Inordinate or Excessive Attachments to Any Worldly Thing Should be Avoided - This life is a transitory thing. It is filled with periods of joy, and periods of grief. Additionally, to be perfectly honest, there are stale, boring and unremarkable periods as well.
Life is a transition to the next life. A transition to a permanent existence where, depending on your religious belief, there could be great joy, ecstasy, fulliment, or in the alternative great pain sorrow and sadness - depending on the behavior one's religion encourages or discourages.
So, in this life, the important thing is to focus on permanent things above the temporary things of this life. Of course, it is impossible to become completely oblivious to the concerns of today, but the important thing is to avoid becoming so engrossed in anything to do with this transitory life that it interferes with thinking about the permanent things of the next life.
So what of examples of activities that distract people from permanent things. Most people would immediately think of the "bad" activities - excessive drinking, using pornography, perhaps smoking, etc. But other activities can count as well. There are mothers that focus excessively of getting everything perfect for their kids, or businessmen who work 14 hours a day building their business, or retirees that plays golf every clear day regardless of temperature, etc. None of these latter activities is bad in themselves; in fact, they are, in normal circumstances, very laudatory. Taking care of kids is good, tending to a business is good, getting needed recreation is good; however, these things done to extremes can place one's focus to intently in the here and now.
An excessive focus on some particular aspect of this life leaves little room for consideration of one's life to come, there is little time to examine one's conscience, to take stock, to plan a proper path to the life to come. ............ (prepared by Hugh Murray on Aug 15, 2011)
Will the Catholic Church Again Serve as a Bridge Over Darkness? - As the western Roman Empire began to unravel in the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries. The uncivilized tribes from the far north began invading the western provinces. The only organized authority to meet them was the Catholic Church. When Attila the Hun approached the city of Rome in 452, the authority figure that met him was Pope Leo I.
As Roman technology and civic organization broke down, the cities ceased to function and people were forced to live in the country. The Catholic Church was with them through it all. Catholic monasteries sprang up where knowledge might be preserved and young men might be trained in the Bible, Church Doctrine, and the liberal arts. During this period the Church was instrumental in replacing Roman slavery with a system of serfdom. Serfs where indentured servants with recognized attachments to their place, a right to their own garden and some livestock, and most important the right to marry and raise their own children.
This dark period came to an end when in 800 AD on Christmas Day Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne the first emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Charlemagne for his part, started a process of educational reform which led to the establishment of dozens of cathedral schools where the knowledge that had been preserved in the monasteries could now be spread to a wider group of people. These cathedral schools became the precursors of the great university system, that the western world is so proud of today.
Now, darkness is again settling over the western world and the Catholic Church seems again to be the only institution available to authoritatively and knowledgeably met the harbingers of doom.
About the darkness, people are ignoring obvious truths: homosexuality is not natural but polite society embraces it as though it is , mothers killing their unborn babies is fundamentally wrong, (a mother doesn't have an obligation to raise her baby, but she has an obligation to allow her child to live as an adopted child) , it is immoral to run an economy which takes factories that employee average people and send them to China in such amounts that Wall Street makes billions of dollars while millions of average people are put on "bread lines".
Debt, both personal and governmental, is overwhelming society. The habit of accumulating debt with a "devil may care abandon" while leaving the tab for others to pay has placed a burden on the next generation that is mind numbing. This debt transfer problem is made more difficult for the next generation because their numbers have been reduced by one third through legalized abortion.
Of course, it is also important to look at the goods and services acquired with the debt. America as a country has been borrowing money to do nation building in the Middle East, to over stimulate the housing market by giving people, with no ability to pay their mortgage and no ability to care for their home, access to home ownership, etc.
Americans as a people spent money on excessively large homes on excessively large lots located in places at excessively great distance from workplaces. They spent money on Lexus SUVs rather than Ford cars. They spent money on semi annual vacations, second homes, time shares, etc.
America has been responding to these moral and financial problem by changing the rules of society and increasing the regulation of society. The mix of changes is truly bazaar. Legalize gay marriage, penalizing religious employers who object to employing openly gay people, forcing abortion benefits into health insurance contracts, and escalating the regulation of business in order to curb the excesses of certain large players, like Goldman Saks, Citicorp, and BP, without realizing that small players in these industries are being forced to close up in as they face all the new regulations. The unintended consequence of this attempt to rein in the large, “to big to fail” firms is the destruction of hundreds of small competitors. America has turned to regulation, laws, and lawyers to shore up a crumbling system .
Roman emperors also realized, in the third and fourth centuries, that Rome was losing its ability to cope. They moved their capital to the more easily defended Eastern city of Constantinople, they increased the number and intrusiveness of laws and lawyers, and they accepted perversions that had formerly been punished, they increased their “give a ways” to the populace to keep peace, etc. To his credit, the Empire Constantine in 315 recognized Christianity as a valid religion for Romans to embrace.
So America is bankrupt morally and financially, just as Rome was bankrupt in 452, the fall is certain, the timing is in doubt. Now for the second question.
When the fall comes, will the Roman Catholic Church be able, once again, to bring sanity out of an evolving chaos?
There are several factors that need to be addressed here:
First, the Church itself is changing trying to make itself more acceptable to modern man. So far, proclaimed truths have not been jettisoned, but they are being downplayed. Man has a flawed nature, it is profoundly evident today. He needs confession and forgiveness before he goes to communion. The Church, in its rush to accommodate modern man, has broken this natural sequence of things. This in turn has diminished the importance of the reception of Holy Communion. This diminishment has been accentuated by the method of reception in the hand rather than kneeling and on the tongue. In the midst of the coming chaos, additional change will come. The question is simple, will the change be in the right direction?
Second, the Church in the dark ages was able to operate without excessive interference from any civil authority. Today, civil authority is firmly in control of nearly everything including the Church. As the chaos intensifies the civil authority can be expected to become more active. Institutions that stand in the way of the politically correct "answers" will be attacked. What sorts of things might be proposed by civil authority to :”save society”: death panels to save medicare, compulsory abortions for poor woman to save medicaid, requirements that priests divulge the secrets of the confessional to improve crime control, widespread deportations of illegal to preserve America jobs, punitive laws against corporate and religious leaders who had subordinates who committed felonies to divert attention from governmental failures, etc. The Church can expect to be a particular target of new governmental restrictions because it represents a power beyond the reach of civil authority.. How will the Church respond to these challenges?
Third, the Church today has a high degree of internal disarray. As Professor Phillip Cary has said the most important thing for Christianity is to teach the full, precise truth of Christ always and everywhere. The reason for this is the centrality of this person, Jesus, to the Christian faith. Out of this truth comes an understanding of the Church's long history of carefully defining issues involving faith and morals (e.g. definition of the Trinity, definition of the role of Mary, the two natures of Jesus Christ , setting forth which writings should be included in the Bible, the indissolubility of marriage, the importance of allowing God to participant during sexual intercourse, etc.). Of course, the equally important element is its strong reaction to those who taught differently than this defined canon.
Lately the Catholic Church has become lax on both fronts: the precise teaching of the truth is not upheld and the forceful expulsion of those who dissent is rare. The Church, in the coming difficult times, will need to have a clear voice and a strong spine. The Church has, for its 2000 years history, been saying to its members "speak the full, precise truth as defined by the Church or leave the Church". Today the Church is not speaking clearly to its members, and by extension the Church is not sending a clear message to the wider world. In the coming difficult times, people will need hard truths to cling to, particularly hard truths that explain ultimate things and reinforce the Virtue of Hope. The Church can be in the business of expounding or explaining these hard truths or it can continue to cloud over these truths in hopes that people of varying beliefs can feel “accepted” as members of the Church. So what are some of these "clouded over" hard truths.
1) Not everyone will be saved, sin is a reality in everyone's life. Sin needs to be handled in the Confessional.
2) If you don't believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, don't go to Communion.
3) Ultimately your life, your family, and your property were given to you by God so their use has to comport with God's plan for man. Any deviations should not be undertaken without checking with your confessor - so Catholics have a proper way of determining what kind of birth control should be used, what reasons allow a person to skip Sunday Mass, should money be used on vacations and a Lexas SUV or on tuition to send a daughter to Catholic school, etc.
The new pagan conquers are coming, not from the far north but from the far east. They will need to be met by leaders who can both love them and also understand their inhuman Godless ideology. In the short term, these western leaders will have to convince these shallow but powerful orientals why they must move slowly and exercise forbearance. Additionally, they must, over the longer term, induce these orientals to accept a holistic, liberal view that subordinates science and industry to the service of God and His ends. Both are huge tasks. Benedict has the intellectual ability and vision to do this, but only God can assure his successors will. ....... (prepared by Hugh Murray on 9/9/2011)
Why is the TSA Fixated on Airliners? - The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) keeps spending money on increased security for airliners and airports.
It is true the 9/11 terrorists chose airliners to deliver their death blows. However, after these several years, all cockpit doors have been hardened and the likelihood of terrorists actually gaining control of a cockpit and using an airliner as a missile of death, directed toward people on the ground, is now greatly reduced.
But other places where large numbers of people gather are left essentially unprotected: movie theaters, shopping malls, Amtrak trains, public buses, sporting events, etc are essential unprotected. Of course, terrorists have not shown much interest in these venues.
There are two possibilities here:
1) the whole terrorist thing is no longer the threat it use to be and America needs to significantly “stand down”, keeping its vigilance - yes, but depending on alert citizens and regular policemen to catch potential terrorists. Perhaps the foreign listening program of the NSA needs to be retained to see if alarming bursts of communication occur. Perhaps the CIA needs to continue to attempt penetrations of terrorists cells. But heavy handed invasions of privacy at America’s airports is no longer needed.
2) the terrorist threat remains undiminished. America needs to be on high alert. This option would logically require that:
... a) all buildings where large numbers congregate and .
... b) all vehicles that transport the public , (trains, buses, airliners, etc)., and .
... c) all bridges and viaducts that carry heavy traffic at any time be given the same treatment that TSA is currently visiting on airline travelers.
Obviously, the second option above would bankrupt the nation so option number one is the sensible choice
The illogical choice is to give high security attention to only one of many terrorist options while essentially ignoring all the others.
Paragraph 2476 in the New Catholic Catechism Focuses on False Witness and Perjury.-
The paragraph addresses specifically sins against truth that take place before a public audience, or in courts.
Such misstatements of the truth are particularly damaging, because large numbers of people can be mislead, or in court it can contribute to a false result - the guilty going free, the innocent being incarcerated.
With modern media, television and radio, the number of people who can be mislead quickly by false statements is huge. So this problem has become exponentially larger in the last 100 years.
America's adversary legal system is problematic because it is built around the expectation that two lawyers will dissemble against each other, urging different results. Additionally, it anticipates that these lawyers will prepare their witnesses to testify truthfully, but in such a way so as to shape the hearer's perception to favor the witness' version of things. (By the way, in Germany a lawyer goes to jail if he prepares a witness to testify. Additionally, dissembling is a violation of the eighth commandment as is outright lying.)
Lately newsworthy adversary proceedings are being aired unedited, real time via TV and radio, the public is more exposed to exhibitions of the very skilful spinning of facts by lawyers during questioning at trials. The public is also exposed to lawyer orchestrated testimony by witnesses at trial - again designed to convey a "well shaped but truncated" impression of the truth.
Writers of movie scripts and books have picked up on the intricate lattice work of quasi-false hoods laced with spin and partial truths that is America's trial court system. These writers have exploited these flaws in the court system to build exciting plots with endless twists that hold people's interest.
Of course, there is also the talk show pundit class that borrow the tricks perfected by lawyers to shape the issue under discussion on air so as to get a "seeming win" over their opponent without even allowing all the relevant facts to be fully aired, or perhaps even presented. The person with the quickest tongue usually "wins" regardless of merit. This pundit class tosses round a mixture of "half truths with skewed opinions" so skillfully the public is left half informed.
The time has come for reformation of all these venues where spinning, skipping over difficult truths, offering opinion clothed as facts, etc. are everyday fare. A new court systems will be needed such as the one used in France or Germany. New talk show formats will be needed where discussions are longer, more civilized, and perhaps with "fact experts" to hold the pundits accountable when they present opinion as fact. The excitement level will go down, but the quality of the results in both TV studios and courthouses, will go up.
Mystery writers, for both movies and books, will have to return the plain vanilla "who done it" format and forget all this courtroom trickery stuff that adds excitement.
In closing, all the peoples of the world, and particularly all Americans, should be thankful that the Catholic Church in few short sentences tells it like it "should be" when it comes to telling the truth in these important venues. ..................................(prepared by Hugh Murray on Aug 17, 2011)
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