our offering. We ask God to admit us to his heavenly realm despite our failings." This little part of the Mass has the faithful speaking to God the Father, through the priest, all four fundamental forms of prayer: adoration, thanksgiving, petition, and contrition.
After this offering of the living Christ to his Father the Mass moves toward communion. There is the recitation of the Our Father followed by the offering of peace between and among the faithful there present, then the priest takes his communion and finally there is the communion of the faithful. The perfect gift which has just been offered to God the Father is consumed by the faithful present at the Mass.
PERSONAL SACRIFICE - ASCETICISM and INDIVIDUAL SUFFERING
There is a related but less important type of sacrifice that grows out of the Book of Job. Here a god fearing, god loving man named Job experiences a severe series of set backs - his cattle die, his children die, he gets painful disease, etc. But through it all he loves God.
From this believers learn that God's will is not always the same as our will and the physical, economic, or psychic pain caused by this disconnect creates an opportunity for man to "offer it up". This term is instructive because it gives people a way to join their suffering to Christ's suffering. So as Christ offered himself up to his Father in expiation for man's sin, each person can offer up his small suffering for the alleviation of the suffering of the souls in purgatory.
The idea of suffering inflicted from situations or factors outside of oneself has been augmented by the idea of self inflicted suffering to create the opportunity to offer something up with Christ to help alleviate the pain associated with human sin. This self inflicted suffering, also called asceticism, grows out of Old Testament prophets’ self depriving behavior designed to call peoples’ attention to their message. Christ, the savior of the human race, was also the greatest prophet. He, on several occasions, set the example for us by imposing on himself great deprivations - he fasted for 40 days and nights, he wept in the Garden before his arrest, etc. The early church fathers sanctioned many forms of asceticism - living in hermitages, living on the top of poles, wearing an animal skin shirt with its hair rubbing against the skin, depriving oneself of desirable foods or drinks, etc. People also suffered death by refusing to deny their faith when the Roman persecutions were underway. These were groups formed that practiced asceticism in group settings. The most famous of these where the Benedictines and their offshoots the Trappist, the Cartesians, and Cistercians. Many of those who practiced ascetic practices were declared saints not for their sacrificial acts alone but because they practiced great acts of love toward their fellow man and showed great piety in their love of God.
PEOPLE NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SACRIFICE
From the forgoing it is obvious that man has always felt a need to make offerings to the being that created this world and its inhabitants. This need is within man, God put it there, and God has indicated, through his revelations, that he wants people to offer sacrifice to Him.
Why then are modern religious leaders so silent on this important aspect of man's relationship with God. It is true the Catholic Church requires that a Crucifix be prominently displayed in their Churches. However, it is a rare sermon that explores the full meaning of Christ's death including the fact that his death was a propitiatory sacrificial offering to the Father because of man's sins. Further sermons need to point out the connection between that sacrifice by Christ 2000 years ago and the sacrifice that is occurring in the Mass being celebrated.
A thoughtful priest might ask people to turn the palms of their hands to heaven during that part of the Eucharist prayer following the consecration when the living Christ in the form of bread and wine is offered to God the Father. When saying the Eucharistic Prayer the priest might pause for 15 sec to give everyone a heads up that the actual offering of Christ to the Father is about to begin.
A FINAL THOUGHT
Imagine in the year 3001 a group of men assembled before an altar in front of a picture window. Through the window one sees the rocky surface of the moon and above the horizon one sees a small blue green earth and beyond the milky way. A priest enters dressed in alb, cincture, and chasuble. He approaches the alter already set up with a Crucifix, candles, bread and wine He then celebrates the Holy Sacrifice of Mass just as it has been celebrated for 3000 years. The body and blood of the God - Man, Jesus Christ, is again brought to the altar through the words of consecration and is again offered to God the Father. Those present are humbled by the great miracle but also by their crystal clear visual view of the universe that God has created. Here a priest is once again offering the most precious thing available to man to his creator.
..................(prepared by Hugh Murray on 9/15/2010)
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