Monday, April 30, 2007

Theology of the Body & my little sister

A little sister is always a little sister, although my 'little' sister turns 21 this year.. When she was studying here in Singapore, we spent many hours discussing many things under the sun, philosophy being a perennial favorite. Last night over skype conversation about work and how much it occupies our time, our conversation strayed, or rather, guided, towards Theology of the Body.

(The style here is somewhat like a chat transcript... it is! Some parts were written in Bahasa Indonesia, I'll translate whenever necessary).

In which she asked why God endures human
LittleSister says: a week ago i asked myself why god endures human
Antonia says: i have a theory :) what's yours?
LittleSister says: if i were him....udah lau cau aku ancurin dunia ini.... (Ed. I'd just destroy this world) create new world filled with golden retrievers and faithful creatures with no free will
Antonia says: go on...
LittleSister says: every creation is subject to my sin required
LittleSister says: then the answer just came....
LittleSister says: abraham asked god if he would spare sodom and gomorrah if abraham could find 5 faithful people in the town
LittleSister says: but he couldn't of course
LittleSister says: the extent of his mercy.....that's just something my all-too-human mind cannot comprehend

In which I brought up Theology of the Body to provide answer to the dilemma above
Antonia says: i was studying "theology of the body" for some talks
Antonia says: have you heard of it, ToB?
LittleSister says: yeah......sulit dipercaya (Ed. hard to believe) .....ada (Ed. there exists) someone who can love a creature as treacherous as human
LittleSister says: read abt it in the book "faith explained"

Antonia says: :) what did you learn from ToB?
Antonia says: i mean, what does it mean to you?
LittleSister says: it means god exists!
Antonia says: :) Antonia says: well, ok, so here's sharing my short theory
Antonia says: remember how adam was given a "helper" "fit" for him...
LittleSister says: ehmmm..... so?
Antonia says: (ToB always meditates back to the genesis as the 'ideal' vision of man before Fall)
Antonia says: there are a few points:
Antonia says: 1st, man was created to 'lord over' all the other creatures, remember?
LittleSister says: yes
Antonia says: adam gave each one 'names', etc. but he knew, none of them are his equal
Antonia says: because they have no will + intellect (having which makes one human)
Antonia says: so when God created woman, adam found an equal
Antonia says: someone equal in dignity
Antonia says: so in crude & short form, adam is likened to God (who lords over creatures), and adam+eve are likened to God+human
Antonia says: you see, the greatest love is found in agape + eros
Antonia says: agape -> loving totally, selflessly, without expecting anything;
eros -> to love with expectation of love being returned (or something like that)
Antonia says: when these 2 happen concurrently, that's when we're happiest, no? this mirrors God + Son + Holy Spirit (the exchange of eros+agape -> is so real it becomes a 3rd person!)
Antonia says: now, God with his omnipotence does not find creatures "equal in dignity" to love!
Antonia says: because they had no freewill + intellect
LittleSister says: i considered that too!
Antonia says: so when man was made, it was in "image & likeness" of Himself
Antonia says: (notice the similar language as when Eve was created out of Adam)
LittleSister says: rite!
Antonia says: it was created so that He'd have something (someone) to love!
Antonia says: but since the best/purest form of love is both agape+eros,
Antonia says: in order to love back, the subject of love, must necessarily have free will!

In which "Why Jesus had to die" is brought up
LittleSister says: but my point is more like form God's Point of View
Antonia says: otherwise, like a golden retriever that comes affectionately to you, he doesn't do that because he loves you, but because he instinctively needs you to ensure his survival
LittleSister says: you know org putus cinta bisa sampe bunuh diri.... (Ed. A broken-hearted person can sometimes kill himself) imagine..!
Antonia says: but God cannot deny himself through suicide!
Antonia says: He did the next best thing... sent his Son down to die
Antonia says: (allowed Him to be killed in such inhumane manner)
LittleSister says: if you're've been betrayed so many times by so many ppl....imagine the pain he must suffer
Antonia says: yeah, that's why.. the only one who can repair it was another like God
Antonia says: in fact, it is another person of God Himself
Antonia says: the 2nd person is Jesus
LittleSister says: which absolutely cannot be human
LittleSister says: must possess divinity
LittleSister says: as well, you mean?

Antonia says: yeah.. i mean, if you owe someone 100billion,
Antonia says: and say, ok we're settling it for $10, how fair would it be to the creditor?
Antonia says: he'll be cheated & insulted
LittleSister says: yeah!
Antonia says: the only thing that can compensate this grievous hurt, was one like Himself
Antonia says: the final aim is to make us "equal" to Him... so that one day it's not only God is love, but also,
Antonia says: "LittleSister is love"
Antonia says: and
Antonia says: "Antonia is love"
LittleSister says: i never realized i would turn into a philosopher myself
Antonia says: :) philosophy is not always for idle thought
Antonia says: but to defend our own existential thought and our faith!
LittleSister says: i've never been one for idle thought
LittleSister says: yes.....otherwise, i couldn't understand

Antonia says: do you see it now? :)
LittleSister says: i cannot leap by faith alone!
Antonia says: i hope this very limited ToB insight have shed some light...
LittleSister says: yes,.....thanks!
LittleSister says: it occured to me as well....

Antonia says: great :) He doesn't want mere golden retrievers

In which she 'gets' it!
LittleSister says: that if i can create a beautiful golden retriever subject to my eliminate possibility of sin occuring like in Adam
LittleSister says: who loves me and i love in return....i would know that it loves me solely because i programmed it to do so
LittleSister says: not an equal love

Antonia says: BINGO!
LittleSister says: freely given and earned
Antonia says: :D Dear, you've learnt so much!!!!!
LittleSister says: honestly....i'm a bit apprehensive with the amount of philosophy that i accumulated since my arrival in hK
LittleSister says: Well.. tapi yah mo gimana lagi (Ed. what else can I do)
LittleSister says: can you imagine the amount of grace i have my questions answered each week in the church mass

Antonia says: :D
LittleSister says: either unwittingly by the priest....father eugene....
Antonia says: that's a great grace to answer such!
LittleSister says: or through the reading or through my own brilliant food for thought :)
Antonia says: not so humble though...
LittleSister says: it's a great joke on me! the not so humble personality
LittleSister says: that charms know deep inside i'm not like that

Antonia says: anyway, you know, in the history of salvation, God did try to 'destroy' the unfaithful world (sodom & gomorrah, through Noah's flood) but it wasn't enough

In which she 'gets' it the 2nd time!
LittleSister says: coz the only way to keep evil and sins away is to take away our freewill
LittleSister says: always thought i'd end up being a career woman with loads of money and no time for idle philosophy!
LittleSister says: ... and many golden's more like a picture or mental image of a person who's looking forward to satisy all her desires

Antonia says: but perhaps, finding only a mirage in them
LittleSister says: ... and cravings of earthly wants....not realizing that even the economists would identify it as law of diminishing marginal utility
LittleSister says: i imagine if god's grace didn't stop me in time.... i'd be on my way to become that bloated individual who have so much and am thankful of none and am not satisfied by anything..

Sometimes it's in the unlikeliest people we find occasions to share the marvel! The 129 Papal audiences in which our beloved Pope John Paul II the Great expounded on the Theology of the Body is now online here:

(Hat-tip to KM!)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Ad multos annos!

Today we celebrate the 2nd anniversary of our Holy Father's election! Just a few days ago we celebrated his 80th birthday! Please remember to say prayers for him; think about how tiring it must be for an 80-year-old man to celebrate the grueling hours of the Holy Week liturgy, and to shepherd our Catholic Church.

V. Let us pray for Benedict XVI, the Pope.
R. May the Lord preserve him, give him a long life, make him blessed upon the earth, and may the Lord not hand him over to the power of his enemies.
V. May your hand be upon your holy servant.
R. And upon your son whom you have anointed.

Let us pray. O God, the Pastor and Ruler of all the faithful, look down, in your mercy, upon your servant, Benedict, whom you have appointed to preside over your Church; and grant, we beseech you, that both by word and example, he may edify all those under his charge; so that, with the flock entrusted to him, he may arrive at length unto life everlasting. Through Christ our Lord. R. Amen

And here's a quotable quote from our Pope (from an interview in the book "Salt of the Earth"):

Q: Isn't it extremely wearing having to deal with God every day?
Dealing with God every day is a necessity for me. For just as we have to breathe every day, just as we need light every day and have to eat every day, just as we also need friendship every day and truly need certain people every day, dealing with God is one of the absolutely fundamental elements of life. If God suddenly disappeared, my soul wouldn't be able to breathe properly.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Altar transformation!

While I'm not proclaiming my favor over any 'style' of Masses, the following video (found at Fr Z's WDTPRS) shows how a free-standing altar can be converted into a trad-, ad-orientem(?) altar in 15 MINUTES! Watch this for the FSSP priests' ingenuity, if the love of beauty does not persuade you...

La m├ętamorphose d'un autel

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Urbi et Orbi

This Easter is the first time I watched Pope Benedict XVI deliver his Urbi Et Orbi message and listened for the first time his greeting in my own language ("Selamat Paskah") and received his blessing (via EWTN Live)!!

He's given a beautiful reflection comparing our own temptation to disbelief in the face of "[s]uffering, evil, injustice, death, especially when it strikes the innocent such as children who are victims of war and terrorism, of sickness and hunger" to St Thomas, Christ's disciple here. Dominus meus et Deus meus!

"Darkness is not dark for you, and night shines as the day"

"On this holy night," "this is the passover of the Lord," "let this place resound with joy," "this holy light," "this is our passover feast," "this is the night when first you saved our fathers," "this is the night when the pillar of fire destroyed the darkness of sin," "this is the night when Christians everywhere... are restored to grace and grow together in holiness," "this is the night when Jesus Christ broke the chains of death and rose triumphant from the grave," "of this night Scripture says: 'The night will be as clear as day; it will become my light, my joy," "this holy night," "accept this Easter candle." ... The time of 'this' is now!

Happy Easter! Rejoice and be glad, because He is risen! Alleluia!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

In memoriam: John Paul II

Mosaic of JPII in Cologne, made up of little pictures of youths all over the world

Two years ago today, I remember waking up very early before dawn and hearing over EWTN news that Pope John Paul II had just passed away a few hours before.

This year, the diocesan investigation phase of his beatification process has just closed and thus began the Vatican phase of the cause...

And here's one of my favorite quotes:

"Do not be afraid. Do not be satisfied with mediocrity. Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch."

Santo Subito!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Palm Sunday: Holy week is here

The Holy Week is upon us once more. In a few days' time, the Church is going to enter into the deepest of Mysteries in the holiest days of the Calendar. Some Catholic bloggers have likened entering the Holy Week to putting on a full (spiritual) battle-gear for this last stage of Lent. Some likened it to herding cats—it is almost impossible to get all of them into a 'pen'—just like it is impossible to get rid of all our faults in one Easter.

I could identify very much with the second kind of experience; no matter which resolutions have been 'achieved' this Lent, there are bound to be those which did not get nailed down. In any case, Holy Week and soon, Easter, pounce upon us just like Christ unexpectedly passes by in the lives of the apostles, and in more recent times, in our own lives. Yet, too often, thinking about how 'ready' we are after the five weeks of Lent, made me focus on "my" Lenten experience, "my" feelings and "my" response to the whole redemption saga.

Thinking this way I realize, tends to bring out my shallow, selfish side: how can His sacrifice and resurrection be measured by the way we 'feel' in 'response' to such abundance of grace? Obviously, our tainted nature made our response always incommensurate to the actual grace poured out, and this too despite multiple chances & occasions: many seasons of Lent and Easter, instead of just one.

As such, spiritual warfare is actually going on at all times. Sometimes it's more obvious, sometimes less so: in Palm Sunday's Mass we read the Entrance to Jerusalem at the beginning, and then read the whole account of the Passion for the Gospel. What a stark contrast in the change of my fickle heart, what a stark reminder to my own sinfulness!

This Holy Week, after many weeks of grasping, I think I will heed the advice to stand still beneath the Cross and let grace flow from Him whom we have pierced: for it is time.

May you have a holy week.