Monday, December 22, 2008

Break from 'serious' blogging

Taking a break from Advent solemnity, this blog decides to publish something light & 'unserious' as my writing apparently is 'complex'!

INTP - The Thinkers

The logical and analytical type. They are especially attuned to difficult creative and intellectual challenges and always look for something more complex to dig into. They are great at finding subtle connections between things and imagine far-reaching implications.

They enjoy working with complex things using a lot of concepts and imaginative models of reality. Since they are not very good at seeing and understanding the needs of other people, they might come across as arrogant, impatient and insensitive to people that need some time to understand what they are talking about.

Yeah right, short for: people don't really understand what you're writing about. So we'll call it complex!

Here's another snapshot of what the author's brain supposedly looks like when she's writing here:

Three more days to Christmas, people! Rejoice!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Adult stem cells for animals?

No, no, not adult human stem cells for animals, but homologous adult stem cells for the animal itself. So says this article, about an elderly dog with arthritis in his leg.

According to the website of the firm that extracted the multipotent 'stem cells' from the fats tissue of the dog cured, adipose-derived 'regenerative cells' are more readily available than those taken from the bone marrow, and seem to be effective in repairing muscle and cartilage damages in those animals treated. Also, it seems like the application of the treatment is fairly straightforward: simple injection of the stem cells harvested, directly to the site of injury.

So one wonders again, why is there so much emphasis given to embryonic stem cells research when we could focus our attention to what has been proven to work?

Monday, December 08, 2008

The Immaculate Conception: our bearer of hope!

Today we celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. It is a feast that some have anticipated for the last nine days in a novena; but its primary theme is thanksgiving, thanksgiving to the Trinitarian God. Every year it is celebrated during Advent, which gives this celebration a solemn flavor.

Someone once said that hell trembles at Mary's fiat. I'd add that "something flashed in the air" when the Immaculate Conception took place. For it is a divine move, in response to man's fallen state, and is something totally unmerited. Like all occasions of grace, it is first initiated by God.

Mary, bearer of our hope, is also the throne of grace, the star of the sea. Our pope Benedict XVI wrote a beautiful prayer to Mary, in the closing of his 2nd encyclical Spe Salvi:

"Ave maris stella. Human life is a journey. Towards what destination? How do we find the way? Life is like a voyage on the sea of history, often dark and stormy, a voyage in which we watch for the stars that indicate the route. The true stars of our life are the people who have lived good lives. They are the lights of hope. Certainly, Jesus Christ if the true light, the sun that has risen above all the shadows of history. But to reach him we also need lights close by — people who shine with his light and so guide us along our way. Who more than Mary could be a star of hope for us?"

Afterwards, our Pope reiterated that Mary, of all people, suffered what seemed like a betrayal of promises made to her by the prophecies, but her faith was one that shone even in the darkest moments below the Cross of her son.

In this solemn season of Advent, let us enkindle our hope for salvation looking to Mary, the first fruits of grace, who trusted Him, cuius regni non erit finis.

Monday, December 01, 2008

The Pope's Message for Advent

We have a very good teacher in our Papa Benedict XVI. This is what he says about Advent and time:

Today, with the First Sunday of Advent, we begin a new liturgical year. This fact invites us to reflect on the dimension of time, which has always greatly fascinated us. Following the example of what Jesus liked to do, I would like to start from a very concrete experience: We all say "I don't have time" because the rhythm of daily life has become too frenetic for everyone. The Church has "good news" to announce about this too: God gives us his time. We always have little time. Especially in regard to the Lord, we do not know how to find him, or, sometimes, we do not want to find him. And yet God has time for us!

This is the first thing that the beginning of a liturgical year makes us rediscover with an ever new wonder. Yes: God gives us his time, because he has entered into history, with his Word and his works of salvation, to open it to eternity, to make it into a covenant history. From this perspective time is already, in itself, a basic sign of God's love. It is a gift that man can, like everything else, appreciate or, on the contrary, squander; he can grasp its meaning, or neglect it with obtuse superficiality.

Read his Angelus message for the First Sunday of Advent here

Read his homily here.

Review: Victory Over Vice

A little over a week over reading this book, I am convinced of the need of doing deeper examination of conscience, and how many ordinary situations we find ourselves in, can be occasions of sins—out of either malice or weaknesses.

To kick off Advent, here are the seven vices he mentioned, and what to keep in mind in our fight to prevail over them:

  1. Anger

    Here, as I wrote earlier, he mentioned that anger is not strictly a sin, and that rightly, it is a response to injustice. But it becomes a sin of lacking in charity, especially when we overlook the quality of mercy in dealing with the weaknesses of others.

    Point to remember: that we are ignorant, hence there is room for mercy. If we have perfect knowledge, we have no excuse for our faults, thus we'd be condemned.

  2. Envy

    Here, he gave the example of an extreme case of envy—where our lack of charity once again may raise indignance instead of joy upon the eleventh hour salvation of a sinner, such as that of the good thief crucified next to Jesus.

    To remember: mercy, once more!

  3. Pride

    Surely anyone who has had experience with the proud will bear witness to the truth of this statement: if my own eternal salvation were conditioned upon saving the soul of one self-wise man who prided himself on his learning, or one hundred of the most morally corrupt men and women of the streets, I'd choose the easier task of converting the hundred. Nothing is more difficult to conquer in all the world than intellectual pride. If battleships could be lined with it instead of with armor, no shell could ever pierce it.

    And a strong poignant warning:

    Self-praise devours merit; and those who have done good things to be seen by men, and who trumpet their philanthropies in the marketplaces, will one day hear the saddest words of tongue or pen: "Thou hast already had thy reward." (Matthew 6:2)

  4. Sloth

    Heaven is a city on a hill. Hence, we cannot coast into it; we have to climb. Those who are too lazy to mount can miss its capture as well as the evil who refuse to seek it. Let no one think he can be totally indifferent to God in this life and suddenly develop a capacity for Him at the moment of death.

    'Nuff said.

  5. Lust

    Here the bishop invited us to look at Christ broken on the cross. There is a higher Love there that demands the surrender of the lower. He portrayed Mary, refugium peccatorum, as a mother whom all of us should contemplate before we do anything that can make our mothers ashamed.

  6. Gluttony

    Labor for things that endure. He showed the distinction between the fasting and dieting:

    The Church fasts; the world diets. The Christian fasts not for the sake of the body, but for the sake of the soul; the pagan fasts not for the sake of the soul, but for the sake of the body.
    Darwin tells us in his autobiography that, in his love for the biological, he lost all the taste he once had for poetry and music, and he regretted the loss all the days of his life. Nothing so much dulls the capacity for the spiritual as excessive dedication to the material.

  7. Covetousness

    On this matter, he had something to say to both the rich and the poor:

    To the poor:

    [Covetousness] once was monopolized by the avaricious rich; now it is shared by the envious poor. Because a man has no money in his pockets is no proof that he is not covetous; he may be involuntarily poor with a passion for wealth far in excess of those who possess.
    There are very few disinterested lovers of the poor today; most of their so-called champions do not love the poor as much as they hate the rich. They hate all the rich, but they love only those poor who will help them attain their wicked ends.

    To the rich:

    [He] is a fallen man, because of a bad exchange; he might have had Heaven through his generosity but he has only the earth. He could have kept his soul but he sold it for material things.
    When a man loves wealth inordinately, he and it grow together like a tree pushing itself in growth through the crevices of a rock. Death to such a man is a painful wrench, because of his cose identification with the material. He has everything to live for, nothing to die for. He becomes at death the most destitute and despoiled beggar in the universe, for he has nothing he can take with him.

    And these, about eternity:

    That disproportion between the infinite and the finite is the cause of disappointment. We have eternity in our heart, but time on our hands. The soul demands a heaven, and we get only an earth. Our eyes look up to the mountains, but they rest only on the plains.
    Everything is disappointing except the redemptive love of our Lord. You can go on acquiring things, but you will be poor until your soul is filled with the love of Him who died on the cross for you.

I found so many insights to the human heart that it is impossible to leave this book! I think I'll make it a point to read this book again and again, especially during Advent and Lenten seasons. It'd also make a good gift for anyone this Advent.

Happy Advent to all!